Turkey’s Syria Problem

Turkey’s Syria conundrum
Sinan Ulgen, 25 Aug 2012, National Interest

Syria used to be the poster child for Ankara’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy. At the peak of their rapprochement, Turkey and Syria were holding joint cabinet meetings and talking about spearheading a common market in the Middle East. Then the Arab wave of reforms reached Damascus. The relationship turned hostile as [...]

With the support of Prime Minister Erdogan, Turkey’s foreign minister Davutoglu positioned Ankara in the vanguard of the community of nations seeking regime change in Syria. Thus Ankara gave support to the Syrian National Council and harbored the Free Syrian Army. Even when former UN secretary-general Annan’s plan for a political settlement was announced, the Turkish leadership made it clear that there could be no solution with Assad in power.

With this policy of direct confrontation, Ankara not only strove to obtain the moral high ground. It also sought to precipitate the fall of Assad while building a relationship with the future leadership of Syria by heavily investing in the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council.

Today, this policy of forcefully pushing the regime change agenda in Syria is under criticism domestically as some of the risks of a post-Assad world are becoming clearer.

The fear in Turkey is of Syria’s disintegration into ethnically and religiously purer ministates, with a Kurdish entity in the north, an Alawite entity in the west and a Sunni entity in the rest. The Kurdish opposition’s recent unilateral power grab in northeastern Syria rekindled Turkish concerns about the emergence of an independent Kurdish entity linking the north of Iraq to the north of Syria.

The right policy response to this threat would certainly have been for the Turkish body politic to finally and permanently address Turkey’s own Kurdish problem. But the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leadership’s prevailing populist tendencies seem to preclude this option despite a well-intentioned effort undertaken before the 2011 elections. The fact that even the highly popular AKP, facing no imminent threat to its rule, backed away from tackling this complex issue does not bode well for the prospects of a lasting settlement.

The failure to solve its own Kurdish problem therefore raises the stakes for Turkey should Syria implode along sectarian lines. As a result (and somewhat paradoxically because it has failed to do so sufficiently at home), Turkey will almost inevitably be pulled in to invest in the future stability and territorial integrity of Syria.

With its long-standing support to the Syrian National Council and the Free Syrian Army, Ankara hopes to have gained the leverage to influence the behavior of the future leadership in the post-Assad era. But now harder choices await Turkish policy makers.

To create the right conditions for the emergence of a political process of reconciliation and reconstruction in Syria, Turkey must shift its position. With Assad on his way out, Ankara should start the practice of conditionality. Its continued support to the Sunni opposition should be conditional on the Sunni leadership taking the lead on midwifing an inclusive, nonhegemonic, multipartite process of political dialogue on the future order in Syria. Also Ankara should seek to reengage with the Alawite minority and support efforts to nurture a new political leadership within this once-powerful minority.

The success of this engagement is critical for a country faced with allegations of exclusively supporting the Sunni camp in Syria alongside Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Only a Turkey that acts in harmony with its secular roots can play the crucial role of helping to build a better future for all Syrians and, by extension, ensuring its own safety and security in this volatile region.

Sinan Ulgen is the chairman of the Istanbul-based think tank EDAM and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe.

Deserted Syrian town of Anadan

“Edipoglu says the recent big clashes are taking place around the Turkish border with Syria and he says every day, what he calls al-Qaida militants are picked up from their homes and put on the buses in Antakya. He says every day and night, 40 or 50 mini buses leave for Syria and they fight there and come back and this happens every day and he says state authorities are providing the buses, even escorting them.But the Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal denies that any such support is being given to any of the Syrian rebel groups.”

The Syrian ghost town that shows the future of Aleppo
For a foretaste of the future of Aleppo, you need venture only as far as the nondescript, silent town of Anadan just eight miles to the north-west.
By Richard Spencer, Anadan – Telegraph, 22 Aug 2012

The sound of war is absent, but so is the sound of everything else. When the light breeze drops, not even the shutters covering the shopfronts rattle.

There is no call to prayer from the central mosque, still open for the vanished faithful but deserted, its floor lined with broken glass. The market is empty, stalls cleared of everything up to the stone walls.

There are blasts marks and shell-holes from the battles that sent the women and children and finally men too into flight. But the effect is more ghostly than that suggests, long streets of homes that are mostly intact but seem never to expect anyone to live there again.

