Syria Accepts the Annan Plan if the Opposition Remains Quiet and UN Observers Follow Strict Rules

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.

Syria says it will comply with truce deadline – Al-Jazeera English

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.

National Jrnl: Syria’s Consequences for Blowing Tomorrow’s U.N. Deadline, 2012-04-11

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.

Non-Syrian Islamists have Growing Influence over the Process of Naming the Syrian Revolution’s Fridays

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

With Syria peace plan in disarray, what next?

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,


Der Spiegel: Siemens Allegedly Sold Surveillance Gear to Syria, 2012-04-11

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.

Also interesting from the ABC piece cited above was this admission from Bob Baer:

“Let me put this very cynically, it’s probably in America’s interest that the current [assad] government subdues a rebellion and a civil war,” Baer said.

It’s not at all like Libya, where most Libyans are Sunni Muslims and getting rid of Muammar Gaddafi didn’t lead to a Sunni-Shia divide.

Who do Egypt’s villagers vote for? And why?
Yasmine Moataz Ahmed, Tue, 10/04/2012

……Rural dwellers constitute a large proportion of Egyptian voters; the majority of which are illiterate and poor. In the 2011-2012 parliamentary elections, they appeared as strong supporters of the Islamic parties mentioned above.

Why do rural dwellers vote for Islamic parties? Do they vote through coercion or incentives? Do they differentiate between different religious groups — in that case the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis?

Arab League’s Syrian Policy, Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Müjge Küçükkeleş
SETA Policy Brief, No : 56, April, 2012

Policy Brief : Arab League’s Syrian Policy

Comments (280)

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1. ann said:

Activists report calm after Syria ceasefire – April 12, 2012

BEIRUT, April 12 – The deadline for a UN-backed ceasefire aimed at halting more than a year of violence in Syria passed on Thursday with no immediate reports of fighting, according to activists.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the sound of explosions in the town of Zabadani, close to the border with Lebanon shortly after the 6am deadline expired, but said it was not clear what had caused the blasts.

A resident of the town said there had been shelling of the town overnight, but that she heard nothing after the deadline. Other activists in the cities of Hama, Homs and Damascus said the situation was calm.


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April 12th, 2012, 1:04 am


2. ann said:

Turkey’s neo-Ottoman game plan – Apr. 12, 2012

The day I arrived in Istanbul, they buried the last Ottoman. Her Imperial Highness Fatma Neslisah Sultan had been born in a royal palace overlooking the Bosphorus when her grandfather still notionally reigned over the remnants of a vast realm. The day after I left, Syrian gunfire killed several people inside Turkey. Their shots crossed a frontier that didn’t exist until the demise of the Ottoman Empire.

On the face of it, these two events seem unrelated: the first a historical curiosity, the second among the most urgent challenges of the day. As many as 9,000 people have reportedly been killed in Syria. Thousands more have been wounded and, according to some estimates, as many as a million are internally or externally displaced. French and British-led intervention in Libya was triggered by Moammar Gadhafi’s credible threat to kill civilians in Benghazi en masse. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has actually done it in Homs.

If the scale of killing were the sole trigger for intervention, we should have done it weeks ago. Compared with these horrors, who gives a fig for the passing of some old sultana? Yet, the two events are more closely related than you might think. For Turkey, it makes a world of difference that the territory now called Syria was, until the First World War, as much an integral part of the Ottoman realm as Ireland was of the British. This historical awareness is especially important for Turkey’s moderate Islamist government, whose deputy prime minister attended the funeral of the last granddaughter of the last sultan. Its doctrine of “strategic depth” sees Turkey as a regional power, straddling Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia, like – guess who?

Its foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has, to be sure, formally rejected the charge that he’s a “neo-Ottoman”; but he’s also said: “I am not a minister of a nation-state only.” A former university professor, he talks often about the Ottoman legacy. After one such performance, delivered to foreign ministers of the European Union, one of them joked that the EU was being invited to join the Ottoman Empire. But this is, of course, a modernized, slimmed-down, republican version – the last princess ended her life officially as Mrs. Osmanoglu (that is, Mrs. Ottoman).

Turkey has major business and trading interests in Syria, while the checkerboard ethnic legacy of the partitioned Ottoman realms means that restless Kurds live on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian frontier. Not to mention the pressure of refugees, which has led to increasing talk of the Turkish army’s imposing a buffer zone or humanitarian corridor inside the Syrian frontier. Some even suggest Turkey could cite a violation of Article 1 of the 1998 Adana agreement between the two countries, that “Syria … will not permit any activity that emanates from its territory aimed at jeopardizing the security and stability of Turkey.” (This originally referred to support for Kurdish groups such as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.)

