“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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1052. Hopeful said:

Re: JAD # 1050

This is really painful for me to watch. We are all witnessing the country spiraling into a civil war and no one seems to be able to do anything about it. What a shame! What a waste!

Forget Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, Arabism, etc,. With all the internal problems Syria has with ignorance, poverty, radicalization, etc., shouldn’t the government have focused internally over the past decade to build a better future for Syria? Isn’t what we are witnessing now a result of all kinds of social illnesses that were left to grow in the Syrian society with little or no attention?

Doesn’t Syria deserve better?

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April 7th, 2012, 2:50 pm


1053. zoo said:

Mortar bombs on a Shia pilgrim bus crossing the Syria-Lebanon border kill 7 and wounds 21. Any guess who is to blame?

Lebanon-Syria border bus attack kills 7, wounds 21

Al-QAA, Lebanon: Seven people were killed, including a Lebanese man and members of Syrian General Security, and 21 others were wounded Saturday after a bus carrying (Shia) pilgrims was struck by a mortar bomb while undergoing inspection on the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon.

The Lebanese victim of Saturday’s incident was identified as Mohammad al-Tala, who, along with another member of the bus, was on his way to Iraq on a Shiite pilgrimage, according to Lebanese security sources.

The five other victims were members of Syrian General Security who were inspecting the vehicle that had earlier passed through the east Lebanon border crossing of Jouesiyeh.

Four Syrian and seven Lebanese pilgrims were among the wounded, who were transported to three hospitals in Lebanon.

The sources said the vast majority of the passengers were Lebanese from the Hermel region and that they had been on their way to Iraq on a Shiite pilgrimage.


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April 7th, 2012, 3:00 pm


1054. omen said:

since y’all are analyzing video, explain this one for me. my guesses:

〮army shooter is a lousy shot.
〮army shooter is a good soul with a conscience and doesn’t want to kill, just offer warning shots.

how is it the videographer continues filming after being fired upon? is he hiding behind a car while holding up camera?

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April 7th, 2012, 3:01 pm


1055. omen said:

1056. ghufran 2:58 pm

which article are you pointing to? that’s a section to enter comments.

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April 7th, 2012, 3:20 pm


1056. Alan said:


[EDITED to sentence case: The Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations vote against Syria. What choice of Russia? ]

Non-profit, non-governmental organization
Governance and Problem Analysis Center

Video for russian speaking !

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April 7th, 2012, 3:25 pm


1057. omen said:

1053. Mina said:
It didn’t get reported by the BBC

this has been getting coverage on aljazeera english.

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April 7th, 2012, 3:31 pm


1058. bronco said:

#989 Jad

What Michel Kilo seems not to realize is that as Bashar al Assad was “repressing” the rebellion, he was in the same time protecting Syria’s future from the Islamist octopus: the SNC and its allies Turkey, Qatar and KSA.

Syria, without the ruthless response to the rebellion, would have become the Islamist Syria Michel Kilo refuses.

Where was Michel Kilo when parts of Syria was falling into the hands of Islamists in Bab Amr and Deraa and Syrian soldiers were dying to prevent caliphates or emirates to emerge in Homs?

Now that the danger has been discarded at the cost of civilians and military lives, it’s too easy now to say we don’t want and Islamist Syria.

Michel Kilo should at least give that credit to Bashar Al Assad instead of treating him of liar.

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April 7th, 2012, 3:37 pm


1059. omen said:

1051. Ghufran said:

The more this crisis takes to end the more I realize that the label of a tribal third world country is well deserved for most of us

third world country? i don’t understand this disdain you hold for your own country/culture. i hope you haven’t internalized the anti-arab, anti-muslim bias that is too often reflected in western media.

Please explain this to me if you can, also educate me on how is giving guns to angry Syrians is going to reduce violence and bring freedom, are we, as a group, really this naive, to be polite, or it is just a phase?

this question goes under the heading of “why aren’t the masses rising?”

i saw this phenomena play out over tripoli. so called “experts” kept arguing that gaddafi had too much support from his own people, that’s why tripoli remained quiet. no. the reason was because the culture of fear brought upon a terrorist regime was so great and had too strong a grip that the masses were too paralyzed to risk revolting.

it’s not until the armed opposition demonstrates a degree of power in inflicting enough damage against the regime military (with the implication that the rebels are equipped enough to provide enough protection) will the masses feel assured enough to join the revolution. the masses will join when they are assured they are backing the tide that is winning.

