“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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601. Tara said:


Nouveau riche is nicer than novo rich. It sounds French (oh-la-la.)

No. Tara will continue to use the word peasant as is, a derogatory qualifier to describe people who degrade or commit atrocious acts against other people. May be with a disclaimer: “no offense to real peasants”

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April 4th, 2012, 6:57 pm


602. jad said:


While on it you may need to change the Webster dictionary

And you missed this out of your lovely list

-reptilian overlords! that always makes me giggle.


Good luck in your ‘holy’ mission against the ‘peasants’.

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April 4th, 2012, 6:59 pm


603. irritated said:

#570 Khaled Tlass

“So veiling is natural for Syria. Even during pre-Islamic times women used to veil themsleves in Syria and Iraq.”

Let’s go back to pre-islamic, it sounds much more jolly than what you propose for Syria, there was gambling, drinking and lots of fun venerating naked idols.
A detail: Black, white or colorful veil?

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April 4th, 2012, 7:03 pm


604. SC Moderation said:

Peace Symbol Some of things looking back at me from the moderation/spam pile are these:

* KT is not even Syrian
Do not fall for the flowery words of MJABALI.
It is obvious Mjabali is not a Nusayri, but a pure Ithna’Ashari.
Obviously you are Shiite
Either you are not true to your word, or you are Ithna’Ashari and not Alawi, as you claim.
I am much better, you dont even come close
• when he is angry and frustrated, his real self comes out : sectarian, anti-Sunni, and he even threatened that “Assad men are coming”
i can’t say menhebaks? but other people are!
Yes you are Shiite, stop avoiding the truth, and your attack on Umar can only comes from persian Shiite, decent people tell the truth.
is menhebaks another word for br0wn n0ser?

I want to push a button to decide where the line of insult, personal attack, provocation and other needless crap is.

If commentators had an up or down vote on all these items, would you vote green thumb up to release them all from the dungeon, or vote red thumb down to keep them there?

With such contempt for each other, where do the Syrians on this board decide whether to censor or let debate flow as it shall … ?


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April 4th, 2012, 7:04 pm


605. irritated said:

#573 Khaled Tlass

“Who were the terrorists who bombed the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut in 1981?”

It was proved to be an explosion of a butagaz while the embassy cook was preparing a hot biryani.

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April 4th, 2012, 7:12 pm


606. jna said:

557. Uzair8said:
(…)‘Minister of Communications and Technology Emad Abdul-Ghani Sabouni announces his defection as he arrives in Turkey(…)”

Any news source yet or is it more disinformation?

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April 4th, 2012, 7:13 pm


607. Uzair8 said:

In hyancite I could have left out the following sentence in #522:

‘Ironically the Shia people don’t like both these personalities (especially the second Caliph).’

In sharing an observation, if I felt it necessary to include that sentence for context and pointing out symbolism then I could have replaced ‘Shia people’ with something like ‘some muslims’. The indirect approach may have avoided provoking anyone. I apologise for any provocation.

Sometimes one spots a pattern or symbolism and wants to share.

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April 4th, 2012, 7:13 pm


608. Uzair8 said:

@609 JNA.

Nothing yet although my sources are limited. Anyone here heard anything on arab social networks?

If it helps, the two comments (defections) have recieved 15 and 20 likes.

Anyway the regime hasn’t denied it yet 😀

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April 4th, 2012, 7:37 pm


609. omen said:


you should post your stash every day!

mine were the ones about m3nheb@k. i really did want an cultural explanation of it, as well as being a dig.

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April 4th, 2012, 7:39 pm


610. Halabi said:

Omen – I think there will be some kind of reconciliation process after Assad is gone and the chaos is contained. If Assad is able to stay in power and somehow crush the revolution, there will be no process. Lots of people will be jailed and then Bashar will come out with victory speech No. XX and say khilsit. His father came out months after Hama and said: “what happened in Hama has happened.” That’s it. I’m sure Bashar will slur his way through a longer speech.

Moderator: why are my comments being held back? I contribute rarely and keep it clean – if I am banned for some reason please let me know. I understand using words like menhebak, a term that regime supporters use in their chants and wear as a badge of honor, makes the pro-Assad crowd look silly, but it pales in comparison to the relentless, sectarian attack on the revolution.

