Seven Reasons Why Western Officials do Not Want the Syrian Opposition to Take up Arms

Seven Reasons why Western officials do not want to encourage the Syrian opposition to take up arms.

1. Syria may slip into civil war. This could produce the sort of blood bath that we saw in Lebanon and Iraq that would destabilize the region.

2. Regional capitals will be sucked into the civil war raising the possibility of a larger regional conflagration.

3. Pressure would grow on Western governments to intervene directly. In Iraq, US troops were present to mitigate the worst violence and stem ethnic cleansing and the proliferation of militias and banditry. Syria has no outside force present.

4. Waves of refugees would set out for Turkey and ultimately try to work their way into Europe to find jobs, safety and refugee status. Refugees are a major European fear, as most EU countries already feel overwhelmed by new Muslim immigrants who have caused the rise of Islamaphobia in the West.

5. Moral Leadership. The leadership that Western leaders have already shown in demanding that the Assad regime step down will make it hard for Western leaders not to show the same leadership in protecting vulnerable Syrians and committing troops – perhaps in the context of an international peace-keeping force.

6. If the rebellion takes up arms, the Syrian opposition leadership that is resident in the West will be less likely to have significant influence on the new order established in Syria.  Washington and Western capitals will lose their indirect influence over future outcomes.

7. Islamists are more likely to assert leadership over a new Syria if the struggle for power is decided by opposition arms. Islamists have proven to be the more experienced fighters in the region. They may rise to leadership positions in Syria that they do not enjoy today if the end of the Assad regime is brought about by military means.

For these reasons, western leaders will wait to see if sanctions applied to Syria will cause the regime to “collapse” on its own through defections or a coup.

Western leaders will also continue to add names and corporations to the sanctions list in an effort to keep moral among the Syrian opposition as high as possible. The demonstrators understand that they need Western support against the overwhelming force of the Syrian Army. The West must continue to wratchet up the pressure just short of military intervention in order to prevent the opposition from feeling abandoned or neglected, which could cause their activities to flag.  Syrian activists in the West insist that sanctions will work on their own. They undoubtedly worry about many of the same concerns that Western leaders do.

COMMENTS FROM READERS

AbuGhassan:

I am a fan of Dr Landis work despite all of the unfair criticism he gets here and his pessimist position about Syria’s future. I think he overreacted to the possible error about Dr Galioun and I am probably the one who deserves the blame, assuming that Burhan is actually a Sunni 🙂

The truth is that I and most educated Syrians do not give a rat’s behind if Burhan was An Alawi or not. We want a new and accountable leadership in Syria. Also,keep in mind that a number of trusted media outlet called Burhan an Alawi and he actually have a perfect Alawi accent and he looks like the twin brother of an alawi friend I have. Syria is beautiful,Syria is diverse,it is not a crime for Burhan to be an alawi or Sunni,this severe apology is not necessary,Joshua ,I am fully willing to take the blame. My opinion of dr Glioun is the same and I will judge him by his future acts not his religious affiliation,he is one of the loudest critics of Islamists,and he has my support on that front.

Alescander writes:

I was on the phone with my folks now: in Homs, Sunnis and Alawis are hunting each other down, my cousin fled Homs. In Damascus , my friends ( they are Alawis, no particular relation to the regime) their house was marked with an X.

Some Guy in Damascus Responds:

“X marks are on homes of some alawis in Damascus,” I’ve never heard of such incidents, or anything close to that. Can you elaborate on it?

Alescander Answers:

My friend lives in Mashrooa Dummar and saw an X mark on his door. He called the security. This is all I know. It could be done by kids, by extremists , or even by mukhabarat themselves. The bottom-line this is disturbing. My fear is the amount of hate and the consequences on innocents and the country.

Tara: posted this Video of Syria Soldiers Abusing Prisoners in School Converted to Prison – Latakia 3-Sept-11

Mass arrests have been common in the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. The video below, from last month, is said to show security forces in Lattakia reprimanding and humiliating detained protesters in what appears to be a classroom.

“Who is your boss?” a soldier asks one man. “President Bashar Hafez Assad,” the man responds. “Liar,” the soldier yells, slapping the detained protester on his neck.

