Rebels Massacre 25 “Shabiha;” An Assad Taken; High Level Military to Defect; Turkish Fighter Shot Down
Posted by Joshua on Friday, June 22nd, 2012
According to reports from people who recently left Syria, moral among even high Syrian officials is down. They openly criticize Assad and talk about his mistakes and being unable to help someone who cannot help himself.
(CBS/AP) BEIRUT – A video emerged Friday showing more than a dozen bloodied corpses in Syria, some of them piled on top of each other and in military uniforms, in what the government said was a “massacre” by rebels in the northern province of … SANA, said terrorist groups had killed and mutilated at least 25 people in Daret Azzeh, a rebel-held area in the Aleppo countryside…..
Mood said the opposition had clearly become better at fighting over the course of the past 15 months of the uprising, according to the diplomat.
CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that the rebel fighters are becoming increasingly better equipped, thanks to weapons and money supplied by Arab countries hostile to Assad.
The opposition consists of roughly 100 different groups, and as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Charlie Rose the U.S. is trying to organize them into a more unified force.
“We’re also working very hard to try to prop up and better organize the opposition. We’ve spent a lot of time on that. It’s still a work in progress.”
The U.S, is not providing weapons to the insurgents, but Martin reports the CIA has begun advising other countries about which opposition groups should receive arms and money.
Mu`ayin Yahiya al-Assad captured: Presumably [not] a relative of the president because he is a mere captain in the police, Assad is featured in this video as one of the captured shabiha. This is presumably the last image of him before he was killed unless he is being held for ransom. His last name is Assad, which makes him a particularly valued target and this video although he is unlikely to be a relative of the president because of his low rank. There are a number of Assad families.
The Daily Telegraph reports that senior military officers from Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime are preparing to join the opposition. U.S. officials told the newspaper that these figures have started to communicate with opposition forces and Western governments as they make contingency plans for the fall of the regime. The military officers have also started to move their money into Lebanese and Chinese banks. A senior opposition activist said “I know for sure there are some high-ranking officers who are waiting for the right chance to defect. We have names of people in the presidential palace.” This report comes a day after a Syrian pilot, flying a MiG-21 fighter jet, defected to Jordan where he was granted asylum on ‘humanitarian grounds.’ The pilot, Col. Hassan Merei al-Hamade, had been ordered to bomb Dera’a before he flew into Jordan’s King Hussein air base. At least three other pilots flying MiG-21s on that same mission also considered defecting, according to the Telegraph.
…at least 104 civilians, 54 soldiers, and 10 rebel fighters were killed throughout the country. The bloodiest areas were Homs and Douma, near Damascus.
A pan-Arab TV says Syrian air defense system has shot down a Turkish fighter jet near the seaside city of Latakia on Friday. Al-Mayadeen TV said the fighter jet was shot down over the coastal town of Ra’es al-Baseet near Latakia, adding that other jet had also been shot at, without giving further details. June 22, 2012 (Xinhua) —
*TURKISH PILOTS IN SYRIAN CUSTODY, HABERTURK SAYS
*SYRIA APOLOGIZED TO TURKEY FOR SHOOTING PLANE, HABERTURK SAYS
Can a Moderate Kurd Unite the Syrian Revolution?
June 20, 2012 By David Arnold – Voice of America
The Syrian National Council (SNC) announced earlier this month the selection of Abdulbaset Sieda, a little-known moderate Kurd from Uppsala, Sweden, to – for the next three months – lead the opposition group of mostly Syrian exiles in its effort to dislodge the government of President Bashar al-Assad…..
Will Syria’s minorities follow Sieda’s lead?
The day he was chosen, Sieda told a reporter for the Kurdish online newspaper, Rudaw, that he has invited the Kurdish National Council (KNC) to join the Syrian umbrella group. The KNC leadership expressed some optimism that the two groups would work together. KNC leadership praised Sieda for his patriotism but added that success will be determined by his effectiveness as “a bridge of communications to improve relations.”
Kurdish issues loom large in that conversation. Kodmani told Middle East Voices the SNC opposed discrimination against Kurds, supports citizenship for all Kurds, and endorses compensation payments for some of the grievances they have against the Assad regime. But she said the SNC cannot endorse other demands such as Kurdish autonomy or federalism without the consensus of the council.
Syrian Kurds generally do not trust the SNC because they see it as a political group created by and in Turkey, says Ayub Nuri, the editor of Rudaw. “The council he leads right now is not liked by many Syrians: Arabs, Christians, Kurds and the other Syrian minority groups.”
Uniting these opposition groups will be a major challenge, said Nuri. “They are deeply divided. They don’t like each other. So anyone, no matter how experienced or how loyal or how hard-working, will have the challenge of satisfying all of these different groups, which I think is impossible.”
Nuri also described the majority of Syria’s Kurds – approximately 10 to 15 percent of Syria’s total population of an estimated 22.5 million – as disengaged from the revolution. Most are unemployed and very poor. They tend to avoid violence because their own struggle with the Assad regime in 2004 ended in the deaths of hundreds of Kurds. “Now, they say the others should do it: ‘We are tired of bloodshed and imprisonment.’”
Can Sieda restructure the Syrian National Council?
Critics of the SNC say future success will be determined not by who is chosen to lead the organization but whether the council is prepared for a structural reorganization on many fronts. The SNC’s Kodmani said reorganization is taking place, but others are skeptical that significant improvements will be made.
The council he leads right now is not liked by many Syrians: Arabs, Christians, Kurds and the other Syrian minority groups – Amr al-Azm, a Syrian American invited to SNC ‘s first meetings. “These problems include issues of transparency, decision-making, how finances are managed, and the lack of a clear vision,” said Amr al-Azm, a Syrian American who teaches archaeology at Shawnee State University in Ohio. A Sunni whose father is a recognized opposition figure and who remains in the SNC, al-Azm was invited to the organizational meetings of the group but declined to join.
“One of the key problems I have with the council is that it is dominated by Islamists, not just members of the Muslim Brotherhood,” al-Azm said. Others have said that Ghalioun – who is a Christian – was put forward by the Brotherhood to downplay their Islamists image. Al-Azm said the Brotherhood supported Sieda for the same reason.
Another member of the SNC, George Sabra – a Christian with close links to Syria’s street activists – was in the running for the leadership position, said Al-Azm. But Sabra was perceived as a threat to the status quo of the leadership, Al-Azm said.
“The Muslim Brotherhood refused to let him take that seat because he is independent-minded. He can make decisions and I think that, in itself, may have interfered with the current balance of power in the SNC.”
The SNC’s short history
The short history of the SNC includes charges of the failure of Ghalioun to consult the membership before making important decisions, as well as the failure of the executive to call for votes among the membership. Three months ago, Gulf newspaper Al Arabiya reported that three of the SNC’s founders – a former judge, a human rights lawyer and opposition leader Kamal al-Labwami – complained about Muslim Brotherhood dominance, the council’s failure to arm the rebels. Having charged the leadership with corruption, they left the council. Two have since returned.
Can a Moderate Kurd Unite the Syrian Revolution?
Kurds are reluctant rebels these days but demonstrated in Qamishli last year with this sign: “We call for a new constitution in which all sects and nationalities in the country can participate.”
“They lurch from crisis to crisis,” said al-Azm. “I don’t see how expanding the SNC to include a few more members of the minorities will fundamentally address the core problems of the SNC, the issues of transparency, leadership and a clear vision.”
Al-Azm is concerned that time is running out for the SNC.
“There is no connection left anymore between the SNC as a sort of political entity and the street which has moved beyond and is not protesting and acting totally independent of such a leadership.”