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April 4th, 2012, 7:46 pm


611. omen said:

ooh, cool button.

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April 4th, 2012, 7:50 pm


612. Tara said:

“Comment does not reflect Official Iranian foreign policy”… I thought Iranians are more man-ly than this.  Afraid of taking responsibility of what Borujerdi said?  


Ankara summons Iran envoy over Syria conference remarks
(AFP) – 4 hours ago
ANKARA — Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador Wednesday over remarks by a top offical in Tehran denouncing an international conference on the Syria crisis held in Istanbul.

The move came as Iran said it no longer wanted Turkey to host nuclear talks, and followed comments made by Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani critical of Ankara for staging the “Friends of Syria” conference.

“We summoned Iranian envoy today to demand an explanation on the remarks,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a press conference, without specifically naming Larijani.

He also said he had contacted Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Tuesday to express Ankara’s dismay at the comments that “obviously contradicted the deep-rooted relations” between the two countries.

Salehi said the comments did not reflect official Iranian foreign policy, Davutoglu told reporters, noting that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week in Tehran for talks held “in respect and mutual understanding”.

However, Iran’s about-face on Istanbul as the venue for planned April 13 international talks on its nuclear drive suggests it is annoyed with Turkey over its stance on Syria, the Islamic republic’s main ally in the Middle East.

“Taking into account the extremist and illogical position of Turkey on Syria and the recent conference on Syria, Turkey has de facto lost any competence to host the meeting,” Aladin Borujerdi, the head of the Iranian parliament’s foreign affairs commission, said on Iranian television Wednesday.

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April 4th, 2012, 7:54 pm


614. majedkhaldoun said:

What we realy need,is discuss current crisis, not attack a religion, but when someone attack my religion, I have to defend it, it is just like personal attack.

Also naming religion is not insult, it is the name of the religion, and what they believe in

Also, Bukhari talked in his book about Ahadiths only, anything that is not Hadith is not in the original Bukhari book, it was added by someone for his own purpose, and should not be claimed that Bukhari said it, I have Bukhari book, and the story that was mentioned is added by evil writer, fabrication must not be a way of discussion.

It is well documented that NON MUSLEMS made changes to Quraan and this is now taught in some areas in the Middle East, and it is a fact that some countries are jealous that the prophet came in Arabia, and with Arabic language, and that is why some countries are adding and changing, and in fact they even change the interpretation of Quraan, as in the end of Souret Al Israa they changed the meaning in a very strange way one can only laugh at their interpretation.

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April 4th, 2012, 8:11 pm


615. omen said:

Ghufran 8:09

please, for months and months libya rebels were routinely mocked for their lack of experience. we know how that story ended.

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April 4th, 2012, 8:18 pm


616. Dale Andersen said:

Memo To: TARA

RE: “…I thought Iranians are more manly…”

Some are. In fact, some Persians are so manly, they refuse to touch a woman for fear they will end up gay. Sad but true. This is why wrestling is so popular in Iran.

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April 4th, 2012, 8:22 pm


617. omen said:

although this poster on another board inadvertently explained for me why it unlikely the FSA will receive anti tank weaponry they’ve been pleading for:

It was anti-tank and anti-aircraft(particularly Stinger missiles) weaponry supplied by the CIA that had turned the tide in Afghanistan in favor of the anti-Soviet fighters in the 1980s. It would be correct to suggest that furnishing such weapons to rebels in Syria would likewise be a great boost to their cause.

It was also Russian-manufactured anti-tank rockets that inflicted heavy casualties upon Israeli ground forces in the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and destroying or damaging numerous tanks.

i doubt the US will forward weapons to the rebels anything the israelis would object to.

perhaps they can procure this from qatar.

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April 4th, 2012, 8:23 pm


618. zoo said:

In line with the new media trend, another tough criticism of the opposition.