Idaf: “A large portion of Syrians are now proudly sectarian. It’s not something to be ashamed of as in the past.”

A Friend in Greece writes about difficulties in unifying protesters:

“Here in Athens, there is a fair number of Syrians. One of them told me that they organized solidarity protests here, but that the initial organization has split into three. The Christians and secularists objected to the religious slogans and prayers, so they now protest on Saturdays instead of Fridays to avoid the Muslim religious types, and then the Kurds objected to the word “Arab” in various slogans and formed their own separate protest group. Very likely a microcosm of how things are inside Syria. My friend (a Christian) was also most offended that the Muslims had brought in an Egyptian imam to one of the early meetings, who started telling people what to do….

AbuGhassan:

Every time anybody speaks about the role of poverty and unemployment in the Syrian crisis, the champions of freedom and dignity start getting angry as if poverty and unemployment are not the enemies of freedom and dignity. People of the Gulf do not enjoy political freedom but you do not see them,except in Bahrain,in the streets asking for a regime change. How do you think the Saudi regime will respond if protests similar to the ones in Syria take place? This uprising was triggered by oppression and brutality but that was not the only fuel that inflamed the streets.

“This a good assessment. However, the main origin of fear is the presence of more than 700,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria. What happened after the American invasion (Ethnic and religious cleansing of the Christians, made the Christians (particularly the leadership suspicious and may be afraid of any change toward “Democracy” that may result in Chaos”

Ann Posted this Article:

Life after Assad looks ominous for Syria’s Christian minority, Independent, Monday, 5 September 2011

Not everyone is supporting the uprising against the country’s brutal regime. Khalid Ali reports from Damascus. In the gift shop of Damascus’ Chapel of Ananias, a middle-aged Christian man called Sari explained who he thought was to blame for the stories of government brutality emerging from his country. “All the international media are liars,” he said. “Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN – they are all lying. There is no trouble here in Damascus.”…..

According to one activist called Yusef, who used to be an organizer for his local church in Damascus, many Christians have no great love for the Assad regime. Yet large numbers are worried about what will happen if he falls.

“Many of them are not getting any benefits from this government,” said Yusef in his central Damascus living room. “On the other hand, they are not getting damaged. Some people are thinking, ‘in the future, maybe I won’t have the benefits but I will also be damaged as well’.”….

Haitham Khoury responds:

The main origin of fear [among Christians] is the presence of more than 700,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria. What happened after the American invasion (Ethnic and religious cleansing of the Christians, made the Christians (particularly the leadership suspicious and may be afraid of any change toward “Democracy” that may result in Chaos.

Revlon Responds to HK:

To my knowledge, those that fled Iraq after the fall Of the Saddam and his Baathist regime were of all ethnicities, including Shiia and Kurds.

I would expect the most common single motive for their departure to be the introduced the non-ethnic doctrine of De-Baathification and the fear of reprisal for their participation and or benefit from decades of oppressive Saddam Baathist regime.

Another expected factor would be the fear for life and property due to the state of anarchy that ensued.

Therefore, unless supported by data based on filed survey and supporting documents, dubbing this mass exodus of Iraqis to Syria as ethnic cleansing could be considered misinformation.

I would appreciate it if you could provide your data in support of the above made claim.

Khoury writes:

Dear Revlon: Christians were particularly targeted in the Kurdish area in the north. The Kurds are practicing an ethnic/religious cleansing in the North. All that is happening long after the Americans invaded Iraq. It is happening on the watch of the Americans

Off the Wall Writes:

The blood of Syrians is a red line that has been crossed thousands of times by this regime. All other red lines pale in comparison. The sycophants of the Assads are the ones who made it essential to make the demolition of the regime and the removal of its head the only viable option for Syria’s progress. The pathetic fraudulent laws, the godhood of Assad, the corruption of that family, and its brutality made that name the symbol of Syria–the republic of fear, of corruption, ineptness, of mismanagement, and of stonewalling every sincere attempt to reform, and the burial ground of talent. The Syrians are smart, and they are going after the source of the disease not the symptom.

NEWS ROUND UP

Why Can’t the Syrian Opposition Get Along?, BY KATE SEELYE | SEPTEMBER 1, 2011, Foreign Policy

Persistent divisions and a brutal crackdown have prevented Syria’s dissidents from presenting a united front against the Assad regime.

