Opposition Parties Fight in Cairo; Feltman Claims Sanctions Effective and Assad’s Days Numbered, Eyes on Turkey

Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Daniel Glaser has been travelling to Russia, Lebanon and Jordan. Lebanese banks are being asked not to open any accounts in Lebanon to any Syrian even in euro…without Lebanese residency. Syrian troops have been withdrawing from Homs after a bloody confrontation with protesters there who have been demanding regime change and freedom. Over 100 people have been killed in Homs over the last week.

Associate Press November 9, 2011

The National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change (sometimes called the National Coordinating Committee) and other individuals had planned to meet today with the Arab League in Cairo about how to take the process forward for regime change in Syria, but they were prevented by other oppositionists who used violence to stop the meeting taking place. Haytham Manna is the co-ordinator for the executive committee of the National Coordinating Body in Exile, and he was injured during the scuffle that took place. The NCB representatives were also pelted with eggs.

It is of great concern that violence would be used by one opposition group against another. It is widely expected that the violence came from supporters of the Syrian National Council, who have been encouraged by the assertive and sometimes aggressive behaviour of their leadership to see the SNC as being the only viable opposition, and their numerous requests to Governments that the SNC be officially recognised as the official transitional council, however their assertion that they have the overwhelming support of the Syrian people is ill-founded, as the National Coordinating Body attracts broad support from a diverse range of political groups and individuals inside Syria….

Burhan Ghalioun had decried the attack on Haytham Manna and Michel Kilo by members of the Syrian National Council in Cairo. He writes that a “Council that doesn’t respect the freedom of opinion and rights of others does not represent us [Syrians].”

US Officials Say Sanctions Against Syria Effective, 2011-11-09 , By DONNA CASSATA

Washington (AP) — Obama administration officials say Syrian President Bashar Assad’s days are numbered as economic sanctions and Arab League opposition have undermined the regime.

Jeffrey Feltman, an assistant secretary of state, and Luke Bronin, an official with the Treasury Department, told a Senate panel on Wednesday that sanctions by the United States and European Union have squeezed an already troubled Syrian economy. Separately, an increasing number of Arabs want Assad to go because he is destroying Syria….

U.S. Trying to Form Regional ‘Contact Group’ on Syria, November 09, 2011
By David Lerman

Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. is working to form a regional “contact group” to help resolve the crisis in Syria, a top State Department official told Congress today.

“We’re running with this idea,” said Jeffrey Feltman, assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian affairs.

Democratic Senator Robert Casey of Pennsylvania, the subcommittee chairman, proposed creating a “Friends of the Syrian People” contact group last month. He said today the group would serve “as a main point of international engagement for the democratic opposition and the Syrian people.”

Feltman said the State Department supports the idea. “We’re talking to others about it,” he said. “We’d like to try to get the Arabs themselves to play a leadership role in this.”

He said the issue may be raised at a meeting of the Arab League on Nov. 12. “Now is the time for the Arab League to really take some action,” he said.

Casey said his panel was exploring whether U.S. sanctions against Syria might be expanded to increase pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to step aside.

Luke Bronin, deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes at the Treasury Department, said the impact of international sanctions against Syria have been “profound,” mostly because of European sanctions against the Syrian oil industry.

Aussama Mounajed on The World – NPR – Syrian Opposition Urges International Protection

Analysis: Syrian attack on rebel city mocks Arab peace plan
Alistair Lyon,  LONDON | Tue Nov 8, 2011

(Reuters) – Syria’s assault on the recalcitrant city of Homs has shredded an Arab peace plan and exposed the failure of world outrage to force President Bashar al-Assad to halt a violent crackdown on an eight-month popular uprising.

Tanks and snipers have battled to cow protesters and hunt army defectors in Homs, killing more than 100, activists say, since the Arab League said on November 2 that Damascus had accepted a plan to pull the army out of cities and talk to its foes.

“The Arab peace plan died on arrival,” said Murhaf Jouejati, a Syrian-born scholar in Washington. “There has been no let-up in the violence. The Assad regime is in complete defiance mode.”

Arab foreign ministers will review the plan on Saturday, but Syrian opponents of Assad show no surprise at its fate.

“I don’t think anyone in his right mind was expecting Assad to pull his troops out of the streets and allow peaceful protests,” Walid al-Bunni, a lawyer and often-jailed dissident who left Syria for Paris two weeks ago, told Reuters….

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Syria’s behavior after the Arab peace plan was “absolutely unacceptable” and that it “could no longer be trusted.

But, like his British counterpart William Hague who deplored Syria’s policy, he offered no blueprint for action.

The West has urged Assad’s foes to form a united, coherent front, but Chatham House’s Shehadi said this was absurd, given the diversity of opinion lurking beneath years of repression.

“This is not really an opposition, this is the whole of Syrian society,” he said.

Without decisive outside moves or the growth of a more powerful insurgency at home, Assad could survive for years, said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma

“Today, the opposition remains weak and the Syrian military has the upper hand. That could change if the opposition begins to construct a real insurgency, if Turkey goes to war against Syria by supporting some sort of insurgency, or if a foreign intervention is launched, such as happened in Libya,” he said.

“None of these possibilities is on the horizon,” Landis added, arguing that small guerrilla groups might begin to proliferate and harass the Syrian military and state.

“If they gain traction, foreign funding and arms, they could transform into a real insurgency over time.”

Ankara weighs options in Syria stalemate
06 November 2011, Sunday / NOAH BLASER , İSTANBUL – Zaman

In the wake of last week’s failed bid by the Arab League to halt violence in Syria, Turkey now more than ever may be pressured into creating a humanitarian “buffer zone” in Syria, a form of intervention which regional experts say carries unknown consequences. “Some form of intervention in Syria will be considered seriously if events worsen and international action is absent.” Middle East expert Oytun Orhan told Sunday’s Zaman on Friday…..

According to Syria expert Landis, however, such potential escalations are exactly why Ankara must review intervention in Syria against the possibility of further engagement. “Once you go down that road, you’re going to war against Syria, and you’ve got to be prepared to finish the job,” he told Today’s Zaman in an interview on Thursday.

Talk of intervention also raises the question of how long Turkey might be willing to sustain a humanitarian intervention in Syria, and Landis believes that any mission would be up against a regime well prepared for extended conflict. “It is becoming increasingly clear to the West that Assad remains strong on the ground, his military has remained faithful, and he retains an important degree of support from a not inconsiderable segment of the Syrian people,” Landis told Sunday’s Zaman…..

