“Revolt in Syria,” Stephen Starr’s Book; Sahner on Syrian Heritage beign Destroyed; Ajami on Clinton

Stephen Starr’s new book on Syria is full of startling insights that only someone who has lived and worked there for the last five years could write. It is also a good read. Here is an excerpt.

‘Revolt in Syria: Eye-Witness to the Uprising’ excerpt
By Stephen Starr

Laila met me at a café in downtown Damascus. She was from a wealthy family that lived in Dummar, a suburb on the north-western outskirts of Damascus. She was twenty one years old and in her third year of media studies at Damascus University.

“I saw some students from my class take off their belts and hit medicine students who wanted to hold a demonstration for freedom. It was shocking. Almost everyone in my class is totally pro-government. I’ve cut thirty of my friends from Facebook be¬cause I can’t continue to listen to their rubbish. I’m not talking to two of my cousins because they disagree with me.” The thing that had surprised her most, she said, was how educated peo¬ple she knew were talking about the crisis. “They’re saying we should all stand blindly behind the government.”
I suggested that they were probably afraid of civil war in Syria. Laila disagreed.

“In Jordan there are Palestinians that follow various Palestinian groups, there are Jordanians, Beduins, Christians and so on and they get along. The sectarian idea doesn’t have to apply to Syria.”

She told me how on 15 June, on the day of the unfurling of a giant Syrian flag in the Mezzah area of Damascus, she had an exam at the nearby faculty of literature. “I had to take off my shoes to cross the street because I couldn’t walk on the flag in order to get to my exam. Then when I started the test I couldn’t concentrate because of the noise from the rally outside. I mean, what type of logic and thinking is this – to hold a huge govern¬ment rally next to a state university where state exams are tak¬ing place? It is just so stupid.

“My house was worth seventy million Syrian pounds [almost US$1.5 million at the time] before the unrest began – we have money, we have a lot to lose. But we will gain more under a dif¬ferent government. My four brothers have to go live and work in Dubai because they can’t get work here and because of the military service. The government is driving its youth away.”

Sipping on a lemon-mint drink, Laila was convinced Syria was being held back by those in power.

“We have to work all year to spend one week in Beirut for some fun. What is this? Beirut is nothing, we could have so much more right here in Syria,” she said, bending marks into her drink¬ing straw in frustration.

Laila said she has been once or twice to Beirut for shopping and to visit pubs and that her closest four or five friends all shared her opinion on ‘The Situation’.
She also told me of the mafia-style workings of the police and security apparatus as the regime worked to stamp out dissent across the country in July.

“My friend’s father was detained in Hama one month ago [May 2011]. Very few people know this, but US$2,000 will allow you to find out where a person is being held. US$4,000 will ensure he or she stays alive although it does not guarantee his or her health. US$2,000 more will get him or her on a list for question¬ing which will mean, at some stage, he or she will be released.”

She said she would like to see foreign military intervention in Syria to kick out the regime. “The regime will never give in because of the system they have organized. I don’t think they will change as they are say¬ing. I would prefer to die by an American or English gun than by someone from my own country.”

For Laila, as for others, corruption and the necessity of wasta are hated aspects of daily life in Syria. Corruption and bureau¬cracy angered her most.
“If I want to get a passport in Jordan it would take me one hour. In Syria it will take forever unless I pay the employee some money.

“My father goes twice a week to an electricity office. When he goes there he has three assistants and they’re all from the 86 area [a predominantly Alawite-inhabited area in west Damas¬cus]. This is the state’s disease, this is how they have worked for decades. It is unsustainable and it needs to be rooted out and ended.”
She said the magazine where she worked part-time was emp¬ty. “There are no employees. Companies have stopped spending money on advertising so the magazine simply has no revenue. It’s as simple as that.”

She went on to talk about the business situation in Syria and the anger it made her feel.
“Do you know how they started Syriatel?” she asked me, refer¬ring to the telecommunications company owned by the presi¬dent’s cousin. “Anyone who wanted to open a mobile phone line had to pay 10,000 Syrian pounds and then wait for months. Then they bought the equipment and technology they needed and started their own company. What rubbish! This is the peo-ple’s company. Those people did not pay for it yet they call it their own.

“Do you know why there are no Starbucks, no McDonald’s and so on in Syria? If I want to start a business I need to give the government 51 per cent ownership. They then take another 10 per cent of the profits from me. So essentially they have 61 per cent of my company. Why would anyone want to open a busi¬ness in this situation? This is why we are such an undeveloped country.”

She told me about the reasons for social inequality in Syria.
“The people who live in 86, the Alawites who have free phone lines and who don’t ever pay for their electricity, are being told they are going to be attacked and are being given guns by the security forces ‘to protect themselves’.

“We have laws but no one obeys them. Why? Because they are not being enforced. People are flexible. If the government leads with a bad example the people will follow.
“People in Dubai or Beirut don’t throw litter on the street, but here we do. Why? I know that if I talk on the phone while driving and a policeman stops me I can give him a smile, slip 500 Syrian pounds [US$10] into my driving license and smile. He’ll let me go.”

I asked her whether it wasn’t the responsibility of the people not to do this, not to give out money to the police and other government workers and not to throw litter in the streets.
“My mother was in the US two months ago and she told me how in one mall there was a green space where people could not sit. In Syria, everyone would sit there for two reasons. One, because they don’t take the average policeman or, for example, ministry inspector seriously. Second, because they simply have nowhere else to go. We have lots of fancy restaurants for rich people but nothing has been put in place for the poor who want to have fun.”