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April 7th, 2012, 3:53 pm


1060. Thor said:

It is obvious that the rebellion in Syria is fueled by more than the peoples demand for democracy. It is also a power play by USA vs. China and Russia. All those people dead are pawns in geo politics. Shame on you Obama!

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April 7th, 2012, 3:57 pm


1061. Alan said:


UN blames Assad, Assad blames opposition for violence ahead of ceasefire

Thousands of people have taken into the streets of Damascus in a massive pro-government rally. Syrian President Assad, meanwhile, has sent a message to the UN blaming the opposition for the recent spate of violence ahead of the ceasefire deadline.

In the message to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the president of the Security Council, Assad said that “terrorist acts” have increased in the past few days.

“The terrorist acts committed by the armed terrorist groups in Syria have increased during the last few days, particularly after reaching an understanding on Kofi Annan’s plan,” said the letter.

These armed groups, Assad wrote, have been funded and armed by countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and now they are interested only in violence, despite the April 10 ceasefire deadline.

Damascus is concerned that there is no indication from the opposition as to whether or not they are fully committed to the peace plan developed by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and and was agreed by Assad.

Meanwhile, thousands of Syrians have taken to the streets of Damascus on Saturday to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the creation of President Bashar al-Assad’s ruling Baath party.

Supporters gathered in the central Sabaa Bahrat Square, waving the red, black and green national flag and portraits of Assad as patriotic music blared from loudspeakers, AFP reports.

People, all against international interference in Syria, are showing support for the reform program Assad promised to implement.

The rally comes as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon accused Syrian authorities of not doing enough to show their commitment to Annan’s plan to stop the conflict. But Assad has denied these accusations, saying that for days now he has been withdrawing his tanks and troops from populated areas, just as the six-point peace plan requires.

At the same time there is a UN team in Damascus preparing the groundwork for next week’s ceasefire deadline. If the April 10 timeframe earlier adopted by the Syrian government is met, then all opposition fighters should stop their operations within 48 hours of the deadline – by 6 am local time on April 12.

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April 7th, 2012, 3:58 pm


1062. omen said:

people don’t realize that unity is their strength. if enough had stood up together, there wouldn’t have been the need to militarize the revolution.

“power of the people” isn’t just a mindless cliche.

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April 7th, 2012, 4:01 pm


1063. MICHEL said:

The honorable patriotic Syrian Arab Army beats a poor guy who refuses to declare Bashar as his God, and spits on his picture instead:

[ + يقول له اركع لربك بشار فانظروا ماذا فعل ! Google Translate TRANS Tell him bow to your Lord and see what did Bashar]

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April 7th, 2012, 4:03 pm


1064. Thor said:

Then again to be fair, the popular complaint against USA is that it tries to act as world police, something nobody outside USA wants.

Situation in Syria reminds us all that we are still living in the middle ages.

My advice to the current ruler is: Apologize, make amends and make it count, relinquish power slowly (a few years) because just because there is a rebellion does not mean the new rulers will be any better than the ones overthrown, in fact history shows there is a chance they might be worse.

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April 7th, 2012, 4:09 pm


1065. ghufran said:

Go back to SC files and see what a number of us said about the intervention in Libya.

(BTW, I personally think that the risk of civil war in Syria is lower today compared to few months ago, but a new reality will emerge where Syrians are sharply divided, I can live with that if the only alternative is civil war)

[blue diamond NB – Alquds links almost always break here on Syria Comment. The URLs at Alquds include a \ symbol, which is interpreted as a stop in the automated link construction of WordPress software. I have repaired the original URL reference – it would be helpful to include the text headline or excerpt from Alquds, so that references can be located and corrected:

+ السلطات تريد ‘التزاما خطيا’ بعدم السيطرة على المناطق التي تنسحب منها
معارضون سوريون يبلغون فريق عنان انهم سيحترمون الهدنة Google TranslateTRANS Authorities want a written commitment not to control the areas that pull them Authorities want a written commitment not to control the areas that pull them


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April 7th, 2012, 4:12 pm


1066. Ghufran said:

Slowly but steadily, more people now are realizing that NATO intervention in Libya was a mistake.

