Syrian War Spillover in Iraq Will Be Much Worse than in Lebanon

The Spillover from the Syrian civil war will be much greater in Iraq than Lebanon.
by Joshua Landis, Syria Comment, Oct 28, 2012

Many Western journalists are based in Lebanon, few in Iraq. This explains why relatively small events in Lebanon get dramatic reporting and much larger increases of violence in Iraq, are largely overlooked or elicit little concern.

Already in response to the growing civil war in Syria, Iraqi violence has spiked and al-Qaida is resurgent there. Some days as many as 100 Iraqi Shiites are killed by al-Qaida bombings in Iraq.

The threat of spillover in Lebanon is minor compared to Iraq because the sects in Lebanon all acknowledge that none can rule the country without the others. Even the most powerful, the Shiites, readily confess that they have no chance of turning Lebanon into an Islamic republic because Lebanon has a form of democracy and the majority is against it. Not only do all the sects buy into the notion of power-sharing, they also know that in Lebanon it is impossible for one group to dominate on the others. They learned these simple truths from decades of barbaric fighting.

In Iraq, the sects have found no peace and little acceptance of the balance of power now being hammered out. Prime Minister Maliki is busy building a Shiite dictatorship and pushing out the remaining centers of Sunni power left behind by the Americans in their doomed attempt to promote power-sharing.

Al-Qaida is rebuilding in Iraq to contest Shiite power. It probably has the backing of a larger segment of the Sunni community that still chafes from its loss of fortune following the US destruction of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Unlike Lebanon, the various sects of Iraq have not found a modus-vivendi. Relations between Kurds and Arabs in Iraq are becoming more vexed as Kurdistan takes ever more steps to assert its independence from Arab Iraq.

The Sunni-led attempt to depose Assad’s regime is sure to give a big boost to Al-Qaida in Iraq as arms and men flow across the border and find a refuge in Syria. Saudi, Turkish and Qatari support for Syria’s Sunnis is also likely to turbo-charge passions in Iraq, as Sunnis feel empowered to push back against Iranian influence and the Shiite hold on power.

These are the reasons why Iraq is seeing much more spillover from Syria than Lebanon. Of course, there will be pushing and shoving between the sects in Lebanon, especially as the Sunnis grow in confidence and feel that they can tip the scales on the Shiite assertiveness of the last several years. But they have few delusions of being able to rule Lebanon on their own.

I leave you with this plum from today’s New York Times: An Iraqi Shiite who just returned from years in Damascus says:

“I can tell that things are going to be crazy in Syria,” he said. “It’s a sectarian war, and it’s even worse than the one we had here, which was between the militias and the political parties. In Syria, all of the people are involved. You can feel the hatred between the Sunnis and the Alawites. They will do anything to get rid of each other.”

On Monday, I will be giving a lecture at Duke’s Islamic Studies Center and on Tuesday, I will speak at the University of North Carolina

Intervening in Syria the right way
By François Heisbourg, Published: October 25, François Heisbourg is a special adviser at the Foundation for Strategic Research, a Paris-based think tank. PARIS

Successful military interventions are sufficiently rare as to induce utmost caution when contemplating the use of force in Syria, a country as populous as Iraq or Afghanistan and no less divided along religious and ethnic lines. Yet the legal, political, strategic and military conditions for an international operation are being fulfilled, which is in turn creating an opportunity to bring down Bashar al-Assad’s bloody dictatorship and its regionally destabilizing repression…..

From a strategic standpoint, the civil war in Syria is in a stalemate, with Assad’s forces unable to crush the rebellion and the insurgency militarily incapable of overthrowing the regime. A realistic objective of intervention would be to tilt the balance in favor of the rebel forces, to help expedite Assad’s fall. As in Libya, and unlike in Iraq, intervention would enable the rebellion, not be a substitute for it.

In military terms, this would be achieved by establishing a 50-mile no-fly zone along the Turkish-Syrian border. No allied aircraft would need to fly in Syrian airspace, as air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles fired from Turkish airspace and territory would have the necessary range to shoot down Syrian bombers or helicopters in the exclusion zone. Allied AWACS radar aircraft, operating well out of range of Syria’s extensive air defenses, would provide full real-time information on any regime aircraft approaching the no-fly zone.

The zone would include Aleppo, which means the regime’s bombardment of Syria’s largest city would cease. Its fall, along with unimpeded access to logistical support from Turkey, would give the insurgency the upper hand.

And with no boots on the ground, this intervention would not require an exit strategy.

Such an intervention is becoming desirable as well as feasible, for want of a better option. Letting the civil war fester will lead to further destabilization in Syria and the wider region — some of which is already visible in Lebanon and Jordan — and a radicalization of the conflict. Providing the rebels with weaponry, notably anti-aircraft missiles, raises the dread prospect of blowback, given our inability to control the ultimate destination of such transfers.

Of course, even an intervention of the kind suggested here won’t guarantee a positive and stable outcome in Syria, any more than the overthrow of Moammar Gaddafi meant that milk and honey were to flow in Libya. But the alternatives are worse. We also know that a heavy “boots on the ground” approach — as in Iraq or Afghanistan — is to be strenuously avoided.

Wayne White on NATO’s Arms to Syria Conundrum, Former top US intelligence mideast programs director Wayne White examines the arms to syria conundrum

Recent footage from Syria shows resistance fighters with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile launchers. But those seen were Russian-style SA-7’s possessed by the Syrian army and many other Middle East militaries, rather than advanced US models like the FIM-92 Stinger.

The question of whether to provide arms to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is fighting a desperate battle against the Assad regime, remains a difficult and conflicted decision for the US and most other NATO countries. For some, sending arms to the FSA to bring an earlier end to the regime and the continuing bloodshed and destruction is a “no-brainer”. Others maintain that giving the rebels more (and perhaps better) arms would only contribute further to the overall mayhem that might not end for quite a long time regardless.

For those wishing to respond to rebel pleas for arms, Islamist extremists — scattered among the scores of militias and local contingents comprising the FSA — are a central concern. As the civil war has dragged on, there has been rising evidence of these extremists fighting alongside rebel fighters, especially in the north where foreign correspondents have far more access. Many are Syrians, but a number of them have been coming in from neighboring countries to fight as scattered contingents within the FSA (or perhaps merely to find yet another venue for “jihad” against an unpopular secular regime).

And there is real reason for concern among governments sympathetic to the opposition about arms falling into the wrong hands. It is, after all, difficult to determine who would be the ultimate recipient of munitions assistance once it passes into Syria. In a fluid environment with scores of FSA factions, militant groups might also construct deceptive liaisons to convey false assurances of moderation once they catch wind of selective distribution. Finally, in cities like Aleppo, a number of armed factions appear to be fighting alongside each other and might feel compelled to share munitions for mutual support and protection against regime attacks. The injection of surface-to-air missiles into this conflict is especially risky because they could end up in the hands of terrorist groups and be used against commercial airliners.

