“The hunt for ‘plan B’, by Labott; Syria Needs a George Washington; Syria could become like North Korea; “The Burial Brigade of Homs,” by Putz

The hunt for ‘plan B’ – planning for ‘the day after’ in Syria
By Elise Labott, CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter

Expectations are low for Sunday’s Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul, where representatives from more than 70 nations and international organizations will gather to discuss ways to hasten the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.

The reason is simple. The most critical piece is missing: Plan B.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made no secret of her frustration with the opposition Syrian National Council’s inability to offer a vision for a post-al-Assad Syria that all Syrians can sign on to. This week, Clinton said the United States would be “pushing them very hard” to present such a vision in Istanbul.

She’s not alone. Many a senior administration official has summed up the SNC in two words: “A mess.”

The characterization from European and Arab diplomats may be more diplomatic, but no less critical of the SNC’s lack of leadership, organizational skills and ideas.

“They are all over the map, depending on whom you talk to on any given day,” one senior U.S. official said. “It’s hard to think of what we can do going forward when there is no credible alternative.”

Lessons learned from Iraq

More importantly the SNC, made up of mostly Syrian exiles, has not demonstrated it has support inside Syria. U.S. officials are seeing parallels to the war in Iraq, where the United States relied too heavily upon the Iraqi National Congress – a group of exiles run by businessmen Ahmed Chalabi – which was ultimately found to be corrupt and unreliable. When Baghdad fell and the Baath party disbanded, it became quickly apparent the group had no base inside Iraq from which to draw, and the United States was left to run the country.

“The U.S. is hoping these expats can deliver. They are telling you they can, but their actions and infighting are telling you they can’t,” said the University of Oklahoma’s Joshua Landis, who writes Syria Comment, a daily newsletter on Syrian politics. “The Obama administration fears they will implode or be overtaken by actors within Syria who are better connected to forces on the ground. The Obama administration doesn’t want to be caught going down the same yellow brick trail as the Bush administration did when it backed the Iraqi National Council only to discover that it didn’t have much purchase with Iraqi society.”

Radwan Ziadeh, a member of the SNC and the executive director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Washington, said the criticism of the group’s lack of vision is unfair given the uncertainty of the crisis. “We can come with a general plan, but how can we come up with a detailed plan?” he asked. “That will depend on the key players who emerge from this and we don’t’ know that yet. We don’t know how the regime will fall.”….

Last year the State Department gave modest funding to an initiative run by the U.S. Institute for Peace, aptly titled “The Day After.” The project centers around developing a set of recommendations for key sectors, like how to jump-start the economy, establish security and rule of law and write a new constitution. The participants, who include both Syrian exiles and Western technical experts, have met several times in Europe. Although the Syrian National Council is not officially affiliated with the USIP project, because the leadership was wary of participating in an enterprise funded by the United Sates, several of the group’s members are involved – including Ziadeh, who called it an “important tool” in transition planning.

But the State Department quickly became disenchanted with the project. Officials including U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who previously served in Iraq, felt it bore an uncanny resemblance to the Future of Iraq project,….

“You can get the same people to do the same project for Congo or Zimbabwe,” said Ayman Abdel Nour, who served as al-Assad’s adviser from 1997 to 2004….

Ausama Monajed, a member of the SNC who has taken part in the USIP project, said while it’s important to reach Syrians inside the country, it is unrealistic to expect those under deadly siege by the government to be thinking about the day-after. “The majority of the people can’t talk about tomorrow, they are worried about today,” he said. “They are in the middle of it and cannot see the bigger picture at this stage. There is no stomach for anyone in the inside to look at a health policy when they are being shot.”…

Trying to learn the lessons of Iraq, Ambassador Ford and others have concluded the exiles they are currently working with will not be able to get the economy running, turn on the electricity, or fix a pothole “the day after.”

While not abandoning the SNC entirely, senior officials say the Obama administration in recent months has begun to cast a much wider net for Syrians who can run Syria the day after al-Assad falls. The United States could no longer put all of its eggs in the SNC’s basket.

President Obama himself suggested the shift earlier this week in South Korea when, after a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, he said the U.S. would start aiding opposition groups inside Syria. Officials said non-lethal aid will include secure communications equipment to help opposition leaders on the ground communicate better with each other and with the outside world.

While in Syria, Ford amassed a network of opposition contacts on the ground that has been hard to tap into since the embassy closed and he left the country in February. Now he relies on Skype and other communications technologies to reach those inside…..

Syrian activist Ammar Abdulhamid, a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, is trying to bridge the gap between the exiles and those Syrians on the ground. He’s bringing together small groups of Syrian experts to brainstorm ideas for a transition, which he is feeding to opposition groups on the ground in Syria who the United States is now trying to reach. “We don’t have a political agenda and aren’t tabling a plan,” Abdulhamid said. “This is to raise public awareness and highlight the issues we are going to be facing once Assad falls. There needs to be a public debate and we want to empower Syrians to do that.”

Molham Aldrobi, a member of the SNC who serves on the Muslim Brotherhood’s Executive Council and has taken part in both the USIP and Abdulhamid’s projects, believes the opposition on the ground will eventually produce the “alternative” the U.S. and others are calling for. But he said more support for the opposition is needed, and that will determine who follows Assad and how much influence the international community will have on that person.

“Bashar al-Assad needs to know the world means business and so do the Syrian people,” he said. “The longer it takes, the more unstable this region will be and the worse the situation will be in the future. Or else the international community may find they won’t like who gets in. Because that person is going to say, ‘hands off, this is mine.'”

Video — Syria opposition: Don’t prolong catastrophe
by on Apr 1, 2012

Burhan Ghalioun, the head of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), said at the opening of the so-called “Friends of Syria” in Istanbul: “We demand serious action. The Syrian regime will inevitably fall. Don’t prolong the catastrophe. The opposition is united; now it is time for you to unite and support the Syrian opposition.”

Mideast expert: Syria faces Iraq-style insurgency
Michael Hughes, Geopolitics Examiner

Syria is descending into a factional civil war which has taken on some of the contours of the insurgency the U.S. fought in Iraq for ten years, “at least in the methods of fighting and growing sectarian divide,” according to Professor Joshua Landis, Director of Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. (See Upheaval within the Opposition: Defections, Terrorism, and Preparing for a Phase II Insurgency)

Landis is also author of the blog Syria Comment, a treasure-trove of intelligence that provides more sophisticated analysis on the situation than most Western sources.

