Opposition Says it has Killed Top Six Regime Figures, But Claim is Doubtful

This photo of an opposition banner hung on a dormitory at the University of Aleppo shows the growing reach of the opposition in Aleppo. Another sign of the growing capability of the opposition is its ability to set off car bombs with growing regularity near intelligence offices and in Syria’s major cities, such as this one: Car bomb hits Syrian city of Deir al-Zour, killing 9 instantly and wounding 100. An intelligence headquarters was the target.

But the assassination of Syria’s six top security officials and Baathists seems beyond the capabilities of the opposition just yet.

According to the Guardian, Heavy clashes were reported in Damascus overnight and in a video message (Arabic), the Free Syrian Army claimed to have killed six key figures in the Assad regime.

The six men killed are reportedly:

1) Asif Shawkat (Head of Syrian intelligence)
2) Mohammad Shaar (interior minister)
3) Dawood Rajha (defence minister)
4) Hassan Turkmani (vice president’s deputy)
5) Hisham Bikhtyar
6) Mohammad Saeed Bkheytan

But it is safer to doubt these claims until they are proven true. The opposition has no coordinated information outlet and many competing news sources, so exaggeration and disinformation seems to be the order of the day. For example, the opposition continues to insist that every car bomb and explosion at an intelligence headquarter is set off by the Syrian military itself in order to blacken the reputation of the pacifist opposition.

This does not make sense for many reasons.

1. Why would the mukhabarat kill itself? No mater how evil one presumes Syria’s intelligence agents are, it remains unlikely that they would kill themselves in such great numbers. This is a bit like believing that the CIA is so evil that it killed the people in the World Trade Center to give President Bush the pretext to invade the Middle East and kill Muslims.The willingness of Western news agencies to repeat these opposition claims demonstrates that Westerners are just as prone to conspiracy theories as are Arabs. All it takes to believe in conspiracy theories is to demonize your enemies to the point that you can believe they will carry out any operation in order to advance their devilish aims.

2. It makes sense for the opposition to set off car bombs in down town areas. Classic stage-two insurgency tactics call for terrorist acts in public places to make the regime look weak and to provoke it to lash out in rage, killing innocent people and provoking more and more neutrals to hate the regime and side with the insurgency. Targeting intelligence headquarters is smart as it accomplishes all of these opposition goals.

Addendum: MM writes in the Comment Section:

Your conclusions are all wrong.

The connections make complete sense to the outside observer, however, to the internal Syrian, even those pro-Regime (within their heart of hearts) – the truth is evident.

–1. Why would the mukhabarat kill itself?

They’re not. All the important Allawites on-site left well before the attacks. Show me the list of martyrs and show me who’s who. Do they contain high ranking Allawite officers? There have been no funerals in the Allawite neighborhoods in Damascus for any Allawite Intelligence officers. No CCTV footage was captured, nothing – cameras were dismantled the week before (they learned this after the first bombing almost blew their cover — and to some extent did).

–2. It makes sense for the opposition to set off car bombs in down town areas.

No, it doesn’t. It provides fodder for bloggers like you and Syrian TV commentators to point fingers at the opposition, insinuating that the opposition is entirely or significantly radical, which justifies and warrants regime response. There’s no benefit here to the opposition — we don’t want to be in the position of having to explain to the world stage that this is a regime tactic as opposed to Al-Qaeda elements potentially fighting alongside us. Killing a few intelligence officers, even if we wish death upon them, won’t win the war here. This regime has a repertoire of Intelligence buildings — the ones attacked are nothing and sacrificing a few for their cause is worth it in their view.

We all know that the regime is not dumb (in certain respects) – they have smart people concocting PsyOps measures to subdue the population and other strategies to ward off western military intervention. They are effective. They got the American administration to say Al-Qaeda has a presence in Syria. They fooled certain elements in the Obama administration. You can’t get any better than this result as a regime plotter. You got the only nation capable of removing you from power to state that the enemy they have been fighting since Sept 11, 2001 is involved in Syria’s unrest. You can’t sell the idea of intervention to the American people at this point.

