The Armed Gangs Controversy

The Armed Gangs Controversy

I have taken up the “armed gangs controversy” in my last two posts. In the comment section, Syrians have debated whether the opposition has produced militant elements that are killing Syrian soldiers. A number of analysts, such as Majd Eid, who joined in the debate on France 24 yesterday, continue to argue that there is not a violent side to the uprising. They insist that Syrian soldiers are killing fellow soldiers, not opposition elements. This killing is carried out when security personnel refuse orders to shoot at crowds, they insist. So far, no evidence has surfaced to demonstrate that Syrian military have shot their fellow soldiers for refusing to carry out orders. Most evidence supports government statements that armed opposition elements have been shooting security personnel.

This controversy arose in April during the protests in Banyas, when nine soldiers were killed while traveling down the main highway in two transport vehicles outside of the city. Activists claimed that soldiers in Banyas were executed by fellow soldiers for refusing to shoot at demonstrators. This story turned out to be fictional, but was carried by most of the Western Press and never corrected. I wrote about this controversy on April 14 under the title: Western Press Misled – Who Shot the Nine Soldiers in Banyas? Not Syrian Security Forces. The reason I took an interest in this story is because my wife’s cousin, Lt. Col. Yasir Qash`ur, was one of the nine soldiers killed on April 10. We know him well. We spoke with Yasir’s brother-in-law, Colonel `Uday Ahmad, who was sitting in the back seat of the truck in which Yasir and several of the nine soldiers were killed. `Uday told us that two military trucks were ambushed as they crossed a highway bridge by well armed men who were hiding behind the median of the highway and on the tops of buildings at the edge of the road. They raked the two trucks with automatic fire, killing nine. The incident had nothing to do with soldiers refusing orders. His description of what happened so contradicted the reports I was reading in the press that I began to dig around. Later video footage of the shooting surfaced and was shown on Syrian TV. It corroborated Uday’s story. Western press and analysts did not want to recognize that armed elements were becoming active. They preferred to tell a simple story of good people fighting bad people. There is no doubt that the vast majority of the opposition was peaceful and was being met with deadly government force and snipers. One only wonders why that story could not have been told without also covering the reality – that armed elements, whose agenda was not peaceful, were also playing a role.

In the bloody battles at Jisr ash-Shaghour most of the Western Press again repeated opposition claims that some 100 Syrian soldiers were killed not by opposition elements but by their own colleagues. The Western press insisted that Syrian military elements were killed in the city by fellow soldiers for refusing orders to shoot. Government claims that the soldiers were killed by armed elements who ambushed and overwhelmed them, were dismissed. Today, teh video footage that has surfaced is fairly conclusive in corroborating the original government version of events: the soldiers stationed in the town were overrun by armed and organized opposition.  Here is a video of some of the soldiers before they were killed. The first minute or two of this video shows the soldiers after being shot. This is unedited footage of the bodies before they were carried away on trucks.

In the Hama fighting, the video depicting dead bodies being thrown off a bridge into a river has been the subject of controversy. This video made by comparing Google Earth footage of the bridge to the actual video seems fairly conclusive in proving that the footage is new, is from Hama, and does depict opposition elements throwing the bodies of soldiers from the highway bridge into the `Asi River just north of Hama on the highway to Aleppo.

So what is the meaning of the emergence of armed opposition elements?

A prominent anti-government activist speaking on CNN said it best. Here is the CNN report by Arwa Damon and Nada Husseini of Aug. 2, 2011:

One prominent anti-government activist, who asked not to be named because of the dangers that could arise from the release of the information, told CNN the state TV account was correct. The bodies are those of Syrian secret police killed by Syrian fighters from Iraq who have joined the anti-government fight, said the activist, who gets information about the goings-on in Syria from an extensive network of informants.

That same activist stressed that the antagonists are not representative of the protest movement. Violent fringe elements have appeared during the Syrian tumult. One study last month from the International Crisis Group said some anti-government elements have taken up arms. However, that report said, “the vast majority of casualties have been peaceful protesters, and the vast majority of the violence has been perpetrated by the security services.

The activist said the emergence of this video is a double-edged sword for protesters.

On the one hand, the peaceful demonstrators need to become aware of the existence of fringe elements, he said. This would encourage more people to reject both the regime and these types of attacks and maintain the aims of peaceful protest, he said. At the same time, he added, the incident gives credence to the Syrian government’s assertion that it is targeting “armed gangs.” Such violence, he said, could cause the international community to hesitate in continuing its mounting pressure against the Syrian regime.

Most of the supporters of the revolutionary movement have responded to these videos by asking, “What does anyone expect? Are Syrians to simply wait to be killed? Of course violence will be met by violence. It is natural and the only surprise is that it has been so long in coming.”

This is a compelling argument. The Syrian opposition has been slow to arm in its effort to overthrow the Baathist state. The Free Officers Movement is gathering steam. The most recent video statement by the FOM shows that its membership is growing, although it is still only in the earliest formation. The leader declares that they will defend civilians against the “barbaric actions of the regime and their Shabbiha.” Other armed organizations are taking to the streets but none have officially declared their existence and set out political goals. This will undoubtedly happen in the coming months.

From the outset, this has been a war of videos. This video of a wife saying goodbye to her husband, killed in Hama on Aug 2 is heartbreaking. Such videos act as a call to arms.

The regime will battle to the end and still has much fight in it. The military has many advantageous over the fragmented opposition. It is unlikely that the regime will “collapse,” as some activists suggest or just fade away Ceausescu-like. If it is to be defeated, it will be on the battlefield and by force. It is hard to imagine any other ending. Of course, should both Damascus and Aleppo come out to demonstrate in large numbers, the breakdown of order will be hastened, but the military and Baath Party will not give up. Syria’s divisions are too deep. The fear of revenge and ethnic cleansing will galvanize those who have backed the present order for decades.  Had the Syrian leadership been willing to hand over power peacefully or establish some sort of constitutional convention, it would have done so already.

The poverty and loss of dignity for so many Syrians is a crushing part of Syrian reality. Thirty-two percent of Syrians live on two dollars or less a day. That is a scary figure. It will get much worse as the loss of jobs and economic hardships begin to multiply. Syria is filled with people who have little to lose, who have little education, and few prospects of improving their chances for a better and more dignified life. The potential for violence and lawlessness is large. Most worrying is the lack of leadership among opposition forces.

News Round Up follows

Why Damascus, Aleppo are silent for now
The business elite in these Syrian cities have myriad overlapping interests with the political elite
By Sami Moubayed, Special to Gulf News, August 2, 2011

To date, most residents of Syria’s two main cities, Damascus and Aleppo, have tried to look the other way vis-à-vis the uprising that has broken out in every town and city across the country since mid-March. In these two cities, the markets are still open, banks are still in operation, merchants are still trading, entire families are dining at restaurants, young couples are getting married and, in many cases, enjoying the summer in complete denial of what is happening throughout the rest of Syria. So long as Damascus and Aleppo remain quiet, or neutral at best, the Syrian authorities believe the situation will be under control.

A closer look, however, shows that this argument — although applicable four months ago — is now nothing more than wishful thinking. First, it is wrong to compare Damascus to Aleppo because sympathy with the Syrian uprising is high in the Syrian capital, but low and close to non-existent in Aleppo because of the city’s distance, its relative immunity from the economic crisis (thanks to flourishing business relations with Turkey), and the unique relationship the city has had with President Bashar Al Assad, who has paid it plenty of attention since coming to power in 2000. Additionally, Aleppo paid a terrible price for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood uprising of 1982, and sees how the state is retaliating in other cities today, like Hama and Deir Ezzor. It does not want to suffer a similar fate.