Laila said she was neither an activist nor part of the opposition beyond posting cryptic remarks on her Facebook page. I asked her for the solution to the current unrest.
“We need to turn the clock back to zero. Sure it will take time, maybe five years, but it will certainly be worth it. We have been led as sheep for forty years and if this government stays we will be sheep for forty more.”

I told her that I thought this was the danger. “If you have a sheep that has been following a shepherd for three years and you let him go free he’ll be dead in a week.”
She was visibly angry as she waved my point away:

“I believe that everyone has one chance. The regime has had chances for forty years. They’ve had so many chances since the problems started in March but what have they done? Nothing. They must go.”

‘Revolt in Syria’ was released in the US on August 14.

La vie sans Bachar
Garance Le Caisne, envoyée spéciale à l’ouest d’Alep (en Syrie) – Le Journal du Dimanche 19

REPORTAGE – À l’ouest d’Alep, des milliers de personnes habitent une région libérée. Justice, police, santé, vie en société, il leur faut tout inventer : “Assad voulait qu’on se déchire. C’est le contraire qui est arrivé”

Hillary and the Hollowness of ‘People-to-People’ Diplomacy
By Fouad Ajami, 11 August 2012, Wall Street Journal

The sight of Hillary Clinton cutting a rug on the dance floor this week in South Africa gives away the moral obtuseness of America’s chief diplomat. That image will tell the people of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, under attack by a merciless regime, all they need to know about the heartlessness of U.S. foreign policy…..

Syria has now descended, as it was bound to, into a drawn-out conflict, into a full-scale sectarian civil war between the Sunni majority and the Alawi holders of power. But Mrs. Clinton could offer nothing better than this trite, hackneyed observation: “We must figure out ways to hasten the day when bloodshed ends and the political transition begins. We have to make sure that state institutions stay intact.”

These are the words of someone running out the clock on the Syrians, playing for time on behalf of a president who gave her this post knowing there would be at Foggy Bottom a politician like himself instead of a diplomat given to a belief in American power and the American burden in the world….

Letter From Syria
The War Within by Jon Lee Anderson for the New Yorker

As Syria descends into civil war, can its rebel factions unite against the government?

In our new Insight, MEI Research Fellow Linda Matar explores how the al-Asad regime in Syria has been slowing the pace of neoliberal economic reform since the beginning of the country’s uprising in March 2011. For instance, state-controlled cooperatives have been ensuring the availability of food items at reasonable prices, and the government has also raised public sector wages and approved 25,000 new public sector jobs. However, despite these attempts to mitigate social unrest, Matar writes that “these measures have done little to arrest the social disaster already in place.”

Mourning for Syria: I love America, I love Syria, I hate the war, but will things get better if Assad is gone?
By Dalel Khalil in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, 2012-08-12

On the subject of local governance and organizing committees, this article from last Sunday (12 August) in LeJDD explains how a new civil society is springing up in Northern Syria where Assad no longer rules.

Russia warns West over Syria after Obama threats
By Dominic Evans,BEIRUT | Tue Aug 21, 2012

(Reuters) – Russia warned the West on Tuesday against unilateral action on Syria, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama threatened “enormous consequences” if his Syrian counterpart used chemical or biological arms or even moved them in a menacing way.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking after meeting China’s top diplomat, said Moscow and Beijing were committed to “the need to strictly adhere to the norms of international law…and not to allow their violation”…..

Seeking re-election in November, Obama noted that he had refrained “at this point” from ordering U.S. military engagement in Syria. But when he was asked at a White House news conference whether he might deploy forces, for example to secure Syrian chemical and biological weapons, he said his view could change.

“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is (if) we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” Obama said. “That would change my calculus.”….

Saving Syria – The Wall Street Journal – August 21, 2012
By Christian C. Sahner

Many tragedies have followed the start of the Syrian uprising 18 months ago, but one that deserves more attention is the destruction of Syria’s cultural patrimony. Throughout the country, Roman temples, Crusader castles and medieval mosques have been subject to shelling, gunfire and military occupation. What is more, the collapse of authority has led to widespread theft and looting. As Syria descends into bedlam, the international community must work to protect the country’s historical sites, lest we see a repeat of the destruction of Iraq’s landmarks after 2003.

Syria is the cradle of civilization, with a history of human settlement stretching back 5,000 years. …..

Among the at-risk monuments is the Unesco World Heritage site Crac des Chevaliers, a Crusader fortress of the 12th to 13th centuries, which stands on a hilltop overlooking the plains of Homs. It is regarded as the finest example of medieval castle architecture anywhere in the world. According to reports, Crac was the site of peaceful antigovernment protests in March when it came under shelling. This led to damage to the outer walls, as well as the elegant Crusader chapel inside, which was converted into a mosque in 1271. Other reports indicate that it has served as a hub for foreign fighters who have entered Syria to battle the regime.

Then there is the ancient city of Palmyra, another Unesco World Heritage site, whose ruins lay scattered across a desert oasis 150 miles northeast of Damascus. Looting has been reported throughout the archaeological site, including in the Temple of Bel complex, the stately colonnaded avenue, the Camp of Diocletian, and the Valley of the Tombs.

Some of the most brazen destruction has occurred at the Roman city of Apamea, about 40 miles northwest of Hama. During recent months, Syrian army tanks have occupied the colonnaded street and shelled the 12th-century fortress of Qala’at al-Mudiq, which stands atop the old Roman acropolis. Plunderers have profited from the chaos, arriving in Apamea with heavy digging equipment and absconding with priceless Roman mosaics and column capitals. There is speculation that these kinds of looters are part of a wider network of criminals operating in the Middle East, who pillage archaeological sites on behalf of the black market.