That said, anger is increasing among anti-regime elements within Syria over the failure of the West to provide armed assistance. Had arms been supplied to Syrian rebels considerably sooner, the number of Syrians embittered over the lack of tangible support from the outside, the vast extent of destruction wrought mainly by the regime’s aircraft and heavy weapons, and the number of militants arriving from neighboring countries might have been more limited before the fall of the Assad regime (which this writer assumes is highly likely). The palpable rise in anger toward major Western powers for withholding arms could alone render more Syrians toward anti-Western Islamist appeals.

This, in a nutshell, is the US and Western dilemma. Standing by without providing vital arms while the bloodshed continues will probably mean less sympathy and increasing militancy among the rebels over time. After all, more of them (and members of their families) are being killed and maimed because they lack proper arms and sufficient ammunition.

On the other hand, if the rebels gain access to considerable more arms (meaning militants too in many cases), anti-Western anger would likely abate. But the conflict has already gone on long enough to produce a problematic post-Assad scenario featuring more robust militias competing for power, along with perhaps even more ugly sectarian score-settling against Alawite and Christian minorities that have been supporting the regime. In fact, the great amount of infrastructure, commercial establishments and all manner of housing already destroyed by regime firepower will likely be the source of a potentially profound economic crisis that would generate a heavy measure of frustration, anger and recrimination over some years even after the fall of the regime.

Consequently, in terms of the available options at this late stage in the struggle, those governments agonizing over the pros and cons of providing arms might well perceive the choice as a sort of “Catch-22.” In the context of the argument on the positive side of the policy ledger that providing arms could bring a swifter defeat of the regime, there is one more possible plus. So far, major Syrian Army units have not chosen to defect en masse, probably because (in addition to the obvious regime-loyalty notion) many realize facing off against the regime would be considerably more dangerous than combating relatively lightly armed rebel contingents. Should, however, rebel forces become considerably more militarily formidable, that shift might trigger such defections and a change on the ground that could be more significant than what the rebels have achieved so far. That said, even if plenty of additional arms were provided, the FSA is unlikely to receive tanks, other armored vehicles and heavy artillery that could match regime capabilities because most rebel fighters are not army defectors and would not be able to operate these more complex weapon-systems nearly as effectively as the Syrian military. So, not only has the US evidently provided little or no arms to the Syrian opposition, Washington may well remain (like many other potential Western suppliers) quite conflicted with respect to doing so.

– Wayne White is a Scholar with Washington’s Middle East Institute. He was formerly the Deputy Director of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research’s Office of Analysis for the Near East and South Asia (INR/NESA) and senior regional analyst.

Wladimir van Wilgenburg writes

Dear Joshua,

You might want to read this latest report about Syrian Kurdish dynamics for the Henry Jackson Society.

It also shows the FSA-PYD dynamics. There was btw allegedly a fight between Jabhat Al Nusra and PYD/PKK, after there was a protest against the FSA-presence in Ashrafiyeh. The ‘FSA group’ fired at the demonstration, killing 5. The YPG/PKK/PYD now claim 19 were killed in revenge

Best regards, Wladimir van Wilgenburg
Freelance analyst/writer based in the UK/Iraq/Netherlands[author]=523

Iraqi Sects Join Battle in Syria on Both Sides
NYTimes: October 27, 2012

BAGHDAD — Militant Sunnis from Iraq have been going to Syria to fight against President Bashar al-Assad for months. Now Iraqi Shiites are joining the battle in increasing numbers, but on the government’s side, transplanting Iraq’s explosive sectarian conflict to a civil war that is increasingly fueled by religious rivalry.

Some Iraqi Shiites are traveling to Tehran first, where the Iranian government, Syria’s chief regional ally, is flying them to Damascus, Syria’s capital. Others take tour buses from the Shiite holy city of Najaf, Iraq, on the pretext of making a pilgrimage to an important Shiite shrine in Damascus that for months has been protected by armed Iraqis. While the buses do carry pilgrims, Iraqi Shiite leaders say, they are also ferrying weapons, supplies and fighters to aid the Syrian government.

“Dozens of Iraqis are joining us, and our brigade is growing day by day,” Ahmad al-Hassani, a 25-year-old Iraqi fighter, said by telephone from Damascus. He said that he arrived there two months ago, taking a flight from Tehran….Abu Mohamed, an official in Babil Province with the Sadrist Trend, a political party aligned with the populist Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, said he recently received an invitation from the Sadrists’ leadership to a meeting in Najaf to discuss a pilgrimage to the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, a holy Shiite site in Damascus.

 “We knew that this is not the real purpose because the situation is not suitable for such a visit,” he said. “When we went to Najaf, they told us it’s a call for fighting in Syria against the Salafis,” ultraconservative Sunni Muslims.

A senior Sadrist official and former member of Parliament, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that convoys of buses from Najaf, ostensibly for pilgrims, were carrying weapons and fighters to Damascus….Abu Sajad, who moved to Damascus in 2008 and joined the fight after the rebellion began, said he and other Iraqi fighters were indeed fighting to protect the shrine. A former fighter in Mr. Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Iraq, he said he was given weapons and supplies by the Syrian government.

But as the fight evolved, and Iraqis began to be killed and kidnapped, it reminded him too much of the Iraq he left, and so he recently returned to his home in Basra.

“I can tell that things are going to be crazy in Syria,” he said. “It’s a sectarian war, and it’s even worse than the one we had here, which was between the militias and the political parties. In Syria, all of the people are involved. You can feel the hatred between the Sunnis and the Alawites. They will do anything to get rid of each other.”

Iraqi Shiites did not initially take sides in Syria. Many Shiites here despise Mr. Assad for his affiliation with the Baath Party, the party of Saddam Hussein, and the support he gave foreign Sunni fighters during the Iraq war.

But as the uprising became an armed rebellion that began to attract Sunni extremists, many Shiites came to see the war in existential terms. Devout Shiites in Iraq often describe the Syrian conflict as the beginning of the fulfillment of a Shiite prophecy that presages the end of time by predicting that an army, headed by a devil-like figure named Sufyani, will rise in Syria and then conquer Iraq’s Shiites.

It was the bombing of an important shrine in Samarra in 2006 that escalated Iraq’s sectarian civil war, and many Iraqis see the events in Syria as replicating their own recent bloody history, but with even greater potential consequences.

Hassan al-Rubaie, a Shiite cleric from Baquba, the capital of Diyala Province, said, “The destruction of the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab in Syria will mean the start of sectarian civil war in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.”