My own personal assessment was that I was initially unsure of the first couple of car bomb attacks — was this indeed a “third force” that was intervening in the Syrian conflict? However, there was no doubt who dunnit when I saw the aftermath of the most recent car bomb attacks (or bus bomb?). The crater is larger than anything ever seen in Iraq. My personal assessment, based on my Engineering training, is that it would require a significant force — the types of explosives not available in the Terrorists’ kitchen which requires a Government’s complicity. Some pro-Regimites may implicate Gulf nations, however, they would have no interest in undermining our cause. The first car bomb had a deleterious effect on the Opposition and subsequent bombs were progressively worse on us.

Furthermore, the true military wing of the Opposition – the Free Army, has consistently denounced each bombing. The political wing of the Opposition has done the same. Which branch of the Opposition are you implicating here? If it is a third force, then it’s not part of the genuine opposition movement in Syria – it is out of our hands and we wish for them to stop. But it’s not — all these bombs seem to have found their mark. Bonafide suicide terrorists detonate early more than half the time, but we haven’t seen any of this (I hope I’m not giving the regime ideas here, I’d rather not). These attacks are carried out with quite some precision.

Ghalioun to Saudi paper: no recognition of Israel – YNET news

Syrian National Council head Burhan Ghalioun tells Saudi paper that Syrian opposition has no intention to normalize relations with Israel after fall of regime…

“We are convinced that the Syrian regime’s strongest ally is Israel,” he told the paper, adding that the international community’s lack of action in Syria stems from concerns for the Jewish State’s safety

Ghalioun reiterated the Syrian opposition’s position by which “the continued occupation of the Golan Heights severely undermines Syria’s national sovereignty, which it will only regain after the occupied territories are returned.”

Asked about a recent statement made by a member of the opposition, by which Syria will establish relations with Israel after Assad’s fall, Ghalioun said: “Who is the fool who said such a thing?”

Swiss investigate Syrians, Libyans over money-laundering, 2012-05-20

World Bulletin/News Desk The Swiss state prosecutor said on Sunday it had opened criminal proceedings against Syrian and Libyan citizens on suspicion of money laundering. Jeannette Balmer, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor, said Swiss authorities had …

Syria diary – 19 May 2012 – (h/t War in Context)

Layla Al-Zubaidi writes: ‘Welcome to Assad’s Syria,’ the signpost at the Lebanese-Syrian border still says, letting the visitor know who owns the country. The ceasefire had just been announced, but few Syrians I knew held out much hope that three hundred UN observers could keep an eye on the whole army. The journey from Beirut […]

Two Obama Administration Scandals on Syria?,  By Barry Rubin – Meria

When a delegation of Syrian Kurdish rebels recently visited Washington, D.C., the State Department met them to ask for a favor. What was it? The Obama administration urged them to join the Syrian National Council (SNC), the organization created by the U.S. government through Turkey to lead the opposition movement and receive Western aid for […]

But the Turkish Islamist regime, which Obama put in charge of forming the SNC, put the Muslim Brotherhood in control, a fact I pointed out within hours of the announcement of the SNC leadership’s names.

Now that several SNC leaders have resigned complaining about Brotherhood domination, followed by some Arab journalists pointing out the obvious Brotherhood domination at the SNC’s last meeting, that reality is clear. But the implications of such an incredibly foolish policy—America putting an anti-American, antisemitic group into the “official” leadership of Syria’s rebels — have never been properly examined as a case study for Obama’s disastrous Middle East policy.

The Kurds had walked out of the talks that formed the SNC last year when they saw how Islamists would be in control. Not only do they oppose Islamism itself but they also see the Brotherhood as an Arabizing and centralizing group that would impose a regime oppressing the non-Arab Kurds.

The new U.S. effort so backfired  that, with the Obama administration ignoring their concerns, the enraged Kurds in the delegation spoke for the first time of breaking up Syria altogether!…

Syrian Kurdish Dissident: Break Syria Into Pieces,
By Jonathan Spyer May 16, 2012 – Meria

Sherkoh Abbas, a veteran Syrian Kurdish dissident, called on Israel this week to support the break-up of Syria into a series of federal structures based on the country’s various ethnicities.

