The Shabiha State Causes Horror – the Unraveling is sure to Speed Up.

The sectarian nature of the end-game is becoming ever more brutal and naked. The massacres at Houla and Mazraat al Kabir reveal the sectarian logic of the regime stripped down to its elemental barbarity. Bashar has nothing left but fear. Hafiz al-Assad build his state on traditional loyalties — family, village, tribe and sect — but he was scrupulous about building alliances to every segment of Syrian society. He exploited the anxiety of age-old historic grievances and religious distrust, but he was vigilant about keeping the hair of Muawiyya extended to all. With one hand he held the gun, but with the other he offered a carrot. Bashar has lost the ability to offer carrots. He has no future to promise, only the gun. The regime is left with only the ugliness and inadequacy of sectarian logic.

The revolutionary forces and the insurgency are rapidly become stronger according to this Wash Post article. They are getting better weapons, gaining experience, finding more support from external funders. Most importantly, however, Syrians have abandoned the regime in spirit, even if they have yet to defect in body. Sunni Syrians continue to go to work and turn up in their offices in the morning, but they hate the Assad regime in their hearts. Assad’s army is being taken over by shabiha and security forces manned by Alawites. The massacres leave no doubt about that. The Shabiha seem able to call in artillery bombardments before sweeping in.  They call themselves “Amn al-Assad,” Assad’s Security.

If you can withstand watching brutality, this 16 minute video taken by one of Assad’s security men on an operation in Hammameh outside Idlib, optimizes what is happening in the massacres that are now becoming a daily feature of this struggle. The security men kill 13 local fighters in Hammameh. When the killing is finished and the adrenaline is still pumping through the fighters’ veins, they do what one so often sees in these sorts of videos: the soldiers dehumanize and mock the dead, presumably to reassure themselves that they have done the right thing.  They cursing them and pick out the “guilty.” One soldier places his foot on the head of one of the corpses and speaks into the camera saying, “This one is the “mundess,” or interloper. We hear another say, “He is from Turkey.” The soldier speaks to the dead body and taunts him, asking, “What do you think of `Arour now?” `Arour is the Sunni Syrian Imam who appears regularly on Saudi TV to excoriate Alawites. He is most famous for saying that Alawite supporters of Assad will be ground into hamburger meat and fed to the dogs. Opposition demonstrators frequently chanted `Arour’s name, underlining the communal nature of this struggle. The soldiers drag the bodies into a house, presumably to hide them and perhaps to set them on fire, but we do not see that part. The soldiers call out to each other, cursing the dead and joking in what seems like a nervous effort to establish comradery and group affirmation for their grisly deed. They repeatedly intone “hayy Amn al-Assad,” or “Long live Assad’s Security.” They use each others names and photograph each others faces in an obvious sense of invincibility. One can only presume that when the Assad regime falls, as it must, they will become the hunted.

The revolution remains largely leaderless, which in some ways is its strength. For every opponent of the regime killed, several more pop up to take his place. The regime has been sowing dragon’s teeth. The revolution is popping up everywhere now. The heart of Damascus is now involved. When the merchants of Hamadiya – the main souq – go on strike, you know you have lost the conscience and heart of Damascus. The Sunni bourgeoisie has now turned on the regime.

The opposition is a long way from producing the sort of coordination and command that can march on the Presidential Palace, but today, one can imagine the day when it will summon the strength to do it. Alawites cannot rule Syria alone.

A Sunni friend in Aleppo writes four days ago:

Rockets are being fired from Aleppo on the villages north of us as I write this message to you. So far more than 25 and counting – actual rockets.

I asked “Will Assad be in power next year?” He replied:

“I know if I am alive by this time next year and if Bashar is still in power then I will be living outside Syria. If the regime were to prevail, then millions will be dying in his prisons. It will be only a matter of time before they will get to me. I think millions share my fear and they know there is no way back. So if no one steps in to stop him, we will be looking at a massacre after another.”

