“The Free Syrian Army Does Exist” by Koert Debeuf & Response by Aron Lund

The Free Syrian Army Does Exist and is Growing Stronger by the Day
by *Koert Debeuf
for Syria Comment, March 19, 2013

When I read the piece of Aron Lund, ‘the FSA doesn’t exist’, I was utterly surprised. Of course the FSA does exist. And it is changing rapidly.Over the last few months, the FSA has transformed itself from a loose structure into a functioning organization. In fact, what Lund describes is an era of the FSA that no longer exists. It ignores the developments of the last several months and the present reality on the ground.

Last month, I visited Northern Syria three times with the Free Syrian 
Army (FSA). I spoke to many generals who had defected from the Syrian Army, to commanders on
 the ground,to  people in the headquarters of the FSA and
 to military-civilian organizers of humanitarian aid of all parts of
 Syria. I also spent many hours with Dr. Brigadier General Salim 
Idriss, Chief of Staff of the FSA; I was in the middle of a battle 
at Quweris airport, then one of the main front lines.

Many points Lund is making, were correct three months ago. But not now. Col. Riaad Assad for example is completely out of the picture, whatever he himself might say. Another example is Qasem Saadeddin. He did indeed try to create some unity in Homs and had difficulties in doing so. But that too is history. Today he is a Commander of one of the five fronts under the umbrella of the FSA and he is working very closely with Chief of Staff Salim Idriss. It is also not true that Idriss would not use the ‘brand’ FSA. One example is the fact that he recently started his own twitter and Facebook account as well as one for the headquarters, using @FSAHQ.

Nevertheless, I must admit that at first sight, the structure of the FSA is utterly confusing. Whomever 
you talk to on the ground will pretend he is the most important 
commander in Syria. He will denounce formal structures and glorify his 
own past as a freedom fighter. I learned that the
 best strategy is smiling. And waiting. After an hour of ranting, the real story comes out. Every time. Then it appears that the FSA does
have a structure, that these commanders do operate within this structure, but that it is not fully established.
 The FSA is not just a brand. It does exist. The FSA building has been framed in, but remains under construction.

The French Resistance

Aron Lund compares the FSA to the French Resistance in the Second World War. Spot on, I would say. But again while his piece fits with the beginning of the French Resistance, the reality is that the FSA can be compared with the Free French Forces in a later, more organized stage.

The Free French Forces, established by Charles De Gaulle in London in 1940, was nothing more 
than a name and a few officers. In 1941, one year later, little groups 
started to unite. However, it was still impossible to talk about a 
“Free French Army”. There was not only a fragmentation in structure
 and command, but also in ideology. Call it the Riad Al-Assad era of the Free French Army.

It was only in May 1943
that (thanks to the work of Jean Moulin) the resistance forces were
 unified, militarily and politically in the Conseil National de la
 Résistance (CNR) under the leadership of Charles De Gaulle. It took the Free French Forces three years to unite. After the unification not all difficulties were gone. After the unification it took again some time to become fully operative on the ground. Call it the Salim Idriss era.

The FSA Aron Lund is describing is the FSA of the Riad Al Assad era, not the current one of the Salim Idriss era. At best one could say his description lies somewhere in between the two, but it is certainly not describing today’s reality.

The Riad Al Assad era or the former structure of the FSA

Up until a year ago, there was no structure at all in the Syrian armed rebellion.

Every little group was called a battalion, whether it consisted of 20 
or 200 fighters. The creation of the FSA by Col. Riad Al Assad in July
 2011 was just as symbolic (but also as important) as the creation of the Free French Forces
 by De Gaulle in 1940. On 23 October, the FSA merged with the Free
Officers Movement, becoming the main organization for military 
defectors. Pure branding or not, it deserved the credit of at least
 trying to do something about the fragmentation. It gave the signal to
 the many battalion commanders that co-operation is the only way to go.

That is exactly what happened the next year. From July 2011 until 
September 2012, there were many initiatives in order to create larger

We saw the birth of brigades like Liwa Al Tawheed and Farouk. We saw 
the creation of military councils, administrative councils,
 revolutionary councils and civilian councils. Some initiatives were
 pushed by the Friends of Syria or by individual countries. Aid, money 
or weapons were promised if the resistance would only get organized.

Unfortunately, these international actions lacked co-ordination as
 well. The result was that the Syrian opposition on the ground created
 several parallel structures.

 Another problem was the split between defected soldiers on the one
 hand, and civilians who took up arms on the other. Defected officers
 from the Syrian army organized themselves in military councils, while 
the civilians created revolutionary councils. In some places, like in
 Homs, there were even two military councils. Although these councils 
often co-operated in battles on the ground, the lack of unity created 
a clear disadvantage when it came drawing up a military strategy.

This lack of unity and strategy not only meant a disadvantage in the 
field, it also helped Assad’s propaganda. Even as the FSA had no communication strategy at all, the Assad machine knew very well what 
to do: discredit the FSA.

There are three lines of attack:

  1. The FSA is chaos. So it’s Assad or chaos in Syria and the region;
  2. The FSA is a danger to minorities. Assad is the only guarantee for
 the security of minorities in Syria;
  3. The FSA is extremist. Assad is the only one who can keep out Al Qaeda.

I have been surprised to see how well-organized the Assad
 communication machine is.

In every country in the West, media groups are working on spreading 
these three messages. Meanwhile, the FSA, which has too many
 self-appointed spokespersons (as Aron Lund correctly spells out) and lacks a clear message on what it
 wants and who it is, is slowly loosing the communication war.
 One could say the FSA was in this position from July 2011 until 
December 2012. It is the same situation in which the Free French Army 
found itself from 1940 to 1942.