Some of the worst-hit monuments lie in cities that have been the focus of sustained urban warfare. These include Dara’a in the far southwest, where the uprising began in March 2011; its ‘Umari mosque— founded at the time of the Islamic conquests—has sustained heavy shelling. There is also Homs, the veritable center of the uprising, where countless mosques, churches and markets now stand in ruin. Most recently, the fighting has spread to Aleppo, where gunfire has engulfed the great medieval citadel in the center of town, which has served as a makeshift army base.

There are dozens of other examples of destruction throughout the country, not to mention instances of brazen theft from Syrian museums. This has prompted ominous comparisons to postinvasion Iraq, where the collapse of security led to much-publicized looting of the National Museum, along with ancient sites such as Babylon and Nineveh. With no end to the Syrian uprising in sight, what can be done to reverse the trend?

First, the media and nongovernmental organizations must publicize the damage and looting. …..

Comments (86)

Pages: [1] 2 » Show All

1. Visitor said:

Despite the relentless barbaric assault of the thugs of the Nazis occupying Damascus and the use of military aircraft, missiles, artillery and tanks, our heroic Free Army of the Revolution continues to advance in Aleppo with over 70 percent of the city firmly under FSA control and liberated from slavery and bondage to the rejects of the human race,


God willing all of Syria will be liberated from this scourge of the enemy of humanity.

All claims to alleged successes by the thugs of the regime are false and mere posturing. These idiots think they can win the war by simply spreading propaganda and lies.


This is now confirmed.

Bashar has defected and formed the Brigade of Free Animals. He dubbed it as BBFA. He said he wants to dispel any rumors that he is a thug or a dictator and that he detests the idea that others are monopolizing the use of the term Free.

The ‘Shabiha’ gladly joined in mass and felt completely at home and pleased, especially with the idea that animals too can be Free. They are now based in Zoos (no pun intended) that they call Free Zoos of ‘Love-You-For-Ever-Die-For-You-Always-Free-Pets-At-Last’.

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August 21st, 2012, 11:47 am



Syrian regime authority Jamil Qadri have shown open to any option including the renounce of Assad as President, during a press conference in Moscow after meeting russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.

I am smelling the cooking of Assad …. the begining of the end of the end.

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August 21st, 2012, 12:47 pm


3. ghufran said:

حظرت ميليشيا الجيش السوري الحر تعذيب الأسرى أو قتلهم، وذلك بعد الانتقادات التي وجهها محققون للأمم المتحدة اليها بعد الجرائم التي ارتكبتها العناصر التابعة لها بحق المدنيين والعسكريين السوريين.
وقال العقيد المنشق قاسم صلاح الدين انه يجب على جنود الجيش السوري الحر “تنفيذ مبادئ القانون الدولي التي تحظر إيذاء المدنيين … وتعذيب المقاتلين الأسرى أو قتلهم.”
وقال صلاح الدين ان “اعضاء الجيش السوري الحر محظور عليهم الانتماء إلى أي حزب سياسي او ديني والتدخل في العملية السياسية بعد إسقاط نظام الأسد.”
I would like to hear from anybody who believes this statement,you can not bring a sheep back to life after you slaughter it,allowing thugs and Islamists to infiltrate what was supposed to be a decent popular movement that wants to save civilians was an unforgivable mistake,Syria is paying for it now, I will consider the FSA part of those thugs until they start fighting and arresting them instead of joining them in this fatal dance.

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August 21st, 2012, 12:54 pm


4. VISITOR said:


That’s not going to fly. Athad must step down. No negotiations are possible with criminals.


In addition, Athad and all involved in crimes against the Syrian people must be prosecuted and receive proper punishment. A deal without accountability is no deal.

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August 21st, 2012, 1:47 pm


5. Uzair8 said:

I went to RT to check the alleged Qadri Jamil comments. Couldn’t find them (I’ll check google news). Anyway, I was reading a syrian related story on RT and I found an interesting comment in the comment section:


August 21, 2012, 20:09

the problem is an irreconcilable difference between the baath government and the syrian peasantry. The syrian constitution states that government security is immune from syrian law. The peasantry demands an end to lawless government. The baath refuse. because they do not know how to rule without fear.
so now we have a civil war on our hands.

The real meaning of the Syrian civil war is whether or not the nation of Syria belongs to all of the people or just the ones with guns.


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August 21st, 2012, 1:52 pm


6. Akbar Palace said:

Fouad Ajami is the only one who makes sense.

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August 21st, 2012, 2:19 pm


7. ghufran said:

The Guardian:
More than a month into the battle for Aleppo, the rebels who seized control of much of the city sense that its residents do not yet fully support them. Opposition fighters – around 3,000 of them – are almost the only people moving around the eastern half that the Free Syrian Army now controls. The small numbers of non-fighters who remain seem to pay them little heed. Few seem openly welcoming.
“Yes it’s true,” said Sheikh Tawfik Abu Sleiman, a rebel commander sitting on the ground floor of his fourth new headquarters – the other three were bombed. “Around 70% of Aleppo city is with the regime. It has always been that way. The countryside is with us and the city is with them. We are saying that we will only be here as long as it takes to get the job done, to get rid of the Assads. After that, we will leave and they can build the city that they want.”
comment: this is what I said from day one,Aleppo is being punished by the rebels,not liberated, the line here about rebuilding the city after it gets destroyed is rather criminal.
This is the full article:

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August 21st, 2012, 2:50 pm


8. ghufran said:

Israeli officials said Tuesday that Egypt is violating the historic 1979 peace treaty between the two countries by deploying tanks in the demilitarized Sinai desert near the Israeli border.
The officials said they have relayed their objections to the Egyptians directly and through American mediators. An Egyptian border official confirmed that his Israeli counterparts had voiced concerns.
Egypt has been building up its military presence in the lawless area since Islamic militants there attacked an army post on Aug. 5 and killed 16 soldiers.