But there’s a larger story. When I say, in relation to humanitarian intervention, “we” should have done it long ago, readers’ default assumption will be that “we” refers to the Western powers, preferably acting with some United Nations authority. And it’s true that if the West’s leading military powers do engage with armed force – as they did in two other corners of the former Ottoman Empire, Bosnia and Kosovo – it would have a transformative effect. But none of them, least of all Washington, show any intention of doing so here.

U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have elections to win. British Prime Minister David Cameron is too busy drumming up trade in the Far East. They’ll express outrage and try to ratchet up economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure through the UN, but don’t expect any Libya- or Kosovo-type intervention any time soon.

In these circumstances, other states will determine the fate of the Syrian people. In the near future, Turkey will be more important than Britain, Iran than Germany, Saudi Arabia than France, Russia than America. In Syria, all these regional powers pursue their own national interests, defined not just in economic and military terms but also in cultural and ideological ones. So there’s a tussle between Shia, post-revolutionary Iran and Sunni, reactionary Saudi Arabia, post-imperial Russia and neo-Ottoman Turkey, not to mention China – a vital swing vote among the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

If some weary pasha had gone to sleep in 1912 and woken up only today, he might feel quite at home. Ah yes, he’d say, here are the great powers still pursuing their interests in the Great Game. Many of them, in fact, are partially modernized versions of the old powers: Turkey under Sultan Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russia yoked to Czar Vladimir Putin, China in the last months of Emperor Hu Jintao.


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April 12th, 2012, 1:18 am


3. ann said:

What’s goin’ on at the Turkish-Syrian border? – April 11, 2012

There is a video [1] that could be loosely translated as “Terrorist Turkish border opening fire on the Syrian side” that pretty accurately sums up what’s going on at the ultra-volatile geopolitical hotspot of the moment.

The voice-over says, “This is the Syria-Turkey border, and this is an operation of the Free Syrian Army [FSA] … The Gate [that would be the Syrian side of the border, housing the Gate checkpoint] is going to be seized.”


[blue diamond Escobar article posted earlier in Atimes roundup. ]

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April 12th, 2012, 1:33 am


4. Juergen said:

I am thrilled to see the video of a demonstration nearby the Four Seasons Hotel. ( why havent they close it down? It belongs to Waleed ibn Talal ibn Saud directly) I do believe that by agreeing on the Annan peace plan the regime is digging their own grave. I do not focus too much on the military part or the observer mission. Assad has agreed to give full constitutional rights to every citizen, so we will see then demonstrations in every syrian city, free access of the media will then bring the true opinion of so many Syrians.

Here is an article which I have posted earlier, the author has republished it , now even longer and with a focus also on Egypt.

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April 12th, 2012, 1:35 am


5. Juergen said:

Here is a video of an local Berlin relief organization who was founded to help the Syrians in this revolution.

arabic subtitled

Interview with Abdel Razak Tlass about the Pütz article( allegations of a death squad within the FSA)

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April 12th, 2012, 1:40 am


6. ann said:

Syria doesn’t need U.S. idea of ‘humanitarian’ intervention – April 11, 2012

U.S. support for arming anti-government forces in Syria is part of a larger geopolitical strategy aimed at flipping the Sunni-Shiite balance in the region, according to Professors Asli Bali and Aziz Rana in a New York Times op-ed piece on Wednesday. The two Middle East experts also explain that intervention should not be considered humanitarian if it kills more civilians than it purports to save.

Despite President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal repression and systemic human rights abuses, Bali and Rana seem to scoff at the notion that all segments of Syrian society support the rebels and are clamoring for external assistance, as Western political leaders like Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman would have the world believe.

In fact, most minorities in Syria – especially the Alawites, Druze, Christians and Kurds – do not want the Assad regime to fall because they fear the Sunni majority will seek retribution. The Profs even suggest that a large swath of Syria’s middle-class are concerned Islamic radicals might fill the post-Assad power vacuum.

One can only imagine how these groups must feel about the U.S. partnering with gulf monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar in funding the rebel cause. As the authors state, by interfering the U.S. is essentially taking sides in a civil war.

U.S. policy on Syria has been schizophrenic since the outbreak of Arab Spring over a year ago, largely driven by lack of intelligence and the inability to project which outcomes would best converge with U.S. objectives. But recently calls for regime change have become more explicit, as evidenced last week by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who told a CBS reporter: “We believe Assad must go…”

However, this sentiment stands in sharp contrast to doubts expressed by other State department officials who claim the Syrian opposition lacks sufficient internal support to establish a viable government once Assad is extirpated.


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April 12th, 2012, 1:48 am


7. Juergen said:

An interview with Samah Yazbek, an Alawite writer and women rights activist in exile now.

She is an honest and humble voice of the revolution. She has just written a book about the beginning of the revolution.

” They are willing to play the role of the devil: let bombs explode in Syria say that these were the Salafists. They released criminals from prison and allow them free rein. They are trying to divide society and to awaken in people the beasts. They are ready to go to the bloody end, and to destroy the country. I’ve seen in modern history no comparable diabolical regime. It is very distressing to report only from it.”