The Salim Idriss era or the new structure of the FSA

On 7 December 2012, 260 officers of the FSA gathered in Antalya in
 Turkey. They elected a Higher Council of Revolutionary and Military 
Forces and a Chief of Staff, Dr. Brigadier General Salim Idriss.
 General Idriss defected in June 2012. The main reason why he was 
elected is his talent for persuading people in a softly-spoken way. He 
is more a Montgomery than a Patton. Col. Riad Al Assad wasn’t present
 at the meeting. They decided he would keep the title of General
 Commander of the FSA, but this would be a symbolic, rather than an
 operational title.

 His era is over now.

In Antalya, the revolutionary and military components were merged. So
 instead of military councils and revolutionary councils, there are now 
civilian-military councils. They also organized the FSA into five
 fronts: the Northern Front (Aleppo and Idlib), the Eastern Front
 (Raqqa-Deir Ezzor and Al Hassakah), the Western Front 
(Hama-Latakia-Tartus), the Central Front (Homs-Rastan) and the
 Southern Front (Damascus-Dar’a-Suwayda).

Each front has its 
civilian-military council and its commander. Each region/city within 
the front has its deputy commander, with, again, its own
 civilian-military council.

 I met with two front commanders: Qasem Saad Eddin, commander of the
 Central Front and Abdelbasset Tawil, commander of the Northern Front, 
and with his deputy commanders.

 They showed me detailed, strategic military plans. They also showed me
 lists of who received which weapons. It was clear that they were in
 close contact with Salim Idriss. Because of the strategic importance
 of Homs, Qasem Saad Eddin has an office next to the one of Salim 
Idriss in the headquarters of the FSA.
 So Saadeddin is not a loose canon (anymore) as Lund is writing.

The Higher Council of Revolutionary and Military Forces consists of 30 
people. Every front has six representatives in the Council, three 
military and three civilian ones. They are mainly responsible for the
 search for and the distribution of ammunition. Contrary to what has
been promised, very few weapons are coming in. I have seen how the FSA
had to fight cluster bombs in Quweris with self-made arms.

Just like the Free French Forces in 1943, Salim Idriss has now also started creating a political line for the FSA.

Until recently, we only knew what they were fighting against: Assad.
 Now they are trying to formulate what they are fighting for and get their spokesmen on the same line. This 
message in English and Arabic of Salim Idriss on the second 
anniversary of the Syrian revolution is an example of how they are
 moving forward on this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEBHVCjxYQ0

FSA is a bottom-up unification, still in construction

No-one will deny that, while the FSA has made big steps forward, there 
is still a long way to go in order to become a well-functioning,
 united force like the French resistance in 1943. Idriss has to unify battalions that are used to work independently. It takes a huge effort to convince them to walk in the same direction. What are the main 

1. There is hardly any communication infrastructure. Today commanders 
have to communicate through Skype. In many places there is no Internet
 connection. That is why many officers have to travel to the
 headquarters in order to exchange information. It is very difficult to 
organize and unify an army in these conditions. That is why we should 
not be surprised if at a certain moment one of the battalions is 
acting on its own or is making a strategic mistake.

2. There are hardly any arms coming in. I was present during two days
 at the headquarters of the FSA. I saw officers coming from Homs, Deir
 Ezzor and many other places who wanted to meet with Chief of Staff,
 Salim Idriss, in order to get weapons. They were all pretty desperate.
 I heard many times: “How can we win the war, if we don’t have arms against these planes or tanks?” A Chief of Staff only gets recognition and authority if he can arm his own soldiers. This is basic.
 De Gaulle didn’t unify because of his charisma either.

3. Getting totally fragmented forces onto the same page takes a lot of 
time. Quite some battalions, certainly the revolutionary ones, have no 
experience in fighting in a hierarchy. So, although they might
 recognize the authority of the Higher Military Council, they still
 don’t always understand what that exactly means in the day-to-day battle. Give them some time.

4. The growing importance of extremist battalions like Jabhat Al
 Nusra is a problem for the image and the organization of the FSA.
 Lund writes they do not use the brand of the FSA. Of course they don’t and they will never do. They are no part of the FSA and will never be. The fact that the other groups do use the name of the FSA means they distance themselves from Nusra and its Jihadist ideology.

The FSA deserves our support

It is fair to say that the FSA is not the well-oiled force some are
 dreaming of.

 But it is unfair and incorrect to say that the FSA does not exist and
 that it is not more than a brand. The reality is that the piece of Lund describes an era of FSA that doesn’t exist anymore.

Just like in France during the Second World War we can’t expect a
 bottom-up resistance to become a unified front in a few months.
 Becoming cynical now or even giving up on the FSA would be one of the
 biggest strategic mistakes the West could make.

Last month’s work is done and a lot 
of progress has been made. If the international community decides to 
support the FSA, it will help them even more to unify, strategize and avoid 

 There is a structure of command. The headquarters will only provide arms to those battalions that follow their instructions. But they are still waiting for those arms. What is coming in is peanuts compared with what they need in order to win this war against one of the most brutal dictators of the world. What are we waiting for?

* Koert Debeuf lives in Cairo where he represents the Liberals and Democrats of the European Parliament in the Arab world.

Aron Lund Responds

Koert Debeuf seems to have read my post a little carelessly. I did not deny the existence of (many) factions using the FSA name. Rather, I discussed the media’s use of the FSA term, and stated that “the FSA” does not exist, if understood as a single organization. The wording might have been a little provocative, but the fact itself should be uncontroversial, for anyone who is following events in Syria.

There are undoubtedly many groups calling themselves FSA in Syria today, and indeed outside of Syria. They include both purported leaders and spokespersons, and fighting units on the ground. Some are closely linked to each other, and some work on their own. This reflects the way that the term is used as a synonym for “the resistance” by many Syrians, and not necessarily to refer to a cohesive organization.

