Syria’s Next Leader: Will He Come from the SNC or the Militias?

The Assads did an exemplary job of ensuring that a new generation of leaders was unable to emerge in Syria. It will take years to develop leaders who have national reputations and deep institutional roots in Syrian society. In all likelihood, they will have to fight their way to the top in the nasty Darwinian process now unfolding in Syria. Just as Assad emerged out of the dark inner-sanctums of military cliques and conspiratorial confabs, Syria’s new leader will probably emerge from one of the  militias now taking the fight to the Syrian army on the streets of Homs, Idlib, or another provincial city of Syria. These militias are not united today, but they will become so over time – at least that is the hope. To defeat the Syrian army and Assad regime, they will have to produce a united leadership – one that can coordinate nation-wide military efforts through a centralized command structure. It is logical to assume that Syria’s new leaders will ultimately emerge from the new military leadership which will be responsible for destroying the Assad-built military. Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud, Reza Pahlavi, and Ataturk are three of the greatest leaders the Middle East has produced. Each commanded a local militia, which he eventually turned into a national army. Will such be the case in tomorrow’s Syria?

Can the Syrian National Council ride the revolutionary tiger to the finish line, establishing itself as Syria’s future government? Will its well-heeled civilian leaders be able to take control of the military effort now being waged in the cities and towns of Syria? Will they be able to deliver the quantities of money and arms that will help cement their relationship and leadership among the fighters on the ground? Only time will tell. I have published a new poll in the upper left corner of Syria Comment asking this question. Weigh in.

This question is all  important today. Western statesmen and Middle Eastern leaders alike are trying to decide whether to supply arms and money to the opposition. This forces them to choose winners. Should they give their aid to the SNC and let this fractious body decide how to distribute it? (It is worth noting that the SNC executive committee just voted Burhan Ghalioun to a further two month leadership term.) Should they turn to Colonel Asaad, the putative leader of the Free Syrian Army, who only a week ago called the SNC leaders “‘traitors?” Should they try to deliver aid directly to the militia leaders within Syria, who seemingly do not take orders from either the SNC or the FSA? Will Saudi Arabia and the US agree on which leaders to back? Or will their differences over secularism versus Islamism prove too hard to overcome?

These are some of the questions that are now bedeviling world leaders in their continuing effort to bring down the Assad regime.

News Round Up follows

Q&A: Nir Rosen on Syria’s armed opposition
Nir Rosen, al-Jazeera, 13 Feb 2012- This is an invaluable article. Read it all.

Journalist who recently spent time with fighters says there is no central leadership to the armed resistance.

This is an invaluable article. Read it all.

The fighters usually belong to small cadres, such as “Abu Muhamad’s Group”, where Abu Muhamad may have access to some money with which he supports his band of fighters. Some groups give their “companies” or “brigades” names – often after “martyrs” or those with “heroic” religious connotations. This creates the false impression in much of the foreign media that there is some national leader, a chain of command, a structure or order of battle and divisions.

The fighters arm themselves and fund themselves as individuals or small groups, not as the “Free Syrian Army”. Nor are they funded directly by any state actor or intelligence agency. Indirectly, however, some Syrian exile religious movements or opposition political figures might be channelling funding from various countries to groups inside Syria…..

….The issue of defectors is a distraction. Armed resistance began long before defections started. While fighters are often portrayed in the media as defectors from the Syrian military, the majority are civilians who have taken up arms. The opposition believes it will have more legitimacy if fighters are dubbed “defectors”, and described collectively as the Free Syrian Army. They are also not armed gangs, as the regime and its supporters describe them. They are much more akin to a popular armed struggle or an insurgency. In fact, many Syrian revolutionaries use the term muqawama, [“resistance”] to describe themselves…..

The Syrian insurgency is not well-armed or well-funded. Fighters purchase their weapons locally on the black market, from arms dealers and smugglers who are profiting from the violence in Syria. I have been with insurgents purchasing weapons and seen how they arrange to do so via smugglers from Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey….

Sunni members of the army are coming under increasing suspicion by the security agencies, and there have been cases of security men killing soldiers for refusing to obey orders to shoot. Hundreds of soldiers and officers have also been arrested. …

On the ground it was clear that by the end of Ramadan (late August), that there was a growing consensus on the part of opposition supporters that only an armed struggle could overthrow the regime…

The regime and its supporters describe the opposition, especially the armed opposition, as Salafis, Jihadists, Muslim Brotherhood supporters, al-Qaeda and terrorists. This is not true, but it’s worth noting that all the fighters I met – in the provinces of Homs, Idlib, Hama, Deraa and the Damascus suburbs – were Sunni Muslims, and most were pious.

They fight for a multitude of reasons: for their friends, for their neighbourhoods, for their villages, for their province, for revenge, for self-defence, for dignity, for their brethren in other parts of the country who are also fighting. They do not read religious literature or listen to sermons. Their views on Islam are consistent with the general attitudes of Syrian Sunni society, which is conservative and religious.