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August 21st, 2012, 3:21 pm


9. Tara said:

Rebels say 70% of city is with regime.  My 2 cents:  being not with the revolution does not mean being with the regime.  These 70% are not with the rebels just because of a survival instinct.  It us understandable.  

Martin Chulov in Aleppo
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 21 August 2012 13.53 EDT

“Yes it’s true,” said Sheikh Tawfik Abu Sleiman, a rebel commander sitting on the ground floor of his fourth new headquarters – the other three were bombed. “Around 70% of Aleppo city is with the regime. It has always been that way. The countryside is with us and the city is with them. We are saying that we will only be here as long as it takes to get the job done, to get rid of the Assads. After that, we will leave and they can build the city that they want.”
As the sun set on the first day of Eid al-Fitr marking the end of Ramadan on Sunday, Sheikh Abu Sleiman visited a mosque in the north of the city and took up the microphone. “I told them that we understand their suffering,” he said. “We are sensitive to their needs and we know that this has been a major disruption. And that when we finish, Aleppo is theirs.” The sheikh’s words echoed from a minaret in a rebel-held district across residential streets long since deserted.

..a volunteer from al-Bab. Asked about the presence of foreign fighters, a long-predicted and often feared dynamic in Syria’s civil war, Kamal said: “I welcome them. They are very brave and they are very good fighters. They are not scared of anyone.”
Other rebels were more circumspect. “They’re a very big problem,” said Sheikh Abu Marwan Osman, in al-Bab. “They don’t understand Islam and they will make things more difficult for all of us.”

“We have enough challenges already,” said a rebel commander in the north of the city. “These people will give us all a headache. We need to prove to the people that this revolution will work.

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August 21st, 2012, 3:43 pm


10. Stick to the truth said:

“be-cause I can’t continue to listen to their rubbish”

best description for this bullsh**

me too, i can’t

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August 21st, 2012, 3:49 pm


11. ghufran said:

ارتفع عدد قتلى الاشتباكات التي تجددت في مدينة طرابلس شمال لبنان بعد ظهر يوم الثلاثاء، الى ستة واصابة 70 شخصا بجروح مختلفة، بحسب مصادر أمنية لبنانية.
وذكرت تقارير امنية تناقلتها وسائل الاعلام اللبنانية، ان “الاشتباكات المسلحة بين منطقتي باب التبانة وجبل محسن في طرابلس، تجددت بعد عصر اليوم رغم اعلان اللقاء الاسلامي الوطني، الذي عقد اجتماعه بحضور عدد من السياسيين في المدينة الى جانب ضباط من الجيش اللبناني التوافق مع فاعليات التبانة على وقف اطلاق النار فورا”.

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August 21st, 2012, 4:10 pm


12. ghufran said:

I like this forum despite having to see pieces like the one in post # 1 which you might think is taken from a Jihadist radio station.
Syrian cities is being destroyed because Syrians are unwilling to talk to each other,screaming here and there will not change this fact.
one has to be careful before believing what the rebels and government sources say,both have lied in the past.

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August 21st, 2012, 4:13 pm


13. VISITOR said:

# 12 said,

“I like this forum despite having to see pieces like the one in post # 1 which you might think is taken from a Jihadist radio station”

You know the real reason you hate #1 is because he is the only one who can expose your endless talk from the double sides of the mouth.
Are you ready for the exposure?

So who are you anyway? Are you a Palestinian who at one point benefited from the corrupt regime to make you so keen on defending its corruption by deceitfully speaking the one opinion and its complete opposite in one and the same sentence?

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August 21st, 2012, 4:28 pm


14. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Sorry for not joining the ‘bash Hillary’ festivities. Syria has already too much of a foreign intervention. Syria doesn’t need more of this. The Syrian people are doing great, and will eventually remove this junta from power. Yes, it’s very costly in human lives, but Syria is big (+-22 million) and it will recover. There were much worse civil wars in the history, regarding lose of lives.

We live in a 67y/o UN world order. This world order was achieved after the bloodiest of all wars. This order gives some 5 states, the dictatorial power to veto. Even if we, at times, don’t like it, and even if we think it’s unfair, we should respect this order, and preserve it. Or we want a third WW. The Syrian people is paying the price, and it’s sad. But there’s no other alternative.

The Syrian people are capable of putting this ugly junta down, by themselves.

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August 21st, 2012, 4:42 pm


15. Juergen said:

great iranian short movie/ english and arabic subtitles

how similar dictatoships are

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August 21st, 2012, 4:45 pm


16. Stick to the truth said:

# 15 jürgen

thats what the media in the west including SC is trying to teach us since 1 1/2 years.

20% for the rebelles + 80% against the rebelles = 110% for the rebelles.

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August 21st, 2012, 5:09 pm


17. Stick to the Truth said:

Dear SC MOD,

please release my comment # 16

Also SC must accept critics.

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August 21st, 2012, 5:15 pm


18. SANDRO LOEWE said:

17. Stick to the Truth

The only truth is that 5 % of syrian population has been living on behalf of the rest 95 %.

Assad is your guarantee and we are going to topple him.

The only language your gangsters know is:

1) Repression and brutal force against the people

2) Repression and brutal force against the people

3) Repression and brutal force against the people

Your mafia regime is over. If Aleppo is taken by rebels Assad will long 2 or 3 weeks. If not it can takes some months or even years. But finally the dictatorship and their supporters will fall.

