“Stay Out of Syria,” by Joshua Landis in Foreign Policy

Stay Out of Syria
Foreign intervention to topple Bashar al-Assad’s bloody regime risks a fiasco on par with Iraq and Afghanistan.
BY JOSHUA LANDIS | JUNE 5, 2012 | Foreign Policy

Let’s be clear: Washington is pursuing regime change by civil war in Syria. The United States, Europe, and the Gulf states want regime change, so they are starving the regime in Damascus and feeding the opposition. They have sanctioned Syria to a fare-thee-well and are busy shoveling money and helping arms supplied by the Gulf get to the rebels. This will change the balance of power in favor of the revolution. It is also the most the United States can and should do.

President Barack Obama does not want to intervene directly in Syria for obvious reasons, and he is right to be cautious. The United States has failed at nation-building twice before in the Middle East. The Libyan example of limited intervention by using air power alone could suck the United States into a protracted and open-ended engagement. One cannot compare Libya to Syria. The former is a relatively small, homogeneous, and wealthy society. Syria has a population four times larger, which is poor and wracked by an increasingly violent civil war across religious lines. Moreover, the chance that the United States can end the killing in Syria by airpower alone is small.

The argument that the United States could have avoided radicalization and civil war in Iraq by toppling Saddam Hussein in 1991 is unconvincing. Similar arguments are now being offered to talk Americans into jumping into Syria. Iraq was not a mature nation-state and was likely to fall apart. The fact that it imploded into civil war when the United States roto-rootered Saddam’s regime should have been expected.

U.S. intervention in Syria will likely lead to something similar: civil war and radicalization. Syrians have never agreed on basic questions of identity and policy, and it is unlikely that they will decide these issues peacefully today.

With America’s economy in the dumps, its military badly bruised, its reputation among Muslims in tatters, and its people fatigued by foreign wars, this is no time to intervene in Syria. Washington has no staying power if things go wrong. It wants regime-change on the cheap — to bomb and withdraw. And if things go wrong, will we leave the Syrians in the lurch or get sucked into another complicated quagmire? The administration can ill afford to leave a failed state behind in Syria or to have it unfurl into civil war.

Even more pressing will be the need for post-conflict reconstruction. Syria is a nation the size of Iraq whose population has outstripped its water and economic resources. Unlike Iraq, it has insufficient sources of revenue to quickly rebuild its infrastructure. What if there is massive looting and chaos? Syria produces little the world wants to buy. It hardly produces enough electricity for three hours of power a day. The school system is in a shambles. Do Americans want to pay for putting Syria back together? More to the point, should they let Washington start what it would not finish?

If anyone tells you they are going to build democracy in Syria, don’t buy it. Democracy is unlikely to succeed there anytime soon. The two social indicators that predict the success of democratization with any accuracy are median population age and per capita gross domestic product. According to a recent study, autocracies with a median population age of over 30 years old are most likely to transition to liberal democracies — Syria has a median age of 21. This is the same as Iraq’s and just slightly older than Gaza’s and Yemen’s. Because of its poverty and youth, political scientists give it small chances of becoming democratic and stable any time soon. Beware of drinking the democratization Kool-Aid.

Anyone who believes that Syria will avoid the excesses of Iraq — where the military, government ministries, and Baath Party were dissolved and criminalized — is dreaming. Syrian government institutions and the security forces will fall apart once the revolution prevails. They are overwhelmingly staffed by Baathists, Alawites, and other minorities, recruited for loyalty to President Bashar al-Assad — no revolutionary government will keep them on. Their dismissal will provide fodder for a counterinsurgency, promoting greater chaos across the country.

Syria’s new rulers will also face a daunting set of challenges upon taking power. They will be obliged to employ the hundreds of thousands of jobless Syrians who have sacrificed for the revolution, lost family, and struggled in the face of tyranny.

If the United States becomes militarily involved — destroying the presidential palace in Damascus and military installations — it will own Syria. Will it discipline the dozens of militias that have sprung up to represent the revolutionary forces? If the death toll rises after the Assad regime is taken out, will the United States continue to dedicate itself to stopping the killing?

Syrian opposition figures have estimated that running the government for the first six months after the fall of Assad will cost $12 billion, and have made it clear that they will ask international donors for financial support. This is chicken feed. Anyone who knows anything about Syria knows that it will take a lot more than $12 billion to stabilize and rebuild the country. The United States currently spends $12 billion dollars every three months in Afghanistan. In 2010, the United States was spending $6.7 billion in Afghanistan every month, as well as $5.5 billion in Iraq. Few Americans believe this money was well spent. It is rash to expect Syria to cost less.

If the United States has learned anything, it is that it cannot sort out issues of power-sharing and national identity for Middle Eastern countries. The road to national unity does not go through Washington. In the end, Syrians must find their own way and choose their own national leaders. Ahmad Chalabi and Hamid Karzai turned out to be bad choices for Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively.