While the resistance is becoming increasingly well-armed, some groups complain they don’t have enough weapons

Because there are many small groups in the armed opposition it is difficult to describe their ideology in general terms. The Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood ideologies are not important in Syria and do not play a significant role in the revolution. But most Syrian Sunnis taking part in the uprising are themselves devout. Many fighters were not religious before the uprising, but now pray and are inspired by Islam, which gives them a creed and a discourse. Many believe they will be martyred and go to paradise if they die. They are not fighting for Islam but they are inspired by it. Some drink alcohol, which is forbidden in Islam, and do not pray. And their brothers in arms do not force them to pray….

Much of northern Syria in ‘open revolt’ CNN

….”What is astounding here is that the countryside in northern Syria, much of it is in open revolt. This is a rebellion of farmers, of carpenters and of high school teachers,” said CNN correspondent Ivan Watson, reporting from the region.

“It does appear that villages and towns in northern Syria have been, basically, out of government control for several months now — except when government forces have tried to conduct deadly incursions into these towns that are temporary at best.”

In southwestern Syria, al-Assad’s forces reportedly stormed the village of Sahm al-Golan searching for military defectors who have joined the rebel army or local militias, according to a member of the opposition in the town who asked to be identified only as Abu Issam out of fear of government reprisal. Syrian forces shelled the town and used tanks when it began its assault Wednesday, forcing many residents to flee toward the Jordanian border, Abu Issam said early Thursday.

The Syrian army reportedly took control of Zabadani, in the Damascus countryside, where soldiers and tanks made a show of force along the streets, according to Mohamed Ali, a member of the opposition Syrian Revolution Coordination Committee…..

Juan Cole writes:

Meanwhile, Turkey and some Gulf Arab states are considering recognizing the Syrian National Council as the legitimate government of Syria. They had been cautious about taking this step in part because the SNC is a deeply divided, ad hoc body. But many feel that, given the Russian and Chinese vetos of a strong UN Security Council resolution, this step is the only unilateral one available to individual nations.

The speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Usamah Nujayfi of Mosul, warned a visiting delegation from the Organization of the Islamic Conference that foreign military intervention in Syria could easily split up the country. When a major Iraqi politician warns you about a civil war, I’d say it you should do yourself a favor and pay attention to him.

SNC Re-Elects Burhan Ghalioun as President
Press Release by the SNC

The Executive Committee of the Syrian National Council (SNC) met in Doha and discussed the latest developments, achievements, obstacles, and challenges facing the SNC. In accordance with its bylaws, the SNC Executive Committee re-elected Burhan Ghalioun as president until April 15, 2012.

The voting process of the SNC Executive Committee demonstrate a commitment to maintaining democratic principles and transparency, and to fulfilling its responsibilities to the very people who have put their trust in the SNC to lead the phase up to the brutal Assad regime’s ouster. This democratic process sends a clear message to the Syrian people that the SNC is honoring his most fundamental commitment.

… The SNC’s president will have a dedicated professional team to facilitate communications between the SNC’s Committees, Bureaus, activists on the ground, relief workers, and support for the Free Syrian Army.

Assassinat d’un “cheikh du pouvoir” à Damas
16 Février 2012 Par Thomas Pierret

Si rares sont les oulémas de Damas qui ont osé critiquer ouvertement la répression menée par le régime baasiste depuis mars 2011 (1), rares sont également ceux qui ont accepté de se prêter au jeu de la propagande officielle en dénonçant le soulèvement comme le fruit d’un complot étranger. Ces “oulémas du pouvoir” sont désormais encore moins nombreux après l’assassinat hier à Damas du cheikh Ahmad Sadiq, prêcheur de la mosquée Anas bin Malik. Sadiq est la seconde personnalité religieuse proche du régime à être assassinée depuis le début de la révolution, le Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun ayant déjà perdu son fils Sariya dans des circonstances similaires en octobre dernier. ….

“Syria Blocks Text Messages of Protesters With Dublin-Made Technology”

The Syrian Conundrum
Expert Comment, Claire Spencer, Head, Middle East and North Africa Programme

As violence in Syria escalates following the failure of UN diplomacy, Dr Claire Spencer explores the dynamics of current international efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis.”The failure of UN diplomacy and the upsurge in violence in the Syrian city of Homs show just how different the dynamics of current international efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis are from the Libyan context of early 2011,” Dr Spencer writes.

The mass atrocities being committed daily in Syria will not cease without outside intervention. In comparison to the uprisings that have taken place elsewhere throughout the region, the revolution in Syria has been extraordinarily bloody. Meanwhile, a country that occupies a strategic crossroads in the Middle East could release an explosion that reverberates well beyond its borders. Assad’s brutal assault on civilians in Homs and elsewhere has galvanized those dedicated to ousting the regime, inflaming the conflict toward a critical juncture. The revolutions that brought a collective voice to the people of Tunisia and Libya must not be denied to the Syrian people. The international community must intervene in Syria not only to stop the bloodshed, but also because Assad’s continued rule could sway regional dynamics in a disastrous direction….