US-Turkish Security Cooperation Deepens – Jamestown Org.

Turkey-US security cooperation has remarkably increased recently. The most visible indication for this policy shift came with Ankara’s decision to host the NATO early warning radars on its soil (EDM, September 20). Later, the United States committed to Turkey’s fight against the PKK, by agreeing to the basing of US unmanned Predator drones at Incirlik base to supply Turkey with actionable intelligence. Moreover, an interagency delegation led by US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Alexander Vershbow, to discuss how to improve the joint struggle against the PKK was another major development (Anadolu Ajansi, October 28).

Furthermore, Washington finally decided to sell three Super Cobra helicopters to Turkey, which Turkey had requested for some time in order to use against the PKK (www.ntvmsnbc.com, October 30). The fact that the sale is unlikely to encounter opposition from the Senate, despite many lawmakers’ discomfort with Turkey’s harsh policy on Israel, has underscored how largely the administration’s views on Turkey is shared in the US policy community.

It was against this background that Turkey’s Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, while attending the American-Turkish Council’s annual conference in Washington, argued that Turkey and the US are rediscovering each other and are going through a unique period (Anadolu Ajansi, November 2).

Hivos – The Syrian Uprising and the Power of Stories – Newsletter Civil Society in West Asia-Issue 4

A Friend Writes:

Homs has seen killing based on ID cards and sect as has been reported. What makes homs different than lattakia and other places where sunnis and alawis live together is that in homs the sunni population is totally in unison. There are no income differences. The poor and wealthy sunnis of homs are all united.

Another responds:

 I think it is more related to the profit and loss calculations …. in Lattakia the Sunnis are half … in Homs they are 80%, so they feel more powerful in Homs.

A Sunni Homsi friend replied:
Not true. Many in Homs don’t want to unite on rising against the regime. They don’t like the regime, true, but they don’t like the resistance either. The Sunni are now more afraid from the religious thugs than the regime. A person in Homs today is afraid to say no to the thugs roaming the streets.

In Lattakia they are surrounded with HEAVILY armed Alawite populations… You need to be totally delusional if you wanted to overpower the Alawites in Latakia.

Top Syria sheikh says al-Assad wants to go back to being a doctor,  Nov 8, 2011,

Berlin – Syria’s top Sunni Muslim cleric has told a German magazine that the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, dreams of implementing reforms, stepping down and going back to being an eye doctor.

‘I am convinced that he will introduce reforms gradually and permit fair and free elections with independent parties,’ Sheikh Ahmed Badereddine Hassoun, the grand mufti and most senior Sunni Islam figure in Syria, told Der Spiegel.

‘Then, after a peaceful transition, he may be ready to hang up his hat. He is not president for life,’ he added. ‘The former eye doctor Bashar al-Assad wants to return to his old profession. I could well imagine this. He has several times told me of his dream to be in charge of an eye clinic’.

The magazine said its reporter interviewed the cleric in Arabic last week at his home in the Syrian city of Aleppo. The interview appeared in German in the print version of the magazine which went on sale Monday.

Letter from Europe: NATO’s Noble Words Go for Naught

A friend writes: “got a call from pro guy who is so upset with what Hassoun said. He is fuming over how Hassoun can say Bashar will leave and become eye doctor? who will fight for him if he is going to quit down the line.”

Another friend writes:

I HAVE NO IDEA WHY I BOTHERED TO READ THIS SANA ARTICLE. PERHAPS ITS MY INTEREST IN REAL ESTATE AND TANZEEM. THIS SIMPLE EXAMPLE SHOWS HOW TOTALLY BROKEN THE SYSTEM IS. HOW DO YOU FIX AND REFORM INCOMPTENCE AND FAILURE LIKE THIS? THINK OF HOW MANY YOUNG PEOLPLE HAVE GOTTEN ANGRY AND FRUSTRATED. THIS STORY OF 42,000 IS JUST IN THE LATTAKIA DISTRICT. JUST THINK OF ALEPPO, DAMSCUS, HOMS. THE FAILURE OF THIS SYSTEM IS MONUMENTAL. I SEE ZERO CHANCE OF ANY PROGRESS. BIG FAT ZERO. I have talked about the lack of tanzeem for a long time. It has caused real estate prices to stay very high and has made it very hard for new housing units to be supplied. Even a government agency entrusted with supplying youth housing is stuck and cannot do a thing. Cna you imagine the provate sector then? In lattakia, 8000 people signed up . So far only 327 were delivered. 600 are “to be delivered”. The whole task is to house 42,000 people. Back in 2002, 3220 people signed up and were supposed to take delivery in 10 years (next year). in 2004, 2716 more signed up and were also promised delivery by 2014. What is the problem? The government agency “almouassa al aama lil iskan” that is in charge is yet to secure the land for the project. Their first step was to do “istimlak” in 2007. Four years later, everything is frozen. Not only this but the promised prices for those who signed are now higher. Why? Because the “istimlak” that they did in lattakia turned out to cost more than they thought and they therefore had to compensate their original owners by more than thought. given the rising costs, the “mouassase” opted to borrow from the government general budget without interest so that they can open roads, bring electricity and sewer system to the project. Why the delay was the question asked to the project manager? He explained how they took orders before securing the land. When some land was secured through istimlak, they were not able to pay the original owners or find them alternative housing. Will they be able to compensate for all the delays and all the other mistakes? The Answer is that a committee was formed (what else?) to “study” how much each should be paid. http://www.sana.sy/ara/348/2011/11/08/380458.htm

The Financial Times

Money has been streaming out of Syria as fears for the unstable economy lead Syrians to seek a safer place for their assets, according to members of the country’s business community.

Cash is being smuggled over the border to Lebanon “every day, every hour,” said one Syrian businessman, while another claimed Syrian money is being stashed in the grey economy that has long existed between the two countries.

In what many see as an example of the cross-border transfer, Syrian state news reported last month that officials had intercepted over $100,000 worth of Syrian pounds being smuggled across the Lebanese border under the seat of a car.

Samir Seifan, a Dubai-based Syrian economist, estimated Syria’s middle and upper classes had moved between three and five billion dollars out of the country since unrest broke out in March, alarmed by pressures on the currency and the dearth of investment opportunities.