Syria’s Opposition in Exile Plagued by Infighting

By Viktoria Kleber in Istanbul

The Syrian National Council claims to represent the uprising in Syria. But while rebels in the country continue to die at the hands of Bashar Assad’s troops, the different factions in the opposition in exile compete for positions and influence.
Chandeliers cast a shimmering, golden light over red leather sofas and the flag of the Syrian opposition hung in the lobby, when the Syrian National Council (SNC) met early last week at the Green Park Hotel on Istanbul’s waterfront. Members of the Syrian opposition in exile, wearing suits and ties, hurried into the hotel past a tired-looking young man — a man no one had invited and no one was eager to ask in.

As the conference participants handed over their smartphones at security and chatted about the endless rounds of conferences (“First America, now Istanbul, next week Hamburg, then Sydney, so many appointments, you know?”) the uninvited guest asked in a quiet voice to be allowed in.

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April 4th, 2012, 8:25 pm


619. irritated said:

#616 Ghufran

“Israeli press is not impressed with the FSA”

who is?

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April 4th, 2012, 8:27 pm


620. Ghufran said:

This is a very interesting video

Zuhair Alsiddiq and Haytham Almaleh

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April 4th, 2012, 8:31 pm


621. Ghufran said:

ذكرت مصادر إعلامية أن جهاز الاستخبارات الأردنية  تمكن  من اعتقال “الناطق الإعلامي باسم تنسيقية الثورة السورية في درعا” أحمد المصري. وقال ناشطون سوريون  إن المصري استدعي للتحقيق معه لدى المخابرات
[ diamond http://www.shamlife.com/?page=show_det&select_page=9&id=21540 ]
This will become a real story if the man is not released

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April 4th, 2012, 8:35 pm


622. Tara said:

London 2012 – Syrians ‘don’t want to take part’

Wed, 04 Apr 04:00:00 2012

Abdelbasset Saroot, the former Syria international goalkeeper, has said his country’s athletes do not want to compete in this year’s London Olympics because “they don’t want to play for a flag that they have no pride or faith in”.

In an interview with ITV News, 20-year-old Saroot said: “I personally know the majority of the athletes don’t want to take part and they are only going (out of) fear (for) their families – the regime repercussions if they don’t comply.”

Saroot, whose country failed to qualify for this summer’s Olympic soccer tournament after a 2-1 defeat by Uzbekistan last month, is a supporter of the anti-government protests in Syria.

“My message as a footballer, athlete and activist first of all is that we are seeing a real massacre here and the world isn’t speaking except of numbers and death tolls.

“These are real people, this is a massacre because people are being butchered, people in the world have forgotten about the humanitarian crisis – houses are being demolished.”


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April 4th, 2012, 8:39 pm


623. omen said:

when you lose the footballers, you’ve lost the country.

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April 4th, 2012, 8:53 pm


624. Ghufran said:

الكلمات الاخيره للراحل الكبير خالد تاجا

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April 4th, 2012, 8:56 pm


625. majedkhaldoun said:

Who will protect the international observers while in duty in Syria?
FSA may have to do it

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April 4th, 2012, 8:58 pm


626. omen said:

578. Khalid Tlass said:
During the Ottomans’ time,

this is 2012, not yester-millennium.

what’s the difference between foreign imperialism and gender imperialism?

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April 4th, 2012, 9:03 pm


627. irritated said:

628. majedkhaldoun said:

“Who will protect the international observers while in duty in Syria?
FSA may have to do it”

They complain they have no ammunitions…

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April 4th, 2012, 9:06 pm


628. Ghufran said:

اتق شر من أحسنت اليه 
-اقتحم العشرات من ثوار ليبيا أحد مقاهي منطقة الرابية منتصف ليلة الثلاثاء الاربعاء.
واعتقلت الاجهزة الامنية عدداً من الثوار تمهيداً لتحويلهم للقضاء .
وتفاجأ قاطنوا المنطقة بهتفات اطلقها الثوار القادمين من ليبيا للعلاج حيث وصلت الى سقوف عالية عندما هتف احدهم ” ثورة ثورة .. الخير مننا ” فيما قام احدهم بالتطاول على العاهل الاردني وطالب بأسقاطه
وقدم مواطنين شكاوى خطية لمخفر امن الشميساني بعد تعرض سياراتهم لتكسير من قبل الثوار الليبيين فيما سمعت اصواتاً تهتف باسم ليبيا و اطلاق عيارات نارية في الهواء من ملثميين يرتدون الزي الليبي .
ووسط الذعر الذي لحق بالمحلات المجاورة ومرتادي المقاهي أخرج العديد من الثوار الخناجر وقاموا بطعن شخص من المارة .
وتتكفل الحكومة الليبية بعلاج الاف الليبيين في العاصمة عمّان حيث تجاوزت كلفة علاجهم نصف مليار دولار حسب وزيرة الصحة الليبية .