The problem I tried to address in my post is that different media organizations have been relying on several different “FSA” spokespersons and leaders, few of whom represent any significant segment of fighters on the ground. They are routinely allowed to speak on behalf the FSA (generally understood to make up most of the armed insurgency) without reporters making any attempt to define their real (and most often marginal) role within the insurgency. This has created an extreme lack of clarity in reporting, and it continues to confuse both regular newspaper readers and top officials.

When Debeuf complains that I haven’t understood that Col. Riad el-Asaad “is completely out of the picture, whatever he himself might say” – then to the contrary, that was exactly my point. Despite his complete lack of control over the armed insurgency, Col. Asaad is still routinely being interviewed by major news organizations as a commander of the FSA, misleading the general public into believing that his statements represent some significant portion of the armed movement in Syria. They do not.

Mea culpa

I will gladly admit that Debeuf makes some interesting arguments, and that he corrects a couple of faults of mine. His travels in northern Syria have put him in contact with a few of the most well-known rebel representatives and commanders. As an outside observer of events in Syria, I can’t claim to have this kind of experience – I work with what I’ve got, and I’m always eager to hear from people who bring new facts to the table.

For example, I wasn’t aware that Col. Qasem Saadeddine collaborates so closely with Salem Idriss, and I humbly stand corrected on that count.

Debeuf is also right that Salim Idriss and his General Staff now use the FSA term – despite the fact that the organization did not emerge under that name, and many of its member units have previously renounced the FSA label. In my defense, the Twitter Account and other statements that Debeuf refers to had just been made when I wrote my post, and I wasn’t aware of them at the time. But bottom line, he’s right, and I was wrong.

Tua culpa

Even so, I believe Debeuf is far too optimistic in his view of the Salim Idriss network as a functioning nation-wide leadership, and that he has accepted too uncritically the explanations provided by his contacts in Syria. I’ve read Debeuf’s original reports from Syria for the ALDE political group in the European Parliament. I note that he then presented the FSA as a neatly two-pronged structure of defected military and civilian revolutionary commanders. This seems wildly implausible, and contradicts most reporting from reporters and opposition members on the ground in Syria.

In his reports, Debeuf also claimed, on the subject of FSA organization, that one “Ahmed Abeit” has been “elected the general commander of all revolutionary structures for the whole of Syria”. That was certainly news to me, and I imagine that it will be news to most Syrian revolutionaries as well. While I can’t know for sure, it seems to be a reference to Ahmed Abeid, a rebel leader in Azaz. He might be a big guy around those parts, and among the rebels Debeuf traveled with, but he is certainly not the main internal commander of the Syrian insurgency.

What the Homsi said

Returning to Col. Qasem Saadeddine, Debeuf also notes that he is the General Staff’s commander of the “Central Sector”. That’s certainly the official line, but how can such a claim be taken at face value?

The General Staff’s Central Sector sector mainly includes Homs, formerly the main front of the uprising, which has been devastated by Assad’s bombardment. The insurgency in this area is notoriously divided, not only due to the crippling government siege of Homs City, but also because of internal disagreements among the rebels.

Below is a list I recently compiled of factions currently active in Homs City and the surrounding countryside. It is far from exhaustive, and runs in no particular order. Note also that many if not most of these groups are themselves composed of semi-independent subfactions:

Liwa Talbisa, Liwa Rijal Allah, Liwa Fajr al-Islam, Kataeb Ahl al-Athar (part of the Jabhat al-Asala wal-Tanmiya, a salafi alliance), Katibat Shuhada Tal-Kalakh, Katibat Mouawiya lil-Maham al-Khassa, Liwa al-Quseir, several subunits of Kataeb al-Farouq, several other small Syria Liberation Front factions which are allied to Kataeb al-Farouq, al-Murabitoun (the armed wing of the Homs Revolutionaries’ Union), Firqat al-Farouq al-Mustaqilla, Liwa al-Nasr, Katibat Thuwwar Baba Amr, Harakat al-Tahrir al-Wataniya, Jund al-Sham (Lebanese jihadis), armed groups affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood (like Liwa Dar’ Ahrar Homs, Liwa Dar’ al-Haqq, and Liwa Dar’ al-Hudoud), Jabhat al-Nosra, the Syrian Islamic Front (including the five Ahrar al-Sham factions Katibat Junoud al-Rahman, Katibat al-Hamra, Katibat Ansar al-Sunna wal-Sharia, Katibat Adnan Oqla, and Katibat Ibad Allah; and Liwa al-Haqq and its subfactions, such as Katibat al-Ansar, Katibat al-Furati, etc) … and many others.

How does the FSA come into the picture? Sure, some of these groups use the FSA label to refer to themselves and their allies, but most do not. Some clearly receive arms through the Salim Idriss network, and some clearly do not. Some of the commanders in the Homs region have publicly declared their support for Salim Idriss, or allowed their representatives to be appointed to the General Staff’s on-paper hierarchy – but others consider him a foreign-based usurper of revolutionary legitimacy.

We can quibble about how to classify these Homs factions, and what percentage could legitimately be subsumed under the “FSA” label. But to imagine that Col. Qasem Saadeddine – or anyone else – exerts any real control over this sprawling mass of rebel factions is, frankly, delusional.

What this means for policy-makers

The fact of the matter is that the Syrian insurgency was always and remains deeply disorganized, despite persistent (and commendable) attempts by many Syrian opposition politicians and rebel commanders to form a joint leadership.

This is a tragedy, both for the opposition, and for Syria as a nation, but to recognize this fact is not, as Debeuf implies, a way to support the Syrian government. In fact, one can draw very different policy conclusions from the divided nature of the rebel movement.

