Sheikh al-Yaqoubi Elected to the NC—its first non-Brotherhood-aligned religious figure

The Rise of the Sufis

Matthew Barber

by Matthew Barber—This story first appeared on Syria Comment


Newly-elected to the Syrian National Coalition, Sheikh Mohammad al-Yaqoubi is moderate, influential, and ready to go to work


From the beginning of the uprising, mainstream Syrian Sunni ‘ulema—the traditional scholars who have spoken for Islam for centuries and who most Syrians recognize as the quintessential voices for religious interpretation—have been marginalized in the Syrian opposition, as Islamists of Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood persuasion steamrolled their way to dominance in both the SNC and the National Coalition. But an emerging Sufi current within the Syrian resistance could soon provide an alternative to Muslim Brotherhood hegemony and change the dynamics of the political opposition.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi has just been elected to the National Coalition, the first figure of the Sufi ‘ulema to break through the Islamist exclusivity that has kept them out until now. His appointment will be announced shortly at a National Coalition conference. Along with other Sufi sheikhs, al-Ya’qoubi is heading up efforts to solidify a Sufi bloc of political leadership and nationalist-oriented rebel groups fighting in Syria who give allegiance to the leadership of Sufi ‘ulema. He also supports efforts to train Syrian rebels in Jordan.

Early on in the uprising, the Muslim Brotherhood worked to dominate the political opposition. The SNC primarily consisted of parties loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood. The National Coalition was later created to break this one-sided disparity, but ended up being dominated by others with Muslim Brotherhood connections, as well.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi

Sheikh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi

While this was the reality of the external opposition, an imbalance also formed on the ground inside Syria, as Islamist rebels received more foreign support and rose to prominence. Sheikh al-Ya’qoubi feels that the U.S. made the mistake of “leaving of the ‘Syrian file’ to the regional powers,” which allowed this trend to intensify as Gulf powers targeted Islamist groups with their aid. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been primarily involved in arming rebels, but the Saudis recently pulled back their level of support. They have an ambivalent relationship with Islamist movements; on the one hand, they support the proliferation of one of the most extreme and anti-Sufi forms of Islam, Wahhabism, throughout the Muslim world. Simultaneously, they fear Islamist movements such as the MB who pose a political threat to monarchy. As the character of the militarized opposition has evolved increasingly toward Islamism, with a recent climax of Jabhat al-Nusra announcing allegiance to al-Qaida and declaring an Islamic state in Syria, reports suggested that the Saudis decided to cut off support they had been offering.

Declining aid, however, has ironically resulted in the end of much of the support that nationalist-oriented rebels were receiving, and many rebels have complained that the remaining contributions from Qatar are reaching only the Islamist fighters. Continuing trends solidifying Islamist domination of both the political and military oppositions have further weakened the desire of the international community for intervention in Syria, though the fact that several regions are now controlled by al-Qaida-linked groups has prompted some to call for the preparation of a drone strategy for Syria, prompting fears that it will end up looking like another Afghanistan.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ya’qoubi’s entrance into the political opposition marks a development running counter to the dominant Islamist trend. Al-Ya’qoubi is respected as one of the leading scholars and Sufi clerics in Syria, and has been ranked as the second-most influential Muslim religious figure of the country. The brand of Islam he represents is expressed in a statement of sympathy he issued following the Boston Bombing. He studied in the West and is fluent in English and Swedish.

Traditional ‘ulema like Sheikh al-Ya’qoubi served for centuries as the interpreters of Islamic sources and traditions, but after the fall of the last Islamic empire, the process of modernization that accompanied the rise of the nation state presented a challenge to their role of traditional authority. The erosion of their power was further aggravated by the emergence of Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood who introduced new interpretations of Islamic texts, contrary to the classical traditions that had existed for centuries.

Under the Ba’athists, some of Syria’s ‘ulema became seen as coopted figures who stayed close to the regime and lent it legitimacy. Others however, remained at arm’s length from the regime, and when the uprising began, they asserted their criticism of it, as did Sheikh al-Ya’qoubi. In addition to his widespread recognition among Syria’s majority Sunni Muslims, his credibility is bolstered by being the cleric who issued the first fatwa against Bashar al-Assad, in July of 2011.

After publically criticizing the regime’s violence against demonstrators in two sermons delivered at mosques in April and May 2011, he fled Syria and issued his fatwa against the regime. Sheikh al-Ya’qoubi represents the kind of moderate, traditional Islam that most Syrians are familiar with, the Islam challenged by both the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists. Though taking an unambiguous stance against the regime’s violence, injustice, and terror, he also continues to exert his influence encouraging rebels to avoid terrorism through fatwas condemning tactics such as car-bombings, kidnapping, landmines, the killing of prisoners, and violence against non-combatants politically aligned with the regime. Sheikh al-Ya’qoubi has combatted the fatwas of extremist clerics who have called for the targeted sectarian killing of Alawite women and children by issuing his own fatwas prohibiting the killing of civilians of the Alawite minority. He maintains a very clear position defending the rights of all minorities, including those condemned by extremists as heterodox.

Sheikh al-Ya’qoubi also differs with the Islamist agenda to “Islamize” Syria’s laws. The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups promote a kind of activism that seeks to implement a greater degree of Islamic law in the state. The growing use of “Islamic law” by Jabhat al-Nusra and other Islamist groups in territory controlled by rebels likely prompted the announcement by Mu’az al-Khatib of an effort to introduce a “code” of Islamic law sanctioned by the opposition that the rebels could implement—an apparent attempt to assuage this desire manifesting in a stampede toward “shari’a” while ensuring that such a law would be relatively moderate. Where does Sheikh al-Ya’qoubi stand on this issue? He thinks Syria’s current family laws are just fine, and are already sufficiently compatible with the shari’a. He also believes that legal reform should not be pursued before a constitutionally-based committee can be formed which would tackle any needed changes, after the regime has fallen and a new Syrian government has been created.

Despite being well-known in Syria and playing an important role in the history of the uprising, Sheikh al-Ya’qoubi and other Sufi ‘ulema like him have been excluded from the political opposition. Desperation following the slow, groaning crisis of the opposition’s ineffectiveness, as well as fears that figures like al-Ya’qoubi may band together and form an alternative opposition have led to his appointment to the National Coalition, following a letter he drafted to Mu’az al-Khatib, signed by 25 Sufi sheikhs and containing an ultimatum about the need for their participation in the political process.