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April 4th, 2012, 9:08 pm


629. Mawal95 said:

MINA #447 said: “It is pretty clear that the regime is (and has been) committing atrocities against political dissenters”.

I challenge MINA to provide video evidence to support that statement.

I assert the regime is NOT and has NOT committed atrocities against political dissenters. Here once again is a reiteration of some of my support for this assertion. I challenge MINA or any body else to argue against what I’m saying here.

(1) The reports in the foreign news media that Syrian security forces committed atrocities of disproportionate force against unarmed protesters are denied by the Assad government. The alleged atrocities are contrary to well-defined government policy, and the government says as well that the security forces have been conducting their operations with good discipline in practice with rare exceptions. Thus, anybody who believes those foreign news reports is necessarily also believing that the Assad government is full of liars.

(2) Inflicting atrocities on the protesters would be an illogical thing to do from a tactical or strategic point of view from within the regime, because for one thing it would be contrary to the values of the great majority of the ordinary people of Syria. In order for the regime to rationally decide to risk that particular of loss of support, the regime would have to have a clear and compelling motive. Most anti-regime demonstrations over the past year have been allowed to fully proceed without any interference at all, week after week after week. When a demonstration is to be dispersed or restricted to a delimited area, the rational way to do it is to use ordinary minimal force and of course that’s what the official policy is. There is no rational strategic gounds for allowing demonstrations in many places and times, while supposedly using horrendous violence to disperse certain others. Thus, anybody who believes the reports of authorized security forces atrocities has to believe also that the Assad government is mindlessly depraved.

(3) The great majority of the people of Syria get the great majority of their political news and information about their country from information outlets that are based in their country. All of the widely circulating information outlets based in Syria are pro-regime. And none of them allege that the government has ordered atrocities against political dissenters (unauthorized isoloated exceptions to the rules are contemplated, but not alleged). At the same time, the majority of Syrian households have satellite TV access to innumerable Arabic-language TV stations based outside Syria. Syrians also have uncensored access to the entire Internet (about 20% of households have Internet). Almost all the foreign media outlets have been reporting week after week that the Syrian security forces have been committing atrocities against political dissenters. The Syrian government has been denying it. Now, the people of Syria have been having to make a decision throughout the past year, and every week, about who is telling the truth about this. And they’ve decided overwhelmingly that the government is telling the truth. Thus, anybody who believes the foreign reports of the atrocities has to believe also that the overwhelmingly majority of the people of Syria are blind fools http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=14114&cp=all#comment-303988 (comment #225).

(4) Nobody can provide video evidence of the alleged atrocities. Repeating myself from comment #225 above: “Youtube has a truly gigantic number of videos of street protesting in Syria. And in all those videos there is an absence of (non-fake) videos of security forces comitting atrocities! This is prima facie good evidence that the security forces have been conducting their operations with good discipline. http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=14191&cp=all#comment-304953

(5) Testimonies by political dissenters who claimed to be eye witnesses have zero credibility and are truly worthless. Anyone who believes those testimoies is an ignorant bigot. The testifying dissidents, most of whom are bumpkins, are riddled with deceit. The ignorant bigots who who give them credence are allowing their bigotry to subvert the principle that an accused should be presumed innocent until found guilty beyond all reasonable doubt.

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April 4th, 2012, 9:18 pm


630. Mawal95 said:

Lavrov, 4 apr 2012: It is crystal clear that the opposition would not defeat Syrian Army even if the opposition were armed to the teeth. http://www.sana.sy/eng/22/2012/04/04/410469.htm . That’s what I think too!