One could argue that the lack of opposition unity speaks against arming the revolutionary movement, since there’s no guarantee that weapons will be used effectively or stay in “approved” rebel hands. But one could also legitimately argue that the only way to help midwife a central rebel leadership is by sponsoring a core network from abroad – to turn it into a “magnetic pole” which will attract other factions. (This is what’s now being done with Salim Idriss and the General Staff.) Both these positions are valid, in their own way, and merit careful consideration.

At the end of the day, however, I do believe that whatever side you’re on in the Syrian conflict, and whatever political strategy you prefer to see implemented, good policy must be based on a careful examination of the available facts – not on political spin, rumors, or emotional arguments. Clearing up the extreme confusion surrounding the FSA term is only one of many steps to take, if a sensible Syria policy is ever to emerge.

– Aron Lund

Comments (250)

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201. Darryl said:

“174. TARA said:


Can you give us one reason why you live in North America and not in one of the GCCs? If you think Islam is the way, why are you living in the west? Was it because of visa and citizenship or was it your choice? If this was by choice, then your argument becomes very weak.”

Dear Tara, I am confused by your post. You believe Islam is the way also and you live in the west just like Visitor and you have a choice, Why are you singling Visitor for this “loaded gun” question?

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March 20th, 2013, 7:46 pm


202. majedkhaldoun said:

I appologize for the language mistakes I made in the previous comment. but I have to pray Asr and I did not have time to correct.

when we could go and fight we did , but it was not right to tell someone go there and fight there, just like the jews who told Moses, go fight with your God .when we have chance and can we will be glad to go. and Mr Hito sent his son to fight so he has some legitimacy.

Please tell us do you support the FSA? if you do then you should know that NCC is the enemy of FSA.

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March 20th, 2013, 7:49 pm


203. revenire said:

Observer you knew the answer before you asked. The Zionists would love to divide Syria into a million tiny pieces.

I am laughing that Haaretz tries to charge money. It’s always about money for them isn’t it?

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March 20th, 2013, 7:52 pm


204. revenire said:

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March 20th, 2013, 7:55 pm


205. revenire said:

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March 20th, 2013, 7:59 pm


206. Tara said:


Kindly tell me what you meant. Did I ask anyone to go and fight?

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March 20th, 2013, 8:16 pm


207. ghufran said:

This is entertaining compared to the horror stories from Syria:

Abdullah II’s court released a statement calling Jeffrey Goldberg’s 10,000-word piece for The Atlantic “inaccurate and dishonest” after its contents caused a stir in regional media. Of particular contention were what seemed to be derisory references to the leaders of Turkey and Egypt, and tribal chieftains in Jordan’s impoverished south.

here is another reason to support claims that it was the rebels who fired a missile with chemical agents on Syrian troops in Aleppo:
U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said the United Nations had received Ja’afari’s written request for an investigation and it was being studied.
The Security Council discussed the issue on Wednesday, Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after the closed-door session. He complained that Britain and France wanted to focus on two alleged chemical weapons attacks rather than the one in Aleppo, which he said was a delaying tactic and unnecessary.

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March 20th, 2013, 8:17 pm


208. ALI said:


“ALI this recommends going back to the mountains what say you? ”

We own whole Syria as one piece, we will not go back to the mountains. If sh!t hits the fan as my father told me ‘Let’s wipe it off all’

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March 20th, 2013, 8:18 pm


209. Tara said:


You are wrong. I always maintained the need to separate religion from the state.

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March 20th, 2013, 8:20 pm


210. ghufran said:

Israeli politician would not say whether she believes Assad regime used chemical weapons or it was the rebels:

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni says “it is clear for us here in Israel” that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and an international response to the crisis should be “on the table in the discussions between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama” during the president’s trip to Israel.
When pressed during an interview in her Tel Aviv home, Livni wouldn’t say whether there is evidence that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has directed the use of any chemical weapons.

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March 20th, 2013, 8:28 pm


211. ALI said:

6ara is in deep sh!t today

6ara is been bullied by everybody

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March 20th, 2013, 8:28 pm


212. majedkhaldoun said:

You are right, but Where ever you earn money you live

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March 20th, 2013, 8:30 pm


213. Darryl said:

208. TARA said:

“You are wrong. I always maintained the need to separate religion from the state.”

Ok Tara, I am wrong on which part?. Islam does not separate religion from state. Visitor, is acting as a Muslim following per the Sunna and Quraan. Visitor has problems with a few people who want to have it both ways. AIG calls himself a Jew yet he is atheist, he rightly copped Visitor’s wrath.

I do not see how a Muslim is a “Muslim” and not follow the Sunna and Quraan?

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March 20th, 2013, 8:35 pm


214. ALI said:

212. Darryl said:

“I do not see how a Muslim is a “Muslim” and not follow the Sunna and Quraan?”

That’s well said

and maybe that’s why those Jihadists are killing every non Sunni in Syria

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March 20th, 2013, 8:37 pm


215. zoo said:

Erdogan chose Hitto because he needs a Kurd to help him deal with the Syrian Kurds whot could threaten his election as Turkey president in 2014. He does not give a damn about Syrians.

Erdoğan’s negotiations with the PKK and the Syrian Kurds


It won’t be a surprise to see the PKK shift the focus of its military strategy toward Syria. A militarily, politically and diplomatically well-organized PYD will become an important force within the Syrian opposition. The Kurds will acquire a status in post-al-Assad Syria similar to that in Iraq, though not in the short run. In the short run Erdoğan might seem to be on the winning side due to his management of the domestic Kurdish problem. In the middle run, however, he will have to face a more complicated Kurdish problem.

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March 20th, 2013, 8:46 pm


216. majedkhaldoun said:

كانت روسيا قد تراجعت عن اتهامها المباشر للمعارضة السورية باستخدام الأسلحة الكيماوية.