Five months after the start of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad that has left more than 2,200 people dead, dissidents are still struggling to forge a united front that could duplicate the role played by Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC).

The NTC was created just 12 days after the start of the Libyan uprising, quickly organizing resistance to Qaddafi within the country and lobbying for support on the international stage. By contrast, the opponents of Assad’s regime have held gatherings in Antalya, Turkey; Brussels; Istanbul; and even Damascus, the Syrian capital, to shape the opposition’s leadership and articulate a road map toward a democratic Syria.

…..

Given the lack of a recognized leadership, different Syrian groups — mainly based in the diaspora — have been jockeying to assert themselves. Most recently, on Aug. 29 young dissidents speaking on behalf of a revolutionary youth group inside Syria named a 94-person council to represent the Syrian opposition. At a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, Syrian dissident Ziyaeddin Dolmus announced that the respected Paris-based academic Burhan Ghalioun would head the so-called Syrian National Council, which would also comprise the crème de la crème of Syria’s traditional opposition.

Dolmus said the council would include many of the traditional opposition figures based in Damascus, such as former parliamentarian Riad Seif, activist Suhair Atassi, and economist Aref Dalila. “Delays [in forming a council] return our people to bloodshed,” he said at the news conference, which was broadcast by Al Jazeera.

But no sooner had the council been announced than it started to unravel. When contacted by the media, Ghalioun and the others quickly distanced themselves from the announcement, claiming they had no prior knowledge of it, according to reports in the Arabic press. Later, Ghalioun denied any association with the group on his Facebook page. One Washington-based Syrian activist, Mohammad al-Abdallah — whose father, Ali al-Abdallah was named to the council — dismissed it as a joke.

Others said it was an attempt by young revolutionaries, upset over the lack of progress, to put forward a wish list of opposition members. U.S.-based Syrian activist Yaser Tabbara, who had helped organize a gathering of anti-government Syrians a week before in Istanbul, called it “an earnest attempt by youth to reach out and demand that we move faster than we have been.”

According to Tabbara, the Istanbul conference that concluded on Aug. 23, was motivated by a similar sense of urgency. “It has been five months since the uprising started, and we don’t yet have a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Assad and his cohorts for their massacres,” said Tabbara. “Part of the reason is that some in the international community, like India, Brazil, and South Africa, do not see a viable alternative to this regime.”

The four-day Istanbul gathering, according to organizers, sought to unite all the efforts of previous opposition efforts under one banner. Few of the groups or individuals from previous opposition gatherings attended the meeting, however. Members representing a consultative committee that emerged from a June opposition gathering in Antalya withdrew at the last minute, claiming, according to Reuters, that it “did not build on earlier efforts to unite the opposition.”

The conference was further handicapped by what Syrian journalist Tammam al-Barazi called “the perception that it was held under an American umbrella.” Its organizers included members of a grassroots community group based in Illinois, the Syrian American Council.

Although dismaying, the opposition’s divisions and sniping are hardly surprising. Most activists grew up under the Assad family’s authoritarian rule, and their differences reflect the many divisions inside Syrian society, which is split by sect and ethnicity as well as ideology. The opposition includes Arab nationalists and liberals with little trust for the Muslim Brotherhood, whose supporters were accused of dominating the first Istanbul conference organized in July by a leading human rights lawyer, Haitham al-Maleh.

The many Kurdish parties that have participated have also been unhappy with some dissidents’ attempts to define a future Syria as “Arab.” Most are also highly suspicious of the West and any support it might offer.

The other challenge has been linking the diaspora opposition, which has been leading lobbying efforts abroad, with the political activists inside Syria. Although the diaspora has contacts among the traditional Syrian opposition based in Damascus, such as writers Michel Kilo and Louay Hussein, it has struggled to familiarize itself with the young activists who have led the protest movement. These protesters, who have organized themselves into local coordination committees, have largely remained anonymous to avoid arrest.