An old truism used to dominate U.S. policy in the Middle East: either serve U.S. interests by supporting corrupt leaders amenable to U.S. whims, or stay true to the ideals of supporting freedom and democracy for all peoples. The Arab Spring has made this binary irrelevant, and nowhere is this newfound compatibility of ideals and interests more evident than in Syria….

now is the time for the U.S. to help form a coalition of “friends of Syria,” whose support could come from members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, some Arab countries, Turkey, the European Union, the United Nation, and the United States. Such a coalition could lead the way to achieving the following goals: First, this international coalition must call on Assad to step down, while organizing the provision of humanitarian aid to besieged areas. As was done in Kosovo, safe zones liberated by the Free Syrian Army should be designated with proper enforcement. An additional option is to refer Assad to the International Criminal Court. Lastly, this coalition should recognize the Syrian National Council (SNC) as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. With a leadership that includes members of every ethnic and religious group in Syria, the SNC has emphasized transitional justice in a post-Assad Syria, ensuring that Alawites need not fear retribution….

Syrian Refugees Get Help Across the Border
Der Spiegel

Thousands of Syrians are fleeing across the border into Turkey from the intensifying violence in their own country. There, they fill refugee camps and hospitals while worrying about those left behind — and wondering if leaders in Ankara will take their support to the next level.

China Sending Envoy to Syria as It Steps up Diplomatic Effort
By: Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina | Reuters

China does not approve of armed intervention or regime change in Syria, a senior official said on Thursday before embarking on a trip to Syria as China’s first envoy there since it blocked a U.N. resolution calling for Syria’s president to step down….

Zhai, who will travel to Syria on Friday and Saturday, said China believed that “sanctions or the threat of sanctions are not conducive to the appropriate resolution of this issue”.

The Foreign Ministry did not give details of Zhai’s agenda or who he would meet. Last week, Zhai met a Syrian opposition delegation in Beijing.

The trip, a step up in China’s efforts to mediate the crisis, comes days after it warned that Western powers should tread carefully at the United Nations in dealing with Syria, or risk worsening violence…

The People’s Daily said the United States wanted to establish a friendly government in Syria to counter the influence of its “old enemy” in the region, Iran.

“Once Syria sets up a pro-Western regime, Iran will loose important backing,” it said.

Syrians Feel Caught in an External Power Struggle, Less Willing to Confront Their Own
By: Anonymous Contributor | The Christian Science Monitor

….Almost a year into the national rebellion, one that has turned increasingly bloody in most major Syrian communities, activism in Aleppo remains in a nascent stage. Government opponents have yet to win over much of the population, which includes an affluent business community that greatly values the stability that, in the last few years, had been a hallmark of Assad’s rule.

A pair of deadly car bombings here last week, which the government blamed on terrorists, unnerved many and reinforced Assad’s unvarying message: The opposition will plunge Syria into chaos, bloodshed and Iraq-style sectarian slaughter. ….

Syrian opposition struggles to gain traction in Aleppo

Foes of President Bashar Assad have yet to win over much of the population, which includes an affluent business community that puts a high value on stability…Almost a year into the national rebellion, one that has turned increasingly bloody in most major Syrian communities, activism in Aleppo remains in a nascent stage. Government opponents have yet to win over much of the population, which includes an affluent business community that greatly values the stability that, in the last few years, had been a hallmark of Assad’s rule.

A pair of deadly car bombings here last week, which the government blamed on terrorists, unnerved many and reinforced Assad’s unvarying message: The opposition will plunge Syria into chaos, bloodshed and Iraq-style sectarian slaughter.

Tribes and the monarchy in Jordan  – Hassan A. Barari – Bitterlemons
Tribal politics is on the rise and the regime has lost the initiative.

… Due to the lack of credible political parties that can mobilize the public, protest movements are organized in Jordan along tribal lines, thereby further deepening tribalism as a feature of political behavior in the country. Now that tribes are alienated from the state, they feel more secure in displaying their tribal identity and affiliation. Paradoxically, identification with tribes is a weapon that has recently been deployed by all, and pays off. Even people accused of corruption have been resorting to their tribes for protection from the law. By and large, tribes protect individuals and the state backs down.

If anything, this outcome is the direct consequence of the state’s failure to reinforce national identity. The rise of tribalism in Jordan recently has been triggered by the weakness of the state. Unfortunately, successive governments have been incapable of imposing the rule of law because many people no longer trust state institutions. In all surveys that have been conducted by the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, the trust gap between the state and society is widening alarmingly. This is a dangerous trend, particularly against the backdrop of the “Arab spring” that has brought down four regimes so far.

Comments (100)

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

51. Ghufran said:

This is the true face of Syrian regime:
بيروت (لبنان) – ا ف ب: اعتقلت قوات الامن السورية ظهر الخميس مجموعة كبيرة من الصحافيين السوريين خلال تواجدهم في مقر المركز السوري للاعلام وحرية التعبير في دمشق وكان بينهم مازن درويش مؤسس المركز ويارا بدر مديرة المركز، اضافة الى كل من رزان غزاوي، حسين غرير، هاني زيتاني، ثناء زيتاني، ريتا ديوب، جوان فرسو، هنادي زحلوط، بسام الاحمد، ميادة خليل ومها السبلاتي، وعبد الرحمن حمادة حسب ما ذكر ناشط حقوقي.
This is the link:

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February 16th, 2012, 7:43 pm


52. Majed97 said:

Today’s AL-sponsored UN assembly MOTION should bring to an end the AL’s political role in the Syrian affair. Their final ploy, “the friends of Syrian people”, will have little traction, if any; thanks to the Russian/Chinese/Iranian firm stand; and the fragmentation and disarrayed Syrian oppositions.