Speaking from Washington, Abbas was also critical of US attempts to induce Syrian Kurds to join and work with the main opposition body, the Syrian National Council. Abbas, who heads the Washington- based Kurdistan National Assembly, said that dismantling Syria into ethnic enclaves with a federal administration would serve to “break the link” between Syria and the Iran-led “Shi’a crescent.”

Syrian Kurdish, Druse, Alawite and Sunni Arab federal areas, he suggested, would have no interest in aligning with Iran.

At the same time, a federalized Syria would avoid the possibility of a resurgent, Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Sunni Islamist Syria emerging as a new challenge to Israel and the West.

“We need to break Syria into pieces,” Abbas said.

The Syrian Kurdish dissident argued that a federal Syria, separated into four or five regions on an ethnic basis, would also serve as a natural “buffer” for Israel against both Sunni and Shi’ite Islamist forces….

Addendum: aron writes in the comment section:

Those Barry Rubin and Jonathan Spyer articles are highly misleading. Sherko Abbas is very marginal as far as Syrian Kurdish politics go, and to the best of my knowledge he was not even a part of the Kurdish National Council delegation to Washington – he just lives there. This is also not a new opinion of his, he’s been wanting to split Syria into mini-states for a long time, so it has nothing to do with recent events or with Obama’s policy towards the opposition.

In fact, not a single one of the actual opposition parties in the KNC (al-Parti, Progressive, Azadi, Yekiti, etc) or outside of it (PYD, Future, etc) have expressed support for a partition of Syria. Rather, all of them have explicitly stated that they DO NOT seek independence, and the newest version of the KNC program cleary states this. This is the relevant paragraph, published in mid-May:

6- الشعب الكردي في سوريا جزء من الشعب السوري وهو يشكل قومية أساسية أصيلة في البلاد،وحركته الوطنية هي جزء من الحركة الوطنية الديمقراطية العامة وحراكه من الثورة السورية.

6 – The Kurdish people in Syria is a part of the Syrian people and it constitutes a fundamental and authentic nationality in the country. Its national movement is a part of the general national democratic movement and its mobilization is part of the Syrian revolution. (My quick transl. – A)

Long story short, Rubin seems to be trying to actively mislead his readers by equating a Kurdish version of Farid al-Ghadry with the mainstream Syrian Kurdish opposition. Or maybe he’s the one who’s been misled. Either way it’s bad analysis.

Comments (86)


Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

51. omen said:

irritated — a regime so paranoid that it has 17 spy agencies, isn’t going to forget to run cameras.

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May 20th, 2012, 11:08 pm

 

52. irritated said:

maybe they are not so paranoid then

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May 20th, 2012, 11:10 pm

 

53. omen said:

an interesting video that parses out assad regime’s allegations, blaming terror attacks on alqaeda.

(english subtitles)

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May 20th, 2012, 11:17 pm

 

54. MM said:

Your conclusions are all wrong.

The connections make complete sense to the outside observer, however, to the internal Syrian, even those pro-Regime (within their heart of hearts) – the truth is evident.

–1. Why would the mukhabarat kill itself?

They’re not. All the important Allawites on-site left well before the attacks. Show me the list of martyrs and show me who’s who. Do they contain high ranking Allawite officers? There have been no funerals in the Allawite neighborhoods in Damascus for any Allawite Intelligence officers. No CCTV footage was captured, nothing – cameras were dismantled the week before (they learned this after the first bombing almost blew their cover — and to some extent did).

–2. It makes sense for the opposition to set off car bombs in down town areas.

No, it doesn’t. It provides fodder for bloggers like you and Syrian TV commentators to point fingers at the opposition, insinuating that the opposition is entirely or significantly radical, which justifies and warrants regime response. There’s no benefit here to the opposition — we don’t want to be in the position of having to explain to the world stage that this is a regime tactic as opposed to Al-Qaeda elements potentially fighting alongside us. Killing a few intelligence officers, even if we wish death upon them, won’t win the war here. This regime has a repertoire of Intelligence buildings — the ones attacked are nothing and sacrificing a few for their cause is worth it in their view.