There is no indication that the United States could do a better job of picking winners in Syria. Burhan Ghalioun, the original leader of the Syrian National Council (SNC), seemed to have all the qualities of a future Syrian president, but his own party members attacked him for treason within months of confirming him as leader. He was forced to resign on May 17, setting the stage for a showdown between the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and its political rivals over who will be the SNC’s new leader. Militias, the names of which we don’t even know and with ideologies that could turn out to be closer to Osama bin Laden’s than George Washington’s, are competing on the ground for cash and Kalashnikovs.

Syrians are divided because they have no tradition of unity and the Baathists have destroyed politics for a half-century. Nothing the United States can do will erase that legacy of political underdevelopment.

It seems heartless to stand by and do so little as massacres, such as the atrocity carried out at Houla, continue. More than 13,000 Syrians have been killed in the last 14 months of revolution. But there is no reason to believe U.S. intervention can staunch the violence. American troops killed over 10,000 Iraqis in the first month of invasion in 2003. A further 100,000 Iraqis were killed by the time they left — and even now, Iraq remains in turmoil and a new dictatorship seems to be taking shape. Car bombs are a regular occurrence in Baghdad, and the government cleaves to Iran rather than the United States.

The cost in Iraq was high. The chances that the United States would end the killing by destroying Syria’s Baathist regime is not good.

In all likelihood, the Syrian revolution will be less bloody if Syrians carry it out for themselves. A new generation of national leaders will emerge from the struggle. They will not emerge with any legitimacy if America hands them Syria on a golden platter. How will they claim that they won the struggle for dignity, freedom, and democracy? America cannot give these things. Syrians must take them.

The United States can play a role with aid, arms, and intelligence — but it cannot and should not try to decide Syria’s future and determine the victors of this conflict. If Syrians want to own Syria in the future, they must take charge of their revolution and figure out how to win it. It is better for Syria, and it is better for America.

Why US Intervention in Syria Could Spell Deep Trouble

By Joyce Hackel ⋅ June 6, 2012 ⋅ PRI-BBC Radio

Joshua Landis, director of the Middle Eastern Studies program at the University of Oklahoma, tells host Marco Werman that more assertive US intervention in Syria is unlikely to quell the violence there.

“About 13,000 Syrians have been killed in the last 14 months, according to UN statistics. And in invading Iraq, a country the same size and the same population, we killed that many in one month,” he says. “If this is about saving lives, we have to think about what is likely to happen if we destroy this regime.”

Landis has limited expectations for a new plan former UN secretary general Kofi Annan is expected to present to the Security Council this week. The new “road map” would reportedly chart a plan for political transition that would be negotiated through a “contact group” — including Russia and Iran.

“The Americans are trying to float this idea now that the Russians will abandon [Syria], but I’m not sure they’re ready to do that, which means Syria would be in for a much longer civil war,” Landis says.

Landis is steeped in all things Syrian as a scholar, and because he is married to a Syrian. His wife is of the same minority group as President Bashar al-Assad. Landis says Assad’s Alawite supporters are likely to remain loyal.

“There are many cousins who go on Facebook, 14 or 15 [year-olds], in Syria and they’re wearing t-shirts that say: ‘Assad Special Forces.’ And they’re carrying guns on their Facebook page and they’re totally mobilized for this fight,” says Landis. “That’s what’s scary.”

Comments (348)

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301. Najima said:

Apparently Sheherazad Jaafari may be deported from the US.

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June 9th, 2012, 3:24 am


302. Alan said:

Globalists Push Forward With Another New Massacre in Syria
Patrick Henningsen
June 8, 2012
Globalist operators in Washington DC and London were caught out pushing the last massacre in Houla, Syria, publicly calling for regime change – on the strength of an 11 year old, and Syrian man running his human rights outfit out of a flat in London. On closer examination, the corporate media hype immediately blaming the Assad government for the massacre… fell far short of reality.
Not disheartened by their failure thus far in getting a UN-sanctioned humanitarian intervention based on lies and half-truths, the globalists – led by the “Friends of Syria” unofficial chair Hillary Clinton and her new Syria-side-kick Timothy Geithner, may have staged another massacre in the town of Hama on Wednesday.
According to corporate media reports, at least 30 people, and possibly more, have been killed in the town of Qubair, northwest of Hama. The Washington Post reports:
There were unconfirmed reports of a fresh massacre in Syria on Wednesday as representatives from 55 countries assembled in Washington to explore ways to sharpen the impact of economic sanctions against the Syrian government.
The reports said dozens of civilians in a small village near the central city of Hama were slain by pro-government militias Wednesday afternoon, echoing the circumstances of the killings of more than 100 people in the village of Houla on May 25…/../..