Lavrov, 3 apr 2012: “Russia strives for a full implementation of Kofi Annan’s peace plan and works with the Syrian government on a daily basis.” http://twitter.com/#!/MFA_Russia

Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov, 3 apr 2012: “The U.S. and the EU use sanctions as amulets against evil spirits because they have no rational approach to the situation.” He was speaking of Iran but the same is true of Syria. http://twitter.com/#!/MFA_Russia

Thank you Russia for your well-informed and rational thinking.

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April 4th, 2012, 9:23 pm


631. zoo said:

Al-Shatar’s nomination and the dangerous possibilities
By Emad El Din Adeeb

Egypt has once again taken a step towards the furnace of bloody clashes!

The Muslim Brotherhood’s nomination of the engineer Khairat al-Shatar for president has brought the political situation as a whole in the country near to an explosion, which will (unfortunately) only end with clashes on the street.

The nomination, which was announced a few days ahead of the deadline, will lead to several complex outcomes in several directions, which can be summarized as follows:

1. The nomination of engineer al-Shatar will cause the votes within the Islamist current to fragment and be spread between the five main candidates: Dr. Mohammad Salim Al-Awa, Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, Sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, Professor Bassem Khafaji and finally engineer al-Shatar.

2. The nomination also declares a direct overt clash with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which continued to believe the Brotherhood’s promise that it would not nominate a candidate to run for the presidency.

3. It will have a negative impact upon the cohesion between the Muslim Brotherhood elite and their support base, especially among the youth who consider Dr. Aboul Fotouh to be a model.

4. SCAF is now under pressure to respond to the “Brotherhood’s act” with a counter measure, either constitutionally in the courts, or by putting forward a last-minute candidate from the military establishment.

Engineer Khairat al-Shatar comes from Alexandria, the stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist currents, and he is the “commercial and financial mastermind behind the Brotherhood”, whilst Dr. Aboul Fotouh [before being forced out of the group] represented an enlightened trend of political openness.

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April 4th, 2012, 9:30 pm


632. Jad said:

Dear Son of Damascus

Where are you today?

I missed your comment.


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April 4th, 2012, 9:45 pm


633. Halabi said:

Here are some of the regime’s thugs stomping on the good people of Bayda near Banyas. http://youtu.be/nmIeSZGx5Dc
Just one of thousands of crimes committed by Assad’s soldiers and thugs over decades of the family’s brutal dictatorship.

I do agree with #632 that “Assad government is full of liars…[and] is mindlessly depraved.”

As for “an accused should be presumed innocent until found guilty beyond all reasonable doubt,” I challenge #632 to show me how this system of justice in Syria actually works. The regime says that over 6000 people, half of them civilians, have been killed in the past year. Yet not a single person has been charged with murder and most crimes aren’t investigated.

What kind of state shirks its duties in such a way, especially when the vast majority of the country is calm and behind the government 100%. One that is full of liars and is mindlessly depraved…

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April 4th, 2012, 9:48 pm


634. Tara said:

Syria and insurgency

In the coming days, the military aspect of the problem will be discussed. Remarks and discussions in the wake of the Friends of Syria meeting in Istanbul show that there is a general predisposition in that direction. However the problem is who would do this job, and how? Of course the first candidate to come to mind is Turkey. 

If the “fast friends” of Syria want to topple the regime by means of a conventional insurgency, that means they will have to work in a more systematic and sophisticated way. The “Free Syrian Army” must be removed from cyberspace quickly. Although giving them money and preparing to pay their salaries sounds good, at the end of the day these will not provide the necessary military, political, and psychological wherewithal. 

Also, according to “insurgency theory,” mere non-lethal healthcare supplies and communications equipment will not be enough to get rid of al-Assad. In such a plan, the most important job is to provide safe havens and basic- and advanced- level guerilla training for the insurgents. 

Who would do the job of transforming the Free Syrian Army into a guerilla force, and how? When one looks at the range, discourse, and efforts of the Turkish government, it seems as though it will have to shoulder this job sooner or later inevitably.