One obvious question is: what level of real influence will the Sheikh have? Does his participation mark the beginning of a trend, or will he merely be the NC’s token member of the ‘ulema?

In addition to having already played an important role throughout the uprising, Sheikh al-Ya’qoubi and other Sufi leaders have been building influence lately, working together for about six months to form an umbrella organization for rebel groups comprised of Sunnis and Sufis aligned with Syria’s mainstream values, rather than Islamist agendas. The organization is called the Movement for Building Civilization. He and his peers have produced a charter document which rebels groups can sign, pledging agreement with a set of foundational principles, including:

  1. Removing the regime while not destroying the state—protecting public institutions;
  2. The rejection of revenge, retaliation, and execution during the uprising, keeping the trials of war criminals for after the collapse of the regime and the establishment of a new government;
  3. After the collapse of the regime, rebel groups should cease to carry arms and their members should return to civilian life or join the national army;
  4. All ethnic and religious communities are to be defended as equal citizens under the law;
  5. No ethnic or religious group is to be held responsible for the crimes of the regime;
  6. A future Syrian government must operate according to a separation of judicial, legislative, and executive powers;
  7. The future government must be a democracy of political multiplicity and the 1950 Constitution should be in effect during the interim period until a new parliament is elected and a new constitution is agreed upon.

Many young sheikhs who joined the Syrian uprising are frustrated with their lack of options regarding conservative political movements to be aligned with. The three main options are Salafis, Hezb al-Tahrir, and Muslim Brotherhood movements, none of which well-represent mainstream Syrian Sunnis who look for the legitimacy of ‘ulema leadership. This concern was a primary motivation for the creation of the Movement for Building Civilization. Al-Ya’qoubi and the sheikhs he works with are in contact with over 200 rebel groups who consult them regarding principles, goals, and methods, but many of these groups are disillusioned with the inability of the Sufi and ‘ulema leadership to offer them any kind of practical monetary support. Lacking funding, groups that would like to follow moderate figures of the ‘ulema will remain vulnerable to recruitment by Islamist forces.

The formation of a Sufi bloc within the opposition could provide an alternative to the Muslim Brotherhood, one that would represent far greater numbers of Syrians. Sheikh Ya’qoubi has stated that he supports a government in which the Muslim Brotherhood can operate, but that he opposes a monopoly of any one faction. He told me in a recent conversation: “We may have to deal with an Ikhwaani prime minister in the future Syria. That is democracy. But the real question is: will the government be of all one color, or will it be inclusive?”

There’s no question about which demographic will win this war: the next power in Syria will be Sunni. And the question goes beyond “how big” a Sunni win will occur. The real question is: which Sunni group’s brand of Islam will define the political paradigm of the new state? The influence of ‘ulema who respect Syria’s diversity, promote a tolerant social sphere, and support an inclusive government structure will be extremely important in the nation’s future, and the international community should be in conversation with them.


Addendum: see the following post for an update on how Yaqoubi, though confirmed as a new member of the NC, subsequently had his appointment reversed at an opposition conference in Istanbul.

Comments (454)

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101. Alan said:

Russia Strikes Back in Syria
Putin upbraided Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his country’s air attacks on Damascus. Moscow is sending sophisticated anti-aircraft batteries, anti-submarine missiles and other munitions to beleaguered Assad, and has just announced that 12 Russian warships will patrol the Mediterranean.

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May 24th, 2013, 3:16 am


102. annie said:

an inside job

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May 24th, 2013, 6:19 am


103. Tara said:

Comply or else strategy seems to work with Batta. He is attending the conference.

• Russia’s foreign ministry says the Syrian government has agreed in principle to attend next month’s Peace Conference in Geneva. The ministry also criticised what it claimed were attempts to undermine the initiative.

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May 24th, 2013, 7:19 am


104. AKbar Palace said:

Syrian Hamster,

Of course you’re right. No one knows who is popular and who isn’t without a vote.

And totalitarian regimes do a great job of hiding people’s feelings because someone can get thrown into jail without any due process.

This is how regimes like Syria work.

…if the overwhelming majority of the Syrian population didn’t support the government the government would have been overthrown long ago.


I see you’ve smelled the kawa. Enjoy!

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May 24th, 2013, 7:50 am


105. apple_mini said:

Finally, we might get to the stage to see the regime and the opposition to play dirty politics. The dirtiest politics without violence is still infinitely better than violence. At least this will be agreed well by Syrians in Syria.

Whoever rejects to attend the conference will be universally condemned and punished. So we should see both sides finally sit down for the first time since the ugly revolution and counter-revolution started.

The military gain by SAA has provided tremendous help to the regime. They are now in better shape and better position. More bargaining chips and more growing support from the public.

Not only the public can feel security and safety under the regime’ rule. They also give credits to the winners who are genuinely Syrian.

Even if the conference turns out to be almost fruitless, the regime will take back the south and consolidate the west anyway.

Has any news agent or organization given estimate of the population in those areas? Consider about 10 millions in Damascus. We are seeing more than 2/3 Syrians are living in areas under the regime’s control. Under the cruel sanction by the west and constant sabotage and deliberate destruction by the rebels, the regime has been doing quite an impressive job to provide basic needs for those people.

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May 24th, 2013, 8:09 am


107. ann said:

Brent Scowcroft Argues for Diplomacy in Syria – May 23, 2013

Former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft said the top U.S. priority in Syria should be to work with Russia to arrange a cease-fire rather than to arm Syrian rebels or establish a no-fly zone in the country, as some in Washington are advocating.

Americans think “instinctively” they ought help put an end to the civil war, Mr. Scowcroft said in a video interview on But, he added, “I don’t see how we can help. If we actively participate, as many say, in Syria, then we’re going to own Syria. And we don’t know how to solve the Syrian problem.”

Asked whether he is advocating arming rebels or setting up a no-fly zone, Mr. Scowcroft replied, “No, I’m not. This is a very difficult situation. If (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) left tomorrow, it would not be all peace and quiet.”

Instead, he endorsed an effort by Secretary of State John Kerry to work with Moscow, an ally of and arms supplier to the Syrian government, to work out an end to the violence.

“It seems to me what the secretary of state is doing is the best thing we can do and that is to try and get the Russians to work with us for a cease-fire,” he said. “Then at least you deal with this very complex political and military situation without people getting killed.”