وأقر نائب وزير الخارجية غينادي غاتيلوف في تغريدة له على حسابه على موقع التواصل “تويتر” بأن ليس هناك أي أدلة دامغة على استخدام اسلحة كيماوية من قبل المعارضة في سوريا.

how is the call for investigation prove that the rebels used the Chemical weapons?, you must have twisted logic, are we dealing with sane person?,there is no connection between what you say and what you state thereafter

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March 20th, 2013, 8:56 pm


217. GEORGES said:


Where did I say that I support NCC?


I like about NCC the fact that they’re not anyone’s slave, and I don’t like their blanket statements about FSA, I don’t like their disney land approach of negotiating with a regime that has shown it can’t be negotiated with.

I am against anyone self-proclaiming himself the “sole…”, whether I like the party doing it or not.

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March 20th, 2013, 9:00 pm


218. zoo said:

Isn’t too late for Baby Abdullah to worry about jihadists? , He made his choice. Also he did not learn yet that it is not by repeating endlessly that the bogeyman will go, that he will go

Jordanian king fears jihadist state in Syria

AMMAN – The Associated Press

King Abdullah II said it was only a matter of time before Syrian President Al-Assad’s regime collapses. AP photo
Jordan’s king warned yesterday that a jihadist state could emerge on his northern border in Syria with Islamic extremists trying to establish a foothold in the neighboring country.

King Abdullah II told The Associated Press in an interview that in his view, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was beyond rehabilitation and it was only a matter of time before his authoritarian regime collapses.

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March 20th, 2013, 9:07 pm


219. Observer said:

Darryl I am an atheist and yet I do recognize that for the new societies of the ME to come together and create a new entity it has to be anchored in a common cultural heritage.

In this I note but do not fully agree that the founders of the Baath party recognized that for the Arab nation to glue together it had to have an “eternal” message this being Islam.

I do not think making Islam an Arabic trait is right. It is a universal religion for everybody who wishes to freely espousing it and making it an Arabic phenomenon is racist to say the least.

How to define this role for Islam just as how to define the role of the emperor for the Japanese or the role of the Czar for the Russians or the role of the King in England is a dynamic process.

One outcome of the Arab revolutions is that the “democratic” process is now the established norm except amongst the Salafists who consider any rule by man as a Shirk and an association with God.

I do think that one outcome of the Arab revolutions is a reassertion of Arab identity first. Then I do think that unless stupidity overtakes the region, a religious war is not in the offing despite the Iranians fearing a loss of Syria and a cutoff of support to HA.

The mistakes of HA in supporting Syrian regime at all costs is going to weaken it
and the Iranian model of governance is not going to appeal to the peoples of the ME.

The Turkish model where the minorities will have a better protection is much more appealing.

The question remains: who are we: Muslims first or Arab first, Syrian first or Arab first, etc……

In the meantime, there is no future for autocratic regimes this is finished.

I also note that the dissent within the NC is both healthy and immature and this group will have the Islamists at the forefront.

I do wish for them to come fully into the political process and even in Egypt to be able to govern for THEIR FAILURE is the only way for them to EVOLVE.

Just as the Resistance camp was filling us with garbage slogans without liberating an inch of territory the Islamists with their slogans of Islam is the solution are going to have to deliver or they are out the door.

Pessimistic on the short term and optimistic on the long term.
Again the biggest loser of the Arab revolution will be Israel.

It also will have to deliver justice or it will be swept by a very militant and angry Arab street.

I note that Abel Barry Atwan wrote a piece about people lamenting the time of Saddam and I thought to myself what a level of depravity we have arrived at that we lament between Maliki and Saddam instead of lamenting the real glory days of Omar and yes Ali in comparison to those midgets of history like the Kinglets and Amirs and Presidents for Life that constitute the sorry state of our countries.

No wonder we have AIG taunting us when he sees the incompetent brutality and the brutal incompetence of the Corleone families of the ME>

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March 20th, 2013, 9:07 pm


220. majedkhaldoun said:

#167 you said
I’m fairly sure NCC has more support inside Syria than this puppet SNC.
This is not true at all, there is nothing to support it.
Do you support NCC or you are against it,if you don’t support the NCC then why do you make such erroneous statement?

Let me say it again this revolution is for freedom and justice for modified democracy,Christians are part of this revolution and they have nothing to fear,Druze too Kurds too, The Alawi community will be protected in the post Assad era, with one exception those who have blood in their hands or stole money and rape women must be brought to justice along with Sunnis and christians who did the same, no one will be forgiven.

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March 20th, 2013, 9:16 pm


221. Johannes de Silentio said:


“I am an atheist”

We all have have our personal flaws, dirtbag. You don’t need to air yours in public.

A New Bashar Cartoon


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March 20th, 2013, 9:21 pm


222. zoo said:

Majed @215

The Syrian government knows whether it gave the order to send chemical weapons or not as such order can come only from a high level..

On the other side, the SNC has no idea what the rebels are doing as there a hundred of uncontrolled rebel groups operating in Syria. One if these groups kidnapped the UN observers. There could well be one that had access to chemical weapons and wanted to try.

Therefore if the Syrian government calls officially for an investigation, they do it because they must be certain that it did come from the Syrian Army but from one of armed rebel groups who will be found guilty.
This will reflect negatively on this already controversial ‘interim government’ as it will show the world that it has no control on what is happening in Syria.
It will also mean an immediate stop to arms shipments to the rebels and pressure on the SNC to control them.

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March 20th, 2013, 9:21 pm


223. Johannes de Silentio said:


“I apologize for the language mistakes I made in the previous comment”

Never apologize, dude. Remember this: half the people on this blog are too dumb to have noticed it. And then there’s the other half (Mossie, Ali, Zoozoo and those of that ilk) who are so obsessed with their own agenda they didn’t even notice.