Syria’s Christians are torn between supporting and opposing the regime. Some believe that the regime must be stopped. They fear that as Sunnis are displaced and chased from their own homes that they will prey upon the weaker Christians, taking their homes and apartments. This is already happening in Homs and Wadi Nasara. (See note below) For this reason they blame Assad and want him stopped. Others remain loyal to the regime, believing that a Sunni victory will cause Christians to lose even more.

A friend from Wadi Nasara (The Christian Valley and Marmarita region just north of Lebanon and south of Homs) writes:

My wife is from a village in the Christian heartland of Syria, and her family is telling her and her sisters, the Syrian Army is pounding Aal’Hosn, the Crusader Castle, not far from their village, and also displaced Sunni’s have rented properties in a village not far from her’s called Mar Marita and are refusing to continue to pay rent or leave the village, and it’s creating tension among the villagers and the Sunni’s who moved in. I read your FP article and I understand your points, however, the killing needs to be stopped and although you make valid points for non-intervention, there are ways the world can slow down Assad’s killing machine, without getting involved with boots on the ground or Iraqi style…

this is rapidly evolving into a very clear sectarian war, in that the Alawite villages that surround certain Sunni villages, are taking revenge on the loved ones they have lost who were fighting for Assad….

My wife thinks unless something happens soon to stop Assad, and calm the nerves of the people who are clearly on high edge, the tit for tat vengeful killings will escalate, and soon it will envelope the Christians, as the Sunni’s are starting to quietly / not so quietly raise the rhetoric that the Christian silence is not so deafening to them, anymore…..

Like I said the other day, people renting homes to Sunni’s are now finding out they not only won’t leave, but now, it looks like a great many are not willing to continue to pay rent, telling the Christians, “if you want your money, go get it from your government”……wow…..how long does anyone think THAT, in itself, is going to last, before it explodes…?

A Christian from Marmarita in the Wadi Nasara (Christian Valley region just south of the Alawite mountains and north of Lebanon.)

…Over 40 young men (including a couple of doctors) from the Wadi area, we’re killed by the bearded men who are eager to give us democracy. In a few of these killing, they decapitated the bodies and severed limbs. In one occasion, they gave the body back to the family but kept the head and put it on top of a hill. They stood about a couple hundred feet and challenged anyone to come pick it up. Finally a guy drove his pickup truck in high speed and picked up the head under fire.
Here is another one: at one point, Crac de Chevaliers became a multinational hub of Afghani, Libyans and Lebanese bearded men. The Afghanis were actually non-threatening. But the two Arab groups had an argument as to which sheikh should rule the castle. There was a Libyan sheikh and a Lebanese one. A fire fight erupted, and a few martyrs died. Now the castle was finally cleaned up by the army. It turned out that the Lebanese sheikh was actually wanted in Lebanon for commuting several murders. He was caught alive. … This is the sad truth. The good news is that the security situation is steadily improving. The hope is that the refugees will return to their homes and start the rebuilding process…..
Most of them settled in Tartous, Latakia, Aleppo or Damascus. My sister made new friends from Homs, who only had their clothes and left everything behind. A few who are well to do rented shops and started their businesses (or clinics) there.
Another story:  my first cousin’s sister in law fled her house in bustan al deewan because of daily harassment by the militants from Baba Amr and al-khalideeah. A few weeks after she left, she called her own home number. A guy answers the phone. She asked who he is. He gave a name. She asked “what are you doing here”.  He said he lives there. She told him “but this is my house”.  He said “the priest of the local church gave it to me”.
The militants constantly drive through the area, and either fire shots in the air, or show their weapons. They have essentially settled in the empty houses. They only leave when the government forces kick them out, only to return later when the cat is away from the rat.
Churches are demolished inside. Anything of value is stolen. Things of little value are thrown on the street and destroyed.
A distant relative of mine (in his seventies) was shot in his leg. When his family tried to take him to a hospital, the long-bearded men didn’t allow them to touch him. He bled to death. He was from marmarita living in Homs.
Dera’a el-Balad is being pounded, so far over twenty dead. Reports of shelling into the city.
Syrian businessmen living abroad have created a $300 million fund to support rebels
DOHA | Wed Jun 6, 2012

Reuters) – Syrian businessmen living abroad have created a $300 million fund to support rebels fighting forces of President Bashar al-Assad, opposition activists said on Wednesday.

