“The Hamas-Syrian Split, a Dilemma for Iran’s Palestinian Strategy,” By Mohammad Ataie

The Hamas-Syrian Split, a Dilemma for Iran’s Palestinian Strategy
By Mohammad Ataie
for Syria Comment
May 13, 2012

Since the advent of the Iranian revolution, the Palestinian issue has been at the heart of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy. For ideological and strategic reasons, supporting the Palestinian cause and resistance against Israel has been an integral part of the Islamic Republic’s identity and international approach. However, Iran’s Palestinian policy has, to a great extent, been forged under the influence of its alliance with Syria. That is why the tensions between Damascus and Hamas, brought about by the latter’s equivocal stance on Syrian crisis, have spilled over into the Palestinian movement’s relationship with Tehran.

Last February, on the thirty third anniversary of the Iranian revolution, Hamas’ Prime Minister in Gaza paid a visit to Tehran and met with the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khamenehi. Given the rumors and reports of tensions between Iran and Hamas over the Syrian crisis, Ismail Haniyeh’s official trip was important and timely for the Islamic Republic. The visit conveyed a clear message that, in the words of Haniyeh, Iran’s support for Palestinian issue has “remained unchanged and unconditional” and that their ties are “as strong as before”. But some remarks that Iranian officials made during Haniyeh’s visit revealed how concerned Tehran is with a changing Hamas in the wake of the “Arab Spring”.

In the meeting between Haniyeh and the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khamenehi warned him that “compromisers’ infiltration into a resistance organization would gradually weaken it”. He reminded Haniyeh that a once very popular Arafat lost his credibility when he distanced himself from resistance. Iran is obviously concerned with the recent signs of pragmatism in Hamas and reports of it reconsidering its strategy in the wake of the ascendance of its sister Islamic movements to power across the Arab world. But a graver concern for Tehran has been Hamas’ position regarding Syria. More than a year into the Syrian crisis, Hamas has refused to take sides in the conflict and has not concealed its intention to turn to new patrons in the region.

Tehran believes that Syria has fallen victim to a foreign plot. While Bashar al-Assad is carrying out reforms, Tehran says, there are foreign parties solely concerned with Assad’s alliance with the axis of resistance, that wreak havoc in Syria. This was what Iranian officials told Haniyeh in Tehran. Similar remarks were made by Ayatollah Khamenei earlier, in January, when he received the head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and warned about an American plan against Syria that aims to undermine the “line of resistance”, which is a reference to the alliance of Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah vis-à-vis the US and Israel.

In the past several months, the Islamic Republic has sought to convince the Hamas leadership to adopt its own reading of the Syrian crisis and at the same time cement the cracks that are appearing in Damascus-Hamas ties. Haniyeh’s visit to Iran and his statement that the movement would not abandon its long time base in Syria left an impression in Tehran and Damascus that the movement would not “stoop to pressures” and turn its back on Bashar al-Assad. However a mere two weeks after his visit, Haniyeh made unprecedented remarks in Cairo in support of the uprising in Syria which was interpreted as “Hamas’s first public break with its longtime patron”. During the Friday prayer at al-Azhar Mosque Haniyeh said “I salute all people of the Arab Spring, or Islamic winter, and I salute the Syrian people who seek freedom, democracy and reform.” This was disturbing for Iranian officials. Hossein Shikholeslam, a veteran Iranian diplomat, expressed his dismay at Haniyeh’s speech by saying that “this was not the position of those who struggle against Israel”. The former Iranian ambassador to Syria stated that “if Hamas abandons armed resistance, it will be no different from other Palestinian factions”. Again, in the latest sign of cooling in the Iranian-Hamas relationship, a member of the group’s political wing in Gaza said “Hamas will not do Iran’s bidding in any war with Israel”.

Hamas Syrian position is still quiet nebulous as the movement’s leadership in Gaza and abroad remain divided over the Syrian crisis. But it is clear that the shadow of tensions between the movement and President Assad has already fallen over Hamas’ relationship with Tehran. For Iran, supporting Hamas is linked to its alliance with President Assad. In other words, despite the Iranian commitment to the Palestinian resistance, the Islamic Republic saw its relationship with the Palestinian as well as the Lebanese resistance from a Syrian perspective. This is well understood in the light of the three decades of Iran’s Levant policy and partnership with Syria.

