Posted by Joshua on Wednesday, April 11th, 2012
Syria has accepted the Annan plan in principle and claims that its guns will fall quiet tomorrow – Thursday April 12, 2012. It is difficult to see how a truce can hold for long, but one must give Annan his due. He has worked hard to get both Russia and China to back the plan and placed considerable pressure on both sides to go along with his six points, at least on the face of it.
The problem with the plan is that it resolves none of the political demands of the revolutionaries or the Syrian regime. Both sides continue to believe that time is on their side and that they can only win this struggle on the battle field. For this reason the renewal of the conflict would seem to be only a matter of time. But no one has a better plan to avoid Syria’s downward spiral toward greater levels of violence and civil war.
In the following video, Syrian opposition members demonstrate in the heart of Damascus in front of the Four Seasons Hotel. They denounce Assad’s crimes and vow to defeat him.
Clashes between Arab tribes and Kurds in Northern Aleppo
Relation between the two have always been tense but as the regime gets weaker clashes break out.
Written by a Friend in Syria on Syria Comment
In Shak Maksoud and Ashrafia areas north of aleppo city, clashes between kurds (PKK affiliates) and arabs (Bakkara tribe) have erupted for the second time in less than a month. The clashes began when a member of the Bakkara tribe allegedly killed a journalist affiliated with the PKK and the tribe refused to hand him over to the Kurds The Shak Maksoud and Ashrafia areas have a majority Kurd population and a minority arab population (most of them belong to the Bakkara tribe). The PKK has a strong influence among kurds while the Bakkara has strong connections to the regime In the first occasion the clashes started withd light weapons but when the Kurds succeeded in driving the Bakkars out of the area it turned into vandalism. Kurds started burning the houses of the defeated Bakkaras but spared the houses of those who did not fight.
Regime forces didn’t intervene because they didn’t want to take sides (since they have good relations with both sides) but rather tried to reconcile them. The situation is calm now but it could erupt at any moment.
Damascus agrees to “cease all military fighting” as of Thursday, but reserves right to respond to “terrorist attacks”….
We asked the Brookings Institution’s Daniel Byman, director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. Here’s what a blown deadline can mean:
Increased American involvement First off, the authorization for Annan’s U.N. mission in Syria doesn’t talk about specific consequences if Syria doesn’t cooperate but that doesn’t mean there won’t be indirect geopolitical ramifications. One of these is the U.S. playing a greater roll in supporting the Syrian rebels. “We’re almost backing into this,” he said. “Initially it was diplomacy, then a concerted diplomatic campaign and now humanitarian aid. Each step is an escalation.” Already, the U.S. has given the rebels $25 million in humanitarian support, satellite communications equipment and night-vision goggles. “The next step is military aid,” said Byman. “You can see the progression moving here.” The Los Angeles Times has indicated that the implementation of a no-fly zone or “pinpoint airstrikes on Syrian artillery” are both possibilites….
Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said Syria is committed to the peace plan brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan.
“We are fully committed to have a successful mission for Mr. Annan, but at the same time people should know that I can say optimistically that 40% of the keys to solve the crisis is in our hands as government but the other 60% is in the hands of those who are harboring, channeling weapons, instigating in the media, against Syria,” said Makdissi.
Makdissi also said it will take more than Syrian forces to stop the violence, adding the presence of United Nation observers on the ground will be essential to verify the cessation of violence. “If you read thoroughly the plan of Mr. Annan you will find out there will be observers, military unarmed observers sent to Syria these observers will be operating according to a protocol that we are now negotiating with the technical team of Mr. Annan. Those people will be telling you the truth as other observers did before and nobody believed them. We are not afraid of the reality of the Syrian story,” he said. “We want them to be on the ground and see for themselves who is violating this.
GORANI: So you think in a few days, and you’re being optimistic, your own words, that a UN observer team will be on the ground to observe the cessation of violence across Syria?
MAKDASSI: No, Hala, I am very accurate in what I am saying. I am saying that the Syrian team is ready to finalize the protocol that we have already begun negotiating. But it’s not up to us, it’s UN observers. I can’t tell you when they will come. What I can tell you is that they are very essential to monitor any violations.
GORANI: Alright well let me ask you then about what is going on today. This is a few hours before this agreement with the Annan plan that you say will lead to the cessation of military activity at 6am Damascus time on Thursday. We are hearing reports there are tanks in the center of Hamas today. That there has been shelling in Hamas province as well today. Can you confirm that?
MAKDASSI: I can’t verify anything. What I can verify to you Hala, you have to know that my hat is foreign ministry spokesman. What I can tell you is that there is a clear instruction to be on the defensive mode by our army what I can tell you is even according to the Annan plan…
GORANI: Yes, but in the end it’s the Syrian army, Jihad Makdissi, against opposition, some of whom may be armed, but then you have peaceful demonstrators as well as the shelling of civilian areas. Has that not happened?