Signs are growing that some of the protest leaders are unhappy with the recent flurry of gatherings abroad. According to Washington-based dissident Ammar Abdulhamid, a group calling itself the “Syrian Revolution General Commission,” which he says represents up to 70 percent of the local coordination committees, reacted to the Istanbul meeting. In an Aug. 21 Facebook message, it supported efforts by the opposition to coordinate activities meant to support the revolution, but advised against forming any kind of representative body to speak on behalf of the revolution.

The reasons for the Syrian opposition’s inability to organize an umbrella group may be understandable, but the costs of failing to do so remain real. It will take a unified effort to communicate the opposition’s vision for their country’s future and convince those Syrians still sitting on the fence that a viable alternative to Assad’s rule exists. The opposition must also coordinate its message to encourage defections among the main supporters of the regime — informing them that their rights will be guaranteed under a democratic Syria, but that they will eventually face justice if they continue to support the government’s crackdown.

A united opposition is also urgently needed to challenge the growing call for armed resistance by some protesters in cities like Homs, where the Syrian government’s crackdown has been especially harsh. Some protest leaders have suggested that the Assad regime’s crackdown can only be effectively opposed at this point through force, while other protesters have held banners calling for a no-fly zone.

Just across Syria’s border in Antakya, Turkey, two groups of renegade Syrian army officers — the Free Officers of Syria and the Free Syrian Army (sometimes known as the Free Officers Movement) — are arming, according to Abdulhamid. A YouTube video uploaded on Aug. 18 shows an announcement by the Free Officers Movement declaring itself to be an armed group committed to protecting “the peaceful revolution and protesters.” Just last week, the Free Officers of Syria published a statement claiming that the defections of a significant number of soldiers were reported in a Damascus suburb.

The dissidents gathering in the many meetings outside Syria say they remain committed to a peaceful revolution free of outside intervention. The local coordination committees in Syria also released a statement condemning the use of force as “unacceptable politically, nationally, and ethically.”

But clearly, the many Syrians who have not yet abandoned support for Assad’s regime fear what will follow its collapse. If they are to be convinced otherwise, they will need to see the establishment of a broad-based opposition leadership whose public face is comprises respected dissidents living in exile, like Ghalioun, who reject armed struggle to achieve their aims.

Such a unified coalition has the opportunity to help Syria make a peaceful transition to a democratic, pluralistic form of government. Until that happens, a storybook ending to Syria’s uprising remains little more than a distant hope.

David Ignatius in the Post

Syria is another example of “rebalanced” foreign policy and its drawbacks. Some U.S. officials hope for an Egyptian-style solution, with elements of the Syrian army (perhaps backed by the neighboring and powerful Turkish army) staging a coup against President Bashar al-Assad that allows democratic elections and gradual formation of a new government.

EU must impose comprehensive economic sanctions on Syria now, says European Foundation for Democracy – Friday, 2 September 2011

Brussels, 2nd September 2011. The EU’s decision today to impose an embargo on Syrian oil imports does not go far enough. National commercial interests have for too long been proffered as reasons for inaction by the EU to tackle human rights abuses by authoritarian regimes. Unless comprehensive economic sanctions are imposed on Syria, the EU will lose credibility within the global community as well as with its own citizens. The time for action is now: the EU has an obligation to support the Syrian people and enact comprehensive economic and other sanctions against the al Assad regime in Damascus…..

Instigation Channels Continue Attack on Syria, Call for Arming Terrorist and Demand Foreign Interference in Syria’s Affairs Sana

DAMASCUS, (SANA) – A number of satellite channels entered a new stage of bltanat hostility towards Syria, calling openly for providing terrorist groups with weapons and money and adopting all opinions that support this regardless of who is behind them or what agenda they’re carrying out.

In the coverage of these channels – particularly al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya – of Friday’s events in Syria, all reports called for arming the terrorists and foreign interference in Syria in a manner that betrays clear annoyances and disappointment over the gradual return of normal life to several Syria cities which had witnessed criminal acts by armed terrorist groups.

Vivid Scenes of Defiance in Syria, Ledeblog NYTimes, September 02 2011

At least 15 dead in Syrian violence
September 4, 2011, AFP

At least 15 people died in violence across Syria on Sunday as the visiting Red Cross chief sought access to those detained in five months of anti-regime protests. Six soldiers and three civilians were killed when an armed group opened fire on a bus in Maharda, central Syria, state news agency SANA reported.