My suggestion is that Assad gets suicided like Ghazi Kanaan, Suleiman and other Baath fellows.

Goodbye Habibi

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August 21st, 2012, 5:42 pm


19. ghufran said:

A reality check from foreign press,this may not be enough to cool some hot heads on this board but it is a good read for people who do not have their brain in their testicles 🙂

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August 21st, 2012, 5:50 pm


20. ghufran said:

توقّع رئيس مجلس الأمناء الثوري السوري هيثم المالح “اعلان حظر جوي في شمال سوريا في الايام القليلة القادمة لأن محافظتي حلب وإدلب ستكونان محررتين وسيجري منع طيران فيهما لتكون منطقة آمنة وعندها سنعود الى سوريا كمعارضين لتشكيل حكومة انتقالية وادارة الدولة والعمل على اسقاط النظام السوري”.
ولفت المالح في حديث تلفزيوني الى انه “شاهد في تركيا التحركات الضخمة للجيش التركي على الحدود ورأيت نقل صواريخ أرض جو وذلك لحماية المدنيين في سوريا”.
I do not know if this guy is serious or he is just old

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August 21st, 2012, 5:52 pm


21. Juergen said:

someone just posted this on facebook:

Having heard a lot of accusations and allegations against our Revolution, I wanted to apologize officially today at the Assad supporters and the world community.

We are sorry!
We are sorry that we, ordinary Syrians have gone for our freedom on the streets. Without permission of the Super Powers.
We are sorry that we have thwarted your plans for Syria and that we dared to havesome of our own.

We are sorry that we wanted human rights for us.

We are sorry that we have exposed your lies, cold-heartedness and the hypocrisy.

We are sorry that we have turned with our Revolution Uncle Bashar into a monster and we feel not ashamed for it.

We are sorry that the sight of our tattered bodies arent suitable for your tv screens and your sensitive eye .

We are sorry that we have asked for humanitarian and medical aid.

We are sorry that we have become refugees, begging on the streets and disrupt the city.

We are sorry that the blood of our children is not red enough to reach the conscience of many leftists.

We are sorry that we have dared to defend ourselves after months of steady killing.

We are sorry that our strive for freedom will not fit into your concepts.

We are sorry that we will not accept your apology.

August 2012

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August 21st, 2012, 5:55 pm


23. ghufran said:

media and PR war is at full speed:
Nadim Shehadi, a specialist on Syria and Lebanon at Chatham House, the think-tank of the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London, said Syrian television, despite a lack of credibility in its reports, is playing a highly effective role in the war.
“My impression is they are doing quite a good job and are much more effective than the opposition media,” Shehadi said. “Their aim is not to be credible but to pass messages, such as that the regime is strong. People don’t have to believe what is being broadcast, but the overall message is ‘we’re here and here to stay,’ which is quite strong.”
comment: do you really think the regime media is effective?
obviously,some people in the opposition think that it is OK to kill journalists and camera men who work for the government because they are “shabeehas”.

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August 21st, 2012, 6:18 pm


24. Juergen said:

Der Spiegel had published some interesting hints today.

They had a story in which the regimes control over the aid and relief programme was critized. Only one non state oragnization the “Syria Trust For Development” operates besides the red cross and red crescent. We all know who is behind Syria Trust For Development, its Asmaa.An employee of this trust said to the news magazine that refugees who receive food donations must make a loud verbal prayer for the deceased Hafis Al Assad. Als the dontation of food come usually by companies which are under the control of the famous Rami Makhlouf.

In the last weeks the trust issued statements asking for volunteers to come up and register. many who came were later arrested, it looked like the regime was using even this way to track down rebel supporters.

The second story was that today the Wall Street Journal has published this story:

EU Probes Cigarette Deal That May Have Aided Syria

The European Union is investigating whether its Syrian sanctions were violated by the sale of cigarettes to a firm linked to cousins of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to corporate documents seen by The Wall Street Journal.


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August 21st, 2012, 6:20 pm


25. Aleppo said:

I am somewhat disappointed with Professor Landis. His article on Kurds was not meaningful. Freddo is just acting like his usual cowardly and criminal self: us or we burn the country. Crazy, what else. It is no great strategy aside from ” the enemy of my enemy is my friend ” . Lots of what passes for analyses, isn’t.

Sooner or later Freddowill go. More and more everybody realizes that the Syrian Revolution is the aspiration of milions of people. Let’s keep it simple. Out with the genocidal mafia! Or irritated will come up with a justification for the aerial bombing of the civilian population…

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August 21st, 2012, 6:20 pm


26. Stick to truth said:

I guess, your rebelles will go in 2-3 week back to the roots back to the desert.

Alah Maak ya roh galbi

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August 21st, 2012, 6:24 pm


27. zoo said:

Pressure growing on Turkey and soon reaching a tipping point.
Syria complications


Of course the intelligence report that Turkey has become a “free entry inn” because of the fire in next-door Syria and the government’s liberal “welcome to all guests” policy. Not only has $250 million been spent so far on the “guests” who are “refugees,” but they are not officially refugees because Turkey does not accept refugees from the east and thus cannot officially ask for international assistance. In this way Turkey has imported the Syrian crisis as well. Hatay and Gaziantep have been filled with agents of all sorts and become highly insecure. Worse, the Sunni-solidarity drive of the Islamist government of Ankara made Turkey a “front” in the Syrian civil war. Turkish citizens have begun to be kidnapped (in Lebanon for example). But even worse is the shift in the separatist terrorist attacks from the Iraq border regions to the Syrian border areas.