It would be wrong to imagine that residents of the old quarters of Damascus — Shagour, Bab Sharki or Bab Srijeh — would be seen on the streets of the Syrian capital, demonstrating against the regime. This is not French Mandate Damascus, after all, where these quarters are filled with swashbuckling quarter bosses like the ones we see in the popular TV series Bab Al Hara. The reason, basically, is that these quarters in the Old City are now empty; the original residents sold their property years ago, transforming their homes into trendy restaurants and boutique hotels. They collectively moved to the suburbs of Damascus, and today, the original inhabitants of the Syrian capital reside in hotspots like Muadamiyeh, Zabadani, Qaboon, Harasta and Duma. It is the Damascenes then who are demonstrating in these districts, in addition of course, to the original inhabitants of these districts. The sameapplies to Aleppo and its suburbs.

Within the new districts of Damascus and Aleppo, the business elite has been staunchly pro-regime although, ironically, it was the business community of both cities that suffered most from socialism of the Baath Party when it first came to power in 1963. That will likely remain the case for now, due to the weight of their clerics (who are allied to the state), along with the political, social and economic interests of their nobility and business community. In many cases, that nobility is “new money” and rose to power and fame only after the Baathists took over in 1963. The have overlapping interests with the political elite and are often allied to them through business partnerships and marriage, giving them no reason to demonstrate against the existing order.

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Historically speaking, however, both cities can make or break any political movement — but rarely have they been part of anything that threatens stability and their commercial interests. In 1925, for example, rural Syria erupted in revolt against the French Mandate. Damascus very unwillingly joined the revolt of 1925, and when it did, suffered punishment greater than that of all other Syrian cities combined. It was shelled continuously for 48 hours and entire neighborhoods were set ablaze and looted. And Aleppo was not even part of the revolt of 1925. To be fair, although we make reference to the “Aleppo Revolt” in history books, it was the suburbs of Aleppo that revolted against the French. Aleppo itself remained silent. When the revolt calmed in 1927, it was the business elite of both cities that devised the theory of “honorable cooperation” with the government—diplomacy to extract political change, rather than armed revolt.

In Damascus, the merchants used to moan and groan whenever political parties, or youth movements, called on them to close down their shops for anti-government protests in the 1950s. Simply put, as far as the businessmen were concerned, all that meant was financial losses. That mentality still prevails in the old bazaars of Damascus and in the new posh and trendy corporate culture that has mushroomed around banks, insurance companies, advertising and media firms all over the Syrian capital.

The silence of both cities, however, won’t last for too long, for three reasons.

1) Unemployment: The moment rising unemployment kicks in, young people will take to the streets in both Damascus and Aleppo, regardless of what city elders tell them. Many young people are already jobless since March, and if the stalemate continues, they could start finding themselves penniless as well. Ramadan, no doubt, will be a turning point for these two cities.

2) Lack of community leaders: Back in the 1980s, for example, community leaders like Ahmad Kaftaro (the Grand Mufti) and Bader Al Din Al Shallah (doyen of the Damascus Chamber of Commerce) used their influence to pacify angry citizens in Damascus when they sympathised with the Brotherhood. People respected them, listened to them, and often carried out their without any questions. When Shallah famously asked shopkeepers to break the Damascus strike of 1982, they immediately answered his call. Today there are no community leaders with similar clout and standing in Damascus and Aleppo because the Baathists have not allowed any such independent leaders to emerge.

3) Demographics: Damascus, more so than Aleppo, is a melting pot for all Syrians. It is packed with people from rural Damascus, Daraa, Homs, Hama, Idlib and rural Idlib. It is those people who are likely to demonstrate in Damascus, rather than the Damascenes themselves, and those people, naturally, do not take their orders from the business community of Damascus.

Sami Moubayed is editor-in-chief of Forward Magazine in Damascus, Syria

Sheila said:

[Moubayed’s] article is on the money. I am originally from Aleppo and come from a big family. I can assure everyone on this blog that Aleppo is boiling under the calm surface. It is only a matter of time before the city erupts. Mark my word.

Look at the pattern in this revolution: it starts with one stupid act by the regime in one of the villages, the village is up in arms, the surrounding villages come to the rescue and then the central city starts demonstrating.

U.S. Boosts Syria Pressure With Sanctions Plan
By Nicole Gaouette and Victoria Pelham – Aug 2, 2011

The U.S. is stepping up the pressure on Syria, ….“Our goal here is to isolate Assad both politically and deny” the regime revenue, Mark Toner, the State Department’s acting spokesman, said yesterday. “We do plan to move forward with additional sanctions under existing authorities, and we’re exploring the scope of those sanctions,” he said.

Ford, who met with Obama two days ago, told senators at his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday that backing the forces of change could give the U.S. a chance to reshape the region.

“We have a real opportunity with change in Syria to see both Iranian influence and Hezbollah influence in the region diminish,” said Ford, a career diplomat who has been serving as ambassador under a December 2010 recess appointment by Obama.

Syria is Iran’s chief ally in the region and both support Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shiite Muslim political group that the U.S. considers a terrorist organization. … Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, Senator Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, and Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, introduced the Syria Sanctions Act of 2011 to target the one-third of the country’s revenue that come from oil and gas exports.

U.S. law bans most trade with Syria. The sanctions bill would extend those restrictions to foreign companies. The measure would require the president to block access to U.S. financial institutions, markets and federal contracts for those who do business with the Syrian energy sector.

Companies that falsely claim not to do business with Syria would be subject to a three-year ban on government contracts. …Sanctions with allies that have greater trade ties with Syria would be more effective, Ford said. He added that “Europeans and Canadians have greater investments in Syria’s energy sector” and that conversations about sanctions with those countries are under way.

“The Syrian government’s latest action will help trigger action, frankly,” Ford said of the recent violence and the international outrage it has generated.

Asking for More

The Syrian activists asked Clinton to have the U.S. do more to rally that kind of international pressure on the Assad regime.

Aoun defends Syrian regime’s crackdown August 2, 2011 Change and Reform bloc leader MP Michel Aoun on Tuesday defended Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, saying that security forces have the right to suppress “chaos on the streets.”

“It is clear that the intentions of the [Syria] opposition are not good,” he added following his bloc’s weekly meeting.

Syria opposition leader Seif held at Damascus airport

Syrian security agents briefly detained opposition leader Riad Seif at Damascus airport on Monday and prevented him from traveling to Germany to seek treatment for cancer, opposition sources said.

Killing of Libyan rebel commander strengthens resistance to UN condemnation of Syria

By James M. Dorsey

The failure to identify the perpetrators of last week’s mysterious killing of a senior Libyan rebel military commander threatens to undermine fragile unity among Colonel Moammar Qaddafi’s NATO-backed opponents and complicates Western efforts to secure United Nations condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters.

The killing highlights the pitfalls of backing a ragtag armed opposition movement, in which former jihadists together with defectors from Mr. Qaddafi’s forces constitute the primary groups with military experience.

It has also – coupled with allegations that NATO military backing of the rebels violates a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the imposition of a no-fly zone in Libya – made countries like India, China, Russia and Brazil weary of endorsing a council resolution being pushed by the United States and the European Union that would condemn Mr. Assad’s brutal efforts to quell demonstrations in his own country.

Critics like China and Russia, concerned about the spillover effect in their own countries of the Arab revolt that has swept the Middle East and North Africa for the past eight months, worry not only that condemnation of Syria could lead to Western efforts to covertly or overtly topple Mr. Assad but that Libya if repeated in any form or fashion could create a legal precedent for intervention across the globe.

Egyptians Turn Against Liberal Protesters

CAIRO—Mobs of ordinary Egyptians joined with soldiers to drive pro-democracy protesters from their encampment in Tahrir Square here Monday, showing how far the uprising’s early heroes have fallen in the eyes of the public.

Egyptian security forces tear down tents of liberal protesters who had camped in Cario’s Tahrir Square to press military rulers for political reforms.

Six months after young, liberal activists helped lead the popular movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the hard core of these protesters was forcibly dispersed by the troops. Some Egyptians lined the street to applaud the army. Others ganged up on the activists as they retreated from the square that has come to symbolize the Arab Spring.

