The Flood of Syrian Refugees Threatens Regional Stability and Underlines Price of Inaction

The situation in Syria is deteriorating rapidly as the fighting has intensified in urban areas, which are key to the regime’s survival and to the opposition’s progress. The death rate has spiraled upward as has the flow of refugees out of Syria. Neighboring states are beginning to become overwhelmed by the torrent of human misery that is coming their way. There is no end in sight and the outside world is providing little humanitarian aid. The Assad regime is determined and lethal. It seems ready to pursue a scorched earth policy. Its foreign supporters – Iran and Russia – seem prepared to stick by its side.

Syrian Refugees Flood Into Jordan and Turkey in a Sharp Rise. 5,000 a day into Turkey. 10,000 last week into Jordan.

Moral among the Syrian opposition remains high despite the pounding it’s fighters have taken in the face of offensives in both Aleppo and Damascus. It has met with renewed support in the international community. France’s President is talking about recognizing a government in exile. Turkey is insisting on a no-fly zone over Syria. And the US has moved an aircraft carrier to the coast, opened a center in Istanbul to help coordinate opposition activities, and allowed a Syrian opposition lobby group to operate in Washington DC. But none of this can make up for the continuing fragmentation and bickering of the opposition. The Economist quoted one Syrian activist to say that perhaps more than 2,000 armed groups were operating on Syrian soil. From the viewpoint of foreign governments that hope to support the opposition, this is an impossible situation. It is also an impossible situation for the Assad military. Although the fragmentation of the opposition troops may make it impossible to destroy the Syrian Army, it also makes it impossible for the Syrian Army to destroy the opposition, which is constantly multiplying.

Foreign powers continue to resist getting directly involved in taking on Assad’s forces, but they are being faced with a much larger humanitarian crises than earlier. Both Turkey and Jordan have been making noises about shutting their borders to every greater waves of refugees. This is a warning to the international community that it must begin planning for greater help and that its inaction may have profound effects on the stability of the region.

Foreign Policy

Turkey is calling for the establishment of humanitarian “safe zones” as refugee flows from Syria escalate, and the United Nations has warned about increased refugee movement into Jordan and Turkey. About 80,000 people from Syria have settled in Turkey since the start of the uprising in 2011, and the United Nations said it could reach 200,000. As fighting has recently increased, Turkey has started to see larger flows, with an estimated 5,000 refugees a day, a drastic jump from the average 500 per day earlier in the month. Turkey warned it only has space for around 100,000 people, however has built new camps which could bring the number up to 120,000. Western diplomats have expressed interest in establishing a safe zone in Syria, however said it would need to backed by a “no-fly zone,” concerning those who hesitate to participate in a military intervention. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a rare appearance on a television interview on the pro-government Dunya TV. He denounced the premise of establishing humanitarian safe zones in Syria, calling it an “unrealistic idea by hostile countries and the enemies of Syria.” He maintained his soldiers are “doing a heroic job” but said they need more time to end the conflict. Fierce fighting has been reported in Damascus, Aleppo, and in Idlib province.

Assad Draws Shock Troops from Elite Sect in Syria
By Bill Spindle, 28 August 2012, The Wall Street Journal Online

LATAKIA, Syria—Flag-draped coffins depart from the drab military hospital here each morning these days, carrying the dead soldiers of the Syrian regime along winding rural roads to ancestral villages in the surrounding hill country.

All along the way, women come out to the roadside to throw rice and rose petals at the passing caravan. Cheering men shoot machine guns in the air. Children shout, “God! Bashar! Syria!” in homage of President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian nation. They believe their native sons have sacrificed their lives to become “martyrs.”

These are Syria’s Alawites, one of the more peculiar and least-known sects in the Middle East. Here in a country ravaged by civil war, they make up only about 12% of the country’s population of 22.5 million. And yet, as that war intensifies, they are taking on a potentially critical—and controversial—role defending the Assad regime.

Many Alawites characterize themselves as the first and last line of defense for their nation. And they may be right, now that other sectarian groups, including many Sunnis and Kurds, have turned into opposition or pulled from the government orbit.

“The Syrian army is being transformed into an Alawite militia,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma. “As the Sunnis defect, more and more Alawites are being brought in, which is bringing in more of these villagers.”…

“They’re afraid,” said an Alawite activist and government opponent as he looked on. “They don’t know what will happen.”

Bassma Kodmani, spokesperson for the Sryian National Council has resigned. In the resignation letter I received, she wrote: … “The project did not achieve its objectives and did not earn the required credibility and did not maintain the confidence of the people…”

Bloomberg writes: Bassma Kodmani, a prominent voice of the Syrian National Council, resigned from the main political opposition body to President Bashar al-Assad, citing disappointment in the group’s failure to work together more than 17 months after the uprising began.