Thirty three years ago, after the fall of the Shah, Yasser Arafat was the first foreign leader who arrived to revolutionary Iran. When the PLO leader, who was indeed a long time ally of many anti-Shah revolutionaries who had just risen to power in Tehran, delivered a zealous speech in front of thousands of Iranians in Tehran, the prospect of a strong Iranian-PLO axis could not have been brighter. In that speech he proclaimed “we will march to Jerusalem under a united Islamic flag”. But as developments began to unravel in Iran and Middle East, things changed between Tehran and the PLO.

From the very beginning, Hafez al-Assad carefully watched the PLO courting of Khomaini’s Iran. The B’ath regime kept a wide open eye on the extent of Iranian relations with Yasser Arafat, who was a challenge to President Assad’s initiatives both in Lebanon and on the Arab-Israeli front. Syrians were eager to make the new regime in Iran adopt its  Palestinian  vision  and  ensure  that  the  Islamic  Republic  did  not  go  too  far  with  the PLO. Initially Tehran was oblivious to Assad’s concerns on both the Lebanese and Palestinian fronts. When in late 1979, radical factions in Iran endeavored, in coordination with al-Fatah, to dispatch volunteer corps to Southern Lebanon, Syrians thwarted the initiative. From  the  perspective  of  President  Assad,  the  translation  of  an  emerging  Iranian-PLO  alliance into  creating  an  independent  axis  in  Lebanon  could  have  undermined  his  grand strategy in Lebanon which  was  contingent  on  eliminating  al-Fatah  autonomy  and  Arafat’s  state-within-a-state  in  his  backyard.

Iran learnt greatly from that early failed experience; that it could not ignore Syria’s regional weight nor Assad’s calculations in the Levant. Yet, it took a decade before Tehran and Damascus reached a modus vivendi. During the formative years of Syrian-Iranian relations throughout the 1980s, their disagreements ranged from the Palestinian issue to the Iraq-Iran war, to Hezbollah and Amal in Lebanon. In the mid 1980s, the Camp Wars and Assad’s policy to oust Arafat from Lebanon strained their bilateral relationship. The shelling of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon by pro-Syrian Amal forces shocked the Iranian leadership and led to a period of friction with Damascus and even military confrontation with the Shi’i Amal movement which fought the PLO forces in Beirut and the Southern Lebanon. Nevertheless, over time, Tehran’s line steadily converged with Assad’s “Palestinian vision” which became a factor in the deterioration of the once much hoped for Iran-Arafat partnership. Indeed, Tehran realized that without Assad’s approval, making inroads into the Levant and their goal of “exporting the Islamic revolution” would not succeed.

No doubt that Arafat’s close ties with Saddam Hussein, a nemesis of both Assad and Khomeini, and his concession to recognize Israel also widened the chasm between the PLO and the Islamic Republic. From Assad’s standpoint, Arafat’s relationship with Iraq, Jordan and Egypt was to side-step Damascus and give other Arab parties decisive influence within the PLO at Syria’s expense. When in 1985 Arafat announced his acceptance of a joint Palestinian-Jordanian peace initiative, Syria and Iran alike lambasted the PLO chief. “Disillusioned” with Yasser Arafat and his moderation toward Israel, revolutionary Iran began to acknowledge Assad’s standpoint toward the PLO leader: that they had initially been, against all the advice of Assad, too optimistic about Arafat.

Since the early 1990s, Syrian-Iranian relations have turned into an enduring and strategic partnership with considerable achievements in keeping their common adversaries in check. In the Palestinian arena, Hamas and Islamic Jihad were the fruits of the convergence and cooperation between Islamist Iran and the Ba’thist Syria. Inspired by the 1979 revolution and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas rose from the first intifada that Iran rallied strongly to it. Unlike Arafat’s PLO, Syria and Iran had a great deal in common in collaborating with Palestinian Islamists to derail grand US plans in the Middle East. Hamas emerged as the main Palestinian opponent of the Oslo accords, the US-sponsored peace process. It challenged a secular-Nationalist PLO that “betrayed Palestine” and defied Arafat’s authority who had once been the epitome of anti-Israel struggle for many Iranian revolutionaries.