Squeezed between an assertive military and the country’s resurgent Islamist movement, many Internet-savvy, pro-democracy activists are finding it increasingly hard to remain relevant in a post-revolutionary Egypt that is struggling to overcome an economic crisis and restore law and order.

“The liberal and leftist groups that were at the forefront of the revolution have lost touch with the Egyptian people,” says Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center. “These protesters have alienated much of Egypt. For some time they’ve been deceiving themselves by saying that the silent majority is on their side—but all evidence points to the contrary, and Monday’s events confirm that.”

The Last Stand of Bashar al-Assad?

DOHA, Qatar — As Bashar al-Assad’s shock troops storm cities and towns across Syria, leaving a death toll in the triple digits that has only stoked the fires of rebellion even hotter, Barack Obama’s administration is stepping up measures aimed at fatally weakening the Syrian dictator’s regime.

Critics of the U.S. president’s policy, particularly on the right, have long charged his administration with being soft on Assad. But the United States is now unequivocally committed to his ouster, having lost whatever little faith it had in the Syrian leader’s willingness to reform. “He is illegitimate,” a senior administration official says flatly. “We’ve definitely been very clear that we don’t see Assad in Syria’s future.”


Shaikh also advocates putting together an informal “contact group” of concerned countries — as with Libya — with a core group perhaps consisting of the United States, France, Qatar, and Turkey. But the all-important Turks, who share a border with Syria and have hosted thousands of refugees and several opposition meetings, are still hedging their bets. Sunday’s statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry called on the Syrian government to “end the operations and resort to political methods, dialogue and peaceful initiatives in order to reach a solution” — options that the protest movement explicitly abandoned several weeks ago.


But few analysts think words will do much to damage the deeply entrenched Syrian regime, and some, like the Century Foundation’s Michael Hanna, worry that Assad could limp on far longer than anyone expects. Nor would multilateral sanctions, even if they do somehow pass the Security Council, have an immediate effect. “It’s unlikely that, short of massive defections within the security services at an elite level, outside pressure is going to change the calculus of the inner circle of the regime,” says Hanna. Instead of being toppled, he cautions, Assad could become another international pariah, like Saddam Hussein or the Burmese junta.

Washington has made its decision, though nobody can say when Assad will go. “He’s on his way out,” says the senior administration official, stressing: “This is about the Syrian people, not about us. They’re the ones that say that they want someone else, and they should be able to choose the government that they want.”

The New Hama Rules By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, August 2, 2011

…. It worked for a long time in Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, etc., until it didn’t. Today, Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, Hafez’s son, is now repeating his father’s mass murdering tactics to quash the new Syrian uprising, again centered in Hama. But, this time, the Syrian people are answering with their own Hama Rules, which are quite remarkable. They say: “We know that every time we walk out the door to protest, you will gun us down, without mercy. But we are not afraid anymore, and we will not be powerless anymore. Now, you leaders will be afraid of us. Those are our Hama Rules.”

This is the struggle today across the Arab world — the new Hama Rules versus the old Hama Rules — “I will make you afraid” versus “We are not afraid anymore.”

Good for the people. It is hard to exaggerate how much these Arab regimes wasted the lives of an entire Arab generation, with their foolish wars with Israel and each other and their fraudulent ideologies that masked their naked power grabs and predatory behavior. Nothing good was possible with these leaders. The big question today, though, is this: Is progress possible without them?

That is, once these regimes are shucked off, can the different Arab communities come together as citizens and write social contracts for how to live together without iron-fisted dictators — can they write a positive set of Hama Rules based not on anyone fearing anyone else, but rather on mutual respect, protection of minority and women’s rights and consensual government?

I think the former foreign minister of Jordan, Marwan Muasher, has the right attitude. “One cannot expect this to be a linear process or to be done overnight,” he said to me. “There were no real political parties, no civil society institutions ready to take over in any of these countries. I do not like to call this the ‘Arab Spring.’ I prefer to call it the ‘Arab Awakening,’ and it is going to play out over the next 10 to 15 years before it settles down. We are going to see all four seasons multiple times. These people are experiencing democracy for the first time. They are going to make mistakes on the political and economic fronts. But I remain optimistic in the long run, because people have stopped feeling powerless.”

New sanctions worry Turkish businessmen

Growing turmoil and violence in Syria have the European Union rolling up its sleeves to play a more active role in solving the problem by imposing asset freezes and travel bans. But economic sanctions by countries including Turkey might leave its business interests in the Arab republic in a tight spot

The prospect of more economic sanctions against increasingly strife-torn Syria have Turkish businessmen worried, leading business figures told the Hürriyet Daily News on Tuesday.

Growing turmoil and violence in Syria have the European Union rolling up its sleeves to play a more active role in solving the problem by imposing asset freezes and travel bans. But economic sanctions by countries including Turkey might leave its business interests in a tight spot.

“Sanctions imposed previously on other countries have not brought many sustainable solutions to problems,” Rona Yırcalı, the board chairman of the Foreign Economic Relations Board, or DEİK, told the Daily News in a phone interview Tuesday, though he noted that there was not yet much information available about the content of possible sanctions.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague is among the top European figures calling for tougher sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government. “The sanctions have to come from both Western nations, Arab countries and regional powers like Turkey,” Hague said in an interview Monday, according to the Associated Press. “The sanctions decision could not be made and applied by only Turkey. If the UN decides to apply sanctions, it is a different thing,” Tolga Uçak, the head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s information department told the Daily News on Tuesday. “It is not that easy to unite Arab nations to impose international sanctions against Syria,”

Rızanur Meral, the chairman of Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey, or TUSKON, told the Daily News. “Arab countries would know that a similar sanction might be imposed on their countries in the future.” According to Meral, the imposition of international sanctions against Syria does not seem possible at this time.

It would be “impossible for Turkey to step back from humanitarian help and sending food and medicine” to Syria, Meral said, adding that other trade items might be discussed according to the context of the sanctions. “It would be hard to control the borders for illegal trade,” he added, noting that Turkey shares its longest border with Syria.

Syrian money rushing to Turkey’s safe harbor

Comments (176)

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51. Abughassan said:

My last post today,
Tara,I can add to your last post but I can not disagree ,this regime must go.
SS,you hit it on the head,the army is the last hope in my opinion,and there is no military solution to this crisis.

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:50 pm


52. Revon said:

Dear Joshua, I do not envy you for the position you are in, trying a chieve balanced reporting when the weight of evidence of each side’s is difficult to measure.

Logic says, a liar can not be trusted to be telling the truth, even if he seems to be doing so! Hard evidence is required!

First: The Baniyas truck massacre was probably carried by a blackshirt unit.
The incriminating video was circulated by AlDunia TV and you probably posted it on this blog then.
The video clearly showed civilians in plain cloths taking cover on the roof a a low building while a few black shirt thugs were barraging them with gunfire.
As the truck approached they turned back and strafed the convoy and ran away!
The government have had over three months to come up with the hard evidence. It would have settled the case fairly and squarely. They have not done that. Why?
Had the government been truthful the regime should have at least let the perpetrators appear before independent media for verification.
They have failed to do so. Why?

Second: the bodies of the militery intelligence in Jisr AlShghour.
As I recall, Colonel Harmoush declared his responsibility for what happend in the city at that time. It was a matter of infighting between defecting and loyual forces. Both sides lost lives in the process.
Again, the regime has failed to produce any incriminating hard evidence, that can be corroborated by an independant team of investigators! Why?

The Orantis river in Hama is a swamp. It hardly has running water in it. I talked to a relative there yesterday and he confirmed the river to be semi-dry now.
The bridge, with such hight is not in Hama city either.
Wherever the incident took place, the bodies thrown were those of civilian clothed bodies.
I ask the question; is it to difficult for the thugs to stage such a video and blame it on the revolution?
There is no evidence as to who committed the murders.
There is no verification of who was throwing the bodies over into the river.

Smearing is part of the tactics used by the regime to discredit the revolution. Such tactics were explained in detail in the famous General Mukhabarat document leaked at the begining of the revolution.