“Nine people, among them an officer, were killed and 17 others wounded this morning in Maharda in an ambush by an armed group who opened fire on a bus carrying soldiers and labourers going to work,” it said. SANA said a security patrol killed three of the assailants and seriously wounded a fourth.

The Local Coordination Committees, which group anti-regime activists on the ground, said security forces shot dead three people in the Khan Sheikhwan area of Idlib province in northwest Syria. Security forces encircled hospitals “to prevent the wounded from being brought in for treatment”, it charged.

On Friday, SANA said gunmen in Khan Sheikhwan had kidnapped Wael Alia, corporal with Syria’s internal security services. International Committee of the Red Cross chief Jakob Kellenberger flew into Damascus on Saturday for talks with President Bashar al-Assad over access to prisoners and areas of unrest. According to activists, 27 people were killed in operations by the army and security services across Syria on Friday and Saturday.

Syria economy: EU gets tougher, 2011-09-04
Sept. 2 (Economist Intelligence Unit) — FROM THE ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT

As expected, the European Union has imposed a ban on the import of Syrian oil to its member states in reaction to the continued violent crackdowns by President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces on pro-democracy demonstrators. With 95% of Syrian oil exports usually ending up in European countries this latest move will be felt harder in Syria than the previous, largely symbolic, US ban on Syrian oil imports or earlier European sanctions on the assets of regime figures.  However, with its back against the wall Mr. Assad’s regime is expected to prove adaptable and, with any more damaging UN-backed boycott of Syrian oil seemingly a long way off, these sanctions may have less impact than EU leaders hope.

Coinciding with a meeting of European foreign ministers in Poland, the European Council announced in a statement on September 2nd that it was imposing a ban on the, “purchase, import and transport of oil and other petroleum products from Syria.” The statement continued that no financial or insurance services may be provided for such transactions. The announcement came after some opposition from Italy, which is a significant buyer of Syrian oil. As a sop to the Italians, the sanctions will not begin until November 15th.

Syria currently produces 387,000 barrels/day of crude oil, according to the oil ministry, and exports about 145,000 b/d. The main destinations of these exports are refineries in Germany, Italy and France. Since the Libya crisis Italy in particular has increased its share, reportedly purchasing over half of Syria’s oil exports to compensate for lost Libyan oil. With both the production company (Syrian Petroleum Company) and the sales company (Sytrol) state owned, most profits from these sales end up in the Syrian treasury, comprising 20-25% of total budget revenue. The Syrian opposition in exile has argued that boycotting Syrian oil is a way of harming the regime’s finances, with which it finances the military machine currently deployed against protesters, without hurting the economy or ordinary people. Keen to avoid sanctions like those imposed on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in the 1990s, which worsened the lives of ordinary citizens without ousting the dictator, European leaders have been drawn to the opposition’s idea of a targeted oil boycott.

Adaptable autocrats

However, the sanctions may have less of an impact than either the EU or the Syrian opposition may hope. Firstly, the Europeans have not been able to persuade other states to join the boycott and there are plenty of alternative buyers of Syrian oil outside of the EU. China, India and other Asian countries are likely to be interested, even though they may demand a discount for having to recalibrate their oil refineries to handle Syrian heavy crude.

Asian buyers have shown few qualms in the past about buying oil from states that were subject to western sanctions, such as Sudan. Secondly, whatever impact the sanctions do have will be slow given their delay until mid-November. It is likely that the regime won’t feel the pinch until early next year, by which timeit may have  successfully crushed the opposition. Thirdly, as has been seen elsewhere, autocratic regimes prove remarkably adaptable and inventive when faced with sanctions. Syria’s allies in Iran will certainly offer advice on how to minimize their impact, based on their experiences of various UN sanctions since 2006.