Oglu promised to establish a safe zone for Syrian fighters if Annan mission fails, this is why he is doing his best to make sure it does just that, but is Turkey really ready to start another war?

Erdogan and his GCC friends are not helping Syria or their own interest by saying too much and doing so little, they cry for UN help, then when a decent plan emerges, they work against it !!

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April 7th, 2012, 4:13 pm


1067. omen said:

1053. Mina said:
It didn’t get reported by the BBC

i should have known. google says the bbc has been covering this!

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April 7th, 2012, 4:21 pm


1068. Alan said:

«P5+1» all dressed up, nowhere to go
In international diplomacy, when scheduling a major event on which issues of war and peace are pegged and that date is just a week away, and if you still don’t know the venue, you’re indeed in some serious trouble. The US secretary of state Hillary Clinton announced while on a visit to Istanbul to attend the ‘Friends of Syria’ meet on April 1 that the long-awaited meeting of the so-called ‘P5+1’ to discuss the Iran nuclear issue would take place on April 13. She disclosed that Istanbul would be the venue../../..

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April 7th, 2012, 4:22 pm


1069. Hopeful said:

Re: Mina #1055

The April 2011 attack in Syria you mentioned was a criminal attack not unlike the criminal attack in 2007 by Fatah Al-Islam on the Lebanese Army.

Somehow, the weak dis-functional government/regime in Lebanon, along with its sectarian fragmented society, managed to deal with it and prevent it from spiraling into a civil war. And this is a country (Lebanon) that is more of a hotbed for external interferences and foreign conspiracies than any other countries in the world. How did they manage that?

Are things better in Syria in April 2012 than they were in April 2011? When do we stop blaming the “outside” for our problems and start blaming ourselves and our leadership? Why is there no accountability whatsoever for the people running the country and managing the crisis?

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April 7th, 2012, 4:26 pm


1070. Shami said:

I saw a covered Syrian woman who do not shake hands with Arab men kissing the male partner of her husband at a restaurant.

Is that “imaginary perception”not resultant of the dualistic divide of your personality ?.

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April 7th, 2012, 4:31 pm


1071. omen said:

the u.s. wants to put a missile shield system in turkey. would erdogan condition his allowing it only if aid is provided to help the rebels remove the regime?

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April 7th, 2012, 4:35 pm


1072. abbas said:

According to my calculations it’s about time for another damaging discovery from the so called Assad emails

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April 7th, 2012, 4:37 pm


1073. omen said:

shami, isn’t that a little mean?
being ambiguous could be coping device or a survival tactic.

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April 7th, 2012, 4:48 pm


1074. Thor said:

Syrian population and the syrian land is what is being fough over, or is it not? Total defense of current rulers would be to nuke themselves and the whole country to oblivion. Then they could properly go down in history as the ones who would not lose at any cost.

There is much propaganda in the western media right now, one has grown cynical since Iraq 1.

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April 7th, 2012, 4:58 pm


1075. omen said:

or, more simply, he could just be conflicted, as i’m sure many people are.

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April 7th, 2012, 4:59 pm


1076. Mina said:

22 “Hopeful”

So the attack on the army where Joshua Landis’ relative was killed in April 2011, and Jisr al Shughur, it was not already civil war for you?

[greenlight NB Joshua Landis’s report from April 11 2011, The Revolution Strikes Home: Yasir Qash`ur, my wife’s cousin, killed in Banyas ]

When the attackers are not Syrians, as in many videos, it is not called civil war but djihadist warfare.

How was Syria supposed to build a better future with 1 million Iraqi refugees (for whom the UN seems to have made a point in keeping things as they were)? Their presence had regularly made prices go very high.

Remember there was 2 waves: pre-2003, and then later on the Christians, victims of exactions at the hands of the Sunnis and the Kurds. (Thanks to the great implementation of a parliamentarian system that can only lead to the ethnic cleansing of some areas by who want to assure a majority).

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April 7th, 2012, 5:05 pm


1077. Ghufran said:

Without an even- handed UN, Annan mission will fail. Syria needs a lot more than 250 observers to do the job, and the mission is going nowhere if armed rebels are allowed to roam the streets and continue to occupy certain spots, especially in northern Syria.