Russia, Mr. Scowcroft said, is being “very difficult” on the Syria question, in large part because of bitterness over how the West handled a similar uprising in Libya.

In that case, he said, Western nations went to the United Nations and won a Security Council resolution authorizing use of force to protect civilians from the violence growing out of an uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi. “We in fact used force to overthrow Qadhafi,” he said. “They say you can do that once but this regime-change stuff, we don’t go for it.”

[… Watch The Video …]

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May 24th, 2013, 9:25 am


108. ann said:


What happens in Syria will have major regional and global repercussions. Attempts to create a sectarian war are part of the logic of divide and conquer. This is part of the US and Israel “constructive chaos” strategy to fragment and re-sculpt the entire Middle East along the lines of the Yinon Plan and rehashed versions of it.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Salehi has warned that if the conflict in Syria is not ended that it will result in the partition of Syria and the spreading of the conflict throughout the Middle East. The same warnings have been echoing from Russia, Syria, and other places.

While the Chinese have kept mostly silent, they realize that the siege of Syria is part of the Pentagon’s roadmap against China. Days before Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to arrive in Beijing, CNN even reported that “China’s foreign ministry spokesman suggested Netanyahu may get a tough, unwelcome message from his Chinese hosts” due to the Israeli strikes on Jamraya.

The situation in Syria is akin to the situation that was created in Iraq during the Anglo-American occupation. It is a continuation of the same process of destabilization that wants to tear the pluralistic fabric of the ancient societies of the Middle East. It is this project that has driven the Christians out of Iraq and destroyed the mixed neighborhoods of Shiites and Sunnis and Arabs and Kurds.

Contemporary Iraq suffers from the virtual realization of both the Yinon Plan and the Biden Plan, which say Iraq should be divided into three sectors. The Kurdistan Regional Government, which is openly working against the sovereignty of Iraq and aligned with Turkey and Israel, is at loggerheads with the federal government Baghdad and has de facto independence. The corrupt leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government have prevented the Iraqi military from manning certain Iraqi-Syrian border crossings in the north used by the insurgents in Syria and they have allowed the Israelis to use Iraqi Kurdistan as a base of operations against Syria and Iran.

Like they did in Iraq during the chaos, the US and its allies are using money and sectarianism. The insurgency in Syria is being financed by the US and members of its anti-Syrian coalition, such as the Saudis and Qataris.

In addition, groups opposed to the Syrian government are being financially co-opted by the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood with the foreign funding it has been receiving to topple the Syrian government. One Damascene opposition figure has admitted that the Muslim Brotherhood “just asked us how much we needed, we told them, and they immediately sent that amount.”

Moreover, foreign funds were not only used to pay what he needed, but the Muslim Brotherhood told activists and government opponents that “they should take one per cent of the funding for their personal salaries.”

There should be no doubt that the insurgents in Syria and Israel are on the same side. The anti-government forces in Syria have even thanked Israel on several occasions and were jubilant about the Israeli attacks on Jamraya. As a result of the embarrassing attention they received for being aligned with Israel, the insurgents in Syria have changed gears and tried to save face by ridiculously claiming that Israel is secretly aligned with Bashar Al-Assad, Iran, and Hezbollah.

It says something of significance when Israeli officials say that they do not see an Al-Qaeda takeover of Syria as a threat to Tel Aviv. Amos Gilad, an Israeli military official, has stated very frankly Al-Qaeda is no concern for Israel and “although [its] elements are gaining a foothold in Syria amidst the chaos of the country’s civil war, the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah axis which preceded it [is] far more threatening” for Israel.

In reality, the governments of Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States are in league with the supposed terrorists that some of them say they oppose or are fighting. They have been using the groups that have been designated as branches of Al-Qaeda as foot soldiers on the ground in Syria and Libya. If successful, they will eventually try to use the same militants to ignite insurgencies in places like the Russia’s North Caucasian Federal District.

While Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and the Palestinians are being targeted through the destabilization of Syria, the countries targeting Syria are also preparing the flames that they themselves will also burn in if America’s “New Middle East” comes into fruition through a baptism of fire and blood.

Syrian instability and a possible partition of Syria could ignite a civil war in Turkey and even result in the partition of Turkey itself. Jordan too will be consumed by the flames that are burning Syria.

If Syria collapses, the Iranians have delivered an unequivocal warning to King Abdullah II of Jordan about his future. Tehran’s message to Abdullah II, a despot who has foreigners arrested merely for talking negatively about him, but is invited to the White House to talk about democracy in Syria, is simple: “You must be aware that if the US decides to go to war with Syria, your kingdom will go in the process.”

Nor will Saudi Arabia and Qatar be spared from the flames that the House of Saud and the rival House of Al-Thani are stoking for the Obama Administration and Israel in their Syrian gambit that could eventually ignite a major all-out war in the Middle East and beyond.


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May 24th, 2013, 9:32 am


109. ann said:

EU must extend Syria arms embargo – May 23, 2013

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels next week must extend the arms embargo on Syria and push for a political solution to the country’s civil war, British-based charity Oxfam said Friday.

The aid agency said it would be “irresponsible” not to widen the arms ban and warned a failure to do so could extinguish hopes of a breakthrough at the US-Russian peace summit scheduled for June 12.

“Allowing the EU arms embargo to end could have devastating consequences,” warned Oxfam’s Head of Arms Control Anna Macdonald.

“There are no easy answers when trying to stop the bloodshed in Syria, but sending more arms and ammunition clearly isn’t one of them.”

The charity warned that attempts by Britain and France to channel weapons into the hands of rebel fighters could “fan the flames of the conflict and cost lives”.

“There are serious risks arms could be used to commit human rights violations,” said Macdonald.

“Transferring more weapons to Syria can only exacerbate a hellish scenario for civilians.

“The UK and France are charting a risky course of action,” she added. “Diplomacy should be the priority.”


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May 24th, 2013, 9:41 am


110. ann said:

On Syria Chemical Weapons, Kane Has Reporter’s Information, Sellstrom Next

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 23 — Back on April 30 at the Russian Mission to the UN, a Russian state television reporter who spent eight months in Syria, Anastasia Popova, told Inner City Press that while she had information about the use of chemical weapons in Al-Asal, the UN panel headed by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro had declined to look at it.

Inner City Press wrote the story, and on May 1 asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Martin Nesirky if Ban’s prober Ake Sellstrom would be willing to look at Popova’s evidence. Yes, Nesirky said, to the surprise of some.