The senior Assad wanted tractable leadership at the head of the PLO that would act according to his strategy in Lebanon and on the Arab-Israeli front. It was Hamas that inserted itself into his strategy and won exceptional support from Damascus. Now Hamas, reorienting itself in the wake of the “Arab Spring”, has turned into an ungrateful ally for Bashar al-Assad, who sees the movement’s leaders dealing with Arab states without consulting Syria and lauding the protests against his rule. Before the dust settles in Syria, Hamas is unlikely to shift from its equivocal position.

The movement’s cold shoulder to Damascus has posed a serious challenge to the integrity of the “axis of resistance”. Iran, for “the good of resistance”, is making every effort to prevent a break between the two key parties of the resistance camp. This is no easy position for Tehran, which has found itself locked between two pillars of its foreign policy; that of backing the Palestinian resistance and safeguarding its unique alliance with Syria.

Mohammad Ataie is an Iranian journalist and documentary film maker who writes on Iranian foreign and regional policy and on Arab affairs. He contributes to Diplomacy-e-Irani and other publications.

Comments (124)


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101. Antoine said:

Humble and hardworking Syrian peasants in the village of Sinjar, Eastern Reef Idleb, demonstrate against the regime, mocking Agrarian Reforms of 1963 – ” Take back the land and give us back our Dignity”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njR5X4W3_EQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JE0YBhSvehw

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May 14th, 2012, 9:10 am

 

102. zoo said:

To understand opposition’s failures, look to Syria’s east
Hassan Hassan
May 14, 2012
http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/to-understand-oppositions-failures-look-to-syrias-east

If the Syrian opposition’s failure to forge a truly inclusive national movement can be traced to one geographic area, then that failure shows up most clearly in Syria’s east. For it is here where the Syrian National Council has been unable to win over influential leaders. And without them, efforts to topple the regime will remain in jeopardy.
Known as Al Jazira, the eastern part of Syria consists of three provinces and makes up over 40 per cent of the country. The area shares a roughly 480-kilometre-border with Turkey in the north, and nearly the same with Iraq in the east, making it indispensable if the uprising were to evolve into a full-blown armed struggle under external protection (for arming of and providing safe havens to fighters).

Al Jazira is populated by Arab tribes and Kurds; both have historically suffered from the Baathist regime in Damascus. The area is also economically vital for the regime, as it accounts for 70 per cent of Syria’s oil and gas output and is a main source of agricultural and livestock products. If the Assad regime lost control here, it would suffer a heavy blow.

So why hasn’t Al Jazira shifted fully against the regime?
….
The reasons for the relative quiet can be attributed to the nature of the area and its residents but, more importantly, to the opposition’s failure to cash in on a coalescing disdain for the Assad regime.

In many ways, Syria’s east has been forgotten by all sides. An estimated 75 per cent of the region has no presence of regime forces as it mainly consists of agricultural lands and small towns or cities. Many areas had been declared “liberated”; the regime has launched assaults to reclaim areas only when it had a surplus of forces
more…

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May 14th, 2012, 9:31 am

 

103. zoo said:

Creating Syria Safe Zones Is a Dangerous Step Toward War
By Aaron David Miller May 13, 2012 6:04 PM ET
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-13/creating-syria-safe-zones-is-a-dangerous-step-toward-war.html

Having proposed more than my fair share of bad ideas during more than 20 years in government service, I know one when I see it. And the proposal by various media commentators and politicians to create safe zones inside Syria for refugees and rebels is one bad idea.

If President Barack Obama determines that toppling the regime of Bashar al-Assad by force is a vital U.S. national interest (though it isn’t), he should create a coalition to act quickly, decisively and effectively to do it. Otherwise, he should avoid half-baked measures, such as the safe-zones scheme, that can lead to an open-ended military commitment without accomplishing the intended results.
..
I’ve heard all the arguments against inaction: It’s morally wrong to let the murderous Assad regime continue killing; toppling Assad will weaken Iran grievously; Syria is more important than Libya; the longer the killing continues, the greater the chances of regional instability, even war.