MAKDASSI: You are simplifying. You are simplifying the crisis in Syria, Hala. If you read very well the Annan peace plan you will notice that the cessation of violence by all parties, so not the cessation of violence by the Syrian government, by all parties. That’s why I’m telling you the problem part in the hands of Syria we are committed to solve this part, but the other are in the hands of those people who have for geo-political reasons, for sectarian reasons, for I don’t know which reasons they call on themselves in destabilizing Syria.
All eyes will be on Syria tomorrow as the country promises to “cease all military fighting throughout Syrian territory as of 6 a.m.” If the pledge is broken, it will be mean the collapse of the United Nations peace plan brokered by special envoy …
U.S. discusses possible buffer zone for Syria, By Elise Labott for CNN
With the Syria deal in jeopardy and questions as to whether Syria will truly cease its military operations, particularly after Syrian troops fired across the border into Turkey, discussions within the Obama administration about creating a Syria-Turkey border “buffer zone” have intensified, State Department officials tell CNN.
“It would be correct to say this idea is getting another look in the last week or so,” one official said about the buffer zone.
WINEP recommendations by Tabler
Third, Washington should immediately expand contingency planning… supporting the creation, with allies such as Turkey, of safe havens inside Syria.
A friend writes: “islamists around the world are now voting (with a large margin) for the name of this Friday in Syria to be “Armies of Islam save Cham”! The naming is an media process that takes place on Facebook that feeds into policy making. It is representative of Syrian wishes. It’s a weekly process that can have devastating results for the revolutionaries of Syria because every week the naming process is being hijacked by Islamists (mostly non Syrians). Here is the Facebook page
The failure of President Bashar Assad to abide by the U.N.-backed plan will force the international community to reconsider more aggressive options.
By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
April 11, 2012,
German engineering giant Siemens and a spinoff company allegedly sold surveillance technology to the Syrian regime, according to a German television report. The government could be using the equipment to crack down on opposition supporters, human ..
133 killed as Yemen troops battle Qaeda, Gulf Times – 11 April, 2012
At least 133 people were killed in 48 hours of clashes pitting Yemeni soldiers backed by tribesmen against Al Qaeda militants, officials said yesterday, as the extremists vowed to retake a strategic town.
Iran oil flow to top Asia customers slows as US, Europe tighten curbs, Gulf Times – 11 April, 2012
….China, the world’s second-largest oil consumer, is Iran’s largest trading partner and biggest oil client that buys up 20% of Iran’s total crude exports. Iran is China’s No3 supplier after Saudi Arabia and Angola.
Arthur Bowring, managing director of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association, said that as more insurers confirm they will soon halt or sharply reduce coverage to tankers operating in Iran, China’s government may need to step in and take the risk to get contracted crude supplies from Tehran.
The EU sanctions on Tehran will close off the European re-insurance market for all tankers carrying Iranian oil anywhere in the world. Reinsurance helps spread the risk when the coverage surpasses what commercial insurers can handle.
Japan and South Korea have lobbied for exemptions to the EU sanctions, but insurance and shipping executives say a complete ban looks likely.
Omen writes in the comment section:
There is something weird going on. i tried to pull up a cnn segment from jan 24th where anderson cooper interviewed former cia agent bob baer. mr. baer said he talks to the syrian faction of Muslim brotherhood frequently. They ask him why the US doesn’t do more to help. Mr. Baer asked in return what the Muslim Brothers planned to do with Bashar Assad? The Syrian Brothers said they would kill him.
But that’s not what the transcript says. (the original video i tried to pull has been “expired” when other videos in a similar timeline are still active.)
Here is the CNN Jan 24 transcript:
BAER: Absolutely. Well, you know, I talk to the Muslim brotherhood a lot. And I ask — and they ask me. They say why doesn’t the United States do something? And I said, they’re worried about the sectarian problems. And I said for instance, what are you going to do about the — and the Syrian brothers say we’re going to kill them. What do you think? And I said, well, what do you expect?
See the dash in the paragraph? Baer asked what are you going to do about “Assad” in the live segment but in the transcript, Bashar’s name got blanked out. I know Baer said Assad and that the brotherhood would “kill him” because i was skeptical of the claim at the time and tweeted about it.
A few days later, in a separate ABC write up, this Baer account of a promised Brotherhood reprisal against a singular figure turns plural:
Baer says the situation in Syria can be illustrated by a conversation he had recently with a Syrian Muslim brother who wanted to know why the U.S. won’t do more to help. Baer told him it was because the U.S. fears a civil war in Syria.
“And he said, ‘Well you know just get rid of the regime and everything will be OK,’ and I said, ‘What are you going to do with the minority ruling sect,’ and he said, half jokingly, ‘We’re going to kill them,’” Baer said.