“The easiest way to smuggle money out of Syria is into Lebanon,” said Mr Seifan. “There are established channels.”

Reports of the cash exodus highlight the growing financial pressure on President Bashar al-Assad’s Damascus regime, after nearly eight months of bloody confrontations between anti-government protesters and the regime’s brutal security forces.

The loss of foreign currency earnings from the decimation of the tourism industry and an EU embargo on Syrian oil exports have put pressure on the Syrian pound, which has lost 10 per cent of its value against the dollar on the black market since the start of the unrest.

Capital controls introduced by Damascus in August prevent people from buying more than $2,000 a year in Syria without justification. Though locals say dollars can still be bought, with increasing difficulty and risk on the black market, many people are said to be seeking ways around restrictions on transferring money out of the country.

According to one of the Syrian businessman interviewed by the Financial Times, some people exchange Syrian money brought into Lebanon ‘under the table’. “We’re not Europe,” he said wryly.

As quantities appear to be either small or bypassing formal channels, the money does not show up in financial institutions in Lebanon, Syria’s neighbour, which is a crucial link to the wider world. The banking sector, under the watchful eye of the US Treasury, which this year placed sanctions on a Lebanese bank it alleged was laundering drugs money, has increased its customer accountability requirements, and overall deposits of local currency and dollars have gone up by less than they did over the same time period last year.

Lebanon’s usually freewheeling money changers are reluctant to talk about Syrian money, although the owner of one exchange bureau in Beirut said he was currently processing 400-500,000 Syrian pounds a day (roughly $8-10,000), compared with 100-200,000 ($2-4,000) a week before the crisis.

Another man in the bureau warned: “Its more dangerous to talk about this than politics,” an oblique reference to the Syrian security services’ tentacular reach into Lebanon.

Jihad Yazigi, an economic analyst and editor of the newsletter ‘The Syria Report’, said Syrians had “got used to finding ways to get money out of the country,” after years of tough restrictions on capital movement before limited economic reforms began in 2005. He said one trick was to pay someone inside Syria in Syrian pounds, in exchange for a return payment in a foreign currency in a bank overseas.

Observers of the capital flight say it is a steady flow rather than a panicked rush that could bring the Assad regime down in the short term. The Syrian Central Bank governor recently claimed Damascus had $18bn worth of foreign reserves – about 30 per cent of GDP – to keep the pound stable.

But analysts say the real amount of resources with which Mr Assad’s government has to defend the pound – and keep itself alive economically – is unknown because of a lack of transparent accounting. “The truth is that probably no one knows – not even the regime,” said one diplomat in Damascus. Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2011.

US to Work With Arab Spring’s Islamist Parties
2011-11-08 By BRADLEY KLAPPER, Published November 07, 2011

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared Monday that the Obama administration would work with ascendant Islamist parties of the Muslim world, answering one of the central U.S. policy questions resulting from the Arab Spring.

Delivering an address at the National Democratic Institute, Clinton offered a forthright embrace of the democratic changes enveloping North Africa and the Middle East at a time when the euphoria of the successful revolutions from Egypt to Libya is giving way to the hard and unprecedented work of creating stable democracies.

After decades of partnering dictators throughout the region, her message was that the U.S. would approach the new political landscape with an open mind and the understanding that long-term support for democracy trumps any short-term advantages through alliances with authoritarian regimes.

While she reached out to the religious-rooted parties expected to gain power in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere, she said nothing about changing U.S. policies toward Hezbollah and Hamas, which have performed well in Lebanese and Palestinian elections but are considered foreign terrorist organizations by the United States.

“For years, dictators told their people they had to accept the autocrats they knew to avoid the extremists they feared,” Clinton told an audience that included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. “Too often, we accepted that narrative ourselves.”

After almost a year of protests and crackdowns, armed rebellion and civil war, the Arab world’s upheaval has left a jumbled mosaic of liberals and Islamists, military rulers and loose coalitions of reformers. No country appears unalterably on a path toward democratic governance, and for the people of the region and the United States the stakes of long-term instability are high.

U.S. interests, including the security of oil supplies, military relations and Israel’s defense, have forced the Obama administration to engage in flexible diplomacy, with different messages for different countries.

The one-size-does-not-fit-all approach has meant U.S. support for an imperfect military stewardship over Egypt ahead of elections for a new parliament and president, and largely overlooking ally Bahrain’s rough response to protests earlier this year. Washington helped a military effort that ultimately deposed Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. It also demanded that leaders in Syria and Yemen leave power, without any real means to make them do so.

“There will be times when not all of our interests align,” Clinton said. “That is just reality.”

Still, she moved to counter an increasingly common criticism from Republicans, including among presidential hopefuls, that the Obama administration’s boisterous support for the Arab Spring has foolishly opened the door to Islamist takeovers of once secular governments. Clinton took a hardline, deriding the suggestion that faithful Muslims cannot thrive in a democracy as “insulting, dangerous and wrong.” She said the United States would work with any individuals and parties willing to uphold fundamental values.

Religious and secular parties alike “must reject violence. They must abide by the rule of law and respect the freedoms of speech, religion, association and assembly. They must respect the rights of women and minorities,” Clinton said. “They must let go of power if defeated at the polls.”

“In other words,” Clinton added, “what parties call themselves is less important to us than what they actually do.”

To underline her point, she welcomed the Islamist party Ennahda’s strong showing in “an open, competitive election” in Tunisia last month, and said America will work with the party’s leaders as they join secular groups in writing a new constitution and governing.

Tunisia, however, holds little strategic value for the U.S. The story is different with Egypt, a bulwark of American influence in the Middle East under Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule.

U.S. officials have watched warily in recent months amid souring Egyptian-Israeli relations, violence against minority Copts and renewed popular frustration with a military leadership determined to maintain its grip on the future of the country, if not its governance. Since Mubarak’s February ouster, Clinton has gone out of her way to describe Egypt’s ruling military council as “an institution of stability and continuity,” even as the U.S. has been frustrated by the council’s slow pace of democratic reforms and continuation of the emergency laws that were a mainstay of abuse during the Mubarak era.

She took a tougher approach Monday, saying real power needed to be transferred in Egypt. “If, over time, the most powerful political force in Egypt remains a roomful of unelected officials, they will have planted the seeds for future unrest,” Clinton said. “Egyptians will have missed a historic opportunity.”