They are all forceful. Watching the killing over the past year has been heartbreaking — sensing it will continue, even worse.

But let’s be very clear with ourselves. If the case for intervention is so compelling, then the U.S. should lead and develop a strategy geared to the real task: removing Assad quickly so that a political transition to something better can result. Otherwise, we should stop pretending we’re serious about quickly and dramatically changing the balance of power in favor of the rebels. In this case, we should stick to a more modest approach, building up political and economic pressures against the regime.

And if we do make Syria our priority, we have to accept the costs: To maintain the pressure against Iran’s nuclear program, we’ll need the Russians and the Chinese on board, but we won’t get them to support both our policies on Iran and Syria.

Above all, we shouldn’t delude ourselves. The creation of safe zones will lead to our full military involvement in the Syrian crisis. If we’re prepared to go in this direction, fine. But we can’t let our moral outrage push us into embracing a plan, thinking we can get rid of Assad on the cheap. We can’t.
More..

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May 14th, 2012, 9:32 am

 

104. Tara said:

Bronco

Defending the indefensible?

Which begs a simple question: Why?

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May 14th, 2012, 9:38 am

 

105. zoo said:

A month after ‘cease-fire,’ where does Syria stand?
By Tim Lister, CNN
updated 7:31 PM EDT, Sun May 13, 2012
http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/13/world/meast/syria-status/index.html?hpt=wo_c2

U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the Security Council last week that there has been a shift in the military’s tactics, according to diplomats, with a decline in the use of heavy weapons and large-scale operations. But there have been widespread arrests recently

Most Syrian protesters have little sympathy for Islamist militancy and have begun waving posters insisting there is no al Qaeda in their midst. The opposition Syrian National Council alleges the regime itself is staging such attacks to paint the resistance as terrorists and is itself in league with al Qaeda.


Bottom line: Although street protests persist, the resistance has become more militarized and is beginning to resemble the early stages of the Iraqi insurgency in 2004. And the security forces continue house-to-house raids and mass arrests, while relying less on the sort of shelling that reduced parts of Homs to rubble.
more…

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May 14th, 2012, 9:38 am

 

106. bronco said:

#102 Tara

I return the same question to you.

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May 14th, 2012, 9:39 am

 

107. zoo said:

The wounded honor of the SNC: no unity until we are “recognized”.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/14/us-syria-opposition-idUSBRE84D0G320120514
Syria’s SNC to snub Arab-backed unity talk
ROME | Mon May 14, 2012 7:45am EDT

(Reuters) – Syria’s leading opposition group will not take part in talks sponsored by the Arab League aimed at fixing deep divisions within its ranks, a member of the group’s executive council said on Monday.

“The SNC (Syrian National Council) will not be going to the meeting in Cairo because it (the Arab League) has not invited the group as an official body but as individual members,” Ahmed Ramadan, told Reuters in Rome.

Another SNC member, Radwan Ziadeh, said the Arab League had failed to make good on a promise to involve the group – which is now meeting in Rome to try to unite its ranks and decide its leadership – in preparations for the talks.

Political jockeying within the SNC has prevented it from gaining full international endorsement. Executive members told Reuters they may choose a new president or restructure the council in a bid to garner broader support.

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May 14th, 2012, 9:46 am

 

108. zoo said:

Gulf countries increasingly worried about Al Qaeeda’s new strategy of hiding behind the Arab Spring uprisings

The exportation of new violence
13/05/2012
By Emad El Din Adeeb
http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=2&id=29607

Arab politicians must be concerned with what is happening now, regarding the increased activity of al-Qaeda in Yemen.

This activity is indicative of a new policy adopted by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the natural successor to Osama Bin Laden in the leadership of the organization.

Al-Zawahiri’s new vision aims to achieve 3 main objectives in the near future:

The crisis for the moderate minds in the Arab world is that we are facing the phenomenon of a violent organization such as al-Qaeda trying to ride on the back of a peaceful revolution such as the Arab Spring.

