“The Original Shabiha,” by Mohammad D.

The Original Shabiha
by Mohammad D.
Aug 17, 2012 for Syria Comment
Edited by Joshua Landis

Fawwaz al-Assad (center) watching his beloved team, Tishriin, play soccer – photo supplied by the author

Who were the first Shabiha? How was the word coined? And how did their numbers spread? The following stories about a few shabiha pioneers are based on my personal experiences in Latakia, Syria in the 1970’s and 1980’s so I can vouch for their truth. I have refrained from embellishment or recounting stories that have been told to me by others.

The Pioneer Smuggler

No one in al-Harf, a small Alawi village in the mountains east of Latakia, knew how Faysal Salloum managed to come into the possession of a car. Not a soul in the village had owned a car before Faysal Salloum drove into town. Fewer than a handful of the village’s inhabitants had driven a car, so seeing Faysal appear behind a dust cloud in his Peugeot 343 caused wonder and conflicting emotions among his townsmen. Like most Alawi villages of the mountain in the 1970s, al-Harf did not have a paved road. A hardscrabble dirt track wound up the hill on the southern side of the village. It plunged down into a steep valley and climbed over the adjacent mountain before connecting to a paved road. A single bus traveled that road going down to the coast road.

A single bus traveled the paved road down the mountain to the coast, where one could get to Latakia. It also connected al-Harf to the larger towns higher in the mountain. The bus was owned by the Awad family, Protestant Christians from al-Jawbeh, to the east. Of course, al-Harf had neither electricity nor running water. Two natural springs east of the village supplied it along with two other villages with water. Until the 1950s, Alawis rarely traveled to a city, which were the preserve of Sunnis. When the French conquered Syria and began taking censuses in the 1920s, they found that Alawis and Sunnis lived together in no town larger than 200 inhabitants. Alawis and Christians lived together, but not Alawis and Sunnis.

When I was a child in the 1970s, it was still rare for villagers to venture out into the larger world. Almost none of the two hundred families that made up our village did. Everyone seemed to work in the fields.

The village lands that extended down into the adjoining valley were planted alternately with tobacco or wheat depending on the season. The steep and rocky hills had been terraced by generations of peasants who had eked out a living in these hills before us. Some plots were planted with sesame and vegetables. Among the fruit trees, fig, pomegranate, and olive were the most common. Two small woods covered the eastern mountains, which were too steep for farming. Although most farming families were poor, we counted ourselves lucky because we had land and did not have to work for the Sunnis.

My Uncle who died in 1997 would leave the house at 4:00 in the morning to walk to Dabbash, where there was an elementary school. By Faysal’s generation in the 1970s, the kids went to school in al-Khraybat, an extension of al-Kishkhashe on the road to Latakia. It was three hills away and took only 45 minutes by foot. In the early morning, one could hear the hyenas’ howling. But the terrain was picturesque. The Mediteranean Sea stretched out miles below us.

Middle School was in al-Fakhoura, a two-hour commute. When I was a child our village had perhaps 5 people who had a brofet (preovette), a ninth grade certificate. Only two had earned a Baccalaureate – my uncle and Dr. Abdal Karim . Faysal was not from the richest families of the village and had not finished his middle school studies. His parents grew tobacco and other crops. They owned a few animals from which they got milk and eggs, like almost other families in the village.

Had a villager wanted to buy a car at that time, he would have had to sell everything that he and his extended family owned including their land in order to get enough money. Faysal Salloum had not sold land. In Syria at that time, only some rich landholders and merchants owned cars. The government itself had few.

The car Faysal was driving was a modest Peugeot 304, most likely stolen. It had Lebanese plates. When Faysal opened the trunk, it was full of Marlboro cigarettes and a few cans of cocking fat, known as samneh.

Faysal, whom no one had heard from for a while, did tell that he went to Tripoli in Lebanon and that he was going the next day to smuggle more. He was shady of course and told things in general exaggeratory way most of the time eluding his listeners from knowing the truth. No one in the village was able or in need to buy the smuggled products, because they owned animals and had their own cooking butter, plus they produced great tobacco.

Faysal left in a hurry to sell his goods in the city because he would make real money. He was dressed in army camouflage like an officer of one of the best units of the Syrian Army. At that moment in history only two units in the Syrian Army were allowed only to wear camouflage: The Special Forces (al-Wahdat al-Khassa) and the Defense Brigades (Sarayah al-Difa’). Faysal knew this and of course he was pretending to be one of the officers of Sarayah al-Difa’, which has more Alawites than the Wahdat al-Khassa, and which was less disciplined. The guys in the village knew that he was bluffing with his army outfit.

The Defense Brigades (Sarayah al-Difa’) was headed by Rif’at al-Assad, the brother of the president. It was formed in the 1970’s and had mostly Alawi officers and soldiers in it. The officers of the Sarayah were notorious for their bad behavior wherever they went. They intimidated regular citizens and abused thier power. The Special Forces did not have this reputation. They were professional soldiers. The al-Sarayah officers looked like the smugglers and many of them would later take up smuggle.

Faysal dressed and looked like one of those officers. He wore aviator sunglasses that became a staple of his wardrobe. He had brand new Italian dress shoes. Faysal was blonde with blue eyes, medium height with a tough mountain built. It was around 1977.

To buy Italian shoes at that time in Syria cost most of the monthly salary of a government employee. Only the rich could afford them. Stores were not allowed to import them on the pretext of encouraging local industry. Government shoes were sold at one store, Batta.

It was downtown Lattakia on Baghdad Street and across from al-Bustan Cafe, where all of al-Shabiha would occupy tables on it everyday.

The government at that moment claimed to be a socialist and banned the import of luxury goods. Italian Shoes were considered a luxury item making them even more expensive and an item to smuggle. Some shoes and clothes stores sold them on the sides. Lattakia has a bustling market. The Italian shoes were worn by the old money. They were a sign of richness, but this was about to change with this new wave of smugglers, who would dress up better than the richest man in town. Beware, these guys are coming from the mountains.

The government also banned products deemed “Colonialist/Imperialist” like Coca Cola, Levis, and Marlboros. Those products were on the boycott list. They were accused of siding with Israel, which was used for all types of excesses. All of this did not mean that the people did not want these products and looked after them. Faysal, as well as the first generation of smugglers, knew all of the demands of the Syrian markets and soon in his modest car he was covering the distances between Lebanon and the various buyers.

Faysal drew attention fast because he was really bombastic like all of the smugglers. He did not keep a low profile when it came to dressing. His outings as an officer in the Army’s units draw attentions to him fast. At this stage also he attracted some of his childhood friends who wanted a piece of the action. They wanted to dress like him better than the richest man in Latakia.

Here comes Fayez, and Ghassan, two unsuccessful young men. One was from the same village al-Harf (Ghassan), while the other is from the neighboring village, al-Khishkhashe. The two friends Fayez and Ghassan did not finish high school also at that moment. They were sent by their families to the city of Latakia to finish high school there. Both were failures because of partying and chasing women. They were living in a hotel at that moment. It was their fifth time trying to pass the high school final test.

Fayez and Ghassan were not bad looking, but their clothes were ordinary. Their parents were giving them money from their savings from what they made from selling their harvests in the city. It was was not a lot. They had some land but not that much, plus, land needs someone to tend to it and these two men knew they needed to seek their fortune outside the village. They are from the first generation of Alawis to be able to go down to the city with no fear.