Even if the technical challenges can be overcome, the most important issue the government would have to deal with is how this job would be carried out as a covert operation. The public revelation of such an effort could cause very serious political and legal problems both domestic and foreign. The competitive and information-leaking culture of inter-agency and intelligence groups as seen in the recent MİT crisis and systematic “psychological operations” of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) are quite educational. I can say that it has never ever been possible in Turkey to keeping such an effort secret.


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April 4th, 2012, 9:51 pm


635. omen said:

i’m sure similar arguments were made back in the day:

It is crystal clear that the mujahideen would not defeat Soviet Army even if the opposition were armed to the teeth.

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April 4th, 2012, 10:10 pm


636. Mawal95 said:

The following is supplementary to what I said at #632 regarding alleged atrocities by Syrian security forces against political dissenters.

#637 has the following quote from Hurriyet newspaper in Turkey in a discussion about the option of a future operation of covert or secretive material support to the Syrian rebels by the Turkish goverment:

“The most important issue the [Turkish] government would have to deal with is how this job would be carried out as a covert operation. The public revelation of such an effort could cause very serious political and legal problems both domestic and foreign. The competitive and information-leaking culture of inter-agency and intelligence groups as seen in the recent MİT crisis and systematic “psychological operations” of the Turkish Armed Forces are quite educational. I can say that it has never ever been possible in Turkey to keeping such an effort secret.”

Likewise, I say that if the Syrian government had a policy of covertly committing atrocities against peaceful dissidents, while overtly disavowing such a policy, it would never be possible in Syria to keep it a secret.

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April 4th, 2012, 10:11 pm


637. omen said:

Lavrov, 4 apr 2012: It is crystal clear that the opposition would not defeat Syrian Army even if the opposition were armed to the teeth.

this is a strange statement. why make it now? it’s like he’s trying to dissuade other entities from arming the FSA or trying to psych the opposition into standing down. there is something desperate about it.

a person confident of having a good hand doesn’t stoop to bluffing.

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April 4th, 2012, 10:17 pm


638. mjabali said:


I told you before that I am not a Shia, and of course I told you many times that I am Syrian.

Why do you have to shift the conversation to where I am from and what I could be instead of coming with real responses.

I am Syrian and not an Arab.

You insist on cursing at me every time I question the history they taught you.

You also insist on calling me Iranian, as if it is an insult.

You called me Abu Lu2Lu2a the second: and for those who do not know Abu Lu2Lu2a is the one who assasinated Umar Ibn al-Khattab.

All I said was that Umar was not known for his prowess as a fighter when there were fights during his days. I brought you a story they tell about him and how he ran away in battle, so where is the insult in the matter?

Also، al-Bukhari wrote books about history other than his famous hadith book. al-Bukhari wrote: al-Tarikh al-Kabir, al-Tarikh al-Saghir and al-Tarikh al-Awsat.

ثقافتك متواضعة ياماجدخلدون انصحك بقراءة كتب أكثر

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April 4th, 2012, 10:17 pm


639. Mawal95 said:

Lavrov, 4 apr 2012: It is crystal clear that the opposition would not defeat Syrian Army even if the opposition were armed to the teeth.

Lavrov is saying that as an honest assessment in good faith. You may think that Lavrov is in error about it (I don’t) but you may not think Lavrov is bluffing or pretentious.

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April 4th, 2012, 10:20 pm


640. mjabali said:

Religion is destroying the real quest of the Syrian people for liberty and change for a better future.

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April 4th, 2012, 10:21 pm


641. omen said:

i think what i want, mawal.

we shall see in due time the accuracy rate of lavrov’s crystal ball.

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April 4th, 2012, 10:26 pm


642. Syria no Kandahar said:

Some of the pro-FSA Doctors here should apply for a job at the (Burial Brigade).

With their extensive surgical experience they will do very well cutting heads the
Sharia way. Qatar will pay them well .Average work load 150 heads to cut monthly.

PS: No need for Anesthesia.

