“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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401. Uzair8 said:

Just reading the FSA page on wiki after along time. It used to be very short and not updated. Worth checking out. Particularly the FSA operations. Rastan, Brigadier-General Salman al-Awaja incident, the heartbreaking unsuccessful Idlib defection etc.

Long live the FSA!! Can strike anywhere, anytime.

‘This if true is highly significant; it is the first attack of this kind within the capital itself and would lend weight to the Free Syrian Army’s claim that it can strike anywhere in Syria.'</small


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April 3rd, 2012, 6:08 pm


402. irritated said:

#400 Omen

What is citizen journalist? Never heard that term.
You mean a protester equipped with communication equipments and video camera and video editing equipments supplied by Qatar and KSA, using Skype on internet supplied by Syriatel to send sensitive information to Al Jazeera and Haaretz.
Well, if he is doing illegal and spying activities that proved to be threat to the security of the State, like in any other countries, he will be jailed and brought to justice. It will be up to him to prove his innocence. Maybe the NYT could for an international lawyer to help him but no one can’t call a government to release a suspicious person.

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April 3rd, 2012, 6:12 pm


403. omen said:

what snakes this regime is!

Activists across Syria today received calls from detained Noura Aljizawi and Ali Othman asking to meet them. Please warn activists, a trap.

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April 3rd, 2012, 6:15 pm


404. omen said:

irritated – slaughtered or alive, you blame the victim. there is a word for such callousness.

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April 3rd, 2012, 6:18 pm


406. jad said:

“Long live the FSA!! Can strike anywhere, anytime.”
Hopefully it strikes your cave in Tora Bora.

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April 3rd, 2012, 6:24 pm


407. Juergen said:


you ask me the other day if i have seen the Marlboro campaign in Berlin. Yes, and thats the answer of some creative soul:


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April 3rd, 2012, 6:24 pm


408. omen said:

Peter Jones: Aung Sang Suu Kyi an object lesson for Syria

problem with this op-ed is that the writer assumes the burma revolution is done. it’s not.

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April 3rd, 2012, 6:56 pm


409. jad said:

Damascus: Syrian troops start withdrawal

Syrian troops have begun withdrawing from some cities and returning to their bases, Damascus says. This comes as a part of the UN-Arab League plan to stop the bloodshed in the country and get the government and opposition to the negotiation table.

The government’s forces have only retreated from the calmer cities, reports the Associated Press quoting a government official, while hotspots have only seen redeployment as soldiers took positions on the outskirts.

The news comes several days after Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad accepted a peace plan requiring forces loyal to him to cease fire and withdraw from cities by April 10. If this is implemented, rebel fighters will have 48 hours to halt military operations. The aim is to bring all hostilities to an end by April 12.

The plan, brought to Syria by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, also calls for an immediate daily two-hour halt to fighting so that aid groups can reach suffering civilians.
It remains unclear whether the Free Syrian Army, one of the major opposition groups battling Assad’s forces in Syria, will abide by the ceasefire.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Syria had informed them that it has started implementing the peace plan.

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April 3rd, 2012, 7:02 pm


410. omen said:

401. Uzair8 said:

Just reading the FSA page on wiki after along time. It used to be very short and not updated. Worth checking out. Particularly the FSA operations.

i remember being astonished the first time reading about how libya rebels lured a regime tank for ambush and were able to capture it.

once rebel forces learn insurgency tactics such as these, they add to their bag of tricks and expand their repertoire. and then it’s just a matter of time for the regime to fall. can you hear the clock ticking, bashar?


Long live the FSA!! Can strike anywhere, anytime.

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April 3rd, 2012, 7:13 pm


411. MICHEL said:

The salafi terrorist Noura Aljizawi was arrested by the glorious patriotic security forces/army whose sole goal is to protect the syrian people (protect the regime? what are you smoking?). Thank god, I couldn’t sleep at night knowing that such terrorists were freely roaming around.


! قائدنا إلى الأبد، حافظ الأسد

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April 3rd, 2012, 7:18 pm


412. Mawal95 said:

#296 asked: How can the SNC be faulted for being, on one hand, secular westernized expats out of touch with what’s happening on the ground… and, on the other hand, a trojan horse of muslim brotherhood members intent on handing down sharia law. They can’t be both things. Which is it?

Answer: They are both things. Surely you’ve heard repeatedly that the SNC lacks unity and has been unable to produce statements of political vision because of a lack of internal consensus. The SNC did produce a consensus statement on 27 mar 2012 which I linked to above.

If you read that statement you’ll see it’s thoroughly secular. But outside the SNC there’s a widespread assessment that the MB wing of the SNC is going along with this just temporarily and just to please the SNC’s patrons in the Western countries.