The western media’s unwillingness to tell the real story about what’s going on in Syria is a well coordinated plan to bring down the last line of defense against Israel. Does anyone on this board seriously believes the U.S-controlled UN, or the freedom- loving GCC countires who control the AL care the least about democracy and freedom for Syrian or anyone else?

check out this report from one respected reporter on the ground in Syria.

Lies and truths about Syria

by Thierry Meyssan

For eight months, Western leaders and some public media have been agitating for a war in Syria. The extremely serious accusations leveled against Assad intimidate those who question the justification for a new military intervention. But not everyone, because – on the initiative of Voltaire Network – some came to Syria to investigate for themselves and were able to measure the extent of NATO’s propaganda. Thierry Meyssan reports on the state of the media war.

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February 16th, 2012, 7:44 pm


53. Mawal95 said:

Joshua at #2 says regarding the workers and peasants clause in the Constitution: “How did this emerge as the new baseline for who gets to represent Syria? Any history you can add will be appreciated.” Joshua is acquainted with Patrick Seale’s 1988 history book “Asad of Syria”. That book says: “In elections to Local Councils in each of Syria’s fourteen governorates on 3 March 1972, by statute, 51 percent of the council members had to be peasants or workers, and the balance merchants, members of the professions or intellectuals. At the March elections independents won a majority in both Damascus and Homs.” Page 176 at

It was subsequently incorporated into the Constitution that was ratified in 1973 in the form “at least half have to be peasants or workers”. Was it new on 3 March 1972? I’d say the nutty professor can answer that himself.

[NOTE — deleted language is unacceptable at Syria Comment]

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February 16th, 2012, 7:45 pm


54. Tara said:


Symbolic or not, it reflects the world’s opinion. Bashar is not going to step down, he is going to be removed by force. Just let’s hope that he does not end up with Qaddafi’s fate.

I sense a spirit of disappointment and perhaps defeat in your post. Can I do anything to comfort you?

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February 16th, 2012, 7:47 pm


55. Tara said:

US officials tie terror group to Syrian bombings
By KIMBERLY DOZIER, AP Intelligence Writer – 1 hour ago

Clapper said bombings against Syrian security and intelligence targets in Damascus in December, and two more recent bombings in the nation’s largest city, Aleppo, bear “all the earmarks of an al-Qaida-like attack,” leading the U.S. intelligence to believe the Iraqi militant branch is extending its reach into Syria.
He added the mixture of Syrian opposition groups may have been infiltrated by such militants, probably without their knowledge.
“We’ve seen evidence of Sunni extremists,” he said. “Can’t label them specifically as al-Qaida, but similar ilk who are infiltrating the oppositionist groups.”


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February 16th, 2012, 8:14 pm


56. Ghufran said:

The US did refute claims that the regime bombed its own people,claims that I never believed if any of you care to remember. Islamist terrorists will not stop at bombing regime targets,they will try to kill anybody who dares to disagree with their god-given wisdom.
Here is the list of countries that voted no or abstained:

Bolivia Belarus Cuba China
Ecuador Iran Nicaragua
North Korea Russia
Syria Venezuela Zimbabwe

It’s striking to note that aside from Syria and Iran, no other Middle East country voted no. Two, however, did abstain: Lebanon and Algeria. The other 15 countries that abstained:
Angola Armenia Fiji
Cameroon Comoros Myanmar
Namibia Nepal Sri Lanka
St. Vincent Suriname Tanzania
Tuvalu Uganda. Vietnam

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February 16th, 2012, 8:26 pm


57. Tara said:

‘Shoot, or they shoot you’: Former member of Assad’s military tells of horrific choices that forced his defection to the rebels

For much of last year, Fouad, a member of Bashar al-Assad’s military intelligence unit, faced a brutish choice.

“Imagine if you were a Christian manning a checkpoint and there was a Christian in front of you. Behind you was a Muslim who gave you a choice to shoot them or he would shoot you. What would you do?
“This was exactly what happened to me, except with Sunni Muslim people standing in front of me.”

But Fouad is happier here than he was in his seven years’ service in the Mukhabarat, an organisation whose name is a byword for fear in many Arab countries. Most particularly, as the protests against President Assad’s rule were met with violence and finally war, he became alarmed at the growing psychopathy of those around him, including his friends, as they carried out their ordered acts of terror and improvised their own.

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February 16th, 2012, 8:31 pm


59. Mawal95 said:

Here’s a good video in the genre of programs debunking the lies in the foreign TV news outlets. An anonymous liar on CNN TV representing himself as a student at Damascus University says security forces arrested and beat 200 students, shut down the electric power, blah, blah, we want democracy, blah, blah. While the liar is speaking, CNN shows footage of anti-regime activists running down the street in Damascus’s Barzeh neighborhood, which is miles away from where the liar is talking about, and then shows scenes of rebelious chaos from Homs and Jableh. CNN has no footage of anti-regime student activity at Damascus University. The students at Damascus University are overwhelmingly pro-regime and you can’t find footage of even a minority of them demonstrating against the regime. While the liar is continuing to tell his tale, CNN continues with footage of large crowds demonstrating and in these demonstrations the crowds carry the pro-regime flag — the American mass audience is without the knowledge to see that subtlety but surely the responsible CNN editors could. The informative part of this video starts when it stops the CNN rubbish at time 2:50 and for the next two minutes shows footage of the real students at Damascus University demonstrating their support for the regime, as broadcast by Syrian State TV. This footage shows students with tremendous passion for the regime.