Positive possibilities

The EU sanctions will not be completely ineffectual, however. As well as causing serious complications to the regime’s finances there are possible political ramifications. For one, the opposition may be boosted. Coupled with some European leaders joining US president, Barack Obama, in calling for Mr. Assad to “step aside”, the sanctions are a significant show of solidarity from Western leaders to the opposition. This may persuade more people to join the protesters on the ground and might encourage the opposition in exile to organise themselves better—a notable problem at present—knowing that Western leaders are seeking a realistic alternative to the Assad regime and are willing to take

action against it. A second possibility is that Syrian business leaders, who have been loyal to Mr Assad until now, may begin to turn on the regime after recognising that Western opposition is increasing and could ultimately inflict serious damage on the economy and their livelihoods. Certainly the more diplomatic pressure is increased the more defections from business leaders are likely.

UN-likely

However, for real diplomatic and economic pressure to be placed on Mr Assad, more states need to join the EU and US in penalising the regime, which appears unlikely at present. Almost as soon as the EU sanctions were passed France started to talk up the possibility of a UN-approved boycott of Syrian oil. However, veto-wielding China and Russia are both close to Syria, tend to defend regimes’ right to deal with internal protest undisturbed, and are still reeling from Western leaders overstepping the bounds of a UN resolution they backed on Libya. Moreover, Syria’s neighbours in Turkey, Iraq and the Arab states, while increasingly frustrated by Mr. Assad’s behaviour, are unlikely to back any kind of sanctions that might harm their important trade relationship with Syria.

Safe in the knowledge that he still has plenty of time to try to crush the uprising before any hint of a UN sanctions regime, Mr. Assad is therefore likely to dig in, step up his crackdowns on the opposition, and develop creative ways of surviving the European oil boycott.

Syrian opposition hopes for coup as sanctions, protests grind on,
By Ellen Knickmeyer, Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2011

The uprising is testing whether public anger over the collapsing economy and deadly crackdown will break the government before security forces break the nonviolent protest movement.

Reporting from Beirut—Almost half a year into Syria’s deadly military campaign against street protesters, the United States and Europe remained locked in a strategy of economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure to respond to the violence and try to push President Bashar Assad from power.

Leaders of Syria’s protest movement stay locked into their own strategy as well. Each day, they stage sit-ins and unarmed marches that are met by gunfire and, in some cases, tank assaults. Security forces stage house-to-house raids.

With deaths mounting and the increasing detention of protesters, Syria’s uprising has become a race against time, testing whether public anger over the collapsing economy and brutal crackdown can break the government before Assad’s security forces break the nonviolent protest movement.

“We have actually to survive and we have to continue this pressure. If the demonstrations stop, the international pressure stops,” Radwan Ziadeh, a leading Syrian opposition activist, said by telephone from Turkey, where he was visiting camps housing 7,000 of the Syrians who have fled across borders to escape government assaults.

“We think the army will one day make a coup,” Ziadeh said. “It would make the situation much easier.”

Syria’s military and security forces so far have experienced no widespread mutiny. The opposition overall also has rejected armed resistance, unlike Libya’s rebels. And few in Syria, and few in the international community, want a Libya-style foreign military intervention.

Besides the security forces, analysts and Syrians say, the nation’s business class remains the most crucial base for the more than four-decade rule of the Assad family. That includes the favored elite, many of them members of Assad’s Alawite religious minority, a small Muslim sect, who control much of Syria’s biggest enterprises, and the middle-class Christians, Alawites and Sunni Muslims who make up Syria’s merchant class.

Some of Syria’s merchants still see their survival as tied to Assad’s government, said one leading businessman who has substantial investments. A few wealthy ones “will fight the war of the regime to the end,” the businessman said in a telephone interview, speaking on condition he not be identified further.

Others, however, are constantly assessing whether Assad’s regime will survive. For that crucial bloc, sanctions have weight, the businessman said.

“Some of them might not have problems with the regime politically, but they are enraged by its inability to manage the political crisis,” the businessman said. “If the sanctions are developed further, the economic situation will definitely worsen. And that will, most probably, stir up the resentment among the businessmen.”

