Posted by Joshua on Friday, December 14th, 2012
The Russians of said that the rebels may win, but that does not signify that they will roll over on Bashar. Moscow remains unwilling to recognize the new National Coalition, which would allow the US to take it to the Security Council of the UN for international recognition to replace Assad’s government. Such recognition would give the National Coalition much greater leverage over militias, because any loans, new passports, visas, etc. would all have to go through the new government. But that still seems far off.
Predictions of the Assad regime’s demise still seem iffy. The rebels have made great advances but they are far from taking Damascus. Assad is showing growing signs of desperation, but he faces a very fragmented rebel front.
NATO chief says regime in Syria is ‘approaching collapse,’ fall now ‘just a matter of time’.
King Abdullah of Jordan said that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad “can hold for two years at the military level, but not more than four months at the economic level.”
The king said that “Jordan was severely damaged as a result of frequent interruptions of Egyptian natural gas, which cost the state treasury about 5 billion Jordanian dinars [$7.04 billion],” stressing that the interruption of gas ”is the real reason behind the economic crisis plaguing the country.”
Syria’s Agony: The Photographs That Moved Them Most
Monday, December 10, 2012 | By TIME Photo Department |
Russia has acknowledged for the first time that the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is losing control of the country. “One must look the facts in the face: the tendency is that the regime and government of Syria is losing more and more control and more and more territory,” Mikhail Bogdanov, [...]
Russia denied reports insisting its stance on Syria has not shifted and the foreign ministry reported Friday that Boganov had “issued no statements and given no special interviews in recent days.” Russia has maintained there must be a political solution to the conflict and have criticized the international recognition of the opposition coalition under Mouaz al-Khatib saying it is undermining diplomacy. Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta approved sending two batteries of Patriot missiles and 400 military personnel to Turkey to protect its border with Syria. The U.S. batteries will add to four from Germany and the Netherlands in a NATO effort and are set to be operational by the end of January.
CNN’s Arwa Damon has a Syrian mother (whose father was the former Syrian prime minister Muhsin al-Barazi) – Vogue Mag
115 countries & 9 intl orgs (incl UNHCR & UNOCHA) attended today’s Friends mtg. $143m was pledged to #SOC to use as humanitarian aid.
Exclusive with US Ambassador Robert Ford on the decision to name Jabhat al Nusra a terror group, a look at What’s Next After Marrakesh with opposition architect Yaser Tabbara, and our first cross-post with the Council on Foreign Relations, an expert roundup asking What Should US Policy Be in Syria?
We also had a long talk with Joshua Landis on Assad, Alewites, and the future of Syria.
Syrian People Not Swayed by New Coalition – al-Monitor
It is as though the Syrian public is fated to suffer from the weakness and fragmentation of an opposition that seeks to replace the regime, which has the most to gain from a transboundary division of the opposition. This comes at a time when optimism — which prevailed among the opposition masses after the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was created — has seemingly gone with the wind….
Wolfgang Danspeckgruber and Archbishop Mar Gregorios
Outline Strategy for Ending War in Syria in a Financial Times Editorial
A new Financial Times editorial by LISD Director, Wolfgang Danspeckgruber co-authored by Archbishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, the Syrian Orthodox Metropolit of Aleppo, on “Syria’s Agony Can End After All Parties Talk,” (FT.com registration required) discusses the role of the US, Russia, Iran, and China, as well as regional powers, in ending the war in Syria. The editorial outlines three critical steps necessary for ending the war. The three steps call for 1) an immediate ceasefire, 2) the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all Syrians, and 3) the beginnings of negotiations among domestic and international parties involved. Danspeckgruber and Mar Gregorios write, “The only effective way forward is an immediate, concerted, and unified international strategy that engages those whose interests have prolonged the battle thus far.”
As part of the international strategy, the authors also argue for the creation of a “Syria Contact Group” in a step similar to the Dayton Process and efforts to resolve the Yugoslav crisis in the 1990s. While urging concerted effort among global powers to facilitate a ceasefire in Syria and to mitigate regional spill-over of the conflict, Danspeckgruber and Mar Gregorios also note that any solution to the current crisis must be undertaken in cooperation with Syrians with an eye toward domestic political realities. “[S]teps by the international community should occur in tandem with an internal political process that is not only inclusive of all Syrians, but also led by Syrians,” they argue. “This includes religious leaders of all faiths, as these faith leaders ensure the continuation of a functioning societal fabric in Syria and help soften any radical rhetoric that may hold the political process hostage.”…..