Within an email to me on Saturday Professor Landis also stated that Syria could turn into “a North Korea of sorts”, plagued by misery, starvation and displacement, isolated from the international community but with a government that refuses to quit.”

Although Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is unlikely to cease employing violence to quell dissent anytime soon, Landis does not believe the Syrian despot will succeed in the long run:

I doubt he [Assad] will have a lot more success than the US has had in Iraq, although, his army probably understands Syrians a lot better than US troops and commanders did Iraqis. But they [Assad and his security forces] will probably still be provoked into over-reacting to terrorism and road-side bombs and lose the battle for hearts and minds.

Landis, often quoted as an expert in news outlets such as The New York Times and Reuters, explained in a recent post how the Arab Spring hit Syria in a much different way than it did other countries in the region. Syrian expats, as well as U.S. leaders, assumed Assad would fall within months, underestimating the intensity of the sectarian divide:

Syrian opposition members incorrectly believed a “Tahrir Square moment” would arrive within months of the uprising’s start, “eliminating the need for a coherent military strategy, a defined leadership, or how to parry government counter-insurgency operations.”

The reality is elite Westernized Syrian intellectuals living abroad, who want to see a purely secular and peaceful anti-government protest movement, are not the ones doing the bulk of the fighting. Jobless lower-class Muslim youth have been doing the heavy-lifting on the street with funds and arms from the Saudis and other Sunni benefactors.

In a recent discussion with Robert Wright on Bloggingheads.tv, Landis said the militarization and Islamization of the rebel movement was inevitable but, in some ways, perhaps necessary.

No secular nationalist ideology exists in Syria that can rally Syrian fighters. Hence, opposition military leaders have been inspiring their soldiers by relying upon the doctrine that is most readily available: jihad. This same doctrine has worked for Hezbollah and Hamas as well as insurgents in both Iraq and Afghanistan for years.

Syrian rebel leaders have been portraying the struggle as a holy war against a heathen dictator. And because of the Syrian government’s superior firepower, the Syrian rebels have had to resort to asymmetric warfare which includes “martyrdom operations” – so the Islamist ideology is well-aligned with the tactics now required to defeat the infidel.

Despite the humanitarian situation Landis does not believe the international community should intervene militarily because toppling Assad without having a viable alternative will lead to chaos and civil war.

The Syrian people must go through the process of building a nation on their own, Landis asserted, as opposed to having some regime dropped in by foreign powers. The Syrians should look at places like Turkey for examples of how to erect a stable country from the ground up. The Syrians need a George Washington-type who can win long hard-fought battles and unify disparate interests while forging a genuine national identity. As Landis said during the Wright interview:

“Syria needs a George Washington, but Americans cannot invent one for them.”

In the long run, nonintervention will result in less killing, as the Syrians themselves build and establish a legitimate government, as opposed to outsiders intervening and attempting to do it for them.

The Burial Brigade of Homs
An Executioner for Syria’s Rebels Tells His Story
By Ulrike Putz in Beirut,  SPIEGEL ONLINE

Human Rights Watch has condemned abuses committed by Syrian rebels in their stronghold of Homs. But one member of a rebel “burial brigade” who has executed four men by slitting their throats defended his work in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. “If we don’t do it, nobody will hold these perpetrators to account,” he said.

Hussein can barely remember the first time he executed someone. It was probably in a cemetery in the evening, or at night; he can’t recall exactly. It was definitely mid-October of last year, and the man was Shiite, for sure. He had confessed to killing women — decent women, whose husbands and sons had protested against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. So the rebels had decided that the man, a soldier in the Syrian army, deserved to die, too.

Hussein didn’t care if the man had been beaten into a confession, or that he was terrified of death and had begun to stammer prayers. It was his tough luck that the rebels had caught him. Hussein took out his army knife and sliced the kneeling man’s neck. His comrades from the so-called “burial brigade” quickly interred the blood-stained corpse in the sand of the graveyard west of the Baba Amr area of the rebel stronghold of Homs. At the time, the neighborhood was in the hands of the insurgents.
That first execution was a rite of passage for Hussein. He now became a member of the Homs burial brigade. The men, of which there are only a handful, kill in the name of the Syrian revolution. They leave torture to others; that’s what the so-called interrogation brigade is for. “They do the ugly work,” says Hussein, who is currently being treated in a hospital in the Lebanese city of Tripoli. He was injured when a piece of shrapnel became lodged in his back during the army’s ground invasion of Baba Amr in early March.

He is recovering in relatively safe Lebanon until he can return to Syria and “get back to work.” It’s a job he considers relatively clean. “Most men can torture, but they’re not able to kill from close range,” he explains. “I don’t know why, but it doesn’t bother me. That’s why they gave me the job of executioner. It’s something for a madman like me.”

Before he joined the Farouk Brigade, as the Baba Amr militia is known, last August, the 24-year-old had worked as a salesman. “I can sell everything, from porcelain to yogurt,” he says.

How the Rebels Lost Their Innocence

The bloody uprising against the Assad regime has now lasted for a year. And Hussein’s story illustrates that, in this time, the rebels have also lost their innocence.

There are probably many reasons for that development. Hussein can rattle off several of them. “There are no longer any laws in Syria,” he says. “Soldiers or thugs hired by the regime kill men, maim children and rape our women. If we don’t do it, nobody will hold these perpetrators to account.”

Another reason, he explains, is the desire for vengeance. “I have been arrested twice. I was tortured for 72 hours. They hung me by the hands, until the joints in my shoulders cracked. They burnt me with hot irons. Of course I want revenge.”….

So far, Hussein has cut the throats of four men. Among the group of executioners in Homs, he is the least experienced — something that he almost seems apologetic about. “I was wounded four times in the last seven months,” he says. “I was out of action for a long time.” On top of that, he also has other commitments. “I operate our heavy machine gun, a Russian BKC. Naturally I have killed a lot more men with that. But only four with the blade.” That will change soon, he says. “I hope I will be released from the hospital next week and can return to Homs. Then those dogs will be in for it.”….

House Intel Leaders: Arming Syria a Bad Idea – April 1, 2012

House intelligence leaders said on Sunday that arming Syrian rebels remains unwise because they are unknown actors and Syria’s regime continues to be backed by Iran and Russia.

“I think we both agree that’s probably a bad idea,” said Mike Rogers, R-Mich., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, appearing on CNN’s State of the Union.

Appearing with Ranking Member C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Md., he argued for greater international diplomatic pressure rather than “sending in arms and hoping for the best.”