Anadan was one of the wellsprings of the uprising in Aleppo province that culminated in the capture of half the ancient city itself. It was the scene of a vicious battle in June between the rebels of the Free Syrian Army, mostly local men, and government troops, before the regime’s tanks were driven out.

Since then it has been shelled from bases in the northern half of the city, and bombed from the air. Earlier this month Amnesty International released satellite imagery of 600 shell craters in and around the town.

Though many seem to have missed their targets, the effect was to drive tens of thousands of people to the refugee centres on the border with Turkey, where 70,000 Syrian have already fled, or to other villages and towns. ….
Anadan is home to the political leader of the lead rebel unit fighting in Aleppo, the Liwa al-Tawhid or “Unity Brigade” – the term has both a religious meaning, referring to the Oneness of Allah, and a secular one.

Abdulaziz al-Salameh “Abu Juma’a” was a honey trader before launching his rebellion.

“He’s strong, he’s fighting for us, he’s part of us,” said Mustafa Qassem, 20, an FSA man guarding, from no one, a junction in town. “Abu Juma’a was famous for his honey, and we respect him. He is very pious.”

Another Anadan native is Abu Juma’a’s cousin, Abdulrahman al-Salameh, who heads a battalion of the Jubhat al-Nusra, a much more radical Islamist brigade which denies frequent reports that it is allied to al-Qaeda.

The regime’s tactics may be intended to scare the province into submission, the tactic which worked for Hafez al-Assad for so long. But it may just have engendered a reckless, religious, do-or-die bravery.

Out of Anadan’s silence, there came a sudden clanking and roaring. There were no regime tanks for miles, but a gun-turret suddenly poked its nose into the square. Bouncing down the road was a captured Russian T55, belching black smoke out of one corner and lurching forwards with difficulty on its half-repaired tracks.

Four young FSA men cheered from its top as it disappeared into the distance, an appropriately Mad Max-style breaking of the silence.

That tank was never going to liberate Damascus, but the MiGs won’t tame Aleppo on their own either. The betting must be on more attrition, more flight, more emptied towns before this is over.

With war, Syrians in constant flight
By BEN HUBBARD | Associated Press

KAFAR HAMRA, Syria (AP) — Civil war has chased Fatima Ghorab and her brood of some two dozen women and children across Syria in search of safe havens that keep disappearing in the booms of artillery shells. They now shelter in an unfinished apartment in this Aleppo suburb, crowded into two rooms with a few plastic chairs and some thin mattresses. If their neighbors didn’t bring them bread, they’d have none.

As her daughters and daughters-in-law and their kids tuck into a simple lunch of tomatoes and cucumbers, canned meat and apricot jam, the 56-year-old housewife from Damascus struggles to comprehend what has become of her life.

“Before all this we were living well,” said Ghorab, whose family ran a supermarket in the capital until it and their home were torched during a government attack on rebels.

“Our house was full and our shop was full. Now we’re 100 degrees below zero.”

CBS News: Assad’s Aleppo backers abandon him, some shift support, cash to rebels in risky gamble
2012-08-23, By Tucker Reals, Khaled Wassef(CBS News)

(CBS News) LONDON – Eighteen months after anti-Assad street protests spiraled into all-out civil war, sources inside Aleppo tell CBS News that many of the business leaders, scholars and other prominent figures in Syria’s largest city, who have backed President Bashar Assad and his family for decades, no longer see a future under his rule.

CBS News has learned that at least 48 of Aleppo’s elite, calling themselves the “Front of Aleppo Islamic Scholars” (FAIS) – which has a Facebook page established just last year – have hand-picked a provisional city council to take over Aleppo when Assad loses his grip on the country – and they are gambling on one of the many rebel groups fighting in the city to become its eventual protectors.

Turkey Discusses Syria Buffer Zone With U.S., Vatan Reports
2012-08-23, By Mark Bentley
Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) — Turkish officials will discuss with the U.S. the possibility of establishing a buffer zone inside Syria to enhance security for Turkey, Vatan reported.

The proposal will be raised at a meeting in Turkey’s capital Ankara today after an agreement between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to establish an “operational mechanism” with regard to Syria, the Istanbul-based newspaper said.

Gruesome killings mark escalation of violence in Syrian capital
by Liz Sly – Wash Post

ANTAKYA, Turkey — Scores of mutilated, bloodied bodies have been found dumped on the streets and on waste ground on the outskirts of Damascus in recent days, apparently the victims of a surge of extrajudicial killings by Syrian security forces seeking to drive rebel fighters out of the capital and its suburbs.