Here is the article, the translation has its ups and downs, the title in German suggests that Assad will fight to the bitter end, the english translations seems to suggest that he remains in power… ( does Assad have a hand on google now?)

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April 12th, 2012, 2:12 am


8. Antoine said:


Have you heard about the death squads of the Iraqi Police, that hunts down former Baathists and Sunni insurgent leaders ?

Do you think such death squads will be suitable for Syria ?

Also, I am sure you have heard about the Communist death squads in the GDR, Poland, and Hungary, who hunted down former Nazis and collaborators.

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April 12th, 2012, 2:25 am


9. Juergen said:


Yes i have heard about what you wrote. You forget to mention, the jews also had an death squad operating within Germany after the war. The longer this regime endulges itself in brutal oppression and mass killings and abide for their citizens not only their constitutional rights but also the most fundamental human rights, the more substantial your indication will become for the future of Syria.

I am against such payback policies, a civilized way would be to follow the South African reconcilitation path, but that does not only require an genuine humanistic approach but also self modesty and some charismatic figures to lead the process.( I exclude here the Assad family for obvious reasons)

As Samah Yazbek suggested, the road to democracy will be long, and there might be setbacks but knowing that does not justify the violence and the will to keep the status quo under this regime.

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April 12th, 2012, 2:37 am


10. Anne said:

U.S. sees no evidence of Syrian forces pullout: White House

WASHINGTON, April 10 (Xinhua) — The United States has seen no evidence of any troop withdrawal by the Syrian government forces, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday.

“We have seen no evidence thus far of any pullback,” said Carney while traveling with U.S. President Barack Obama. “We have seen much evidence of further brutality and aggression against innocent civilians.”

“We are waiting for the assessment that Special Envoy Kofi Annan will put forward today at the United Nations. And we will certainly work, in the aftermath of that, with our partners and others on next steps with regards to Syria,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Carney’s statement came as Kofi Annan, the UN and Arab League joint special envoy for Syria, on Tuesday urged the Syrian authorities to “seize the opportunity to make a fundamental change of course” by immediately implementing a peace plan proposed by him and accepted by Damascus.

In response to the statement by Syrian foreign minister that the government troops have begun to pull back, Carney said that many promises made by leaders of the Assad regime “overwhelmingly turned out to be empty.”

Annan’s six-point plan calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers, a daily halt in fighting for the delivery of humanitarian aid and treatment for the wounded, as well as talks between the government and opposition.

If the Syrian government meets the April 10 deadline, the Syrian opposition should halt fighting 48 hours after the withdrawal of government forces, so all fighting in the country must stop by 6 a.m. Damascus time on April 12, Annan said last week while briefing the UN General Assembly.

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April 12th, 2012, 4:01 am


11. Anne said:

Showing picture of beautiful refuge children in Hatay Province of Turkey. From Xinhua news photographer:

A Syrian child looks out from the tent site at Yayladagi town in Turkey’s Hatay province, where Syrian refugees stayed, April 10, 2012.(Xinhua/Ma Yan)

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April 12th, 2012, 4:03 am


12. Alan said:

Syrian ceasefire deadline arrives – no violence reported

The deadline for Syria’s UN-brokered ceasefire aimed at curtailing the conflict has arrived with no immediate reports of violence. However, doubts have been voiced on the international stage whether the regime and the rebels can keep to the truce.

The Syrian government told UN-Arab League Envoy Kofi Annan that regime troops would cease fighting at 03:00 GMT on Thursday morning. UN spokesman Ahmad Fawsi says the Assad regime reserves “the right to respond proportionately to any attacks.”

Likewise rebel groups have said they will retaliate to any regime provocation.

The Syrian Defense Ministry announced the ceasefire on state television on Wednesday, but neglected to mention the withdrawal of regime troops from urban areas stipulated in envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan.

Syria’s government stated that it had begun the gradual pullout of its forces from “certain provinces” on Tuesday.

Activists from the Syrian opposition say that they have seen no sign of tanks and security forces withdrawing from urban centers.

Meanwhile, the international community has doubted the Assad regime’s commitment to maintaining the ceasefire.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the government’s promise to halt violence had “little or no credibility.”
“The burden remains squarely on the Syrian regime and not the opposition in the first instance to meet its obligations in full and visibly under the Annan plan,” Rice told reporters on Thursday.

Russia which has defended the Assad’s regime’s legitimacy on the international stage urged the Syrian opposition to follow suit and keep to the ceasefire. Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia was holding talks with the opposition to push for a truce but emphasized “some of our international partners tell them different things and prevent the opposition from making any concessions – this is wrong.”