An example of this widespread assessment is the commenter quoted by MINA at #307:

“The revolution will have to be judged by its destination, not its origin; its outcome, not its proclamations…. The more sweeping the destruction of the existing order, the more difficult establishment of domestic authority is likely to prove…. At this writing, traditional fundamentalist [religous] political forces, reinforced by alliance with radical revolutionaries, threaten to dominate the process.” http://hanan-revue.blogspot.com/2012/03/new-doctrine-of-intervention.html

PS: Here’s a video tour of Bab Amr streets recorded by a member of the Syrian army sitting on top of a tank driving through the streets. Apparently recorded just after the army took full control of the streets a few weeks ago. Shows the soldiers in good spirits. Shows extensive damage to buildings that I haven’t seen previously. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymRM44nRWek

PS: Nasty looking machine gun said to be owned by a rebel in Homs on 30 Mar 2012: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=284007818340047&set=a.121012647972899.23699.120873964653434&type=1&ref=nf

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April 3rd, 2012, 7:27 pm


413. omen said:

mawal, are you trying to suggest one man with a machine gun destroyed bab amr? come now.

your “doubts” could easily be resolved if only assad would allow in UN observers to document the mayhem. but he’s unwilling to do so. wonder why.

MINA at #307: “The revolution will have to be judged by its destination…The more sweeping the destruction of the existing order, the more difficult establishment of domestic authority is likely to prove.

what of assad destroying order? how many towns and cities is he going to demolish?

assad throws the vase against the wall and you fault the opposition for failing to piece it back together again flawlessly.

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April 3rd, 2012, 8:27 pm


414. jna said:

once rebel forces learn insurgency tactics such as these, they add to their bag of tricks and expand their repertoire. and then it’s just a matter of time for the regime to fall.

It’s a self-absorbed mistake to disregard that the army learns tricks also. Have you noticed their success lately?

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April 3rd, 2012, 8:31 pm


415. ann said:

Tanker with Syrian oil passes through Egypt’s Suez – Tue Apr 3, 2012

The M.T. Tour, a tanker identified by the United States as owned by a sanctions-evading company set up by Iran, passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Tuesday.


The ship, owned by ISIM Tour Ltd, had been held up by Egyptian authorities for five days for not paying passage fees through the canal, which guarantees a right of passage to all ships during war and peacetime.

A canal official said the 81,000-tonne M.T. Tour was carrying crude from Syria to Singapore, and had been “allowed to pass through the Suez Canal, after paying the required fees”.

Reuters reported on Friday that the M.T. Tour was shipping a cargo of 120,000 tonnes of Syrian crude to a state-run Chinese company.

The official added that the tanker had come from Syria and was heading to Singapore. He said it had been carrying a Maltese flag but was now registered under a Bolivian flag. The official had no knowledge of any link with Iran.

Malta said on Sunday it was delisting the M.T. Tour on learning that it was carrying Syrian oil in breach of international sanctions. [ what international sanctions? 8) ]


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April 3rd, 2012, 8:31 pm


416. Tara said:

Israel predicts few casualties from war with Iran
Assessment presented to security cabinet forecasts fewer than 300 casualties during three weeks of rocket attacks


The Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, last November sought to allay fears of a high number of civilian casualties in a conflict resulting from an attack on Iran. “There’s no chance in such a situation for 500,000 killed, not 5,000 or even 500 killed,” he told Israel Radio.

According to the recent security assessment, Iran’s conventional missile capabilities are limited.

On other fronts, Hamas has said it will not be drawn into a conflict between Israel and Iran, and Syria’s internal turmoil may hamper its ability to engage in an external conflict. However, Hezbollah in Lebanon would be expected to target missiles from its large arsenal towards Israel, which would in turn deploy its Iron Dome anti-missile defence system.

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April 3rd, 2012, 8:41 pm


417. omen said:

from pat lang’s blog, a former special forces officer:

In his recent meeting with Israel’s Chief of Staff of the Defense Force, General Benny Gantz, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey spelled out in the most blunt language possible for a soldier why Israel must not launch a unilateral preventive strike against Iran. According to my sources inside the Pentagon, General Dempsey made it clear that any Israeli attack would result in the deaths of hundreds–if not thousands–of American soldiers and sailors stationed in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf. The consequences of those unnecessary deaths on the US-Israel military relationship would be severe.

General Dempsey, according to my sources, reminded his Israeli counterpart that in 1991 and again in 2003, when the United States launched “coalition” warfare against Iraq, the US Administrations pressured Israel to sit on the sidelines, and pledged that the United States would guarantee Israel’s safety. Apart from a few stray Scud missiles that hit Israel in 1991, the United States fully lived up to that pledge to protect Israel at all costs. Israel, in contrast, has no capacity whatsoever to protect the 100,000 American soldiers who would find themselves immediately in harms way in Afghanistan if Iran chose to retaliate against the Israeli strikes. The same is true for American soldiers and sailors in Bahrain, Qatar and other Persian Gulf locales where there are known concentrations of US forces […]

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April 3rd, 2012, 8:50 pm


418. Tara said:

Syria under a curse.  From one thug to another thug.