Safe Havens in Syria: Missions and Requirements for an Air Campaign
Brian T. Haggerty, July 2012, MIT

Capture the Flag: What the rebel banner says about Syria’s civil war.
BY SAMI MOUBAYED | AUGUST 6, 2012 – Foreign Policy

The next boat people; Syria’s Alawites may take to the sea, like the Vietnamese
By Lawrence Solomon, 2012-08-25

Aug. 25 (Financial Post) — If President Bashar al-Assad and his Alawite minority lose Syria’s civil war to the Sunni majority, as Western governments have predicted for more than a year now, the real bloodbath begins. The Sunnis, in revenge for four decades of often-murderous Assad family rule, are sure to seek retribution for the 20,000 brutally killed by Assad in the last 18 months; for the 10,000 wiped out by Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, in a chemical-weapons massacre that put down a 1982 rebellion; and for the countless indignities and injustices throughout the period when the Alawite minority ruled over the Sunni majority.

Two Cheers for Syrian Islamists
So the rebels aren’t secular Jeffersonians. As far as America is concerned, it doesn’t much matter.
BY GARY GAMBILL | AUGUST 23, 2012

…. While there is sure to be regional spillover, it will cut mainly against Tehran. There will be tough times ahead for Lebanon, but ultimately the Assad regime’s death throes can only work against the Shiite Hezbollah movement. Iraq’s ruling Shiite leadership, hitherto sycophantic where Iranian interests are concerned, may find it necessary to distance itself from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s more unpopular Arab clients. With its own restive Sunni minority, Iran itself could be severely rattled by sectarian blowback. ….

Our revolution was civil and pluralistic
25 Aug 2012 Rami G. Khouri

Mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square and street battles in Syria form the dramatic heart of the uprisings and revolutions that define many Arab lands these days, but the soul and the brain of the Arab world to come are being shaped in the epic battles now taking place to write new [...]

Austin Tice: ‘It’s nice and all, but please quit telling me to be safe.’
- Journalist Austin Tice, who contributed articles to The Washington Post, is currently missing in Syria.
August 23 – Wash Post

The following was posted by Austin Tice on his Facebook page on July 25. It is republished here with the permission of his parents.

Syrian ex-radio star Honey al Sayed struggles with exile, her country’s fate
Radio host flees Syrian uprising
By Hannah Allam | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Never, ever say the word “revolution.”…

Amateur jihad tests Syrian rebel resources
ReutersBy Suleiman Al-Khalidi | Reuters

ALEPPO, Syria (Reuters) – Talal Mohammad is a long way from Tennessee, and he’s out of his depth.

In an olive grove a few miles from the frontlines of Aleppo, he’s at a loss to explain to a battle-hardened bunch of Syrian rebels what exactly this prosperous, U.S.-trained Saudi dentist is doing there – and what he can offer to their cause.

“Why have you come?” asked one of his new comrades, sharply, as they shared a traditional evening meal, the iftar to break the Ramadan fast, in the twilight of a makeshift training camp.

“Don’t get us wrong,” the man adds quickly, anxious to show due respect to a guest at this solemn ritual of shared faith in Islam. “We appreciate your solidarity. But if you’d brought us money and weapons, that would have been much better.”

Syrians’ war to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad seems to be drawing ever greater numbers of fellow Arabs and other Muslims to the battlefield, many driven by a sense of religious duty to perform jihad, a readiness to suffer for Islam

Writing, Revolution, and Change in Syria: An Interview with Nihad Sirees
Aug 23 2012 by Yusuf Akkawi (trans. by Max Weiss) - Jadilyya

Syrie: rempart de Bachar el-Assad, les Alaouites sont aussi ses otages – par Catherine Goueset
23 août 2012, By

Comments (172)


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151. Son of Damascus said:

Absolutely humbling, after enduring the most horrific massacre committed so far by the Assadi forces Darayans go out and protest.

Below is a picture of one of the signs:
https://twitter.com/NMSyria/status/239870229130391552/photo/1/large

It says:
“Whatever you do, we will not seek revenge or deviate from our target. You will be taken to court in free Syria”

Allah ye7ayi ahl Daraya, you humble me.

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August 26th, 2012, 7:48 pm

 

152. Aleppo said:

151. SON OF DAMASCUS

These events bring tears to my eyes. It is shocking how supporters of the butcher of Damascus dare dehumanize the people.