We all know that the regime is not dumb (in certain respects) – they have smart people concocting PsyOps measures to subdue the population and other strategies to ward off western military intervention. They are effective. They got the American administration to say Al-Qaeda has a presence in Syria. They fooled certain elements in the Obama administration. You can’t get any better than this result as a regime plotter. You got the only nation capable of removing you from power to state that the enemy they have been fighting since Sept 11, 2001 is involved in Syria’s unrest. You can’t sell the idea of intervention to the American people at this point.

My own personal assessment was that I was initially unsure of the first couple of car bomb attacks — was this indeed a “third force” that was intervening in the Syrian conflict? However, there was no doubt who dunnit when I saw the aftermath of the most recent car bomb attacks (or bus bomb?). The crater is larger than anything ever seen in Iraq. My personal assessment, based on my Engineering training, is that it would require a significant force — the types of explosives not available in the Terrorists’ kitchen which requires a Government’s complicity. Some pro-Regimites may implicate Gulf nations, however, they would have no interest in undermining our cause. The first car bomb had a deleterious effect on the Opposition and subsequent bombs were progressively worse on us.

Furthermore, the true military wing of the Opposition – the Free Army, has consistently denounced each bombing. The political wing of the Opposition has done the same. Which branch of the Opposition are you implicating here? If it is a third force, then it’s not part of the genuine opposition movement in Syria – it is out of our hands and we wish for them to stop. But it’s not — all these bombs seem to have found their mark. Bonafide suicide terrorists detonate early more than half the time, but we haven’t seen any of this (I hope I’m not giving the regime ideas here, I’d rather not). These attacks are carried out with quite some precision.

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May 20th, 2012, 11:59 pm

 

55. Uzair8 said:

54. MM

A brilliant answer! Thanks for putting the effort in.

The regime:

Manufacturing narrative
Manufacturing pretext

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May 21st, 2012, 12:59 am

 

56. Juergen said:

Norman

Lebanon as a country is not stable, a rumour, just a hint can set off emotions and warlike scenarios. Syria is just an other good reason to disagree for many Lebanese, at the end its an powerstruggle like many.

Aldenshe

Either you were scarcastic or you really meant your praise for Harvard and those who come out with an diploma of it. To round up the picture you should tell your lady also that the economic crisis we face since 2006 is part of the achievements Harvard absolvents created in the banking, insurance and political levels.

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May 21st, 2012, 1:00 am

 

57. Uzair8 said:

We must be cautious regarding the ‘assasination’ reports. This could be a regime disinformation campaign to distract and cover up the reality. It could be a case of innocent food poisoning as a result of recently switching to Iranian food products (perhaps caviar?).

If this is true then the recent Syria-Iran free trade agreement has got off to the worst possible start.

Unfortunately henceforth at such high ranking meetings they will keep arrested activists locked up in the store room using them as human shields to test the food at meal times.

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May 21st, 2012, 1:16 am

 

58. Aldendeshe said:

“……..To round up the picture you should tell your lady also that the economic crisis we face since 2006 is part of the achievements Harvard absolvents created in the banking, insurance and political levels……”

——————————————————————-

It is crises for the simpleton, it is get rich quick for the Harvard grad managers “The Conspirators”. Look how many trillions they walked out with their conspiracy.

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May 21st, 2012, 1:17 am

 

59. Joshua said:

Dear Aron, Thanks for your comments. I have added them to the main post under Barry Rubin\’s articles.

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May 21st, 2012, 1:28 am

 

60. Uzair8 said:

I was wondering whether the free trade agreement between Syria and Iran was just a front for Iran to hand over much needed financial support to the regime (a billion or 2 dollars).

The Iranian government cannot just hand over money risking the wrath of it’s own people. This way they can keep it secret and if it was ever exposed they could deny and use the free trade agreement as cover.