“We think that there are other things that we can do that we haven’t quite engaged in yet, and that probably need to happen,” Rogers said, including engaging the Arab League so the United States could take a “support role.”

Rogers said President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime appears unmoved by Washington’s pleading, but cautioned against weapons falling into the hands of “bad actors there.”

“We don’t really see Assad’s inner-circle crumbling,” Rogers said. “They believe that they’re winning.”

He added: “Iran and Russia both have stepped up to the plate and can’t afford, in their minds, can’t afford to lose Syria as their toehold.” Said Ruppersberger: “The United States can’t be sheriff for the whole world.” […]

China rejects Obama’s Iran oil import sanctions
by News Sources on April 1, 2012 (Thanks War in Context)

The Associated Press reports: China rejected President Barack Obama’s decision to move forward with plans for sanctions on countries buying oil from Iran, saying Saturday that Washington had no right to unilaterally punish other nations.

South Korean officials said they will continue working with the U.S. to reduce oil imports from Iran, as other U.S. allies who depend on Iranian oil worked to find alternative energy supplies.

Obama announced Friday that he is plowing ahead with the potential sanctions, which could affect U.S. allies in Asia and Europe, as part of a deepening campaign to starve Iran of money for its disputed nuclear program. The U.S. and allies believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear bomb; Iran denies that.

China is one of the biggest importers of Iranian oil, and its Foreign Ministry reiterated its opposition to the U.S. moves.

Syria eyewitness dispatch: ‘I watched as Assad’s tanks rolled in to destroy a rebel town’,
by News Sources 03.31.2012

John Cantlie, an independent photojournalist, reports from the Syrian town of Saraqeb: The sound of the caterpillar tracks could be felt as much as heard, a deep rumble that sent a rattle through windows and a tremble of fear through the guts. Then we saw them. Huge Soviet-made T72s, accompanied by troop carriers driving slowly […]

Comments (1,242)

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451. Mina said:

bashar al Asad was planning to overthrow the Moroccan dynasty and set up an islamist regime there! With the help of the Algerian generals!
It looks like the French media don’t understand what is an April fool.

“L’information est à prendre avec des pincettes, elle fait cependant le buzz sur les réseaux sociaux au Maroc. Le président syrien Bachar Al Assad voulait renverser le Roi Mohammed VI avec l’aide des services secrets algériens. C’est en tout cas ce que vient de révéler un officier des services secrets syriens.
Le régime syrien voulait faire abdiquer la monarchie marocaine et créer un régime islamiste, qui servirait de base avancée à l’Iran, a affirmé Houssam Aouak au quotidien panarabe basé à Londres Al Watan Al Arabi.”

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April 4th, 2012, 4:34 am


452. Alan said:

US’ ABM noose around China, Russia

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April 4th, 2012, 5:23 am


453. Latif said:

Oglu told Clinton Turkey can absorb as much as 2 million refugees, but he thinks the number will be 5 million if Annan plan fails.

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April 4th, 2012, 5:36 am


455. Mina said:

Egypt: Political Islam is now totally controling mosques. Soon in your neighborhood!

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April 4th, 2012, 5:50 am


456. Juergen said:

Hamed Abdel Samad, controversial book author of books like: “The downfall of Islam”, “Farewell from heaven” has written this on his facebook page:

“My vision for the world in 2018: After a youth revolt, both in Iran and Saudi Arabia elected democratic governments reign. Even in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan,the democracy after years of chaos has succeded. Israel voluntarily has given up their atomic bomb programme and leaves the settlements in the West Bank and on the Golan Heights. The largest free trade zone in the world is being built in the Middle East. Money from the Gulf States, young people from North Africa and HiTec from Israel. The Euro will crash. Hungary declares war on Romania and built concentration camps for Sinti and Roma. The Europeans are trying to sacrifice Romania in order to keep the peace in the old continent, but the Americans do not want to abandon the Romanians. The Russians are allied with the Hungarians. The economic crisis in China is intensifying, and masses of migrants make their escape. The Tunisian former premier explained: the boat is full and we can not even integrate the Italian immigrants, though they are culturally close to us!”


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April 4th, 2012, 6:00 am


457. Juergen said:

Mnhbaks rush, there is a TIME magazine online poll questioning whether the eyedoctor is worthy to be in the list of the 100 most influental people on earth…

The voting so far:

In Favor: 49,86%
Against: 50,14%

No worries, the list of choosen figures is long and some had the same hate potential like Assad: Khomeni for instance.


Reminds me kind of the old joke about Hafez. Clinton back in 1996 was suffering from the Lewinsky scandal. His reelection is at stake, so his advisors suggest to get foreign advisors of successful elected presidents. They search for the most successful leaders, and all agree that Hafez al Assad with 98,9% made it. So Bill calls Hafez and asks him to get his advisors tohelp him to get reelected. Hafez agrees and all the preelectzion campaign went smooth. On election evening Clinton and his advisors watch tv and await the actual figures. The Tv announcer said: “98,5 % for Assad!”

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April 4th, 2012, 6:09 am


458. Juergen said:

Just read that in Al Watan they wrote that until 10th April not all military operations will come to an end. Opposition forced revealed that an extensive military operation will take place north of Aleppo headed by Assaf Schauwkat. It seeems that the syrian army tries to end the uprise by the FSA before the deadline given by Annan is reached.

Meanwhile the Syrian orthodox church has given the order for all churches to postpone any outside procession or celebration of easter outside of the churches. This move is seen as an precaution as well as an hommage to all the matyrs. The church left it open which martyrs will be remembered.

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April 4th, 2012, 7:32 am


459. VOLK said:

Syria opposition will never defeat Assad’s army, says Russia

“It is clear as day that even if the Syrian opposition is armed to the teeth, it will not be able to defeat the government’s army,” Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying while on a visit to the ex-Soviet nation of Azerbaijan.
“Instead, there will be carnage that lasts many, many years – mutual destruction,” said Lavrov.


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April 4th, 2012, 8:00 am


460. Tara said:

This is the real story about the hospital liberated by the FSA


9.09am: Gruesome video has emerged purporting to show decomposing bodies, discovered after Monday’s reported liberation of a hospital in Homs.

The clip shows several bodies in a container lorry outside the hospital and more in the hospitals morgue. [warning: disturbing content]

The clip came as more details emerged about the raid. Dima Moussa, media spokeswoman for the Revolutionary Council of Homs, has this account:

Assad’s forces took over the National Hospital some time ago and turned it into a military barrack. There have been reports of injured people being taken there and tortured to death, in addition to the retaining of the bodies of people killed by Assad forces.