Also, when you apologize, the others see you as a wimp, a wuss, a doormat, a loser. Just forget it and move on…

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March 20th, 2013, 9:31 pm


224. zoo said:

..it is clear that not everyone in the region is enamored by Erdoğan and his brand of “soft but creeping Islamism.”

Everyone sees such “Sunni crescent” developing in the region in rivalry with a “Shiite crescent.” Many Turkish commentators have also referred to an “Islamic Brotherhood International” that Turkey is a part of.


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March 20th, 2013, 9:32 pm


225. GEORGES said:


I think NCC has alot of support among the silent majority. From what I’ve gathered, openly pro-revolution people do not feel represented by the SNC. Hence my comment about the NCC probably having more support than SNC.

People need to separate (attempts of) objective analysis and personal opinions.

Liking or not liking the SNC has nothing to do at all with the basic legitimacy problem

I hope the SNC transitional government succeeds, it would be great (and at this point, miraculous) if it did, but that has nothing to do at all with the fact that many people and groups inside syria don’t respond to them for various reasons.

For example, there are people who feel represented by Jabhat Al-Nusra, and want nothing to do with SNC. It is their right, whether I like it or not. Jabhat Al-Nusra is a listed terrorist group, Hitto has US citizenship, etc. This is not looking good.

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March 20th, 2013, 9:34 pm


226. Citizen said:

March 21

Arab countries in the Middle East (Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Bahrain) mark Mother’s Day on March 21. This is a remembrance day of the world mothers, when pay tribute to their work and selfless sacrifice for the good of their children.
In 1910, the governor of West Virginia was declared Mother’s Day. That same year, the holiday celebrating at the beginning in Oklahoma. By 1911, each state has had its own customs of celebrating Mother’s Day. After some time, the list of countries celebrating Mother’s Day, filled with countries: Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, South America and some African countries.
Mom is homeland! Each year and you are fine Syria!

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March 20th, 2013, 9:36 pm


227. Sami said:

Didn’t the Assadi militia call for an investigation into the Houla massacre, and then ended up being the MAIN CULPRIT in the massacre as attested by the UN investigators?

Your logic makes no sense Zoo.

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March 20th, 2013, 9:42 pm


228. ALI said:

New nicknames for Majed the liar

a wimp,
a wuss,
a doormat,
a loser

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March 20th, 2013, 9:49 pm


229. zoo said:


The fake election:
That’s the explanation given by one of the defector:

“The coalition is a body that has not been elected, and therefore its has no right to choose a prime minister on the basis of a majority vote. There ought to be a consensus, “said Kamal Labwani, an influential member of the coalition.”
Hitto was elected with 35 votes out of 49 cast while several members of the coalition have refused to participate.”

The group consist of 62 members, therefore there has been 13 abstention.
Of them 12 have now defected.

Do you accept Hitto as your PM?

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March 20th, 2013, 9:53 pm


230. zoo said:


The media said that Suzanne Hitto is not Syrian, she is an American schoolteacher and most probably Christian, except if she converted to Islam..
By the way Obeida Hitto left to Syria without his parents approval in 2012. His father came to Syria’s border towns illegally through Turkey to look for him. I read Obeida was wounded and back in the USA. Not much more is written about him.
It was Ghassan Hitto first visit to Syria after 25 years.

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March 20th, 2013, 10:05 pm


231. majedkhaldoun said:

Once the prime minister of greece was american citizen and went back to greece and ran for PM job, also one time the president of libirya was citizen of USA.
Those of us who has dual citizenship will never feel detached from Syria love,I stated before that I don’t recognize borders.

Assad will test chemical weapons as he is runing out of weapons to use,his airforce is getting weak and he lost many planes and pilots,if he did not use chemical weapons then he has nothing to fear from UN investigating team.
If the rebels has such weapons ,why don’t they use it at Qurdaha?

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March 20th, 2013, 10:10 pm


232. Darryl said:

Darryl I am an atheist and yet I do recognize that for the new societies of the ME to come together and create a new entity it has to be anchored in a common cultural heritage.”

Dear Observer, I think you’ll find that you and I are mostly on the same page on many things. Heritage already anchors our society in the ME but nothing is working, why? We do not have common interest, we do not have respect and dignity for individual freedom, we do not have tolerance to differ. People are raised to believe in herd mentality and taught all the wrong things about being human. People are not taught to be accountable on earth first, our moral code is based on fear and NOT on doing the right humanly thing first which is our conscious.

“In this I note but do not fully agree that the founders of the Baath party recognized that for the Arab nation to glue together it had to have an “eternal” message this being Islam.”

Dear Observer, I am not a Baathest and never will be one. However, I think the founders of Baath realized unless Islam is central to the identity; Muslims will not accept it and join.

“I do not think making Islam an Arabic trait is right. It is a universal religion for everybody who wishes to freely espousing it and making it an Arabic phenomenon is racist to say the least.”

“How to define this role for Islam just as how to define the role of the emperor for the Japanese or the role of the Czar for the Russians or the role of the King in England is a dynamic process.
One outcome of the Arab revolutions is that the “democratic” process is now the established norm except amongst the Salafists who consider any rule by man as a Shirk and an association with God.”

I agree, but dealing with this issue needs a revolution in thinking that must be lead by Muslims to assert that individual belief is sacred and personal. I say must be lead by Muslims, because other religious groups (Christians and Jews) have already crossed the line and only Muslims are lagging.

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March 20th, 2013, 10:50 pm


233. Observer said:

Darryl agreed on many points.

In Islam it is infinitely more difficult for several reasons
1. The allegiance to God is paramount and can be in conflict with other allegiances
2. The founding of a city state by the Prophet and his successors of an empire based on religious identity and it is considered the yardstick by which it measures others
3. The conflict between national and religious identity; as no wonder many Christians wanted that to be the anchor as they could not identify with the nation as an Islamist one especially since minorities were ill treated under Ottoman and therefore Muslim rule.
I am just watching now and I have no answers.