(International Herald Tribune) — BERLIN

People in the region have been encouraged by NATO’s involvement in Libya. Sections of the Syrian opposition have called for some kind of international intervention to stop the killing of protesters by President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces, which continues despite mediation efforts by the Arab League.

Mr. Assad has warned against any intervention. “Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground, you will cause an earthquake that would burn the whole region,” he told The Sunday Telegraph, a British newspaper. Colonel Qaddafi had made similar declarations about any outside intervention. That did not stop the United Nations from giving the green light for the NATO mission.Yet Mr. Rasmussen’s noble words about principles and power are unlikely to be translated into NATO action in Syria or, for that matter, taking on other new missions in the near future.

“The main reason is the profound change taking place in the United States with regard to defense spending and foreign policy  priorities,” said Nora Bensahel, deputy director of studies at the Center for a New American Security, a research group in Washington. The U.S. defense budget will be reduced by more than $450 billion over the next 10 years, amounting to nearly 10 percent of current expenditure, according to the Pentagon. If deeper cuts were made, Dr. Bensahel said, they “could undermine the ability of the U.S. to protect its vital interests worldwide, engage key allies and modernize after a decade of grueling ground wars.” Last year’s defense budget amounted to $553 billion, according to the Pentagon. The United States’ foreign policy shift from Europe to Asia also means that if and when NATO next chooses to intervene on Mr.Rasmussen’s terms, there is no guarantee that Washington will be enthusiastic to play a leading part. The Libyan campaign was the first test of how far the United
States could depend on its European allies to lead a mission.

Summing up the experience, Mr. Rasmussen said the Europeans lacked reconnaissance, intelligence and heavy airlift equipment. The United States filled those gaps. But analysts warn that the United States will not be willing to do so indefinitely, given its financial straits.

Damascus’s upper class clings to its privileged illusions
Jasmine Roman, Nov 7, 2011

As one example, poor people have started to feel the scarcity of heating diesel; they have to register their names at the general distribution company, known as SADCOP, which cannot meet requirements. Yet wealthy people can always pay double the price and a bribe to get their diesel. High fuel prices were one of the core demands that had been submitted to President Bashar Al Assad at the very beginning of the unrest.

“The government is punishing its people and trying to tell them that you either support us entirely or you’ll be smashed and die of hunger,” a government engineer said recently.

It is a complex scene and growing more so. Sanctions will unquestionably damage the economy. But it is the businessman and prominent figures in the regime who are best insulated against the short term, and it will be mainstream low-income Syrians who will be affected first…. poor people have started to feel the scarcity of heating diesel; they have to register their names at the general distribution company, known as SADCOP, which cannot meet requirements. Yet wealthy people can always pay double the price and a bribe to get their diesel. High fuel prices were one of the core demands that had been submitted to President Bashar Al Assad at the very beginning of the unrest…

Comments (228)

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The equally, if not more, thoughtful response. Rare moment in this den. Thanks FRIEND IN AMERICA.

Again, one minor issue
But the Syrian regime is not pragmatic, it thinks it is smart. It only survived till now with brute force. And even that is failing now.

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November 11th, 2011, 1:37 pm


202. Afram said:

Snakes go into Hibernation after they eat and digest the final sunni muslim terrorista SYRIAN HAMSTER …please spray some air freshner this bedouin hamster stinks

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November 11th, 2011, 1:41 pm


203. Friend in America said:

Thanks for your comments, SH. Machiavelli thought he was advising his Pince how to be smart.

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November 11th, 2011, 1:47 pm


204. norman said:

20:06 , 11.11.11

Nasrallah warns of regional war if Iran, Syria attacked

In first response to IAEA report on Iran nuclear program, Hezbollah chief says Tehran will ‘retaliate harshly’ to any strike’
Roee Nahmias

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Friday warned Israel and the US that a war against Iran and Syria would lead to an all-out regional conflict.

“They should understand that a war on Iran and Syria will not remain in Iran and Syrian territory, but it will engulf the whole region and there is no escaping this reality,” Nasrallah said during a televised speech honoring “Martyrs’ Day.”

Related articles:

‘30,000 suicide bombers to infiltrate Israel’
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatens US
Iran warns Israeli strike will meet ‘harsh punishment’

In his first response to the growing calls for a military strike on Iran following the publication of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) report on the country’s nuclear program, the Hezbollah chief said the Islamic Republic would respond harshly to any strike in its territory. “Iran is strong, united and has a one-of-a-kind leader and it will retaliate harshly,” he said in his speech, which was delivered in Beirut’s southern neighborhood of Dahia.

The IAEA report said Iran appeared to have worked on designing an atom bomb.

Iran and Syria have been supplying Hezbollah with military equipment – including thousands of rockets and other weapons – for years. Israel estimates that a strike on Iran would prompt an attack by Hezbollah from Lebanon, as well as an attack by Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. Hamas is also backed by Iran.

“Over the past few days we have witnessed an escalation in threats, and suddenly there is talk that the Israeli enemy may attack the Iranian nuclear facilities…The Iranian leadership responded firmly and decisively,” Nasrallah added.

Iran’s Ahmadinejad (L) with Nasrallah (Archive photo: AFP)

The Hezbollah leader said the recent warning by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to which any military action against Iran’s nuclear sites would be met with “iron fists,” best expressed “the reality, which is that Iran is strong and has an army, a nation and unity, and should not fear the fear campaign, the ships and the American armed forces who have already conquered the entire region around Iran.

“The US wants to defeat Iran and drag it to direct negotiations – which Iran rejects,” he said.

Nasrallah further warned of foreign military intervention in Syria, where President Bashar Assad continues to butcher his opposers. “The US is looking to subjugate Syria so that it will accept the conditions it has objected to in the past. Despite all the threats in the region…the state of the axis of resistance is better than ever,” Nasrallah said, adding “those who are gambling on the collapse of (Assad’s) regime (should) stop wasting their time.”

More than 3,500 people have been killed in Syria’s crackdown on protesters, the United Nations said this week, as the military pressed its campaign to put down resistance in the city of Homs against Assad’s rule.

“The brutal government crackdown on dissent in Syria has so far claimed the lives of more than 3,500 Syrians,” UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

“Since Syria signed the peace plan sponsored by the League of Arab States last week, more than 60 people are reported to have been killed by military and security forces, including at least 19 on the Sunday that marked Eid al-Adha (the main Muslim feast).”