They knew all of this and were conscious about that. They were not the only materialistic persons in town. The culture was mostly like that, like everywhere in the world. Therefore they spend the money they made from their first trip smuggling with Faysal on clothes of course. They started to look good. Fayez was tall, blonde with blue eyes. He looked like a Holywood actor, and started looking more like that with the slew of clothes he started getting for himself from Lebanon’s nice stores. Ghassan was also tall, skinny with brown hair and eyes. He looked really good also with European slacks and glasses. They found success with women, but what type of women, do not ask. They drank of course. Religion for them was just their belonging to the Alawis. None of the three knew anything about the Alawi creed or religion. Books, education and culture were not on their menu.

The trio started working using the little car for runs. Faysal was the boss while the other two were his employees getting money from him every time they went to Lebanon and back. Their business thrived. Customers as far away as Aleppo wanted what they had to sell. They wanted to fill their stores with whatever the government prohibited.

The three guys made money and partied away. Many times they would drive around making a racket and dressed up really well. This drew bad attention to them. Latakia had way more big fish than these three. Trouble found them quickly. Soon their car was confiscated by the regular Police. It was parked and the guys woke up to see it gone. But Faysal managed to get it back from police custody through a small bribe and soon he was on his way to Lebanon to do the same thing again. The guys were lucky the first time. No one got into trouble.

Faysal, and his two underlings, did not really know any high officers or work for any important man. There was no important government or army figure from his village. Consequently, Faysal’s car was taken from him a second time. This time with him inside of it. H was stopped by the Mukhabarat. He was dressed in a captain’s uniform (Naqeeb). He was sent to prison. Ghassan and Fayez were not with him and were lucky to escape prison. They got the scare of their lives, however, and stayed in the village for the next year trying to pretend to study for high school. They stopped working as smugglers because they were not as tough and courageous as Faysal. It was a tough business, dangerous at many times. All of them were in their early twenties.

There was no harsh sentencing against smuggling at that moment in Syria and Faysal was able to get out in a year because it was his first offense. Also, he was not carrying much contraband in his car except for clothes. Most likely it was the clothes the Mukhabart officers would wear for a while. When Faysal got out, he chose to work solo. Soon he headed to Lebanon and got a better car this time: a Mercedes Benz that he drove like a hurricane to avoid capture and cover the distances fast. He did his runs in record time and his fortunes started showing again.

With the Mercedes, Faysal made more trips. This time he was more convincing as an army officer because he was driving the right car. He dressed in camouflage again for his work and wore Italian dress shoes and sunglasses. When lounging or driving around town to be seen, he changed into high end slacks.

This period of actions that resembled super powers brought the first hints of the word that we know today as Shabbih. His ability to go fast is described in Arabic as Yashbahu Shabhan يشبح/‬شبحا/‬شبيح (‬إسم فاعل)‬. Shabih is an Alawi term. The Alawites first started bringing it up to describe people like Faysal and their actions. Some of them would say describing:.

هيكو مايشبح شبح من لبنان للاطقية

Alawis and Sunnis use the verb Shabaha شبح for the same meaning. For example, they both use it when someone makes a dive into the water. They also use it primarily in soccer to describe an action of the goalie where that goalie jumps from a standing position to be airborne. So the verb Shabaha here means someone who goes airborne in a spectacular manner, therefore the more airborne the goalie gets the more admiration he gets for his Shabha شبحة الغولار.

The first people to be called shabih were soccer goalies. A good Shabih is he who could make the most spectacular airborne saves. Shabha here means a jump and a save. Also, when diving into the water a good Shabih is the one who could make better spectacular dives. Divers would always come to the swimming clubs and show their skills. The best Shabih was the one who would make the best dives. So Tashbeeh is a fast spectacular action.

This fast spectacular action brought Faysal many new clients, soon he was traveling as far as Aleppo to deliver what the merchants would ask for. The market needed many things that were not available. Tobacco and electrical supplies were among the most visible and profitable.

This again did not last for long. He could not drive that Mercedes without arousing suspicion, envy and wrath. He was arrested again and given a multi-year sentenced. Next time I saw him it was after he got out of prison years later: wearing a camouflage army get up with his mirror aviator sunglasses and of course shiny Italian shoes. This time he had a big Range Rover. I knew he was going to get caught or something because by now people from al-Assad family started showing up in that lucrative business and they also were driving big fancy cars with fake license plates. The Range Rover was going to be too much of an item for him to keep.

al-Assad’s family first major Shabih: Malek al-Assad was the first smuggler of al-Assad family whom people started seeing and hearing about.

First, rumors started coming out that some people from al-Assad family started getting into the business. It was also in the second half of the 1970’s when Malek al-Assad started showing up in Latakia in a Mercedes Benz even the richest man in Latakia did not own. Before the Mercedes Benz, Malek used to take the Bus from al-Qurdaha anywhere he wanted to go. Of course, he had not finished that much education.

The bus line between al-Qurdaha in that mountain and the cities of Latakia or Jableh was the scene of the first acts of thuggery by an Assad family member. They used to take the bus back then. Most of these stories were about Malek al-Assad, the son of Umm Anwar. al-Assad family did not have the men it had later so at that moment they had few adults. Hafez al-Assad had teenage kids, so did his brothers Rif’at and Jamil. It was Malek the son of his half brother Ibrahim at that moment was fit, willing, able and at the right age. He was the first generation, probably by himself.

Stories started coming out that Malek was harassing fellow riders on the bus, demanding the best seat anytime he took that bus. He would brag about his family. The riders were all Alawites of course, poor mostly, had been subjected to harassment for generations, so they really did not pay him that much attention. Malek knew that and like every bully who needed a bigger stage especially with his new fortune. Later, he started showing up in Latakia not straight from the bus stop but fresh in his clothes and fancy car.

Lattakia is a seaport and some families have real fortunes, but still they could not match the speed Malek al-Assad was changing his super fancy cars when he busted into the scene. All the cars, of course, had fake license plates, and most likely were stolen in Lebanon, or even Europe. He was a sharp dresser also with a taste for leather jackets with the army green pants he would wear. All of his cars were Mercedes Benzes.

The legitimate license plates cost a fortune. It was the taxes one would pay on the car. This tax was incredibly high preventing almost all Syrians from buying cars. The Syrian government imported only a small number of cars each year. There were no car dealerships. Only the state could import cars. The government of course had banned the import of cars also except the ones it imported every ten or so years. To buy a car from the government meant that you had to front a huge amount of money, wait years, and of course pay a bribe to get your car, if, in fact, the cars were actually imported. During my life in Syria in the 1970’s and 1980’s the government imported cars twice (French Peugot in the mid 1970’s and Mazda, and Mitsubishi in the mid 1980’s). Cars were extremely expensive.

Malek al-Assad did not have problems with getting cars. Lebanon was the place especially with the civil war worsening there by the year. The Syrian arm’s grip was tightening on Lebanon and car theft sky-rocketed. The Syrian army officers in Lebanon started getting their hands on these cars, as did hustlers like Malek al-Assad and Faysal Sallum, who of course had to pretend to be to go through the army check points which was manned as usual by conscripts who were easily intimidated.