Assad snipers have been actively targeting civilians from the hospital, making the surrounding areas very dangerous for any kind of movement. The Free Syrian Army went in to take over the hospital and put an end to these attacks against innocent civilians.

As of now, there is still at least one part of the hospital occupied by a group of soldiers from the Assad army. We have received reports about bodies being discovered inside the hospital, but these reports have not yet been confirmed, and the exact number is not yet available.

Video has also emerged purporting to show the liberation of the hospital in Homs by the Farouq brigade.

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April 4th, 2012, 8:16 am


461. Mina said:

“Meanwhile the Syrian orthodox church has given the order for all churches to postpone any outside procession or celebration of easter outside of the churches.”

They did the same last year, out of respect for the martyrs too.

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April 4th, 2012, 8:21 am


462. DAWOUD said:


Describing Aljazeera as a “Wahabi” media is not only preposterous, but also very inaccurate. This network has always been negatively viewed by Saudi Arabia and all the Arab regimes (except for Syria until March of 2011 when it began to ACCURATELY cover the war crimes Bashar’s and Hasan’s Shabiha). Even Alarabiya, which is close to Saudi Arabia,is NOT a Wahabi media. Do you think that Wahabi fundamentalist are happy to see Alarabiya’s female anchors, many of whom are featuring fake cosmetically-enhanced figures, lips, br@@@, etc.? Even Saudi Arabia as a government is not really Wahabi. Saudi Arabia is an oppressive monarchy like al-Assad’s (yah, Syria is a “republic,” not monarchy although power transfers from father to son!). There are certain religious policies that are adopted by the Saudi state to sedate Wahabi religious scholars, some of which (e.g., banning women from driving) are silly!

Now, we don’t really have any “Wahabi” state in the world, but we have Shia fundamentalist states, which operate according to the priciple of the Wilayat al-faqih. Below is a PARTIAL list of Wilayet al-Faqih media, which support the dictator of Syria and his ongoing war crimes:

Iran’s Press and Al-Alam TV
Lebanon’s al-Manar TV/newspaer
Lebanon’s Assafir Newspaper (which is disguised as a leftist/intellectual newspaper)
Lebanon’s al-Akhbar Newspaper
Iraq’s al-Fourat TV


الأمن السوري كتب عبارات فارسية ورقص بالجامع العمري
الشيخ الصياصنة: أجبرت على الظهور في التلفزيون السوري بعدما هددوني بعائلتي

بيروت – محمد زيد مستو

دعا الشيخ أحمد الصياصنة أحد رموز الثورة السورية إلى تسليح الجيش الحر وتنظيم صفوفه، درءاً للفوضى بعد سقوط النظام، محملاً مسؤولية تنظيمه إلى المجلس العسكري المؤسس مؤخرا وإلى المعارضة التي اتهم بعض عناصرها بخيانة الشعب السوري.

وأوضح الصياصنة الذي يعتبر أحد مفجري الثورة السورية في مدينة درعا، أن التسليح يجب أن ينحصر في الجيش الحر، وأن على المدنيين المتطوعين الانضواء تحت صفوفه، مبدياً خشيته من انتشار حالة من الانفلات والانتقام بعد سقوط النظام السوري الحاكم، وأن تتحول سوريا إلى صومال آخر في حال انتشر السلاح لدى جميع السوريين.

وفيما طالب بدعم عربي ودولي للجيش الحر وإنقاذه من أيدي “تجار السلاح” الذين يستغلون حاجته حسب قوله، دعا إلى توحيد صفوف الحر وانضواء المدنيين المتطوعين تحت رايته، محملا مسؤولية ذلك للمجلس العسكري وللمعارضة السورية.

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April 4th, 2012, 8:31 am


463. Mina said:

Very interesting comments to this Kissinger piece in the Washington Post

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April 4th, 2012, 8:39 am


464. DAWOUD said:

A memo to all my fellow anti-Syrian dictator commenters (TARA, MajedKhaldoun, SOD, et al.):

Please stop quoting pro-Israeli Zionist neo-cons EVEN if what they say seem favorable to the Syrian Revolution. These figures would really be surprised when they find out that the courageous Syrian Revolution also would ultimately seek to liberate the Golan Heights and Occupied Palestine. Below is a partial list of U.S. pro-Israeli Zionists, whose views on Syria are badly-intentioned and should not be posted:

Elliot Abrams, William (Bill) Kristol, ALL OF Fox News Channel, Dennis Ross, etc.

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April 4th, 2012, 8:48 am


465. Uzair8 said:

@465 Dawood

Do you mean like the following? 🙂

“While the monarchies of the Middle East have a fighting chance to reform and survive, the region’s fake republics have been falling like dominoes — and Syria is next.”
Elliott Abrams, Friday, March 25


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April 4th, 2012, 9:02 am


466. Mina said:

In Mali they get both a new regime and an Islamist insurrection:


Mali’s junta on Wednesday accused rebels controlling the northern city of Gao of grave human rights abuses, in particluar the kidnap and rape of women and girls.

“The populations of northern Mali, specifically those in Gao, are suffering grave human rights violations” since the town was seized Saturday by Tuareg rebels and Islamists, the junta said in a statement.

Spokesman Amadou Konare pointed the finger at the Tuareg rebel Azawad National Liberation Movement, the Islamist Ansar Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“Women and girls have been kidnapped and raped by the new occupants who are laying down their own law,” the statement said, without giving further details.

A Gao resident, who asked not to be identified by name or employment, confirmed the junta’s accusations.
“It is a reality here. At night they kidnap women, take them away and rape them,” he said, adding there had been at least a dozen cases since Saturday.

Over the weekend the Tuareg and Islamists seized the three main northern centres of Kidal, Gao and the fabled city of Timbuktu, the former seeking regional independence and the latter sharia, Islamic law.

The resident of Gao said “every kind of robbery imaginable has happened here since those people arrived: people have been fleeced, pillaged, vandalised. There is no transport and those who try to leave the city are turned back.”

A band of low-ranking officers ousted the government on 22 March for its alleged incompetence in stamping out the northern rebellion, but have since lost territory larger than France to the various rebel groups.


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April 4th, 2012, 9:05 am


467. Uzair8 said:

More than a year into the revolution we have seen the masses shake off the cloud of fear hanging over them. We all know Syria was built on a personality cult with statues and portraits everywhere. How long before the cult like characteristics affecting a certain portion of the population begin to wear off?