How else is the syrian currency still remaining more stable than expected?

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May 21st, 2012, 1:30 am

 

61. Joshua said:

MM, I have also added to the main post your comment explaining why you believe that the Syrian government is responsible for the car bombs. Thanks for the thoughtful argument.

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May 21st, 2012, 1:32 am

 

62. Juergen said:

Aldenshe

Well if greed is a merit nowadays, go ahead. I worry alot over such policies and an economy which only knows one way: growth by all means.

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May 21st, 2012, 1:51 am

 

63. Uzair8 said:

AJE has put up the recent episode of Inside Syria with Pr. JL a guest alongside Basma Kodmani.

The other day I caught part of the show and heard how Syria has struggled to find its identity after Ottoman times. Also how due to the lack of International response the SNC has been forced to move closer to the internal opposition.

Syria: An opposition divided
20 May 2012

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2012/05/201252085511114902.html

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May 21st, 2012, 1:56 am

 

64. Uzair8 said:

#56.

Odd how the regime seems to be a leader in manufacturing yet the economy is in shambles.

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May 21st, 2012, 1:59 am

 

65. Uzair8 said:

Venezuela is becoming problematic with its upcoming fuel shipment helping to ease the regimes difficulties and fueling the military suppression.

It’s time the SNC sent a delegation led by Dr Ridwan Ziadeh to explain to Caracas the harm they are doing.

Alternatively it is high time the Free Syrian Navy (FSN) is formed and deployed to intercept the shipment in the mediterranean.

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May 21st, 2012, 2:37 am

 

66. Uzair8 said:

The vain search for dialogue in a battle-scarred Syria

20 May 2012
By Lyse Doucet
BBC News

Holding on to power: Privately, some of President Bashar al-Assad’s officials accept change may be necessary

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18118848

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May 21st, 2012, 3:06 am

 

67. omen said:

video said to show regime members planting roadside mines in douma:

youtube

.

is this consistent with the explosion that blew up near the un monitors convoy?

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May 21st, 2012, 3:22 am

 

68. Uzair8 said:

Aleppo Crumble

Almost ready. The milk* custard needs a little more stirring.

* Halab

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May 21st, 2012, 3:30 am

 

69. omen said:

66. Uzair8 said:
Alternatively it is high time the Free Syrian Navy (FSN) is formed and deployed to intercept the shipment in the mediterranean.
2:37 am

libya rebels once did that. intercepted an oil shipment.

BRUSSELS, Aug 4 [2011](Reuters) – A Libyan tanker reported to have been seized by rebels opposing Muammar Gaddafi arrived in the rebel-held port of Benghazi on Thursday after being cleared to proceed by NATO ships enforcing an arms embargo, NATO said.

this was like something out of movie. surreal.

i wondered at the time how the rebels managed to pulled it off. the ship’s crew must have been sympathetic to the rebels’ cause because news footage showed the ship’s crew standing alongside the rebels on the ships deck, both waving at the news cameras.

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May 21st, 2012, 3:35 am

 

70. annie said:

From Rime Allaf’s FB :

Many Palestine defenders completely ignored this story, but would have made it go viral if it had not been done by the Syrian “resistance” regime, which apparently is free to jail, torture and deport Palestinians as long as it claims it’s fighting Israel.

Syria: Deported Palestinian journalist speaks out about torture in custody
http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/news-item/syria-deported-palestinian-journalist-speaks-out-about-torture-in-custody
Journalist Salameh Kaileh describes his brutal torture in a Syrian prison and hospital before he was deported to Jordan.

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May 21st, 2012, 3:41 am

 

71. Hans said:

BHO tells the G8 that Assad must leave!!!
well here is the deal, Putin didn’t leave and therefore Assad won’t leave!
November is not far from now and will see if BHO is around anymore.
Sarkosy a year ago was advocating bombing Syria, he must be now rethinking about his vacation in Syria.

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May 21st, 2012, 7:38 am

 

72. Observer said:

Again I usually review the sites that are pro regime.