“I decided to leave the council because of a difference of views over how to move forward and because thought I could be more productive working on the outside,” Kodmani, a Paris-based academic turned revolutionary, said today in a telephone interview.

Without going into details, the former chief spokeswoman for the SNC said that in “general terms, I’ve been disappointed with how the council has worked on several levels.” She said she will work with other groups, mainly in humanitarian relief.

Kodmani said her resignation was unrelated to France’s signal yesterday that it was prepared to confer legitimacy on the SNC, a political umbrella for anti-government factions that includes the Muslim Brotherhood.

Syria’s Mutating Conflict – International Crisis Group
[I have been meaning to push Peter Harling’s latest report because his analysis is the best, most in-depth, most balanced, and best written on Syria. He is worth his weight in Gold.]

As fighting rages in Aleppo, the combination of a regime morphing into a formidable militia and an Alawite…

Syria looks for big wheat purchase
By Michael Hogan,  HAMBURG | Wed Aug 29, 2012

(Reuters) – Syria has issued a large tender for wheat, a commodity not subject to sanctions, as feeding its people becomes harder in the chaos of civil war.

The United Nations has said Syria faces food shortages as tens of thousands of families leave their homes due to heavy fighting and with the harvest neglected during the conflict.

Syria’s state grains agency issued a new international tender to purchase and import 100,000 metric tons of soft milling wheat, European traders said on Wednesday.

Trade sources said a reluctance among foreign banks, shipowners and grain traders to sell and transport grain to Syria – even though food is not itself subject to sanctions – had forced Damascus into an array of unusually small wheat purchase deals in past months, many arranged by dealers around the Middle East and Asia.

Traders also said Syria was entering the market at a time of high prices, so a purchase will be more expensive than usual….

Syrian army being aided by Iranian forces
Iran confirms Quds force’s presence in Syria with Revolutionary Guards commander saying troops ‘helped prevent more massacres’
Saeed Kamali Dehghan – guardian

Ismail Gha’ani, the deputy head of Iran’s Quds force, the arm of the Revolutionary Guards tasked with overseas operations, said in an interview with the semi-official Isna news agency: “If the Islamic republic was not present in Syria, the massacre of people would have happened on a much larger scale.”

David Enders, 27 Aug 201, McClatchy
Sattam Sheikhmous still farms wheat on what’s left of his grandfather’s land, shrunk from more than 32,000 acres to less than 5,000 by the Syrian government in 1966. “They said it was a socialist policy, but we believe it was political,” said Sheikhmous, now in his 60s, referring to the government confiscation […]

The land confiscation took place across the country. But in the predominantly Kurdish province of Hasaka, in Syria’s northeast corner, the resettlement of Arabs from another part of the country in the 1970s created ethnic tensions that could manifest themselves violently when the Syrian government fully relinquishes control of the area, now seen by many as only a matter of time.

“We have to ask them to give us our land back. If they don’t, we have to do whatever we need to do,” said Sheikhmous. “It’s not just our land, it’s Kurdish land. If they don’t leave peacefully, we will use weapons.”

With Syria convulsed by a civil war that shows no signs of ending soon, the country’s Kurdish region, fast against Turkey and Iraq, is surprisingly peaceful, thanks to a maneuver by the government of President Bashar Assad, who first granted the Kurds greater rights last year, then surrendered security to a Kurdish militia this summer. While anti-Assad demonstrations still take place here, there is none of the kind of fighting that has convulsed other parts of Syria….

Syria Defectors Live in Secret Camp
By DALE GAVLAK and JAMAL HALABY Associated Press
MAFRAQ, Jordan August 28, 2012 (AP)

In an isolated stretch of Jordanian desert, a heavily guarded, secret compound houses 1,200 senior police and army officers who defected from nearby Syria.

The men live in trailers with fans but no air conditioning, surrounded by barbed wire, and they pass their days browsing the Internet and watching TV for news of Syria’s civil war, longing to join the fight — but they are largely unable to leave.

The Jordanian military runs the camp near a site formerly used by the U.S. to train some its forces for the war in Iraq, and the defectors are debriefed by intelligence agents. Access to them is tightly restricted for their own protection. They are even separated from their families, who live outside the camp near the northern border city of Mafraq but can get special police permits to visit….

Syrian Opposition Asks U.S. to Introduce No-Fly Zone – 28/08/2012

The Syrian Support Group (SSG) called on the United States for the first time since the 18-month-old uprising to immediately establish a no-fly zone over Syria.