More than 30 killed in Baghdad bomb blasts
Gulf Times – 28 October, 2012

Bombings on Shia neighbourhoods in Baghdad and a blast on an Iranian pilgrim bus killed more than 30 people yesterday, marring Iraqi celebrations of the second day of Eid al-Adha.

Two car bombs exploded yesterday, one ripping into a restaurant in the Shia stronghold of Sadr City and killing at least 23 people, police and hospital sources said.

“I was just selling fruit and we were surprised by a huge explosion on the other side of the street,” Hassan Falih Shami, a grocery stall owner near the site of the blast. “You can see pools of blood, the shoes and pieces of clothing.”

Hours earlier, a roadside bomb planted near an open-air market killed seven people, including three children at a playground. Another blast killed six people when it hit a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims to a Baghdad shrine, police and hospital officials said.

Turkey Reassesses Its Ties To Syria’s Opposition
By: Youssef al-Sharif posted on Thursday, Oct 25, 2012
Publisher: Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) (Translated and republished by al-monitor
Original Title: Ankara Crisis with Syrian Opposition and Adha Truce

Summary: Two months ago, political and media quarters in Turkey seemed optimistic about a possible change in Washington’s position on the Syrian crisis after the United States presidential election. Turkey backed Syria’s opposition after conflict broke out between the government and rebels, writes Youssef al-Sharif. But it has been a tumultuous relationship, and with a cease-fire looming, Turkey could have a change of heart.

They expected that Washington would start working on settling the issue, either by mobilizing the Friends of Syria group and exhorting them to create a safe zone in northern Syria, or by arming the opposition and providing it with financial, military and intelligence support in order to bring down the regime.

However, this optimism faded away and was replaced by tension and the exchange of missiles across the border with Syria. This optimism was also affected by the positions of the Syrian opposition, which is splintered both politically and militarily.

The image that all Turkish quarters had envisioned was that if a greater amount of Syrian opponents joined the Syrian National Council (SNC), which was supposed to overhaul its structure to attract more members, and if the opposition’s armed military on the ground were unified, then the stage would be set for the post-US elections period, which would witness a crucial move on the part of Washington.

However, the Turkish efforts in this regard were a complete fiasco. In fact, Ankara found itself facing a new — and perhaps more difficult — test in light of the Eid al-Adha truce project launched by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

This project was perceived by many Turkish parties as a prelude to correct the track of the Turkish policy, after Turkey had lost hope in the Syrian opposition. Still, Turkey is clinging to the hope of overthrowing the regime of Bashar al-Assad, but it may have begun to reconsider its position and settle for a smaller piece of the new ruling pie in Syria.

In fact, the Istanbul visit by CIA Director David Petraeus in early September revived the old Turkish optimism.

According to sources within the Syrian opposition, Petraeus met with a number of Free Syrian Army (FSA) leaders and militant groups on the ground, including the FSA Unification Brigade, Abdulkadir Saleh, who made his first public appearance in Istanbul in conjunction with Petraeus’ visit.

Saleh announced that the opposition seized 70% of Aleppo and is working on unifying the ranks of the armed groups. He then announced the formation of the Free National Army, which is supposed to bring together all of the opposition’s armed militias. Afterwards, the free army’s military leaders were exhorted to move inside Syria to be able to closely watch and lead the operations on the ground, thus increasing talks about an important meeting held by the Free Syrian National Council in Doha.

For a while, it seemed that the main opposition parties responded to the Turkish move to unite their ranks in front of the American observer, but it was not long before this picture faded away, either due to Syrian tactics on the ground, which worked on dragging Turkey into the conflict by bombing its territory, or due to the Aleppo bombings, whose responsibility was claimed by al-Qaeda and which came as a fatal response to Turkey’s efforts to unify the military command of the opposition.

At first, articles were leaked to Western newspapers. They said the supply of arms to the FSA and armed groups has been stopped as a punishment for their failure to unite.

These articles were followed by accusations against specific Arab countries of financing jihadist and religious groups that didn’t fall under the auspices of the FSA in Syria. Then, there were official US and international statements that formally voiced their concern over the activity of “extremist” groups that are operating on the ground without allowing anyone to have any influence on their decisions or objectives.

It seemed that criticizing the performance of the opposition’s armed militias was tantamount, even if indirectly, to criticizing Ankara. Turkey bet on the scenario of a military settlement, despite the fact that it was the one refusing to provide the opposition with anti-tank weapons and other advanced anti-aircraft out of fear that these could fall into the hands of terrorist groups that might later use them against the interests of Turkey.

This is because Turkey is the most affected by the terrorists that are joining the confrontation, be they from al-Qaeda or from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Thus, Ankara faced difficulties in achieving its goal of directly overthrowing the Syrian regime militarily, and it seemed that its choice has cornered it and put it at the mercy of the actions of the Syrian political and armed opposition.

Meanwhile, it seemed like Damascus had more options to respond to this Turkish rationale. Consequently, it endeavored to drag Turkey into its war, and conveyed a message to its northern neighbor that it was making a mistake by thinking that the military option on the ground would be limited to within Syria’s borders.

Syria argued that al-Qaeda attacks, which increased in Aleppo, are in the interest of the Syrian regime at the political level, even if they harmed it at the military one.

Then, Turkey was shocked by the Syrian political opposition, which it had previously embraced, when the Syrian National Movement revealed documents that were reportedly leaked from the Syrian intelligence. According to these documents, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered the killing of two Turkish pilots after their reconnaissance aircraft was targeted near the Syrian coast and crashed into international waters. The pilots survived the incident.

Ankara believed that the disclosure of these documents was an attempt by the Syrian opposition to draw the Turkish army into a war against Syria or to embarrass the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) government in public. This irritated the Turkish government and pushed it to adopt a sarcastic position toward these documents and to question their authenticity.

This incident, as well as the repeated attempts by the Syrian National Council to restructure itself, probably prompted Ankara to lose confidence in the Syrian opposition or at least to reconsider its calculations regarding the future of Syria.

Based on that, some Turkish observers believe that Turkey will go back on its previous positions regarding a military settlement on the ground.

They also say that Turkey has begun to accept middle solutions that allow a transitional government to emerge that include representatives of the regime as well as Chinese and Iranian interests, which would be similar to the “blocking third” government in Lebanon.

Then, Ankara’s conflict would change from a conflict with the Assad regime into a conflict with Assad in person. This was reflected in the proposal by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to allow Farouk al-Shara to manage the transitional phase, knowing that Shara was never enthusiastic about the Syrian-Turkish rapprochement.

This rapprochement, which began in 2004 and was not part of any harmonization and cooperation plan, maintained skepticism about Ankara’s intentions regarding this rapprochement with Damascus.