The people must decide but it should never ever be a reason to exclude

In the meantime, the work at hand is to finish dictatorships. What comes after will be difficult and chaotic and some will lament the old days but there will be no turning back

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March 20th, 2013, 11:04 pm


234. AIG said:


We don’t have a “dishonesty problem” we have a reading comprehension problem. Let me explain this issue again slowly to you. I will accept anyone saying whatever he wants including that he wants to abolish freedom of speech. But I will not accept anyone using force to shut up the other. There is a difference between allowing someone to say something and allowing that person to make what he said reality. I hope you understand the difference.

On second thought we may have a “dishonesty problem” because you are not willing to give a simple answer to the following question:
In your Syria will people be allowed to publish and say that Mohamed was just a regular person and not a prophet? Will they be allowed to publish articles or books showing research that Mohamed was just a regular person? Yes or no?

You see, it is quite simple. If you are confident in your beliefs and ideas, why are you afraid of someone saying the opposite? Just tell him he is wrong and move on. But somehow, many Muslims including I suspect you, grow very defensive when this is applied to Islam. Why are you so defensive if you know you are right?

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March 20th, 2013, 11:28 pm


235. AIG said:


If most people in Syria are like you, Syria will be a great country one day. If they are like the regime supporters on this blog, Syria will be a hell hole.

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March 20th, 2013, 11:33 pm


236. Visitor said:

AIG @233,

I already answered your question clearly, sometime ago. And that’s when the other question came into the discussion.

Now, do not try to replay my own arguments which I employ quite often and use them in a convoluted and circular way. I do NOT have a comprehension problem. My English is far above average.

This is not what you answered last time. You said you would do NOTHING if someone tries to prevent you from exercising your right to free speech. So there is still an issue of ‘dishonesty’ on your part. I mean, if you cannot remember what you say, or if you give yourself the freedom to alter what you say at will, then I must let you know that this is something that needs to be looked at carefully and regulated. Unfortunately, we do not have refrerees here to trace what you or I say and make corrections. So that’s why I used the term dishonesty on purpose. Because it needs to be self-regulated in order for trust to prevail instead of doubts.

Right now I cannot believe any word you say. And honesly, I cannot spend anytime looking in the archives to identify your many contradictions and post them in a single comment for you and others to see.

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March 20th, 2013, 11:45 pm


237. AIG said:


Unfortunately you do have a reading comprehension problem because that is exactly what I said before. You just didn’t understand it. You are trying to put words in my mouth to cover your mistake. That is quite dishonest.

Right now, you are evading answering the simple question that I asked you because you are defensive and not confident about your views. It is as simple as that. I asked a simple question and you cannot bring yourself to answer it.

Last time I asked you this question you asked if this was an interrogation. No, it is a simple question that you are evading and everyone can see that. Why are you afraid to answer the question clearly?

In an argument, when one side can clearly answer direct questions by the other side, while the other side evades answering, it is clear who the winner is. And you are losing this argument badly. But please, why don’t you try winning and give a simple, non-convoluted answer?

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March 20th, 2013, 11:55 pm


238. revenire said:

Visitor the Zionist is toying with you. He wants to drink Syrian blood and any will do when they’re hungry. I hope you sleep with garlic and a crucifix tonight or I fear you will awaken with AIG feasting on you.

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March 21st, 2013, 12:03 am


239. Visitor said:

AIG @236,

You are an outright liar and a fabricator. With your likes I usually do not argue because you are full of ignorance. I have no time to waste when the pretender to an argument is of such miserable level. This is worse than sophism. But, watch out guy. I know Syrians very well. Only the idiot fools among them, and fortunately there are not many of them, do not know the ego inflating tricks you’re so fond of. You will find them mostly among the lov-u-4ever-gang. Good luck!!!

No, I do not have comprehension problems. Last time you wanted a YES or No answer. This is what I call interrogation and NOT argumentation. If you do not understand that much, then there is no use talking to you. You will be a pain in the neck. This forum can be anything but basic English comprehension tutoring forum.

So, now you need to go and build up your own comprehension skills because obviously you comprehend none. Then come back and we’ll see if you qualify.


Hey Reverse @237,

I am not an Assad idol worshiper to be fooled by such as this guy. May be you should do what you said.

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March 21st, 2013, 12:19 am


240. Darryl said:

Dear Visitor,

Drop the game Boy and answer AIGs’ questions instead of “I said this and you said that”. He is asking you direct questions that many on this board want to know including all the fans who are giving you sky rocketing thumps up. You are not a politician!

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March 21st, 2013, 12:20 am


241. revenire said:

From the ever reliable Al Arabiya comes the news Assad has nuclear weapons:

Assad regime has nuclear weapons, possibly in mountains: former VP to Al Arabiya

Abdel Halim Khaddam, Syria’s former vice president, said that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad was storing a huge supply of chemical weapons following attempts to make nuclear bombs in the 1970s.

“It is difficult to know the location of these weapons, especially to those who are outside the [Assad] circle,” Khaddam told Al Arabiya in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

However, he added that the arms may be in mountainous regions of the country.
The former VP said that nothing connects the Syrian president to the country’s people, and that Assad feels no sense of responsibility towards his countrymen.
Khaddam told Al Arabiya that there is a department in the army that handles “chemical war” and “the production of weapons.”

He also said that there are specific research centers that work on the chemical weapons.

“Nothing prevents Bashar al-Assad from using chemical weapons, because he has failed in beating the uprising,” Khadam said. “That is why [Assad] is using Weapons of Mass Destruction, like cluster bombs and long-range missiles.”

The former VP also said that is the international community responsibility that the Assad regime still exists.