“This fund has been established to support all components of the revolution in Syria, and to establish a strong relationship with businessmen inside and outside Syria and to protect civilians,” Wael Merza, secretary general of the opposition Syrian National Council, told reporters in the Qatari capital.

Assad named a Baath Party stalwart to form a new government on Wednesday, signaling no political concessions to Syria’s 15-month-old uprising.

Merza said that half of the $300 million had already been spent, some of which were contributions to the rebel Free Syrian Army.

“The majority of support given (to the rebels) will be on the technical side,” Merza said. “It’s also logistical support to our people on the ground.”

“Yes, we supported the Free (Syrian) Army to protect civilians,” said Mustafa Sabbagh, president newly-formed Syrian Business Forum of businessmen in exile.

The fund will be based in Doha, Merza said

Merza said Russia’s call for an international meeting was “an acceptable move in the right direction.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for a broad international meeting on the crisis in Syria with the aim of reviving former United Nations chief Kofi Annan’s peace plan, but made clear he believed Assad’s opponents were responsible for its failure so far.

The Annan plan calls for a negotiated end to the Syrian crisis after a ceasefire that has yet to take hold. Merza hinted at strong financial support from oil-rich Gulf Arab states for the new fund. “We are going to see distinct support of this fund from neighbors in a very clear manner, in a matter of weeks. We expect Qatar to play a major role,” he said.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal called on the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to put Annan’s plan under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, a measure that could authorize the use of force.

In northern Syria, rebels now control many towns and villages
By DAVID ENDERS, McClatchy Newspapers

QALAAT AL-MUDIQ, Syria — It’s been two months since anyone has seen a police officer in this central Syrian city

Though the Syrian military occupies an ancient citadel overlooking Qalaat al-Mudiq, it’s reached a truce with the Free Syrian Army rebel groups that control the city below. Residents and rebel leaders say the last time military forces attempted to enter the city was in March, but a pair of successful ambushes pushed them back to their base. The military doesn’t enter, shoot at or shell the town anymore, even though a rebel sniper recently killed a soldier who’d stood exposed too long in the citadel.

The Free Syrian Army, the moniker taken by most of the loosely organized militias that have taken up arms against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, kicked the police out of the city in September. The army tried to install a pair of police officers in the local station later, but the officers were promptly abducted by the rebels when the army withdrew. They were later released to their families after their families paid a ransom.

Amid a torrent of news coverage focused on massacres and sanctions, a major change in the Syrian political landscape has gone largely unremarked: All across northern and central Syria, in an area known as the al-Ghab Plain, a growing number of villages and towns effectively are outside government control.

In an area that stretches from the mountains around Jisr al-Shughour in the north to the town of Salhab in the south, and east to the highway that links the cities of Hama and Idlib, rebels administer justice and provide local services, including the distribution of cooking gas and food. A U.N. cease-fire that was supposed to begin in April has never really taken effect, but in these safe havens, rebel fighters and sympathizers live largely outside Syrian military intervention. Syrian troops who patrol nearby do so in armored vehicles because of the threat of roadside bombs and ambushes.

The safe space has allowed rebels to stockpile and manufacture weapons and hold prisoners. It also provides a base from which the rebels move into other parts of the country that until now have been relatively quiet.

That dynamic was on display as recently as Tuesday, when fighting broke out in al-Haffa, a town near the city of Latakia on the Mediterranean Coast. Latakia remains a government stronghold, but rebels have pushed out of their areas to challenge the government in villages around the city. Twenty-two government soldiers were reported killed in the al-Haffa fighting, and rebels who fought there before withdrawing to the al-Ghab area said they had freed prisoners, abducted police officers and bulldozed the local police station and secret police offices before withdrawing under an intense attack from helicopter gunships.

“The army only controls the area directly under their tanks,” said Mohanned al-Masri, a member of Ahrar al-Sham, one of the groups based in the al-Ghab Plain and the primary supplier of rebel fighters at al-Haffa. “Here, the regime has already fallen.”