Of course, a power vacuum in Iraq was one reason for the gang’s increased cross-border attacks as seen over the past decade. Now, five border towns of Syria are under the control of the local organization of the separatist gang there. The central Syrian administration has no control in the border area. Thus, the gang’s cross-border attacks have shifted to the Syrian border regions.

Pouring oil on fire next-door eventually might prove to be very costly…

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August 21st, 2012, 6:37 pm


28. Stick to the truth said:

comment #26 is a response to #18 SL -Sell Syria-

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August 21st, 2012, 6:38 pm


29. zoo said:

Turkey scrambling to explain how the failure of the Turkish intelligence omnipresent in the area in preventing the bombing.
They point their finger to a plot between the Syrian Mokhabarat and the PKK. Why not with Al Qaeeda too?

Officials allege Syria link in deadly attack


Members of a forensic team inspects a wreckage after a bombing in the southeastern province of Gaziantep kills at least nine people, including four children, and wounds nearly 70 other. The blast hits a city bus and a minibus which are picking passengers. DHA photo
There is a possibility the defiant Syrian regime may be behind the recent attack in Gaziantep, Turkish government officials have said, despite a lack of evidence currently at hand.

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August 21st, 2012, 6:48 pm


30. Syrialover said:

Top Syrian minister moots Assad departure

(AFP) Syria’s deputy prime minister hinted at a peace deal that might involve the departure of President Bashar al-Assad.

A top Syrian minister on Tuesday held out the prospect of strongman Bashar al-Assad stepping down as part of a negotiated settlement to 17 months of bloodshed that activists say has killed 23,000.

The comments from Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil came following talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Moscow officials who are keen to keep their sway over the Soviet-era ally in case of the fall of Assad. Jamil rejected the idea of making Assad’s resignation the condition for any future negotiations — a demand made not only by the armed opposition but also Washington and several big European states.

But he said the president’s departure could be a topic of discussion.

“As far as his resignation goes — making the resignation itself a condition for holding dialogue means that you will never be able to reach this dialogue,” said Jamil.

But the minister added in remarks translated into Russian: “Any problems can be discussed during negotiations. We are even ready to discuss this issue.”


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August 21st, 2012, 6:51 pm


31. zoo said:

Syria says preparing to finalise oil deal with Russia
Fri, Aug 17 2012
By Thomas Grove


MOSCOW, Aug 21 (Reuters) – Syria is preparing to complete a deal with ally Russia to secure much-needed oil products to keep its economy and military running, the head of a Syrian delegation to Russia said on Tuesday, weeks after he said an agreement had been reached.

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Qadri Jamil on Aug. 3 told reporters that an agreement had been reached for Syria to export crude to Russia in exchange for refined oil products.

“It was an agreement in principle reached during our last visit,” Jamil said at a news conference, adding that sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union were biting into the Syrian economy.

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August 21st, 2012, 6:52 pm


32. Johannes de Silentio said:

Laila is my new heroine. Someone please buy her a gun and some bullets and lead her over to the 86 area!

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August 21st, 2012, 6:56 pm


33. Tara said:

Can Obama beare any more humiliation? What a disappointment he and Mrs. Piggy turned out to be.

• The Syrian deputy prime minister responded by saying that foreign military intervention in Syria would be “impossible” because it would lead to a conflict beyond the country’s borders. Qadri Jamil, speaking on a visit to Moscow, also accused Obama of making “propaganda threats that are linked to the upcoming elections”. Russia warned against unilateral action.

The Guardian

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August 21st, 2012, 7:03 pm


34. zoo said:

US skeptical of Syrian overture on Assad resignation

(AFP) – 3 hours ago


WASHINGTON — The United States expressed deep skepticism Tuesday about suggestions by Syria’s deputy prime minister that the regime was open to discussing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s resignation.

“We saw the reports of the press conference that the deputy prime minister gave. Frankly, we didn’t see anything terribly new there,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said after talks in Moscow Tuesday that Syria was ready to discuss anything in negotiations — even Assad’s resignation.

“As far as his resignation goes — making the resignation itself a condition for holding dialogue means that you will never be able to reach this dialogue,” he said.

But Jamil added: “Any problems can be discussed during negotiations. We are even ready to discuss this issue.”

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August 21st, 2012, 7:06 pm


35. Tara said:

Any news in regard to Farouq al Sharaa?

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August 21st, 2012, 7:09 pm


36. Stick to the Truth said:

#31 TARA

no, he can’t

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August 21st, 2012, 7:16 pm


37. Syrialover said:

# 17. Stick to the Truth said: “Also SC must accept critics.”

What a strange remark.

SyriaComment accepts “critics” to a degree that has vandalized this forum. We see unrestricted postings by nasty propagandists, people with grudges and obsessionist crazies, many of them showing crude disrespect for this blog and its supporters.

They get a much easier run here than on other blogs because Joshua Landis is so open and tolerant.

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August 21st, 2012, 7:31 pm


38. Observer said:

Let me the devil’s advocate and post what I think the average American would consider the situation in Syria
1. There is no strategic threat to us from Syria. The region is in turmoil and we got badly burned in Iraq ( not yet recognize that we were defeated there )
2. Military intervention with boots is out of the question. Air power perhaps and only when someone else is going to foot the bill. No more money for the sake of anyone else, charity begins at home
3. Syrians killing each other is not new they have been doing this from time immemorial as far as I know and therefore there is no point in intervening
4. After all this regime did help kill our boys in Iraq and so it serves them well to get kicked back by their own people.
5. We have to put our house in order first. If Putin wants to pout and the Europeans are waiting for us to bail them out again forget it.

So I fully understand the lack of interest and enthusiasm on the part of the US for any action in Syria.