The group, which represents the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Washington, claims that Syria’s ruling authorities intensified use of air strikes to attack cities held by rebels.

The Cable quoted Louay Sakka, co-founder of the SSG, as saying that, “This is right now the time for a no-fly zone to take place.” “We need to stop the fixed-wing and helicopters from attacking. The regime cannot hold ground without air power or heavy artillery,” he added. […]

The Day After. Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria
Vision, Principles, Objectives, Challenges, and Recommendations
SWP Comments 2012/C 28, August 2012, 7 Pages

Among the challenges confronted by the Syrian opposition since the start of the Syrian revolution in March 2011 has been the lack of a unified vision for Syria’s future and concrete and detailed planning to respond to the significant challenges that will accompany a post-Assad transition. The absence of a clear vision and detailed plans has reinforced fears among some segments of Syrian society about what the future might hold should the Assad regime collapse. It has also constrained efforts by the inter­national community to support the opposition in its efforts to overthrow the Assad regime. To address this gap, The Day After project provided a framework within which some 45 prominent opposition representatives of varied backgrounds participated in a facilitated process of transition planning. The project has now published a document that provides a comprehensive vision for a post-Assad order, agrees on principles and goals, identifies challenges and risks, and puts forward concrete recommendations in six policy fields crucial for a successful transition. The document also offers recommen­dations for measures to be taken immediately to put in place the foundations for a suc­cessful transition.

Iran Said to Send Troops to Bolster Syria

BEIRUT—Iran is sending commanders from its elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and hundreds of foot soldiers to Syria, according to current and former members of the corps.

The personnel moves come on top of what these people say are Tehran’s stepped-up efforts to aid the military of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with cash and arms. That would indicate that regional capitals are being drawn deeper into Syria’s conflict—and undergird a growing perception among Mr. Assad’s opponents that the regime’s military is increasingly strained.

A commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, appeared to offer Iran’s first open acknowledgment …

France to recognize an Syrian opposition government – 2012-08-28

BEIJING, Aug. 28 (Xinhuanet) — French President Francois Hollande has called on the Syrian opposition to form a provisional government and says France will recognize it once it is formed.

The announcement by Hollande – believed to be the first of its kind – appears to be an attempt to jolt Syria’s deeply fragmented opposition into unity. It has increased diplomatic pressure on the already isolated government of President Bashar-al-Assad.

Sharp increase in refugee flows from Syria
By Liz Sly, AUGUST 26, Washington Post

ANTAKYA, Turkey — A surge in the number of Syrians seeking sanctuary from their country’s soaring violence prompted the Turkish government to halt the flow of refugees at two key border crossings Sunday amid an escalating humanitarian crisis that is swamping Syria’s neighbors and intensifying pressure for international intervention.

The closure left more than 7,000 refugees stranded in olive groves just inside Syria at the two places where most of the Syrians cross, while Turkish officials look for a way to accommodate them at camps that can’t keep pace with the influx.

But with more than 80,000 refugees in Turkey, nearly double the number a month ago, officials warned that the country is rapidly approaching the point at which it will no longer be able to cope. That could trigger a request for support at the United Nations for the creation of some form of internationally protected haven that would enable refugees to remain in Syria.

Turkey has not decided how to address the accelerating refugee flow but is considering asking the United Nations to find a way “to keep those Syrian nationals safe on the Syrian side of the border,” said a government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “It is becoming a big burden. This could become a big issue, and we have to think about any kind of eventuality.”

The Obama administration remains reluctant to become embroiled in what could prove to be a costly and unstoppable war that would risk engulfing the region, U.S. officials say.

President Obama last week identified the use of chemical weapons by the regime against its opponents as a “red line” that would trigger American intervention. U.S. officials say they are monitoring the evolving situation and are discussing various options, including the imposition of a no-fly zone in northern Syria that would alleviate the burden on Turkey of accommodating the refugees.

But although Turkish officials have been pressuring the United States to move toward some form of intervention because “they don’t want more refugees,” the United States is not convinced that the creation of any form of buffer zone would work to protect refugees or accelerate the demise of the regime, according to a senior U.S. administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Discussions by U.S. contingency planners have focused on a variety of options. They range from what is being called “no-fly lite,” which would provide a haven for refugees but not require outright attacks on military facilities, to a full-scale no-fly zone similar to the one imposed over Libya last year, according to U.S. officials.