Now we can report that Popova has said she did share her information with Ban’s High Representative on Disarmament and main negotiator with Syria on chemical weapons, Angela Kane.

And Inner City Press has learned that Kane’s High Representative’s Office has received the material and are converting it into a usable format, and it is being sent to the Head of the Team, Ake Sellstrom.

What will Sellstrom make of it? And …

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May 24th, 2013, 9:44 am


111. ann said:

Austria links UN peacekeepers to Syria arms ban – May 24, 2013

VIENNA (AP) — Austria said Friday that it may rethink its U.N. peacekeeping role in the Golan Heights, if the European Union doesn’t extend its arms embargo to Syria.

Austria’s 377 soldiers make up the largest contingent of the approximately 900 U.N. peacekeepers posted to the Golan Heights separating Syria and Israel.

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger told The Associated Press on Friday that they could be targeted by Syrian government forces, if EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday decide to allow members to ship arms to rebels trying to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad.

‘’We believe there are enough weapons in Syria,” Spindelegger said. ‘’We support a cease-fire, not weapons deliveries.”


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May 24th, 2013, 9:49 am


112. ann said:

Why we oppose US and Israeli intervention in Syria – Statement by ANSWER Coalition – May 23, 2013

Having overthrown the governments in Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, the U.S. government has sought to topple the Syrian government during the past two years. The CIA has been the coordinating agency for massive weapons shipments from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to armed groups fighting to topple the Syrian government.

The conflict in Syria that began more than two years ago was fueled by a wide range of grievances, some legitimate, some reactionary. But the armed rebellion inside the country is today inextricably bound to imperialism and the most reactionary regimes in the Arab world. Its aim is to destroy a secular, nationalist government that U.S. leaders view as an obstacle to their goal of dominating the entire Middle East.

The United States, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been funneling vast quantities of arms, money and supplies to the Syrian opposition, and training thousands of anti-government fighters in Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere. On May 5, Israel heavily bombed an area close to the capital, Damascus.

Harsh economic sanctions have been imposed on Syria. The United States and its allies have waged a worldwide campaign to isolate and demonize the Syrian government.

Outside support has sustained the opposition, but not brought it victory. Thus, the leaders of the U.S.-organized “National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces” and the “Free Syrian Army” have been making repeated and urgent appeals for more direct imperialist intervention, including an air war against their own country. Those appeals have become even more urgent due to losses suffered by the splintered opposition forces in recent weeks.


Stepping up the imperialist-led campaign, on May 22, the so-called “Friends of Syria” met in Amman, Jordan. Led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the other “Friends” at the meeting were the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The open aim of the “Friends” is the overthrow of existing government in Syria. Its concluding statement speaks of “supporting the legitimate rights of the Syrian people” and “a new Syrian constitution with equal rights for all.”

This supposed concern for “human rights” in Syria is nothing but the crassest cynicism.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Jordan are all police-state, absolute monarchies, sustained in power by U.S. support. Saudi Arabia has never had an election, women are forbidden to drive cars and public beheadings are a frequent occurrence. Britain and France are the former colonizing powers in the region, striving to retain their influence today. Germany and Italy shared in the colonial division of Africa; half the population of Libya died under Italian rule during World War II. Turkey has long repressed the Kurdish population inside its borders, as well as unions, leftist parties and other progressive organizations. The Egyptian government is suppressing the opposition as it seeks to consolidate its power.

As the dominant world power over the past 70 years, the United States has carried out genocidal wars from Korea to Vietnam to Iraq, leaving tens of millions dead, wounded and displaced. In addition, U.S. military and intelligence forces have intervened hundreds of times in countries around the world, and today the United States maintains more than 900 military bases on every continent. Death by U.S. drone is today a regular and terrorizing feature of life for people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

The “Friends” are in reality a criminal gang who have no concern whatsoever for the interests of the people of Syria – or any people anywhere, for that matter.


An international peace conference on Syria has been jointly proposed by Russia and the United States, and is tentatively set to take place in Geneva, Switzerland, in June. It is not clear yet whether it will actually take place.

Regarding the proposed conference, the “Friends of Syria” statement ended by threatening, “[U]ntil such a time as the Geneva meeting produces a transitional government, they [the “Friends”] will further increase their support for the opposition and take all other steps as necessary.” By “transitional government,” the “Friends” mean one absent the present leadership. In other words, until there is “regime change,” they will escalate the war.


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May 24th, 2013, 10:05 am


113. Akbar Palace said:

Dear Dr. Barber,

Respectfully requesting that SC not become an unwanted “news service” full of long articles of propaganda.

Instead, can we just have a one-line quote and a link?

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May 24th, 2013, 10:17 am


114. revenire said:

Tara Assad holds all the cards and I urge you to read the reports on the conference.

Akbar what I do with posts – long or short – I don’t want to read is skip over them. It works really well.

In life we often must look at things that make us uncomfortable. Have a nice day.

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May 24th, 2013, 10:23 am


115. revenire said:

Is Juergen around? I wanted to share the good news.

BND anticipates Syria’s victory end 2013

The German foreign intelligence agency (Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND) has drastically revised its assessment of the situation in Syria, reveals Spiegel Online [1]

While, on the strength of reports by high-ranking military deserters, they had heretofore predicted the rapid enfeeblement of Bashar al-Assad, today they announced his victory before the end of the year.

The BND believes that the Syrian Arab Army has succeeded in securing its supply lines and in cutting those of the “insurgents” (largely foreign jihadists, backed by NATO and the GCC). The retrieval of al-Qusayir presages that of the entire district of Homs and the collapse of the partition plans, with the possible exception of a Kurdish area.

[1] “Bürgerkrieg in Syrien : BND prognostiziert Vormarsch der Assad-Armee,” by Matthias Gebauer, Spiegel Online, 22 May 2013.

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May 24th, 2013, 10:29 am


116. zoo said:

Saudi Arabia and Qatar competition in the open

The Shadow War Behind Syria’s Rebellion: Foreign Backers Jockey for Influence in Turkey
By Rania Abouzeid / Istanbul

a low-key yet perhaps equally important gathering was being quietly held in Istanbul between Saudi officials and half of the 30 members of the Free Syrian Army’s Higher Military Command, which claims to represent most of the rebels fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The informal talks, which were held at a seaside hotel, marked the first gathering of the rebel group’s Military Command and Saudi officials since, according to senior members of the Military Command, Saudi Arabia stepped up earlier this month to become the main source of arms to the rebels. In so doing they nudged aside the smaller Persian Gulf state of Qatar, which had been the main supplier of weapons to the opposition since early 2012. Saudi officials have simply been meeting with the rebels on their own, without involving the Qataris.