Moving on. Syrians are told that this is all the doing of Prince Bandar. If true, that the events reaching the current situation were masterminded by Prince Bandar, then he must be a genius of Henry Kissinger proportions.

Another thing. Do you notice how foreign officials, regime allies, conveniently ignore commenting on the people (who are rising up) and prefer to talk about the democratic credentials of the countries supposedly supporting the revolution?

I heard an Iranian official* point to the undemocratic nature of the regional nations supporting the opposition. His conclusion was that this shows it cannot be about freedom and democracy.

See next comment.

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April 4th, 2012, 9:24 am


468. Uzair8 said:

Heard the following last night on BBC World Service.

The War Over Syria

The conflict in Syria is transfixing the Middle East.

But it is transforming it too.

Barbara Plett, the BBC’s UN Correspondent, returns to the Middle East to examine how the future of the Assads could also shape the future of the region.



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April 4th, 2012, 9:27 am


469. Juergen said:

Saad Assarir is really pushing his presidency campaign in Egypt…


Ali Ferzat is determined to return to Syria


an other interview with him

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April 4th, 2012, 9:44 am


470. ghufran said:

If the news about the LCC agreeing to go to Russia for talks are true, that could be a breakthrough politically, no response from the SNC which angered Moscow by ignoring Annan mission and going to Turkey under KSA and Qatar umbrella.

April 17-18th is said to be the date, this leaves the SNC alone, so far.

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April 4th, 2012, 9:52 am


471. Juergen said:

Günther Grass the nobel price winner for Literature 2006 has written an controversial poem(title: What has to be said) about the planned war against Iran by Israel.

I have not found yet an adequate translation of the poem, the NYT will publish it today, as soon as they do i will post it here.

Grass is stressing in the poem that Israel is a much bigger threat to the world with is atomic weaponry than Iran which has not proven to have the bomb yet.

He wrote in the poem: “tomorrow could already be too late” and Germany could be a “supplier to a crime”, referring to a deal sealed last month for Berlin to sell Israel a sixth nuclear-capable Dolphin-class submarine.

“I admit: I will be silent no longer, because I am sick of the hypocrisy of the West”.


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April 4th, 2012, 10:00 am


472. mjabali said:

I said yesterday that weapons are dangerous things to play with especially by those who do not care about the consequences.

In this link an anti Assad fighter shoots at a platform that contains missiles. The missiles flew in all directions and most likely they will kill or destroy anything they would hit, which would be most likely some poor villagers because the whole thing is taking place in the countryside.

So, life is bad to begin with then you die in your home with an anti aircraft missile. Of course you can blame the government for that…

Syria is going to hell because all insist on using violence as THE method to solve this chaos.

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April 4th, 2012, 10:25 am


473. Jad said:


Regarding Frankfurt news here are couple clips if interested, one of the Shabiha was hurt, maybe ksa and qatar should send the protesters some weapons so they can protect themselves from the German Shabiha army:

Frankfurt riot 2 – 31.03.2012.AVI

Teil 2 Demo Frankfurt 31.03 Linke Gewalttäter beschießen Menschen mit Feuerwerkskörpern


Dave is hurt for calling his favourit propohanda wahabi news network, so he runs to the rescuse, how cute!

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April 4th, 2012, 10:27 am


474. jna said:

461. Tarasaid:
This is the real story about the hospital liberated by the FSA
Video has also emerged purporting to show the liberation of the hospital in Homs by the Farouq brigade.

Tara, you left out the Guardian’s informative final sentence: “The footage cannot be verified and at times appears to resemble a recreation of a raid rather than a raid itself.”

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April 4th, 2012, 10:33 am


475. Alan said:


Stroitransgaz completes stage of Syria project

MOSCOW, April 4 (Itar-Tass) — Stroitransgaz has completed the next stage of the Syria project. The Russian company said in a release that spare parts for the project for the construction of a natural gas processing plant (GPP-1), which will ensure reliable operation of the facility in the future have been supplied in full volume.

In accordance with the contract, after the GPP-1 commissioning Stroitransgaz was fulfilling annual warranty obligations. At the request of the Syrian authorities the Russian company continued to provide services for the facility’s technical maintenance.

According to the company head Sergei Makarov, “Despite the difficulties the company is currently facing, we do not intend to curtail operations in Syria.” “At present, Stroitransgaz continues to provide technical assistance services for the first gas processing plant and continues to build a second,” he said. “A special system of security measures aimed at saving the lives and health of our employees is applied in Syria. The Syrian side represented by the customer – the Syrian Gas Company and the state security forces, provides an active assistance to us in this.”

Stroitransgaz is an engineering-construction company that provides all forms of services related to the implementation of large projects – from the development of project documentation to warranty maintenance. The sphere of the company activity is the construction and reconstruction of industrial and infrastructure facilities, primarily in the oil, natural gas and electric power industries. Stroitransgaz holds the first place among Russian companies engaged in industrial facilities’ construction. According to an assessment by the international rating agency Engineering News-Record, Stroitransgaz is one of the largest engineering-construction companies in the world.

Stroitransgaz has been working in Syria since 2000. The company has already completed projects for the construction of the Arab Gas Pipeline with the length of 319 kilometres and the GPP-1 (South Middle Area Gas Exploitation Project, SMAGEP).

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April 4th, 2012, 10:57 am


476. mjabali said:

Dear Jad:

I just replied to your points about al-Jazeera and the Spam ate my comment.

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April 4th, 2012, 10:59 am


477. Alan said:


Two groups of Syrian opposition to come to Moscow in days

BAKU, April 4 (Itar-Tass) — Two groups of Syria’s opposition are coming to Moscow in the next few days, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

“Now we are welcoming representatives from domestic opposition, from the National Coordination Committee,” he said. “In a couple of days, another opposition group is coming.”

“We think it is necessary to work with all, to persuade them that we want to help Syrians solve their problems by themselves,” the Russian foreign minister stressed.

He noted that there is no unity within the Syrian opposition. “It took not very long for the Libyan opposition to unite, while there is no unity in the Syrian opposition,” he said. “There are several opposition groups both inside Syria, national committee and national movements, and abroad. We meet with all of them.”

“The West however is seeking to avert them from a dialogue,” Lavrov noted. “It means that they want to find solutions on the basis of the use of force.”