The number of refugees being accommodated by Syria’s neighbors has already outstripped the United Nations’ projection of 185,000 by the end of the year, with more than 200,000 registered in Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon as of Friday. The number in Turkey has climbed by 10,000 since Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, warned a week ago that Turkey would press for international action if the figure passed 100,000. The latest arrivals suggest that threshold could be reached within weeks, if not days.

Aleppo archbishop flees to Lebanon, Vatican radio says
August 27, 2012 share
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The Melkite Greek Catholic archbishop of Aleppo has fled to Lebanon and his offices in the war-ravaged city have been looted, Vatican media said on Monday, amid fears over the fate of Christian minorities.

Vatican radio and the missionary news agency Fides said Jean-Clement Jeanbart initially sought refuge with some Franciscan friars in the city on Thursday last week as fighting intensified in Christian quarters of Aleppo.

Within a few hours the archdiocese had been ransacked by “unidentified groups who want to start a religious war and drag the Syrian people into a sectarian conflict,” a source in the local Christian community told Fides.

The doors of the archdiocese had been forced open and several objects like computers stolen, the reports said. Jeanbart has since fled to Lebanon.

The Melkites are an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Vatican.

The reports also said the Maronite archdiocese in Aleppo and the Byzantine Christian museum of Maarrat Nahman in the city had also been damaged.

President Bashar al-Assad’s forces last week regained control of some Christian areas in the city center that had been seized by rebels.

Jeanbart told Vatican radio that he was concerned about the presence of foreign fighters in the country and “organizations to find jihadists.”

“That is why there are fundamentalists coming from Libya, Jordan, Egypt, Afghanistan, Turkey and many other countries,” he said.

Many members of Syria’s Christian clergy have been supportive of Assad, a member of the minority Alawite community, because of concerns that Islamists could take power in the multi-faith country.

Around 7.5 percent of Syria’s 20 million inhabitants are Christian.

A Christian Syrian from Aleppo, who now lives in Chicago, writes

… During the Lebanese civil war and after, I thought about ways to arm the Christians in Aleppo. The Christian areas in Aleppo are mostly connected. Only about 20% live outside said areas.

Christians in the Suleimaniah district used to be wary of their Moslem neighbors in the Baghdad Station district. I remember my mother telling us kids in 1963-64 not to stay too long on the balcony, afraid of Moslem snipers. We did not believe her and nothing happened. Christians later moved into the Baghdad Station district and became the majority there.

The Christians of Aleppo do not fear the Moslems of Aleppo. Armed Moslems from the Aleppo countryside are different and thus are not welcomed by Christians, and by Moslems.

Staying unarmed is dangerous.

‘The Syrian army would like to appear squeaky clean. It isn’t.’ (Robert Fisk, The Independent)

“Of course, all armies want to stay clean. All that gold braid, all those battle honours, all that parade-ground semper fi. Thank God for Our Boys. Trouble is that when they go to war, armies ally themselves to the most unsavoury militias, gunmen, reservists, killers and mass murderers, often local vigilante groups who invariably contaminate the men in smart uniforms and high falutin’ traditions, until the generals and colonels have to re-invent themselves and their history.”

Bitter Lemons, the Israeli-Palestinian webzine, shuts down after 11 years. Editors say reflects lack of hope for peace, fatigue of conflict.This illustration is by Paul Lachine and comes from <a href=""></a>, and is the property of the NewsArt organization and of its artist. Reproducing this image is a violation of copyright law.

Taking Syria Seriously
Wasif Syed, F. Stephen Larrabee, Aug. 25, 2012

America’s current policy focuses on providing the opposition with non-lethal humanitarian assistance. As a result, an increasingly bloody and protracted civil war is likely…. America’s failure to support the opposition more actively already is provoking resentment among Syria’s population, which will undermine US efforts to influence the post-Assad transition. As one opposition spokesman warned, “America will pay a price for this. America will lose the friendship of the Syrians, and no one will trust them anymore.”….

Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity, by Nyla Khan

Nikolaos van Dam interview on Syria with Al-Ghad.

The Golan predicament: Syrians at crossroads over support for Assad
Julian Phillips, August 29, 2012

“Despite their activity, the anti-regime organizers in the Golan Heights have not attracted mainstream local support for their movement.”

Three evenings a week, Syrian dissidents gather in a borrowed office in the bustling town of Majdal Shams. The diverse attendees – Facebook organizers, graffiti artists, former political prisoners, artists and writers – come together to coordinate a local contribution to the ongoing uprising against Bashar al-Assad. Some nights, they spend hours debating the news, brainstorming protest slogans, and strategizing for weekly demonstrations in a nearby plaza….

Comments (781)

Pages: « 16 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 [16] Show All

751. Johannes de Silentio said:


Thank you, Richard.