Ahrar al-Sham also is manufacturing rockets in the area. “We are perfecting the accuracy now,” said Khalid al-Amin, the leader of Ahrar al-Sham in Qalaat al-Mudiq.

In this town, the array of rebel forces is on display – as are the differences among them.

Ahrar al-Sham draws its members from followers of a conservative strain of Islam known as Salafism; its followers see themselves as fighting in part for the right to preach their doctrine and the fall of a government that jailed them for doing so.

Another group, Suqor al-Ghab, the largest in Qalaat al-Mudiq, claims to be aligned with the largely secular Free Syrian Army leadership in Turkey. On Monday, its forces here were overseeing the distribution of cooking gas, which is in short supply across the country because of sanctions against Assad’s government.

The ironies of the ongoing war are also on display.

“I am still drawing my government check as a teacher,” said Mousab al-Hamadee, an anti-government activist here, smiling. The Syrian government continues to provide services such as electricity and water without interruption.

“Things are going on as usual, except that it became hard for Alawites to come to work,” said Amin, the Ahrar al-Sham leader, referring to members of the Shiite Muslim sect that also includes Assad. Ahrar al-Sham members, as Salafis, follow Sunni Islam. Amind said Alawites now fear retaliation from Sunnis for the support in Alawite villages for pro-government militiamen known locally as Shabiha.

On the outskirts of Qalaat al-Mudiq, fighters from Ahrar al-Sham lazily manned a checkpoint on the main road north to the city of Jisr al-Shughour, whose outskirts are also outside of government control. Rebels who’d crossed the Turkish border en route to Jisr al-Shughour last week said that the army is entirely absent from the area. The army holds the center of Idlib, the largest city in northwestern Syria, but the edges of the city and the surrounding areas belong to the rebels.

To the west of the checkpoint, nestled in the foothills of Latakia Mountain, the Free Syrian Army’s control becomes more tenuous, as the Sunni-dominated area gives way to a string of villages populated largely by Alawites. Al-Ramleh, a Sunni village to the west of here, had been largely emptied after the killings of a woman and four of her children by pro-government militiamen two weeks ago. Some months before, the nearby village of Tamana had suffered a similar fate, after a raid by the military and pro-government militiamen.

Nonetheless, the rebels feel the momentum is strongly in their favor. They say they are getting better weapons, including armor-piercing rocket-propelled grenade rounds, as the volume of arms being smuggled into Syria from Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey appears to have grown. Groups of fighters in the area are also building bombs and stockpiling small mortar rounds.

Amin said that Ahrar al-Sham and the other rebel groups are making plans soon to rid the city of the army’s presence. The cease-fire with the army would end in mid-June, he said, when the wheat crop had been harvested.

“There will be a big war,” he said.

Syria peace plan not working, U.N. envoy Kofi Annan says
Kofi Annan tells the United Nations that Syria is headed toward civil war. Diplomats consider involving Iran in negotiations with Bashar Assad’s government.
By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2012

….”We cannot allow mass killing to become part of everyday reality in Syria,” Annan said. …

Annan said that unless the fighting is halted, “all Syrians will lose.”….

U.S. and British officials have balked at any inclusion of Tehran, a staunch ally of Assad and the regional nemesis of the West. But Russia has backed the idea of an expanded meeting of nations that have influence with various factions in the 15-month-old uprising.

The forum being pushed by Moscow would include the five permanent members of the Security Council — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and Syrian neighbors Turkey and Iran.

At the General Assembly on Thursday, Russia and China reiterated their support for the Annan peace plan but also reaffirmed their opposition to any solution involving military intervention in Syria or forced “regime change,” though both nations have said Assad’s survival is not a precondition if the Syrian people choose otherwise. The two powers have twice vetoed Security Council resolutions that condemned Assad’s crackdown on dissent and could have led to sanctions or other action against his government.

The United States and its allies, meantime, say Assad’s departure is a necessary outcome of any peace plan. The Obama administration is trying to persuade Russia to get aboard a plan similar to what happened in Yemen, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh was eased out of power and replaced by his former deputy after a year of protests.