Syria agreed to the Arab League plan on November 2, pledging to pull its military from restive cities, set political prisoners free and start talks with the opposition, which wants to remove Assad and introduce more democratic freedoms.

Syrians have recently called for NATO’s intervention, but Assad has warned that any military intervention in his country’s affairs would cause an “earthquake” that would “burn the whole region”.

Reuters contributed to the report

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November 11th, 2011, 2:12 pm


205. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

“Amir in Tel Aviv” at #188 links to a worthwhile video taken in Aleppo today of police and citizens dispersing an anti-regime demonstration. I’ve seen videos like one this from Aleppo this past summer. One of the reasons why anti-regime demonstrations in Aleppo are so few, so small, and so brief, is that a larger number of citizens in Aleppo are not only vehemently opposed to them but are willing to go out and break them up. That does not mean that people with anti-regime political opinion are unable to exercise their lawful right to publicly demonstrate in Aleppo. What it means is that unlicensed demonstrations are not tolerated by the general community. The forces of law and order will protect the anti-regime demonstrations, not break them up, when they are licensed. The video Amir linked to is:

Some more videos from Aleppo today by the same cameraman are at:

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November 11th, 2011, 2:22 pm


206. Mina said:

Failed bid at the security council, now it will probably go to the general assembly.

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November 11th, 2011, 2:29 pm


207. newfolder said:

former camera man at pro-regime Addounia TV exposes their lies and fabrications

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November 11th, 2011, 2:42 pm


208. irritated said:

#196 Revlon

You mean they want to assassinate the President of the Republic?
This is how they want to protect the peaceful demonstrations?

Sorry dear, this is nothing but an act of terrorism and these people deserve to be hunted down one by one by all means possible, arrested and judged.

If this is what the FSA is all about, good luck to their allies in the opposition!

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November 11th, 2011, 2:47 pm



CITIZENS my tail gain @ 204
Delusional YMG is at it again. Well read this and enjoy the description of the true reason for Aleppo’s silence.

شبيحة حلب.. من “وسخات” في المجتمع الى “كوماندوزيات” للسلطة
بقلم طوني نحاس – حلب

يستطيع القاصي والداني من حلبة الأحداث في المدينة الصناعية “حلب” أن يميز الفرق بين الشبيح من جهة والمواطن العادي (مندساً أو منحبكجياً) من جهة أخرى، والأول (الشبيح) هو من تطفو نشاطاته اليوم وتغطي على مجريات الأحداث التي تسير في سورية لتنعكس على الحياة في حلب.

حلب اليوم تعيش حياة طبيعية كما يصورها الإعلام السوري إلا أنك وبتقريب بسيط للتلسكوب الإعلامي ستجد العجب العجاب، فهذه المدينة “العجوز” والتي ينخرها الفساد منذ عقود بسبب نبذها من قبل السلطة منذ الثمانينات، تحولت وبفعل الزمن إلى مجتمع خليط بين الريف والمدينة وخلق حالة من الغربة بين أبنائها ولا يكاد الجار يعرف جاره إلا في الأحياء القديمة والتي ما تزال تحافظ على انغلاقها الفكري والديني والمجتمعي.

وللعشائر في حلب حصة “الأسد” من الفساد المستشري في المجتمع، فلا تجد عشيرة تقطن في الضواحي إلا ووقعت صكوك الطاعة لرؤساء الأجهزة الأمنية، وعليه فإن كل متورط في أية عملية أمنية من هذه العشائر “حقو عزيمة عشا” عند هذه العشائر.

وتكاد تكون أشهر هذه العائلات التي رأت أن “التشبيح” مهنة سهلة ويمكن عن طريقها جمع ثروة هي عائلة “بري” التي عكفت ومنذ بداية الاحتجاجات وعند أول مظاهرة في حلب إلى التطوع في ردع وقمع وقتل (إن لزم الأمر) المتظاهرين، وهذا ما دفع السلطات في المدينة العجوز أن تقدم لهذه العائلة كافة التسهيلات فيما يخص المخالفات وأمور الفساد وخصوصاً فيما يتعلق بالتهريب ومخالفات البناء والسطو على “محدثي نعمة” دون أن يجرأ أحد من هؤلاء بالتقدم بشكوى أو ما شابه.

وللتشبيح فنون..

تتفنن العائلات التي تبنت موضوع التشبيح في حلب في أساليب التشبيح حتى أنها تحولت إلى مدرسة بحد ذاتها، فإذا كان لديك ضائقة وتريد أن تبني طابقاً مخالفاً فما عليم إلا الاتعانة بهم، حيث سيقوم المغاوير باقتحام المبنى واقتلاع كل مستقبلات القنوات الفضائية من على السطح بل ورميها إلى الشارع والشروع في البناء المزمع بناؤه و”أخو أختو” من يذهب ويشتكي.

هذا غيض من فيض، فلقد تجاوز الأمر أمور الفساد، يكفي لـ شبيح أن يشير بطرف عينه إلى أية فتاة يريد ويجب عليها تقديم فروض الطاعة وإذا رفضت أو رفض أهلها فهناك “ليستة” من التهم جاهزة عند عمو “رئيس فرع الأمن الفلاني” ستتعربش هذه الـ “ليستة” على كافة أفراد العائلة من مبدأ “العقوبة جماعية”.

المثير للاستغراب أن هذه الجماعات تكثر بشكل ملفت خصوصاً مع حالات البطالة الموجودة في حلب حيث يتقاضى الشبيح ما لا يقل عن 3 آلاف ليرة في اليوم وما عليه إلا أن يداوم وينتظر المظاهرة، التي قد لا تخرج.

اليوم .. في حلب ..

تستطيع اليوم في حلب أن تفعل ما تريد بوجود هذه الفئة الغير منضبطة والتي لا يقيدها إلا الأهواء الشخصية، فاستئجار أحدهم و”حشوه” ببعض الليرات كفيل أن تشتري الحديقة العامة في حلب “إن أردت”.
رؤوساء فروع الأمن (وبدون مبالغة) يخشون هؤلاء ولا يستطيعون أن يرفضوا طلباً لهم، وإن واجهتهم مشكلة مع مواطن ما فمصيره “مجهول”..!!
لن أقارن حلب بـ حمص (المنكوبة) ولكن أقول إن الوضع في حلب هو أسوأ ما يمكن أن يكون عليه وسط هذا الجو المشحون بالـ “إرهاب” والترقب.. لأنك وبكل بساطة يمكن في أية لحظة أن تكون الضحية القادمة.