In my opinion, it’s not so much the terror and the weaponry that keeps Assad in power as the concern of who and what might replace him.

As I pointed out to VAT in another post, Bashar will have his supporters as long as there is the fear of something WORSE than the Assads out there.

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September 5th, 2012, 12:09 am


752. Halabi said:

Maybe I was too harsh on the genocide enthusiasts and sectarian opponents of the revolution. Here’s one they will enjoy, but probably not as much as the videos of the dead children from Halab.

Turkey’s Anti-Assad Policy Ricochets Back

ISTANBUL—The Turkish government, which is spearheading efforts to force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power, is facing public skepticism over its Syria policy as the civil war next door increasingly spills across the border.

Developments in recent weeks have magnified Turks’ unease over Syria’s 18-month uprising.

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September 5th, 2012, 12:16 am


753. zoo said:


Thanks for preferring to inform us with interesting articles instead of using this blog, like some frustrated commenters do, to throw insults and try to silence anyone who does not share their opinions.

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September 5th, 2012, 12:25 am


754. zoo said:

A voice of wisdom or a traitor?

Syrian opposition group rejects preconditions for dialogue


MOSCOW, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) — A visiting Syrian opposition group said here Tuesday that it is against the establishment of any preconditions for starting a nationwide political dialogue in the unrest-torn country.

“We oppose any preconditions to be set for the launch of the dialogue,” said Fathi Jamous, leader of the Coalition Forces for Peaceful Change in Syria, who met with Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

Preconditions would “only deepen the crisis and the price for overcoming it would be much higher,” Jamous added.

He praised Russia’s efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, saying “unlike the West, Moscow has adopted a right position, from any point of view, both morally and legally.”

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September 5th, 2012, 12:35 am


755. Juergen said:

“What’s happening in Syria turns into tragedy”

04 September 2012 16:55
Al-Sayyid Hani Fahs, a member of Supreme Shiite Council of Lebanese, has said that the current situation in Syria was getting worse day by day.

BEIRUT (AA) – September 4, 2012 – Al-Sayyid Hani Fahs, a member of Supreme Shiite Council of Lebanese, has said that the current situation in Syria was getting worse day by day.

“What’s happening in Syria is not a crime anymore, it has turned into tragedy. We were late to support Syrian revolution,” Fahs told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
Denying the claims that 70 percent of Shiite community in Lebanon was supporting Syrian government, Fahs stated that only small percentage of Shiite people might stand up for the regime.
Fahs also drew attention to Bahrain. He stated that Shiite’s fight against the administration in Bahrain had been ignored.
Sheikh Sayyed Hani Fahs, who is a member of the Supreme Shiite Council in Lebanon, was born in 1946 in Nebatieh town of south Lebanon. He completed his primary and secondary education in this city, later on moved to Nacaf in Iraq to study Arabic and Islamic Studies. He lived in Iran between 1982 and 1985.–s

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September 5th, 2012, 12:41 am


757. SYR.EXPAT said:


Thank you for sharing the link. Great speeches by these two great Muslim American Scholars.

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September 5th, 2012, 2:17 am


758. annie said:

Good recap of the Syrian Revolution

Assad will perish or escape. And the long-awaited victory will be even sweeter and Syria will be the beacon of freedom of all people in the world, as the Syrians themselves have defeated a regime supported by half the world.

The Syrians are giving everything they hold dear, family, home, friends, belongings. They are giving everything. Not to Syria. But for every free and righteous man. For every man who refuses to bow his head to the tyrant and accept his abuse and violence. This is the conclusion. Syria will be free, and the revolution continues ..

ZOO this “Fathi Jamous, leader of the Coalition Forces for Peaceful Change in Syria” sounds like a sell out.

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September 5th, 2012, 3:22 am


759. Citizen said:

you will again be willing spend the winter in the cold ? Most of Europe’s leaders take bribes and under them wet! Stop that! Your leaders are replaced up to the ears in dirty corruption cases

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September 5th, 2012, 3:34 am


760. Citizen said:

Putin gives first post-inauguration interview exclusively to RT
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke at length with RT’s Kevin Owen. To find out what the president spoke about in his first interview since the inauguration, tune in on September 6th at 0800 GMT.