The State Department’s special representative on Syria, Fred Hof, was in Moscow on Thursday for talks with the Russians, the department said. There was no immediate word of the outcome of those talks.

In Istanbul, Turkey, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made it clear that the Annan plan — with its call for a cease-fire and withdrawal of government troops and heavy weapons from populated areas — is only one part of what Washington and its allies seek. In addition, Assad “must transfer power and depart Syria” and an “interim representative government must be established through negotiation,” Clinton said.

“The time has come for the international community to unite around a plan for post-Assad Syria,” Clinton said after meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Although the Annan blueprint has widespread backing, the forced departure of Assad seemed to remain a red line for Russia and China…..

U.N. monitors shot at in Syria, Annan plan crumbles
8 Jun 2012

Reuters reports: U.N. monitors came under fire in Syria on Thursday while trying to investigate reports of a new massacre that raised the pressure on world powers struggling to halt the carnage and save a peace plan from collapse. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described as “unspeakable barbarity” the reported killing of at least 78 villagers [...]

Foreign Policy

Russia has said it would support President Bashar al-Assad leaving power, but maintained that it can only be as part of a negotiated political settlement. However, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said the Yemen model, in which the 33-year dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, transitioned from power wouldn’t work in Syria because the opposition doesn’t have the political desire to negotiate, he claimed. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for a broader international meeting including Turkey and Iran to work to assist in furthering the peace process. After expelling several foreign diplomats on Tuesday, the Syrian government agreed to allow increased humanitarian assistance to reach one million people. Meanwhile over 60 people were reported killed on Tuesday, including 26 government forces, in clashes across the country. The coastal province of Latakia has seen two days of the fiercest attacks since the beginning of the uprising last year, with tank, gunship, and helicopter fire.

WHY A SYRIAN CIVIL WAR WOULD BE A DISASTER FOR U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY
By Robert Satloff of WINEP,  June 7, 2012

….If Syria descends into the chaos of all-out civil war, it’s not only Syrians who will lose out, as Annan suggests. Very clear American interests are also at stake.

Consider the many plausible scenarios that could yet transpire. They include:

* Syrian army units responsible for the control of the regime’s substantial chemical and biological weapons stocks leave their posts, either through defection, mutiny, attack from insurgents or orders from superiors to fight elsewhere, and these weapons of mass destruction go rogue.

* Syria lashes out at Turkey’s hosting of anti-Assad rebels by offering aid and comfort to a rejuvenated PKK insurgency against Ankara, reigniting a hellish Kurdish terrorist campaign that has claimed more than 30,000 Turkish lives over the past 30 years.

* Syria pushes hundreds of thousands of hapless Palestinians still living in government-controlled refugee camps over the Jordanian, Lebanese and even Israeli borders as a way to regionalize the conflict and undermine the stability of neighboring states.

* Syrian soldiers, Alawi thugs and their Hizbollah allies take their anti-Sunni crusade to the Sunnis of Lebanon, reigniting a fifteen-year conflict that sucked regional proxies — and U.S. Marines — into its vortex.

* Thousands of jihadists descend on Syria to fight the apostate Alawite regime, transforming this large Eastern Mediterranean country into the global nexus of violent Islamist terrorists.

None of this is fantasy. The threat of loose chemical and biological weapons tops the agenda of American and Israeli military planners.

swift and decisive action to hasten Assad’s departure is the best way to immunize against this set of terrifying outcomes. While Assad may unleash some of his fury in the face of assertive international action, chances are more likely that a clear display of resolve in support of the opposition is the key ingredient to fracturing his surprisingly resilient governing coalition and bringing the regime tumbling down.

Such resolve could include a mix of cyberwarfare, to interfere with Syrian government communications efforts; unmanned drones, to target key installations and weapons depots; air power, to establish and defend safe zones; and a manned element based in neighboring states, to execute a train and equip mission to support rebel forces. At the same time, it is essential that the United States, teamed with Arab, Turkish and other allies, inject urgency and energy into the task of upgrading the cohesion and message of the Syrian political opposition, so that there is a clear answer to the important question of what comes in the wake of Assad’s demise.