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June 9th, 2012, 3:46 am


303. omen said:

upon reflection, observer is probably right re ethnic cleansing. but i don’t know about resettlement. what purpose is there of the regime’s continuous shelling but to render a region uninhabitable.

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June 9th, 2012, 4:12 am


304. omen said:

299. JUERGEN said: arabellion

nice pun.

you don’t mind if i repost your iranian piece on another board, do you? what a story. it deserves to be wider known.

figures the u.s. would betray another lamb to the wolves. seems to be a habit. the u.s. likes to set up iran as the villain but they share with it an enmity for dissidents and reformers. remember how cia gave a list of marxists & labor unionists for saddam to kill.

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June 9th, 2012, 4:29 am


305. Alan said:

US, puppets hire terrorists to topple al-Assad Govt: Analyst
The UN peace plan for Syria slips away as foreign-backed militants continue with bombings, massacres and destruction and the US agenda to remove Assad…/../..

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June 9th, 2012, 5:31 am


306. majedkhaldoun said:

Someone said that the Syrian revolution,(crisis)may spread to the whole region.
What is wrong with that?
Iraq and Jordan need revolution, need changes, and so is KSA and Iran they all are backward goverment systems, It is time to catch up with the world,and democracy is better system than dictatorship,all Middle East countries need changes,

Another massacre in Deraa,this is clear escalation by the regime, It is necessary to arm all Syrians,this situation is not much worse than civil war, US Russia Friends of Syria, enemies of Syria, Annan plan, Nabil Al Arabi plans,along with AL plan,they all gave Assad more time to kill more Innocent Syrians, the one need to be killed is Assad and his family, he is the cause of all these killing,and the world would be much better without him,Syria must get back to its people,minorities must be protected, but they should not have the upper and controlling hand, because minorities always follow dictatorship pattern,while majority benefit from democracy.

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June 9th, 2012, 5:43 am


307. Juergen said:


I dont mind at all, i was astonished to learn that this story received almost no attention.

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June 9th, 2012, 5:57 am


308. Juergen said:

There is a video on a fb page of Basel Shahade, it may give us a glimpse what his personality was like.


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June 9th, 2012, 7:16 am


309. majedkhaldoun said:

There is two kinds of Shabiha,Alawi,and Sunni,The Sunni shabiha has been killed by Alawi shabiha,who don’t trust the Sunni shabiha.

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June 9th, 2012, 7:58 am


310. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

12 minutes yesterday in Homs

Is this the way to fight “armed terrorist gangs” ? By random bombardment from the ground and from the air?

What is the purpose of this if not to scare and to evict the city’s population?

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June 9th, 2012, 8:08 am


311. Mina said:

Who paid these men?
“A mob of hundreds of men assaulted women holding a march demanding an end to sexual harassment Friday, with the attackers overwhelming the male guardians and groping and molesting several of the female marchers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

From the ferocity of the assault, some of the victims said it appeared to have been an organized attempt to drive women out of demonstrations and trample on the pro-democracy protest movement.”

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June 9th, 2012, 8:11 am


312. zoo said:

The informative observations of the western journalists and the UN observers at Qubair

The revealing observations of the journalists that visit Qubeir is not that the real number of death ( probably not 78, but less than a dozen) and what actually happened but that “burned flesh smells” and that there a feeling of ‘death in the air’.


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June 9th, 2012, 8:17 am


313. irritated said:

#308 Majed

A new brand, Shabbiha sunni? Doubly traitor, then.

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June 9th, 2012, 8:21 am


314. zoo said:

On the 19 june G20 meeting, it’s all about breaking up Russia’s resistance to a forced regime change in Syria.
Hopeful Erdogan affirms that he got blank check from China that “will no longer veto UNSC resolutions on Syria”.

G-20 to roll up sleeves for new Syria road map

“Western powers will try to break the resistance of Russia and China over Syria during the G-20 summit to be held in Mexico on June 19, where a fresh road map aiming at a swift democratic transition in the conflict-torn country may be agreed on.
The Turkish prime minister argued that China was of the same opinion with Turkey on Syria, as he had heard this from Chinese President Hu Jintao when he visited Beijing a few months ago. “Now it seems Russia is the sole country supporting Syria,” Erdoğan said, adding that the Chinese leader had told him that China would no longer veto resolutions on Syria at the U.N. Security Council.

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June 9th, 2012, 8:44 am


315. Tara said:


Has there been Christian shabeeha? Ones that practice physical tashbeeh?

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June 9th, 2012, 8:51 am


316. Observer said:

Again I start the day by looking into the news with Addounia, Cham Press, Al Manar, RT, and also other outlets.

I just listened to Lavrov with his points

1. There are outside forces vying for regime end

2. There is double standards when it comes to victims; remember the Iraqis and the Serbs

3. The Christian community is threatened


4. We want a broad based meeting under the umbrella of the UN that involves the 5 permanent members of the UNSC, KSA, Qatar, AL, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iran.