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April 4th, 2012, 10:29 pm


643. Ghufran said:

امراء الماعز يرفضون استقبال عنان as of now
المطلوب مبعوثه شقراء معها معزايه و كلاشينكوف

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April 4th, 2012, 10:35 pm


644. Ghufran said:

الازهر كان دائماً معتدلا و وسطيا
مشايخ خادم الحرمين إحراج لكل المسلمين

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April 4th, 2012, 10:50 pm


645. jad said:

You can spot 4 ‘volunteers’ just under this post, 3 non-Syrians (sorry SCM) and 1 Syrian, no female in the list I suggest.

Gunter’s poem made it to the US M of A 🙂
Ghufran, enjoy:

What has to be said

Why am I silent, conceal too long,
what is obvious and in war games
has been trained, at whose end we as survivors
will at the most be footnotes.

It is the alleged right of first strike,
with which the Iranian people,
subjugated by a loudmouth
and steered towards organized elation,
could be snuffed out with,
because the building of a nuclear bomb
within its fiefdom is assumed.

But why do I prohibit myself,
to name that other country,
in which for years – though kept secret –
a growing capability exists
though out of control as
not open for audit?

The general concealment of this fact,
to which my silence subjugated,
feels for me like a burdoning lie
and a coercion, which promises punishment;
the verdict “antisemitism” is commonly used.

But now, because from my country,
which for its very own crimes,
which are incomparable,
is called up again and again and taken to task,
repeatedly and businesslike, though
by slippy lips declared as reparation,
another submarine to Israel
shall be delivered, whose specialty
consists of, steering all-annihilating warheads
whereto, the existence
of a single bomb is unproven,
but as a fear shall be conclusiveness,
I say, what has to be said.

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April 4th, 2012, 10:52 pm


646. Son of Damascus said:

Dear Jad,

I’m still here.

I try to avoid SC when overt religious hate is prevalent, or when it turns into SectarianComment rather than SyriaComment…

I care about Syrian issues, I have no appetite for any religious issues these days.

There is more than enough things to be outraged over, I have no room for the crap that has been going on here today.

’til tomorrow perhaps.

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April 4th, 2012, 11:01 pm


647. Mawal95 said:

Since it’s been a relatively slow day for news, here’s an historical vignette, a pro-Assad mawal sung in Damascus in 1995 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=UbFJFfagtGA#t=178s

نحن مع نظام سوريا الأسد. هلا

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April 4th, 2012, 11:03 pm


648. Afram said:

641. mjabali said:


You also insist on calling me Iranian, as if it is an insult.

You called me Abu Lu2Lu2a the second: and for those who do not know Abu Lu2Lu2a is the one who assasinated Umar Ibn al-Khattab
The 17 year old persian abu loua,louah was Abraham Lincoln of his time.
omar killed his father,sold his mother and sisters to slave owners and sold the boy abu loua,louah to weapon-maker,was abused,little fed worked long hours,so he complained to omar about his misery,omar had him beaten up b/c the poor boy complained…the boy avenged his family honor by killing omar.
I salute the freedom fighter abu loua,louah…history is on the side of the young boy after 1400 years.

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April 4th, 2012, 11:07 pm


649. jad said:

Thank you Son of Damascus,

I’m in the same camp :), Later!

P.S. If interested, pick up the latest issue of Lapham’s Quarterly, you will know what I mean when you read it, this issue is titled:

[ diamondMeans of Communication” ]

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April 4th, 2012, 11:10 pm


650. omen said:

with this context in mind, lavrov’s panic is understandable.

from aljazeera english:

it’s a battle field basic; without funding, the armed syrian opposition simply cannot put up an effective resistance against president bashar al assad’s army. but a lifeline of millions of dollars and equipment is on the way. the rebels are seriously outgunned by the syrian army which is armed with russian made weapons and tanks. the new rebel funds, reported to be a hundred million dollars per month for three months of pay, without accurate tracking, could wind up being used for arms.


gulf arab states including saudi arabia, qatar and the united arab emirates are channeling millions of dollars to pay the salaries of rebel fighters – and to entice soldiers of the syrian army to switch sides.

prof. landis:

if you get good anti-tank, good anti-heliocopter missiles in there, obviously, this insurgency can wreck havoc in syria and destroy the morale of the syrian army. now, of course, what you get out the other end is the real question mark.

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April 4th, 2012, 11:14 pm


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