The easy part is to monitor regime’s activities,there is an army of reporters who feed the media every day, and there are satellite images than can easily detect heavy weapons and shelling that come from the regime side, but any truce needs compliance from both sides, the media reported, and rightfully so, that the army has not stopped its attacks in parts of Syria but nobody wants to talk about the continuous attacks on army posts and checkpoints which, if they do not stop, can make any truce impossible to achieve.

This is the time for the armed rebels to prove that they have a command structure and that they actually listen to the FSA leaders and the SNC, my own opinion is that those groups are unwilling to abide by any agreement and that will give an excuse for the regime to continue its attacks, it will also force Russia to take a softer position against the regime.

The continuing fight is a wish comes true for advocates of a violent solution to this crisis, I do not believe that the regime will risk losing the loyalty of top generals just to keep BKM happy, those armed rebels must be held to the same standards as the army, so far, Annan and BKM have been silent as a grave on this explosive issue.

(excuse me for choosing which posters I respond too)

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April 7th, 2012, 5:11 pm


1078. Mina said:

Omen 1069

Then provide the link; you are confusing with an execution that happened in 2011. Now we have 25 women condemned to death (and another 1700 indonesians in Saudi jails), and there is no other accusations than “different crimes”. Please ask the free journalists roaming freely in Saudi Arabia to tell me more about it.

The reason why I refered to the BBC (after I posted the link from Le Monde yesterday about this story) is that the UK, very sadly, is so totally dependent on Gulf money, especially in the academy, and again among the London elite, that even when it will report it, it won’t stay too long on the front page.

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April 7th, 2012, 5:17 pm


1079. Mina said:

1071 “Hopeful”

You are mentioning Nahr al Bared, and comparing it to weapons and satellite phones brought into Syria in April 2011 from 3 different borders. I cannot see how the comparison is justified.

Then you say “this is a country (Lebanon) that is more of a hotbed for external interferences and foreign conspiracies”, can you tell me in what Lebanon has more of these than Syria? Syria has no border with Iraq? Syria has no bilateral defence agreement with Iran? Syria has no land occupied by Israel? Syria has no special relation with Israel/ICC/US/STL blacklisted Hezbollah?

Frankly, I would tell you that yes, if not for the raving of Erdogan and the Saudis and Qataris, things are better in Syria now than a year ago. A year ago some people believed that there was a genuine grassroot movement protest of some size. And now they know that the numbers had been grossly exagerated and that among the 9000+ dead, there is at least one third from the army, and that they were not dealing with a peaceful movement.

What was al Asad supposed to do? Take a plane to Dubai like Ben Ali and others? And let the country be destroyed by the same brainwashed air-heads who are now taking Egypt to the abyss?

Another reason things are better is that there is a law for the parties and that we are getting closer everyday from 7th May.

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April 7th, 2012, 5:27 pm


1080. omen said:

thor, assad has pledged for ELEEEEVEEEEN LOOOONG YEEEEEARS to deliver promised reforms. not one step has he made in that direction. when you count his father, the lunatics have been in charge for 40 years! how many more people have to die before the world figures out the regime are pathological liars?

if this was the west, you wouldn’t put up with this kind of treatment for five days, thor! it indicates a kind of bigotry or bias that you were willing to tolerate this kind of abuse for arabs.

how many more decades are we supposed to ignore people being slaughtered?

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April 7th, 2012, 6:08 pm


1081. Halabi said:

Some great work by Assad’s soldiers.

Dead children. Now I know what the shooter was saying to celebrate the kill: قنص, قنص

These children must have been terrorists which explains why there is no outrage about their deaths in Syrian Shabbiha media.

Assad’s new scorched earth tactics in Anadan. http://youtu.be/4BYmT7xd3Ds

From the beginning of the revolution, well before the formation of the FSA, Assad’s army has destroyed the property and livestock of poor villagers across the country. Crushing motorcycles and donkey massacres have been documented in many places.

Now the new trend is to burn the homes and businesses of activists, defected soldiers and anyone linked to them. How can anyone, other than the brainwashed we-love-you crowd (the other term is apparently banned now), see this as just, as the normal action of law enforcement? If someone is an activist organizing and documenting protests, should his car be crushed with a tank? If someone is a murderer who killed soldiers should his parent’s home be burned to the ground?