قد تراهم في أية لحظة يدخلون إلى المقهى الذي ترتاده يحملون أسلحتهم ووجوههم الإجرامية والويل الويل لمن يرفض طلباً لهم .. نعم إنهم شبيحة الأسد الجدد..

الشبيحة.. وهو مصطلح قديم كان يطلق على الجماعات التي تعمل في حراسة الشخصيات الاعتبارية من أركان النظام وكان لهؤلاء سطوة كبيرة إلا أنهم كانوا محصورين في مكان ما من الساحل السوري وتكمن ضرباتهم الموجعة فيما يخص التهريب والعمليات غير المشروعة… إلا أن الشبيحة الجدد في حلب وغيرها من المحافظات تجاوزت هذه الحالة.

هو مجرد انزياح لغوي بسيط للمفردة، حيث تحولت هذه المفردة إلى كل شخص حمل السلاح ضد المتظاهرين وجند نفسه للدفاع عن نظام الأسد.

Yours is not even a narrative

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November 11th, 2011, 2:50 pm



Hatemonger AFRAM Still takes the HAMSTER name literally.

And by the way, smarty, SNAKES sleep and not hibernate after eating a hamsters. They HIBERNATE IN COLD WEATHER

Seems that life science is not a strong trait of Hate mongers, well life itself is not their strong trait. They are simply an aberration.

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November 11th, 2011, 2:58 pm


211. ann said:

HRW = human rights watch = PRO israel organization

nuff said

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November 11th, 2011, 3:02 pm


212. Afram said:

The syrian hamster SALAFI singing christmas song:INFIDELS


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November 11th, 2011, 3:05 pm


213. zoo said:

Arab League roadmap: Dead or doing fine?

Published: 11 November, 2011, 22:35
As the Arab League is preparing for an emergency meeting to discuss the violent riots in Syria, the debate unfolds over whether the roadmap to peace brokered by the organization is viable.

­Some countries, who are criticizing the regime of Bashar Assad for the seven month-long crackdown on the opposition, say the plan is effectively finished, because the Syrian government does not honor it.

“I am sure that the current initiative of the Arab League is dead,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Tuesday in an interview with the Asharq Alawsat newspaper. He added this does not mean that the Arab organization’s mediation in the conflict should be discarded.

Damascus sees the situation differently. The Syrian ambassador to Russia, Riyad Mohammad Haddad said Friday his government did most of the things the roadmap required it to.

“We complied with 75 or 80 percent of the demands,” he said.

The ambassador said that Damascus is replacing army troops with police all over the country with the exception of the city of Homs. It allowed journalists into the cities, which had been previously off-limits to the media.

The government has also announced a general amnesty for protestors, as the roadmap said they should, the diplomat said. He added Damascus was very surprised to hear statements of the US State Department calling on the protestors not to use the opportunity offered by the amnesty.

The call was last re-iterated by Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner on Thursday. Syria says it’s the latest evidence of America’s tampering with Syrian internal affairs. The US has been continuously stating that Assad has lost legitimacy and must step down.

UN estimates that the violent riots in Syria have claimed more than 3.500 lives since they started in mid-March. The Syrian government says many of the victims were soldiers and policemen killed in the line of duty by extremist gangs sponsored with money and smuggled weapons from abroad. Critics of the regime say it is responsible for the majority of violence in the country.

On Friday, Amnesty International said Assad’s government is guilty of crimes against humanity. It called the Arab League to expel Syria from its ranks. It also called on the UN Security Council to put an arms embargo on the country.

The Arab League’s ministerial meeting on Saturday is to review the developments in the country. Media reported that the organization may issue tough sanctions against Syria over the non-compliance with the roadmap, but no official confirmation was voiced.

Professor of International Relations, Mark Almond has told RT that in his view the big problem now is that not only Syria itself but even the neighboring countries have been drawn into this cycle of violence.

“I think it is naïve to hear sometimes in the West when we think that a dictator and regime like Assad’s has now support and at the same time – that opposition must inherently always be composed only of good, well-intentioned people. There are actually a variety of groups that do not like Assad’s regime, and some of them are rather militantly committed to replacing the secular regime with a Sunni-Fundamentalists regime.”

­Middle East expert Dr. Hisham Ghassib argues that events in Libya and Syria cannot be called revolutions.

“What we are witnessing is a conflict, and we have to understand the nature of this conflict. [We have seen] a genuine revolution in Tunisia, in Egypt and to a certain extent in Yemen and, perhaps, in Bahrain – but not in Libya and Syria.”

He concedes that it may have started as an internal conflict within Syria, but it then turned into a geopolitical one.

“That is ‘an unholy alliance’ between certain Western powers on the one hand, certain Gulf States and Fundamentalist groups attacking the Syrian regime – not for democratic purposes, but for geopolitical ones,” Dr. Ghassib said.

He also added that the situation in today’s Syria resembles that in another country in the past.

“What is happening in Syria reminds me of what happened in Nicaragua twenty years ago, when the Contras were organized by the Americans in order to attack the Nicaraguan regime.”

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November 11th, 2011, 3:13 pm


214. norman said:

As long as the AL and Human Rights organization do not recognize the death in the Syrian military and security services and call it as it is a violent uprising, they have no legitimacy in my book, and are considered bias, can not be relied on to solve the problem in Syria,

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November 11th, 2011, 3:20 pm





The problem is that the real criminals are not in the army but in political and security apparatus charges, and will use their soldiers´ lifes to keep their power as long as they can.

Sandro, and some of real criminals are right here on this site, cheering the regime and sullying the reputation of the Syrian peoples. They are the hate mongers, the scared cowards, the corrupt beneficiaries, and the plain old lunatics.

You should check this a lot of the sane people ho fought to maintain their humanity gather over there. I am sure they’d love seeing you around.

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November 11th, 2011, 3:28 pm



The link was butched, mostly due to my error. Here is the site



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November 11th, 2011, 3:30 pm


217. ann said:

New Voices Denounce Foreign Interference in Syria – Nov 11, 2011

Damascus, Nov 11, Foreign interference in Syria is an irrefutable fact, said Patriarch Gregory III Laham of Antioch, one of the leaders of the Orthodox Church in this country, agreeing in this regard with other prominent figures.