Assad senior may not have been a genius but he had some intuition, Besho is plain dumb.

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August 26th, 2012, 8:05 pm

 

153. Visitor said:

“A detailed report on the armed opposition by Washington-based think tank Institute for the Study of War suggests so. It states that “the majority of evidence through early march 2012 indicated that while Syria’s insurgents may be inspired by Islam, they are not radical jihadists.” According to numerous journalists who visited Syria in the past month, as well as experts who spoke with NOW Lebanon, the above statement holds true.”

To read more: http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=430734#ixzz24hTcqi7J
Only 25% of a given NOW Lebanon article can be republished. For information on republishing rights from NOW Lebanon: http://www.nowlebanon.com/Sub.aspx?ID=125478

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August 26th, 2012, 8:06 pm

 

154. Uzair8 said:

An interesting angle from Sky News’ Tim Marshall.

The Tribal Undercurrent In Syria’s Civil War

Little attention is being paid to the tribal factors helping fuel public opinion in Syria, says Sky’s Tim Marshall.

Saturday 25 August 2012

The tribal link between communities in Syria and Arab countries across the region is an under-reported factor in the civil war.

Many people are now familiar with the regional strategy of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to weaken Iran by overthrowing its ally, the Assad regime in Damascus.

But there is little attention paid to the tribal factors helping fuel public opinion in those countries and others.

Large numbers of Syrians are descended from tribes in the Arabian peninsula. They moved north during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century, but kept in contact with their tribal confederations.

Despite the artificial lines drawn by French and British colonialists in 1916, creating nation states, the tribal links remain.

Read more:

http://news.sky.com/story/976878/the-tribal-undercurrent-in-syrias-civil-war

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August 26th, 2012, 8:17 pm

 

155. Son of Damascus said:

Aleppo,

Whomever is doubting the general goodness of the Syrian people is letting fiction blind them of the truth. Whomever thinks that this revolution is only about the FSA now is also letting fiction blind them of reality.

Another powerfully humbling banner was from this past Friday called:
جمعة لاتحزني درعا إنا الله معنا (Do not be sad Deraa, for God is with us)

This is what the people of Deraa had to say:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chroniclesyrianuprising/7857042770/in/set-72157631237750782

كيف أحزن وأطفال سوريا رجال (How can I be sad when the Children of Syria are Men)

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August 26th, 2012, 8:27 pm

 

156. ann said:

Tehran hosts Non-Aligned Movement summit with focus on Syria – 26 August, 2012

Leaders of 120 countries have gathered in Tehran to attend 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. Summit host Iran is expected to draw up a new peace resolution to solve the crisis in Syria. Nuclear disarmament issues are also on the table.

­The Non-Aligned Movement represents practically two-thirds of UN member states. The movement was founded in 1961 and has become a significant discussion platform for developing countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Among many global topics to be discussed at this summit are human rights and nuclear disarmament issues that have been specified in advance.

At the Tehran summit Iran will take over the leadership role in the Non-Aligned Movement from Egypt for the next three years, meaning Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is definitely heading to Tehran this week.

A number of controversies surround the start of the gathering. The first is that the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to attend the six-day summit, despite protests from the US and Israel, which both called on to the UN head to stay away from the event.

Another relates to Palestine as two leaders, President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, have both declared they received and accepted the Iranian invitation.

President Abbas, leader of the secular Fatah Palestinian organization, has threatened to boycott the summit if Hamas attends.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki proclaimed that “President Abbas will not take part in the Non-Aligned summit if Haniyeh is present, no matter what form his attendance takes.”

Prime Minister of Palestine Salam Fayyad called the Iranian move a “stab in the back of the Palestinian national project.”

Hamas announced earlier that Haniyeh would attend the August 30-31 conference in Tehran “in accordance with the invitation from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” a Hamas spokesperson said.

However, on Sunday Iran made a statement that the Hamas premier in Gaza was never issued an invitation.

“Up to now, no official invitation from the Islamic Republic of Iran and the person of (President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad has been sent to Hamas’ popular prime minister [Ismail Haniya],” said the Iranian spokesman for the summit.

“Only [Palestinian president] Mahmud Abbas has been invited to the NAM summit,” the spokesman for the organizing committee of the summit Mohammad Reza Forqani told the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) and Mehr (MNA) Iranian news agencies

[...]

http://rt.com/news/non-aligned-movement-summit-tehran-583/

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August 26th, 2012, 8:30 pm

 

157. Uzair8 said:

Without mentioning any name, I must mention a certain Armenian who has been tireless in her efforts on online social networks in the service of the revolution. I’m sure she is Armenian. I’m full of admiration for her devotion, determination and stamina. I don’t know how she does it.