Forcing people to become refugees in their own land generally backfires. Syria is already one of the poorest and least developed countries in the region and Assad is using our military that we paid for to bomb us back a few decades. It’s amazing how some people equate between attacks on checkpoints and the destruction of neighborhoods and villages.

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April 7th, 2012, 6:20 pm


1082. irritated said:

#1974 Abbas

“damaging discovery from the so called Assad emails”

Assad emails were quickly forgotten and caused no damage at all. It was a light diversion that lasted a few days.

Finally it only interested a few fashion oriented women and libidinous men who usually read tabloids.

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April 7th, 2012, 6:22 pm


1083. Jad said:

Preaching is the Americans specialities

Cops Attack and Strip Naked innocent woman

Police Brutality: Lincoln officer avoids prison for kicking woman!

Cop Punches Woman In Face Four Times During Arrest For Riding A Bike

Police Brutality: Woman Beaten Off Camera (graphic)

Not to forget what they did to the Iraqis

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April 7th, 2012, 6:32 pm


1084. omen said:

1080. Mina 5:17

i don’t disagree with you about the pernicious effect of saudi royal influence. showering public relation firms with money is how they were able to manipulate u.s. public sentiment who worked to deflect anger which shielded saudis from being held responsible for funding actors responsible for 9/11.

instead of invading afghanistan, we should have invaded ksa!

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April 7th, 2012, 7:25 pm


1085. Mawal95 said:

From SANA dated 7 Apr 2012: 335 gunmen from Idleb governorate surrendered their weapons and turned themselves in to the authorities. These individuals said that they wish to return to society and resume their normal lives. They said they were misdirected and misguided in taking up arms. They advised others against making the same mistake. http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2012/04/07/411119.htm

Unfortunately SANA doesn’t report the time interval during which the 335 gunmen turned themselves and their weapons in to the authorities. I don’t presume that they were all on the same day.

Under the amnesty rules, these gunmen are allowed to walk free right away because they surrendered their weapons and they made a promise of good behavior.

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April 7th, 2012, 7:30 pm


1086. omen said:

10 more videos, jad, and you would have had me convinced.

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April 7th, 2012, 7:33 pm


1087. omen said:

1068. Ghufran said:
Slowly but steadily, more people now are realizing that NATO intervention in Libya was a mistake.

which people? are libyans saying this?

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April 7th, 2012, 7:38 pm


1088. Syria no Kandahar said:

[UPDATED alert Syria No Kandahar, this is your 24 hour moderation warning. Please do not repeat phrases such as highlighted below.

You earlier posted a comment referring to Tara’s fake children. This is intolerable. No one may use Syria Comment to abuse other commentators, even obliquely. If anyone feels they must make personal attacks on other commentators, that person’s ability to post freely will be restricted – according to the rules governing participation on this forum.

I will send a note to your Syria Comment registration email to explain the context of this warning. The warning has been noted on the Moderation Team alert page.

We need your active help to maintain a civil forum open to the widest possible range of opinions on the crisis in Syria.

I urge you, Syria No Kandahar, to be aware that comments on any named or unnamed SC commentator’s children (or other family members), any other commentator’s “wahabi poison” or other personally-directed and needlessly provocative remarks are not tolerated. Such remarks will place that commentator under moderation, by his or her own choice.

Thank you for your attention to the rules, to the purpose of the rules, and to this warning. I do not mean to single you out, but to use this comment as an example.


As I noted, Syria in its pain needs the best from everyone in discussion, not the worst.

Strong opinions, strong language, and strong debate may be essential to forging difficult decisions, to unity or consensus or act of war, and Dr Landis encourages vigorous discussion here – but the line here is drawn at language that is personally-directed and tends to inflame anger and contempt on religious, ethnic, place of birth, place of residence, or other group grounds.

Syria (and Syrians) is in torment, in grief, in horror. Blood flows every day and death is dealt to innocent and armed alike, and criminal atrocities have been committed and are being committed by official and non-official agents.

We know that only great will can make opponents pull back, hold fire, and we know that only by great will can the larger Syrian community heal itself or at least pull itself through its grief and anger, only great will can make durable peace after these months of crisis and death.