At that time, some Turkish observers believed that marginalizing Shara by appointing him vice president was a reason behind his position regarding Turkey.

Ankara — which previously announced its support for the Geneva statement and its reservations about imposing this statement on the Syrian opposition, and reaffirmed the need that the Syrian people choose the most appropriate solution to their crisis — is currently testing the Syrian opposition through the truce proposal to halt fighting during the Eid al-Adha holiday.

It is true that Ankara seemed to support this proposal and to use it as the foundation for discussion with Tehran — in the meeting between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Azerbaijan — and that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutolgu formally called all parties in Syria to cease fire during the Eid holiday.

However, Turkey remains in an unenviable position, whatever the results of this call for a truce proposal. In fact, if the Syrian opposition complies with Brahimi’s proposal, the Syrian regime will increasingly accuse Turkey of controlling the armed opposition and logistically supporting it, even though this option may radically change the path of the conflict in Syria and turn it into a political dispute rather than a military one.

However, if the armed opposition rejects this proposal or is driven to fight back in response to the regime, Turkish efforts will be in vain and it will become clear to Turkish politicians that they cannot rely on the Syrian opposition.

Ankara is aware of these consequences, but it still preferred to support the truce proposal, knowing that the Syrian regime would not be committed to it and may seek to expand the conflict to the region.

This test and its outcomes will represent an important experience for Turkey, which is preparing to host Russian President Vladimir Putin in an official visit in early December. The visit is a true chance to harmonize their views regarding Syria, especially because it will follow the announcement of the winner in the US presidential elections.

This would make the Russian-Turkish dialogue more realistic, when the post-elections landscape becomes clear and Ankara determines its stance regarding the armed opposition on the ground.

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Comments (343)

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301. ann said:

Russia denies Syrian army on brink of collapse – 2012-11-01

MOSCOW, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) — Claims Syrian government forces had disintegrated were exaggerated, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Thursday.

Some experts had said Syrian government troops could not confront the rebels, but the current situation proved they were wrong, Serdyukov told reporters after returning from Paris, where he participated in the Russia-France Security Cooperation Council with Russian and French foreign ministers and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius.

The French side agreed with Russia there was no military solution to the crisis in Syria, he said.

“(Syrian president) Bashar al-Assad won’t step down voluntarily, as this is equal to suicide. He will fight till the end,” Serdyukov said.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned in Paris of continued violence in Syria if President Assad was ousted.


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November 1st, 2012, 10:40 am


302. Griffin said:


Do you have nay evidence, or heard any rumours that the US was involved in gun running from Libya to the Syrian rebels? Could the Russian SA-7’s which the rebels have been using recently come from Gadaffi’s looted stores of Russian weapons?

Retired Adm. James A. Lyons, former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations recently wrote an op-ed asking some rather pointed questions, and making some astonishing claims:

Obama needs to come clean on what happened in Benghazi

“We now know why Ambassador Christopher Stevens had to be in Benghazi the night of 9/11 to meet a Turkish representative, even though he feared for his safety. According to various reports, one of Stevens’ main missions in Libya was to facilitate the transfer of much of Gadhafi’s military equipment, including the deadly SA-7 – portable SAMs – to Islamists and other al Qaeda-affiliated groups fighting the Assad Regime in Syria. In an excellent article, Aaron Klein states that Stevens routinely used our Benghazi consulate (mission) to coordinate the Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Qatari governments’ support for insurgencies throughout the Middle East. Further, according to Egyptian security sources, Stevens played a “central role in recruiting Islamic jihadists to fight the Assad Regime in Syria.” ”

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November 1st, 2012, 11:03 am


303. ann said:

Iraqi FM receives credentials of new Syrian ambassador – 2012-11-01

BAGHDAD, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) — Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari received Thursday credentials of the newly-appointed Syrian ambassador who is replacing his defecting predecessor, a ministry statement said.

During a ceremony at the Iraqi ministry of foreign affairs, Zebari “received in the morning a copy of credentials of Sattam Jadaan al-Dandah, the new Syrian ambassador to Baghdad,” the statement said.

The two officials “discussed relations between the two brotherly countries and peoples, in addition to the developments of the Syrian crisis.


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November 1st, 2012, 11:17 am


304. Warren said:

Peres: Muslim Brotherhood must offer new doctrine

Israeli President Shimon Peres explains the problematic nature of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

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November 1st, 2012, 11:21 am


305. Warren said:

Clinton’s statements slammed as ‘astounding’ by SNC

Speaking to Al Jazeera’s Darren Jordon, Louay Safia, member of the Syrian National Council, called recent comments by Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, regarding the SNC “an astounding statement”.

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November 1st, 2012, 12:08 pm


306. Citizen said:

Syrian army strong enough to repel opposition attacks – Russia’s Defense Minister
The Syrian government army is strong enough to withstand the attacks of the armed opposition, Russia’s Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told reporters Thursday.
Though six months ago some analysts said that the Syrian government troops were not able of conducting military actions, time showed that these assumptions were wrong, he said.

Mass anti-governmental campaigns in Syria began last spring and very soon they grew into an open armed standoff between the government and the opposition.

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November 1st, 2012, 12:34 pm


307. ann said:

Commentary: Clinton’s call reveals failings of West’s tactics on Syria – 2012-11-01

BEIJING, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) — “We’ve made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a visit to Croatia on Wednesday, demanding a reshuffle of Syria’s opposition leadership.

The proposed major shakeup, sidelining the Istanbul-based opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) that the U.S. has previously fully supported, shows the West’s tactics on Syria are in disarray and it is now scrambling to find other proxies.

The U.S., which didn’t bother to seek truth on the ground and hastily bolstered the SNC, has just found the proxy disappointing and withdrawn its support. It’s like slapping its own face.

The U.S. currently is shifting its favor to other opposition forces. But the fresh attempt is likely to fail once again, as it hasn’t addressed the root cause of the chronic crisis and suggested a political solution to the impasse.

Past experience shows foreign intervention and the blunt call for Assad’s ouster hasn’t reined in the raging violence, but has precipitated the country into deeper chaos.

Washington apparently still hasn’t abandoned its old interventionist mindset, which will once again lead to a dead end.

The West shouldn’t support one side to wipe out the other side, because it will beget severe consequences.

Even Clinton isn’t sure about Syria’s future, supposing the rebels can defeat the Assad camp.

She said Wednesday it was no secret that many in Syria, especially minority groups, are fearful about the prospects of Assad’s government being replaced by the Sunni-led opposition.


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November 1st, 2012, 12:36 pm


309. Roland said:

Clinton’s latest policy line is more proof of the fickleness of empires. The USA was touting the SNC not long ago. Now that it seems that the SNC is useless, Clinton pulls the rug out from under them, and looks for a sharper tool to grasp.