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August 3rd, 2011, 10:51 pm


53. Tara said:

I can’t agree more with this paragraph in #44

“If some leader or some person starts to behave as a leader, the crowd will knock him down,” he said. “Everybody really feels anger towards leadership and authority on them.”

I think the new generation has a real trust issue in any one who behaves as a leader. It is like having a psychological complex towards any potential authority figure. That is why the internal or external traditional opposition will not be able to affect the street. I personally can’t trust no one except one of those youth activists. I hope they will learn and mature into the political process and a young savvy activist would eventually emerge as a leader.

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August 3rd, 2011, 11:05 pm


54. Ss said:

True, there is no military solution and I do agree that a polical solutions is needed. But let us review what has been proposed so far:

1. The regime must go: Many would argue against that. The regime is supported by a significant manority groups, moreover, a significant minority, I do not want to be exagerating, from sunni are with him. Let us say Assad is upported by only 50% of the syrian people. Still this is a significat percentage and I see no reason for him to step down. People on the opposition side have the right to wish and dream of the regime going, but come on, let us be realistic, a regime as solid as the syrian one, which has been built over the last 40 years with well rooted and strong alliance in the region is not going to simply walk away. So foget this solution

2. Political solution: great, in order to do that you need people with leadership who are williong to sit down and discuss future Syria and transition of power. Well where are these people, who is the leadership of the opposition. On the copntrary, the leaders of the oppositions are screaming for more violence, mo unrest, more killing, so the regime can be thrown away. The opositions has no leadership

3. Lastley, how do you want to reach political solution where the streets and people are under the attack from gangs who acts in full autonomy and are suported by the oppositions. The order must be stored and the opposition has to elect a leader who is willing to negotiate not kill.

So to sum up
The regime will not step down
The oppositions lacks leadership
The streets are under attack by gangs and armed people whose acts a cheered and supported by the opposition
With the mounting international pressure, the regime was left with one and only one option, whic

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August 3rd, 2011, 11:13 pm


55. Darryl said:

Will the Arabs ever have a George Washington?

Reading all these posts of Syria’s violence and watching last night the trial of Mubarak and his sons, this thought occurred to me. Arabs seem to only hold in high esteem leaders who always use force to crush anything in their path and sit on the chair forever. Americans had strong willed people too but what makes George Washington even more regarded the things he did not do when he could have.

George Washington could have made himself King George I of America as he commanded respect, the Army and was wealthy. He limited himself to two terms in office and set an example for future presidents until congress passed into law term limits in the 1940s (150 years later). All previous presidents honored that trend and bowed out of office after two terms, no revolutions, no coups, no demonstrations or killing.

So is there any hope that Arabs will ever have a George Washington, or even a John Adams, or perhaps a Thomas Jefferson?

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August 3rd, 2011, 11:15 pm


56. majedkhaldoon said:

After five month of revolution, with 5000 dead or missing(missing presumed dead) and 25000 jailed, anyone who expect this revolution to stay peaceful,is not thinking right,we will hear more about violence by the protesters,since the regime is using violent crackdown, who to blame, I am sure the regime to blame.

AbuGhassan said that Bashar is willing to leave, so far there is no evidence of that,to the contrary,there is every evidence that he is not,only force will evict him.

Damascus and Aleppo,will participate,Ramadan will make a difference,Ramadan is the turning point.

UN will review Ban Ki Moon report about Syria next week,it will be bad,since Syria will not co-operate.

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August 3rd, 2011, 11:29 pm


57. Majed97 said:

Madness is prevailing in Syria today at the expense of humanity, as the voices of reason have been fading away recently. Violence is spreading and getting uglier by the day, not only on the streets but also into our conversation, evidenced by the level of haltered and ignorance displayed by some people on this blog. There is no amount of evidence in the world that will convince some people of how ugly this “revolution” has become. Rational people have completely lost control of the streets. The streets are now in the hands of Islamists, using Ramadan and Mosques to manipulate people’s emotions and inflame the hate. As I’ve said before, revolutions springing out of Mosques and inspired by religious “Scholars” are destined to destroy us all, before getting destroyed by their own obsolete principles and poison of hate. It is time like this when I wonder if Syrians are ready to handle the responsibility of democracy and freedom. Order needs to be restored immediately and at any cost before any reform; otherwise, we all lose.

Souria Akbar!

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August 3rd, 2011, 11:35 pm


58. Darryl said:


“Damascus and Aleppo,will participate,Ramadan will make a difference,Ramadan is the turning point.”

I hope this has nothing to do with the fact that all sins will be forgiven during Ramadan so that more violence will be instigated.

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August 3rd, 2011, 11:44 pm


59. Aus4Syria said:

If all agree on the need to reform the political system in Syria then we should all agree that now is the time to de-escalate the situation and move the debate away from ‘the street’ and onto the ‘negotiating table’. In fact, the Security Council Statement expressly acknowledges this as the solution to Syria’s problem.

The ball is entirely in the court of the anti-regime movement as to the successful transition. Negotiation cannot take place until Syria’s territorial integrity is intact (another element of the Security Council statement), meaning no town can remain outside of the control of the State. The negotiation to reform The State implies tacit acceptance of the sovereignty and integrity of The State.

The consequences of failing to make this transition are disastrous for all. In the absence of a State a sectarian civil war is inevitable. Those claiming that the protest movement is not sectarian (whether rightly or wrongly) are missing the point: in the absence of the State, the population will naturally turn to the comforts of its sectarian roots. The end result is identical to the Iraqi outcome- a sectarian civil war.

Likewise, the military is not the appropriate body that should safe guard a transition. Military rule is diametrically the opposite to democratic rule. Military rule brought about disaster in Pakistan under Musharef (which saw the radicalisation of an otherwise democratic country) and is failing the Egyptians at present (which also appears to be radicalising).

Therefore, the only solution is to participate in the process of dialogue. This will not bring about changes instantly, but with time it will lead to the establishment of the institutions necessary for democracy: an independent judiciary, civilian control of the military and a government that is responsible to its people.

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August 4th, 2011, 12:02 am


60. Norman said:

Apparently the army and the government reach a conclusion that the opposition want their heads as to speak and they are fighting back with all means necessary, even if they have to destroy Hama, they probably believe that history is repeating itself and that Hama is the source of all mayhem.

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August 4th, 2011, 12:04 am


61. Shai said:

Dear Norman,

But do they not see that it is too late to adopt this kill-or-be-killed tactic? Good can’t come out of this for Bashar. Why couldn’t he find another option? Are the security services THAT strong in Syria? Even if he was trying to weaken them by forcing these clashes, the Syrian people are not going to absolve him of the responsibility, and he’ll pay dearly.

What do you think?

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August 4th, 2011, 12:27 am


62. NK said:


Do you think we were born yesterday ? does “Damascus spring” remind you of anything ? because this will be the fate of all opposition figures and leaders if calm returned to the streets. BtB must go, once he announces when he plans to step down, other minor details can be discussed.
Let’s not forget the constitution was amended in 5 minutes to put him in charge, I wonder how long is required to make a simple change preventing him from running again ?.

As we say in Arabic حاج تستجحشو هالعالم, قرّفتونا

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August 4th, 2011, 12:59 am


63. Aus4Syria said:


Your reply assumes that the sole problem in Syria is Bashar.

What about the rampant corruption? The need for ‘Wasta’? The outdated education system? The Soviet era economy? The lack of infrastructure? Lack of an independent judiciary? etc etc etc. These are more than ‘minor details’, these are the core issues leading to dissatisfaction.

Even worse, the President stepping down does not remove the ‘mukhabarat’, they just become somebody else’s ‘tools’. It won’t make the military any more accountable, they just become somebody elses military. It won’t remove corrupt public officials, they just become somebody elses parasites.

National dialogue and systemic reform must address these core issues for the benefit of the country. They are by far more important than the question of who is president and who is not, the Egyption situation proves this fact.