5. Syria is on the brink of a massive civil war and Russia will not permit the UNSC to use force

So I read it simply as “Kofi Annan rescue plan”/ It is nearly dead, we have stuck ourselves with it and please let us see how we can revive it.

The plan is now dead for all practical purposes. So is this another attempt to give the regime more time to finish the rebellion? Or is the rebellion getting stronger and therefore time is running out on the regime?

So for those of you that wish to realize how bad the situation is in Syria I would invite you to read the following posts that talk about the rise in electricity fees, the rise of fuel prices, the desperate attempt to inject money into moribund institutions, and all of this from pro regime sites.

If they are publishing these stories then the regime is truly in dire state now






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June 9th, 2012, 8:53 am


317. Juergen said:

Anis the arabic name for Ernie from Sesame street turns into Anisse…funny


be careful too much consumption of the Assad courtmedia might be harmful.

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June 9th, 2012, 8:53 am


318. zoo said:

Iran: Syrian intervention ‘will be defeated’
Published: 09 June, 2012, 07:29


“After the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and the disruption to their defensive posture in protecting the Zionist regime, America in order to defend the regime of the occupier of the Quds [Jerusalem] is after a new scenario in Syria,” he said. “But they will be defeated.”

Furthermore, he stressed that any attack on Syria or Iran would have negative consequences for Israel.

“Today all the people of the region are ready for wiping out this cancerous tumor and reaction to any aggression will be the freedom of Quds,” he said.


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June 9th, 2012, 8:59 am


319. bronco said:

#315 Observer

“If they are publishing these stories then the regime is truly in dire state now ”

Wasn’t that the whole purpose of the sanctions, weaken the regime?
Well, it seems the regime is turning it to its advantage.
It is publishing and emphasizing the hardship resulting from the sanctions in order to fuel resentment and hatred toward the western countries and the Gulf countries for the common Syrians.
Ask anyone in the street of Damascus.

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June 9th, 2012, 9:07 am


320. zoo said:

Journalist Alex Thomson reports that Syrian rebels set him and his crew up to be killed by Syrian troops in a bid to show Damascus in a negative light.

Full interview with Alex Thomson

‘Both sides involved in very dirty tactics’

RT did an extensive interview with Thomson on the details of his ordeal, and the situation in the country in general.

RT: What you are basically saying is that rebel forces set you up to be shot at by the Syrian army?

Alex Thomson: I have no doubt in my mind what happened, nor independently, does the very experienced cameraman I was with, and, perhaps more importantly than that, neither does the driver or the translator we were working with have any doubt at all that we were deliberately led out of that town, which the rebels knew was dangerous. We were led there in a car with four men. Two or three of them were armed. They told us to go down a route which looked dangerous to us, but we trusted them, we said we would go down the route and turn. We turned and found it was blocked. That was a roadblock which they had to have known was there. There was nobody around and at that point we were forced to turn the vehicle around in a free-fire zone and were duly fired upon. We were definitely exposed to a dangerous situation. And I have absolutely no doubt they did it deliberately. When we reappeared, still alive, the car full of men saw us, turned round and drove off at speed.

RT: So the car you were in, the Syrian army had no way to tell that you were foreign journalists?

AT: We did have a small sign in the windscreen saying press. We did not mark the car up with large letters saying TV or anything like that. There were very few journalists in this area. We were the only ones, so I think we were moving under conditions of reasonable safety.

RT: Why did you trust the rebel forces in the first place?

AT: We had no reason not to trust the rebel forces any more than we had any reason not to trust the Syrian army. By and large, when we spoke to Syrian people on both sides of the war, they were pretty honest and pretty straightforward in their assessments of the situation. That was the situation in places like Homs, on both sides, in Houla, on both sides. It was certainly the case on one side in al-Qubair. But when we got to the rebel side of al-Qubair, there was something different and for the first time, we encountered a degree of hostility and suspicion about us, because they had never seen foreign journalists who had a visa from Damascus, who were in the country legally, not illegally. And that immediately aroused suspicion on their part.

RT: So most foreign journalists are there illegally?

AT: That’s a fact. Most foreign, Western journalists who cover the war from the rebel side are smuggled in from Lebanon and so forth illegally to the country


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June 9th, 2012, 9:11 am


321. Tara said:


Why the selective credibility of western journalists?

Please explain to me why pro-regime crowd only believes western press when it comes against the revolution and trashed any pro revolution article even when it comes from the same journalist?

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June 9th, 2012, 9:22 am


322. majedkhaldoun said:

What does Russia have as a solution to the Syrian situation?
Do you believe Russia has a solution to end the killing ,? It is not a solution to say No western intervention,this is not a solution. is it that Russia wants the regime to win? and Assad must kill millions who oppose his rule, so far I don’t see a road map presented by Russia to end this crisisall what Russia has said is not practical at all.

Good morning.