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March 21st, 2013, 12:21 am


242. revenire said:

Visitor I’ve always found your English to be exemplary.

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March 21st, 2013, 12:24 am


243. revenire said:

Best part of the Khaddam’s rant is the Saudi rag is this gem: “Khaddam told Al Arabiya that there is a department in the army that handles ‘chemical war’ and ‘the production of weapons.'”

Gee, imagine that – an army that handles the production of weapons and chemical warfare.

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March 21st, 2013, 12:26 am


244. AIG said:


What a waste of a paragraph to say nothing your answer is. Just answer the question in a simple non-convoluted answer. It is not a trick question and the more you decline answering it, the clearer it becomes that you are defensive and not confident about your views or even worse, are ashamed to say them outright. If you cannot defend your views, should you be holding them?

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March 21st, 2013, 12:27 am


245. Visitor said:


Did I not tell you last time to STFU?  You are just as ignorant as AIG.  This has been proven time and again.  So you keep poking with your ignorance?. Just look at your idle talk with OBSERVER!

What idiot would compare Islam to Christianity when it comes to politics?

What city-state did Jesus establish on this earth?  The whole church was a man made failed enterprise that Jesus had no say in it whatsoever.  It finally became apparent that it had no basis and had to abdicate.  It is as simple as that.  Your Church did not have any political authority in the faith it purports to represent to begin with.  It was an impostor, got uncovered and just receded to irrelevamce.

FYI, Muslims DO NOT believe that their faith is irrelevant in their lives, and they still maintain it has a major role to play in directing their affairs.  If you do not like it then, tan bien que mal,  tant pis whatever you choose.

So, STFU and what I say to others is NONE of our business.

And by the way, even though I consider it my own life and feel in no way obliged to divulge anything about it to any one in argument, but I will make now something very clear for you.   I live in North America and do not consider it in any way contradicting my beliefs.  Whether I live here by choice or by compulsion is of no one’s business  The city where I live hosts the first Mosque ever built on this continent about a century ago.  The Muslim community is vibrant, well rooted and established, has several MLAs in the provicial assembly as well as several  MPs in the federal Parliament. Most of its members are accomplished practicing and observing Muslims.  We have Islamic schools that are the envy of the non-Muslim population.  In fact, many non-Muslims prefer to send their kids to our schools, and pay extavagant fees, because they know or a fact their kids are well cared for and our schools have to accept them by law -no discrimination.  Every week during the Friday prayers, which I never miss, there two or three converts to Islam which ha
Pen right after the prayers.  Also, if you remember the Qura’n link which I posted to you sometime ago with the several English yranslations, which you can switch from one to another with the clock of your mouse, then you should know that one of the authors (Yusuf Ali) completed the first recognized translation in that same historic Mosque in our city.   That version of the translation is the officially recognized English translation of the Qura’n by the library of the congress since it was published.  So, Mr. Darryl, our faith is universal for every person on this earth, for every place and for all times.  And you can be Muslim anywhere in the world you choose to live.

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March 21st, 2013, 1:00 am


246. Visitor said:


For the last time, I do not argue with idiots.

I answered you clearly and I do not repeat myself.

Go and learn English.

يعني بالعربي الفصيح انئلع من هون

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March 21st, 2013, 1:06 am


247. Darryl said:

244. VISITOR said:

Dear Visitor, I am not talking about my church or your mosque. But that failed church as you say stood the test of time in open society, open yours and get away from the flood gates. Just answer AIGs’ questions and then will see about what you say.

I bet your heart was racing and your fingers were sweating Visitor when you wrote that piece, the grammatical errors prove under that hard exterior, you cannot keep a straight face let alone face reality.

PS my dear Visitor, if you are a true Muslims, then read the Quraan at 29:46 and you owe me an apology!

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March 21st, 2013, 1:37 am


248. Visitor said:


I owe you nothing. I do not need to answer to anything. You’re behaving like an intruder. You imagine things that are not true. You claim to read someone’s state of mind from behind a keyboard – presumptuous, ignorant, bigot, intent on distorting Islam based on your own deficient knowledge (non-knowledge is the better word in this case) and whims.

You owe all Muslims on this forum an apology based on the above, not to mention your ugly blasphemy regarding the Al-Mighty being some kind of banker glory be to Him, in a clear desperate attempt to spew your ugly hatred of the greatest faith on this planet.

Any Muslim who conducts conversation with you before you make a sincere apology and a sincere oath that you will never revert to these ugly habits of yours will risk losing the Love of Allah.

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March 21st, 2013, 2:12 am


249. Juergen said:

Reve 158

Yeah sure he is alone, he brings his kids to school, he drives alone to run errands. What you dont see is the myriads of security spread out before he reaches the area. I happen to see the lionking twice and he may drove by himself but the presence of those cheap leather jacket wearing security guys was overall measureable. They even managed to get some cheerleaders bused in so he was awaited by loyal lionlovers.


I remember that I was visiting Jordan with an syrian friend and we went to the Jordan river to see the ancient site where Jesus was baptized. My friend was utterly shocked to see that this small river(not more than 2-4m wide at that time) was the border to neighboring Israel. He told me that for the first time he was so close to Israel, we could see Israeli soldiers and the flag and of course Russians who bathed in the water in jalabiyastyle Jesus outfits.For many Syrians Israel is the outspoken devil of the region, that does not come by own observations or interactions but because of what they heard and what was told them by the regime and even by the mouthpieces of the regime in their churches and mosques.

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March 21st, 2013, 2:38 am


250. Syria – it’s complicated | Marika Sosnowski said:

[…] Syrian Army Does Exist’ by Koert Debeuf and response by Aron Lund, 19 March 2013. Available at http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=18157. Accessed on 19 March […]

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April 5th, 2013, 3:51 am


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