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February 16th, 2012, 8:58 pm


60. Syrialover said:

#1 and #53 weaken and discredit their comments by tone and bad manners. If you have facts and data, then there is a normal and effective way of presenting them to those who are interested as Joshua Landis has publicly stated he is.

Dr Landis’ intellectual openness, civility, willingness to be corrected and lack of aggression towards others should be the standard and model for comment on this forum. And until this last year, it generally was.

Certain newcomers make themselves and the rest of this forum poorer by ratcheting these standards down.

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February 16th, 2012, 8:59 pm


61. Syrialover said:

Evidence is mounting that Rifaat Assad must have buddies and admirers following this forum. Any comment about his history gets a predictable number of thumbs down.

Why don’t they write something explaining their support of him? I’m willing to hear it.

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February 16th, 2012, 9:05 pm


62. Ghufran said:

جورج صبره
George according to the const. draft is not good enough to run for president:
هل هذه هي الطريقة التي توضع فيها الدساتير؟ مَن خوّل لجنة أن تضع دستوراً وتفرضه على الشعب السوري الذي هو خبير في الدساتير وفي كيفية وضعها؟ الدستور الصحيح يوضع من قبل جمعية تأسيسية منتخبة بشكل ديمقراطي وحر ونزيه، ثم يجري المصادقة عليه باستفتاءٍ شعبي حر، وليس تحت المدافع والنار وأعمال القتل اليومية.
Here is the link:

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February 16th, 2012, 9:07 pm


63. Syrialover said:

#61. I hope you read #60.

Whatever your agenda, you are badly undermining it by your aggressive tone and words. It’s a pity.

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February 16th, 2012, 9:13 pm


64. William Scott Scherk said:

Ghufran, you asked for the noes and abstentions at the GA. I found this so far:

The Inner City Press folks name Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela as no voters, and note abstentions from Myanmar, Armenia. Serbia a yes.

The Los Angeles Times promises a full count of all votes, including all abstentions (but the link is not working for me at the moment). Their record of NO votes was: Belarus, Bolivia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Ecuador, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

(I expect their must be abstentions from some of these countries — Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon Indonesia, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, India. I will keep checking Inner City and the LAT for a full list and post it when I find it).

(added) — thanks for digging up all the noes and abstentions, Ghufran|

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February 16th, 2012, 9:15 pm


65. Ghufran said:

Thanks, WSS, I posted the list in Arabic a while ago.

India and Brasil voted for the resolution, that is symbolic but it means something.

Israel may have lost an ex Mossad chief:

The British Broadcasting Corporation was cited by Arab media, Thursday, as saying that Hizbullah and Iran managed to eliminate a former deputy chief of the Mossad intelligence agency. They identified the man as Zvi Ashkalov, adding that an explosive was attached to his vehicle while he drove in Spain.

(source: BBC and Israel national news)
Israel denied the report.

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February 16th, 2012, 9:25 pm


66. Halabi said:

Thanks for the list Ghufran. It’s clear today who Assad’s friends are.

The South American countries, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua have very little influence and common bonds with the Syrian people. Cuba is a basket case.

Belarus? I think it just lined up with Russia, which wasn’t a country to aspire to under communism and isn’t a great example now under KGB/mafia rule.

China’s position is interesting because most thought it would be more pragmatic. It doesn’t really matter, because China isn’t a good leader at anything other than using its labor surplus in the economic race to the bottom.

North Korea of course inspired Hafez to implement the Baath youth movement and later to bequeath a republic to his son. Zimbabwe, awesome place. I highly recommend it as a vacation spot for all high ranking government officials.

Last, and definitely least, Iran, a repressive Islamic theocracy.

The English speaking world is against him. The Arabic speaking world is against him.

Menhebaks now have so much more in common with Israelis. They both support governments that are condemned by the General Assembly, protected by vetoes in the Security Council, and that vigilantly secure the Israeli border. The difference is that Israelis kill and oppress Palestinians while Assad’s forces kills their fellow citizens.

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February 16th, 2012, 9:29 pm


67. Ghufran said:

واحد من ثلاث ليبيين يحنون للعهد السابق، ففي دراسة اعدها معهد علوم الانسان في المعهد الدولي في اوكسفورد، اظهرت ان نسبة الثلث من سكان ليبيا يفضلون عودة حكم رجل قوي، ونسبة اقل من الثلث ترحب بالعهد الديمقراطي على الرغم من الالاف القتلى في الثورة وفي اثناء حكم الزعيم الليبي معمر القذافي.
This is the link. I am done for today

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February 16th, 2012, 9:32 pm


68. Norman said:


The United State is not socialist, People in the US get what they deserve not what they need, but people can be anything they want if they work hard and play by the rule, education is a plus but not needed as it was with Steve Job and Bill Gate, that is what Syria and other countries lac the chance to be what you can be,

The inequality that you talk about is there but still the US has the widest middle class,

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February 16th, 2012, 9:34 pm


69. Mawal95 said:

Joshua’s stance on the workers and peasants clause of the Constitution is nutty.