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June 9th, 2012, 9:34 am


323. zoo said:

Russia looks to capitalise on a stalled peace plan in Syria

Alan Philps
Jun 8, 2012


Seeing the imminent collapse of Mr Annan’s plan, the Russians have now raised the stakes. They want to include Iran in a contact group that would align the policies of outside powers towards Syria. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, insists this contact group should displace the existing “Friends of the Syrian People” grouping, made up of countries that want Bashar Al Assad toppled and which is meeting in Paris in early July.

Mr Lavrov is demanding a less “disproportional representation” of countries in Paris with, in addition to Iran, both Russia and China. Clearly a meeting under the Russian formula would be less about regime change and more about regime preservation.

This idea of bringing Iran into the fold is unlikely to fly in Washington. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, told a gathering in Istanbul that the US was insisting on nothing less than complete regime change in Syria, what an aide to Mrs Clinton called a “post-Assad transition strategy, including Assad’s full transfer of power”. This prompted speculation that she was preparing to abandon the search for consensus at the UN and go it alone in removing the Syrian leader.

But this raises the question of who and how. The starting point for the Russian defence of the Assad regime, and that regime’s ruthless military response to the opposition, is the shared assessment that US President Barack Obama is weak and unwilling to risk going to war in Syria, particularly when he has to face a war-weary electorate in November.

If the western powers are in a mess, they have themselves to blame. The Annan plan, as the Russians never cease to point out, does not call for regime change, but only political dialogue. The Americans are calling on Mr Al Assad to engage the opposition in dialogue and then consign himself to history. From Moscow’s perspective, the Americans are trying to turn the Annan plan into a Trojan horse.

Given the end point of western policy it is hard to see why Mr Al Assad should even start the dialogue if, at the end of it, he and his cohorts are going to be removed, and their Alawite co-religionists left to the mercy of the Sunni majority.

We can be assured that the US and its allies will exert efforts to keep the Russians engaged. The message will be passed to Mr Putin that the Assad clan is on its way out, and he should join the winning side. Convincing Mr Putin of this may not be a totally lost cause, if the price is right.

A new policy analysis published by the Carnegie Moscow Centre warns foreign leaders not to treat Mr Putin as an immovable ideologue. “Putin is a transactional, results-orientated politician. He can be an important and valuable partner, but he will bargain hard to get the best deal he can. Despite the increasingly complex and complicated nature of ruling Russia, Putin still has all the domestic authority he requires to pursue his foreign policy objectives.”

So what are his objectives? Top of the list must be not allowing the US to use the UN Security Council as a green light to change regimes that Washington does not like. Ultimately Russia wants to keep the upper hand on dealing with the Syrian crisis, and to maximise its rather weak position in the region. These goals do not in principle exclude the possibility of an orderly transfer of power in Damascus to some more credible leader than Mr Assad, who is clearly not cut out for the job. Unfortunately, it is probably already too late for that.

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June 9th, 2012, 9:48 am


324. zoo said:

#320 Tara

There are so rare western journalists that dare admit what is going on and the majority are trashing the government non-stop with all kind of unfounded accusations based on assumptions and dubious activists and eyewitnesses.
For once that an official western journalist is on the ground, moves freely and says what he sees without the bias we’re used to, it is certainly a premiere.
There is no clean war.

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June 9th, 2012, 9:55 am


325. majedkhaldoun said:

It is obvious that Russia has no plan to end the killing NOW, Bashar lied , he signed a paper approving Annan plan then he did not do what he promised, dialogue may or may nor succeed,and dialogue could take years, it is not going to end the killing now.
The regime is using force, and to stop him the opposition must use force.
You keep denying facts.

BTW I hope the SNC choose a president ,and choose vice president, we need two persons

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June 9th, 2012, 10:05 am


326. zoo said:

Annan roadmap on the way out?

Arabic News Digest
Jun 8, 2012
“Bashar Al Assad is a lucky man: he has gained the support of all polarities,” argued Khaled Al Qashtini in the UK-based newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.

“The loads of contradictions in the Middle East lead the US policies to become contradictory, too,” the writer said. The US stances towards Libya and Syria are a stark example. Some think logistics complexities on the ground prompt the US to sit on the fence over using force against the Syrian regime.

“But I would rather attribute it to Israel,” he noted. “Israel has not given the US the green light to intervene in Syria. Concerned about an Islamic alternative, it suits Israel that Bashar stays in office.”

Bashar has exploited all contradictions at hand: Israel, Iran, Russia, China, Hezbollah, the Syrian Communist Part, US undecidedness, and Arab League inaction.

“It would be more useful for the Syrian opposition to address Tel Aviv and avoid wasting time with Washington,” he said. “I think Israel should not be worried about the regime change in Syria. Any substitute for the Baath party would be for many years busy redressing the devastating wrongs of Assad.”