Donovan (Shell): Twitter storm pounds Shell’s Syria operations, 2011-09-02

Twitter users have joined forces to protest against Dutch oil giant Shell’s business operations in Syria. Friday saw the announcement of an EU-wide-ban on Syrian oil imports. Activists used the hash tag #shellfuelsmurder to stop all of the …

For Syria’s protesters there is no going back
Posted: 04 Sep 2011 Anthony Shadid

Traveling from safe house to safe house, Anthony Shadid meets Syria’s young revolutionaries, one of whom declares: “We’ve already won. We’re victorious now. I lived a life of terror, fear and killing, and now I’m free.” It was past 11 a.m., and Abdullah was finally waking up. The night before had gone late, he and his […]

Syrian crisis not a conspiracy, an opponent says
2011-09-03
by Gong Zhenxi

DAMASCUS, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) — A prominent opposition figure stressed that the current crisis in Syria since mid-March reflects the presence of an existing crisis in the country rather than a conspiracy as the government claims.During a recent interview with Xinhua, Michel Kilo, a Syrian Christian writer and human rights activist, criticized the handling of the crisis carried out by security apparatus, suggesting that the crisis has no security nature but rather a problem with political, social, economic and cultural dimensions that should be dealt with by political tactics.

Kilo made it clear that the continuation of the security handling would lead to a foreign intervention in the Syrian affairs, reiterating that protesters demanding freedom, for example, should not be met by tanks but rather by granting more freedom, even if it is implemented gradually….

He denied the existence of sedition or a salafi movement in Syria, suggesting that protesters did not shout any Salafi slogans, adding that there is a misunderstanding of the legitimate demands of the people.

He also denied the involvement of the United States or any foreign party in igniting the popular movement in Syria, illustrating that what is happening is a result of many years of accumulating sufferings…..

Syria to witness broad national dialogue for reforms — “Al-Baath”, Politics 9/1/2011

DAMASCUS, Sept 1 (KUNA) — Nationwide national conciliation dialogue is due to be launched on Monday as a prelude to holding a broad national convention, the state-run newspaper, “Al-Baath,” said in its edition published on Thursday.

The national dialogue, due to be launched on Monday and last till the 20th of the month, would be held at the level of committees, set up in each of the country’s governorates, Al-Baath said.

The commissions, formed to prepare for the broad conciliation convention, would include representatives of the government, political, social activists and economic figures, leaders of the opposition parties, academic figures and members of unions.

Agenda of the talks at the level of the commissions deal with political reforms, economic and social affairs .These committees will draft plans for reforms and specify the social and economic needs in each of the country’s provinces — to be submitted to the premiership. They will also list the candidates for taking part in the scheduled general convention for the national dialogue.

Among the topics to be tackled, according to Al-Baath, are means for preserving the national unity, facing the “external conspiracy, the questions of the constitution, basic laws, political parties, the elections and role of the media.” The conferees are also scheduled to address various other topics, namely the financial and taxation policies, trade, protection of the national product, investment affairs, employment, creating jobs, development of the agricultural, industrial and energy sectors, as well as education and health services.
Al-Baath said implementation of plans for developing these sectors and tackling these issues would be tied to schedules.

Some 450,000 Israelis march at massive ‘March of the Million’ rallies across country

Protests held in major cities across Israel represent of the biggest rallies in the country’s history. Protest leader: We have chosen to see instead of walking blindly toward the abyss.,……,
Actress and comedienne Orna Banai told the crowd in the capital: “I am not amused that there are hungry children here; that we have a soldier rotting in captivity for five years; that Israel is one of the poorest examples there are of human rights.”….

The Haifa protest focused on the issue of discrimination against Arabs. Shahin Nasser, representative of the Wadi Nisnas protest tent in Haifa said: “Today we are changing the rules of the game. No more coexistence based on hummus and fava beans. What is happening here is true coexistence, when Arabs and Jews march together shoulder to shoulder calling for social justice and peace. We’ve had it. Bibi, go home. Steinitz, go and don’t come back, Atias, good-bye and good riddance,” he said, referring to the prime minister, the finance minister and the housing minister, respectively. ….

Re-imagining the resistance axis
By Mahan Abedin

As the street-level opposition to the Syrian regime shows no signs of abating, there is growing pressure on strategic planners in Tehran to prepare for all scenarios, including one that doesn’t involve current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as the lynchpin of Syrian politics.The perceived gravity of the problem, reinforced by region-wide changes, should force the entire Iranian foreign policymaking establishment to re-think and re-imagine the deepest dimensions of the country’s regional diplomacy, including the very idea of the so-called “resistance axis”.