Now there came into existence an economy that depended on these smugglers. in Latakia, the lucrative imported cigarettes started employing many poor Alawis and Sunnis from the poor hoods to peddle the cigarettes all over the busy down town area. Stores all over the city carried all types of banned foreign cigarettes to their many customers. Most people smoked of course, both men and women.
Electronics flew in to the stores that were owned mainly by non-Alawis. There was no sectarianism in the issue. Everyone worked together to provide contraband to a country hungry for foreign goods.

Malek al-Assad provided many things the market wanted including weapons. The weapons would cause him problems. He is the first one to be known to raise the stakes of smuggling that started growing with the worsening of the situation in Lebanon, the main source of goods so far.

Historically, Latakia always has its own smugglers, who would typically use boats to ferry contraband into the city. Those smugglers were all Sunnis. These thugs/smugglers were locally known as Ugada العكدا. They were the remnants of a class of thugs from the Ottoman days that has a celebrated place in Syrian history. The history of this class of thugs is similar to that of al-Shabiha today. They were a type of Shabiha for the land owners, the Ottomans and whoever was able to pay. They had their own gangs in the early 1970’s. But, with the beginning of the problems between the Assad rule and Sunnis the Ugada paid a price. Most of these thugs were killed at the hands of the Mukhabarat in the coming years.

The weapons that Malek al-Assad smuggled and sold were not welcomed, especially as country had started to experience escalating armed confrontations between the Assad government and its Islamic leaning opponents. People started saying that Malek al-Assad sold weapons to the enemies of the Baath. This got Malek al-Assad into hot water with Hafez al-Assad. So, Malek al-Assad disappeared for a while and people said that he was jailed for few days. His booming business came to a halt.

When Malek al-Assad surfaced again, he kept on wearing the same outfits, but you could tell that he was a changed man. He increasingly sit in al-Bustan café by himself with his car parked out front, but his trips to Lebanon stopped. He became a liability to those he asked favors of. Before long he was driving people as an ordinary taxi driver on the Damascus-Latakia line. His nice Mercedes Benz became a taxi. He died in a car accident in the 1980’s.

Malek was the son of Umm Anwar, who was married to Ibrahim, the older half brother of Hafez al-Assad’s half brother. Umm Anwar started filling the role of her son and soon her stooges were running the smuggling routs. Malek was also the first in a line of many al-Assad men who became major players in the smuggling game.

Fawaz al-Assad the first real Shabih

Fawaz al-Assad and his henchmen gave the meaning we know today to the word Shabiha. Other men from al-Assad family played a role in creating this word and the concept of Tashbeeh; i.e to act like a thug, but it was Fawwaz who was the pioneer thug that stood out in the city of Latakia and its surroundings. He was well above the rest of them.

When Malek al-Assad and Faysal Salloum started the first wave of smuggling, Fawwaz al-Assad was in elementary or middle school. But by the time Fawwaz hit high school he surpassed every smuggler in the region. He took over fast in the realm of Tashbih.

Fawwaz came onto the scene like a bat out of hell. He grew up with smuggling flourishing around him in his hometown of al-Qurdaha and the whole of the Syrian coast. He knew he could have power because he and his brother, Munther, were the only full-blooded nephews of President Hafez al-Assad. Jamil, their father, was Hafez’s younger brother. Rifaat was the youngest of the three Assad brothers. Fawaz quickly understood that he was above the law because of his father. No one would dare to stoop him.

Jamil, Fawwaz’s father, had limited education or luck prior to his brother’s take-over in 1970. He was a modest government employee. But it did not take him long before he drove around in super fancy cars and presented himself as a very important man. The 1970’s and 1980’s saw the quick rise of Jamil al-Assad.

The first major move was when Jamil al-Assad established an organization called al-Murtada with some type of religious agenda. We learned about it when he suddenly brought hundreds of Sunni Bedouins and camped them in other people’s land right next to his fancy beach house, which was in an upscale beach club. Soon you would see the Bedouins in their traditional gear scaring the girls in bikinis off the beach. It was a very bizarre incident that was repeated yearly for a number of years during that period.

Some people say that the aim of al-Murtada was to convert people to the Alawite creed. Reality said that al-Murtada was a chaotic adventure, because Jamil himself was not sure about his own religion. But al-Murtada drew attention to Jamil al-Assad. People started knowing him more and more. As for his religious adventures; Jamil al-Assad showed very bizarre religious tendencies in his life. He wanted to become some sort of a religious leader and he could not. I visited Syria in the late 1990’s and they told me that he had became a Wahhabi, seeking to destroy Alawite saints shrines in the mountain.

The second major move by Jamil al-Assad was establishing his office on Baghdad street that started dealing with the port of Latakia. Historically the port made money to those who control the lines and did freight forwarding for them. Christians were pioneers in this and controlled many lines. Sunnis were in it too and controlled some major lines like the Russian by the Safwat family. Hafez al-Assad nationalized all of them under al-Sahel, which was to be controlled by Jamil and his goons. Safwat still controlled the Russian line, which was one of the most lucrative. Freight forwarding is a big business in Latakia, with Jamil the Alawites got into it for the first time, and shoved aside the notable families of the city.

Fawwaz used his father’s powers to his advantage. He rapidly became the super power in Latakia, and probably its richest inhabitant. The richest because it was no secret that he and his cousins controlled the smuggling routes along the entire coast: Latakia, Jableh, Banyas and Tartus. They had clients in many other cities.
During the second part of the 1980’s, the second generation of Assad’s family smugglers hit the scene.

Fawwaz started to show thuggish tendencies early on in his life. Stories about him with his gang beating up people started coming out from the early years of the 1980’s. Soon we all would witness this first hand. He would drive around Latakia staring down people. If you challenged him or didn’t demure you would pay a heavy price.

At that time, Latakia had many cafes and meeting spots for the local population. Soon all of these public areas would be invaded by Fawwaz. For example, he started coming and sitting in al-Bustan cafe; located in a very strategic area in downtown Latakia. The Café was owned by two brothers from the Sheikho family who had a very thriving business. But, soon all of that changed with Fawwaz liking the place. He would come and verbally abuse most of the people there. Soon, no locals would go there and mostly the Shabiha of Fawwaz dominated the place, sitting watching the people go by in that busy location. No one would escape their taunts.

Many times Fawwaz started fights in my part of town. The youth of the area congregated to promenade in a popular area. That practice is known locally as mushwar, which means a stroll in a nice atmosphere. That nice atmosphere was never there and the Mushwar became an event for every thug to parade their cars and powers in front of the girls of course. All of those thugs would disappear when Fawwaz would be around. Fawwaz would parade his car, then do car tricks before picking on someone. Most of the people he would pick on were peaceful, meek citizens. Fawwaz would do this when he had his men with him. When he was alone he would stare people down mostly. He had that angry look all the time.

When Fawwaz was around 20 years old his entourage was not that big or known. But you would see them in action every now and then. He was armed of course all of the time. The other smugglers were watching all of this. They all wanted to stay clear of him. But, slowly they started working with him enabling him to parade them and intimidate people more. People started wanting to avoid him more and more. One of those was Faysal Salloum who at that moment was driving a Range Rover. There were no Range Rovers in Syria at that time. The Army started getting them later. So, when Fawwaz saw that Range Rover he asked Faysal to lend it to him for a small ride. Faysal never saw that car again.