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September 5th, 2012, 3:50 am


761. Citizen said:

Perpetrators, their patrons responsible for Free Syrian Army’s threats
MOSCOW, September 3 (Itar-Tass) —— Responsibility for the consequences of the Free Syrian Army’s threats will rest with the perpetrators and their patrons, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“Moscow was deeply alarmed by statements made by representatives of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) and carried by mass media that the international civil airports in Damascus and Aleppo will from now on be regarded as military targets and that civil planes will be shot down. An ultimatum was issued to civil airlines, demanding that they stop flights to these airports within 72 hours from September 1,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday, September 3.
Moscow considers such threats “absolutely unacceptable” as they represent “a gross violation of international law, primarily the Chicago Convention of 1944 ‘On International Civil Aviation’. From the moral and legal points of view this means that the opposition has come critically close to the ‘red line’, beyond which actions will be no different from Al-Qaeda’s crimes”, the ministry said.
“As is known, civil facilities and civil population have been repeatedly subjected to attacks by the armed Syrian opposition,” the ministry said. “The latest statement by FSA basically confirms that terrorism is turning into one of the main methods of its operation. However the states that sponsor the intransigent Syrian opposition and encourage it to refuse to engage in dialogue with the authorities and to ‘fight to the victorious end’ prefer not to notice this. If the FSA’s threats are carried out, all responsibility for their consequences will rest not only with the perpetrators but also with their patrons,” the ministry said.
“It is necessary to influence the FSA leaders in the most decisive way in order to exclude such threats, let alone their implementation. Russia has already contacted via diplomatic channels the countries that have influence on the radical Syrian opposition,” the ministry said.
It reiterated its recommendation to Russian citizens to “refrain from travelling to Syria” and urged the Russians living in Syria to use safe exit routes.

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September 5th, 2012, 3:57 am


762. Mina said:

Obama’s nightmare
” (…) Regarding ongoing dialogue with Sinai-based jihadist groups, launched two weeks ago as the operation’s ‘political arm,’ Nizar Ghorab, former MP for the Gamaa Al-Islamiya’s Construction and Development Party – who is currently spearheading the dialogue campaign – said that a series of meetings were taking place with jihadist and Islamist groups in the area.

Ghorab told Ahram Online that the first meeting, aimed at pre-empting an unnecessarily heavy-handed security response, took place last week. “This is why we quickly launched talks with the leaders of these movements – to prevent them from entering into a confrontation with state agencies,” he explained.

Ghorab added: “We spent time in prison with these men under the former regime, and thus we appreciate each other. This allows us to maintain dialogue with them, and we reiterate that these groups – including those that have taken up arms – no longer need to do this under the new regime, which we support. (…)”

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September 5th, 2012, 5:17 am


763. Visitor said:

752 Jeurgen,

I would take anything said by Hani Fahs with grain of salt. These guys are the epitome of duplicitousness.


Morsi says Assad regime must go and cannot be reformed,

Bashar’s e-mail account password is 1234

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September 5th, 2012, 8:12 am


764. Tara said:


I agree that SNC should concede and join effort with NCB ( Abdul Azim’s group) if an all inclusive provisional government to be formed. If I was Lakhder Ibrahimi, I would focus on bringing them together as my first priority. The regime is hopeless and any peace effort should focus on the opposition unification ( if you will) then a proposal to negotiate AFTER Batta steps down.

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September 5th, 2012, 8:29 am


765. Visitor said:

Best treatment of Syrian refugees in in Saudi Arabia.

All Syrian students in KSA to be enrolled in Saudi schools by Royal decree.

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September 5th, 2012, 8:57 am


766. irritated said:


“Best treatment of Syrian refugees in in Saudi Arabia.”

I am moved to tears…. how many are they?

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September 5th, 2012, 9:15 am


767. zoo said:

#761 Tara

I have lost any hope that the opposition will ever unite as I have lost hope that the FSA will ever regain the legitimacy it has lost with it has welcomed foreign fighters and Saudi and Qatar money to get arms.

As time passes these divisions are increasing and becoming more obvious and distressing for the international community. That is why they are in a total confusion of what to do.

In my view, unless there is a “coup”, the battle on the ground is the decisive factor, unfortunately with the death of a lot of Syrians.

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September 5th, 2012, 9:20 am


768. VISITOR said:


I just awakened IRRITATED for you, and even managed to move him to tears.

I would say that is an achievement. What do you say?.

Zoo’s only concern is to poke holes into the Revolution. In case you haven’t noticed.

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September 5th, 2012, 9:38 am


769. zoo said:

Not much publicized. There are only photos.

Israel Conducts Military Exercise in Golan Heights
Updated: 2012-09-05

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September 5th, 2012, 9:51 am


770. zoo said:

Syria Rebel Army Seeks Unity, to Be Renamed

by Naharnet Newsdesk 5 sept 2012

The Free Syrian Army plans to reform to overcome divisions and address the growing number of militias fighting on its behalf, as well as to rename itself, a rebel general said on Wednesday.