Just a heartfelt tribute.

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August 26th, 2012, 8:32 pm

 

158. Aleppo said:

155. SON OF DAMASCUS

Before I had children (well, technically my wife had them) I could not understand what it meant. I always liked children but it is different. How can we feel about shabeeha? How can we tolerate anyone that dismisses the legitimacy of the revolution? or accept what is happening to children in the hands of inhumane assassins and torturers? There is nothing that justifies that!

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August 26th, 2012, 8:45 pm

 

159. ann said:

News Analysis: Three issues to be highlighted in NAM summit – 2012-08-27

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-08/27/c_123632445.htm

Iran’s Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Chief Alaeddin Boroujerdi said Sunday that Iran stands against any foreign intervention in Syria, stressing that the NAM summit in Tehran aims at creating a chance to help resolve the 18-month-old crisis in Syria.

On Saturday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Iran would present a “comprehensive” proposal to solve the Syrian crisis and it would be discussed on the sidelines of the 16th NAM meeting.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said Thursday that Tehran would present an “acceptable and rational” proposal on the Syria crisis at the upcoming NAM summit.

Iran maintains everybody should refrain, avoid violence and try to work out some kind of solution between various political parties in Syria, Dr. Sadeq Zibakalam, a professor of political science with Tehran University, said in a recent interview with Xinhua.

[...]

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-08/27/c_123632445.htm

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August 26th, 2012, 8:49 pm

 

160. Ghufran said:

Syrian,
Thanks for the comment, you were respectful at least despite the few barbs.
I managed to get on the nerves of a number of people here, but I stand by my comments and have no problem with people disagreeing with me.
My Syrian half is as dear to me as my Palestinian half,I do not see Lebanon, Syria and Palestine as three separate nations.
It has to be annoying to some to have two posters on this board,one is irritated and the other is irritating.
Bashar is a burnt card even for his supporters, his presence helps his opponents more than his supporters,the challenge today,and always was, is to change the regime without destroying Syria, as of now, the only plan that is on schedule is the second part.

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August 26th, 2012, 9:00 pm

 

161. ann said:

The case against intervening in Syria – August 25, 2012

One thing unlikely to come of American involvement: Goodwill

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/167369285.html?refer=y

Calls for a U.S. military intervention in Syria have dominated the conversation in conventional and social media. Two simple and effective arguments are being advanced. The first, and most compelling, is that the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe befalling the Syrian people mandates international action. The second is based on realpolitik: Supporting the just and winning cause of the Syrian rebels will put the United States in good standing with the regime that emerges from the conflict.

Both arguments are wrong.

Any U.S. military engagement in Syria would have two important ramifications.

First, it would cause casualties, including civilian ones. One should not underestimate how much bombing would be required just to suppress anti-aircraft installations so that the U.S. Air Force could operate in support of the rebels. Furthermore, suppression is not a one-off campaign. It has to be continuous, and the regime is likely to hide many of its air defenses in populated areas, provoking more civilian casualties.

Second, U.S. participation in another war in a Muslim country will serve to only deepen the perception that Washington is trigger-happy about dropping bombs on Muslim populations and regimes. Two years after the conclusion of any U.S. intervention in Syria, what people will remember is that women and children died under American bombardments.

Taking sides and delivering power to one group does not always induce the winners to be magnanimous. Iraq is the perfect example of this. It’s sad to say, but civil wars have to be fought and won by locals — and it is generally only after experiencing the horrors of war that the participants learn to compromise.

U.S. foreign policy has always been more preoccupied with America’s place and role in the world than with the countries we engage. Our foreign-policy professionals care deeply about the rest of the world but often for the wrong reasons; they operate as if they alone can reshape outcomes and be the agents of change. Inaction is not in their lexicon.

The longstanding truth underlying this situation is that, for decades, Arabs have been exposed to, even under friendly regimes, daily diatribes of anti-Americanism by their governments, media and academics. This will neither end nor change because we decide to help the Syrian opposition.

[...]

http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/167369285.html?refer=y

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August 26th, 2012, 9:09 pm

 

162. Son of Damascus said:

Aleppo,

Nothing at all justifies that. The physical tashbeeh and online tashbeeh are the product of the filthiest regime in history.