Don’t Blame Obama for Syria
What’s happening in Syria is a tragedy. But John Hannah needs to recognize that the civil war was never ours to win or lose.
BY AARON DAVID MILLER | DECEMBER 14, 2012
Syria is a tragedy. Too much blood has flowed to imagine a negotiated transition and apparently not enough to warrant an effective intervention by a divided, cautious, and self-interested international community. And it may well be that the real struggle for Syria — the one that determines its future character — has yet to begin.
But to lay this bloody mess at President Barack Obama’s doorstep, as John Hannah (a guy I respect and admire) does in his recent post for FP, is both wrong and unfair.
I write this not so much in defense of Obama’s policies as in recognition of the cruel reality and terrible choices the United States has faced with regards to the Syrian uprising and civil war.
During this entire two-year debate on what Obama should or shouldn’t have done on Syria, I have yet to hear a single military strategy that the administration could have adopted that would have been feasible, effective, and consequential in altering the bloody arc of this crisis for the better….
Members of Assad’s Sect Blamed in Syria Killings
By LIAM STACK and HANIA MOURTADA
Published: December 12, 2012
Scores of Syrian civilians belonging to President Bashar al-Assad’s minority Alawite sect were killed Tuesday in the first known Alawite massacre since the Syrian conflict began. But the killings, in the village of Aqrab, happened under circumstances that remain unclear.
Rights organizations researching the massacre said Wednesday that members of the shabiha, a pro-government Alawite militia, were the killers. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad group based in Britain with a network of contacts inside Syria, said 125 to 150 civilians died.
The accusation, if confirmed, would be a shocking episode of Alawite-on-Alawite violence in a conflict punctuated by violence between sects.
The United States’ former point person on Syria admits that there is practically no chance diplomacy will ever remove Bashar al-Assad.
Former Ambassador Frederic Hof told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday, “My sense is that this will be ultimately decided through force of arms on the ground” – despite the Obama administration’s reluctance to give heavy weapons to rebels.
Syria’s Local Leadership
DECEMBER 13, 2012 Hassan Hassan
Carnegie Foundation, Thursday, December 13, 2012
After the anti-regime uprising began in Syria almost two years ago, the role of community leaders inside the country is still largely unappreciated. Currently, the opposition’s political leaders include mostly either Syrians living abroad or people who claim to represent their communities. Efforts to form truly representative opposition bodies have so far focused on whether all religious, political and social groups are represented. But a more prudent approach would be to reach out to local leaders to help maintain law and order after the regime falls. Local figures that have influence over communities—whether tribal, ethnic, religious, or business—are already playing an increasingly important role in organizing and mobilizing their communities for a post-uprising Syria. This is already the case in the province of Deir Ezzor, a predominately tribal area in the eastern part of the country…..
The Syrian conflict: a war photographer’s story
Associated Press photographer Narciso Contreras describes the harrowing situation on the ground in Aleppo and tells the story behind some of his powerful images
I have been covering the situation in Aleppo since August. When I first arrived here, I was taken to the Hullok and Hananu districts – areas that were subject to heavy bombing. Since then, I have known what to expect. It scared me.
My time is spent photographing the situation faced by civilians in Aleppo, how they cope with hardly anything and how they deal with their tragedy. There is no electricity, no petrol, there is a lack of bread. It is also now winter and the city is freezing.
The people here are divided over the war: some support the insurgency, some don’t. A large number of the population are desperate, they want this war to end; at least in the area controlled by the rebel fighters, which is constantly under heavy shelling and suffers from a lack of supplies. Most of the areas controlled by the rebels are working-class neighbourhoods. There is no place for them to go. They continue with their daily lives as far as they can, leaving everything in the hands of Allah. They call themselves martyrs and are open to sacrifice themselves.
The most brutal situation that I have witnessed has been the shelling of civilian neighbourhoods. It has been indiscriminate. The bombs and mortar artillery can land anywhere at any moment. It is too dangerous to dare to stand on the street for any length of time.
I once went to the hospital to photograph victims of the shelling. There was not enough space, so all the wounded and lifeless bodies were just lying on the floor. I felt dizzy when I saw one child lying on the floor, weeping, bleeding from his foot while holding a coin in his hand. He was injured while queuing for bread and a mortar hit the bakery. He was terrified. When his mother came to find him he opened his hand, giving back the coin and said, “Please mum, don’t send me out for bread again, I don’t want to go and buy bread any more.”