Syria: Bashar al-Assad’s uncle Rifaat says he will not hold on to power for much longer

Rifaat al-Assad, the exiled uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has said it is unlikely his nephew can hold on to power for much longer.

By Chris Irvine, agencies10:41AM BST 03 Apr 2012


In an interview with the BBC, Rifaat, 73, who led a military assault on Hama in 1982 to suppress an uprising, killing up to 40,000, said: “The problems are now general to all parts of Syria – there are no places that have escaped violence – so I don’t think he can stay in power.

“I would say, though, that he should stay so he can co-operate with a new government and offer the experience he has.”

Despite his comments, he insisted that the Assad family was still “pretty much accept by the Syrian people.”

Rifaat has lived in exile since unsuccessfully attempt to seize power from his brother Hafez, in the 1980s.

His comments came as fierce clashes broke out Tuesday between Syrian troops and rebels as the regime sent reinforcements into some hot spots, despite a pledge by President Bashar al-Assad to implement a peace plan.

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April 3rd, 2012, 8:52 pm


419. Tara said:

Erdogan seems very inflamed or is it a show?


Syria unrest: Turkey says UN ‘supports’ repression

Mr Erdogan says Turkey will not turn its back on the Syrian people

Turkey PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) of indirectly supporting the oppression of the Syrian people by failing to unite on Syria.

Mr Erdogan said the UNSC was standing by with its “hands and arms tied” while the Syrian people were dying every day.

What we have seen since 1 April is not encouraging and should the government of Syria use this window, rather than to de-escalate, to intensify violence, it would be most unfortunate.

Mr Erdogan said by not taking a decision on Syria, the UN Security Council had “indirectly supported the oppression. To stand by with your hands and arms tied while the Syrian people are dying every day is to support the oppression”.


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April 3rd, 2012, 9:00 pm


420. Tara said:

US ambassador warns Syria regime over violence

Ms Rice warned Syria not to intensify the violence in the days before 10 April

America’s ambassador to the UN has warned Syria not to intensify violence in the days leading up to a ceasefire proposed by the UN and Arab League.

Susan Rice said the Security Council must respond urgently if Syria failed to keep its pledge to end military operations by 10 April.

Ms Rice said that “from the US point of view, and I think the point of view of many member states, what we have seen since April 1 is not encouraging”.

She said the US was “concerned and quite sceptical that the government of Syria will suddenly adhere to its commitments”.

If the Syrian authorities use the time up to 10 April to intensify rather than decrease the violence, the Security Council would “need to respond to that failure in a very urgent and serious way”, she said.

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April 3rd, 2012, 9:13 pm


421. Ghufran said:

Rifaat Alassad will probably die in exile, his only chance of returning alive is if Syria gets divided along sectarian lines because there are still people in Syria, mostly hit men who were paid by him and few corrupt business men who dealt with him, who still think he has something to offer. The Saudis always had good relations with him, there is also a connection between him and the royal family through previous marriages.

Europe may still allow some members of Alassad family and his inner circle to flee to Europe if that becomes a necessity for those members because money speaks louder than ethics for most governments.

CNN put a summary of Rifaat’s interview, he expresses his disrespect for Bashar and his admiration of Hafez, he did not mention his friend, Khaddam, and he insisted that the Hama massacre was a fight between the MB and the state.

Nobody takes the man seriously, he is lucky he is not in prison, ask the EU why.

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April 3rd, 2012, 9:30 pm


422. Halabi said:

[ARROW Updated from spam. ]

This a pro-Bashar demonstration in Deir al-Zour. I would love to read a few paragraphs of analysis by Mawal or Mina on this scene, especially who these people are, what are they thinking, who they represent. They obviously love Bashar and Syria, they are completely secular, tolerant and full of life. Something along those lines…


Notice the armed men guarding the demonstration. They seem to have a civilian pickup truck and aren’t wearing uniforms. Are they legitimate police officers? It sure doesn’t look like it. According to menhebak logic they are armed gangs. The Syrian military to shell their homes, burn them to the ground and force their families into exile.

But that won’t happen because these armed gangs protect everything that is good in this world: Bashar and his cronies.

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April 3rd, 2012, 9:37 pm


424. Alan said:

[ARROW Updated from spam.]

Damascus: Syrian troops start withdrawal


This is the judgement day, If West still goes ahead with their plan of Arming the Opposition, It should not be tolerated and BRICS should declare those as ACT of terrorism. As US and their Allies are literally trying to support those whose intention towards their government and their country citizens is fake, The people of Syria should realise this game of US. They always made other do their dirty work and later cleaned those who did their dirty work.