Let me call a spade a spade as well. Turkey turned out to be less of a regional power when it comes to putting its money where its mouth is.

Iran turned out to be more active but has reached its limit of what it can do due to the sanctions.

The Gulf Arabs are just good at dolling out cash and not much more. They still at this critical point do not have any strategy whatsoever except to decide what is for dinner.

The Arab Spring will come to them and this the time table: Sudan in two to three years; KSA in about five years if not sooner; it may very well be Egyptians invading KSA to get the oil as their economy continues to suffer and the MB will not be able to deliver. UAE in 10 years as they are more liberal. Algeria in one generation.

As for Syria, the regime has degenerated into a milita and is acting like a militia.

Freddo is looking to leave without humiliation; if this is true, then who in the inner circle is going to let him go while they stay behind to stew.

I would like the people on this forum to try to find out where the other members of the inner circle are: Mamlouk, Nasif, and the others.

Now GHUFRAN and ZOO would very much like for the FSA to act according to international law and to respect human rights and to conduct itself in such a manner that in reality both should have asked of the regime forces to do.

MY QUESTION FOR GHUFRAN AND ZOO: Can you in all honesty deny that the regime has used the most extreme torture and humiliation and oppression against opponents and can you honestly tell us if you do not know anyone who was not ill treated by the regime?

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August 21st, 2012, 7:35 pm


39. Son of Damascus said:


“What a strange remark.”

What is even stranger is that the non-existent Moderator is somehow biased…

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August 21st, 2012, 7:36 pm


40. Ghufran said:

I am not going to speak on zoo’s behalf and I am not sure we are on the same page unless you consider everybody who criticize armed rebels to be pro regime.
The FSA presented itself as a clean force that was established to defend civilians, its leaders have been lecturing us about virtues including justice and tolerance,etc. look at the bahavior of armed rebels and the destruction they helped create and tell me how faithful those guys have been to their principles.
As for how the regime treated its opponents,we both know the answer,you just need to read my posts to rediscover my opinion of the regime and its head.
Without a cease fire,syria will be lost, then it will not matter if you are pro or anti regime,I want Syrians to be anti destruction regardless of where they stand politically,do you honestly believe that armed rebels are willing to consider a cease fire? We both know the answer .

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August 21st, 2012, 8:27 pm


41. Visitor said:

36 Observer,

Your analysis leaves much to be desired.

You have to look at the Syrian Revolution as a Syrian affair first and foremost. The main responsibility lies on the shoulders of the Syrian people.

Regional and International players have their own priorities and concerns and will understandably respond to the Syrian Revolution based on those concerns.

Iran and its proxies have the most to lose and therefore they plunged into the Syrian uprising the earliest.

Likewise, Russia stands to lose so much especially after its bitter experience in Libya and hence it took a self defeating uncompromising position since the beginning.

The US is in an election year and that is a priority for mr. Obama. But, in my opinion mr. Obama does not have what it takes to tackle the Syrian crisis despite all the geostrategic consequences that are so obvious, even if he is not in an election year. We’ll find out after November.

The Turks will not move unless given the backing of NATO which is a defensive organization when it comes to threats made against member States. Turkey’s own nationalist interests may have to suffer in order to safeguard the above mentioned NATO prerogative. In addition, Turkey has been told in plain terms by Washington that there will be no military moves before November 2012 .

KSA and the Gulf cannot move effectively without US backing as well. They are doing what they can do on their own in terms of providing weapons and cash to the rebels. Absent US logistical support, their contribution would remain limited at best.

In short, all roads lead to the White House.

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August 21st, 2012, 8:28 pm


42. Ghufran said:

Atwan thinks that a political solution may be on the horizon,do you agree ?

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August 21st, 2012, 8:36 pm


43. zoo said:

#19 Ghufran

The Guardian article is the first serious reality check after 18 months.

The next one will come when the rebels will be squeezed enough to call for a truce.

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August 21st, 2012, 8:38 pm


44. Ghufran said:

اعتبر وزير الخارجية الإيراني علي أكبر صالحي أن هناك اتجاهاً إلى استئناف العلاقات الدبلوماسية بين طهران والقاهرة والمقطوعة منذ أكثر من 30 عاماً، وذلك في حديث نشرته، الثلاثاء، صحيفة “الأهرام” المصرية.
وقال صالحي الذي أجرت معه الصحيفة الحوار في مكة على هامش قمة منظمة التعاون الإسلامي التي عقدت الأسبوع الماضي، إن “مصر هي حجر الزاوية في المنطقة وهي الدولة التي لها مكانة خاصة وموقع متميز بين الدول العربية والإسلامية، هي ضاربة بجذورها في عمق التاريخ تربطنا بها أواصر المحبة والصداقة والإخوة”.
Salihi gave the title of Qalb Al-uroubah Al-Nabed to Egypt, this title used to belong to Syria ,Salihi needs to give Syria another title before Arabists in Syria get a heartburn.

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August 21st, 2012, 8:46 pm


45. zoo said:


I don’t expect anyone to “behave” in a war. Even the countries who called themselves ‘civilized’ and supposed to be models to the world behaved like animals when they were being attacked and threatened.

War is a place where the worst on human being comes out.
This is why all should be done to avoid them, and if not, to stop them by pushing for negotiations and not by arming the antagonists to fight in more wars.
It is clear to everybody that the rebels fights are pointless, they will loose sooner or later. Why continue? for the honor? for martyrdom? Is it worth hundred thousands death? It is clear that the regime is weakened and will be obliged to negotiate reforms and transition under the pressure of Russia and Iran on which the whole economical and political survival of the country is dependent.
So, why wait for more dead and put conditions before starting the negotiations?