I hope for all concerned that they (and we!) undertake to discuss without expressions of hatred, without ugly accusations and without unwarranted assumptions about others’ evil motives.

If anyone is here on SC intends to ‘push buttons’ or to provoke angry exchanges at the redlines that rules forbid crossing, OK, fine. But not here anymore, please. You will be pushed to the margins of discussion.

The red lines here in commmentary have moved toward peaceful discussion, and towards civility if not amity, and closer to a future reconciliation. This was the lesson of Alex and Joshua’s advice & tenure as active moderators, and the lesson of last summer’s moderator, and the lesson of the last moderation poll.


Let great-grandchildren read and re-read what is written here today and tomorrow and share with their children proudly what we wrote. Let them not be ashamed of words wielded in anger, disgust, contempt or hatred.



That is all crap,

FSA have destroyed one of the dearest churches to all Christians by using it for their criminal activities, kicked 90% of homsi Christians from their houses. Stick to your wahabi poison, trying to add a drop of christian honey to It does not change flavor.

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April 7th, 2012, 7:40 pm


1089. Syria no Kandahar said:

[blue diamond SNK, you are entirely free to post or not. No one will remove your past comments. If you require deletion of a comment you make later today or at any time, you have ten minutes to do so once it’s posted.

My warning to you (all commentators) was also a call to post less personal invective. If you want to rage against fat and licentious goat-princes of the Gulf and the vampire first ladies of the fat cat GCC, or disgusting hypocrisy or whatever, surely you can do so without invoking (fake) kids and hanging your point around Tara’s or anyone else’s neck.

I warned against making another commentator representative of an evil passionately opposed. That is personal, provocative and unnecessary for any point made about FSA behavior. It speaks of personal contempt for Tara and imputes to her a responsibility for actions she has not taken or advocated; moreover — it takes aim at her (fake) family. That is what is intolerable about the use of “your Wahabi poison” – not the use of “Wahabi poison.”

Initiating the provocation was a suggestion that her kids be taken to an Allahu Akhbar camp.

Just mind your Ps and Qs and carry on with or without dramatics, SNK, as you please. Some will accept self-moderation. Some can accept that they have erred, and admit error. Some apologize and carry on. Some do not. Some imagine they are in grand opera.

SCModeration@mail.com ]


With all my respect I think that you are not fair. I am not the one who used the term (fake) kids, I borrowed that from Tara. If you or Tara understands the point of my post was to point the usage of kids by opposition and teaching them the ugly war games. You totally ignore Tara’s continuous insults to others:

-her statement (Jesus Akbar camp)is an insult to Christians, she admits that.
-She insulted Ann by calling her a (nightmare) moderator.

-She insults others for her lack of debate intellectuality by using repeatedly the term (your beloved leader)

-Since when was using the term wahabi poison forbidden?

Any way do me a favor and close my account completely and if possible remove all my comments from your record. I am out for good. Freedom of speech here is a joke.

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April 7th, 2012, 8:11 pm


1090. jad said:

Collateral Murder – Wikileaks – Iraq

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April 7th, 2012, 9:19 pm


1091. Shami said:


You are not representative of our Christian people in Syria, so stop speaking in their name.

The christians were present prior to assad, very active, respected and all syrians were proud of them, they co existed for centuries with the muslims, since the Assad years, Syria has seen the Christian prestige weakened, this paranoia which is build on fear of an imaginery enemy is not going to solve your situation, it would be tragical if the Christians in Syria are as doomed than a dictatorial regime.

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April 7th, 2012, 9:23 pm


1092. jad said:

Dear SNK,

Take it easy, it’s just a warning, the moderator has rules to force on all of us, and he obviously is doing the best he could.

Please try not to be too sensitive about it by taking it as a personal issue, it’s obviously not, just ignore the provocateurs and you will be fine 🙂

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April 7th, 2012, 9:39 pm


1093. jad said:


After sultan Erdo, his little helper, Oglu, is asking the forgiveness from Iran.

BTW, what’s the big deal of holding the meeting in Turkey, that the ottomans are so worry to lose hosting it?