Even with all-out effort, a dose of realism is warranted. Syria is going to be a mess for years to come; a peaceful, inclusive, representative Syria anytime soon — one hesitates even to use the word “democratic” — is a fantasy. In a post-Assad world, inter-ethnic reconciliation will be an uphill battle, and the inclusion of some Islamists in a successor government is — regrettably, in my view — a necessary fact of Syrian life. Still, policymaking is often accepting bad outcomes when the alternatives are worse, especially when the worse outcomes have the potential to wreak havoc on American interests.

Russia to Talk Syria Transition With U.S. in Shift From Assad
2012-06-06, By Flavia Krause-Jackson and Henry Meyer

June 6 (Bloomberg) — As Syria slides toward civil war, Russia is signaling that it no longer views President Bashar al-Assad’s position as tenable and is working with the U.S. to seek an orderly transition A U.S. delegation headed by Fred Hof, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s special adviser on Syria, is scheduled to meet with Russian counterparts June 8 in Moscow. They will try to forge a common approach to moving Assad aside — or even out of the country — with a goal of replacing him with someone acceptable to both sides in the conflict, according to two U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Under newly elected Russian President Vladimir Putin, an evolution from support for Russia’s main Mideast ally could break a diplomatic deadlock. Russia’s threatened veto in the United Nation’s Security Council has hobbled 15 months of international efforts to pressure the Assad regime with sanctions and other measures as the conflict deteriorated from peaceful protests into an armed conflict with sectarian undercurrents.

“In Moscow, they understand now that there is no chance of maintaining the status quo, they are looking at the question of a change of regime,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, an analyst with the Moscow-based Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. “The only thing that Russia can do is to try and keep some influence in Syria. A managed change of regime is the only option now.”

While the Russian government for the first time sees a change of government in Syria as possible via a series of steps, it remains adamant that the outcome not be imposed from outside, according to a Russian official not authorized to speak publicly on this matter.

Washington Post’s David Ignatius: Annan’s new road map for peace in Syria
2012-06-05

ISTANBUL Kofi Annan is tinkering with a radical idea for reviving his moribund peace plan for Syria — a road map for political transition there that would be negotiated through a “contact group” that could include, among other nations, Russia …

What’s intriguing about Annan’s new approach is that it could give Russia and Iran, the two key supporters of Assad’s survival, some motivation to remove him from power, and also some leverage to protect their interests in a post-Assad Syria. This would also make the plan controversial, with Israel and Saudi Arabia asking why the United Nations would give the mullahs in Tehran a share of the diplomatic action….

To break the deadlock, Annan would create his contact group, composed of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States), plus Saudi Arabia and perhaps Qatar to represent the Arab League, and Turkey and Iran. The idea is to bring together the countries with most influence on the situation.

This unwieldy group would then draft a transition plan and take it to Assad and the Syrian opposition. This road map would call for a presidential election to choose Assad’s successor, plus a parliamentary ballot and a new constitution — with a timeline for achieving these milestones.

Assad would presumably depart for Russia, which is said to have offered him exile; the Syrian dictator is rumored to have transferred $6 billion in Syrian reserves to Moscow already. Under this scenario, Assad presumably could avoid international prosecution for war crimes. Iran is also said to have offered exile to Assad and his family.

To contain the bloodletting that would follow Assad’s ouster, Annan is said to favor a detailed plan for reforming the security forces, similar to reforms in Eastern Europe after the fall of communism.

The Russians’ participation could help stabilize Syria during the transition, because they might get buy-in from the Syrian military, many of whose senior officers are Russian-trained. As Syria’s main weapons supplier, Moscow has, over many decades, developed and cultivated contacts throughout the regime power structure.

Would Russia or Iran support this unconventional proposal? It’s impossible to know. …

Damascus merchants put up shutters in challenge to Assad
Tuesday, 05 June 2012
Many Damascus merchants have closed their stores for a week in protest against the massacre of more than 100 people in Houla. (Reuters)
By REUTERS, DAMASCUS

In the biggest act of civil disobedience by Damascus merchants in Syria’s 15-month-old uprising, many stores have been closed for a week in protest against the massacre of more than 100 people in Houla on May 25.