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April 4th, 2012, 10:59 am


478. majedkhaldoun said:

ما يدعو للغثيان.. مشاهدة صفحات المنحبكجية

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April 4th, 2012, 11:07 am


479. Mina said:

HELP! Does anyone know where Mali is located??
Please send your informations and gifts to the authors of these:
(the “two-month old coup” that happened on March 22nd)

(the junta calls for a meeting with the local organizations for tomorrow, thursday March 5th…)

It is just the new al-Qaeda hotspot, so they really need to catch up quickly. If you have ever heard of Tombouctou and Gao, and their medieval kingdom and Islamic libraries, please give them an idea, because usually in France most people think that Senegal and Mali were “islamized” in the 20th century.

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April 4th, 2012, 11:09 am


480. jad said:

ma fhmt, sho asdak ‘khalo’?

Dear Mjabali
I’ll send the moderator an email to ask him to let the comment ‘free’ 🙂

Alsiddik argued with Haytham almale7 and accuse Israel of killing Hariri:
مسلسل خلافات رفاق الثورة يتواصل: الصدّيق يتوعد هيثم المالح

أظهر مقطع فيديو نقلاً عن تقرير تلفزيوني جدالاً بين محمد زهير الصدّيق، الشاهد الملك أو «شاهد الزور» في قضية اغتيال رئيس الوزراء اللبناني السابق رفيق الحريري، وبين المعارض هيثم المالح حيث كان الأول يحاول إقناع المالح بضمه الى صفوف المعارضة السورية.
فحين كان المالح يُدلي بتصريح لمذيعة اجنبية داخل فندق استضاف اجتماعاً للمعارضة في اسطنبول أخيراً، قاطع اللقاء رجلان دخلا الى المكتب أحدهما محمد زهير الصدّيق.
ورد المالح على محاولات الصدّيق المتكررة بالقول «لابد من أن نتأكد من مصداقية الصدّيق لاسيما أن سمعته سبقته وله سوابق وهو شخص غير صادق». الا أن الصدّيق بادر بالرد «لماذا أنا غير صادق؟ من قتل الحريري؟». ليجيب المالح: «لا اعرف من قتل الحريري، ربما النظام السوري»، قبل أن يقاطعه الصدّيق بأن «اسرائيل هي من قتلت الحريري وليس الأسد» ثم همّ بمغادرة المكتب فيما كان المالح يضحك على رد فعل الصدّيق وتهجماته عليه.
وفجأة، وجه الصدّيق تهديدا للمالح: «سنجعلك تضحك بطريقة صحيحة!… أنا زهير الصدّيق… وستجد مني ما لا تعرفه من قبل»، فردّ المالح «هل تهددني؟»، فيجيب الصدّيق «نعم وستعرفون من هو الصدّيق!»، ليُنهي المالح الجدل بقوله: «كتّر خيرك».
المصدر: وكالات-عربي برس

While on it, George Sabra (aka Mr. La2lou2) is begging Clinton to attack Syria and he even gave her the plan:
مصدر معارض: جورج صبرا فضحنا امام كلينتون !
خاص عربي برس
قال مصدر في مجلس المعارضة السورية الخارجية الوطني أن جورج صبرا المعارض المعروف تذلل لهيلاري كلينتون وأذلنا معه !
عربي برس علمت من المصدر بأن سبب هجومه على صبرا يتعلق بإعتقاده بأن المعارضة السورية فشلت في إختبار الكرامة بعد أن فشلت في إقناع الولايات المتحدة بغزو سورية و إنشاء منطقة عازلة وحظر طيران تمهيداً لإسقاط النظام الوطني في دمشق في لقاء سري جرى على هامش مؤتمر أصدقاء سورية 2 الذي عقد يوم أمس في اسطنبول.
وقال معارض سوري ينشط في صفوف حزب الشعب الديمقراطي لعربي برس ” إن الرفيق جورج صبرا استغل الدقائق المعدودة التي التقى فيها وزيرة الخارجية الأمريكية هيلاري كلينتون ليعرض عليها فكرة ضربة عسكرية محدودة لقوات النظام في محافظة إدلب مع غطاء جوي بما يؤدي إلى تشجيع انشقاق الضباط السنة من الجيش ولجوئهم إلى إدلب “.
و أوضح المعارض المقيم في مدينة حمص أن ” طلب الرفيق صبرا قوبل برفض صلب من كلينتون التي أكدت أن الولايات المتحدة ملتزمة بالدعم الإنساني و الإمدادات و الأسلحة النوعية المضادة للدبابات “.

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April 4th, 2012, 11:09 am


481. Tara said:


You do not demand any disclaimer from any regime supporter despite linking blatant lies. Can I call that being biased?

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April 4th, 2012, 11:18 am


482. jna said:

Re: 442. Ghufran

Tony Karon is not an ordinary Western journalist. He’s about as good as it gets in covering international affairs. I’m amazed he has worked at Time for so long, as the average American journalist standard surrounding him is so much lower.

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April 4th, 2012, 11:19 am


483. Alan said:

Friends of Syria undermine peace process – Lavrov

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April 4th, 2012, 11:25 am


484. jad said:

Mr. Haytham Manna3 on BBC
قناة الـ BBC: الدكتور هيثم مناع

After the interview he was attacked by the usual gangs for not agreeing with their propaganda. The reason why many people respect Haytham is because he is an honest and brave politician, interesting enough for the same time many hate him for the same reason.

Haytham Manna
حول الإغتصاب
حتى نتفق على منهج يجمعنا أقول: الحديث النبوي يقول الحقيقة ضالة المؤمن وأنا اعتقد بأن الكذب من أخلاق الظلمة والنصابين لذا لن أكذب. في 23 شباط 1991 وقع في قرية كونان بوشورا في كشمير عملية اعتداء من الجنود الهنود على نساء كشميريات. بعد عامين كلفت مع ثلاثة خبراء دوليين بالتحقيق في قضايا الإغتصاب ومنعتنا الهند من دخول أراضيها فذهبنا لمخيمات اللاجئين في آزاد كشمير. وأعددت تقريرا عن ذلك بالاسم والحدث. بعد ثلاثة أعوام قمت بمهمة لمتابعة الاغتصاب من قبل الميليشيات الصربية للمسلمات في البوسنة. وأعددت تقريرا عن ذلك. الاغتصاب في المجتمع الإسلامي لم يعد موضوعا محرما، ويجب فضح المجرم ومعاقبته. عندما قالت صحفية سورية أن هناك أربعين حالة اغتصاب في جسر الشغور العام الماضي لم يتصل بها أحد بل اتصلت بي وبنشطاء حقوق الإنسان منظمات المرأة وحقوق الإنسان. فلم نجد أسماء ولا قوائم. هناك تعذيب ومعاملة لا إنسانية ومشينة واعتداءات جنسية متفرقة وإن تجاوز الأمر ذلك فهذا يحتاج لتوثيق وليس لتصريحات تقول: في كل بيت يقتل الأطفال وتغتصب النساء. لذا لدينا تقارير في جرائم ضد الإنسانية وقعت في سورية من السلطة الدكتاتورية ولا نحتاج لخطاب غير أمين. من جهة أخرى، عندما نصور كل الجيش السوري جيشا قاتلا مغتصبا برسم عائلة الأسد نعزز بوعي أو بدون وعي فكرة تحطيم الجيش والدولة. هنا الهدف لم يعد عند أصحاب هذه الأطروحة اسقاط النظام بل الدخول في سيناريو بريمر في العراق. وفي هذا خطر كبير على الثورة والمجتمع ووحدة سورية أرضا وشعبا.