What loyalty. What consistency. What honour. What a sick joke. What a Clinton!

The roadside of history is littered with the tools that empires cast aside.

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November 1st, 2012, 12:56 pm


310. jna said:

FSA terrorists

Zaid Benjamin‏@zaidbenjamin

#BREAKING: 27 Syrian army soldiers summarily executed by the Free Syrian Army in Hemsho checkpoint near Saraqib #Idlib

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November 1st, 2012, 1:08 pm


311. Citizen said:

Israel says it killed Arafat deputy al-Wazir in 1988
Israel has admitted it killed the deputy of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a 1988 raid in Tunis. Palestinian leaders have long accused Israel of assassinating Khalil al-Wazir, also known as Abu Jihad. Israel’s military censor cleared Yediot Ahronot daily to publish the information and an interview with the commando who killed the deputy, AP said. Abu Jihad founded the Palestinian Liberation Organization with Arafat. He was blamed for a series of attacks against Israelis.

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November 1st, 2012, 1:28 pm


312. Uzair8 said:

AJE syria blog about 2 hrs ago:

Syrian regime forces have destroyed one of the biggest bakeries in Aleppo’s Atareb town, killing at least 12 people.

“The regime is destroying everything in this country. It has destroyed schools, homes, residential areas, and now finally, the regime is destroying bakeries. This bakery is the main source of food for the abandoned poor people in this area. The regime destroyed four different bakeries last night, in Kafar Hamra, in Ramoon, in Qadi Askar, and here in Atareb,” a witness said.

“The Atareb oven distributes bread to over 40 towns. Nevertheless, no matter how much he [Assad] destroys, we will rebuild, we will rebuild by the will of God. We will rebuild despite all tyrants.”


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November 1st, 2012, 1:29 pm


313. Citizen said:

Clinton just admitted that this whole Syrian “revolution” is another US covert overthrow in which the US gets to pick the new puppet regime to take over Syria and run it the way the US wants it run.

Clinton explains State Department efforts to build new Syrian opposition council

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November 1st, 2012, 1:40 pm


314. Citizen said:

When George Bush said Iraq would be the model for the countries of the Middle East?
They destroyed much of Iraq and killed Saddam. Then they destroyed even more of Iraq.
That’s precisely what they plan to do to Syria.
The US government is on an horrific precipice, which is why is why is racing toward either a world war, or an economic collapse; and it is the very actions of the Federal government which has put the American People, and potentially, the entire world, into this terrible predicament.

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November 1st, 2012, 1:47 pm


315. Uzair8 said:

260. Mina

You asked about Clinton’s comments.

Here’s an AJE blog update:

Syria about 7 hours ago

Speaking to Al Jazeera’s Darren Jordon, Louay Safia, member of the Syrian National Council, called recent comments by Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, regarding the SNC “an astounding statement”.

Though Safia admits the largely foreign-based opposition group has under-performed in some areas, he said “the secretrary will have to take some credit for that”.

In response to Clinton’s fears of “extremist” groups taking hold in the Syrian opposition, Safia says such groups are everywhere, but “in Syria they are very marginal”.

Safia then went on to criticse US policy in Syria saying Washington is currently working on a deal with Moscow and that the Obama administration “would like to have quiet in Syria”, even if that means Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president, retains some level of power.

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November 1st, 2012, 1:56 pm


316. Uzair8 said:

Big Ideas Podcast.

Syria experts Prof Landis and Dr Robert Pastor discuss chances of Brahimi succeeding.

~ 13 min long.

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November 1st, 2012, 2:04 pm


317. ghufran said:

As Haarem (Idleb) continues to be shelled by rebels, two towns in Reef Halab, Nubbul and Al-Zahira, are under siege by armed rebels who prevent food and medicine to reach more than 70,000 residents.
Add this new tactic (sieges of towns that are labelled as pro regime) to the almost daily assassinations/kidnapping and car bombs and you will start to understand why it may not be a stretch to call most of those rebels by the only name that fits their actions: terrorists.

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November 1st, 2012, 2:11 pm


318. Warren said:

Pakistani couple kill daughter who talked to a boy

Pakistani couple killed their teenage daughter by pouring acid on her face and body after they caught her talking to a boy, police and a doctor said on Thursday.

The parents of the 16-year-old confessed to police in Kotli, a town in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, that they attacked their daughter after she had spoke to the boy outside their house, said Mohammad Jahangir, a local doctor at the hospital where she was brought.,0,3676885.story


Paki barbarism at work once more.

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November 1st, 2012, 2:19 pm


319. Warren said:

At least 22 killed in Riyadh fuel truck blast

At least 22 people were killed when a fuel truck crashed into a flyover in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Thursday, triggering an explosion that brought down an industrial building and torched nearby vehicles, officials and state media said.

Health ministry spokesman Saad al-Qahtani said 135 people were injured in the disaster. He told state television they were mostly men and included some foreigners.

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November 1st, 2012, 2:35 pm


320. Warren said:

Syria’s Crisis Is Killing Off Trade In Turkey’s Borderland Bazaars

Before the crisis in Syria, the rapprochement between Turkey and Syria changed the fate of Hatay. Every day, 30 to 40 busloads of Syrians and 200 shuttle taxis were bringing throngs of shoppers to Antakya.

With all this trade boom, Antakya was rejuvenated. But now there is not a single bus or a single shuttle.

On the eve of [the Muslim holiday of] Eid al-Adha — traditionally a lucrative shopping period — Antakya’s streets were empty.

Mehmet Acikgoz, who has owned a clothing shop for 48 years, says: “There can’t be more unemployment than this.”

He adds: “It’s not just the foreigners; even Turks are not shopping anymore. Everyone is worried when we see deployments of tanks around us. We used to have customers coming from Jordan and Lebanon. They also stopped coming. Our trade has dropped by around 70%. We have only one or two customers per day. There used to be shuttles to Aleppo every 15 minutes. The Syrians used to shop to amounts of 1,000-1,500 Turkish Lira [$557-$836]. Sometimes a single person would spend our weekly revenue.”

One shopkeeper said he has not renewed his stocks for the past three months because he can’t sell what he has. He said in the past there were around 20 to 30 buses a day coming from Syria.

“If 10 of the 40 people in one bus shopped with us, we were satisfied with our income. The shops used to be packed. Syrians found Turkey cheaper than their own country. We hope Syria and Turkey will improve their relations soon. Before the civil war, I used to renew my stocks weekly, yet I haven’t renewed my stocks for the past three months,” he says.

Mehmet Ural, a blanket seller says: “I used to sell around 500-600 blankets daily. This year I sold 500 blankets in a whole year. Everybody is terrified and worried whether there will be a war between Turkey and Syria. The Syrians who settled in our towns and villages don’t have any money so that they don’t contribute to economy at all. They shop only for food stuff.”