[ + … ]

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April 12th, 2012, 4:05 am


13. Alan said:
Syria informs UN/LAS envoy that it will “cease all military fighting” April 12
UINITED NATIONS, April 12 (Itar-Tass) —— The Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan, received a letter from the Syrian Government on Wednesday, April 11, informing him of its decision “to cease all military fighting throughout Syrian territory as of 6:00 a.m. (Damascus time) Thursday, April 12, 2012,” Annan’s spokesperson said.

The letter, from Syria’s foreign minister, also said that the Syrian government reserved “the right to respond proportionately to any attacks carried out by armed terrorist groups against civilians, Government forces or public and private property,” the spokesperson, Ahmad Fawzi, said in a statement issued in Geneva

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April 12th, 2012, 4:10 am


14. Anne said:

Russian leader (now prime minister, next to be president again) Putin makes moves to increase control of ministries and securkty under his direct control.

Siloviki means for officials, meaning Federal Security Service and presidential administration – like Syria, military command and ruler of structure to hold control.

Mirrors to Syria when only strong people keep control to want to keep control. For corrupt is needed to stay safe. Only strong man “guided democracy” can to work for Putin. No elections to lose in regions and management economny.

Also, all big news in Russian control by government and Putin siloviki. Like to Syria. Control. Control.

It is a good story to read the mirror to Syria and explain why strong men like strong men. Like China. Power and c ontrol always to keep power.

From Moscow Times: Siloviki in a Panic
11 April 2012
By Alexander Golts

When Vladimir Putin created his power vertical and eliminated even the hint of civilian control over the government bureaucracy, he insisted that steps were taken to increase efficiency. But the main drawback to the power vertical soon became apparent: At critical moments, it begins to shake uncontrollably. In other words, all of the officials in the system begin quaking with fear. In that condition, they will do almost anything to save their own skins.

Putin is a good case in point. Worried over his own political survival, he rashly announced his “castling move” with President Dmitry Medvedev last September, even though he knew that it would create confusion in the ranks of subordinates. He saw no other option, however, and, as expected, the resulting uncertainties have sparked a flurry of infighting.

Something similar is happening now that the members of the ruling tandem are changing roles. While Putin and Medvedev discuss upcoming government appointments, senior officials at various ministries are going batty wondering who will determine their fate. Anxiety is highest among the siloviki. Due to the opaque nature of their security agencies and their absolute lack of accountability before the people, the struggle between siloviki clans is particularly fierce. For his part, Putin is only further straining nerves by preparing for each decision affecting the siloviki as if it were a secret operation.

Under such conditions, the only way the siloviki can get a feel of how things stand is to release a “leak” — and the more absurd the better — and then gauge the reactions of all concerned.

There have been at least two “leaks” recently.


All of this confusion and anxiety comes at a price. Major government agencies are practically paralyzed, and what would happen if a real crisis were to occur now? Commanders are hardly prepared to carry out orders handed down from superiors whose own fates are in limbo and who are therefore not in a position to assume full responsibility for their orders.

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April 12th, 2012, 4:16 am


15. Amnesia said:

“For this reason the renewal of the conflict would seem to be only a matter of time.”

We know that Assad has no wish to see protests that he cannot quell. The only way to subdue protests is for violence to take place by one or both sides.

Any act by anyone against the Assad regime will be blamed on the “opposition” and met with unequal force, with all the losses of human life inherent. This will pressure the Free Army or parts of it to respond, “breaking” its ceasefire. In other areas, unidentified militias will continue hunting down opposition leaders, out of view of any observer team. Assad will play this game, just as he played it before.

I agree with Dr. Landis that Annan’s hard work can be applauded. Kofi Annan managed to get the world behind him. I am pessimistic. For Annan to succeed, he will have to raise the pressure on the regime while keeping Russia in line. It will be no easy task.

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April 12th, 2012, 4:40 am


16. Alan said:

what about the people? and cities of Syria especially Aleppo and Damascus? want they see protests? who in this dilemma the main ? when to come time to reckon with will of the people?

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April 12th, 2012, 5:05 am


17. Amnesia said:

So far this morning there are reports of raids and arrests by the regime around areas of Damascus. Democracy activists will not be spared.

No pullback of tanks is apparent, also a major breach of Annan’s plan.

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April 12th, 2012, 5:08 am


18. Amnesia said:

Alan, I am not sure what you are asking. I believe protests will explode everywhere they are allowed, which the regime cannot accept. Again, the only way to stop them is with violence.

If violence subsides, Damascus and Aleppo will see a massive change. It is the regime’s dilemma.

The opposition’s dilemma is in regards to how to maintain unity and protect their members on the ground. They know that international help is necessary, and has been very difficult to obtain.

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April 12th, 2012, 5:14 am


19. Alan said:

What you can tell about continuous refusal of political process from outside pro-western opposition? how we can see results people vote for or against?