The change is significant because Qatar and Saudi Arabia each favor different rebel factions. The Qataris have backed more Islamist rebel groups, while the Saudis—despite Saudi Arabia’s ultraconservative form of government—have opted to support more moderate groups that may have an Islamist hue but are not considered conservative. The strong conservative Islamist current within rebel ranks may be weakened if support is increased to more moderate factions….

A Saudi representative in the meeting was at pains to stress that there was no such thing as a “separate Saudi and Qatari path,” according to two participants.

Read more:

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May 24th, 2013, 11:14 am


118. zoo said:

Is Bashar al-Assad winning the civil war in Syria?

Dispatch: the Syrian rebels are in disarray and the regime is gaining ground. Two Telegraph correspondents report from the front lines in Damascus and Aleppo

Now Mr Assad is fighting back, to despairing rebel admission. Those same analysts suggest he could be in a position to deal an ultimately fatal blow. Even before the current battle for Qusayr on the Lebanese border, he was making small but strategic gains around Damascus, and in the centre of the country.

Mr Assad has reopened the road to Deraa and Jordan, and brought to a halt the sweeping rebel gains in the north, which began last July with the seizure of half of Aleppo and culminated when the opposition, led by the al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra, swept to the Iraqi border in March.

The German intelligence agency BND, which last year was predicting the regime’s imminent collapse, believes Mr Assad could regain the entire south by the end of the year, according to a report leaked to Der Spiegel. Other Western powers appear to think in similar terms.

The regime may not have regained much territory, but it has taken supply lines, allowing it to hit back at will.

Predictions of an Assad victory might be premature, but the political and military opposition are badly divided between Islamists, militants and secular forces. This is likely to be exacerbated if they do not resume the charge.

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May 24th, 2013, 11:18 am


120. Ziad said:

Widely denounced as ‘propaganda,’ Israel’s report on al-Dura calls attention to 950 other child killings

According to the human rights group B’Tselem, 951 children and teens were killed by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza between 2000 and 2008, yet no government committee was ever established to investigate the circumstances of their deaths. Only in the al-Dura case was such a committee convened. . . .

This report doesn’t lift the fog off this case, if there ever was any. Instead, it raises a more painful issue: the many young people killed by IDF soldiers during the second intifada.

If the government had chosen to investigate that, perhaps it would have been reasonable to include a chapter on the al-Dura incident. But focusing only on him is mere propaganda that won’t in any way improve Israel’s problematic image of being responsible for too many children’s deaths.

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May 24th, 2013, 11:41 am


121. apple_mini said:

I think most people are aware of the path for the opposition if they agree for the conference. Stopping violence and implementing ceasefire are the priority. There would be an agreement in theory for those objectives. But all of us would expect continued fighting against the extremists who will certainly not obey the agreement.

The opposition should be united with those rebel fighters and factions who accept the agreement. In combination with the regime to form the prototype of the new Syria government and army.

The future of Assad and his gangs is up to Syrians to decide. We do hope there will be decency to be displayed by Assad to contribute a conductive role for Syria.

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May 24th, 2013, 11:44 am


122. revenire said:

From Danny Makki:

The fundamental fact is that a conventional national army with no major defections, wanted by Islamist insurgents, Western powers, Israel and NATO has remained steadfast and now on the offensive, contrary to what most ‘observers’ envisaged.

Foreign policy
“After two years of crowing that the end of Bashar al-Assad was nigh, the official and popular perceptions in the United States and Europe of the Syrian president’s staying power have shifted dramatically. There’s a new narrative taking hold, fueled by both media reports and assessments by Western intelligence agencies — that the Assad regime is largely stable, and making significant gains against the rebels throughout the country.”

Washington Post
Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are beginning to turn the tide of the country’s war, bolstered by a new strategy, the support of Iran and Russia and the assistance of fighters with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement

The Telegraph
“Now Mr Assad is fighting back, to despairing rebel admission. Those same analysts suggest he could be in a position to deal an ultimately fatal blow. Even before the current battle for Qusayr on the Lebanese border, he was making small but strategic gains around Damascus, and in the centre of the country. Mr Assad has reopened the road to Deraa and Jordan, and brought to a halt the sweeping rebel gains in the north, which began last July with the seizure of half of Aleppo and culminated when the opposition, led by the al-Qaeda offshoot Jabhat al-Nusra, swept to the Iraqi border in March.”

The Guardian
“How would you identify those groups among Assad’s opponents who would be legitimate recipients of arms on the ground that their values of democracy and human rights are said to be the same as ours? The range of opponents is both complex and extensive. Radical Islamists are becoming more and more influential and powerful, not least since they are funding their activities by plundering Syrian reserves and selling oil on the black market. They most certainly do not share our values of democracy and human rights. How would you prevent arms from falling into their hands?”

Now look at who is on the ‘right side of history’.

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May 24th, 2013, 12:11 pm


123. The Hunchbacked Mufti of Homs said:

113. REVERSO says:

“In life we often must look at things that make us uncomfortable”

Wow. That’s deep, really deep.

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May 24th, 2013, 12:15 pm


124. revenire said:

The “opposition” is caught in a trap.

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May 24th, 2013, 12:16 pm


125. Ziad said:

Let Shia and Sunni Muslims Unite against the Salafi/Wahabi deviation

All these horrific crimes have not been committed by Sunni or Shia Muslims! But by Salafi/Wahabis! Osama bin Laden/Anjem Choudary/Abu Qatada/Abu Hamza Masri/Omar Bakri.

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May 24th, 2013, 12:19 pm


126. Tara said:

Batta is brought to his knees and now forced to accept negotiating transition of the chair to interim transitional government that has all the power .

I suspect even if he is granted immunity, divine justice would reach him eventually.

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May 24th, 2013, 12:23 pm


127. Uzair8 said:

Angry Arab’s latest update:

A vulgar and crude shabbih of the Syrian regime joins the “revolution.”. Please enjoy him.

I saw on the station of king Fahd’s brother-in-law, al-arabiyya, that one of the worst propagandists of the Syrian regime, Yahya al-Aridi, who attended Georgetown university with me, and who was a propagandist of Syrian regime TV and dean of the journalism school at Damascus university, has defected. My memories of the man.