Any replacement would have to deal with such thorny issues as unemployment, victim compensation, return of migrants and refugees, debt payment and economy boosting.

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June 9th, 2012, 10:15 am


327. zoo said:

#324 Majed

“The regime is using force, and to stop him the opposition must use force.”

and vice-versa, this is why only dialog is the solution, with or without Bashar.

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June 9th, 2012, 10:17 am


328. Alan said:

Moscow will never agree to UNSC sanctions against Syria
Syria is balancing on the brink of a full-scale civil conflict, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at today’s press conference.

He also stressed Moscow would never agree to UN Security Council sanctions against Syria, since they can lead to grave consequences for the whole Middle East.

Mr Lavrov said he believed it is not too late to start up a dialogue between the Syrian government and the opposition.

The country has been engulfed in anti-government protests for over a year, with reports of both civilian and military casualties coming in daily. The death toll has already exceeded 12,000 people.

A bus with Russian experts was shot at in Syria today, in what has already become a common case in the region.

Syrian opposition masterminded from abroad – Lavrov

Moscow has slammed “outside forces” for orchestrating military operations of the Syrian opposition and stressed it had enough evidence to prove its standpoint.

This came in an announcement of Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a press briefing today.

Lavrov underscored that opposition war chiefs were well-known to the Kremlin, as well as the whereabouts of the Syrian Liberation Army’s headquarters and countries that channeled money to opposition militants.

Moscow reiterates Syria conference call

Russia has reiterated its call for an emergency international conference on Syria.

Appearing at a Moscow news conference Saturday, Foreign Minister Lavrov said this conference should be all-inclusive and allow powers other than the so-called ‘Friends of Syria’ to have their say. He also said he expected this conference to coordinate action to implement Kofi Annan’s settlement plan and create conditions for the conflicting sides in Syria to enter into a dialogue. He argued that putting pressure on any of these sides is inadmissible, and the future of the Assad regime is a matter for the Syrian people.

Mr Lavrov criticized several Gulf nations for supplying the Syrian opposition with arms, which is often turned against Syrian civilians. He defended Russia’s arms sales to Syria, saying they are limited to anti-aircraft systems which can only be used for defence.

Russia says is not against Assad’s departure

Russia will not oppose the departure of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad if such a move is a result of a dialogue between Syrians themselves and is not enforced through external pressure, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday.

“If the Syrians agree (about Assad’s departure) between each other, we will only be happy to support such a solution,” Lavrov told reporters. “But we believe it is unacceptable to impose the conditions for such a dialogue from outside.”

World’s future hinges on outcome of Syria conflict – Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov underlined that the outcome of the Syrian conflict would shape the future world.

He also noted Moscow saw no alternative to the peace initiative put forth by Arab League’s and UN’s Special Envoy Kofi Annan.

Damascus imports no Russian air defense systems

Russia’s arms trade deal with Syria prohibits exports of air defense artillery to Damascus, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has claimed.


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June 9th, 2012, 11:18 am


329. Alan said:

Rebel groups in Syria backed by NATO?
Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager and the owner of the STOP NATO website and mailing list, and a regular contributor to the Voice of Russia.
What correlations do you see between the situation going on in Syria and Kosovo? What do you know about rebel groups in Syria being funded and backed by NATO?

I mean, we all have heard and it’s a matter of substantiating it, but I think we have enough proof already to establish the fact. The parallel to Kosovo you draw is remarkable given what occurred earlier yesterday, where NATO troops and armored personnel, carriers, vehicles faced off against ethnic protesters in the north of Kosovo, firing live ammunition at them, as well as deploying helicopters, gunships and so force, and what is currently going on in Syria…/../..

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June 9th, 2012, 11:24 am


330. seatoriver said:

Sergey Lavrov Speaks Truth About Syria 06-09-12

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June 9th, 2012, 11:29 am


331. bronco said:


Annan, Russia and China (ARC) have a peace plan, while Qatar, Turkey and the ‘friends of Syria’ (FOS) have a proxy war plan.
ARC wants dialog, FOS wants violent confrontation
ARC wants to keep the country united, FOS wants it broken in pieces and weak
ARC uses the UN to promote their plan, FOS uses the media and a group of handpicked countries sharing their enemity with Syria.
ARC invokes security of the region, FOS invoke destruction of any alliance with Iran.

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June 9th, 2012, 11:35 am


332. Juergen said:

Broadcast of large demonstration in Derraa yesterday


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June 9th, 2012, 11:36 am


333. zoo said:

Iran role in finding Syria solution essential: Hamas official


A Hamas official describes Iran’s role in achieving a comprehensive political solution to the ongoing Syrian crisis as essential and influential.

Osama Hamdan, head of Hamas’s international relations, made the remark in a meeting with Iran’s Ambassador to Beirut Ghazanfar Roknabadi on Saturday.