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April 12th, 2012, 5:18 am


20. Alan said:

essentially! tell me please! why the so-called opposition deprives of Syrian citizens from possibility to tell the opinion? without start any political process there will be a violent capture of will of the people! why so-called (reformers) of opposition show dictatorship and maximalizm worse than dictators?????

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April 12th, 2012, 5:29 am


21. Amnesia said:


There are two main reasons the Syrian opposition has not been willing to sit down with representatives of Assad’s regime, ignoring the obvious war crimes and human rights violations that have been taking place.

1) The Assad regime has not shown a willingness to accept that the opposition in and outside of Syria is valid. They are always dismissed as Salafists, Westerners, Zionists, you name it. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to sit down with adversaries who have very little respect for you. Not much can be expected from such negotiations.

2) Even if the MB and others within the opposition outside Syria agreed in principle to sit down with the regime, they would be unable to do so while at the same time maintaining support from within Syria. Activists within Syria would readily break with the SNC and form their own splinter groups if such negotiations were to take place outside Syria while gross violations of human rights continue against activists and others within Syria. The demand constantly heard by the opposition is to unify its ranks, and the easiest way to break the opposition apart is to join Assad’s “political process”.

As far as people’s votes, we are well aware that the country is split. It is also clear, democratically speaking, that if there were a ready alternative to the regime with certain assurances a clear majority would want change. It is the fear of chaos, and the reality of where the power currently resides, that makes for a lack of any clear alternative. Though most Syrians want stability, at this point more than half, although very close to half, want Assad to go no matter the cost. Without any clear way forward, the country will continue to be split down the middle, virtually a 50/50 tie.

Can the SNC negotiate a way out of this mess? They probably cannot do so now. It would require the disarming of Assad loyalists as Assad departs, a nearly impossible feat.

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April 12th, 2012, 5:42 am


22. Amnesia said:


The opposition outside of Syria is a mixed group. It is impossible to generalize and speak for all of them. The problem currently is not in the SNC or any other group dictating decisions. The problem is that they are not allowed to participate in the decision-making process. Assad’s regime holds all power to make decisions within Syria, and they refuse to give up that power to others. While this continues, it is silly to blame anyone but Bashar himself for the corruption and lack of democracy and freedoms in Syria today.

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April 12th, 2012, 5:50 am


23. Alan said:

Can you state an assessment of emergence of bloody opposition and Chaos of hostile actions from opponents of a mode in their various configuration?

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April 12th, 2012, 6:11 am


24. Amnesia said:

Alan, can you be more clear and specific? Posts to this forum are better kept to a few paragraphs maximum.

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April 12th, 2012, 6:17 am


25. Alan said:

Also can you state an assessment of conscious destruction of infrastructure of the country from opponents of a mode in their various configuration?
And a vital issue as you think how it is possible to bring to court the opponents of a mode connected with their crimes?

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April 12th, 2012, 6:21 am


26. Amnesia said:


Destruction of infrastructure? If you are referring to the security installations, they are valid targets, assuming one considers the regime’s mukhabarat and military valid targets. I don’t agree with suicide missions, and I as well as the majority of Syrians do not want Al Qaeda around meddling.

If you are referring to oil pipelines being blown up, I personally do not wish to take a position on this. I know that the regime benefits by owning these resources, and I also know that the population suffers when energy supplies dwindle. In the current situation, I don’t agree with any prosecution for these acts of sabotage, but I wish that Syria can maintain its infrastructure. Syria needs massive investment in its infrastructure as it is, and no one wishes for further destruction.

There are many types of crimes. Prosecuting individuals on either side for crimes is difficult. The regime’s courts are likely to pardon those with the regime while showing no mercy to opponents. The current situation leaves no suitable path to prosecution. When that changes, a lot of forgiveness will be needed to help the country to heal.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The current regime has to change before any healing is possible.

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April 12th, 2012, 6:43 am


27. Amnesia said:

“Surely no legal principle — not even sovereignty — can ever shield crimes against humanity.” Kofi Annan in 2000

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April 12th, 2012, 6:45 am


28. Amnesia said:

Continued quote from Kofi Annan: “Where such crimes occur and peaceful attempts to halt them have been exhausted, the Security Council has a moral duty to act on behalf of the international community. The fact that we cannot protect people everywhere is no reason for doing nothing when we can. Armed intervention must always remain the option of last resort, but in the face of mass murder it is an option that cannot be relinquished.”

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April 12th, 2012, 6:49 am


29. mjabali said:

The next phase in Syria is going to probably take us back to March of last year.

Protestors in many points and government that is going to claim that there is disorder, therefore force is going to be needed.

I give this phase a month probably till things go back to full swing: tanks, explosions, snipers, kidnapping, shelling…etc

Also this phase is going to see probably clashes between anti vs pro in cities like Damascus. These clashes are going to be on the streets. Protestors like those standing in front of the Parliament. Things are going to get ugly as the norm.