Following discussions due to end in around 10 days, the FSA would go by the name of the Syrian National Army, General Mustafa al-Sheikh, head of the military council grouping rebel chiefs, told AFP.

The FSA, which has grown from a rag-tag force of military defectors into a popular guerrilla insurgent movement buoyed by civilian recruits, was also set to appoint General Mohammed Hussein Hajj Ali as its highest-ranking officer.

“After a long period, we must restructure the army because we fear the proliferation of militias in Syria and want to preserve the country’s future,” said the brigadier general, who was among the first to defect to the FSA.

Among those areas that needed restructuring was the control of funds that reach rebel fighters, in order to “prevent the creation of militias because that is very dangerous,” said Sheikh.

While rebel groups are gathered under the auspices of the FSA, the structure of the rebel army remains vague and lacks a strong and cohesive central command.

“There are many groups that claim to be the FSA but do as they please,” said the general.

He said reforms were key to winning the support of the international community which has so far been reluctant to arm the rebels “on the grounds that the (FSA) is not a real institution.”

The rebel army has thousands of fighters, among them about 3,000 officers of various ranks, including 70 generals, according to Sheikh.

Unifying the FSA ranks would prevent Sunni majority countries from “sinking into a civil and confessional war after the fall of the regime” of President Bashar Assad, who hails from the Alawite offshoot of Shiite Islam.

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September 5th, 2012, 9:57 am


771. zoo said:

FSA new strategy: Bombing any village or town loyal to the government.(Kfaryeh in Edlib, Harem,Al Ghasania in Homs, Qasab in Latakya etc..),

A great way to win the hearts and minds…

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September 5th, 2012, 10:30 am


772. zoo said:

Will Morsi invite Ahmadinejad to Cairo for the “quartet’ meeting?

Egypt’s president says “time for change” in Syria


CAIRO, (Reuters) – Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi said on Wednesday that the time had come for changing the government in Syria and that a quartet of regional states proposed by Cairo to discuss the Syrian crisis would meet.

“The quartet which Egypt has called for will meet now,” Mursi told a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, without giving more details of the gathering that Cairo has said should include Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt.

He also said the time had come in Syria for “change and not wasting time speaking of reform. This time has passed now. Now it is time for change”.

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September 5th, 2012, 10:36 am


773. zoo said:

Both sides in Syrian conflict fail to protect civilians – UN chief

Published: 05 September, 2012, 04:39

With fighting in Syria showing no sign of abating, the UN chief has accused both the Syrian government and the opposition of large-scale human rights violations, stressing the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country.

Addressing the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon urged the world powers to unite behind a plan to end the conflict that so far has claimed more than 18,000 people, according to UN estimates.

Ban stated that “government forces and the armed opposition have clearly failed to protect civilians and respect the rules of international humanitarian law.”

“Prisoners on both sides are subject to harsh treatment and, often, torture,” he added. “There have been alarming reports of summary executions on both sides.”

The UN chief expressed concern about the “continuing militarization” of the conflict, warning against those who arm both sides. “Those who provide arms to either side are only contributing to further misery – and the risk of unintended consequences as the fighting intensifies and spreads,” he said.
The conflict is intensifying,” Ban Ki-moon told the General Assembly. “The longer it goes on, the more difficult it will be to contain. The more difficult it will be to find a political solution. The more challenging it will be to rebuild the country and the economy.”

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September 5th, 2012, 10:38 am


774. zoo said:

Behind the large smiles and multiple declarations of common economic interests, China and the USA are no friends on foreign politics.

China, U.S. divided over Syria, sea dispute, but vow goodwill

By Andrew Quinn | Reuters – 50 mins ago

China backs a “political transition” in Syria to end worsening bloodshed after 18 months of unrest, Foreign Minister Yang said while repeating Beijing’s opposition to forceful foreign intervention in the crisis.

Clinton said it was “no secret” the U.S. government was disappointed by the positions of China and Russia on Syria, and she reiterated that the best course of action remained tough U.N. Security Council action.
Yang also said his government opposed the efforts of any country, including Iran, to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran denies having such ambitions.

“We believe the parties should continue to exercise calm and remain committed to diplomatic negotiations,” said Yang.

Washington has been turning up pressure on Tehran by expanding unilateral sanctions, an approach that Beijing opposes. But Clinton suggested the Chinese government had given some concessions on its energy and trade flows with Iran.

She praised efforts with China and other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, which she said had brought “unprecedented pressure” on Tehran.