The thug in Fawwaz started coming out day after day. Remember, he was still in his early 20’s. People started hearing and seeing more and more of his henchmen. Those guys were mostly big tough mountain kids, who saw a chance to make some money. They were not sharply dressed at all. They were the first smugglers to wear intimidating outfits all the time instead of Italian Slacks. They were designed to strike fear, not to look fancy.

Fawwaz was not a good looking young man himself. He always looked angry, or could explode at any moment. Fawwaz was not a handsome fellow like many of the first wave of smugglers. His men were ugly beasts of a sort. All had beards. Fawwaz himself would have a beard every now and then. His head was big and have a strange shape. His body was never athletic, with him being a little overweight most of the times. He was dressed with the latest slacks and shoes, of course, but he never struck people as a well dresser or a handsome fellow. He rarely dressed in army camouflage or army get ups.

Fawwaz has one older brother: Mundhir. It was said that he was smuggling before Fawwaz. This makes sense, but he was not in the scene like his younger flashy brother. Fawwaz started coming to the city of Latakia to usher in his notorious era of Tashbih, i.e: acting like a gangster. Before that he was confined to the town of al-Qurdaha. When he was around 16 years old driving the biggest and baddest Mercedes with few armed tough looking men with him. I saw them many times.

Fawwaz liked what the city of Latakia had to offer, you would be able to see him everyday in al-Bustan Cafe with his guys, or driving his Mercedes around harassing people here and there. Latakia always had areas where the young locals walk and meet. Baghdad Street was one famous spot. He was on that almost every night. AS a matter of fact, Fawwaz was on that street most of the 1980’s. He always had the biggest and baddest car. His license plates were fake of course, but they were not Lebanese. They were Syrian license plates that were similar to those you see on Mukhabarat cars. He paraded himself daily.

Fawwaz and this next generation of Assad family smugglers were the first to introduce the Mercedes known as al-Shabah (the Ghost). This car was the biggest Mercedes ever built. The smugglers would always have fake license plates with tinted windows. The rear windshield was reserved for pictures of the Father the Commander. This intimidating car, with the way these smugglers drive it mixed with their action gives the word Shabiha its real meaning we know today. The car added to popularity of that name from the fact it was called al-Shabah. Now everyone knows al-Shabiha because of al-Assad family goons and their intimidating little army.

The Actions of Fawwaz and some of that generation of Shabiha that I witnessed and could be called thuggish are many. I can list tens of them, or probably need a full book for them. Some of them stand out more than others, however. The first vivid one was the time he drove his Mercedes over the sidewalk to intercept my friend Saddiq Gharib to scare and intimidate him. This was because Fawwaz was in love with a college student that was the classmate of Saddiq, who is a college professor now. She was Christian and studied French Literature. Her class was the one next to mine in the College of Literature (Kulliyat al-Adab) of the University of Tishreen. Fawwaz was probably in high school then when he would force his way into the college to attend classes with this beautiful girl. The professors would not be able to say no to him, and Fawwaz and sometimes his friends would lurk loud outside the class room causing havoc. This went on for a little while till one professor refused to teach. The professor was Alawite, who said that Fawwaz was making a mockery of the education system when he is following the girl into everywhere she went to in the college. Fawwaz stormed the office of the dean following the girl that day. The professors went on strike for few days. At least some professors made a stand. Us students were helpless and would avoid anywhere Fawwaz would be in college. Remember the college had a guard outside to prevent the non-students from entering. So, imagine what this poor guard would do to prevent Fawwaz from entering. Fawwaz was rude and loud and this incident became an issue. After Hafez al -Assad heard about the incident Fawwaz never came back to our college. The girl and her parents migrated out of Syria on the hush. I knew her well then. That did not mean also that Fawwaz would not attend the university functions throughout my college years!!!

By the second half of the 1980’s Fawwaz was the most important man in town. He liked soccer and supported Tishreen, one of the two big teams in the city of Latakia. Fawwaz would bring his big Mercedes and drive a loop before he would park it and sit on a chair watching the game from the track.

The game would be attended sometimes by important officials. Fawwaz would not care about them. He had his own seat in the fenced in area of the stadium where only players and coaches were allowed in. He had his own rules.

Always Fawwaz would have few words with the referee before the game also. In one very famous incident Fawwaz took his gun out and let out some shots. The game was between Hutteen and Tishreen and a forward scored on an offside goal for Fawwaz’ team Tishreen. The referee in that famous incident changed his mind after the gun shot to claim the goal in favor of Fawwaz’ team. That made Fawwaz happier and he let out more shots. Fawwaz was a real bully and acted like one. Officials would avoid him. He gave the word Shabih its full meaning in the minds of Syrians.

By the end of the 1980’s Jamil al-Assad had a PH.D and millions of dollars. Fawwaz became a lawyer and people address him as Ustadh (teacher). Of course he has millions, married to a beautiful girl, have the biggest house in al-Zira’a, and of course was the president of Tishreen Sports Club. Faysal Salloum was in prison with not a penny to his name.

Comments (341)

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301. Syrialover said:

Visitor #290,

Yes, you are right about the structural deficiency.

But there is also the huge issue of the poor calibre, dubious backgrounds, tainted allegiences and way-past-retirement age of those representing Arabs through the Arab League and other bodies. They are from another galaxy, not just another world, from what the Arab Spring and Syrian revolution is all about.

It’s time those elderly idiots and their retinues recruited from friends and family were pushed aside and the world was allowed to see talented, energetic and sophisticated Arab representaives.

The Arab people are being constantly betrayed and humiliated by that shopworn, inept old-boys club.

Thumb up 16 Thumb down 12

August 19th, 2012, 7:41 pm


302. Erin said:

Every revolution has a leader who is porn from within or who championed the cause and became the national leader, George Washington for the american’s, Napoleon for the French’s etc..
In Syria there is no leader for the Syrians to follow, they have only Bashar and that’s why he lasted.
Part of the problem that many of the people who claimed to be in charge of the Syrian AKA SNC proved to be useless, rejected by the Street, due to many reasons some are its connection with the western powers, its members corruption in addition to being a cover up to the MB, it was not secular, not looking for the best for Syria but any member could be the next dictator of Syria, that’s proved it is leader ship to be very problematic on the street.
At the same time the SNC killed any chance for an insider to rise up and have the Syrians follow his cause.
The second reason why we don’t have a leader for the revolution because the revolution was hijacked by different groups, thugs, killers from every nationality, suspicious western propaganda and the brutality of this all.
The Syrian army early in the revolution was not as brutal, was respecting the civilians always warn before attacking civilians populated area that’s the opposite of the rebels where they used the civilians as human shield in many area add to that the killing of everyone who is not in agreement of their views, this made the local feel that the rebel is much worse than the regime in many area.
this all have been proven through the local testimonies.
I think as long as we don’t have one person or one body who the Syrian feel is the person to replace Bashar, this fight will never halt.
it is sometime the one you know better than the devil you don’t know.
I think the American election is helping Bashar to finish all the rebel and the mercenaries without much pressure on him.
the Russian have succeeded in putting a stop to many of the Americans trick over Syria especially when USA gives the rebel communication system just to be picked by the Syrian army and get bombarded few minutes later.
I will say if this conflict is over by next Ramadan than it still still time for the AMERICANS to kill more rebels.

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August 19th, 2012, 7:49 pm


303. VISITOR said:

301 SL,

The ‘Kingdoms’ seem to be immune to this Spring wave for various reasons. They evolved differently than the other so-called ‘revolutionary’ regimes that basically ‘raped’ the population of its roots in the name of fake or revolutionary promises that never materialized, and only fools should have believed, in the first place, that such promises would ever materialize.