This period will see more of the non-Salafi anti Assad protestors into the streets. At last they are going to be visible again.

The Militants, who are mostly Sunni Islamists of a sort, are going to keep on fighting, or the government is going to blame them for something if matters worsened. In brief, the situation is bad. There are elements ready to be blamed any minute.

Nevertheless, this change in pace may give a chance for something new: like forming parties on the ground of Syria. But, knowing Syrians, Syria and those involved in this mess I say that there is going to none of that. All are going to waste this time slot and keep on blaming or doing the wrong things as usual.

In my humble opinion, the SNC (Syrian National Council) is a proven JOKE. Let Syrians vote for who represent the people.

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April 12th, 2012, 7:03 am


30. Alan said:

how you look at various western Embargoes against the states (certainly and the population in the first stage)of the third world including against Syria ? and what in it moral value of this step?

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April 12th, 2012, 7:03 am


31. Observer said:

The defense ministry orders cessation of operations and calm reigns in the country.

This is the proof that 95% of the violence was committed by the regime.

After all aren’t they fighting Salafist armed gangs that have no soul and no compunction about killing and maiming and beheading as they are directed by God to purify the earth?

The post by Jurgen brought the exact word that I was looking for in describing the regime: diabolical.

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April 12th, 2012, 7:33 am


32. Alan said:

I am still weating for your looking!

how you look at various western Embargoes against the states (certainly and the population in the first stage)of the third world including against Syria ? and what in it moral value of this step?

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April 12th, 2012, 7:41 am


33. Amnesia said:

Alan, that’s another big question. Every case has room for different arguments. Iran and North Korea, although viewed by many to be of the same type, are very different from each other. I don’t view sanctions as being effective, but without effective alternatives sanctions will continue to be used. Is there a double standard with regards to other countries including with Israel? Most certainly yes.

The sanctions against Syria are two-fold: they name explicitly members of Assad’s inner circle and those accused of abuses, and many products, mostly exports, to cut off money that was flowing to the government. Are the sanctions very effective? Not very. The hope western governments have is that the combination of sanctions will force the regime to make major concessions and appease the opposition. These sanctions may indeed make a difference, but for now the regime remains stubborn.

Perhaps I am overlooking the massive war crimes and human rights abuses in the answer to your question above. These crimes should certainly never be overlooked.

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April 12th, 2012, 7:48 am


34. Amnesia said:

Even less effective are restrictions on Syrian imports. The arms the West will not sell continue to be supplied by Russia. I have personally met North Korean scientists who have spent decades in Syria and Libya with Qaddafi. North Korea has no reason to stop helping Assad where possible. Iran will continue meddling, and any other equipment made by Western companies is probably already readily available from China. About a year ago when I believe the Syrian Foreign Minister said that they would forget Europe was even on the map, he was alluding to the fact that his government is still able to do a lot of its business without the West.

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April 12th, 2012, 8:00 am


35. Dawoud said:

What Basahar’s acceptance mean:
1) In violation of Anan’s plan, tanks and military stay in cities and towns to terrorize people and keep them home
2) When people stop peacefully demonstrating, the dictator declares victory and begin the fake “reform” propcess that will keep him in power!
In any case, repots are credible that regime violence is ongoing! Syria needs. Northern and southern safe havens.
No victory yet for ***** of Hizballah 🙂
P.S., my uncle-who lives in a wealthy Damascus area-told me that the regime is still killing innocents in the capital and its reef.

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April 12th, 2012, 8:15 am


36. Alan said:

No! I asked about moral value of acceptance of embargo against the poor countries from side of rich countries! Eventually embargo is weapons of mass destruction!

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April 12th, 2012, 9:07 am


37. bronco said:

Will Annan’s plan succeed in obliging even uncontrollable criminals gangs to stop instigating violence?

The next 48 hours will show if the FSA and the LCC have any control on these gangs.

Many criminals and Islamist extremists have infiltrated the opposition and in the absence of observers, they may not miss a chance to provoke violence during tomorrow demonstrations, thus triggering the army intervention and showing that the Syrian government is not abiding to its commitments.

Turkey, Qatar and KSA will be more than satisfied if this happens and have paid lots of money for that. Turkey especially is very worried than Annan’s plan works because Bashar remaining in power would mean Turkey will be stuck with the ‘syrians guests’ in the camps indefinitely and trading with Syria will remain stalled, in addition to the humiliation of having prematurely threatened Bashar of the fate of Qaddafi.

The presence of observers is the only way to show which side is breaking the truce. This week may be a roller coaster and the moment of truth.

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April 12th, 2012, 9:09 am


38. zoo said:

Will the possible election of Omar Suleiman an indication that Egypt, and other Arab countries, are now ready to turn their back on a Sunni ‘Islamic’ state, to the relief of Western countries.