Here we have three stories apparently mundane from Cham Press but quite telling about the collapse of the economy.

http://www.champress.net/index.php?q=ar/Article/view/410

http://www.champress.net/index.php?q=ar/Article/view/409

http://www.champress.net/index.php?q=ar/Article/view/421

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May 21st, 2012, 7:49 am

 

73. Abdul said:

I have to agree with the critics of this article.

This is so ironic it’s painful.
EVERYONE is so concerned by who killed some dozens of civilians via car bombs.
BUT NOBBODY in the international community is doing anything about a TYRANT BOMBARDNING entire districts with no concern for civilians killing thousands of them in the process.

As for clues on who is behind this attack. Have a read here:
http://www.alyunaniya.com/analysis/syria-the-clues-behind-the-terror/

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May 21st, 2012, 8:53 am

 

74. SANDRO LOEWE said:

May 21st, 2012, 9:11 am

 

75. zoo said:

Obama wants Syria to turn like Yemen? It’s already like Yemen.

96 killed in Yemen suicide blast: medics

SANAA – Agence France-Presse
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/96-killed-in-yemen-suicide-blast-medics.aspx?pageID=238&nID=21229&NewsCatID=352

A Yemeni soldier packing powerful explosives under his uniform blew himself up in the middle of an army battalion in Sanaa Monday, killing 96 troops and wounding around 300, a military official and medics said.

The suicide attack was the deadliest in the country’s capital since newly-elected President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi pledged to oust Al-Qaeda militants from Yemen’s mostly lawless and restive southern and eastern provinces.

“There are at least 50 dead and the toll could rise,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, adding that all the casualties were soldiers.

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May 21st, 2012, 9:35 am

 

76. bronco said:

I am shocked that Syrians expats seem to rejoice from the collapse of their ex-country’s economy and enjoy watching the increased hardship imposed on the poor Syrian.
If this is not a collective punishment for refusing to bow to the demands coming from foreign countries, what is it?.
These type of punishment plays well for the regime who can blame it on the opposition’s sinister masquerade played in complicity with rich and arrogant Arab countries.

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May 21st, 2012, 10:11 am

 

77. Tara said:

Bronco

The sanctios are meant to apply pressure on the regime that should divert the money to feed people rather than to buy ammunition to kill them. They are also meant to grow discontent.

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May 21st, 2012, 10:38 am

 

78. Jad said:

Bronco,
Did you expect anything ‘Human’ and ‘Patriotic’ from them?
We only read about how sectarian they are, how delusional and how radical they become, I can’t deferenciate any of them from any AQ fighter in Afghanistan anymore, they become ‘students’ of Taliban, how ironic!
Here is the latest Abukhalil article telling it all about the Syrian ‘opposition’:

Syria was a different story altogether. The exile Syrian opposition reminded Arabs too well of its Iraqi equivalent before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Syrian National Council seemed like a replica of the Iraqi National Council, and Burhan Ghalioun reminded many of Ahmad Chalabi.

The exile opposition did not wait long before it put itself at the disposal of NATO: the SNC’s leader (a man with years of credentials as a supporter of Palestinian rights and as a secular Arab nationalist of sorts) began to flirt with Israel and to serve Gulf dictatorships who quickly assumed funding of the exile opposition.

And the Syrian regime – while popular with many if not most Syrians back home – was not as unpopular as other Arab regimes because Arabs – perhaps wrongly – judged other Arab regimes by the criteria of foreign policy.
In comparison to other Arab regimes, the Syrian regime seemed on bad terms with the US and Israel (although the regime cooperated for years with the US and entered direct and indirect negotiations with Israel). The fact that the Syrian opposition in exile (controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria, which has never enjoyed popular support in the Arab world, perhaps because of its cooperation with the Jordanian regime and the pro-Israeli Phalanges back in the late 1970s and 1980s) vocally called for any foreign intervention, only made the cause of the Syrian opposition less appealing than the causes of other Arab opposition groups.

http://english.al-akhbar.com/blogs/angry-corner/most-unpopular-arab-uprising

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May 21st, 2012, 11:02 am

 

79. aron said:

MM

The crater is larger than anything ever seen in Iraq.