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September 5th, 2012, 11:06 am


775. Richard said:

765. zoo said:
“I have lost any hope that the opposition will ever unite as I have lost hope that the FSA will ever regain the legitimacy it has lost with it has welcomed foreign fighters and Saudi and Qatar money to get arms.”

Why is it hopeless that the opposition should unite? Difficult, yes, but hopeless? All outcomes look difficult and unlikely, other than continued violence and chaos. Yet someday, somehow one seemingly unlikey outcome will prevail. The possibility that Assad will regain control of the country seems most remote prospect of all to objective observors, yet you haven’t given up hope on this particular possibility.

You said in an earlier post that you wished for the opposition to unite in some broader form. Should I still accept your sincerity?

You criticize the rebellion for accepting money and arms from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Where do you advise that they should have turned for aid?

There can be no argument that the rebellion began peacefully, and remained that way for an impressively long time. The protestors can hardly be blamed for seeking arms to defend themselves. If you can not offer a better source of material support for them, then you simply oppose the fact of the rebellion and should state so directly.

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September 5th, 2012, 11:20 am


777. zoo said:


“Where do you advise that they should have turned for aid? ”

Egypt and Tunisia did not beg for help. They had a ‘respected’ revolution. Libya and Yemen had a shameful revolution. Time will tell if they will ever recover from that bitter victory. Iran stopped short their green revolution when it turned violent, waiting for a better opportunity in the future.

It is exactly these same deep divisions we see in the opposition that make Syria’s society. An authoritarian regime for decades tried to dilute them and hide them but now they are appearing again exacerbated by regional ambitions and interventions.
With this historical background, I have serious doubt the opposition will ever unite.
The only solution is if they transform their divisions into political parties within a democratic system. Yet to reach that stage, they must accept that they can’t unite and that the transition to a multi-party democratical system is only possible through a dialog with the government. This will build a embryo of democratic structure when they can find a place to express their opinions and get the Syrians to follow them.
Unfortunately the opposition and the FSA have shown to be even more totalitarian than the regime they criticize. They put their ego and the foreign interests before the interests and the lives of the Syrians
This is why I see no chance in a united opposition and no peaceful solution, unless there is an arranged ‘military’ coup in the Syrian government.
Bashar Al Assad is still the only unifying figure, both for the ones who hate him and the ones who are loyal to him.

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September 5th, 2012, 12:07 pm


778. Syrialover said:


Your rational and well-informed response to Zoo in #772 shows you have woken up to his game and his real views.

Don’t be fooled by his “lose all hope statements”. His agenda is ill-will and contempt towards all Syrians who are not in the Assad camp.

He also supports this with all kinds of grandiose sweeping statements about the world in general and “history” that don’t add up (eg #774). I can’t imagine who he thinks will read and believe it on this forum.

You will have to bend very low and wear toy gloves to punch at Zoo’s weight.

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September 5th, 2012, 3:03 pm


779. Syrialover said:


PS Were you a reader of Syria Comment before this forum was suddenly swamped by pro-Assad cut-pasters and disinformationists?

If so, you will know how high the benchmark and quality of discussion here used to be. Many high calibre long-term contributors and genuine Syrianists have now left this forum in disgust. It’s a tragedy.

Joshua Landis’s tolerance has been exploited by the Zoos and “Anns” and several others here whose aim was trash this forum in support of the Assad regime.

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September 5th, 2012, 3:05 pm


780. Richard said:

I have to give Zoo credit for a thoughtful response to a hard question.

I think Zoo is easily punching at my weightclass, Syrialover, even if his support for Assad is a glass jaw. I doubt Zoo actually much supports Assad, I accept that he is fearful of an Islamic state. Irnonically, it is fear of an Islamic takeover that is making that possibility more likely!

No, I wasn’t around for this discussion forum’s glory days.

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September 5th, 2012, 5:15 pm


781. Syrialover said:


Ah, you are being most gentlemanly, modest and kind. I could easily go back and find stuff to demonstrate a case against Zoo’s sincerity and neutrality commenting here on Syria.

For a random example of what I am talking about with Zoo’s ill-concealed agenda (among the cliched formula stuff):

“Unfortunately the opposition and the FSA have shown to be even more totalitarian than the regime they criticize. They put their ego and the foreign interests before the interests and the lives of the Syrians.”

For God’s sake.

What a low insult to tens of thousands of Syrian victims of the regime.

And if you are worried about an Islamic takeover, your fears will be quietened if you ignore Zoo and other shallow propagandists and have a discussion with any Syrians who actually know their country, the people and the issues.

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September 6th, 2012, 12:34 am


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