داوود أوغلو يتذلل لطهران… “أعيدوا الإجتماع إلى اسطنبول”

علم عربي برس من مصادر رفيعة المستوى في مجلس الأمن القومي الأعلى الإيراني بأن وزير خارجية تركيا داوود أوغلو قام مساء أمس الخميس بمبادرة الإتصال هاتفياً بسكرتير أو أمين مجلس الأمن القومي الأعلى سعيد جليلي ليقدم له اعتذار أنقرة عن التصريحات الأخيرة الشديدة اللهجة التي نشرت خلال الساعات القليلة الماضية على لسان أردوغان منوهاً بدور إيران في المبادرة لعرض فكرة أن تكون بغداد محطة للمفاوضات بين مجموعة الخمسة زائد واحد معها ومعتبراً إياها خطوة ذكية لكنه عاد وتمنى على الإيرانيين اعتماد اسطنبول محطة لهذه المفاوضات معتبرا ان ذلك سيأتي بالفائدة على البلدين.

وأضاف أوغلو حسب المصادر العليا نفسها بأن أوغلو عاد وشدد على أن أنقرة تنظر لإيران على أنها بلد صديق وشقيق وحليف استراتيجي يعتمد عليه.

هذا كما أكد المصدر ذاته بأن السفير التركي في طهران قد قام صباح اليوم الجمعة بطلب لقاء مستعجل مع السيد باقري مساعد جليلي لشؤون السياسة الخارجية والعلاقات الدولية ليقدم له اعتذاراً مماثلاً وليؤكد له مدى الأهمية التي توليها أنقرة لمقام المرشد الأعلى للثورة الإسلامية الإيرانية وسياسة إيران الحكيمة ووقوف بلاده إلى جانب حق إيران في امتلاك الطاقة النووية وثباتها في الدفاع عن هذا الحق في المحافل الدولية وأكبر دليل على ذلك كما ورد على لسان السفير التركي هو تصويت أنقرة ضد القرار الدولي الشهير الذي اتخذه مجلس الأمن الدولي ضد طهران.

وختم المصدر قوله نقلاً عن السفير التركي بأن أردوغان أبلغه ايصال تحياته واحتراماته الخاصة إلى المرشد الأعلى ومدى الإحترام الخاص الذي يكنه لهذا الرجل .

وتأتي هذه الخطوة التركية كما هو معلوم بعد انتشار أنباء عن قيام أردوغان بالإدلاء بتصريحات شديدة اللهجة ضد سياسة إيران الخارجية بشان النووي واستيائه من اقدام إيران على اختيار بغداد محطة بديلة لاسطنبول واتهامه للعاصمة الإيرانية بأنها تلعب على الوقت مما أثار استياء الإيرانيين الشديد.

تجدر الإشارة إلى أن السفير العراقي في طهران ومصادر حكومية رفيعة المستوى في طهران كانت قد أكدت لـعربي برس بأن وزير الخارجية العراقي “هوشيار زيباري” أرسل رسائل إلى السداسية وإلى طهران يعلن فيها موافقة بلاده على استضافتها محادثات النووي وأن لا أحد حتى الآن أعلن رفضه أو استنكافه للمكان أو الموعد والذي حدد يوم السبت الرابع عشر من الشهر الجاري.

وكان علي أكبر صالحي قد شدّد يوم الأربعاء في لقائه مع السفير العراقي بأنه سيتم الإعلان عن مفآجات سارة في هذه الجولة مما سيعطي زخماً خاصاً للدور العراقي المرجو إيرانياً وعراقياً لبغداد في عهدها الجديد بعد تسلمها رئاسة القمة العربية.


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April 7th, 2012, 9:43 pm


1094. Tara said:

I am seeing more and more evidence of a growing Turkish public sentiment in support of the Syrian people against the tyranny.   

Iran’s unbelievable hypocrisy


In the aftermath of the “Friends of the Syrian People” meeting in Istanbul, a most bizarre statement came from Tehran. 

Ali Larijani, the speaker of the Iranian Parliament, condemned the meeting and dubbed its participants as “the enemies of Syria.” He even argued that the meeting was organized by Turkey, of course, “to bribe Israel.” 

But Iran should know better who “the enemies of the Syrian people” really are. After all, it is Tehran who is supporting and arming the illegitimate regime in Damascus which has killed more than 9,000 Syrian citizens in the past year. It is even reported that the “Islamic Republic” is actively participating in this mass murder, by putting its military advisers and even snipers at the service of the tyranny of Bashar al-Assad.