To be honest, I doubt you checked. I’m not an engineer, but a carload of explosives should be able to do that, shouldn’t it?

Furthermore, the true military wing of the Opposition – the Free Army, has consistently denounced each bombing. The political wing of the Opposition has done the same. Which branch of the Opposition are you implicating here?

The Jabhat al-Nosra has been claiming responsibility for most of the car bombs. It’s a Jihadi group, probably tied to Iraq’s al-Qaida wing. No one is (or should be) blaming the SNC or FSA for these bombs, but it isn’t very helpful for them to claim that the regime is behind it either. Presently there is no evidence to dispute the claim that Jabhat al-Nosra is really behind the bombs, and no evidence that it it a regime creation, although of course it COULD theoretically be that.

I find it perfectly plausible that Jihadis would want to join the battle in Syria and that this is the way they would act, so unless some real evidence emerges, I see no reason to assume Bashar’s boys are bombing themselves, at least not in most of these cases – and the opposition should stop routinely believing every theory that reflects badly on the regime (and vice versa).

Most of the exiled secular opposition seems to be totally in denial about the level of sectarian and Islamist involvement in this conflict, similar to how people in the Iraqi opposition were claiming that Abu Moussaab al-Zarqawi was an invention of US propaganda basically until the day he turned up dead. This sort of irrational conspiracy mongering isn’t helping anyone.

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May 21st, 2012, 11:24 am

 

80. bronco said:

#77 Tara

“They are also meant to grow discontent.”
The Syrian government is under the assault of friends of Israel and the traditional enemies of Moslems and Arabs. It is now increasingly appearing as the victim of a plot where hateful and bitter expats are paid by disfunctional countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia to prepare their triumphant return by starving the people.

No illusions, it is clear toward whom the discontent will be addressed to.

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May 21st, 2012, 1:18 pm

 

81. Tara said:

Bronco

A new thread has started. I linked a post about Lebanese Sunnis. Would like to hear your opinion on the matter.

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May 21st, 2012, 1:21 pm

 

82. omen said:

Why would the mukhabarat kill itself?

there is precedence.

the regime has killed off scores of soldiers from its own army because they refused to shoot unarmed civilians.

as mm points out, there isn’t evidence of high ranking alawites killed in the bomb blast. but i have no doubt the regime would kill off half its lower ranking members if it suited its purposes.

plus, there is added benefit served by suppressing inclinations of defection when the regime shows a willingness to kill its own.

it may favor one sect over another but the regime’s highest loyalty is to remaining in power.

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May 21st, 2012, 4:14 pm

 

83. Roland said:

Don’t the Kurdish leaders realize yet that the Americans have sold them down the river?

Now that the Iraq War has been wound down, and given the continued value to the USA of the Turkish alliance, the Kurds are no longer very useful to the Americans. Therefore, the Americans will shop the Kurds in the power-political marketplace.

After all, what can the Kurds do about it? The Kurds are on such poor terms with the Arabs and the Turks, that the Americans can be assured that the Kurds will come crawling back whenever the Americans may wish to make use of them again.

Are there any Kurds silly enough to believe that the people running a sprawling worldwide empire actually care about the fate of their people? The Serious People in the US capital have much larger and more important things to worry about.

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May 21st, 2012, 5:25 pm

 

84. omen said:

MM : The crater is larger than anything ever seen in Iraq.