Every countries who support arming the opposition should be dealted harshly and BRICS should start international sanctions as US and their idiot allies does under the Fake and ugly organization, NATO. but i wonder what is this UN (US boot licker) will do for anyone else in this world.

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April 3rd, 2012, 9:38 pm


425. Syria no Kandahar said:

[ARROW Updated from spam. ]


What about المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان

What about الدجال المجرم رامي عبد الرحمن

How many people get their numbers from
The Dajjal Rami?

Have you really seen any fair and balanced network about Syria?

I am talking about criminal activities practiced by
Aljazera, Alarabia and Alwissal not about idiots
Like BBC and NY times who are as smart as John
McCain who is advocating bombing Syria like SNC

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April 3rd, 2012, 9:39 pm


426. omen said:

do we know about the kinds of programs henry kissinger sanctioned in latin america? nevermind his record in vietnam.

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April 3rd, 2012, 9:54 pm


427. Tara said:

Basma is providing a very good vision.  Implement Annan plan in it’s entirety.  Bashar to delegate his powers to a caretaker, then an interim government composed of the opposition and regime figures who have no blood on their hands.  


Negotiation can start only if al-Assad steps down: SNC
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

SNC spokeswoman Basma Qadmani rejects a compromise between the SNC and the ruling al-Assad regime

The Syrian National Council (SNC) can only engage in negotiations for a political transition if al-Assad hands over power to an interim government composed of the opposition and people from the regime with “no blood on their hands,” a Syrian dissident has said.

“First, the items of the Annan plan should be fully implemented before we speak about a political process,” SNC spokeswoman Basma Qadmani said in an interview with Hürriyet Daily News yesterday, referring to the plan outlined by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan.

“We never speak about an open dialogue,” Qadmani said, adding that negotiations could only start based on a clear plan, carrying international guarantees. She said the Annan plan was an expression of the kind of international support that could be provided. “For us, this plan contains modalities for a transition to a different political system in Syria.”

Qadmani rejected the idea of a compromise between the SNC and the ruling al-Assad regime. “While the regime calls for open dialogue and compromise between parties, we see this is not a valid point of departure. The point of a departure is a plan, which will then set the modalities for transition to democracy,” she added.

The first move should be to get the president delegate his powers to a figure in an interim government, Qadmani said.

“We could have a caretaker and this caretaker would then be responsible for setting up a government or calling a government that is composed of the opposition and people from the regime, acceptable people who have no blood on their hands and were not directly involved in the repression,” she stated. That government could then carry the transition period forward in all dimensions security, political, institutional and economic, Qadmani added.

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April 3rd, 2012, 9:58 pm


428. jad said:

It’s official, fsa are not only radical terrorists they are also mercenaries and traitors they are not looking for any BS of freedom, democracy or dignity, their only paid mission is to destroy the Syrian State and help its enemies take over all of us for money, there shouldn’t be any forgiveness for those paid traitors.

المسلحون بدأوا استهداف بطاريات الدفاع الجوي في الشمال تمهيدا للاستيلاء على مطار “أفيس”العسكري

الحوامات السورية تشترك في مطاردة المسلحين الذين دمروا بطارية صواريخ في “تل مرديخ” وحاولوا الاستيلاء على مطار تفتناز تنفيذا لتوجيهات الملحقية العسكرية الأميركية في أنقرة

دمشق ، باريس ـ الحقيقة ( خاص) : كشفت مصادر عسكرية خاصة لـ”الحقيقة” أن المسلحين المدعومين من المخابرات التركية والخبراء الأميركيين في شركة “ريفلكس ريسبونسز” ، التي أنشأها أيريك برنس ، مدير ” بلاك ووتر” في الإمارات العربية خلفا لشركته الأولى، تمكنوا اليوم من تدمير منصة إطلاق صواريخ ” بتشورا” ( سام 3) في المنطقة الواقعة بين مثلث بلدات “كفر عميم” و “سراقب” و ” تل مرديخ” . وأظهر شريط حصلت عليه”الحقيقة” ( منشور جانبا) استهداف المنصة بقذيفة مضادة للدبابات ، كما يبدو، من إحدى البنايات السكنية المجاورة . كما ويظهر الشريط ” انفلات” صاروخين عن المنصة نتيجة لهذا الاستهداف ، أحدهما انطلق في الجو والآخر أفقيا قريبا من سطح الأرض قبل أن يسقط قريبا من المنطقة. ويتضح من الشريط أن المنصة تعود إلى إحدى كتائب الدفاع الجوي المنتشرة في المنطقة لحماية بعض الأماكن الاستراتيجية مثل ” قاعدة أبو الضهور الجوية” التي تبعد 25 كم إلى الشرق من المنصة المستهدفة ، ومطار ” أفيس” ( تفتناز) العسكري الخاص بالحوامات/ المروحيات ، الواقع إلى الشمال من المنطقة ، فضلا عن أماكن استراتيجية أخرى تخص بطاريات صواريخ أرض ـ أرض بعيدة المدى ، وصناعات عسكرية ومنشآت مدنية حيوية.