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August 4th, 2011, 1:31 am


64. Dale Andersen said:

Memo To: SS

RE: “…the security and army officers deserve some respect as well. They lost their lives for our safety, stability, and for better Syria…”

No, they don’t and no, they didn’t

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August 4th, 2011, 1:58 am


65. Real Syrian said:

The truth about what is named Syrian revolution that the rebels want to replace the president because he belongs to Alawaite group….. The rebels will be satisfied if they bring even a Sunni Monkey to be the president…….This basic truth is leading the radical street in Syria though the president is not acting in a sectarian manner and his wife is from a known Sunni family….Most of the ministers and governors are Sunni and even Albaath leaders.
Outsiders including US has planned well to weaken Al-Assad regime using all our society diseases like sectarianism and poverty……….These rebels should realize that in their fight to bring a Sunni leader to rule Syria they are actually acting like donkeys that has been used by the west who will get rid of them when a good result is obtained from the negotiations with Al-Asaad regime.

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August 4th, 2011, 2:06 am


66. Real Syrian said:

The truth about what is named Syrian revolution that the rebels want to replace the president because he belongs to Alawaite group….. The rebels will be satisfied if they bring even a Sunni Monkey to be the president…….This basic truth is leading the radical street in Syria though the president is not acting in a sectarian manner and his wife is from a known Sunni family….Most of the ministers and governors are Sunni and even Albaath leaders.
Outsiders including US has planned well to weaken Al-Assad regime using all our society diseases like sectarianism and poverty……….These rebels should realize that in their fight to bring a Sunni leader to rule Syria they are actually acting like donkeys that has been used by the west who will get rid of them when a good result is obtained from the negotiations with Al-Asaad regime.

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August 4th, 2011, 2:06 am


67. N.Z. said:

After reading Sheila comment, where she quoted Ms. Hanano:

““One of the most moving chants of this revolution is al-mawt wa la al-mazalleh, “We would rather die, than be humiliated.”

By reflecting on its meaning I came to this conclusion:

The revolutionist will rather die than be humiliated, while the supporters will rather live in humiliation under Assad jr. than regain their dignity.

As for Assad jr. criminality no one summarized it better than aboud:

“Say what you want about Mubarak, but at least he had the good sense to go when he knew he wasn’t wanted and save the country more lost lives. Just how incompetent a leader must junior be to make even Mubarak look good?”

Their despicable arrogance and unwillingness to see the sea of change around them is hastening their downfall. Their ending like all dictatorships before them, theirs will be the ugliest.

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August 4th, 2011, 2:36 am


68. OFF THE WALL said:


He had 11 years, going on 12 to address these issues, and he failed miserably. Then, and when confronted with public anger, he chose violence and disingenuous tricks. Non of what you have described can be resolved with him and his inner circle at the helm.

The removal of Bashar is important as a point of departure with a philosophy that accepts absolute rule and hereditary power. All of his actions signify failure and the times require joint efforts and not the reliance on an already shattered image of reformer.

Bashar is fake, he is not qualified, nor are those in his inner circle. A transition to democratic rule, a rule that will not fully stamp out corruption, inefficiency, fear, and brutality, but will definitely have a much better chance at that, requires a different mode of thinking and he has proven that he only has one mode, which reflect desire to remain in power and deep fear of losing it because of the abuses he and his gang have committed over the years of his father’s reign and his as well.

From day one, Bashar chose wrong. The moment he resorted to conspiracy theories and to violence was the moment he publicly declared himself more important than the nation, and by that put his rule and presence at the helm opposite to the legitimate aspirations of Syrians. Even when calling for dialog, his paramilitary forces and crime mafia were committing numerous atrocities against the protesters. All else is dishonest propaganda. Those professing fear on behalf of secularists, while insisting on codifying the personality cult, have proven to be nothing more than fearful sectarians in their own rights and we have many of them on Syria Comment. It is not secularism they seek, it is the suppression of legitimate desires and rule of law they advocate in the name of secularism, how could one be more sectarian than that.

His removal and the removal of few key figures in his regime is not a luxury, it is a necessity to end the stalemate. They are not the state, nor are they running the state. In fact, they are the ones responsible for bringing the state machine to a grinding halt as they have acted as a most corrosive agents of its machinery.

If he is in control, then he has ordered crimes and should be held accountable for his actions. If he is not, then he should step down and stop acting as a front for a criminal gang. No third option is available to him. The longer he and his gang resist, the more fake proposals for a constitutions that would allow him to continue, the more painful the inevitable transition would be. It is them who are prolonging the suffering of Syrians and risking the expansion of the current situation to Damascus and Aleppo. As it stands now, Damascus is getting out of the thugs’ control, and Aleppo is on its way, albeit slowly. Come to think of it, it has deemed itself irrelevant since other towns, including those surrounding Aleppo have not waited for the city to take decisive action.

As for your assertion that Mukhabarat will become be a tool in someone els’s hand. I fully agree. Intelligence agencies, particularly in autocratic regimes are non ideological. They are simply tools of power. However, the Syrian security apparatus has shed a tremendous amount of blood and caused immeasurable pain that must be answered for, and that is why it is essential that it is phased out within a very short time and that a completely different structure is erected in its place to ensure a level public safety, national security, and order conducive to the upcoming national dialog. Ideally, most of these agencies should be disbanded on the spot, but with the number of people and families whose livelihood depends on such dirty jobs, a well thought plan should be offered that provides for a short transition period to allow for placement of those who have not committed crimes and for identification of those who did. National reconciliation can only come after identifying those responsible for committing crimes and those who participated in such crimes otherwise it will be a fraud. You can only forgive an acknowledged sin. We are no better than god, and in all religions, acknowledging ones sin and ones responsibility for that sin is the first step towards deity’s forgiveness, and listening to Bashar’s speeches show that he has not reached that point yet, nor have his supporters here on Syria Comment and elsewhere, but quite the opposite. All I have seen are justifications, lies, equivocations, and moral bankruptcy, which saddens me greatly. It is obvious that some people, including Bashar and his inner circle are incapable of reaching that point.

As for solutions to security issues and public safety. I do not want to pretend that I know it all. But I am tired and sick of the regime gang and their privileged fearful supporters claiming that we in the opposition can not offer solutions. There are solutions at all scales and some are out of the box. Take for example as one of these potential solutions at the local level would be the possible removal of high ranking officers who are leading the bombardment and the murderous campaigns against Syrian towns and cities from their command post and their replacement with a temporary joint command consisting of second tier officers whose hands are not sunk in the blood of their brethren along with civilian representatives chosen by the community who must approve of any actions aiming to confront so called armed gangs. Think about it this way, if the regime claims that the army is guarding public safety, then the army must accept a temporary phase through which it acts as law enforcement under civilian control but with heavier firepower than regular law enforcement. The civilians would not interfere in the tactical military operations, but they are the ones to authorize such operations, define their objectives, and declare limits to what is acceptable or not. Such would criminalize tank shells, treacherousness sniping and assassins. In addition, and this is a must, all of the militias and paramilitary forces convened by the regime must be disbanded and disarmed immediately.

We have solutions, we are the more creative both inside and outside, we are the more determined, we seek progress and life, equal citizenship, and the rule of law and we are capable of controlling the urge for revenge among our bereaved as evidenced by the very law number of atrocities committed by those bereaved, and even those are of questionable authenticity. The regime and its supporters, on the other hand, seek to control us, to continue their suppression of our natural rights, and instead of controlling their fears, they unleash bloody mayhem. Dialog with them is a phantom and a series of charades. We will have our dialog, but among ourselves and only with those who show willingness to join us in our point of departure from a sad, corrupt, and murderous era of our modern history.

The regime and its supporters internalized brutality to a point that it now rules their options even in their written and spoken discourse. Even when using non violent words such as dear so and so, there remains in their writing and thinking a brutal assault on the intelligence of Syrians and on the values Syrians have held for countless generations. Insisting that the majority of Syrians are vengeful and incapable of ruling themselves and of being civilized is the utmost intellectual brutality against a people whose history speaks otherwise. Insisting that we need someone like Bashar to save us from himself and his gang is a most brutal assault on our common sense.