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August 26th, 2012, 9:10 pm

 

163. Aldendeshe said:

Hey ANN you are back working with longer version, even that, one miss your sanity, I know it is boring having to pass over 300 comments at light speed to get to something readable. You feel like an idiot having to shake your head at the Shrek’s in here typing something not even remotely close to Syrian and yet they brag about the Damascus Shawerma and use SYRIAN for names. LOL, this by itself tell you who they are, this is the same people that phoned Mark’s mother and said HI MOM, THIS IS MARK BINGHAM, I JUST WANTED TO TELL YOU I LOVE YOU

@GUFRAN
One way to tell poster is not Syrian in fact, is when the (I) not capitalized (i) in the post, this is how and Israeli armature or someone actng as foreigner will writes (cliché). There are SIX Syrians on this board. The other surprisingly still kicking, even though as it appears Assad has routed the Islamic Terrorists they sent and financed out of Syria. Losers and dead ender’s, you cannot pass Syria, you stuck in you mess.

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August 26th, 2012, 9:15 pm

 

164. Son of Damascus said:

Ghufran,

While I might not agree with you on somethings, I would never question your Syrianhood. Neither would I ever call you a regimist either, those that do are selectively reading your posts.

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August 26th, 2012, 9:17 pm

 

165. Ghufran said:

أشار عضو المكتب التنفيذي في المجلس الوطني السوري سمير نشار الى أنّ “الجيش السوري الحر يقاتل ببسالة وشجاعة، وقوات الأسد لم تتوقف لمدة 6 أيام عن القصف الجوي والمدفعي لمدينة حلب”.
ولفت في حديث تلفزيوني الى أنّ “المجتمع الدولي لا يزال يتحدث وهو لا يتخذ أي إجراء على الرغم من سقوط عشرات آلاف القتلى”، مضيفاً “قررنا أن نبقى على تواصل وإستمرار التواجد في سوريا الى جانب الشعب السوري والجيش السوري الحر وخروجنا من سوريا فقط لأجل أهداف تخدم الثورة السورية”.
I was able to understand this statement until I got to the part about:
خروجنا من سوريا الخ
May be one of the SNC supporters can explain this to me.
As for the FSA (SOD) comment,how is criticizing or disagreeing with the FSA is an act of treason? The rebels changed their mission and their tactics in a way that hurt the revolution and the Syrian people as a whole by resorting to assasinations and senseless acts of violence and brutality,they also left their positions and used civilian areas as their new headquarters and allowed Islamist thugs to infiltrate their ranks, do not tell me that we are supposed to support those actions.
Denouncing the regime and supporting a regime change does not mean being mute when you see the opposition committing grave mistakes.

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August 26th, 2012, 9:24 pm

 

166. Son of Damascus said:

Ghufran,

I don’t think it is treasonous to criticize the FSA, nobody is above criticism. bil3aks to me it is more important to criticize them and point out what they are doing wrong, that when they use senseless tactics they should not repeat them.

By the outrage and condemnation the FSA received during the Berri executions the code of conduct for the FSA was born.
https://www.facebook.com/notes/لجان-التنسيق-المحلية-في-سوريا/new-battalions-sign-the-code-of-conduct/508232342537240

I have said this before the FSA needs more civilian leadership, and I believe they are working on that. As for the foreign Jihadists I worry about them as well, but they are just a mere sideshow to the killing machine facing Syrians today.

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August 26th, 2012, 9:37 pm

 

167. ann said:

Egypt defends Syria contact group that includes Iran – 10 hours ago

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gisMDsBxPcbAQiCQHgN1FlwRaPEw?docId=CNG.a761e4e7f96f4b5911c444241d635c3d.1c1

Egypt defends Syria contact group that includes Iran

(AFP) – 10 hours ago

CAIRO — Egypt on Sunday defended its idea of forming a regional contact group on Syria which would include Iran, a staunch Damascus ally, insisting that Tehran could “be part of the solution” to the Syrian crisis.

President Mohamed Morsi proposed at this month’s Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit in Mecca creating such a group made up of Egypt and Iran, as well as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, two countries supporting the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“If this group succeeds, Iran would be part of the solution and not the problem,” Morsi’s spokesman Yassir Ali told reporters.

“Solving the problem demands inviting all parties active in the region,” he said, noting that Tehran was an “influential partner” of Damascus.