Egypt candidate Suleiman warns of religious state
Associated Press – 1 hr 16 mins ago

CAIRO (AP) — Hosni Mubarak’s former vice president says he is running for president to prevent Islamists from turning Egypt into a “religious state.”

Omar Suleiman, who was also Mubarak’s long-serving intelligence chief, says the decision by the Muslim Brotherhood to field a presidential candidate”horrified” Egyptians. The Brotherhood, which has emerged as Egypt’s most powerful political bloc after last year’s uprising, reversed an earlier decision not to field a candidate.

In comments published on Thursday in the weekly El-Fagr newspaper, Suleiman warned that the Brotherhood would control all state institutions if it wins the presidency. The group already dominates parliament.

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April 12th, 2012, 9:15 am


39. Alan said:

Libya: So it was all about oil after all!

Last year NATO countries bombed Libya, demanding “democracy” in the country. But now it’s clear it was all about oil and it’s not like the Americans and Brits are going to be democratic about it, and share those spoils equally with France and Italy.

So… oil giants Total from France and ENI from Italy are just going to have to wait in the sidelines while the hungry American and British big boys take their juicy oil slices first… ExxonMobil, Chevron, Texaco, BP, Shell…

It’s no surprise then to read in The Wall Street Journal that the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), together with the puppet Libyan “authorities” are launching “investigations” into both companies’ “financial irregularities” in their shady dealings during the forty-two years of Gaddafi’s power. Now who would have imagined this! An Italian oil company involved in kick-backs? Corruption at the highest echelons of the French oil industry?!? Tsk, tsk!!! Unheard of…! The US and UK would never do something like that!! Just ask Enron, ask Halliburton, ask BP…./…./….

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April 12th, 2012, 9:20 am


40. zoo said:

Islamutopia: A very short history of political Islam

What seems to be certain in all of this, is that the utopia of Islam, re-imagined by those yearning for it centuries later in the tumults of their own time, has been cast by generations of Islamists as one of justice, prosperity and power, animated by spirituality, and by the mythical bravery of heroic figures. This Islamutopia still irradiates the politics of the Arab and Muslim world today.

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April 12th, 2012, 9:25 am


41. jna said:

Syrian officer killed in roadside bomb attack – state TV

9:21am EDT
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria accused “terrorists” of planting a roadside bomb that blew up in Aleppo, killing one officer and wounding at least 24 cadets and officers in an attempt to sabotage a U.N.-backed ceasefire, state media said on Thursday.

“At eight in the morning a terrorist group targeted a bus carrying a number of officers driving to work in Aleppo,” it said. The blast killed a lieutenant-colonel and civilians were among the wounded.

There was no independent confirmation of the blast in Syria, where media access is severely restricted.

The Syrian news agency SANA said a “terrorist group” in the northern province of Idlib detonated the roadside bomb, targeting a vehicle belonging to the security forces.

A member of President Bashar al-Assad’s Baath party was killed in a drive-by shooting in the city of Deraa during the morning, it said.

The attacks were reported in the hours following a dawn ceasefire (…)

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April 12th, 2012, 10:20 am


42. Uzair8 said:

150. mjabali

I haven’t called for anything that the FSA and others including SC users* haven’t already called for.

The FSA are Syrians and have been repeatedly demanding arms.

On France 24 some weeks ago there was a good comment by a guest.

She said that the FSA were being criticised from 2 sides.

They are being criticised for being armed and on the other hand there is criticism and complaint that they don’t have enough arms or enough of the right arms.

About non-Syrians supporting the oppressed people. I’m sure you would prefer that the people are left at the mercy of this murderous regime. The people have a human right to self defence. To be able to defend their lives, family, property and honour. As humans we have every right to support the innocent. More so as muslims.

About Sufis. Where does it say that Sufis should lay down and accept slaughter and other atrocious crimes? Self defence is a right.

* These SC users who cannot be labelled as the usual suspects.

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April 12th, 2012, 10:50 am


43. Juergen said:


only the ignorant ones deny the truth that sufism and sufi orders have greatly contributed against oppressive regimes, and against colonialism in general. Countries like Sudan and Algeria would have seen independence at a much later stage and for a higher price if the Sufi orders didnt fight.

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April 12th, 2012, 11:03 am


44. zoo said:

“All parties have obligations to implement fully the six-point plan. This includes both the military provisions of the plan and the commitment to move to a political process,” he said.

Annan says Syria ceasefire ‘appears to be holding’

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan said today that a ceasefire in Syria appears to be holding but President Bashar al-Assad must carry out all parts of an agreed peace plan.

“Syria is apparently experiencing a rare moment of calm on the ground,” Annan said in a statement released as he briefed the UN Security Council on the 13-month-old crisis in which the UN says more than 9,000 people have been killed.