He also notes that this local stagnation due to the loss of trade between Turkey and Syria affects the whole of the Turkish economy: “We buy the goods from Istanbul. Since we don’t buy any goods from Istanbul anymore, the production there slowed down. Production centers like Istanbul and Bursa used to sell us products as much as they export to foreign countries. We were their indirect exports,” he says.

Up to 80% of freight in Turkey is carried by trucks. Hatay, with 7,600, is the province that has the highest number of [trucks] after Istanbul.

Since the closure of the border, freight operators are on the brink of bankruptcy. When the border was open, it was possible to deliver goods to several Middle East countries in eight to nine days; the time has now been extended to 30 days.

Transporters are hoping for large ferries to [transport goods] to Aqaba [in Jordan] and Haifa [in Israel]. With this it will be possible to reach Aqaba and Haifa from Iskenderun or Mersin within 18 hours.

Mehmet Oflazoglu, who owns a used truck company, says no one is interested in buying trucks.

“Every company wants to sell their trucks but there are no buyers. In the second-hand market, prices dropped around 15,000 to 20,000 Turkish Lira [$8,362 to $11,150],” he says.

Oflazoglu says those who purchased their trucks with bank credits suffer most.

“Those without debt are better off, those who work for Europe and Iraq are doing OK. However those who are just getting started, or those who purchased their trucks with bank credit, are having a difficult time. Even if you don’t use a truck, you have fixed costs of around $1,000 per month due to insurance costs or the salary of the driver,” he says.

We are strolling through the market place at what is supposed to be its busiest time. We see shopkeepers playing backgammon. We say, “It doesn’t seem like there’s much business.” Shopkeepers agree and make bitter jokes.

A shopkeeper who sells stoves says, “Our customers were not Syrians, but even for us business has slowed down.”

Boutique owner Ahmet Alic says, “The Syrians don’t come, yet due to these incidents our own people also aren’t shopping here either.

“I couldn’t sell a single item today. The situation here is terrible. Syrians rejuvenated the shopping in the market. We already lost them. But our own people are also having a difficult time and they are reluctant to spend money,” he adds.

Hikmet Cincin, head of the Commerce and Industry Chamber of Antakya, urged the government to apply tax exemptions in the region: “What we dream of is not the instability in Syria and Lebanon, but Arab-Israeli peace. We want to take our trucks from here and drive all the way to Tel Aviv. We want to trade, sell our products, and spend our holidays in the region. The European Union project was this kind of dream. I have never lost my hope that we will realize this dream in our region.”

Nuri Canson, a driver who was taking a nap in the bus station, says shuttles are canceled.

“There is a war out there. Who would want to visit Syria now? Who would endanger their life?” he asks.

Before the civil war, besides buses there were also taxis going to Aleppo and Latakia. Two hundred cabs used to take people to Syria for 50 Turkish Lira [$28] per person.

Taxi driver Cemal Hacibey tells us for months he didn’t use his car. Asked whether if had a customer now, how much would he charge, he replies, “I charge 25 Turkish Lira [$14]. But I would only drive until the Cilvegozu border crossing!”

Read more:


No wonder the Turks are securing their borders, preventing new waves of Syrian refugees and insurgents from crossing over.
The Turks are now regretting their belligerent attitude and aggressive stance towards Syria.

Looks like the Turks are cutting their losses: the SNC & FSA have been a bad investment.

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November 1st, 2012, 2:47 pm


321. ghufran said:

لقي بطل لبنان في رياضة الكيغ بوكسينغ مصرعه في مدينة حلب السورية خلال مشاركته في القتال ضد الجيش السوري .
راجح عباس طرطوسي لقي حتفه خلال مشاركته مسلحي جبهة النصرة التابعين لتنظيم القاعدة في قتالهم ضد الجيش السوري .
و طرطوسي هو بطل لبنان في رياضة الكينغ بوكسينغ و يقيم في ملبورن في استراليا ويعرف فيها باسم روجر عباس وقد غادرها مؤخراً، و التحق بصفوف المقاتلين الذين يحاربون لاسقاط النظام السوري الداعم للمقاومة ضد الطرطوسي تم تجنيده على يد الشيخ الأسترالي من أصل سوري مصطفى مجذوب الذي قتل هو الآخر في سورية خلال قيادته مجموعة سلفية مقاتلة في ريف محافظة اللاذقية
western governments are likely to allow Takfiri Jihadists to leave and join the fight but they will only allow them back in coffins.

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November 1st, 2012, 3:10 pm


322. Warren said:

Delusional & Bloodthirsty Saudi Jihadist in Syria Pledges to Cut Bashar’s Head Off

This video footage shows a primitive-looking “human” from Saudi Arabia fighting with the Saudi terrorists in Syria alongside the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA). While playing with his knife after slaughtering a sheep in the wilderness, he pledges to the audience that he will cut President Bashar al-Assad’s head off… LOL

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November 1st, 2012, 3:17 pm


323. ann said:

Fighting between Arab and Kurds raises spectre of escalating conflict in northern Syria – 01 November 2012

The leader of a Kurdish faction embroiled in clashes with the Syrian rebels has vowed to repel further aggravation, as fighting between Arab and Kurds raises the spectre of a new front in an increasingly multifaceted conflict.

Kurdish representatives today remained locked in negotiations with elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) after clashes in northern Syria which killed dozens and sparked mass kidnappings. Around 50 Kurdish hostages are still being held by a rebel brigade, according to several Kurdish politicians.

“We will defend ourselves, we will defend our people” said Saleh Muslim Mohammed, the head of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which is fighting a separatist guerrilla war in Turkey. “There are parts of the Free Syrian Army who seem to be working for Turkey and have a strategy to hurt the Kurds.”

The clashes heighten concern that the fight will increasingly become a proxy war gouged along ethnic and sectarian lines, in what some have described as the “Lebanonisation” of Syria – a reference to its smaller neighbour’s bloody 15-year civil war.

Turkey has expressed concern that the PYD has seized control over Syria’s Kurdish areas, raising the risk of Ankara stepping up involvement if Kurds – who so far have largely stood back from the conflict – becoming increasingly embroiled.

The fighting first erupted a week ago when FSA members entered Aleppo’s Kurdish area of Ashrafiya. Details are disputed but the following day thousands of residents took to the streets calling for them to leave. A video from the demonstration shows the crowd chanting as they march down a hill, before gunfire breaks out.

Mr Mohammed claims that ten civilians were killed by FSA gunmen. “There was no other way, so our forces attacked them and killed nineteen of them,” he said.