Cham Press news agency quoted Gregory III Laham as saying that what we see every day shows the truth about President Bashar al-Assad’s warnings about foreign interference.

He said that current developments in Syria prove the involvement of the United States and other countries in Europe, and stressed that the countryâ�Ös and President Bashar al-Assadâ�Ös success in confronting those challenges also means success for the Arab and Muslim world.

Syrian press highlighted on Friday the remarks made by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who warned of any foreign interference in the internal affairs of this country.

Bogdanov said that in his recent meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Wendy Sherman, on Wednesday, he noted the need to spare no effort to solve the situation in Syria through peaceful political means, without foreign interference.

He reaffirmed Moscowâ�Ös stance that the international community must help Damascus to hold national dialogue as proposed by the government and accepted by most of the people.

On Thursday, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Lukashevich, said that his country considers the Arab initiative as constructive and valid, and rejected remarks by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who said that the initiative was dead. Lukashevich publicly rejected France’s view and said it is difficult to find the most suitable way to establish dialogue in Syria and solve the problem.

He also expressed Moscowâ�Ös hope that the meeting of the Arab League on Saturday, Nov. 12, to discuss the Syrian issue will be positive and constructive.

Members of internal opposition in Syria on a visit to Cairo expressed support for the Syrian governmentâ�Ös call to a national civilized dialogue, repudiated foreign interference and reaffirmed their backing of the Arab agreement, according to press reports in Damascus.

Those people belonging to two opposition groups in Syria were attacked outside the AL headquarters in Cairo on Wednesday by a group that identified themselves as opponents living abroad, but who want foreign intervention in their country.

The visitors were scheduled to meet with AL Secretary General Nabil Elaraby.

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November 11th, 2011, 3:41 pm


218. ann said:

Syrian mines along Lebanese border injure two – November 11, 2011


A Lebanese man had a leg blown off Friday after stepping on a mine planted hours earlier by Syrian troops along Lebanon’s northern border, local and hospital officials said.

“Imad Khaled Oweyshi was crossing the border from Syria back into Lebanon when he stepped on the mine,” a local official who requested anonymity told AFP.

He said another man accompanying Oweyshi was also lightly wounded by shrapnel from the mine.

It was unclear what the two men were doing in the area, which is widely used by smugglers and where the border is not clearly delineated.

Earlier Friday the official said that soldiers were seen planting mines on the Syrian side of the border village of Wadi Wawiyat, where the mine went off.

The village, which straddles the border, is about 30 kilometers (18 miles) West of another region were Syrian troops planted mines last month.

Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria has also been mined to prevent weapons smuggling and dissidents from fleeing a fierce crackdown by the regime in Damascus against an eight-month revolt.

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November 11th, 2011, 4:04 pm


219. Akbar Palace said:

Ann’s “One Standard for Israel, another for the Arabs” NewZ

HRW = human rights watch = PRO israel organization


HRW has criticized the GOI NUMEROUS times, and while that was occurring, no Arab I know was complaining.

Just so you know, I find it really nauseating when Arabs cry foul when the murderous thugs they support commit crimes exceeding those of Israel. Saddam Hussein, Gad-fly, Assad, every year it’s a different “personality”.

HRW is totally familiar with the lack of BASIC human rights throughout the ME, including Syria. Maybe after a half-century, Arabs will be able to speak freely.


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November 11th, 2011, 4:06 pm


220. ann said:

Syria Welcomes Arab League Mission – November 11, 2011

Damascus, Syria announced on Friday through its ambassador to Egypt, Yousef Ahmad, that it would welcome an Arab League (AL) mission to observe the countryâ�Ös reality.

Local media highlighted today the memorandum given by Ahmad to the AL Council, expressing Damascusâ�Ö willingness to cooperate with such delegation, which is supposed to submit a report on the result of its inspection to the Arab Ministerial Committee led by Qatar.

“The visit will contribute to showing the reality of Syriaâ�Ös commitment to the action plan approved by the AL Council to reveal the motives and agendas of some parties in the country and abroad, which are trying to thwart the Arab agreement,” said the diplomat.

Damascus announcement of the will to cooperate comes a day before an AL meeting to discuss the Syrian issue.

Ahmad reaffirmed the governmentâ�Ös seriousness in complying with the agreed work plan, some articles of which it has been implementing.

Syriaâ�Ös readiness to open doors to an AL observer mission and its reiterated commitment to comply with the Arab agreement contrasts with stepped-up foreign hostility and interference aimed at thwarting any Arab effort leading to a solution to the crisis in this country.

The New York-based U.S. Human Rights Watch now joined this hostility, accusing Syria of committing crimes against humanity. It informed of alleged dozens of deaths and demanded Syriaâ�Ös expulsion from the Arab League and bringing this country to the International Court of Justice.

HRW also urged the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo and additional sanctions against Syria.

In remarks to SANA news agency, Ahmad recalled that a month ago, the Syrian government invited the AL to see the reality in the country, ignoring political instigation and media falseness against Syria.

He explained that all this instigation and falseness are aimed at generating turmoil in the country and inciting some opposition sectors abroad and armed terrorist groups to refrain from responding to the government’s peace efforts and reject the national dialogue proposed by President Bashar al-Assad.

“It is a clearly coordinated operation to trigger foreign interference in Syrian internal affairs,” said the diplomat.

In this regard, he referred to the call made by the U.S. State Department to armed groups to fail to accept the amnesty declared by the government and to fail to surrender their weapons, and to the remarks made by the French foreign minister that the Arab agreement was dead.

This shows clearly the intervention of those governments in the efforts to alter the life inside Syria and their rejection of positive efforts by the Arab community to ease tension and create a safe, peaceful atmosphere for national dialogue supported by the majority of the Syrian people, he concluded.

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November 11th, 2011, 4:14 pm


221. ann said:

Russian Diplomats and Analysts Reject Foreign Interference in Syria’s Internal Affairs

Nov 11, 2011


MOSCOW, (SANA) – A number of Russian diplomats and analysts voiced rejection of foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs and the western countries’ exploitation of the UN to turn the Security Council to a tool for war and aggression.

Former ambassador and Chairman of the Association of Russian Diplomats Pavel Akopov said that Russia took the Libyans experience into consideration and adopted a correct principle by preventing foreign military intervention in Syria.