A ceasefire came into effect in Syria on Thursday and Annan said: “I am encouraged by reports that the situation in Syria is relatively calm and that the cessation of hostilities appears to be holding.” Annan added, however, that the Syrian government must carry out of all the agreed peace plan which includes a withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from Syria’s cities.

“All parties have obligations to implement fully the six-point plan. This includes both the military provisions of the plan and the commitment to move to a political process,” he said.

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April 12th, 2012, 11:14 am


45. ann said:

Syria urges refugees to return home – Thu Apr 12, 2012

Syria’s interior ministry on Thursday urged Syrians who fled violence to go back to their homes, state television said.

“The interior ministry calls on citizens who were forced to leave their homes to other areas in Syria or neighboring countries to return to their homes,” state television announced.

The appeal was broadcast eight hours after a ceasefire came into effect and activists said shelling and shooting appeared to have stopped.


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April 12th, 2012, 11:21 am


46. zoo said:

Wary that Annan’s plan may succeed, Erdogan is desperately calling for UN and NATO intervention about the borders issues

Turkish PM urges UN to act on Syria
Enis Berberoğlu SHANGHAI / Hürriyet

The number of incoming refugees has multiplied twofold. It has almost reached a boiling point. There is footage. These people get shot while they are running away. There are people dying and getting wounded. There is the cry of the mothers. They told Kofi Annan how their homes were smashed and how their children’s throats were slit. If the U.N. does not follow this through, then what will it follow through? We will follow it through.

Turkey could seek NATO’s help to deal with Syria

ANKARA – The Associated Press
Turkey says it could seek NATO’s help in case the Syrian troops violate its borders again.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters late yesterday that “NATO has responsibilities to protect the Turkish border according to Article 5.”

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April 12th, 2012, 11:21 am


47. jad said:

Zoo, Ann,
I agree it seems the ceasefire from the Government side is holding well even with the many terrorists attacks happened today.

From previous post:


Since yesterday BBC English edition is acting weird, for the first time they start to show the terrorist side of the revo. and they are repeating the clips of terrorists for the whole day yesterday, with interviews saying that whoever pay money to the armed gangs in Syria they have Syrian blood on their hands.

In the Hardtalk program they shredded the opposition SNC member in pieces, they even pushed him to declare that the council is run by the MBs.

They’ve been promoting the move of the Syrian government of the ceasefire as ‘serious’ and not a bluff. and they are admitting the armed militia nasty works, they never did that before.

They are either trying to distant themselves from the american or the turks military plan hence they are preparing the public to go nuts against war or they are noticing what terrorist can do to them if they give them money, I can’t figure it out.

Any idea why would they flip suddenly like that?

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April 12th, 2012, 11:31 am


48. zoo said:

Is the Egyptian state facing bankruptcy?
By Adel Al Toraifi

The Central Bank of Egypt announced that external reserves have declined to less than $15 billion, i.e. less than the minimum value of three months of imports, according to IMF conditions… so we can say that the Egyptian budget deficit (in addition to domestic and foreign loans) amounts to 76 percent of the country’s GDP.
But Egypt is on the verge of an economic crisis that could ravage its currency and eliminate its access to foreign loans, especially with the inflammatory language used by the Muslim Brotherhood – such as Khairat al-Shatar’s recent statements – towards the IMF.
The experiences of the last year show that the Muslim Brotherhood’s party is still living in the past, and reveal the bankruptcy of the Egyptian elite, culturally and intellectually, and the shallow nature of the Brotherhood’s vision as it moves to secure

In Egypt, as pointed out by the veteran writer Ali Salem in his recent article in this newspaper, politicians’ activities are limited by their “talent for non-achievement”.

In reality, the danger in Egypt does not come from economic bankruptcy alone; the Egyptians have always managed to safely navigate through historic lean years, rather the danger comes from the bankruptcy of the ideology and culture of the “Tahrir Square revolution”. All the revolution has done so far is swap a bad regime for a group of radicals who are in reality worse and more dangerous than the former regime.

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April 12th, 2012, 11:41 am


49. Alan said:


what your opinion apropos use of financial means in arms of any opposition in any country of the world as world practice?

and also apropos bribery of voices at the international institutes in favor of oppositions in the countries of the 3rd world?

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April 12th, 2012, 11:45 am


50. Mina said:

The world will certainly be a safer place after that one, reported on the Guardian blog

“2.28pm: Kuwait: In a crackdown on religious “crimes”, parliament today approved changes to the penal code that would extend the death penalty to those who curse God, the Prophet Muhammad or his wives. A demand from Shia MPs to also include the 12 revered Shia imams was rejected, al-Arabiya reports.

In order to become law, the change needs government approval and a further parliamentary vote.

The move follows the arrest last month of Hamad al-Naqi who was accused of blasphemous tweeting.”

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April 12th, 2012, 11:46 am


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