وجاء في معلومات لاحقة أن مئات المسلحين الآخرين حاولوا بالتزامن مع ذلك تقريبا السيطرة على مطار ” تفتناز” المشار إليه ، ما اضطر الجيش إلى الاستعانة بالحوامات الحربية لمطاردة المسلحين . ويظهر شريط آخر حصلت عليه”الحقيقة” ( منشور جانبا) طائرة حوامة من طراز “MI-17″ المضادة للدبابات وهي تطلق نيران صواريخها ورشاشاتها على المسلحين في منطقة محيطة بالمطار المذكور . وهو أول شريط من نوعه منذ بداية الانتفاضة في سورية ، لاسيما بعد تحولها إلى ” ثورة إسلامية مسلحة” مدعومة من قبل الغرب وحلفائه ، يظهر اشتراك الحوامات في تعقب المسلحين الأأصوليين وعناصر “القاعدة” الذين يشكلون العمود الفقري لما يسمى “الجيش الحر” ، خصوصا في محافظة إدلب و منطقة “جبل الزاوية”!

هذه التطورات تؤكد دقة المعلومات التي حصلت عليها “الحقيقة” ونشرتها في سياق تقرير أمني ـ عسكري خاص بتاريخ 17 آذار / مارس الماضي. وكان تقرير”الحقيقة” استند في معلوماته إلى ” النقيب صبحي” ، وهو ضابط من المخابرات التركية انتدبته حكومة أردوغان ليكون بمثابة ” السكرتير العسكري الخاص” للعميل رياض الأسعد ، أو بالأدق ” ناقل الأوامر التركية إليه”. كما واستندت فيه إلى مصادر فرنسية مقربة من الصهيوني برنار هنري ليفي ، الذي يشرف على ” المكتب الإعلامي” الخاص برياض الأسعد في باريس بالتعاون مع لمى عبد الحميد الأتاسي ، عضو ” حزب الشعب الديمقراطي” الذي يتزعمه رياض الترك.

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April 3rd, 2012, 10:59 pm


429. jad said:

I have a feeling that a war will start soon, with Turkey, what do you think?

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April 3rd, 2012, 11:09 pm


430. Ghufran said:

Alarab online poll:

الأزمة السورية تراوح مكانها في الفترة الأخيرة برغم التحركات الدبلوماسية الكثيفة، برأيك هل ينتهي الأمر إلى:

انتصار النظام
نجاح الضغوط الخارجية
توسع الفوضى
Number of votes: 53,935
( do you really believe this?)

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April 3rd, 2012, 11:32 pm


431. omen said:

the (faux) anti-imperialist/genocide enabler crowd are applauding maliki’s latest statement against arming the rebels and objecting to “outside interference into syria’s affairs” – taking it as some kind of principled stand.

what they don’t know is that in mid-march, iraq was caught allowing arms from iran to be smuggled through, going to equip syria’s regime.

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April 3rd, 2012, 11:33 pm


432. jad said:

99% out of 53,935.

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April 3rd, 2012, 11:37 pm


433. Equus said:

Dernières nouvelles de Homs et de Kusayr

Par Mère Agnès-Mariam de la Croix



Certaines familles sont retournées pour surveiller leurs biens. L’une d’entre elles raconte cet épisode
ubuesque : « Nous ouvrons la porte et, voilà, le salon est rempli de monde. Ils portent nos pyjamas et mangent dans nos assiettes.

Interloqués nous les fixons du regard. Gêné, leur leader nous dit « quand vous voulez on vous rendra votre maison ; mais la réalité s’impose. Il faut les laisser faire et se rendre à l’évidence : notre maison n’est plus à nous ».

Pourquoi affirmons-nous que ces gens ont été « forcés » de partir ? Parce que progressivement mais efficacement les membres de la branche armée de l’opposition syrienne ont opéré ce qu’on peut appeler une « redistribution démographique » : par des francs-tireurs et des actes d’agression criminelle ils ont harcelé la population civile « non agréée » : les minorités alaouite, chrétienne, chiite et beaucoup de musulmans modérés qui n’ont pas désiré participer aux activités Dissidentes. Ce n’est pas un génocide massif mais une liquidation à petits feux.


Dès le début de l’année scolaire des sévices répétés ont été enregistrés contre les établissements scolaires : kidnapping du corps enseignant, instituteurs et institutrices, harcèlement des écoliers, incendie des écoles ou leur bombardement. Cela a amené progressivement à la fermeture des écoles puis des universités.


l’administration civile ont été les victimes innocentes des actes qui ont dépassé le simple assassinat pour revêtir les aspects les plus barbares du crime gratuit : personnes égorgées, mutilées, éventrées, dépecées, jetées dans les coins des rues ou dans les poubelles.