True, the ‘Kingdoms’ have the wealth and the resources. But that is not all. They are based on more solid foundations than the fake revolutionaries. They also allow more free speech, free expressions and political participation than the one-party dictatorial system. I am not in any way asking you to compare to liberal democracies. Instead, you must study the tribal customs from within in order to understand the above. Often these societies are not accessible to outsiders and would look ambiguous. There is a certain degree of democratic principles embedded in tribal societies that is not so apparent to the outsiders. To a certain degree those societies never felt oppressed to the level that we witnessed in the countries that succumbed to this Spring.

So, as far as Syria is concerned it must deal with the problem at hand and the Revolution must at no point project a threatening image to those ‘Kingdoms’, but it should try to benefit, as contradictory as it seems, from as much support as it can get in order to achieve its objectives. This support can only be obtained based on kinship, affinity and common blood ties.

I am calling for pragmatism in this case because that is the most you can achieve. If you go further, you will fail. Challenging the ‘Kingdoms’ is suicidal to the Syrian Revolution.

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August 19th, 2012, 8:10 pm


304. Karabennemsi said:

303 Visitor

If your last sentence turns out to be true, the rebels have managed to become a miniature version of the regime in every aspect. They have a strict no-contradiction-allowed policy towards civilians, they don’t hesitate one second to tell obvious lies to foreign and domestic media (domestic media is of course only talked to if the journalists have been spreading the “right” ideology), they dont hesitate to make business with criminals or use those for undercover actions, they torture and execute suspected collaboratores in growing numbers, and they are dependent on foreign powers with obscure morals and policies.

In that case there is absolutely no reason to trade the current regime against a new one.

Can you give an example of any major improvement in cities or villages which are currently under control of the FSA?

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August 19th, 2012, 8:42 pm


305. erin said:

It seems the rebels will be targeting the Christians very soon given they are spreading rumors about the christian being armed by the regime.
Massacres are on its way.


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August 19th, 2012, 8:47 pm


306. erin said:

I asked you why my comments are being moderated, even it is a link i posted.
will you explain thanks

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August 19th, 2012, 8:54 pm


307. VISITOR said:


You do not make sense.

FSA is not a government yet and it probably will never be. Its mandate is to challenge the regime which is killing the people. By its own pronouncements it will hand government to civilians once the abominable regime is swept to the dustbin.

The regime, which has no legitimacy to begin with, is demanding a submission from the people and that is why it is following a scorched earth policy.
So the blame falls on the regime and not the FSA.

The FSA, and especially, the initial members who defected deserve the highest honors for taking that step out of the belly of this monster of a regime.

The regime is first and foremost responsible for the crimes that have been committed on the Syrian landscape.

Unless you can see this , there is no point in discussing further with you. As in this case you would not be any different than the mentally challenged menhebekjis who infect this site.

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August 19th, 2012, 8:56 pm


308. Richard said:

302. Erin said:
“the Russian have succeeded in putting a stop to many of the Americans trick over Syria especially when USA gives the rebel communication system just to be picked by the Syrian army and get bombarded few minutes later.
I will say if this conflict is over by next Ramadan than it still still time for the AMERICANS to kill more rebels.”

I wonder why you think AMERICANS are intent on keeping Iran’s client in power.
I’m also puzzled by your affinity for Russian policy.

My preference would be for the U.S. to participate in some sort of no-fly zone for northern Syria.
But when I am reminded that Syria is such a caldron of conspiracy theories and grudges against all parties internal and external, I wonder if a long civil war, culminating in exhaustion, is inevitable.

Most of your post makes a lot of sense. I wish the rebellion well in finding some sort of imperfect but recognizable leadership such as the Libyan revolution managed.

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August 19th, 2012, 9:03 pm


309. Syrialover said:


No, no, no. I’m not talking about the leadership of the ‘Kingdoms’.

I’m sick of the aged 75+ plus Moussas, Elarabys and Brahimis who get appointed to run the Arab League and other international roles after questionable careers in Egypt, Algeria etc

Arabs have got to start showcasing to the world that they have sophisticated, politically savvy and qualified people in their ranks.

These arrogant elderly guys and their cronies are blocking out the sunlight and clear air. This is the 21st century; having them representing the Arab world is like having donkey carts while the rest of the world is in fast cars.

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August 19th, 2012, 9:09 pm


310. Karabennemsi said:

Let me try to clarify.

i am of course aware of the fact that there probably would not nearly as much violence right now if there had been a serious reform process in early 2011 or maybe already in 2000.
Also i can agree that the earliest defections were very brave and courageous.

Now the FSA is fighting against the regime, but not only against the military and other security forces, they are also fighting or challenging the regime’s media, and regime supporting clerics of any confession. They fight them sometimes through physical violence, but most of the time by creating alternatives. In temporarily rebel controlled areas the legal system is replaced, school directors and hospital managers are getting replaced as well, food and gas distribution is also organized by FSA men.

So practically they actually act like a government, and the promise of power transfer to civilian authorities is something i have never heard or read of being implemented. Do you have any examples for such a power transfer, which would clearly show that civilian inhabitants who may be opposed at first to the FSA actually benefit from their presence?
Is there any indicator so far that the FSA will stop behaving the way they behave now once they have overcome the regime?

I am certainly unaware of any developments of that kind, and therefore i can still not see any good in the FSA’s activities.

But if you can provide any kind of example that clearly shows that the FSA is not coming to stay but to change the system, I will be happy to change my mind.

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August 19th, 2012, 9:38 pm


311. VISITOR said:


OK, here’s your comment addressed point by point,

“i am of course aware of the fact that there probably would not nearly as much violence right now if there had been a serious reform process in early 2011 or maybe already in 2000

Premise is false. The regime is non-reformable. It is designed to be as such. It should not have been born in 1963. It is a black dot in Syria’s history. Only parallel is the Nazis of the 20th century.

“Now the FSA is fighting against the regime, but not only against the military and other security forces, they are also fighting or challenging the regime’s etc…..”

Again premise is false. The FSA raison d’etre is the regime’s effort to subjugate peaceful demonstrators and the use of military options against an unarmed population. FSA has no other mandate other than challenging the regime.

“So practically they actually act like a government, and the promise of power transfer to civilian authorities is something i have never heard or read of being etc….”

Again premise is false. First sentence is negated by my previous. The FSA leaders (el-Sheikh, al-Asaad and others) repeatedly made such pronouncements to the press and can be easily traced. If you have been following you wouldn’t have missed.

Quite often in liberated areas committees based on customs and Religious traditions are formed to deal with administrative issues. At this point in time that is the most you can expect. Keep in mind that the Syrian people have been deprived of participation in political life for half a century. So Syria is in fact only about two years old politically, even though historically it is one of the oldest on earth!!! Thanks to this pathetic abomination of regime which reduced such a beautiful and rich culture to such level.

“Is there any indicator so far that the FSA will stop behaving the way they behave now once they have overcome the regime?”

You want to get the fruits without tilling the land? That is simply not possible. I am not sure if you are Syrian. So, I will say what follows to the Syrians because they would understand and if you were one you too will. One thing the Syrian people must learn out of this saga is that the traditional mercantile mentality is not going to rebuild Syria again. The traditional Damascene merchant has simply failed in this test of answering to the call of the voice of the homeland. You can also say the same about an Aleppine merchant. Instead, he only answered to the petty calls of 7am-5pm of the shutters of his shop. You can also blame that on the regime since it only offered the Faustian deal of fake stability for unreserved submission.