Any more news on this story and the individual? He’ll have a lot to say about the lying nature of the regime and his previous work.

Can we expect regimists to all of a sudden attack/dismiss him as a ‘vulgar and crude shabeeha’ just like Angry Arab has done?

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May 24th, 2013, 12:24 pm


128. zoo said:

– Al Khatib 16 points goes to the dustbin, is his role over?
– KSA taking over the SNC after Qatar’s fiasco?
– Is Kilo’s opposition bloc getting on board and will take over the hardliner?
– The candidates for the Coalition: Ghaliun, Tomeh, Sabra?


Much to the frustration of its backers, the coalition has struggled to agree on a leader since the resignation in March of respected cleric Moaz Alkhatib, who had floated two initiatives for Assad to leave power peacefully.

Alkhatib’s latest proposal – a 16-point plan which foresees Assad handing power to his deputy or prime minister then going abroad with 500 members of his entourage – won little support in Istanbul, highlighting the obstacles to wider negotiations.

“He has the right to submit papers to the meeting like any other member but his paper is heading directly to the dustbin of history. It is a repeat of his previous initiative which went nowhere,” a senior coalition official said.

“The international community is walking a little faster than the opposition. It wants to see a complete list of participants from the Syrian side for Geneva and this means that the coalition has to sort its affairs,” a European diplomat said.

Looming large over the Istanbul meeting, which began on Thursday, is the shadow of Saudi Arabia, which according to opposition sources will lead an Arab drive to back the new government financially, after differences with Qatar on how to deal with the coalition were largely settled.

Saudi Arabia is backing a proposal being debated at the three-day meeting to expand the 60-member coalition to 95 by bringing in members of a new liberal political bloc being set up by veteran opposition campaigner Michel Kilo.

The coalition is currently dominated by two blocs: the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies in the Syrian National Council, and a faction loyal to Mustafa al-Sabbagh, a businessman close to Qatar.

“The Kilo bloc, if it is admitted, will end the era of the coalition being decided by Sabbagh and the Brotherhood,” a senior coalition source said.

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May 24th, 2013, 1:07 pm


129. revenire said:

I wonder if the Assad victory will convince the editors of Vogue to do another story on “the Rose of the Desert” the lovely Asma al-Assad?

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May 24th, 2013, 1:40 pm


130. revenire said:

Syria: Assad government backed by popular militia

After many months of fierce fighting with armed terrorists, Syrian government forces have regained control of the strategic city of al-Qusayr, cutting the rebels from support in arms and manpower that reached them from neighbouring Lebanon. Syrian Brigadier General Muhammed Issa told to the Voice of Russia, that government offensive in the Qusayr area was backed by a popular militia.

Symptomatically, even the conservative Arab and other Arabic-language media, including Al-Watan, have acknowledged that Mrs Clinton’s expectations on an early fall of the Assad regime have failed to materialize, with the Assad-led Syrian government continuing to gain ground.

Importantly, the government offensive in the Qusayr area was backed by a popular militia.

The Voice of Russia heard about this from Syrian Brigadier General Muhammed Issa:

“Throughout the two years of the terrorist rebellion, the Syrian army has been backed from the rear by a numerous popular militia. These units enforce security and protect vital installations and population centers.”

The opposition hates and dreads them, branding their valiant volunteer fighters ‘Shabiha’, or ghosts.

General Issa again:

“These volunteers help the army by holding the entire home front. There are lots of women in their ranks. They spare no effort to protect their home villages and city neighbourhoods from terrorism. At present, thousands of militia fighters are helping the army to mop up rebel resistance in the entire El-Guta valley, where many suburbs of Damascus sit.”

Cairo’s Al-Ahram has called attention to the fact that for the first time in modern history, the battle of Al-Qusayr pitched masses of Sunni Sharia warriors from across the Muslim world against a coalition of pro-Shia forces, which included Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

This is what general Issa has to say:

“Hezbollah volunteers are also helping the Syrian army defend Homs and Damascus. Why should we reject their help? Indeed, there are not that many Syrians on the opposition side. The rebel forces mostly consist of Saudis, Qataris, Turks and even European Jihadists”.

Ahmed Ibadov

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May 24th, 2013, 1:45 pm


131. Badr said:

Michel Kilo has every right to be really upset.