He referred to the critical situation in the region and said, “The US and Israel seek to tamper with the transition period [of regional revolutions] to change the future fate of the uprisings as well as the Islamic Awakening to benefit them (the US and Israel).”

He said regional equations are expected to go under significant changes as the result of the revolutions, which will not be to the interests of the US and Israel.

The Hamas official questioned the US claim of advocating democracy in Syria and said, “The US is not concerned about Syrians and only seeks to guarantee the security and survival of Israel.”

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June 9th, 2012, 11:44 am


334. Alan said:

Syrian Tsunami

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June 9th, 2012, 11:57 am


335. Tara said:


While Syrians may be able to reconcile with each others, I really doubt that we in new Syria can reconcile with Iran for quite some time. I realize that in foreign policy, one needs to be pragmatic, but I think the emotional component will really affect new Syria’s foreign policy for long time.

Iran may pay hefty price for sending IRG to assist
in killing Syrians in term of mutual relationship. It was a stupid decision the Mullahs made. They could not envision that the revolution will eventually prevail.


Good afternoon.

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June 9th, 2012, 12:10 pm


336. Uzair8 said:

“They are deceived who flatter themselves that the ignorant and debased slave has no conception of the magnitude of his wrongs. They are deceived who imagine that he arises from his knees with back lacerated and bleeding, cherishing only a spirit of meekness and forgiveness. A day may come – it will, if his prayer is heard a terrible day of vengeance, when the master in his turn will cry in vain for mercy.”

– Solomon Northup, 1854

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June 9th, 2012, 12:21 pm


337. majedkhaldoun said:

“this is why only dialog is the solution”
We say in Syria, Beat the water ,still have water.
How is dialogue that will take years,stop the killing now?
Dialogue while Assad is killing Syrian, is not rationally and humanly possible,Dialogue can be done if Assad stop the killing,The regime made a choice, it is the violence choice,the regime is sectarian and murderer he is killing 50-100 daily for more than 15 months, do you say ,keep talking another 2-3 years while killing is going on?
This is not the answer,you might as well say I don’t know, say I don’t have a solution,stop the murders then we talk.

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June 9th, 2012, 12:26 pm


338. Juergen said:


Thank you for this crosstalk post. Now i know why i dont like RT, to me a biased anchormen is not a sign of quality journalism, its more a sign of O’Reilly factor of this state owned news channel. But amazingly they dont care at all, no covering up of this fact.

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June 9th, 2012, 12:35 pm


339. majedkhaldoun said:

Let us say USA start bombing Iran, and continue bombing day after day, hour after hour,.
Would Iran do nothing and call for dialogue?

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June 9th, 2012, 12:40 pm


340. Uzair8 said:

A tsunami is coming.
A tsunami of freedom, dignity, justice and peace.
To wash away the pain and suffering.
To bury the past along with the regime.
Clearing the path for building of justice and civilisation.
A better future. A better Syria.
Embrace the inevitable.
Hold on to what you can.
Even driftwood.
Darkness will disappear.
There’s calmer waters ahead.

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June 9th, 2012, 12:40 pm


341. Jad said:

Annan plan ‘only chance for peace’ but stalled by intervention supporters – Lavrov

External players are goading opposition in Syria to military action; this may lead to a Libyan scenario, the Russian Foreign Minister says. Moscow is calling for an international conference “under the UN umbrella” to implement the Annan plan.
The situation in Syria has significantly worsened in the past weeks as two massacres left dozens of civilians dead.
Speaking with journalists in Moscow, the Foreign Minister voiced concern about “the reaction on the part of some foreign players”, who, he said, “support armed groups of the opposition and at the same time demand that the international community take decisive steps to change the regime in Syria.”
Lavrov also stressed that Russia has enough evidence about arms being supplied to the Syrian opposition.
“Our Saudi colleagues, our Qatari colleagues…just yesterday, there was a forum for businessmen who want to support the Syrian opposition. All this information is openly available,” he said.
The main reason the peace plan proposed by Kofi Annan is stalling is because those who support external intervention in Syria impede its implementation, said the Russian Foreign Minister.
Lavrov said the plan is not progressing because certain parties “don’t like” the idea of the stabilization it can bring.
“They want the international community to be filled with indignation and start a full-blown intervention in Syria,” he said.
Lavrov said the Syrian government is responsible for people’s security and human rights, as well as for everything that is going on in the country. Nevertheless, tragedies like Houla and the other numerous violent acts are a result of confrontation, which is increasingly actively supported by external forces.
He reiterated Russia’s position that it will “never agree to sanction the use of force in the UN Security Council”.
He said that this would lead “to severe consequences for the entire Middle East region”.
Lavrov stressed that Russia does not protect the regime, but does protect chances to achieve stability in the region. “The way the Syrian crisis is resolved will play an important role in the world tomorrow; whether the world will be based on the UN charter, or a place where might makes right,” he added.
Lavrov said that in order to justify a foreign intervention certain parties “keep talking about the refugees from Syria. However, nobody talks about refugees inside Syria itself.”
“This is similar to the former Yugoslavia. Does anybody think about the refugees from Serbia and Slovenia?” he enquired.
Referring to the UN commissioner, Lavrov said the number of refugees from Syria currently stands at around 80,000. He stressed that these people all need support.
But at the same time, according to some estimates, there are about a million refugees from Iraq and half a million Palestinians in Syria, and “people don’t talk much about that,” Lavrov said.
The minister said that the UNSC will not sanction armed interference, and this is not because Russia is protecting Assad and his regime, but because it knows how difficult and complex Syrian society is. He said that those who want to see military intervention in Syria want to change the delicate situation with different religious groups. They want to use Syria to fight for domination in the Arab world, Lavrov said, adding that Russia will do everything it can to prevent this.
Speaking about media coverage of the events in Syria, Lavrov said that “blocking Syrian government and private channels from broadcasting” does not “square well with freedom of speech.”
He also recalled the case of UK journalist Alex Thomson, who reported that Syrian rebels set him and his crew up to be killed by Syrian troops in a bid to show Damascus in a negative light.
“We should all be on the same page regarding freedom of speech and how it should be respected by the international community to ensure access to information – no matter what kind of information it is,” Lavrov said.