Though he denies the PYD has an armed wing, Mr Mohammed regularly refers to the militants in the Popular Protection Units – a fighting force which he says numbers over 1,000 soldiers – as “our men” and other Kurdish factions maintain they are affiliated.

The fighting was followed by reprisal kidnappings of Kurds on the road between Aleppo and the Kurdish town of Afrin, with as many as 300 taken captive, most of whom have now been released.

Mr Mohammed says the PYD enjoys cordial relations with some elements of the FSA, blaming the kidnappings on the Northern Storm Brigade, led by the controversial Ammar al-Dadikhi. The PYD also pointed the finger at the group for an attack on the Kurdish village of Kastal Jendo, where fighting continued into this week.

Senior FSA figures have expressed regret the clashes took place, but with the leadership unable to assert control over the fragmented armed groups, events have the potential to spiral.


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November 1st, 2012, 3:29 pm


324. Uzair8 said:

This will make your blood boil. The FSA should show no mercy to these Republican Guard beasts.

FSA. True heroes who answered the calls of the helpless and distressed.


Man reports Republican Guards raped woman, killed men, in Douma apartment building | Women Under Siege


“This is a story of a 28-year-old single woman. She was a virgin, like all the single women in our society. It took place in Douma (a suburb of Damascus), where the Republican Guards broke into the three-floor building where she used to reside, entered all the apartments, and took out all the residents.

“They killed the men, eight total, and kept the women. One officer chose this young woman, dragged her by her hair, tearing her headscarf. When her mother tried to help and protect her, [the officers’] guards hit the mother on the head with their rifles and she fell on the ground bleeding. They took the young woman into a room and raped her. All the women outside heard her screams. They started crying and shouting, asking for mercy for the woman and for themselves, but it was in vain.

“When the victim came out of the room, there was blood everywhere. She had been brutally raped multiple times. They took the bodies of the murdered men and threw them in front of the entrance to the building and left.

“The young woman was in a heartbreaking condition. She was hysterical. Her mom lost her mind when she saw the horrible state of her daughter.”


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November 1st, 2012, 3:40 pm


325. ann said:

Clinton’s Freedom Fighters

“Rebels” kill 28 soldiers, several executed – Fri Nov 2, 2012

Anti-government “rebels” killed 28 soldiers on Thursday in attacks on three army checkpoints around Saraqeb, a town on Syria’s main north-south highway, a monitoring group said.

Some of the dead were shot after they had surrendered, according to video footage. Rebels berated them, calling them “Assad’s Dogs”, before firing round after round into their bodies as they lay on the ground.


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November 1st, 2012, 3:44 pm


326. ann said:

Clinton’s Opposition Leaders

The video footage showed a group of petrified men, some bleeding, lying on the ground as rebels walked around, kicking and stamping on their captives.

One of the captured men says: “I swear I didn’t shoot anyone” to which a rebel responds: “Shut up you animal … Gather them for me.” Then the men are shot dead.

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November 1st, 2012, 4:03 pm


327. ann said:

Car explodes outside military barracks in Turkey’s Iskenderun port – 4 mins ago

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A car exploded outside a military barracks in the Turkish port town of Iskenderun on Thursday, injuring four people, in what a local news agency said was a bomb attack.

The Dogan news agency said the car, which was packed with explosives, blew up 150 metres from the entrance to the barracks shortly before a military vehicle had been due to pass and that the blast injured at least three passengers in a civilian car.

“There was an explosion and we can confirm four people are slightly injured. The cause is still under investigation,” Ragip Kilic, police chief in Hatay province, told Reuters.

Iskenderun lies on the Mediterranean coast in Hatay, which also borders Syria. The Turkish military has dispatched troops and equipment from the town to help secure the border in recent months as the conflict in Syria deepens.


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November 1st, 2012, 4:14 pm


328. SANDRO LOEWE said:


You seem very happy about the news you are sending…. massacres, prisoners executed, explosions in Turkey, etc.

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November 1st, 2012, 4:21 pm


329. SANDRO LOEWE said:


You seem very happy about the news you are sending…. massacres, prisoners executed, explosions in Turkey, etc.

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November 1st, 2012, 4:22 pm


330. ann said:

“rebels” kill 28 soldiers, video shows executions – November 02, 2012

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November 1st, 2012, 4:24 pm


331. SANDRO LOEWE said:

New SNC to be formed in Qatar. Riad Seif to be one of the leading personalities. Sometimes I talked in this SC forum about Riad Seif. I know him personally and I trust him too much. I know his personal views in life as well as in politics. He is a powerfull personality for future Syria. He has nothing to lose and too much to offer to Syria and syrians.

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November 1st, 2012, 4:24 pm


332. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Like many members of the SNC who have not been back in Syria since 20,30 or 40 years so are most of the pro-Assad posters in this forum, people who probably never were in Syria or never visited Syria even once.

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November 1st, 2012, 4:39 pm


333. Syrialover said:

ALBO #283 said to me:

“since you appear to believe cold strategic calculations aren’t the overwhelming force behind foreign policy.”

Correct. My observation is that it’s LACK OF cold strategic calculations that leads to war and messes. There is a lot of emotional reactive short-term stuff driving nations in their foreign policy, whether it’s the popular pulse of a democracy or the neurotic paranoia and idiocy of a dictatorship.

You ask why Syria is different [with regard to instant and very active Russian involvement]. Putin’s pants immediately became very wet over Syria because it IS different from the other countries you mention in range of significant ways.

Different in the Assad regime’s long special relationship with old-style Russia (a thread through the 70’s cold war era and into post-communism). And in Syria’s geopolitical position (to do with links to Iran, Russian pipelines, the “Stans” etc).

It’s also special in its chronological position (post-Afghanistan, a huge blow to Russian pride; post-Libya, where a vicious dictatorship attacking its people drew foreign attention and call for intervention – and yes, for Iraq too; post Russia’s own ferocious violence against civilians and infrastructure in Chechnya and military aggression against Georgia; post Russia’s failed lonely diplomatic support for genocidal Serbia).

And significantly, Syria was different in the extreme reaction of its dictator to any perceived internal threat and “disrespect”. Assad’s actions and defiance showed a man after Putin’s own heart, unlike the quitters in Tunisia and Egypt when faced with mass opposition and defiance (Putin’s own pants-wetting paranoid nightmare for Russia).

Yes, the internal threat to the Syrian regime and the world’s condemnation of Assad and is an attack on Putin’s psyche and distorted understanding of the world, according to countless analysts and close observers. He’s puffed out his little chest, grabbed his second-rate weaponry and pranced in to help Assad personally. But the wet patch on his backside is visible.

Pussy Riot back home chanting “Putin wet his pants” has got him nicely pinned (not just in their songs and stunts; I refer you to their impressively thoughtful, politically sophisticated and courageous court statements).