Ces actes atroces étaient ensuite exploités médiatiquement pour en imputer la responsabilité aux forces gouvernementales

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April 3rd, 2012, 11:45 pm


434. jad said:

Another terrorist attack in Damascus today, this time in Barzeh, no casualties, thanks God.

شآم https://www.facebook.com/chaam.syria3
الصور الأولية للتفجير الذي استهدف أحد البيوت في حي من أحياء برزة … واقتصرت الأضرار على الماديات فقط …
سنوافيكم بالفيديو بعد قليل …


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April 3rd, 2012, 11:48 pm


435. omen said:

equus, do you know why rifaat al assad isn’t in prison for war crimes?

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April 3rd, 2012, 11:52 pm


436. Ghufran said:


Alarab online is not exactly pro regime but I agree that the poll is not realistic, however,more people now think that there can not be a solution in Syria without the participation of the regime . The SNC is asking to exclude Bashar from the process and I think that is widely accepted by most including Russia, but nobody is now going as far as insisting that he resigns, I just believe that he should for the sake of national unity.

Your fear of a war launched by Turkey is understood but not supported by events on the ground and on the international scene, the most armed rebels can do is create a situation where they force the regime to give more concessions and inflame the situation to win political support for their cause.

Annan plan may actually fail if there was a new round of fighting that includes the usage of heavy weapons after April 10th, but the regime and top generals are not backing off from their position that no protected enclaves be allowed and no new BA to be established on Syrian territories regardless of the political price.

The regime is also recruiting new Internet bloggers who are spreading unfounded information on armed rebels hoping that this will ease pressure on the regime, the picture is the opposite, armed rebels are on the run and smuggling of weapons actually went down.

Assad wants April to be the month when he announces that the backbone of armed resistance has been broken, but his plans to manufacture a friendly PA will back fire, Syrians will not go back to the pre march 2011 era, he needs to swallow his pride, enjoy his “victory” and let Syrians start a new chapter without him and his family.

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April 4th, 2012, 12:10 am


437. Ghufran said:

Even regime supporters are not sure that PA elections in May is a good idea
This is from shamnews:
هل أنت مع تأجيل فترة الترشح لانتخابات مجلس الشعب ؟

لا أعرف
Any PA without a national consensus will not be legitimate

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April 4th, 2012, 12:23 am


438. jad said:


I’m not sure if the situation is as simple as you describe it.

From the news websites, youtube, FB and Twitter the situation seems way more complicated and things are changing by the minute on ground, the armed terrorist groups have no shortage of anything, the amount of attacks are the same as last month, so I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that April will be the ‘victory’ month for Bashar.

Personally, I think this month will be as bloody as the months before, Annan can’t succeed when the whole world except Russia is against his plan and working day and night behind doors to fail him.

Turkey is obviously ready to attack, it’s just waiting for the green light by the Americans, it may not be a full scale war, but a localized war that will make the situation deteriorate even further since any body who dares to go protect on the streets during war time will be labeled as traitor and will be treated by force and the majority of the Syrians even if they hate the government will have no choice but to support it and stuck to it in war times.

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April 4th, 2012, 12:32 am


439. bronco said:

#431. jad said:

“I have a feeling that a war will start soon, with Turkey, what do you think?”

Jad, the Turkish public opinion is not ready for a war. Erdogan is being criticized daily in the press for having been too bold, too impatient and being now cornered. There could be lots of unrest in Turkey if a war is started with Syria.

Erdogan is in favor of the Annan plan if it stops the violence but he is against Bashar staying undefinitely in power.
To a war, he prefers supervised elections that, in his view, will remove Bashar and the Baath party from power once for all without bloodshed.

Annan knows that and he knows that Qatar and KSA think the same.

His strategy is probably to convince these countries that if they want to get rid of Bashar, the best way is to cooperate so early elections can be held where there are high chances Bashar will loose and will be obliged to leave his place. Therefore it would be in their interest to encourage the opposition to accept the plan so peace and security may return and elections can be held under UN supervision.

To support this strategy, Annan is counting on Bashar to show real signs of collaborating with the plan by withdrawing and accepting peaceful demonstrations and counter demonstrations as well as the humanitarian aids proposed.

If then, the opposition persists in rejecting the plan and not withdrawing all armed presence from the streets, then I think Annan will immediately call for UN assembly resolution to enterinate the plan, force the armed opposition to collaborate with the plan and block Turkey and the hardliners from supplying weapons or money to buy weapons.

If Bashar does not implement the plan then the Annan plan is dead and chaos will prevail in Syria spilling to the neighbors to the joy of Israel.