This crisis will complicate any real progress in the Arab Spring revolutions, and their paths may be hijacked towards senseless violence that could transform them into chaos.

Hence the real proponents of the Arab Spring revolutions must be aware of these new hijacking attempts, primarily led by the violence coming from Afghanistan.

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May 14th, 2012, 10:13 am

 

109. zoo said:

“For us it is absolutely clear that terrorist groups are behind this — Al-Qaeda and those groups that work with Al-Qaeda”

Russia sees Al-Qaeda hand in Syria”

MOSCOW – Agence France- Presse
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/russia-sees-al-qaeda-hand-in-syria.aspx?pageID=238&nID=20707&NewsCatID=353

Russia today accused Al-Qaeda of being behind the brutal recent bombings in Syria and warned of a protracted and increasingly bloody conflict in which neither side gained the upper hand.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov painted a bleak picture of Syria’s future one month after Bashar al-Assad’s government signed up to international envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan.

Gatilov said the standoff had reached a military “balance” that would be hard to break unless Western and Arab nations took a harder line with opposition groups with which they had links.

But he added that current foreign assistance to fighters required Russia not to leave its traditional ally defenceless and to continue supplying Assad’s army with certain “defensive” arms.

“It is very sad to see very powerful foreign support for the opposition — both financial and military. This foreign support only emboldens the diehard opposition, prompting them to continue their terrorist activity,” Gatilov said.

“For us it is absolutely clear that terrorist groups are behind this — Al-Qaeda and those groups that work with Al-Qaeda,” he added in reference to the deadly wave of bombings that have recently struck Syria’s biggest cities.
more…

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May 14th, 2012, 10:20 am

 

110. Tara said:

Bronco

Simple.

I was born into this regime and I witnessed…not from the victim side, but rather from the perpetrator side.

Not that I expect you would believe me. You never did. Yet, ironically… I always believed you.

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May 14th, 2012, 10:27 am

 

111. Uzair8 said:

The following is a good opinion piece from Al Arabiya english. I, like many have suspected what the regime has been doing from the beginning with this ‘armed gang’ narrative. Unfortunately I’m not the best at translating my thoughts and articulating them order to explain to, and persuade others.

This article I’m gonna bookmark.

Violence in Syria: between theory and practice
By Abdullah Iskandar

Monday, 14 May 2012

http://english.alarabiya.net/views/2012/05/14/213997.html

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May 14th, 2012, 12:21 pm

 

112. Uzair8 said:

The other day N.Z. on ‘the Walls’ briefly mentioned an alleged meeting between the regime and the business community followed by an arabic source if I’m correct. (?) The following opinion piece from Al Arabiya comments on the reports.

Syria: al-Assad’s businessmen have defected
By Hussein Shobokshi

Monday, 14 May 2012

Successive news reports have been leaked about the meeting that was held in the Damascus presidential palace and chaired by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in the presence of his brother-in-law and Syrian Deputy Defense Minister, Assef Shawkat, and a carefully selected group of the most prominent businessmen in Syria. This was an extremely tense and stormy meeting which represented a humiliation of the Syrian businessmen who were subject to explicit violent threats that required no interpretation, namely that either these businessmen and merchants clearly and explicitly support the regime and comprehensively refuse to support or finance the revolution or face the consequences!

Dire threats of the complete destruction of Damascus were issued. The threats included the historical and commercial district of al-Hamaidiya and the well-known Gates of Damascus, which would all be destroyed and levelled to the ground in the same manner as the Baba Amr district of Homs, and in the same manner that the famous district of Kelaniya was destroyed and witnessed horrible and bloody massacres in the 1980s.

Read more:

http://english.alarabiya.net/views/2012/05/14/213994.html

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May 14th, 2012, 12:28 pm

 

113. bronco said:

108. #Tara

In the contrary I believe you and I always thought that you are mostly motivated by your guilt of having been on the other side and of having ignored the ‘pleas’ of the common Syrians.