“But if you can provide any kind of example that clearly shows that the FSA is not coming to stay but to change the system, I will be happy to change my mind.”

I already answered that. You can only rely on their words at this point in time. To me that is enough. Since the early defectors, and even the more recent ones, had much to lose and little to gain from their defections, I put my trust in them. They did answer the call of their consciousness. A National Army’s first duty is toward the people and not to the ruler, particularly if that ruler is a ruthless criminal. So, they passed that test with flying colors, and anyone who cannot see this is again a pathetic menhebekji.

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August 19th, 2012, 11:04 pm


312. Ghufran said:

Some of AR Tlass friends left katibat alfarouk and formed Katibat Aisha after a video of ART allegedly engaging in lewd acts on Skype. It does not look like this story is dying as quickly as ART wants it to,he had to issue an interview in tape denying that he was the person in the video. I am not neutral when it comes to the FSA,I was against the idea of forming a parallel army from day one,so my opinion here may be biased,but I find that his defense was not convincing and I am more suspicious now that some of his comrades are upset enough that they had to leave him.

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August 19th, 2012, 11:48 pm


313. zoo said:

Waltz with Farouk Al Sharaa

A rebel group in Syria reported on Saturday that Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa has defected, but later said it could neither confirm nor deny the leader’s arrival in Jordan, suggesting that his attempt to flee has failed.

Citing a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a rebel group fighting against President Bashar Assad, Al Arabiya reported on Saturday morning that Sharaa had arrived in Jordan after deserting the embattled regime.


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August 19th, 2012, 11:53 pm


314. zoo said:

The NAM summit: The USA and Israel are trying to kill it.

A little light shines on Sunni-Shi’ite rivalries
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

Two steps forward, one step back. This is how this week’s Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Mecca could be characterized in terms of Iran-Saudi relations.
Meanwhile, the United States and Israel are working overtime to poison the environment leading up to the NAM meeting, which is emerging as a clear snub to their strategy to Isolate Tehran.

While the US media have been replete with negative and even derogatory references to NAM – a Washington Post editorial on March 14 mocked it as a “bacchanal of nonsense” – Israel is desperately trying to raise the alarm level regarding an imminent attack on Iran, hoping that this will dissuade some NAM leaders from attending the Tehran summit.

The answer to these questions will be clarified in the near future. The Saudis are at a fork in the road, and their mini-overtures toward Iran may well be interpreted in Tehran as shrewd tactical summitry to achieve their objectives and to highlight their political sway over the Sunni-dominant Muslim World.

Still, some Tehran political analysts are convinced that Riyadh’s complex internal and external context dictates a more cautious approach vis-a-vis Syria, particularly since the Syrian army has been gaining an upper hand in the bloody conflict in Aleppo. After all, even nations in the Middle East base their policies on political realism and not wish lists.

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August 20th, 2012, 12:07 am


315. Ghufran said:

تونس – قالت صحيفة “تانيت برس” الإلكترونية التونسية، إن السلطات الأمنية الفرنسية إعتقلت بلقاسم الفرشيشي مستشار رئيس الحكومة التونسية المؤقت حمادي الجبالي، بتهمة “غسيل أموال”، في حين أكّدت حركة النهضة الإسلامية نبأ الإعتقال غير أنها نفت التهمة.
وأشارت “تانيت برس” نقلاً عن مصادر لم تذكرها بالاسم، إلى أن شرطة الحدود الفرنسية إعتقلت بلقاسم الفرشيشي، مستشار رئيس الحكومة التونسية، في مطار أورلي الدولي “بتهمة تبييض أموال وحمل حقائب (تهريب أموال)”.
وأضافت أن بلقاسم الفرشيشي “المقرّب جداً من الشيخ راشد الغنوشي كان يقوم بنقل تمويلات للنهضة من طرف أشخاص في المملكة العربية السعودية خاصة في أوقات العمرة، وقطر و الإمارات العربية المتحدة”.

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August 20th, 2012, 12:41 am


316. VISITOR said:

Saudis do not see an Assad in the future,



Under Khamenei and his boy Nejjad a thaw in Sunni-Shia cold war is a mirage the falling regime of Damascus may pursue to futile ends as a means to once again live in denial. The criminal regime which had the most to be sorry about for poisoning such relations in the first place are now dreaming that such a thaw may come to the rescue. Well, dream on. An arsonist may get away with one fire. Next fire will burn him to ashes. Expect nothing but a total burn out of this regime. It simply lit too many fires and the fires are coming home to consume it.

Blame not Zion.


307 SL,

Well the Spring Wave took everyone by surprise. The traditional Arab ‘intelligentsia’ was simply not prepared. But I agree with you these dinosaurs must give way.

I also agree with the ending of the main article of previous post(s). The ‘tahrir squares’ are going to be a fixture for quite sometime until new intelligentsia is born that is capable to rise to the challenges.

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August 20th, 2012, 12:59 am


317. Juergen said:

Stick to the truth

As Kara has been explaining, the federal security agency is merely in charge with gaining information on foreign countries and potential dangers to Germanys security. The federal states have their own agencies and those agencies are responsible to eveluate dangers from within the country. Apparantly and that is not new right wing positions which can end up in a Nazi doctrin are less controversial to many as the usual communistic values or doctrines of the political left wing.

So each federal state ( we have 16) has its own agency, and cooperation is not the main premise, nor a central command over all of them.

In Bosnia I heard the statement of an US army intelligence officer, he said that the BND has the most widespread contacts in the arab world, and that the german agency was much more trusting sources instead of spy technology as other agencies would do.

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August 20th, 2012, 1:42 am


318. ann said:

Israeli delegation secretly visits Turkey in bid to heal rift – 2012-08-19

JERUSALEM, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) — A delegation of Israeli Knesset (parliament) members and ultra-Orthodox rabbis made a secret visit to Turkey last week in an attempt to reconcile the feuding countries, local media reported Sunday.

The visit got the thumbs-up from the Prime Minister’s Office, although the Foreign Ministry frowned upon the initiative, the Yedhioth Ahronot daily reported Sunday.

Israeli-Turkish ties were severely damaged following the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, in which Israeli soldiers killed Turkish protesters.

In May 31, 2010, a flotilla led by the Mavi Marmara ferry, tried to break Israeli maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. Events got out of hand as Israeli commandos battled armed protesters, killing nine.

Since then, Israeli officials have refused Turkish demands to publicly apologize for the incident, saying the troops opened fire in self-defense, and that an apology would lead to scores of punitive lawsuits by families of the casualties.

A Turkish interfaith organization invited the delegation, which included members of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, Deputy Finance Minister Yithzak Cohen and Knesset member Nissim Ze’ev, as well as professors and rabbis from across Europe.

The delegation, in coordination with the Israeli consulate in Ankara, met up with Turkish officials and parliament members, at hotels in Ankara and Istanbul.

The meetings mainly focused on how to revamp diplomatic ties between the countries.

According to the report, Israel reiterated its long-standing stance that it would not apologize for the Marmara incident, but would be willing to pay its condolences to families of those killed and compensate them.