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August 4th, 2011, 3:03 am


69. Shami said:

Real Syrian,historically this kind of assabiyah explains the mindset of the alikes of asad ,mindset which was always strong among some minority groups.This reality explains your attack against the majority of the syrians(arabs and muslims) ,as if they consider that the only reason of being against asad’s 50 years old failed criminal regime is his nusayri religion ,this is an insult to our intelligence.
The most sectarian people in syria are obviously the alawites who support asad.Those are marginals and they are aware that they will pay the price of their assabiyah when the regime will change.(this situation explains their assabiyah,what do they share with the other syrians ?)
Those cultivate a culture of hate towards the environment for centuries,this is not the case of the syrian people as whole.
I dont think that we can compare an alawite like Aref Dalila,Louai Hussain and many other intellectuals to Asad-Makhlouf-Shaleesh gang who are aware that their existence is that of a regime.

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August 4th, 2011, 3:12 am


70. jawaher said:

i agree with these words of wisdom said above:
“There is no amount of evidence in the world that will convince some people of how ugly this “revolution” has become. Rational people have completely lost control of the streets. The streets are now in the hands of Islamists, using Ramadan and Mosques to manipulate people’s emotions and inflame the hate. As I’ve said before, revolutions springing out of Mosques and inspired by religious “Scholars” are destined to destroy us all, before getting destroyed by their own obsolete principles and poison of hate. It is time like this when I wonder if Syrians are ready to handle the responsibility of democracy and freedom. Order needs to be restored immediately and at any cost before any reform; otherwise, we all lose”
i ask every syrian to be clever and to think about our future together, and not to be the toy to destroy our unity and our country.
god bless all syrian and keep syria

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August 4th, 2011, 3:28 am


71. Samara said:

First, as i have not been on for a while, i would like to say, Ramadan Mubarak to you all. And my this Ramadan bring prosperity for Bashar so he can rise above all that is happening, and destroy the terrorists.


“The most sectarian people in Syria are obviously the alawite who support asaad”

(edited for insult)The sectarian people are those like Abu Omar, who would rather see all that are not Sunni extremists dead. The sectarians are those who hate and loath people who do not belong to their sect. So, by that you should know I mean the MB and those on here who have nothing better to do than say Bashar and his supporters, Alawi supporters according to you, are sectarian. Why do you exclude the Sunnis who support Bashar? Why do you exclude the Christians who support Bashar? Now, is specifically extracting one sect for your benefit not sectarian to you? Is the fact that you
call “nusayri” religion not sectarian to you? Well, maybe its just me, but I think you are(edited for insult) Dude, get a life. Or, since I am an Alawi supporter of Bashar, i say, I hope you get stomped on, I hope you and all like you, religion wise get burnt in hell. How’s that for sectarian? (edited for insult)

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August 4th, 2011, 3:45 am


72. Jasmine said:

Day in,Day out and with another article about the uprising in Syria with significant failure of objectivity on transmitting the facts.
The uprising had an element of grass root in the beginning but now it is clearly that it is hijacked by the Muslim brotherhood who are committing atrocities wherever is accessible for them,most of the demonstrators now are paid by Hariri and Bandar to go out in the street and shout for the fall of the regime.
The insurgency has reached the top,which indicates that the extremists are loosing their last breaths to decide to adopt these final measures(burning public property,killing allawites and throwing them in the river, mutilating and dismembering bodies,kidnapping soldiers)they are just asking the army to come and shoot at them.
The west still can not understand the complexity of the situation,and the culture of sectarianism which is leading this uprising.
Democracy is used as a slogan for the real demand which is:(we are sunni and we are the majority and we want to rule you,you the allawites you have been for too long on the throne,you have killed our fathers in Hama 1982, and we want our share now, and Saudi Arabia is our example for establishing a hypocrite nation where women are abused and society is living in the dark ages)they are using Islam as a political tool and of course they found enough ignorant,poor and unpatriotic people to recruit.
This country is hurt enough and doesn’t need any salt from the west to rub at his injuries,let them sort out their problems and it is not a struggle for Democracy ,it is an ugly religious fight and Europe had a similar one during the dark ages, the struggle between the church and royalty is very well documented.

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August 4th, 2011, 4:06 am


73. some guy in damascus said:

well, everyone seems to believe that there is an armed element to this uprising( justified or not)
many will argue that these “terrorists” infiltrate demonstrations and wreak havoc.
so it is the masses they require to carry out their objective.
i wonder what they were doing during the huge Besho rallies.

one of the biggest mistakes besho has made is not recognizing the genuine opposition that rejects him.

if ignorance is bliss, the menhebaks are having orgasms.

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August 4th, 2011, 4:10 am


74. Shami said:

Samara ,in order to be more accurate,the majority of the alawites fear democratic change because of their strong sectarian assabiyah and thus any protest against their mukhabarati regime (their relatives) is presented as an attack against their community.

This mini-sectarian logic is not acceptable.
Samara you asked me:
Why do you exclude the Sunnis who support Bashar?

Do you mean Hassoun,Bouti ,Khaled Abboud and other corrupt tools?

You will see ,what kind of support it was in the future !

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August 4th, 2011, 4:15 am


75. mjabali said:

Mr. Shami comment # 68

Again mr. Shami you fake history. You said that the Alawis hate the majority of Syrians and you made this majority of Syrians as “Arabs and Muslims.”

First of all, this means that the Sunnis are the only Muslims and the rest are not. What is written in your text is that the Sunnis are the true Muslims and the Shia, Alawis, Druz, Ismailis are not.

Secondly: What Arabs are you talking about in Syria? The Kurds constitute 10 percent of the Syrian populace and they are mostly Sunnis, and if you calculate them out of the Sunnis you get Kurds around 15 to 20 percent of the Syrian Sunnis. Also, as for the rest of the Sunnis you have at least ten percent of them Turks, and then you have about 3 to 5 percent Cherkes and another 3 percent of other ethnic origins brought by the Ottoman Empire and those who proceeded it.

The Arabic element among the Sunnis is mainly the Tribes/3Asha\’ir. Basically the city Sunnis are mostly ethnically from whatever the Ottoman and the Mongols before them brought. Notice that the Alawis and the rest of them Minorities are mostly in the Country Side and they are REAL SYRIANS.

The Assabiyah/fanaticism is a malady of all and not only happening to the Alawis mr Shami. The Sunnis these days are on the top of fanaticism. do you doubt this little fact too mr. Shami?

The Sunnis consider themselves Muslims and the others are not. This is the truth. The Sunnis think that they hold the truth as well as the keys to paradise, that fake place. They also believe that they are the swordsmen/سيافين at the service of Allah issuing people tickets to hell.

There are reasons to be against al-Assad, and these reasons are legit like corruption and nepotism, long terms of leadreship, no improvement in education…etc but let us say the truth here Mr. Shami: you hate al-Assads: father and son, because they are Alawis. If he was a Sunni it would have been a different story especially in a place as diverse as Syria.

There is no majority in Syria, but there is diversity. The law and the constitution should state this in plain letters separating religion from state making all Syrians equals.
If you calculate things like this you win Mr. Shami. But apparently you would not because you still think that the Alawis are infidels and the rest of the minorities as well as the Christians also lower than the Sunnis.

I asked you this question many times and you never answered it: do you consider the Alawis infidels or not?

The most sectarian people in Syria are not the Alawis mr. Shami but those who has decrees calling others monkeys, pigs and infidels. Those who believe in these decrees and live upon them is the one who is sectarian.

The Alawis as a whole are not sectarian, go ask the Sunnis who know them and lived with them and married from them. The Alawis are simple people, mostly poor and underdeveloped. You seem to never see this little fact and still demonize them and believe they do not deserve to live.