In other words, if we want to name any “enemy of the Syrian people,” we should probably look to somewhere other than the Turkish government.

In fact, the Turkish government, like it or not for any other reason, has been doing its best to help the Syrian people. When Syria was threatened by the Bush Administration in 2005, it was Ankara who reached out to Damascus and saved it from total isolation. Soon Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan befriended Bashar al-Assad, and solved all longtime problems between the two countries.

Visa requirements were lifted as trade and tourism boomed between the two nations.

When the Arab Spring reached Syria, Turkey again tried to help, by trying to persuade the al-Assad regime for a peaceful transition to democracy. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu visited Damascus again and again to convince the regime to refrain from violence and reach a consensus with the opposition under Turkish mediation.

But, well, the leopard did not change its spots. The Baath regime proved that nothing has changed since 1982, when it killed tens of thousands of Sunnis in Hama and Homs – a monstrosity that Sunni Turks know and remember well. Soon, thousands fled to Turkey to find shelter, and Ankara, as a friend of the Syrian people, welcomed them. These survivors also made Turkey even more aware and alarmed about the barbarism of the al-Assad regime.

So, today Turkey is condemning the Syrian regime, supporting the Syrian opposition, and trying to mobilize the international community, only because it is indeed the friend of the Syria people. 

Tehran’s dishonesty is evident not only its anti-Turkish demagoguery on Syria, where it itself carries the real guilt, but also its total disrespect to Ankara’s efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis. In 2010, Ankara went out of its way to help Tehran on this, by first brokering a nuclear swap deal and then voting “no” to sanctions on Iran at the United Nations Security Council. But all that goodwill on the Turkish side has simply been exploited by Iran to earn more time for its spooky nuclear program.

[ … ]

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April 7th, 2012, 10:03 pm


1095. ann said:

Ban’s UN Silent 13 Hours as Ali Saleh Gunmen Take Yemen Airport – April 7, 2012


UNITED NATIONS, April 7 — The UN has touted as a rare success its role in Yemen, where Ali Saleh ostensibly stepped down in exchange for impunity. But now that gunmen loyal to Saleh have taken over the Sana’a airport, the UN has nothing to say.

Early on April 7 — 13 hours ago as of this initial publication — Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s two top spokesman if Ban had “any comment (or calls) about the reported closing of the Sana’a airport by elements of Yemen’s military?”

Ban’s office provided no comment or response, even as it sent out messages touting an upcoming “Google +” chat by Ban with young people, presumably in Yemen as well. Ban’s UN likes good news, at any cost.

Some skeptics wonder if in this case, Ban wants to see if Salah emerges stronger, so that Ban is not found criticizing a strongman who is returning to the fore.


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April 7th, 2012, 10:11 pm


1096. omen said:

chris hedges, quoting h. richard niebuhr, said:

religion makes good people good and bad people bad.

it’s a trap to think disagreements are about sunni vs shia.

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April 7th, 2012, 10:51 pm


1097. Hans said:

Happy Easter to every Christian in Syria, Christ is risen, in spite of everyone who trying to hide his name.
Arab Christians are the light of the Arabs, past, present and future.
no one can hide the light.

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April 7th, 2012, 11:15 pm


1098. Ghufran said:

Waiting to see if the FSA will verify if this video is genuine or not,the Israeli guy is actually an Israeli official but whether abubilal is from the FSA is not clear:

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April 7th, 2012, 11:20 pm


1099. omen said:

a family dies clinging to one another.

god rest their souls.

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April 7th, 2012, 11:35 pm


1100. Ghufran said:

Syrian government is about to resign, no clear indication whether a non Baathist will head the new government or not, I doubt that many opposition members will join the new government until basic demands are met.

Typically, clean elections take place first and that has not happened yet, also,the much needed announcement by Bashar that he will not run for another term has not happened, and many Syrians I talked to believe that any political solution will be very difficult if measures to end the ruling family domination are not taken in addition to removing key figures in the security forces and allowing Syrians who lost loved ones to sue those who they believe we’re responsible for their loss.

Bandages are not enough now to heal the deep wounds in Syria.

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April 7th, 2012, 11:38 pm


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