!فوضى قاتلة

والثورة، التي كانت ولا تزال طموح شعب يموت في سبيل حريته، تتحول إلى مصطلح يفقد أكثر فأكثر معناه الأصلي/ العملي، وتبرز فيها جوانب تجعلها أكثر فأكثر عبئاً ثقيلاً على الثوار خاصة والمواطنين عامة،
. . .
والمشكلة أن من يدّعون تولي إدارة معركة الحرية والدفاع عن الشعب لا يعترفون بدورهم في أزمة سببتها عقلياتهم وخياراتهم وتدابيرهم، مع أنهم يقرّون من حين لآخر بوجود الأزمة
. . .
والفساد السياسي هو في الثورات أخطر وأحط أنواع الفساد، فكيف إذا اقترن بالاستيلاء على مال الشعب المشرّد والمعذب والمقتول، وبحرمان من يستحقونه منه. بالمناسبة، فإن أخطر مظاهر الفساد السياسي يتجسد في تقديس السلاح وعبادته وربط مصير الشعب به، ورسم السياسات انطلاقاً من احكام مسبقة تزدري الواقع والوقائع، وتفرض عليهما قوالب جاهزة يحشر العقل فيها فيفقد عقلانيته ويتحول إلى عبء على الإدراك والفهم، في حين يتم تجريم واحتقار السياسة كأداة يمكن وضعها في خدمة الثورة، سواء في ما يتصل بضبط مسارها، ام بتقويم حركتها وتعزيز الالتزام بقيمها، وبترجمة ما اراده الشعب إلى خطط عملية قابلة للتنفيذ. وقد شجّع على انتشار هذا النمط من الفساد تخلف القادة السياسي، وتدني وعيهم ومستوى ثقافتهم ونمطها، وقلة خبرتهم وعجزهم عن التأقلم مع جديد الحراك وحملته، واعتبارهم الثورة مجرد انعكاس لما يريدونه او يؤمنون به من ايديولوجيات شمولية، ويعتنقونه من أحكام عشوائية، ويعتمل في صدورهم من انفعالات
. . .
لا عجب أن الفشل السياسي بلغ أوجه، والاستهتار بمصالح الشعب وحياته صار قاعدة العمل العام، لدى هؤلاء الفاسدين، وأن سياساتهم لم تكن شيئاً آخر غير ملاقاة سياسات النظام في منتصف الطريق، وأنهم أسهموا بكل ما لديهم من قدرة على تطييف وعسكرة ثورة سلمية قامت لنبذ الطائفية وضدها، ولم يكن بين مطالبها ما يعلو على مطلب الحرية، الذي تلاشى مع ظهور «امراء الحرب»، الذين أنتجهم أمراء الفساد السياسي. حدث هذا، بينما كان الشعب يصحح بدمائه أخطاء من وضعوا على رأسه وبويعوا قادة له، ولم يكن يعرف أياً منهم، لأنه لم يكن لأي منهم أي دور في ثورته، حتى بعد نشوبها بأشهر عديدة، قبل أن تلملم مخابرات دول اقليمية وعربية بعض هؤلاء وتضع فضائية فتاكة في خدمتهم، وتمدهم بالمال الذي اشتروا به الضمائر الرخوة والرخيصة.
هل يمكن ان تنتصر الثورة بقيادات من هذا النوع، يرفض بعضها . . . مطالبة التيار الديموقراطي بتوسعة الائتلاف الأعرج وإقامته على توازن وطني لا وجود له اليوم داخله، لاعتقاده أن وضعه سيفتضح وعجزه سيبدو جلياً للعيان، إن تمت التوسعة المتوازنة، بدل أن يبادر هو إلى المطالبة بهذا التوازن والعمل لتحقيقه، ليس فقط لأن تحقيقه مصلحة وطنية عليا، بل لأنه أدرك أيضاً ما الحقته عقلية المحاصصة التي اعتمدتها خلال عامين من ضرر بالعمل العام الوطني وبالحراك المجتمعي، وما تطلبته من تضحيات كلفت عشرات آلاف السوريات والسوريين حياتهم وأطالت عمر نظام كان ولا يزال قابلاً للكسر، لكنه يعيش على أخطائها أكثر مما يعيش على حساباته الصائبة وقواه الخاصة؟
. . .
يستعين النظام في التخطيط لعملياته بخبرات روسية وإيرانية على مستوى رفيع من الدراية والمعرفة، ويبادر إلى إزاحة القادة العسكريين الفاشلين واستبدالهم بغيرهم، بينما يأتمر قادة المجالس العسكرية بإمرة اصحاب مهن حرة من معلمي دهان وتلييس وكومجية وخبازين ودكنجية وبائعي خضار وشوفيرية وشرطيين ومربي دجاج وعاطلين سابقين عن العمل وكومسيونجية… الخ، فإن بقي هناك في مكان ما عسكري على قدر من النفوذ كان من جماعة سياسية تمارس الانتقائية في توزيع الأسلحة والمعونات والذخائر وتحرم مقاتلي الميدان الحقيقيين منها!
يتراكم بسرعة نوعان من الخطأ: أحدهما ينجب الفوضى، وثانيهما ينتج عنها. إذا استمرت هذه الجدلية القاتلة، لن يطول الزمن قبل أن نجد أنفسنا امام معادلة مميتة، حدها الأول الهزيمة، والثاني موت أعداد هائلة من شرفاء الشعب المضحين بأرواحهم للحيلولة دونها. ماذا نختار: فعل كل ما هو ممكن وواجب لوقف الفوضى، أم استمرارنا في اتخاذ مواقف لا تكترث لموت شعبنا المظلوم؟

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May 24th, 2013, 2:10 pm


132. Alan said:

reported by Der Spiegal online:

Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has fundamentally changed its view of the ongoing civil war in Syria. SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that the BND now believes the Syrian Араб Army is more stable than it has been in a long time and is capable of undertaking successful operations against rebel units at will. BND head Gerhard Schindler informed select politicians of the agency’s new assessment in a secret meeting.

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May 24th, 2013, 2:14 pm


133. Alan said:

132. BADR
enghlish translation?

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May 24th, 2013, 2:25 pm


134. Tara said:

I wonder if the regime supporters feel the humility inflicted on Batta where he is now forced to negotiate his departure.

Sadly, we are used to the regime supporters feeling very proud with anything Batta does including daily physiological functions. I doubt they get it.

Well, sometimes it is a blessing..

On another note, where is Aboud? I miss him. He tormented all the hyenas on SC. He told us once that he will be there when we mention his name. I hope he makes a grand appearance. I am getting bored.

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May 24th, 2013, 2:28 pm


135. majoos said:

Other than Turkish media a one German newspaper there is no coverage about the leaked classified material by the Turkish branch of Annonymous, Red Hack.
The documents directed to local Hatay Jendarmarie inteligence suggest, that Turkish security offices knew of planed bomb attacks by Nusra in Reyhanli.
The Turkish gouvernment has just admitted the authenticity of these documents and detained at least one military official who is giving away the documents.

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May 24th, 2013, 2:36 pm


136. zoo said:

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May 24th, 2013, 2:58 pm


137. zoo said:

Syria army says rebels trapped in Qusayr’s north

24 May 2013


Syrian troops have captured much of the rebel stronghold of Qusayr, in central Homs province, squeezing opposition fighters into the north of the strategic town, a military officer told AFP on Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog said regime forces backed by members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group were bombing northern areas of the city, encircling rebel fighters there.

“The armed men are surrounded on all sides, there is no escape for them now,” the officer told an AFP journalist accompanying army forces in the embattled town.

The regime uses the term “armed men” to refer to the rebel forces fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

“The battle will continue until the complete liberation of Qusayr. We’re in the second and penultimate phase of the fight,” the officer said.

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May 24th, 2013, 2:59 pm


138. zoo said:

Israel, in reassessment, thinks Syria’s Bashar Assad will last a while

JERUSALEM — Israel has reversed its assessment about the staying power of Syrian President Bashar Assad and now thinks he’ll remain in control of at least part of his country for some time to come – a conclusion that makes it likely, a growing number of officials think, that an escalation of violence between the two countries may be inevitable.

Read more here:

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May 24th, 2013, 3:05 pm


139. Akbar Palace said:


I couldn’t find the b’tzelem article. Mondoweiss may not have have been truthful.

BTW, how many children did the SAA kill in the same time period?