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April 4th, 2012, 11:25 am


485. Juergen said:

Apparently Mina you are not well enough informed. The Tuareg staged attacks against the military since beginning of this year. The junta who took over power did so because in their eyes the government under Toure was too soft and weak on the Tuarag. The Tuareg themselves have the aim to recreate their old Tuareg country which consists of land now part of the following countries: Libya, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Algeria. By the way it was Ghadaffi who supported the Tuareg and their aim. After the downfall of Muamars nurses kingdom those fighters fled to do their job now back home.

The name Tuareg came out of a local language in Libya, and therefore to call them northafrican or part of the Maghreb is at least theoretically corect. I do believe that for themselves they choose not to be connected with the Arab world, thats at least the view of most Kabyle tribes in that area.


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April 4th, 2012, 11:27 am


486. jad said:

LOLOL Ahleen, al ya3ni ana fhmt aloula la ifham altanyeh…shou ya3ni ‘kourmandji’?

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April 4th, 2012, 11:28 am


487. zoo said:

Signs that Iran wants to distance itself further from Turkey?

Iran prefers Iraq host nuclear talks: Baghdad
Published Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Iran wants crucial nuclear talks with world powers to take place in Baghdad instead of Istanbul, according to a statement from Iraq welcoming the proposal.

An “Iranian delegation expressed the desire for Iraq to host the international meeting on the Iranian nuclear file of the five permanent members of the (UN) Security Council plus Germany” in Baghdad, the statement posted on the foreign ministry’s website late on Tuesday said.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced last weekend that the talks are due to take place April 13 and 14 in Istanbul.

But EU diplomats cautioned that the venue was still under discussion, and Russia said on Monday that “the date and the place of the meeting have not been definitively set.”

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April 4th, 2012, 11:29 am


488. Alan said:

George Galloway
George Galloway, interviewed after his sensational election victory to become MP for Bradford West, responds to the question, “Do you condemn those attacking British soldiers in Afghanistan?”

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April 4th, 2012, 11:31 am


489. Mina said:


As for your informations about Syria, this one is also defective.

For some odd reason, some of the Tuaregs have allied with the Aqmi group. Don’t tell me you are not aware of the many kidnappings, ransom requests and killings that have occured recently in Mali and Niger. For someone of “works in the airline industry”, it wouldn’t sound too serious.

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April 4th, 2012, 11:35 am


490. zoo said:

Egyptian army jails officer who joined protests



CAIRO, (Reuters) – A military officer who joined popular protests against Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak and military rule last year has been sentenced by a military court to six years in prison, an army judicial source told Reuters on Wednesday.

Major Ahmed Ali Shouman, the first army officer to have joined the uprising that started in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in January last year, was charged with abandoning his unit and weapons and joining protests in military uniform.
“Ahmed Shouman was sentenced to six years in jail, charged with refusing to obey military rules and voicing political views in media outlets,” the army source said.

“This was a violation of martial law that bans military personnel from communicating with the media.”

The sentence will be formally announced at a court hearing on April 11, but Shouman can appeal, the army source said.

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April 4th, 2012, 11:36 am


491. jad said:

The armed gangs in Syria are nothing but terrorists. While the devils making explosives to kill other Syrians, the bomb went off destroying the residential building they were hiding in and killing 7 innocent people with 2 kids.
On top of that, after attacking everything from roads, to trains to gas pipelines to hospitals, today the same terrorist criminals attacked and burned the Red Crescent warehouse where food and medical materials are stored….is there also ‘detainees’ hiding inside a syringe to ‘free’?? Criminals!

Let’s wait for the Guaridan to tell us the ‘real’ story!….

مقتل 7 اشخاص في ريف دمشق وإحراق مستودع للهلال الأحمر بحمص
وكالات – عربي برس

قتل سبعة اشخاص وأصيب أربعة آخرين كما تم العثور على أشلاء لم يتم التعرف عليها ويرجح انها تعود لمسلحين كانوا يقومون بإعداد العبوات التي انفجرت أثناء تحضيرها، ما أدى إلى انهيار البناء المؤلف من طبقتين وتضرر مبنى آخر مجاور.

وقال قائد شرطة ريف دمشق العميد عبد الرزاق المطلق في تصريح لـ “سانا” إن القبو الذي حصل فيه انفجار العبوات الناسفة أدى إلى انهيار البناء بالكامل مشيرا إلى أنه تم التعرف الى الان على سبع جثث تعود الى القاطنين في البناء وهم خلود النن وولداها محمد وماهر احسان الغوراني وفهد محمد برخش وزوجته زبيدة محمود قطيفاني وابنتاهما عبير عشر سنوات واية اربع سنوات.

من جهة ثانية أقدمت مجموعات مسلحة على إشعال النيران في مستودع للهلال الأحمر السوري يحوي مواد غذائية وطبية في حي القرابيص بحمص. وعلم مراسل سانا أن عناصر الدفاع المدني أخمدت الحريق الذي أتى على محتويات المستودع لافتا إلى أن الأضرار اقتصرت على الماديات دون وقوع إصابات بشرية.


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April 4th, 2012, 11:41 am


492. zoo said:

Distressed FSA renews accusation on Hezbollah and Iran

“In a report confirmed by an FSA source inside Syria, it was claimed that deputy commander of the FSA’s forces in Damascus, Colonel al-Moatasim Billah Abu al-Walid, was arrested by Syrian army forces following an ambush last week.”

IRGC, Hezbollah helping regime forces – FSA commander
By Nadia Al-Turki
London, Asharq Al-Awsat – Colonel Khalid al-Habous, commander of the operations of the Free Syrian Army [FSA] in Damascus and the surrounding area, confirmed the presence of elements of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp [IRGC] and Hezbollah operating on the ground in Syria.
the FSA commander acknowledged that “our resources do not allow us to take control on the ground. Our confrontations with the regime’s forces are based on hit-and-run tactics.”