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August 21st, 2012, 8:55 pm


46. habib said:

“In Jordan there are Palestinians that follow various Palestinian groups, there are Jordanians, Beduins, Christians and so on and they get along. The sectarian idea doesn’t have to apply to Syria.”

I count exactly two sects in that paragraph, and Christians are practically non-existent n Jordan.

Blatant propaganda, King Hussein must be pleased.

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August 21st, 2012, 9:10 pm


47. Tara said:

21 August 2012 Last 
Syria’s minorities drawn into conflict

“The young, unemployed Christians in Damascus responded to regime appeals to take up arms to defend themselves,” says a local priest.  “They were told Salafists were coming to kill them,” a reference to ultraconservative Sunni Islamists who are a growing influence on Syria’s uprising.

“The regime is trying to inflame sectarianism and get the Christians involved in the battle.”
The young Christians were urged to join what the government has named “Popular Committees”, which are tasked with protecting neighbourhoods from attack. To many, however, they are just groups of pro-government thugs.

Some Popular Committees – like those in Bab Touma and the neighbouring Christian area of Bab Sharqi – have even agreed to be armed.  Most Christians, who make up about 10% of Syria’s population, have sought to avoid being drawn into their country’s increasingly sectarian conflict, which has seen the majority Sunni community bear the brunt of the crackdown from security forces led by Alawites, members of a heterodox Shia sect to which Mr Assad belongs.

“This is an act to show power and abuse power,” the priest says.  “But we are working hard to raise awareness among Christians to avoid getting involved in the conflict, and many people have refused to take up arms.”

Some Christian opposition activists have reached out to members of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), and both have tried to reassure the community that they will not be targeted.
In one of the suburbs of Damascus, al-Montasir Billah Omar, a spokesman for the FSA’s al-Baraa bin Malik Brigade, met representatives of other rebel formations to write a joint statement warning local Christians not to take up arms.  Our fight is not against any of the minorities in Syria, not even the Alawites, but with the Assad regime”.  “We call on our brothers in Syria to maintain the social mosaic that distinguishes the country,” urged the statement, which was signed by the Military Council for the Syrian Revolution in the Suburbs of Damascus, and other FSA brigades.

“We assure the people of our country that our slogan is: ‘We are all one people of one country.'”

Mr Omar, a father of two in his early 30s, is a leading figure in the FSA.  “Our fight is not against any of the minorities in Syria, not even the Alawites, but with the Assad regime,” he says.  He adds that if it were a sectarian conflict, FSA fighters could have launched raids on Alawite villages in retaliation for the deaths of Sunnis, but that they had not.  “It is the regime that is bombarding cities and killing us, but we will not take revenge.”

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August 21st, 2012, 9:11 pm


48. Ghufran said:

لندن – كشف مصدر ديبلوماسي عربي ان امير دولة قطر الشيخ حمد بن خليفة آل ثاني مستاء اشدّ الاستياء من الرئيس المصري محمد مرسي. واوضح المصدر ان سبب الاستياء يعود الى ان امير قطر يعتبر ان مرسي لم يقدّر ما قامت به قطر تجاه مصر اخيرا عندما اودعت مبلغ ملياري دولار كوديعة في البنك المركزي المصري لدعم الاقتصاد والعملة الوطنية. على العكس من ذلك، استبعد مرسي قطر من لجنة رباعية اقترح تشكيلها على هامش القمة الاسلامية لمتابعة الوضع السوري.
At the end of the day,Qatar can not change the fact that its whole population can fit in a one of Damascus suburbs with space to spare.

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August 21st, 2012, 9:12 pm


49. zoo said:

The road to the White House is a dead end before and after November.

US plans no Syria attack after November elections
Tuesday,August 21 2012


Washington’s envoy to Ankara dismisses rumors that the US may invade Syria after presidential polls, saying military intervention will only be a last resort

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August 21st, 2012, 9:13 pm


50. zoo said:

After the plane, now the bus. Turkey evading its responsibility in protecting its citizen and looking for a culprit.

Is Syria behind the Gaziantep attack?

But this time Syria and its deep state, including its intelligence service, is also counted as a potential perpetrator of an attack that killed nine civilians and wounded more than a dozen.

This hypothesis not only belongs to us. Hüseyin Çelik a deputy leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Şamil Tayyar an AKP deputy from Gaziantep have also drawn attention to such a possibility on the grounds of bitter relations between Ankara and Damascus over the Syrian people rising up to demand democratization.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has cautiously joined them and drew attention to idea that both the PKK and the Syrian administration share similar world views based on the fact that both have chosen violence as a method for their political purposes.
But the connection between the rise in PKK attacks inside Turkey and the Turkish government’s heavy engagement in Syria is undeniable. In the last two months the PKK has intensified its attacks against all sorts of targets, including kidnapping a lawmaker, launching attacks in western parts of the country, targeting civilians in different towns and more.

That was the reason why the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) urged the government to review its Syria policy, an obvious hint that the attack could have been carried out by some Syria-affiliated groups.

Though we have no concrete information on the extent of the cooperation between the PKK and Syria, it would be a surprise to all of us to see a full detachment between the two. Nearly one third of PKK members are of Syrian origin, a country which has had traditional relations with the organization since the late 1980s.

Turkey’s leadership in international efforts to topple the Bashar al-Assad regime has obviously caused the opening of Pandora’s Box in the Middle East. The current picture tells us nothing, but a more unstable Middle East provides the best conditions for a terrorist organization to spread out its acts. And Turkey, unfortunately, is amongst the architects of this shape with its short sighted policies.

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August 21st, 2012, 9:19 pm


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