There are many constructive ways to use one’s position and connections, even if they are suspicious, to do good for a country.
There is no need for a “grand revolution” to change the society. It usually ends up by putting people against each other by shaking old wounds and inciting hatred.
If only rich expats in the US and elsewhere would just use their money to help poor Syrian families to ensure education for their children or creating charities, or promoting arts and culture. Instead they all rush to send money to buy weapons to create by force a ‘instant’ society they dream of. Most of Syria problems have to do with poverty, social classes difference, joblessness, not lack of freedom.
Even in the most repressive countries, and Syria is not one of them, there are small, yet efficient ways to help change without resorting to violent confrontation.
In view of the way this ‘grand political revolution’ is going, you may soon feel even guiltier of having encouraged it instead of having concentrated in helping to tackle Syria’s immediate social problems with humility.

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May 14th, 2012, 12:30 pm

 

114. irritated said:

#112 Uzair 8

The writer is a mouthpiece of Saudi Arabia.

The reality is that Damascus businessmen assets are threatened of violent destruction by the opposition like they were in Homs where many factories owned by businessmen who refused to finance the opposition were destroyed by the armed hands of the opposition.

Accusing the Syrian government of threatening to destroy Al Hamidiah is the most laughable thing I read for a long time

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May 14th, 2012, 12:40 pm

 

115. Uzair8 said:

A tale of insufficient approaches

On the one hand Sheikh Yaqoubi advised the people of their shortcomings as a cause in the delay in victory.

“One year of supporting Allah does not compare to fifty years of heedlessness from Allah and failure to support his religion.”

On the other hand we have the regime thinking one year of motioning and promising ‘reforms’ is enough to calm 40 years of anger at oppression.

The regime has fallen way short. If, as encouraged by many including PM Erdogan, the regime had at the early stages offered and implemented deep reforms (shock therapy) it may have avoided the current situation.

The people are angry and are not going to be persuaded by suspected false/cosmetic promises or threats of violence. The regime knows well the anger of the people. When Sheikh Yaqoubi was twice brought in for interrogation early on in the uprising, the regime demanded from clerics and others to help calm the people.

I don’t believe the regime failed to judge the mood of the people when it offered insufficient reforms.

More likely the insufficient offers were a reflection of the regimes reluctance to concede or compromise.

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May 14th, 2012, 12:55 pm

 

116. ann said:

Syria Christians in disarray – 14 May, 2012

http://mnnonline.org/article/17201

Behind the headlines, another story is emerging. Dykstra explains, “Christians are obviously caught up not only in the general violence, but they’re also being targeted in cities like Homs where approximately 40,000 Christians have fled already. They’re being targeted by Muslim extremists.”

Most of the Christians fled because of the conflict. But many are now being driven out. Extremist Sunni Muslim groups have recently started to threaten Christian families in Homs. “What they’re saying is that the Christians supported Assad and that ‘you deserve to be killed or driven out of your homes. We don’t want you here.’ Probably only 5000 Christians remain in Homs and the surrounding areas.”

“Imagine living in Homs in an area where the so-called freedom-fighters are entering,” says an Open Doors source. “You hear gunshots and bombs exploding. You can imagine what effect this has. And then one night, the extremists knock on your door and tell you, ‘We are taking over this area, so maybe it is time for you to leave.’”

For many of the fleeing Christians, it’s a nightmare revisited. Many made the decision to leave Iraq and flee to Syria…but now that’s not a safe haven, either. More and more are considering fleeing to Lebanon.

According to the Open Doors source, even when they reach their destination, the problems don’t go away. They end up living in cramped conditions with their host family. There are no jobs and no schooling. Traumatized by their experiences, the children have difficulty sleeping.

This is the situation for an estimated 7,000 Christian families, which are approximately 35,000 persons. Adrift in a distant and unknown place, Christians are looking to Open Doors and other organizations for help. Dykstra says, “Open Doors is trying to give them relief that they need desperately. Many people have been living outside of homes in churches and Christian communities, and they’re asking for relief packets, food, and medicine.”

[...]