In July, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Turkish journalists, in a bid to improve Israel’s image in the Turkish public’s opinion.

Lieberman said he was willing to work towards a solution with Ankara, however, he reiterated Israel’s refusal to apologize.

Earlier in July, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Netanyahu to amend ties with Turkey, citing Ankara’s possible role in any potential coalition against Iran and Syria.



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August 20th, 2012, 2:39 am


319. SYR.EXPAT said:

Only in Syria!

Syrians longing for freedom and dignity turn a tank into a swing set.

تلبيسة تحويل دبابة إلى مرجوحة اجواء العيد 19-8.mp4

From what I can observe, the tank’s gun was used to hang three belts swings and a metal pipe was somehow attached to the tank and two belt swings were attached to it. So at least five kids get to enjoy swinging. Now that’s original.

Hopefully, more tanks are tuned into playsets for kids instead of being used for killing and destruction.

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August 20th, 2012, 2:41 am


320. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Rumors about Maher Al Assad: he could be in very bad condition and in coma.

Rumors about Farouk Sharaa: he is probably near Daraa border with FSA trying to cross to Jordan.

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August 20th, 2012, 2:42 am


321. ann said:

UK and German spies feed intelligence to Syrian rebels – reports – 19 August, 2012

“No Western intelligence service has such good sources inside Syria” as Germany’s BND, Bild quoted an unnamed US intelligence official as saying.


British and German spy intelligence on Syrian government troop movement has been shared with rebels to aid attacks on pro-Assad forces, UK and German newspapers revealed on Sunday.

­An unnamed Syrian opposition official admitted that British intelligence is covertly aiding antigovernment forces in Syria, UK weekly newspaper the Sunday Times reported.

British authorities “know about and approve 100%” of intelligence from their Cyprus military bases being passed through Turkey to the troops of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), the official said.

The UK owns two military bases on the island of Cyprus, one at Dhekelia and another at Akrotiri. The bases monitor regional airwaves and report to the GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), Britain’s national electronic surveillance center in Cheltenham, the report said.

“British intelligence is observing things closely from Cyprus. It’s very useful because they find out a great deal,” the official said. “The British are giving the information to the Turks and the Americans and we are getting it from the Turks.”

According to the source, the most valuable intelligence has been about the movements of troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad towards the city of Aleppo, which has recently become the ground for fierce clashes between the government and the rebels.

“The British monitor communications about movements of the government army and we got information about reinforcements being on their way to Aleppo,” the official told the newspaper. “We hit at the government troops in Idlib and Saraqib [southwest of Aleppo], with success.”

The official claimed that early in August, FSA fighters were given advance warning of two large columns of government troops advancing on Aleppo. One was from Latakia on the Mediterranean coast, and the other from the capital Damascus.

“We ambushed troops and a column of more than 40 tanks in a valley near Saraqib,” the official said. “We cut them off and destroyed many of them with repeat attacks with rocket-propelled grenades.”

German newspaper Bild also revealed on Sunday that Germany is much more active in Syria than was previously believed. German spies, stationed on ships off the Syrian coast, are transmitting intelligence to the FSA to aid in their campaign against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, Bild reported.

Agents from Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) are equipped with high-tech spy technology, allowing them to observe troop movements as far inland as 600 kilometers (400 miles). The spies pass their findings onto US and British officers, who then pass the intelligence along to the FSA, Bild said.

The newspaper also claims that BND agents are currently operating at a NATO base in Adana, Turkey, where they eavesdrop on phone calls and radio traffic within Syria.



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August 20th, 2012, 2:45 am


322. ann said:

As UK Spying from Cyprus Touted by FSA, Last SC Resolution Recalled

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 19 — With the Free Syrian Army bragging it gets surveillance information from the UK base on Cyprus, it’s worth noting that a month ago today the UK faces surprising opposition to its draft Security Council resolution on Cyprus, on the same day the Council resolution on Syria that it favor was shot down by double veto.

The two resolutions were both on the Council’s agenda that Thursday morning, but nearly all focus was on Syria.

Security Council sources have told Inner City Press that beyond the two abstentions on Cyprus, from Azerbaijan and Pakistan, there was more extensive opposition in the Council to the UK draft, until the UK further amended it just before the vote.

Some wonder about the process by which certain countries are “given the pen” to lead Council drafting on resolutions. Often, these are former colonial relations, for example in the case of France and Cote d’Ivoire.

On Cyprus, the UK maintains the so-called British Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia. There, at Ayios Nikolaos, the UK’s Joint Service Signal Unit maintains a listening stations said to be part of ECHELON.

After the July 10 Security Council consultations on Cyprus, Inner City Press asked UN envoy Lisa Buttenheim about announced plans for up to 200,000 refugees from Syria. Of the Syria refugee plans she said “I have not heard that myself.”

She said Cyprus is the “primary safe haven” for nine countries, noting that she is the UN’s “designated official” and worked for example on the evacuation of UN families from Egypt in February 2011.

But Cyprus’ former UN ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis told numerous media in Nicosia, “We do not know what will happen in Syria, but in our planning we have estimated up to 200,000 refugees could arrive… It will be a very big strain on us if it happens, so we will need help for sure.”



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August 20th, 2012, 2:53 am


323. VISITOR said:

The most recent massacre in Qatana near Damascus on Friday Aug 17, a new level in sadism and utter disregard to the sanctity of human life by the thugs of the criminal Nazis occupying Damascus and our beloved Syria,


Sixty five charred bodies get dumped from helicopters to be discovered by sanitary employees. Victims wore civilian clothes and most were handcuffed.

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August 20th, 2012, 3:06 am


324. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Assad is psicologically mined. Sister destroyed by death of Assef Shawkat, mother assisting to the death of his son Maher. The femenine side of Assad is collapsed. Also Assad must feel the same punishment is coming for him. Not easy to lead a country in this situation, specially when you are not a self-made politician.

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August 20th, 2012, 4:08 am


325. Karabennemsi said:

309 Visitor

“quite often in liberated areas committees based on customs and religious traditions are formed to deal with administrative issues.”

See, that is what I wanted to know, all the rest is pretty much blabla avoiding the topic.

If one translates your sentence out of rebel speech and into a non glorifying summary, it would read like this:

” When the FSA takes other a mindakat or a village, it reverses any progress made in the last years in loosening the local clan structures and in creating active citizenship.”

What you are basically saying is that in rural areas the FSA helps the recently disempowered clan chefs and imams to regain their former totally undemcratic rule. The FSA does this so that they will be allowed to stay in the areas, while the young people and the women, who were put in responsible positions by the NGOs working in the field of active citizenship to improve the implementation of equal rights and to ensure stable development and entrepreneurship, are sent back home although it was them who introduced modern thinking and modern politics to the villages and counties.

Shame on the FSA for not even realising their promises on the smallest possible scala. Shame on these criminals who promise democracy but so everything to hinder it from happening.
Shame on those who try to turn the clock back in Syrian politics to ease the suppression of those who they allegedly protect.

The regime will do anything to stay in power, while the oppositional arsenists will do everything to come into power.

I am very disappointed, Visitor, that you did not at least lie about these evolvements, as all the other propagandists do, because deep down they are ashamed and know whats happening is wrong, but instead appear to be welcoming the people who behave so badly, it would be funny if it wasnt so sad.

All these years of good work, only so some ignorant 18 yo with an AK and a quran can come by to destroy it.