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June 9th, 2012, 12:51 pm


342. Hopeful said:

#316 Observer

Thank you for your informative post and links.

It is time to find a way to get my family out of Syria. While everyone is worried about a Libya scenario, I am actually more worried about an Iraq+Algeria scenario – years of economic sanctions and hardship (Iraq in the 90s) + a civil war marked by random gruesome killings under the nose of a military dictatorship (Algeria).

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June 9th, 2012, 12:57 pm


343. bronco said:

#339 Majedalkhadoon

“Let us say USA start bombing Iran, and continue bombing day after day, hour after hour,.”

Iran will destroy Israel.

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June 9th, 2012, 1:01 pm


344. zoo said:

#336 MajedalKhaldoon

Most wars stops either if there is a winner or when the two exhausted parties realize there cannot be a victor. ( WW2 and Iran-Iraq war)
Negotiations for ceasefire happens while bombs are still falling, not after. After, there are negotiations to maintain the ceasefire and further discussions.
As long as the opposition are made to think they will win and the regime too, there is no chance for a ceasefire.
Each party has its allies telling them: you can win , we support you

So why would any one compromise?

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June 9th, 2012, 1:09 pm


345. majedkhaldoun said:

Why not Iran call for dialogue while bombs and missiles are raining in Iran?

Bronco said
Iran will destroy Israel.

Good, we will get rid of two enemies,then

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June 9th, 2012, 1:13 pm


346. Osama said:

Jordan does not seem interested in being a launch pad for “jihad”


Lebanon could backfire, because Israel doesn’t want to go back in time.

The US is putting increasing pressure on Turkey


Aside from the Kurd issue the Turks probably have a major problem with an open-ended committment and no real plan, although I am sure they can convince the GCC to foot the bill.

Oh well…. Back to the drawing board, mean time with “leadership” and having a strategic vision both being major issues for the SNC, they continue to be at the mercy of their patrons and have no voice of their own. They seem to be able only to parrot what they hear from Hillary or Hamad on TV.

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June 9th, 2012, 2:24 pm


347. Osama said:

With the media blitzkrieg failing, I am hopeful that cooler minds will prevail in the coming period.

With the hardening of the Russian and Chinese stances vis a vis Syria, the West is left with very few options, and plan “B” is still not clear.



Look for more massacres in the coming days as the Jihadis get instructions to create more mayhem… But it is a sign of desperation.

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June 9th, 2012, 2:45 pm


348. Osama said:

The russian proposal, seems designed to put the West on the back foot, as they have been trying their best not to give Iran a seat an ANY table, even the nuclear one!

The Russians and Chinese are saying to the west and the US especially, you have reached the limits of your power and influence and you need to back off!

But this is a very dangerous game, and this is why the US has desperately trying to farm this issue out to a local satrap and avoid playing a leading role, so any backing down can be done without loss of face.

Really, the only workable option now is goading Turkey into trying to set up a buffer zone to further pressure the regime, as continuing with the current plan will not bear fruit, especially with time on the side of the Syrian government. The rebels, despite all the favorable press, are still a guerilla force and not able to hold any ground and will not be able to do so without a serious supply chain… Smuggling won’t cut it.

The next thing the Americans need to weigh is the lack of any major fractures within the regime, this is probably the most frustrating part for them, especially with the massive disinformation campaign… During the Libyan crisis, detections were happening on a regular basis… For Syria, it’s been mostly a joke, the last major defections were from the SNC and the FSA!

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June 9th, 2012, 3:19 pm


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