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May 14th, 2012, 12:56 pm

 

117. ann said:

Russia defends Syria arms flow, sees no talks soon – May 14, 2012

http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/wire-news/russia-defends-syria-arms-flow-sees-no-talks-soon_704308.html

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia defended its weapons deliveries to Syria in the face of Western criticism on Monday, saying government forces need to defend themselves against rebels receiving arms from abroad.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said Russia sees little chance of dialogue between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and its adversaries any time soon, and urged the West to do more to coax the opposition into talks.

He made clear Moscow is in no rush to write off a ceasefire brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan despite persistent bloodshed, much of which he blamed on “terrorist groups” including al Qaeda.

“We do not supply any offensive weapons, we are talking only about defensive weapons,” Gatilov told journalists.

He said Russia exercises “restraint” but added that “when there is massive support of the opposition with weapons … to leave the Syrian government without the means to defend itself would also probably not be right.”

But Gatilov said that despite continuing violence “the situation has improved to a certain degree” since the arrival later in April of the first unarmed U.N. observers in a group of 300 that is to deployed in full by the end of May.

“The main thing now is to let the monitors deploy in full, and see how effectively they work,” he said.

[...]

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May 14th, 2012, 1:15 pm

 

118. Syrian Nationalist Party said:

@ANTOINE,

Yes, SNP will do so as long as the Chief Strategist is in control and on the conditions that SNP strategies and means are the one put to work only. No terrorism, no crimes, no innocent Syrians casualties, no reason for the “BATTA” to destroy the cities as this is exactly what Syria’s enemies are after, using the duckies and paid Islamic and Western / Israeli mercenaries slug it out and do the work for them. Whenever there is a lull and stalemate, the car bombs are sent to steer the streets.

Yes I know what is said before, what we called others before, and what we still calls them now as well. The only reason you don’t hear it now, is not because we have a change of heart on the name calling, it is because SC rule got enforced. That is all. But me personally and SNP proven to have given a true and accurate assessment of the situation in Syria. And as said before. There is no hope in resolving the problem in Syria one way or another without tipping the balance. SNP is that tipping weight. We waited 50 years, will wait another 5 years until all combatants and plotter are exhausted and down. No worry about Syria being leveled to the ground by BATTA-PUPPET army and paid Mercenaries bombs , nor reducing Syria’s population by 99%, will rebuild, in the aftermath, the most beautiful cities ever designed, assemble the most technologically advanced army on earth, and launch the most powerful economic program ever implemented by any nation in history. And if it took another generation to do so, we have the brains, plans and the strategies and the new generation will inherit all. But before all that put to work, there is a day of reckoning for all the misdeed, its called day of judgment, and it is coming from the “Universal Creator” *DRA*CO*S *R*eptil@!ians will not rule nor accomplish the diabolic plan for Syria or for Earth.

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May 14th, 2012, 1:27 pm

 

119. omen said:

awesome…

95. Tara said:

Truth always come out. republican Guards officer given Al Qaeda uniforms to wear to fool the UN mission. Now how can you defend that?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2012/may/14/syria-middle-east-live-updates#block-10

11.21am: Syria: Regular below the line contributor Brown Moses blogs about a supposed al-Qaida member pictured with UN observers who says he was in fact a member of the regular army.

http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/more-syrian-propaganda-fake-al-qaeda.html

This video has been posted online, showing a young man dressed in a black uniform with a al-Qaida flag armband

In the video he explains he was a member of the Republican Guard in the Syrian Army, displaying his ID, and was given the uniform to wear. Images of him wearing the uniform were then used in the Syrian media, including this article.http://www.alwatan.sy/dindex.php?idn=122646 where he’s meeting UN inspectors, described as “Armed takfiris with UN inspectors”.

He goes on to say he doesn’t know how many people were given this uniform, and he’s now defected.

8:37 am

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May 14th, 2012, 7:25 pm

 

120. ann said:

Russia Warns Against Training Syrian Rebels in Kosovo – May 14, 2012

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120514/173451677.html

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday urged international bodies operating in Kosovo to prevent the region from turning into a training ground for Syrian rebels.

A delegation from the Syrian opposition visited Kosovo in April to allegedly make a deal on exchanging experience in guerilla warfare against ruling authorities.