Colonel al-Habous also revealed that “we are in dire need of sniper rifles and silencers, as well as advanced communication equipment that cannot be hacked and shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft weaponry.” He added that the FSA is suffering from a lack of ammunition, but that the opposition forces attack al-Assad military warehouses and camps in order to seize ammunition.

He stressed “we do not rely on guerrilla warfare and do not believe in such uncontrolled combat. We adopt a tactic that is taught in most international military colleges, namely that of lightning strikes…to attack our targets with small numbers and capture the spoils [of war].”

He informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “numerous defected soldiers and civilians present on the ground in the battle with al-Assad forces…have seen Iranian snipers and Hezbollah elements with their own eyes.

In a report confirmed by an FSA source inside Syria, it was claimed that deputy commander of the FSA’s forces in Damascus, Colonel al-Moatasim Billah Abu al-Walid, was arrested by Syrian army forces following an ambush last week.

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April 4th, 2012, 11:44 am


493. Dawoud said:

The anti-Sunni advocate/supporter of Iran’s/Hizballah’s anti-Sunni Wilayat al-faqih (or the 12th Imam fundamentalist/undemocratic theocracy) should keep saying “newbie” until the anti-Sunni female, who says that Hamza al-Khateeb was killed by “Saudi terrorists,” offers him a date 🙂

The Syrian Revolution is not about Wahabism, it’s about freedom and dignity. It will go on until Bashar al-Assad and Hasan Nasrallah are exiled to Iran, or arrested-which ever comes first!

You can disguise your anti-Sunni bigotry by using “Wahabi” and “MB.” These two are only code names that pro-Bashar shias and their media, the wilayat al-faqih media (e.g, Assafir, Al-Manar, al-Akhbar, Press TV, al-Alam, etc.), use to justify Bashar’s tyranny over Syria’s majority-Sunni Muslims!

Free Syria, Free Palestine!

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April 4th, 2012, 11:47 am


494. irritated said:

494. jad said:

“the same terrorist criminals attacked and burned the Red Crescent warehouse”

You know very well that the media will say that the Syrian government did that so as to blame the terrorists: A ridiculous song that we’ve been hearing for the last year and that many opposition supporters believe firmly.

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April 4th, 2012, 11:48 am


495. Alan said:

489. JAD
غالبا ما نسمع كبار السن القرويين من الأكراد الذين يتكلمون اللغة الكرمانجية يتعثرون في التعبير بالعربية و خصوصا الأحرف المشددة و المفخمة فيلفظون العبارات الواردة انفا LOL !

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April 4th, 2012, 11:50 am


496. Jad said:

Ref. Almale7 and Saddik:
فضيحة زهير الصديق و هيثم المالح

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April 4th, 2012, 11:50 am


497. Mina said:

Thanks for the link to the BBC program. The Saudi “strategist” explains that his prince did not want to speak about “giving weapons to the rebels”, (listen 12’50) because 1) he did not mean now; 2) he did not mean heavy weapons; 3) it was to be understood for the Syrian government as a “nasiha” that otherwise, the rebels would have weapons soon and it would be war.

Universities should open special courses for who needs to understand Saudi logic.

At 14′ to 16′ he seems to be describing his last video game. The other guests are between smile and shame for the ridiculous guy. He should try to get a job in Tash wa Matash. For those who missed it:

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April 4th, 2012, 11:55 am


498. Juergen said:

the quest of independance of the Tuarag is as old as some of those countries involved. I do see that there are salafists on the ground, but also regional superpowers( like Libya) did their share in arming the resistance groups. So you back the junta for their overthrow of the democratic elected government?

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April 4th, 2012, 11:56 am


499. zoo said:

Why Germans do not dare say that Israel, not Iran, is a threat to world peace?


Gunther Grass:
“Why do I only say now, aged and with my last ink: the atomic power Israel is endangering the already fragile world peace?” reads the poem, which was published in the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Grass answers that Nazi Germany’s “incomparable” crimes against Jews and fears of accusations of anti-Semitism kept him from openly criticising Israel.

But now, “tomorrow could already be too late” and Germany could be a “supplier to a crime”, referring to a deal sealed last month for Berlin to sell Israel a sixth nuclear-capable Dolphin-class submarine.
Henryk M”I admit: I will be silent no longer, because I am sick of the hypocrisy of the West”

Broder, a prominent German Jewish columnist, accused Grass in light of his poem of being “the prototype of the educated anti-Semitist”.

“Grass has always had a problem with Jews but he has never articulated it as clearly as with this ‘poem’,” Broder wrote in the daily Die Welt.

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April 4th, 2012, 11:57 am


500. zoo said:

Turk journalists can have sense of humor

The ironic Friends of Syria

It was an irony, as one Syrian state television anchor said, that the Istanbul gathering of the “Friends of Syria” took place on April Fools’ Day. Their previous meeting in Tunis was less than good and too fractured. The fine spring day in Istanbul has refreshed hopes, but the Friends of Syria may have to tour half the globe before they can eventually meet in Damascus.

The date for the meeting was not the only irony. The foreign Friends of Syria have committed more funding for the Syrian Friends of Syria, but the Syrian Friends of Syria, not happy with the $30 million budget for their march towards democracy, are asking for a minimum of $1 million per day.

The Turkish Friends of Syria, boasting the world’s second fastest growing and 16th biggest economy should be able to provide that negligible sum – and more in the future. But Russia and China are not smaller economies and their vaults are not cash-stripped.

Of course, the Friends have every liberty to call themselves whatever fancy and amicable looking name they choose. But a more realistic brand could have been the “Foes of Bashar al-Assad.” My friend’s cat simply meowed and left the room when I told him that a philanthropic coalition, which deeply cared for its Syrian brothers, was at the beginning of a possibly long world tour. Like a philharmonic orchestra, it was performing next in Paris. Shiraz is a Persian cat who is very keen on Middle Eastern politics.

Perhaps the bigger irony on April Fools’ Day was the Turkish treatment of the group of Syrian protestors who rallied against the Istanbul meeting. The pro-al-Assad demonstrators were pushed away and pepper gas-sprayed by the police who must have thought they are the Foes of Syria, since the Friends were inside the building. The Foes of Syria were silenced while inside the building the Friends of Syria were busy discussing how to introduce democracy to the Syrians.

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April 4th, 2012, 12:03 pm


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