Morsi will attend the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Tehran on August 30 when he will pass the movement’s presidency from Egypt to Iran.

It will be the first visit by an Egyptian head of state since the two countries severed diplomatic relations more than 30 years ago.

Ali said that Morsi’s visit of “a few hours” would be dedicated solely to the summit.

“No other subject is expected,” he said when asked if the issue of resumption of diplomatic relations between Cairo and Tehran could be addressed.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, in comments reported in Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram newspaper on Tuesday, said that Tehran was keen on establishing relations of “friendship and brotherhood” with Cairo.

“Egypt is the cornerstone of the region and has a special stature in the Arab and Muslim countries… and we want relations of friendship and brotherhood with it,” Salehi said, adding that Tehran hoped to restore “normal” ties with Cairo.

“We will pursue this path and restoration of relations depends only on protocol measures,” he said.

[...]

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gisMDsBxPcbAQiCQHgN1FlwRaPEw?docId=CNG.a761e4e7f96f4b5911c444241d635c3d.1c1

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August 26th, 2012, 10:08 pm

 

168. Richard said:

165. Ghufran said:
“… allowed Islamist thugs to infiltrate their ranks, do not tell me that we are supposed to support those actions.”

The Islamists have the best weapons. If you want to marginalize the Islamists, you have two choices:
1) Hope that Assad crushes the revolution and holds power.
2) accept much better arming of the FSA by Turkey and/or the West.

The third way, the argument that a decent resolution can be negotiated with the Assad clan clinging to power is a fantasy.

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August 26th, 2012, 10:19 pm

 

169. ann said:

Beirut Patriarch: EU Doesn’t Care About the Fate of Christians in the Middle East – 8-27-2012

http://www.aina.org/news/20120826223718.htm

The west’s attitude to the Syrian conflict was described as “hypocrisy” and sharply criticised by the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church in Beirut, Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III. “For many governments it’s merely a matter of economic interests. They don’t really care about the fate of the Christians in the Middle East. Otherwise they would advocate equality before the law and the observance of human rights for all, including in those countries where the so-called Arab Spring has not taken place”, the Beirut Patriarch claims in an interview with the international Catholic charity “Aid to the Church in Need”. It’s primarily a matter of safeguarding freedom of conscience and religion for all. But this equality before the law does not exist. “It is this that seriously threatens our survival throughout the region”, the head of the Syriac Catholic Church stressed.

Below we publish the interview with His Beatitude Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III., Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church in the Middle East and one of the seven Patriarchs in this region.

Interview with His Beatitude Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III., Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church in the Middle East and one of the seven Patriarchs in this region. The Syriac Catholic Church is one of the 18 faith communities in Lebanon recognised in the Lebanese constitution. The interview was conducted by Jürgen Liminski.

Q) Your Beatitude, we hear a lot about the situation of the Christian refugees and the tensions in Lebanon. That’s one side of the picture. The other is the political aspect of the Christian presence in Lebanon and in the Middle East. Is this presence at risk?

A) Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III.: “The situation of the Christians in Lebanon differs fundamentally from that of the Christians in the other countries of the Middle East. The constitution recognises 18 official religious communities, eleven of which are Christian. But the main concern everywhere is that of human rights. There’s no lack of money and also no lack of vocations. We are being put under pressure by those who wish to recognise only one single religion. We Christians do not demand any special rights; we only want the same rights as everybody else. We want freedom of conscience, we want freedom of religious worship, and we also want freedom for those who don’t believe anything. This equality before the law does not exist. It is this that seriously threatens our survival throughout the region.”

Q) If only it were merely a matter of legal questions, that would be tolerable. But what is the practical situation?

A) Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III.: “No. The legal questions determine our practical life. They are the framework for human dignity. Our young people don’t want to beg for the right to work and live in their own country. In Iraq they ask me: What should we do? Where are we still safe? And it terms of practical living it’s like this: When a young man, a Christian, falls in love with a Muslim woman and she loves him, he has to become a Muslim in order to marry her. Where is the freedom of faith there? Another example: We now have a family from Iran here and they want to be baptised. But in doing this they are risking their lives. Where is the freedom of religion there? Islam does not tolerate a change of faith. There is a similar situation in Turkey. There you can see what follows when freedom only exists on paper. The goods of Christians have been confiscated and many churches have been destroyed. But the Christians were in Asia Minor before the Muslims. Rights are also officially recognised in Iraq, but nobody protects them, nobody does anything against the persecution of Christians. And now Syria. Our presence is also under threat there.”