AS for the price you threaten some Alawis to pay is not showing anything but more death and mayhem. Do you mean you gonna cut them or throw them from the bridge or grind them and feed them to the dogs. These threats are not working. They are bringing more death from all sides. It is making al-Assad shoot with big guns and the demonstrators cutting people on the street like what we just saw from Deir al-Zur. Do you care about Syrian Blood here? do you care about a new generation that will see the same things my generation had seen? Why don\’t you call for forgiveness instead of revenge. You are pouring gas into the fire instead of putting off this fire.

What we need now is to cool things down and form political parties and enough with this tough talk. Look at this board today and see how many threats and curses from all sides are flying around.

What we need now is a bill of human rights so no one talks about revenge while the law makes sure all are equal and treated right.
WE need law and order and what is happening now is gonna bring none of the above and instead it will bring destruction and chaos.

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August 4th, 2011, 4:28 am


76. some guy in damascus said:

HAHAHAHAHA look what i found on the SANA website.

i wonder what the menhebaks are going to do with those ” we thank chinese/russian nation for fidelity” posters and banners

@ mjabli
“Notice that the Alawis and the rest of them Minorities are mostly in the Country Side and they are REAL SYRIANS.”
1) im not going to discuss whos a syrian and whos not, but basically if you pay taxes, donate blood, served military duty( or had to get an exemption) gives you the right to speak your mind. the very fact that were paying taxes and theyre not being invested in something for the community is the only argument one needs.
2) there are sunnis in the country side , and on the coast. you didnt mention the dear armenians ( who are chrisitans)
3) please il be really offended if you use that definition again, you canno categorise some one like that, Syria is for all and there is no term as fake syrian or real syrian.
there are terms like circassians, armenians, caananites…but these are the wonderful gems that make the great syrian mozaic.

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August 4th, 2011, 4:28 am


77. Atheist Syrian Salafist Against Dictatorships (ASSAD) said:

#62 Dear NK

As the one who coined B-t-B (;-)) (Besho-the-Butcher) I have to ask you to please not forget the other half “& executioners” that refers to the forces of the regime(the mukhabarat, the sectarian army units under Maher, and the multitude of armed and mostly sectarian shabbiha as well as hundeds of thousands of free-lance informers) that protect and do the top circle’s dirty work, so in essence this agrees with #63’s point, his departure will not solve everything for we have to be rid of the whole police state structure that exists now.

However, I strongly disagree with many of AUS4’s other points in


The onus is on the regime to de-escalate, since they were and still are the stronger side and the ones to use violence on a large scale against mostly unarmed demonstrators. As to re-asserting control by the “state”, Hama proved beyond doubt in June and July that it can take care of itself without any security or government presence, despite the official fiction claiming otherwise.

There has not been a single actual and tangible regime action to show that they are serious about dialog or genuine reform as demanded by the people. Had the regime done anything to inspire confidence, the opposition could have been (fairly) painted as intransigent, but nothing came from the regime except talk and from its forces only more violence, more arrests, more torture, more rape and more daylight murders.

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August 4th, 2011, 4:36 am


78. N.Z. said:

Samara, are you sure you wanted to wish SC Ramadan Mubarak or Bashar a prosperous Ramadan Massacre ? No doubt his account is prospering with the dead and maimed with you blessings.

200 massacred in Hama alone.

Rather than celebrating the holy month of Ramadan, Syrians are massacred, even, while mourning their loved ones. Ramadan is a month of thoughtfulness, soul-searching

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August 4th, 2011, 4:41 am


79. Shami said:

Mjabali ,
You are proved wrong by the events :Ben Ali,Mubarak,Gadafi,Saleh…are not alawites.
And i dont care who is real syrian or not ,syrian nationalism is not my favorite ideology.

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August 4th, 2011, 4:44 am


80. Atheist Syrian Salafist Against Dictatorships (ASSAD) said:

Thank God (oops) Off The Wall is back! to help us out here, we were being snowed under. Thanks OTW, and for the arguments you detailed above, I just didn’t have the time to sit down and write AUS4 a complete rebuttal.

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August 4th, 2011, 4:53 am


81. OFF THE WALL said:

I do not want to get into the sectarian fight between you and samara on one hand and shami on the other. I am not seeing much difference in the language of discourse between the three of you as it remains grounded in ethno-sectarian axioms.

I believe that your arguments for rule of law ring hollow with respect to the Assad dynasty regime. Rule of law both requires and fosters legitimacy, and the regime with Bashar at its head have forfeited any pretense to legitimacy the moment they established illegal and criminal paramilitary units to intimidate and murder their opponents and to incite sectarian hatred. That off course notwithstanding their criminal use of the Syrian Army and law enforcement agencies.

Having a zillion pro-regime chanters and supporters like Samara and others does not change that reality of regime illegitimacy. Even those ruling by majority of votes are subject to impeachment and removal when committing illegal (and in Bashar’s case: war crimes)acts. Those who do not understand that have no clue what democracy and the rule of law are all about.

For your own mental well being, you may need to start getting used to living and acting without the eternal leader. Your wish is not only insulting, it is tasteless, meaningless, and i have no doubt that you have intended it as a provocation. Exactly as one would expect from regime paramilitary propagandists.

Please read my comment again and tell me if it blindly accepts the argument that this is a violent revolution. Consider the proposal and what it means for it to be rejected by the regime and its supporters, as I would expect it to be.

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August 4th, 2011, 4:54 am


82. Samara said:


Then go search for your soul. The devil may get hold of it soon if you dont.

Go preach the true meaning of Ramadan to those vile malicious monsters who are dumping dead bodies into the river. Go preach the true meaning of Ramadan to those who are killing and mutillating innocent people. Go preach to those who killed and chopped up an innocent young girl and burnt her parts. Go preach to those who decapitated that innocent man and then took out his insides. Go preach to those who are dancing and singing “Ya Shabiha nehna al dabiha”. Go on. You have work to do. You have preaching to preach. Pft.

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August 4th, 2011, 5:03 am


83. Samara said:


Im glad you got insulted. Actually, in all honesty, i did not intend it to provoke anyone, but i can say that i dont deny enjoying to hear that you got hurt by what i said. I really couldnt care less.

I will get used to not having Bashar as the Syrian leader as long as you promise me something. Thay you will jump off a cliff. Because mate, your comments dont mean crap to me.

Allah hame Souria ou Bashar.

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August 4th, 2011, 5:12 am


84. OFF THE WALL said:

I promise you nothing but a fair trial.

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August 4th, 2011, 5:21 am


85. Aboud said:

Samara, go preach the meaning of Ramadan to the tin-pot tyrant who shells a city on the eve of the month.

Once more, the menhebaks have utterly failed to prove that the bridge video was even shot in Hama, or even Syria for that matter.

“Go preach to those who are dancing and singing “Ya Shabiha nehna al dabiha””

Tell me where they are, so I can go join them. Sounds like a dance I’d like.

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August 4th, 2011, 5:23 am


86. some guy in damascus said:

@ off the wall
years of the Baathist rule has equated the Assads with Syrian nationalism. i would not be surprised if Bashar openly did something demonic, his supporters would rush to justifies his acts with pseudo-explanations. it is up to the constitution to show us where is the red line is for the president himself , sadly the Baathists have executed the amendments that please them and ignored the amendments that don’t.
the regime supporters argue that there is no alternative, not realizing that the very regime will wipe away any true alternative.
about the you accepting this is an armed revolution, i dont know what to say….its not the opposition that put a media blackout on the whole country.

i went to pray taraweeh in muhajreen yesterday, after the prayers i exited the mosque and saw 4 police cars and armed soldiers. they quickly set to breaking us apart, it angered many. i guess i’ll pray in midan today they cant get a strong foot hold over there.
@ samara
telling the shabeeha( who are mongrels) that they will be slaughtered offends you? i”ve seen these shabeeha attack innocent protesters in midan, they do deserve to be be punished( not by slaughtering, hmmm maybe by having a discussion with you, thats punishment enough)

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August 4th, 2011, 5:26 am


87. Samara said:


Of course its a dance that youd like. Its with your overly exaggerated long bearded friends. When i get the exact address ill let you know.