When challenged to defend or explain it, he just throws the ball back saying “if you want to take your time to demonstrate in full detail why I’m wrong, I’ll welcome being corrected, but I’m not going to take a scintilla of my time defend or explain myself”. It’s not just nutty, it’s rude.

[NOTE — Please quote accurately. Joshua asked for corrections earlier in the thread, in the second comment::

Please correct me. I am happy to be proven wrong. How did this emerge as the new baseline for who gets to represent Syria? Any history you can add will be appreciated. Help rest [sic] Syria Comments credibility, please.

Context implies he meant test, not rest.

Please do not make personal attacks]

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February 16th, 2012, 9:37 pm


70. Norman said:


The 12 contries that voted with Syria represent more than 60% of the world population, so it is not a total loss for Syria,

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February 16th, 2012, 9:42 pm


71. Norman said:


I agree with you i was old enough in the early seventies when president Hafiz Assad took power, the rule was to have seats for the farmers and workers, I do not know if it was in the constitution, i still believe that set aside and qoutas will only alienate people with a feel of discrimination that will produce anger and will lead to the next revolution,

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February 16th, 2012, 9:51 pm


72. anton said:

dear Norman,

I just want to say it @ 70 , Adding the abstained total will be almost 30 countries with more than 60% of world population , 2 supper powers, and other emerging ,

important that those countries are solid friends which Syria can count on

God bless Syria the Syrian people and the Syrian army

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February 16th, 2012, 10:01 pm


74. Jerusalem said:

To: 59. Mawal95

CNN position is rather annoying. I keep bombarding them with comment to abstain. (Of course they don’t lesson…:)).
The anti-Iran hysteria is coming primarily from CNN.
Malcom Hoenlein the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, threw cold water on CNN’s fear mongering when he told the network “there is no call for panic.”AND the Department of Homeland Security has admitted there is no specific threat facing the country. Yet, they keep at it.

Arwa Damon is known for promoting war, especially the war on Iraq.

What’s odd, her mom is Syrian and supports Assad transitional change. Why doesn’t she interview her mom???
Anderson Cooper is CIA social face…I seriously don’t understand what’s in it for CNN?? There is hardly any mention of Bahrain or Libya on their site and keep interviewing same guy Fouad Ajami and his opinion about war.

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February 16th, 2012, 10:19 pm


75. Syrialover said:

#70 Norman

“The 12 contries that voted with Syria represent more than 60% of the world population, so it is not a total loss for Syria”

A depressing reminder of how much of the world’s population is living in places nobody would choose to if they had the option.

All those countries supporting the status quo in Syria have one or more of the following features: human rights issues, state terrorism, economic mismanagement, corruption, recent civil war, ethnic divisons, dictatorship, communism, extreme poverty, political instability, volatile relationships with neighbouring countries. …. Just to start the list rolling.

All reasons why their representatives would be happy for the Syrian people to continue suffering and Assad to survive.

It’s hard not to believe that 1.if the citizens of these countries had media that carried information about the issue and 2. they were allowed to have a say, then the vote would come out very differently.

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February 16th, 2012, 10:26 pm


77. Norman said:


lick your wonds and be a sport,

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February 16th, 2012, 10:52 pm


78. Syrialover said:

No doubt there will be the usual ideologues and anti-westerners here who will disagree, but NY Times journalist Anthony Shadid’s death at 43 from asthma in Syria is a terrible, tragic loss.

He was a reporter who was making an unsurpassed contribution to world knowledge and awareness of the Middle East.

The fact it seems he had life threatening asthma but was still prepared to do the tough trips and face danger and difficulties to investigate and experience what was needed says a lot.

A brave, determined, gifted man who was applying those qualities to something that mattered.

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February 16th, 2012, 10:56 pm


80. Syrialover said:

# 77. Norman

I just gave you a green thumbs up for wit.

(And because I am a sport).

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February 16th, 2012, 11:15 pm


81. bronco said:


“Can I do anything to comfort you?”

I am finding extremely boring and childish what Qatar, France, Turkey and company are doing. Jumping from meetings to meetings like excited kids who want to win a soccer game and coming out with another boring, unimaginative and useless ‘plan, resolution, initiative’ while people are killing each other in Syria.
I am just sadly yawning…

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February 16th, 2012, 11:15 pm


82. Son of Damascus said:


That is very sad and terrible news indeed, may he rest in peace.

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February 16th, 2012, 11:16 pm


83. bronco said:

I am very sad about Anthony Shadid’s sudden death. He was an excellent reporter who really tried as much as possible to be impartial, non sectarian and objective quite the opposite of Khaled Oweiss and Zeina Karam from AFP and Reuters.
I offer my condoleances to his family. He will be missed a lot.

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February 16th, 2012, 11:22 pm


84. bronco said:

#76 JNA

Thanks for pointing us to that letter. I found it extremely sad and desperate and expressing heartbreaking emotions about the tragic vicious spiral Syria fell into and the wounds all Syrians will carry in their lives.