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August 20th, 2012, 5:23 am


326. Uzair8 said:

318. SANDRO LOEWE said:

‘Rumors about Farouk Sharaa: he is probably near Daraa border with FSA trying to cross to Jordan.’


I read a tweet last night which surprised me. I wonder if it is related to Farouk Sharaa and an attempt to find him in Daraa? The sheer numbers of troops semed very high.

12:00 am on August 20, 2012

Daraa: Hrak: The Free Syrian Army face the violent invasion attack launched by the regime forces that was supported by more than 120 tanks and 50 armors and 10 thousand troops who were trying to break into the city


11:59 pm on August 19, 2012

Daraa: Hirak: Clashes between the free Syrian army and the regime forces is the fiercest since the beginning of the revolution in an attempt to storm the town by the regime with thousands of soldiers and dozens of armored vehicles and tanks and a cover and shelling by warplanes in the town


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August 20th, 2012, 6:01 am


327. SahatSurya said:

On the subject of local governance and organizing committees, there was an article from last Sunday (12 August) in LeJDD.


Admittedly the nascent governance structures may not be as “democratic” as some might like, or may be too explicitly Islamic in their legal framework, but the point the journalist makes is there is a chance for debate and criticism and that the current leaders in certain villages insist that in the post-revolution period, under a new transitional government (should one emerge) there will be further elections, and not merely a perpetuation of things as they are during the revolution, particularly with respect to the application of Shari’a law.

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August 20th, 2012, 7:10 am


329. Visitor said:



You’re obviously living on a different planet.

Or , you do not know what progress is.

Or, you have never been to Syria.

Or, you do not understand what you read.

Or, you only read what your mind tells you to read. That is you’re living in a your own coccoon world just like the idiot occupying Damascus.

Therefore, you are engaged in a an idle pursuit.

I suggest you go play somewhere else.

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August 20th, 2012, 8:02 am


330. Visitor said:


The regime would do the impossible to prevent al-Sharaa from leaving Syria. That’s not because al-Sharaa is so important but because of the amount of information he can reveal once he is outside Syria.

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August 20th, 2012, 8:09 am


331. erin said:

Here is why Bashar should stay in power, i don’t recall that any of the Sabiha has done this.
the Arab spring is all a hoax, if you want Syria led by the MB that’s what you are getting.
Many of us said that here but apparently the USA is insisting in installing radical regimes in the ME in place of dictator ones.


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August 20th, 2012, 8:47 am


332. VISITOR said:

Russia continues to bark as it discovers that its gambit to use Syria and its people as a spring board to achieve lost superpower status have come to naught,


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August 20th, 2012, 8:51 am


333. Son of Damascus said:


The article you linked in 328 is a complete fabrication and a lie being disseminated by the radical Christian right. They are no better than the radical Muslim right that you have such disdain towards…

“crucified those opposing Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others.”

So according to the article Middle Eastern Media confirms this news. I clicked on his “sources”. All of them attribute the story to a fake Sky News Arabic report THAT DOES NOT EXSIST.

Maybe you are gullible enough to believe such lies, but anyone with half a brain would easily see it as it is.

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August 20th, 2012, 9:03 am


334. Son of Damascus said:


“All these years of good work, only so some ignorant 18 yo with an AK and a quran can come by to destroy it.”

What good work? Over what years?

What is so wrong with the Quran?

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August 20th, 2012, 9:10 am


335. Son of Damascus said:

I just had two conversations with people I know in Damascus, when asked how are things in Damascus the reply each one of them gave me makes me really question whether these two people live in the same city or even if they live in the same universe.

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August 20th, 2012, 9:19 am


336. Halabi said:

كشف مصدر لموقع “روسيا اليوم” الاثنين 20 أغسطس/آب، أن مسؤولا عسكريا سورياً رفيع المستوى توفي في أحد مستشفيات موسكو. وأضاف أن جثمان المسؤول نقل من موسكو إلى دمشق نهاية الأسبوع الماضي على طائرة خاصة.

ولم يذكر المصدر اسم المسؤول السوري الذي نقل خبر وفاته.


Hopefully this will be the last time I post something from Russian sources. Could this be the death of Maher and could someone please get Sharmine to write how his death doesn’t matter and Hijab’s defection is normal.

Ghufran said:
“I am not neutral when it comes to the FSA,I was against the idea of forming a parallel army from day one,so my opinion here may be biased”

So soldiers who were ordered to kill, rape and pillage should have followed orders and not defected? I agree that is biased, and I’ve mentioned the reason many times. This position is shared by sectarian opponents to the revolution, who are people that can’t support Assad but have so much fear and hatred for all Syrians except their sect or class that they can’t risk democracy.

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August 20th, 2012, 9:20 am


337. VISITOR said:

Did Maher just die in a Moscow hospital recently?


Could it be that the Bogdanove al-Watan interview was real after all?

Is Rusiia involved in lie and deceit to cover up its failed Syria policies?

The Syrian people are looking forward to the day when this scourge of secondary power dreaming to achieve a superpower status witby using Syrian blood is kickedout altogether from our beloved Syria.

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August 20th, 2012, 9:48 am


338. irritated said:

Lots of rhetorics, predictions, warning..

The reality on the ground is obvious even to Silly Hillary:

The rebels are loosing both battle, the military and the heart and minds of the Syrians and the Western world.
From “peaceful” demonstrators to “heroic freedom fighters” they have turn into bloodthirsty militias animated by greed, dissension and corruption.
The image they are projecting of Syria’s future is a lot worse that Syria has ever been.
This “adventure” has costed 20,000 dead and billions of destruction. They should go back to their drawing board and stop begging shamelessly the USA and the West to get them out of the mess they got in

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August 20th, 2012, 9:51 am


339. irritated said:

One more prediction of our local Cassandra goes to the dustbin.
Soon the dustbin will be recycled, I am sure.

Ramadan is over and Bahar Al Assad is still the president of Syria, the government is still in Damascus, the army still united and the opposition still bickering.

More predictions, Cassandra?

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August 20th, 2012, 10:19 am


340. Karabennemsi said:


http://undp.org.sy/index.php/stories/58-social-development-for-poverty-reduction-/467-empowering-syrian-women / http://web.undp.org/comtoolkit/success-stories/ARAB-Syria-povred.shtml
There are of course other organisations who have more experience in these fields, i dont want anybody to associate them with my personal political believes.
Nothing is wrong with the quran, but everything is wrong if someone with too much testosteron and too litlle brain capacity is trying to dictate others how to live.

Dont be fooled by the media, the FSA is just like the regimes security forces.


Nothing substential, only talking in phrases, a lot of semi nationalist and wannabe intellectual but proletarian behaviour at the same time, its like talking to an regime loyal village chief, or maybe his deputy and son in law.

I have probably been training Syrians in active citizenship before you even learned english, and i will most likely continue to do so in a couple of months, and i really hope i will not have to deal with a new generation of corrupt, murderous wannabe pious idiots, who have no idea what they are dealing with, but rather with the old generation who has seen the successes of the programs and therefore minimized the resistance against them.

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August 20th, 2012, 11:19 am


341. Visitor said:

337 KARA whatever,

Judging from your comments, you claim to know more than you can prove.

A true sign of hypocrisy.

I also doubt you have any credentials whatsoever.

So, once go play somewhere else.

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August 20th, 2012, 11:53 am


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