During a press conference held on Friday in Moscow, Akopov denounced the NATO aggression on Libya and the western countries’ exploitation of the UN with the aim of transforming the Security Council from a tool for peace to a tool for war and aggression.

In turn, former ambassador and Director of the Oriental Studies Department at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Oleg Peressypkin said that Syria is facing false accusations through a media misdirection campaign carried out by Arab and western mass media.

Peressypkin pointed out that there are two opposition factions in Syria: one within Syria which supports dialogue and seeks concurrence, and another abroad with its representatives living in western countries and are affiliated with foreign agendas.

He also affirmed that the Syrian leadership began making radical reforms that fulfils the interests of the majority of the Syrian people.

For his part, former ambassador and Head of the International Affairs Department of the Federation Council of Russia Andrei Baklanov pointed out that he was a part of the Federation Council delegation which visited Syria and witnessed the vandalism committed by armed terrorist groups, noting that external factors are exerting negative influence on the events in Syria, contrary to the Russian stance which sympathizes with the Syrian people.

In turn, Syria’s Ambassador in Russia Riad Haddad reviewed the latest developments in Syria, underlining the Syrian leadership’s approval of the Arab work plan, pointing out to the ongoing media instigation and smuggling of weapons into Syria.

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November 11th, 2011, 4:27 pm


222. alex said:

Jad, thank you so much, I just read your earlier comment.

Amir in Tel Aviv … There is a poll on the upper left side of the blog. Since you are experienced with democracy, you surely know that you get one vote only. After 400 readers voted, you have 82% in favor of Balanced-to-Strong moderation.

We are going with the balanced option… first a warning, then banning for one week only, then permanent banning.

Currently the only person being banned, for one week, is SNP (Generally anti revolution). Another person received a warning and he will be banned next if he writes again threatening readers of SC that they will be next after the revolution wins and punishes the regime’s leaders.

If some of your favorite commentators are not here anymore it is because they can’t live with the preferences of the great majority of readers of SC, not because of Alex than bans for one week one person per month out of 3000 readers.


If you live in the US or if you ever decide to live in the US one day, you don’t want to name your son Camille. In the United States Camille is used exclusively as a female name. You should see the reaction I get each time I introduce myself to an American!

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November 11th, 2011, 4:37 pm


223. Norman said:


The person makes the name, and you make Camille a good name for a man .

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November 11th, 2011, 4:53 pm


224. Alex said:

Thanks Dr. Norman!

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November 11th, 2011, 5:19 pm


225. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

Salah al-Din is a neighborhood in Aleppo that has been having small anti-regime gatherings on Fridays for the past month (and earlier). I looked at videos of them by searching for حلب صلاح الدين at youtube.

In the following one dated today, starting at time 0:22 two members of the security forces are leading away a protester. The protester is not resisting his arrest. But pro-regime local citizens come up from behind and beat the protester on the neck and shoulders. What I was glad to see here is that both of the security men, and one of them with visible sincere anger, made the citizens back off. You can see the same professional working to protect the protester at time 0:07. The unfortunate protester got bloodied on the back of his neck. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhsVOBq8MzU

In the following video dated today, a very sizeable crowd of both young and old men of the neighborhood of Salah al-Din has come out onto the streets to be of assistance to the police. From time 1:16 to 1:24 at the bottom right of the image, four or five elderly and grey-haired men (or at least grey-bearded) are to be observed, with a couple of them dressed in banker’s suits — not what they call “shabeeha”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8dYdXyC-qE

In the following a pro-regime citizen in a banker’s suit is helping the police clear the protesters off the street in Salah al-Din, dated today. He has taken off the belt off his trousers to use as a tool or weapon for this purpose. But he’s unsatisfied with it. He notices piece of junk furniture, a desk, on the street. He urgently and expertly extracts one of the legs of it for use as a cudgel. I got a laugh out it. I assume it’s uncontrived. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75AMTCZgE3o

The following depicts the entirety of the anti-regime protesters in Salah al-Din today, as far as I can see footage of them at youtube.

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November 11th, 2011, 7:00 pm


226. SANDRO LOEWE said:


Many thanks for the link for WALLS site http://7ee6an.wordpress.com

I will check it from time to time when I need Oxygen for my brain.

But my duty is keeping on fighting the Contra propagande of what you call ¨hate mongers, the scared cowards, the corrupt beneficiaries, and the plain old lunatics¨. Brilliant description, yes sir.

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November 11th, 2011, 7:33 pm


227. Ghufran said:

The SNC is becoming less tolerant of dissent among its ranks and the evidence is everywhere,this is why I said what I said. Seculars are increasingly isolated in a council that is focused on foreign military intervention and a council that is dominated by Islamists.
The only hope for the CC and the SNC to join forces is if the regime escalates its violent crackdown on the opposition and refuses Russia’s and AL’s mediation. I looked at the composition and latest statements by the SNC and I am increasingly convinced that it will lose more seculars and win more islamists.
The chances of Syrian opposition forming a council similar to the Libyan NTC are slim to none.

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November 11th, 2011, 8:16 pm


228. bronco said:

Increasing trouble for Turkey with the PKK on the sea

Suspected Kurd militants hijack ferry in Turkey
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Up to five suspected Kurdish militants claiming to be carrying a bomb hijacked a passenger ferry carrying 24 people in northwestern Turkey on Friday, the transport minister said.
Security forces were prepared for the possibility that the hijackers may want to take the vessel to Imrali island in the Sea of Marmara, where PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan has been jailed since 1999, CNN Turk reported.

“Don’t intervene. I have a bomb. I will detonate it,” CNN Turk reported a hijacker as telling security forces by phone.

Yildirim said the ferry had zig-zagged its way across the Marmara Sea. Three coastguards and a helicopter were following the 400-passenger capacity ferry.

Kurdish, leftist and Islamic militants are all active in Turkey. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the PKK insurgency since the group took up arms against the state in 1984.

PKK guerrillas have staged a series of attacks on Turkish armed forces this year and killed 24 soldiers in an attack in Hakkari, bordering Iraq, last month.

That attack triggered cross-border operations by the Turkish military against the militants. Several thousand PKK fighters are based in the mountains of northern Iraq, from where they launch attacks on security forces in southeast Turkey.

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November 11th, 2011, 9:09 pm


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