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February 16th, 2012, 11:34 pm


85. Hans said:

It is quiet on this front here, there is not much activities on the blog here today, I guess the only front where it is blowing hot is the CNN.
When i watch the CNN, I see all the fabrication by Anderson Coopers and the other reporters, Especially when they add the reports can’t be independently verified by the CNN.
It is clear that they are very biased and many of the video, don’t show a clear evidence that the syrian army is the cause of the shelling if there is shelling to begin with.
they show people who look very comfortable meanwhile they claim they are being attacked and bombed, i noticed more than once where the video clip doesn’t show any clear evidence of stress.
after almost a year and there is no evidence that the support for Assad has weaken which tell lots about the situation in syria where the foreigners want to topple Assad without major support of the Syrians it is strange to be in such situation.

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February 16th, 2012, 11:35 pm


86. irritated said:

#86 Hans

The hysteria of CNN is that the US, Western countries and their Arab puppets have not been able to corner Bashar Al Assad after a year. They feel the same frustration and rage that they have against Iran.
Nothing is affecting Syria’s army, nothing is affecting the wide support of the regime from minorities and a sizeable share of the majority, nothing is affecting the two largest cities in Syria.

CNN errands is only a reflection of that deep rage that the big powers are now powerless in front of a small country that dares defy them.

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February 16th, 2012, 11:48 pm


87. Syria no Kandahar said:

What a bright future is awaiting Syrians:kids declaring defections from schools and joining FSA.

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February 16th, 2012, 11:49 pm


88. Syria no Kandahar said:

Are you still حردان
طنش ولو

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February 16th, 2012, 11:52 pm


89. Shami said:

Norman:The 12 contries that voted with Syria represent more than 60% of the world population, so it is not a total loss for Syria,

you surpassed addunia [ Edited for personal attack 2012/02/16 at 11:56 pm ]

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February 16th, 2012, 11:59 pm


90. Syria no Kandahar said:

137 countries are supporting these:

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February 17th, 2012, 12:10 am


91. Leo Syriacus said:


In post #70 you made the “accurate” statement that the 12 countries that voted with Syria’s presidents were 60% of the world

Congratulations!! Bashar has just appointed you director of Aldounia and Minister of Misinformation:
The combined population of the 12 countries is 1.7 Billion people (out of which 1.35 is of China alone, and the Chinese are just waiting for the right price to sell your Bashar)
The world total population is 7 Billions

The “real” percentage of your president’s supporters 24.3% less than half the 60% your Aldounia friends are crying.

In keeping with the “cosmic plot conspiracy” spirit I used the very accurate CIA World Fact Book and here are the numbers of your club :
China 1.35 Billion people, Russia 138 Millions, Iran 78, Venezuela 28, North Korea 25, Syria 23, Ecuador 15.2, Zimbabwe 12, Cuba 11, Bolivia 10, Belarus 9.5 and Nicaragua 5.8
The 18 abstaining countries include 14 who could not pay their UN dues and were ineligible to vote…( like they hold any weight in World Affairs!!)
Please check your facts..Syria Comment is not Aldounia and you are not Buthaina Shabaan

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February 17th, 2012, 12:37 am


92. Shabbi7 said:

Joshua Landis, in response to

Considering that you are the one who made the ridiculous claim, it is you who needs to show some kind of proof or support that this quota is a Baathist “deal” for article 8, which was CLEARLY going to be removed regardless. As a “Syria expert” you should know that the People’s Assembly has long had a requirement of at least 50% laborers and peasants. There were even quite a few Syria Comment readers that were complaining about this fact back in April-July.

A simple Google search further proves my claim. Here is an English translation of the current Syrian constitution, adopted March 13, 1973:

Chapter 2

Part 1 Legislative Power

Article 53 [Membership]
The law defines the electoral districts and the number of the members of the People’s Assembly, provided that at least half their number are workers and peasants. The law defines the terms: worker and peasant.

In conclusion, this article was not “added” to the proposed constitution, but rather maintained from the current constitution, and therefore, could not have been, as you hastily claimed, “added in a deal with the Baath Party leadership in order to get article 8 removed.”

What bothers me the most is that, through your claim, you implied that this is a malicious article, when in fact, laborers and peasants are the ones who built up the Syria we love with their blood, sweat, and tears.

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February 17th, 2012, 12:53 am


93. William Scott Scherk said:

I wonder if Prof Josh was looking for some other details. Maybe he there was a deal with Baathi forces that they would lose Article 8 but only over-my-dead-body-and-perks-and-salary would they give up their Peasant and Worker seats.

Feast your eyes on all the worthies of parliament. See each one who claims a Worker and Peasant seat in the Baathi-led coalition:

I could see a demand by regimist holdouts in the structure of the Regional Command that did not want to give up these ‘winner’ seats. Similarly did the power structure in Egypt resist giving up the same synecures and pay-off candidacy shoo-ins as under Mubarak/Sadat ‘workers and peasants’ exclusions. I think some of the liberal secularists running for the Egyptian assembly were able to sell themselves as workers or peasants (see the declaration: )

That part of both constitutions — especially when you look at the actual roster of professionals squatting some of those seats has been used for crony seat-stuffing of only-in-the-broadest-terms “Peasant: seats. Add to the fact that a pitiful four new parties have been registered (no Freedom and Justice Party charade for Syria; no party at all! No ‘religious’ party like the Ikwan-affiliated FJP in Egypt because it is religious. No ‘ethnic’ or regional, so no parties for Kurdish interests. No parties for even a social group (so, no Rich Folk or Poor Folk parties). But still this ‘worker and peasant’ 1952 socialist wonderland language. So them that are in a certain security-approved list will be allowed on the ballot and back they will go to their comfy seats. Who is left out of this kind of parliament?