So until we see how the Syrian forces will behave and how the armed rebels will behave, it is impossible to predict what will happen.

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April 4th, 2012, 12:40 am


440. Ghufran said:

Is not it sad that foreign journalists are more sensible and thoughtful than the Arab ones?
I could have written this article,it summarized the situation very well:


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April 4th, 2012, 12:50 am


441. omen said:

halabi : Notice the armed men guarding the demonstration. They seem to have a civilian pickup truck and aren’t wearing uniforms. Are they legitimate police officers? It sure doesn’t look like it.

you have to read this account.
it describes the shabiha in action.

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April 4th, 2012, 2:02 am


442. Juergen said:


I guess there was never any nation who put him on a warrant.

I believe that there was a deal made with Rifaat and the Asaad clan, because Syria never pushed their european counterparts to arrest him either, so all loooks like a golden handshake for this bloody bastard.

The funny thing is also, i saw two properties of him in Syria, one old restaurant which used to belong to him in Damascus, and his villa in Latakia. Both places were sealed and no one lives there. If he was such a criminal to the Assad clan, why then they dont sell such or let others live inside.

I assume that this might change in the course when the regime will fall, its hard to tell the world why such a criminal who posesses great amounts of money from the Syrians is enjoying live in London and Paris.

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April 4th, 2012, 2:24 am


443. Mina said:

424 Halabi

You know the ultra-nationalists in Turkey? They look exactly the same. They are air-heads, just as brain-washed dhihadists are air-heads. The problem is that 1) they exist, 2) they are numerous.

You can’t build the next country with denying their existence. This is why I asked once about “how do you see day 2, if Bashar simply takes a plane with his extended family”. (And got zero answer from the usual crowD). Do you really believe that the people who actually control the countryside and the muhafazaat will disappear that easily?

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April 4th, 2012, 2:34 am


444. Mina said:

377 SOD

“and died of his wounds”. The problem when people start to lie is that they usually add a new lie at every episode.

In the video you posted, do you really think the wounds look like something one can die from? The man is in full spirits, seating and speaking, and you want some to believe that he died from his wounds? You write for people who can’t open videos or what?

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April 4th, 2012, 2:42 am


445. Alan said:


American сannibalism in Syria (Op-Ed)

Resolutions calling on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down, the West and its allies have gone ballistic in their desire of regime change.

After February’s veto, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asked US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, “What’s the endgame?”, to which she replied: “The endgame in the absence of us acting together as the international community, I fear, is civil war.”

She wasn’t kidding either, because the US and its allies are doing exactly that: promoting civil war as official policy towards Syria. Foreign Policy (a Washington Post publication) reports on 28th March that Senators John McCain (Republican from Arizona) and “five like-minded lawmakers” submitted a new resolution on Syria before Congress, calling for Congressional “support for arming the opposition against the regime of Bashar al Assad”. The resolution stops short of calling for direct US military intervention, which McCain openly and fully supports, as does Senator Joe Lieberman from Connecticut.

Their goal is to create a consensus on increasing US support for the Syrian opposition, around which US lawmakers can rally. So far, in addition to McCain and Lieberman, the resolution is backed by Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Jon Kyl (Arizona), Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire) and John Hoeven (North Dakota). The very powerful pro-Israel lobby AIPAC – American Israeli Public Affairs Committee – couldn’t be happier…

The resolution “supports calls by Arab leaders to provide the people of Syria with the means to defend themselves against Bashar al-Assad and his forces, including through the provision of weapons and other material support, and calls on President Obama to work closely with regional partners to implement these efforts effectively.”
It also urges Obama to support the so-called “Friends of the Syrian People” contact group of Arab states which agreed in a meeting in Istanbul on Sunday to provide monthly funding worth several million dollars to pay a “salary” to opposition fighters in Syria and encourage more defections from President Bashar Assad’s army.

As reported by the Associated Press, “This money is the first formal international support for the rebels, and officials attending the “Friends of Syria” conference said the substantial funds would also probably be used to purchase weapons on the black market for the rebel Free Syria Army.”

The message is therefore quite clear for all to understand: once again, as in the case of Libya last year, the US and its client states in the Middle East are paying huge amounts of money to mercenary armies – including “buying weapons on the black market for the rebel Free Syria army” – in order to overthrow the legal government of a sovereign country, this time, Syria.

Using Orwellian newspeak, Hilary Clinton referred to these millions of dollars as “humanitarian aid to Syria”. So far, Syrian “freedom fighters” have received an official total of $25 million in such “humanitarian aid”, and only God knows how many millions more in black money are being funneled to local criminals, thugs and mercenaries inside Syria from secret CIA, MI6 and Mossad organized crime coffers, to be used for such black market arms purchases.