And you [edit for insult] always fail to admit the evil of the revolution…=)

Now if youll excuse me ive got some studies to do. Dont miss me too much.

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August 4th, 2011, 5:41 am


88. Samara said:

Guy in Damascus,

Actually, their words are insulting because i interpreted it differently to you. I belive they are expressing their overall malice and the fact that they have been killing and chopping people up.

And a discussion with me will not be punishment. On the contrary, they would learn a lot from me, and i from them. Just saying.

Bye now.

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August 4th, 2011, 5:46 am


89. Samara said:


I already posted this to you, but seen as how it was not put up, i will say it again.

You will definately enjoy dancing with those animals. Because they are your overexaggerated, ungroomed bearded buddies. As soon as i get the exact whereabouts ill let you know.

And you hameer fail admit that your revolution is evil. You want democracy? Then why is it that an extrimist like yourself was saying recently that any real Muslim hates democracy? Huh? I suppose you and the Asshood would answer that. He was here in Australia saying that all real muslims hate democracy and that an islamist state with sharia law must take over. So why does the revolution hide behind the ideology if democracy? We know their true mentallity. Its only a matter of time before they go up in flames

Now if youll excuse me, im off to study.

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August 4th, 2011, 6:00 am


90. hsyrian said:

Dear Joshua,

Your academic work is being wasted on this comment section where the concept of free speech is being abused.

You should remind the educated commentators that they are your guests on this blog and that it is YOUR right to ACCEPT any comment or not.

Not only bad words should be banned but also
– name calling ( men… , sh.. , tyr , dict.. , bes , animals
– outrageous word ( massacre slaughtering
– unsubstantiated ( false) facts and figures ( even dates !!! )
– analysis based on unsubstantiated facts and figures
– private comments between commentators
– personal attacks and responses
– anonymous pseudo feelings
– sectarian
– threats

What will be left ?
Not much I am afraid !

It takes one child with a few matches to start a fire but a complete fire brigade with courageous and intelligent adults is needed to extinguish it.

The only good thing about video games is that when the child gets ” game is over” because he lost all his lives , the child just had to push a button to start a new game with new lives.

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August 4th, 2011, 6:38 am


91. syau said:

Security forces have arrested the terrorist group that murdered members of the military dispatch unit and threw them in the Orontes River in Hama. These arrests come after the driver of the pickup truck which transported the bodies was arrested.

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August 4th, 2011, 6:46 am


92. ss said:

Reading the above I come to realize that sectarian is the real enemy here. Sectarian is the real and sole reason why the opposition wants the presedent out, as it is the reason why the minorities are more than ever around the president. We cannot deny this factor, although we hide it at time, but it gets out whenever we get emotional or angy. Actually this is the only factor that will keep Assad in his place> removing Assad will never happen unless the cuntry divides or gets into civil war. Since you are speaking Sectarian. There is no way Alawi will allow the president out for many reasons you have just listed, perhaps fear is one of them as Shami stated. The sectarian language will lead us only to civial war and country division.

The only way to solve this probles is by national dialogue and the opposition leaders (if there is any designated leader) have to come to the table and start negotiations. I believe the syrian goverment has to give many things that would not have happend otherwise. I think the opposition will have a great opportunity to get into dialogue and get their stamps in the political life and reform of Syria. War will not solve either side, but there will be no alternative to war and fight if the opposition will continue to move the street and support the armed gangs.

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August 4th, 2011, 6:57 am


93. some guy in damascus said:

@ ss “sectarian is the real and sole reason why the opposition wants the presedent out,”
i guess atef najib, rami makhlouf dont ammount to anything,
the vicious security state
the huge corruption
apparently corruption,cronyism and sadism are sects we must respect?!?!

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August 4th, 2011, 7:07 am


94. Aboud said:

“Then why is it that an extrimist like yourself was saying recently that any real Muslim hates democracy? ”

Yaaaaawn. Another Baathist reality-challenged menhebak heard from. Kindly point us to the post where I said real muslims hate democracy. Take your time, you can go back as many months as you like.

It is actually the menhebak scum who fear a free press, and free expression. Democracy is incompatible with Baathism, the most sectarian ideology ever to be found in the Arab world.

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August 4th, 2011, 7:37 am


95. Norman said:

Hi Shai, Good to see here,

I think that the president and the government are moving on two tracks, the first one is security and prevention of civil war, they have to act strongly, otherwise the Alawat that are being killed for being Alawat will feel that the government can not or will not protect them so they will arm themselves and fight back, then will see what happened in Iraq and Lebanon before that repeating itself in Syria, in these two states the army was prevented from acting to secure the peace in Lebanon for fear of breaking up and in Iraq because the American with the insistence of the new Iraqi government disbanded the army,

The other track that they are working on is the political track that deserve more attention and faster pace than it is getting, as you know , in many countries the elections will be put on hold if there is no security, Syria is trying and i think they could move faster , i always said that moving to cancel article 8 that gives the Baath party the leading role in Syria will be the game changer as long as the American, Turks and others will come out and push the opposition to play and talk, any overthrow of the government in Syria by force will replace a dictatorship with another.

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August 4th, 2011, 7:43 am


96. majedkhaldoon said:

Samara says:” and you hameer”, or,”Im glad you got insulted”,or “but i can say that i dont deny enjoying to hear that you got hurt by what i said”.and” I really couldnt care less.your comments dont mean crap to me”.

How could a person like this dare to make such comments,it really sumerize what this regime is thinking and behaving,this is what is called itellectual brutality,or lack of intelligence that disqualify them of commenting in itellectual forum

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August 4th, 2011, 7:48 am


97. Tara said:


Samara reflects the same class and same intellect that prevail in one fabric of the Syrian society, namely, the Mukhabarat. One can argue that this level she demonstrates should disqualify her from commenting on an intellectual forum as you stated but perhaps she should be kept to give a tiny flavor to the outside readers of that particular fabric.

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August 4th, 2011, 8:24 am


98. syau said:


I would be interesting in hearing your opinion on comments such the ones posted by Aboali (previous thread at #16) which says… “I say screw you, 150 people were massacred by the sons of bitches which, if your video is true, and I doubt it, now reside at the bottom of the Assi being turned into fish shit, which is a step up for them.” And “If mukhabarat and shibiha were killed, then it was for revenge, and they damn well deserved it.” Or “so I say slaughter all those sons of bitches.”

And then Abouds comments at #55 which say “Aboali, I absolutely agree with every word of your sentiments. The atrocities of the shabiha scum have long since crossed the line. If some people have the ability to fight back, let them do so as a warning to the next little shit who thinks he and his friends can terrorize Syrians.”

Wouldn’t you consider their comments as “intellectual brutality” or “lack of intelligence that disqualify them of commenting in itellectual forum”?

Would you agree that comments such as those made by Aboali, Aboud and ones posted by Shami summarise the revolutions thinking and behaviour? I didn’t see you comment on how people like Aboali, Aboud and Shami would ‘dare’ make such comments. Why is that, could it possibly be because they support and reiterate the thoughts of this terrorist revolution?

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August 4th, 2011, 8:25 am


99. Tara said:


I will answer. There is a big difference between expressing a political opinion in regard to a group of people including Besho and sabeeha describing them as scum, thugs, …etc, and even ask for revenge against them and between targeted personal attack to a commenters. Don’t you agree?

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August 4th, 2011, 8:33 am


100. Aboud said:

Damn, Tara beat me to it.

For the menhebaks who still consider an insult against Besho to be a more grievous sin than one against their own parents, there is indeed a difference between singling out a commentator by name on this forum, and calling junior a geek necked hafez wanna be tin pot little slug that one scraps off one’s boots.

Aboali stated it eloquently, and I agree with every word he said. The next time the shabiha scum think they can invade a village or neighborhood, don’t whine if they come back with their AK-47s up their asses and Besho posters stuffed down their throats.

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August 4th, 2011, 8:45 am


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