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May 24th, 2013, 3:36 pm


140. revenire said:


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May 24th, 2013, 3:44 pm


141. Alan said:

More Killed in North Lebanon as Syria Spillover Grows

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May 24th, 2013, 3:46 pm


142. ann said:

Syria says Israeli vehicle entered its territory and was targeted heading to a rebel village – May 24, 2013

UNITED NATIONS – Syria says it targeted an Israeli vehicle that crossed a ceasefire line into its territory earlier this week because it was heading toward a village with a large rebel presence.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council circulated Friday, Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said his country exercised its right to self-defense and would respond immediately to any other violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Syria accused Israel of violating the U.N. Charter and the separation of forces agreement that followed the 1973 Arab-Israeli war when it sent the vehicle into Syrian territory and launched two missiles on Tuesday.


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May 24th, 2013, 3:47 pm


143. revenire said:

No Resistance and Liberation Day without Syria

To all those pseudo-Palestine solidarity activists and erstwhile supporters of the resistance who now equate the Syrian takfiri counter-revolution with the struggle against Zionism: If it were not for the Assad “regime’s” military and political support for the resistance there would be no Resistance and Liberation Day to celebrate in Lebanon on May 25. And had it not been for this support, there would no war on Syria now, nor would Hizbullah have been compelled to militarily intervene there to help Syria liberate its territory from the enemies of our resistance cause. The war on Syria has never merely targeted Syria, but the resistance axis as a whole and the resistance project in the region.

Hizbullah’s role in Syria today is not merely an “alliance of minorities” fighting for their survival as one journalist suggested to me today [as if to suggest that Hizbullah and the Syrian army is fighting Sunnis rather than takfiris specifically] , it is a strategic alliance of those who refuse to allow this nefarious sectarian scourge to drag us into endless bloodletting and distract us from confronting our Zionist and imperialist enemies, in accordance with the latter’s long-time strategy of divide-and-rule .

By confronting the counter-revolutionary, or rather, counter-resistance, forces, Hizbullah and Syria are defending our resistance cause and the unity of our people.

They used to say disparagingly that “Syria is still in Lebanon”; well now we see that Lebanon is also in Syria. And that is because we always were one people who shared one land and one language and one political identity which no amount of colonial redrawing of our borders, imperialist interventions or takfiri violence can ever undo.

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May 24th, 2013, 3:47 pm


144. ann said:

Syria Accuses Israel of Health Violations in the Golan – May 24, 2013

Health Conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including East Jerusalem, and in the Occupied Syrian Golan

Syria slams Israel at the UN over the deterioration of the health conditions in the Syrian occupied Golan.

Syria made the accusations against Israel in a report it presented to the UN’s World Health Organization on Monday of this week.

The Syrian report accuses Israel of torturing Syrians held in Israeli prisons, saying they “continue to be held in inhumane conditions of detention.”

It also accuses Israel of using Arab and Syrian detainees for “testing medicines,” after which they are “brutally tortured and coerced into confessing crimes they never committed. Prisoners are also injected with dangerous viruses that cause them to develop diseases and disabilities, even with a fatal outcome.”

The report also accuses Israel of burying nuclear waste in the Golan and “planting the ceasefire line with nuclear and radioactive land mines,” Yisrael Hayom reported.

“Israeli occupation authorities are continuing to bury nuclear waste in more than 20 sites, as well as more than 1,500 barrels of radioactive and toxic materials dumped in secret landfills in the occupied Syrian Golan territories,” the report said.

It asked the WHO “to end inhuman Israeli practices that target the health of Syrian citizens.”

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May 24th, 2013, 3:55 pm


145. Tara said:

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May 24th, 2013, 4:03 pm


146. Akbar Palace said:


“None”? Yeah sure, we forgot how accurate those Scud missiles are on apartment complexes.

But Ziad’s post reinforces my point that Israel is guilty of everything and Assad is guilty of nothing. That “get out of jail free card” is something we all should have in our wallets.

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May 24th, 2013, 4:06 pm


147. revenire said:

Akbar cite a reliable source for me please and make sure it is not one that has an anti-Assad bias. If you can do that I will buy you a slice of pizza later on.


The Brits were caught using false information before:

BBC News uses ‘Iraq photo to illustrate Syrian massacre’
The BBC is facing criticism after it accidentally used a picture taken in Iraq in 2003 to illustrate the senseless massacre of children in Syria.

Photographer Marco di Lauro said he nearly “fell off his chair” when he saw the image being used, and said he was “astonished” at the failure of the corporation to check their sources.

The picture, which was actually taken on March 27, 2003, shows a young Iraqi child jumping over dozens of white body bags containing skeletons found in a desert south of Baghdad.

It was posted on the BBC news website today under the heading

“Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows”.
The caption states the photograph was provided by an activist and cannot be independently verified, but says it is “believed to show the bodies of children in Houla awaiting burial”.

A BBC spokesman said the image has now been taken down.

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May 24th, 2013, 4:28 pm


148. Alan said:

Obama…”The United States is at war with AL Qaeda and their associated forces”.Then why? is the Zionist occupied U.S funding, arming and using its assets in the controlled media to bolster the barbaric AL Qaeda/Wahhabi assault on Syria.
US alliance, namely, fighting a “war” against an “enemy” in one theater of operations, whilst funding and arming that same “enemy” in another theater of “war”. you are the people looking through a glass!
An Orwellian nightmare!

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May 24th, 2013, 4:30 pm


149. Ziad said:

Akbar Palace #136 said:

“BTW, how many children did the SAA kill in the same time period?”

Your arguments defending the indefensible actions of Israel have one style sheet: “You Arabs do much worse, ergo Israel is benign”. This style sheet is gradually getting stale and dated.

Try to come up with more creative arguments. Furthermore comparing what is going on now in Syria with Israeli brutal actions in occupied Palestine is like comparing bananas with streetcars. In Syria there is right now a civil war. Syrians’ actions are comparable to those of the Spanish or Americans in their respective civil wars. Israel barbaric actions on the other hand should be compared to how American dealt with native Indians, or the French with native Algerians.

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May 24th, 2013, 5:03 pm


150. Tara said:


Can you answer my question in regard to the duration of banning?

To all, now that most anti regime were banned and the rest quit in protest, thanks to our vigorous moderation policy, care to vote for changing SC name to Reve’s comment? Or may be Reve and Ann’?
I think that would be more telling of what this site has become.

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May 24th, 2013, 5:04 pm


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