There are deep fears in Tehran that the downfall or emasculation of Assad and the Alawite-led Ba’athist regime in Damascus will at
the very least complicate the intricate set of relations that Iran maintains with Lebanese and Palestinian non-state actors, notably Hezbollah and Hamas, and effectively set the Islamic Republic on the back foot in the great strategic rivalry with the United States over influence and hegemony in the Middle East.

While this anxiety is understandable and partly reflects the genuine balance of forces and interests on the ground, it is ultimately myopic and the product of unimaginative strategic thinking. The partial and (in the case of Libya) total collapse of several Arab regimes in the Middle East and North Africa, is a harbinger for a profound re-alignment of the strategic map of the region, and specifically one where diplomacy is set to become more complex and entail greater involvement by indigenous powers……..

In view of these regional dynamics, namely the empowerment of potentially pro-Iranian Islamists in Cairo and the emergence of a volatile and inexperienced regime in Tripoli, Iran should look to cultivating deeper ties with these states and by extension de-emphasizing the relationship with non-state actors.

The resistance axis needs to be rethought and reconfigured to adapt to emerging political and strategic developments and ultimately tied to a more lucid definition of Iranian national interests.

If Iran’s primary national interest in the region is the expulsion of foreign military forces from the Persian Gulf area, then the emergence of more democratic regimes, whose chief sensitivity is their own public opinion, is supportive of this long-term strategic goal.

From this point of view, the downfall of Assad, however unlikely it may appear at this stage, is not necessarily the disaster imagined by many in Tehran’s policymaking circles.

Mahan Abedin is an analyst of Middle East politics.

Turkey crisis is just start of Israel’s diplomatic tsunami – 05.09.2011 Haaretz

The crisis in relations with Turkey is a red alert of the attacks we’re in for on the diplomatic, security and economic fronts, affecting the lives of 450,000 protesters, demanding social justice.

What’s the connection between the masses demanding social justice Saturday night and the worsening relations with Turkey and the expected recognition in the United Nations of a Palestinian state? What does Tel Aviv’s Kikar Hamedina have to do with Istanbul’s Taksim Square and Ramallah’s Manara Square? What does the debate between supporters and opponents of shattering the budgetary framework have to do with the Palestinians’ budget deficit or the downgrading of relations with Ankara?…

40 Israelis held in Istanbul airport, 09.05.2011

Passengers arriving in Turkey detained by local police after their passports taken away from them; passenger: Everyone was in shock

Israeli passengers on board a Turkish Airlines flight that landed in Istanbul on Monday morning were held for several hours by local police after their passports had been taken away from them. The passengers said that the Turkish police officers were disrespectful, claiming that such an incident was unprecedented…

Authorities in Jerusalem estimate that the detention of the Israeli passengers came in response to a recent incident during which Turkish citizens were detained for questioning by border police at Ben Gurion Airport.

Number of Syrians seeking shelter in Turkey drops by 60 pct, 2011-09-0

ANKARA, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) — The number of Syrian citizens taking shelter in Turkey has dropped by over 60 percent to 6,774, an official Turkish statement showed Monday

The statement, released by the Turkish Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate, said that among a total of 17,132 Syrians who had crossed the border into Turkey so far, 10, 358 of them, or about 60.4 percent, later returned to their homeland

Turkey has spent nearly 12.75 million Turkish liras (about 7.29 million U.S. dollars) to provide shelter, food and medical care to these Syrians, the statement said.

The Syrian shelter-seekers are mainly staying in the six temporary tent sites built by the Turkish Red Crescent in southern Turkish province of Hatay.

Mubarak assets are target of global search (Wash Post)

Thus far, the search — prompted by an Egyptian request sent to countries around the world — has located about $520 million in assets in Switzerland that Swiss authorities say have been frozen. But no money has been returned to Egypt, and it is far from certain whether any assets will ever be recovered.

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301. Six mois de contestation en Syrie. Et après ? | Groupe de soutien à la révolte du peuple syrien said:

[…] à une militarisation de la contestation pour des raisons que Joshua Landis énumère sur son blog Syria Comment. Et d’autre part, une intervention étrangère est, pour le moment, totalement exclue de la […]

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November 27th, 2011, 2:42 pm

 

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