Q) Are you on Assad’s side?

A) Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III.: “We’re on nobody’s side. I repeat: We only want the same rights as everybody else. If anything, we’re on the side of the Syrian people. But if one doesn’t speak out against Assad nowadays it’s taken to mean that one’s on his side. Do you know who they all are on the other side and whether these forces will recognise civil rights and the Charter of the United Nations?”

Q) Is the European Union wrong in supporting the rebels?

A) Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Joseph III.: “Permit me to speak quite frankly. There’s a lot of hypocrisy in all this. For many governments it’s merely a matter of economic interests. They don’t really care about the fate of the Christians in the Middle East. Otherwise they would advocate equality before the law and the observance of human rights for all, including in those countries where the so-called Arab Spring has not taken place. More than a year ago we said that the Arab Spring would result in chaos and civil war. This is not a matter of taking sides for or against Assad or some other potentate in the region. It’s a matter of equal rights for all. It’s a matter of the primacy of human rights and not the primacy of one religion. Integration and living side-by-side are only possible if this primacy is respected. I said it to the government in Paris and I’ll say it to you: Fundamental Islam does not want a dialogue on equal terms in the long run. If the EU were serious about its human rights principles they would openly take up the cause of the future of younger generations in the region. Let’s put it like this: there’s a lot of economic opportunism around.”

[...]

http://www.aina.org/news/20120826223718.htm

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August 27th, 2012, 12:08 am

 

170. ann said:

Meanwhile, through the US, Israel is pursuing a two-pronged strategy: regime change in Syria intended to weaken Iran and the Lebanese resistance on the one hand, while destroying Syria by dismantling it along ethnic and religious lines.

Israel’s obsession with maintaining a domineering, unchallenged regional position has long envisaged the breaking up of neighbouring states across religious lines as indispensable for its survival as a theocratic state.

The invasion of Iraq was the Zion-cons’ first successful Israeli proxy war using American forces to invade and occupy another country based on proven fabricated tales.

In 1982, almost 20 years prior to the invasion of Iraq, former Israeli Foreign Ministry official Oded Yinon wrote in Kivunim (Directions), the journal of the department of information of the World Zionist Organization, that Israel’s future priority should be “The dissolution of Syria and Iraq … into ethnically or religiously unique areas…”

On Iraq he wrote: “Its dissolution is even more important than Syria. Iraq is stronger… Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to … breaking up Iraq into … provinces along ethnic/religious lines…”
“Israel’s obsession with maintaining a domineering, unchallenged regional position has long envisaged the breaking up of neighbouring states across religious lines as indispensable for its survival as a theocratic state.”

On Syria, the Zionist strategist called for dividing the country into an “Alawi state along its coast, a Sunni state in the Aleppo area, another Sunni state in Damascus … and the Durzes … in the Hauran and in northern Jordan…”

Obama’s recently-revealed approval of an intelligence “finding” authorizing a CIA role in the Syrian conflict may signify now a new liberal Zionist Israeli proxy war in Syria. Israel’s dominion obsession is a menace endangering the stability of the region and world peace.

[...]

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August 27th, 2012, 12:25 am

 

171. ann said:

Syrian TV Denies Intelligence Chief Murder – 26/08/2012

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120826/175445289.html

A pro-government Syrian TV channel, al-Dunya, on Sunday denied media reports that Jamil Hassan, head of Syria’s air force intelligence, had been assassinated.

Al-Arabiya TV reported earlier in the day, citing Syrian opposition sources, that the air force intelligence chief had been shot dead in his Damascus office by one of his aides, a secret supporter of the opposition. Hassan is considered one of President Bashar al-Assad’s closest advisors.

“The information about the assassination of Syria’s air force intelligence chief Jamil Hassan… is absolutely false,” the channel said.

The information war between the government and rebels has been an ongoing element of the Syrian crisis since it began in March 2011.

[...]

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120826/175445289.html

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August 27th, 2012, 1:08 am

 

172. Ales said:

I agree that civilians were also killed in Daraya.
But let’s admit it, many rebel claims about massacre have proved to be full of holes or outright lies. For example, “Thamsieh massacre” has been confirmed as armed fight by UN observers.
There was a fight in Daraya too. Any claims of massacre, truthful as they may be, has been hurt by lies and exaggerations of rebels before.

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August 27th, 2012, 10:01 am

 

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