Even poor Haytham and poor Michel, they cannot have a party because they last full civil rights on their convictions of state crimes. I doubt they now have the right to run as independents for parliamentary seats, I doubt they have been explicitly pardoned and returned their full Syrian rights. No wonder both are now out of country, no matter how patriotic and peaceable.

An executive that is responsible to Parliament is one aspect of the French-ish strong president system chosen by Assad and the Baath that went missing in 1973. The current President (and establishment candidate in yon 2104 election) remains in control over everything, like a Super De Gaulle , the agenda, the ministers, the confidence votes, dissolution, decrees … all the refuse of the authoritarian constitution of 1973. I think most SC commentators and readers would agree that this a feeble mess, and not a solution to present problems.

I say again that some aspects of the Syrian ‘reform’ seem like charades, or worse, cruel frauds. Certainly the Syrian official everything may announce a majority Yes and figures will be oddly presented at SANA and Xinhua, but will all the details by district be published? Will voting precinct totals, once certified, become public record? Will whatever next parliament act as a new constitutional convention/interim assembly? Will their be a single reformer or passionate orator in the new parliament when the president orders it to convene? Will its debates be recorded and/or broadcast (see the sidebar poll at the Syrian Parliaments own site. Coverage of parliament was red thumb downed by some 70% in their site poll).

There are questionable articles still left in the constitution, and a questionable opaque process that led to its up/down vote on the 26th. This is not clear reform. I fear it may fail.

I fear for Syria and Syrians inside and out. I empathize with anyone’s grief, pain, and horror. Whether the present-day Baath lobbied against removing the 1953-style exclusion in basic law, I do not know. Maybe removing it was off the table for multiple reasons. It is another old-style facet of Syrian political/security life that has not yet been ‘reformed’ by the Assads.

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February 17th, 2012, 2:54 am


94. zoo said:

Israel’s worries grow with the “democratization” of Arab countries.

Egyptian Party Threatens to Review Treaty With Israel
Published: February 16, 2012
CAIRO — The Islamist party that leads the new Egyptian Parliament is threatening to review the 1979 peace treaty with Israel if the United States cuts off aid to the country over a crackdown on American-backed nonprofit groups here.

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February 17th, 2012, 8:49 am


95. zoo said:

From Bad to Worse in Egypt
FEBRUARY 17, 2012

The repression of civil society is far worse than anything seen under Hosni Mubarak.

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February 17th, 2012, 8:52 am


96. zoo said:

The Islamist Plot: The Untold Story of the Libyan Rebellion

A British terror trial sheds new light on the origins of the February 17 anti-Qaddafi uprising.

By John Rosenthal

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February 17th, 2012, 8:55 am


97. Leo Syriacus said:

Comment # 70
Norman states that the 12 countries that voted for Syria s president are 60% of the world
This is not correct, the combined total of their population is 1.7 Billion people ( out of which 1.35 Billions in China alone) this is only 24% of the world population of 7 Billion people.
Source The CIA World Fact Book ( in keeping with the spirit of cosmic conspiracy!!)
Please keep Syria Comment accurate this is not Aldounia TV, The Syrian Ministry of Information, or a Baath Party Confrence

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February 17th, 2012, 10:59 am


98. Leo Syriacus said:

Syria’s new president can come from any group or faction as long as he/(she one day?) is democratically elected by Syrians and will work to achieve their aspirations in democracy,progress, and human rights
I certainly will not elect a president from a militia background, nor from a mullah background, nor a former Baathist, nor a puppet imposed by foreign powers ( Karazi by the US, Bashar by Iran )..Syrians’ options are limited for now and the transition in the post-Assad days will be painful and long..but for all the people whining about the troubles in post-revolution Arab countries ( and possibly in Syria very soon) I say read the history of the French and American revolutions it took years before these revolutions transformed America and France to the great democracies they are..nothing happens overnight except a coup d’etat

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February 17th, 2012, 11:50 am


99. Leo Syriacus said:

When will we have instutitions and parties that govern versus individuals and dictators?
The president as one man should not matter much if the real power is for his part members versus a one-man show
George W Bush ruled America for two terms..most people who voted for him agreed that he was anything from a barbarian to a simpleton..they elected the Republican Party and not W

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February 17th, 2012, 11:59 am


100. Antoine said:

37. ALDENDESHE said :

“I would add Ben Gorion to the list. In fact he should be first on top of it, considering what he started with, he can only be matched by Chiang Kai-Shek.”

Chiang ka-shek ? C’mon man, how come ? I would rather add Mao Zedong, he too started from scratch and remember his “long march” in 1933 ? He too built a superpower out of nothing. And what has Taiwan become ?

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February 19th, 2012, 7:09 am


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