So far, the fractured Syrian opposition has been unable to form a steady front against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Russian ministry said in a statement that the talks covered not only the ways of organizing armed resistance against authorities but also the training of Syrian militants in Kosovo.

“There are plans to use the areas [in Kosovo] that resemble the terrain in Syria. The possibility of setting up training camps at the former bases of the Kosovo Liberation Army [KLA] is also being discussed,” the statement said.

“Transforming Kosovo into an international training ground for armed militants may become a serious destabilizing factor that could extend beyond the Balkans,” the document said. “We urge international bodies operating in Kosovo to take all necessary steps to prevent these plans.”

[...]

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May 14th, 2012, 9:35 pm

 

121. ann said:

Syrian Christians Afraid of Possible Islamist Rule – May 14, 2012

http://en.rian.ru/society/20120514/173444270.html

Christians living in conflict-torn Syria are afraid that their community would fall victim of religious extremism if President Bashar al-Assad regime collapses and Islamists come to power.

“I am afraid that we will suffer bad times,” a member of Damascus’s Christian community, who identified himself as Jorge, told RIA Novosti.

A full-fledged civil war will break out in Syria if Assad’s enemies and their western supporters continue efforts to topple the president, he continued.

“If the regime falls…, Islamists will come to power,” Jorge said, adding that Islamists “wrongly believe that we support the current regime,” and for that reason they will complicate the life of Christians.

“Sunni Muslims who predominate Syria think that if President Assad’s regime representing the interests of the Alawi minority falls, they will live better. But I personally think that they are wrong. Syria is a secular state and its people, including Muslims, will not like it if the new power starts thrusting orthodox Islamic norms of moral and behavior on them,” he added.

According to Jorge’s opinion, extremist forces rather than liberals would come to power in Syria.

Another Syrian, an engineer from Homs, said on conditions of anonymity that he is sure that if Assad’s regime falls, Christians will be “expelled from the country in one day.”

Presently, the situation in Homs is quite complicated, almost all of the local Christians have moved away. Their homes have been occupied by militants and their families, and the shops have been looted. Refugees are temporarily living in other regions of the country.

Jorge said Islamists are trying to show that if the regime changes, Christians would not come under attack. “They do it to appease them [the Christians], attract them thus losing their support of the regime,” he said.

Muslim leaders put messages on social networks saying that Christians and Muslims have for centuries lived together in Syria; they also try to distance themselves from the damage that has been inflicted on Christian homes and churches in Homs.

The engineer from Homs said that government forces could have “pushed out” Islamist militants from Homs if they continued shelling the city for at least three more days. “But then they adopted [UN and League of Arab States Ambassador] Kofi Annan’s plan and gunfire was terminated. But this does not bring anything good to us. Our homes remain occupied by militants.”

He said the majority Christians do not consider emigration a possibility. “This is our homeland. Christians have been living in Syria long before the Muslims. Why should we move away?”

[...]

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May 14th, 2012, 9:41 pm

 

122. ann said:

UN Finds Human Rights Violations by Syria Opposition

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120418/172895902.html

A UN commission has found serious human rights violations have been committed by Syria’s opposition movement, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on his Twitter microblog on Wednesday.

A UN commission has found serious human rights violations have been committed by Syria’s opposition movement, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on his Twitter microblog on Wednesday.

“The chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria acknowledged that the opposition is also responsible for serious violations,” Gatilov wrote in his microblog.

The commission, established by the Human Rights Council in September to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in Syria, is led by UN human rights expert Paulo Pinheiro.

Pinheiro previously warned against arming the Syrian opposition and said that “further militarization will contribute to escalation to full-fledged civil war.” He cited the Commissions second report which concluded that “the only solution is a negotiated settlement.”

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May 14th, 2012, 9:46 pm

 

123. omen said:

49. MICHEL

please michel, you’re insulting syrian christians who support the revolution.

it wont help to alienate needed allies.

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May 15th, 2012, 12:48 am

 

124. Barbara Tiemeier said:

Brilliantly written!

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May 15th, 2012, 12:53 pm

 

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