79. aron said: To be honest, I doubt you checked. I’m not an engineer, but a carload of explosives should be able to do that, shouldn’t it?

i think mm’s point is this: despite the security mess represented by iraq, an explosion the size of the damascus bombing hasn’t been seen. (although i have fuzzy memory of the bomb blast that took out a UN building where a noted diplomat was killed. that was pretty big.)

look at this photo.

http://i45.tinypic.com/9v8uo2.jpg

taken from state coverage of the “foiled” suicide bombing attempt in aleppo.

i bet the set up in damascus was similar to the one attempted in aleppo. this is pretty big cargo to be hauling around to carry all these explosives.

i heard activists on the ground in syria complain about there being too many security checkpoints. one where officers stop people to check and examine the cars. surely, regime buildings housing security personnel is going to be ringed by multiple security checkpoints.

syria is a police state. it would be hard to casually drive around carrying cargo this size without getting checked. i think mm’s argument is that only the regime if capable of pulling this off.

the terrorism in iraq was represented by small insurgency groups. state sponsored terrorism is capable of executing bigger operations, like was seen in the damascus bombing.

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May 21st, 2012, 5:33 pm

 

85. omen said:

79. aron said:

The Jabhat al-Nosra has been claiming responsibility for most of the car bombs. It’s a Jihadi group, probably tied to Iraq’s al-Qaida wing. No one is (or should be) blaming the SNC or FSA for these bombs, but it isn’t very helpful for them to claim that the regime is behind it either. Presently there is no evidence to dispute the claim that Jabhat al-Nosra is really behind the bombs, and no evidence that it it a regime creation, although of course it COULD theoretically be that.

juergen earlier pointed out al nusra has come out and denied taking credit for the damascus bombing.

But the films are circulating on the net apparently not always authentic. Thus, the Nusra Front has now denied being responsible for a video that the weekend has been published under her name . It had a speaker with a distorted voice over the responsibility for the double attack, which killed about 70 people last Thursday had been .

, The group said “The video and the accompanying statement full of errors” are now in a new letter. “We of the military branch neither an endorsement nor a denial, or any information received regarding the operation,” it says it on. “If we get more information, we will publish them on the official Dschihadistenforen.”

.

alqaeda immediately took credit for the sanna bombing in yemen. they haven’t done so for syria.

plus, another criticism pointing to these bombings unlikely to be alqaida or any other islamist militant group is the lack of religious justification usually cited in defense of bombings. no quotes from the koran cited, no sayings from the prophet quoted.

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May 21st, 2012, 5:56 pm

 

86. aron said:

Well, as is clear from the text, Jabhat al-Nosra denied responsibility for the statement circulated in their name, not for the bombing itself. We’ll see what happens with that. In any case, they have undisputedly been claiming most other car/suicide bombs in Syria since the winter – and these have also been routinely blamed on Assad by the SNC/FSA, without any controversies about forged statements.

As for the size of the bomb, I don’t have the expertise to any draw conclusions from it. So I’d rather not. For all I know al-Qaida could have used much larger bombs in Iraq, Algeria, Yemen etc. For instance, here’s a 2009 car bomb crater from Iraq of about the same size as that in Damascus: http://www.rfi.fr/actuen/images/116/190809IRAQ432.jpg – and here’s what was left of a UN building in Algiers after al-Qaida paid a visit in 2007: http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/44293000/jpg/_44293609_rubble_afp416.jpg

Religious texts etc: Jabhat al-Nosra statements in general (at least the film clips, the written communiqués are generally very short and to the point) are full of religious Salafi-Jihadi stuff. Look them up.

In sum: Everything points to Jabhat al-Nosra being the perpetrator behind most of these bombings, possibly with one or two exceptions. They may or may not be a regime front. If you think so, that should be argued with evidence – I still haven’t seen any from anyone. Until then, I’m going to work with the least convoluted theory, which is that they are probably the Jihadis they claim to be, and that the US government’s theory that they are a spinoff from Iraqi al-Qaida seems likely enough to me.

Meanwhile, no one is helped by the SNC and FSA (or for that matter the Baath) reflexively concocting conspiracy theories whenever they hear something they don’t like. If they can’t even admit that a still marginal but growing Jihadi problem exists, they’re not likely to be able to deal with it effectively either.

(By the way, for those interested: All Jabhat al-Nosra statements so far can be safely accessed as PDF:s in Arabic, sometimes with English translations, on jihadology.net)

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May 21st, 2012, 6:53 pm

 

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