Clearly, in war and in peace, under today’s global power system, money talks… and it does so very loudly! “Mr. Money is indeed a powerful Lord!” 16th Century Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo once said. Five centuries later, nothing new under the sun


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April 4th, 2012, 2:47 am


446. Mina said:

390 Michel

Of course they exist. They simply call for an orderly transition, with UN Peace corps and monitored elections, instead of every sultan round the corner playing the great Middle Ages lords. It is pretty clear that the “regime is (and has been) committing atrocities against political dissenters” but the problem is that it is the normal political culture in ALL the neighboring countries, no matter the religion they claim they have.

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April 4th, 2012, 2:48 am


447. Alan said:


Israeli-US Air, Naval Forces Train for Energy War
Breakdown: Turkish-Israeli battle over Cyprus pipeline

Turkey starts drilling in Northern Cyprus

Three Russian companies bid for Greece’s gas assets

Report: Cyprus talking to Lebanon on Israel sea border row

Israeli, Greek and U.S. forces are in the midst of a drill in preparation for a possible war over Israel’s huge off-shore gas discoveries, which also may contain commercializable oil. Lebanon and Hizbullah have claimed the fields are in Lebanese territory and that they will “defend” the area against drilling by Israel.

The week-long drill is simulating air-to-air combat and anti-submarine warfare and is taking place off the coast of Turkey, possibly signaling it not to interfere with Israeli energy operations in the Mediterranean Sea. The “enemy” forces will be similar to those of the Turkish air force, according to the Defencenet.gr website.

Joint exercises also will take place off the coast of Cyprus and at the port in Haifa, with the participation of the famed U.S. Sixth Fleet.

The United States and Israel also are preparing for a massive “Austere Challenge” exercise this summer involving thousands of soldiers from both countries.

Last week, a one-day drill included Israeli soldiers operating the Arrow, the Patriot, Hawk, Stinger, and Iron Dome batteries defense systems, according to DefenseProfessionals.com.

“The ability of the formation to bring together all the defense systems is amazing”, said U.S. Army Col. Stephen Richmond, head of the 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. “I’m very impressed with the capabilities presented here,” he was quoted as saying.

Russia is keeping a wary eye on the American-Israeli exercises and is staging its own war drill in a Syrian port, according to DEBKAfile. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned this week against a pre-emptive strike, which he said would violate international law.

A Russian guided missile destroyer reportedly sailed to the Syrian port of Tartus for an exercise with what DEBKAfile said is three-fold message for the United States that Moscow is supplying Syrian President Bashar Assad with defense systems, that the Russian and Iranian support of Assad will continue and that the deployment of the warship illustrates Moscow’s ability for a rapid response to foreign maneuvers.

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April 4th, 2012, 3:05 am


448. Alan said:

Frankfurt ‘anti-capitalist’ protest turns into riot

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April 4th, 2012, 3:12 am


449. Alan said:

Russia, Iran set to counter US/Israeli strike against Iran. US-led naval drill


April 3, 2012

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov issued a strong warning against a military attack on Iran Monday, April 2,, saying that a pre-emptive strike would violate international law. His comments, made during a visit to Armenia, stopped short of threatening (the US and/or Israel) of consequences. But they backed up and were in tune with the explicit threat from Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last Thursday of strong Iranian resistance to foreign intervention in Syria and vow to defend Damascus as the “center of resistance against Israel.”

Western military observers link the two statements as representing an evolving Russian-Iranian front. After their shared success in delivering Bashar Assad from the revolt against his regime, the two partners are preparing to fend off a potential strike against Tehran’s nuclear program as well as shore up Iran’s regional interests from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean. They are getting set to counter two US-led steps, disclosed here byDEBKAfile:

1. Although the US-backed Friends of Syria 2, which took place Sunday, April 1, in Istanbul, offered the Syrian Free Army no direct assistance or support, Saudi Arabia and Qatar established an international fund to pay rebel fighters a regular wage. They hope to lure more officers and men into defecting from the army units loyal to Assad.
Moscow and Tehran view this step as Arab intervention in the Syrian conflict.

2. The US, Israel and Greece launched a shadowy air-naval exercise in the Mediterranean Thursday, March 29. Codenamed “Noble Dina,” it appears to range across a broad sweep of sea up to Crete and including the waters off Turkey, Cyprus, and Israel Navy bases in Haifa and Ashdod ports./../..

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April 4th, 2012, 3:32 am


450. Alan said:


UNSC mulls draft statement on Syria

The UN Security Council went into session on Tuesday to consider a draft statement demanding that the Syrian authorities end military operations by April 10th, and the opposition – over the next 48 hours, France Press reports.

According to a ceasefire plan proposed by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, the Syrian government is required to stop all military operations immediately.

If Syria fails to honor the ceasefire, the Security Council will send monitors to secure the implementation of the ceasefire agreements.

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April 4th, 2012, 4:11 am


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