And let’s not even start on the Iranian “leadership’s” reason for jumping in deep to help Assad.

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November 1st, 2012, 4:51 pm


334. Citizen said:

Seems that Landis is right about Iraq!

For at least a year Iraq has been suffering increasing spillover from the deepening conflict in Syria. Violence against Shias from radical Sunni jihadis, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, is growing. On some days the death toll from bombings and shootings in Iraq rivals the tally in Syria.

The spillover can go both ways. Yesterday, bombers, presumably Sunni fundamentalists, struck Sayyida Zeinab, a major Shia shrine outside Damascus, killing seven and demonstrating that anti-Shia violence could become a major sectarian feature of Syrian civil warfare as it is in the continuing conflict in Iraq.

Spillover into Iraq is far greater and more threatening to Iraq’s stability than that of Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey.

Lebanon is governed by competing confessional coalitions (in which the highest offices are apportioned to representatives of certain religious communities) that observe “red lines” in order to avoid plunging the country into another civil war.

Jordan is a largely Sunni country, where the Hashemite monarchy is seen as a unifying institution by all sectors of the population except tiny radical Muslim fundamentalist fringe factions.

Due to its massive size, non-Arab ethnicity and strong army, Turkey should be able to deal with any threats posed by unrest across its 900km-long southern border or from the Turkish Kurdish Workers party (PKK), reinvigorated by the Syrian rebellion.

All three countries provide essential services to citizens and ensure a certain degree of stability.

Iraq has none of the advantages enjoyed by Syria’s other neighbours. Public services and utilities are still lacking nine years after the 2003 war. Iraqis live in fear of bombs and kidnappers and express loathing of the government.

While Iraq’s Sunnis largely back Syria’s rebels, the Shia prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, fearing the establishment of a Sunni fundamentalist regime on Iraq’s western flank, supports the secular Syrian regime.

Iraq’s armed forces and civil administration, dismantled after the US occupation, have not been restored. The military, where most soldiers were always from the majority Shia community, has been transformed into a sectarian Shia force by Maliki.

Sunni fighters who helped the US defeat al-Qaeda and its offshoots have been denied recruitment into the armed forces, creating a wellspring of resentment in Sunni provinces that border on Syria. Youngsters are encouraged to join radical Sunni groups. Some have gone to Syria to fight against the Assad regime while others are mounting deadly attacks on Shias and Iraqi regime targets.

Weapons and foreign jihadis are flowing into Iraq from Syria or crossing back and forth across the border to operate on both sides.

Shia fighters loyal to radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have migrated to Syria to fight for the government.

Therefore, the struggle for Syria could pit Iraqi Sunnis against Iraqi Shias, precipitating Sunni-Shia violence inside Iraq.

Syria’s mainly Sunni rebellion feeds Iraqi Sunni alienation and discontent.

Instead of adopting the inclusive line advocated by the US, Maliki has consolidated his grip on power by excluding from decision-making Sunnis and secularists who won the largest number of seats in the 2010 parliamentary election. Many Iraqis regard Maliki as a dictator and fear he could try to maintain his hold after the 2014 legislative election.

The death sentence for commanding death squads imposed in absentia on fugitive Sunni vice-president Tariq al-Hashemi has sharpened tensions between Sunnis and the Maliki regime.

Relations between Arabs and Kurds are increasingly strained due to the assertive independence of the autonomous Kurdish regional authority, which portrays itself as the only stable regime in the combined territory of Iraq and Syria. Furthermore, the Iraqi Kurdish leadership is promoting separatism among Syria’s Kurds, who are aligned with Turkey’s secessionist PKK.

Iraq’s western provinces could be drawn into the conflict in Syria. Sunni dissidents, inspired by the civil war next door, could increase deadly attacks on Shias, risking conflict with armed Shia irregulars or the largely Shia armed forces, which have, so far, exercised a certain restraint.

If fresh sectarian conflict erupts in Iraq, Maliki’s ally, Iran, is likely to become directly and deeply involved to a far greater extent than it is in the Syrian civil war. Such involvement could exacerbate regional polarisation between Shias, championed by Iran, and Sunnis, led by Saudi Arabia. Since Iran is Washington’s nemesis and Saudi Arabia is a key US ally, such polarisation can only destabilise an already wildly unstable region.

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November 1st, 2012, 5:02 pm


335. Syrialover said:

SANDRO LOEWE you said in # 310:

“ANN, You seem very happy about the news you are sending…. massacres, prisoners executed, explosions in Turkey, etc.”

Comment: “ANN” and WARREN are the cheapest, nastiest, factory rejects of propagandists available.

They are only capable of parrotting the crude thinking of the Assadist regime and frantically cut-pasting to take up space. They have no ability or skills to influence others or spin things.

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November 1st, 2012, 5:20 pm


336. Citizen said:

Car explodes outside barracks in southern Turkey
A car exploded in front of a gas station outside a military barracks in Turkey’s southern port of Iskenderun on Thursday, injuring four people, the Hurriyet daily reported. The blast occurred 150 meters from the Ahmet Tor military post. The victims were taken to a local hospital for treatment. The bomb went off shortly before a military vehicle had been due to pass, according to Dogan news agency. The port of Iskenderun is located in Hatay province, not far from the Syrian border, where Kurdish militants have often carried out attacks.

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November 1st, 2012, 5:32 pm


337. Citizen said:

Hezbollah reportedly installs surveillance camera network along Israeli border

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November 1st, 2012, 5:39 pm


338. Syrialover said:


Good to see you endorse the view that Iran’s “leadership” is the source of the most malicious virus in the region. A virus that’s being provided with channels to thrive and spread by Assad and Maliki.

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November 1st, 2012, 5:51 pm


339. Citizen said:

American zionist Christians are paying close attention to the Syria crisis. They want to see this prophecy come

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November 1st, 2012, 6:11 pm


340. Citizen said:

have you successfully fought the Israeli epidemic?

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November 1st, 2012, 6:21 pm


341. Albo said:

“There is a lot of emotional reactive short-term stuff driving nations in their foreign policy, whether it’s the popular pulse of a democracy or the neurotic paranoia and idiocy of a dictatorship.”

I absolutely cannot agree with this premise. This isn’t the most appropriate place, but I could explain at length why. Modern states don’t act on a whim, they have complex apparatuses and highly specialized personel to deal with international relations. Even experts who aren’t noted for Russian sympathies, admit that Russian foreign policy is one of the most sophisticated in the world.

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November 1st, 2012, 6:52 pm


342. Citizen said:

Was Ambassador Stevens Funneling Weapons to Terrorists in Syria?

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November 1st, 2012, 7:54 pm


343. Syrialover said:

New thread started

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November 1st, 2012, 7:59 pm


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