The closures have affected districts all across the capital, from the Old City market to opposition areas where 70 percent of stores appeared shut despite what shopkeepers said were attacks and threats by security forces to force them to reopen.

“We want to participate in the strike but at the same time we are afraid of the reaction of the security police,” said Mohammed, who owns a clothes shop in the traditional al-Hamidiya souk – a long, covered walkway that cuts through the Old City.

Widespread closures in the capital, a stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad, represent a major challenge to the Syrian leader and Mohammed said security forces had broken open his locked shop door a few days ago to intimidate him.

The Shabiha: Inside Assad’s death squads

Posted: 05 Jun 2012 10:55 AM PDT

The Telegraph reports: The door to Dr Mousab Azzawi’s clinic, on the Mediterranean coast of Syria, was always open to anyone who needed help. But, operating in the heartland of the feared Shabiha militia, there were some patients the doctor would have preferred not to treat. “They were like monsters,” said Dr Azzawi, who worked [...]

Initially the Shabiha were a mafia clan, making money through racketeering. Selma, the Alawite with Shabiha family, said her cousins were “filthy rich” through smuggling in diesel, milk and electronics. “Anything to Lebanon that is cheaper in Syria, and whatever is needed in Syria from Lebanon,” she said.

The ruling Assad family turned a blind eye to their criminal behaviour and violent methods. In return, the Shabiha became the Assads’ fiercely loyal defenders and enforcers.

“They are fuelled by this belief that they are fighting for their survival,” said Dr Azzawi. “Assad tells them that they must defend the government or else they will be destroyed; it’s kill, or be killed.”

Dr Azzawi, who now runs the Syrian Network for Human Rights from London, showed The Sunday Telegraph a video of the Shabiha in action.

An enormous man, identified on the video as Areen al-Assad – a member of the president’s family clan – posed with his gun, grinned from the steering wheel of his car, and flexed his muscles. His huge bicep bulged with a tattoo of the president’s face.

At the end of the video, the posturing Shabiha militants proclaim: “Bashar, do not be sad: you have men who drink blood.”

“It is their motto,” explained Dr Azzawi, who said that many of the men were recruited from bodybuilding clubs and encouraged to take steroids. “They are treated like animals, and manipulated by their bosses to carry out these murders. They are unstoppable.”

Intervention in Syria: Reconciling Moral Premises and Realistic OutcomesBy Eva Bellin and Peter Krause

Iran has serious strategic interests in the survival of the Assad regime and so is unlikely to be persuaded to abandon it. But Iran’s capacity to sustain the regime is limited given its own economic difficulties. By contrast, China’s economic interests in Syria are not substantial; its support for the Assad regime stems primarily from irritation at U.S. moves in East Asia, along with a perceived stake in defending the principle that external forces ought not to intervene to settle the course of domestic conflicts. If it were isolated from Russian backing, China’s stance could be budged. The key obstacle to choking the Syrian regime is Russian support, and here close attention to Russia’s key concerns suggest the means for separating it from Assad. Russia has stood by the Assad regime for three reasons: to uphold the principle of “non-interference” in domestic insurgencies; to protect Russia’s economic and military interests in Syria (control of Tartous; a market for Russian arms; the extension of Russian naval power in the region); and to assert Russia’s standing as a great power in world affairs (even if that is measured simply by its ability to stick it in the eye of the United States).

If the international community wants to choke off Russian support, it has to take Russia’s interests seriously and show Russia, as Steve Walt has suggested, that regime change in Syria will not compromise Russia’s core interests. To the contrary, Russia needs to be persuaded that continuing to subsidize the Assad regime is much more dangerous for Russia, since prolonged civil war might very well lead to a collapse of the state and create a political vacuum in Syria that would not serve Russia’s foreign policy interests. Not only might Russia be persuaded to give up opposing regime change in Syria; it might be encouraged to take the lead in overseeing such regime change—and even might be permitted to take credit for that outcome. By shepherding the process and taking ownership of regime change in Syria, Russia could protect its core economic and military interests and confirm its standing as a major power shaping world affairs. To this end, negotiations with the Syrian opposition could perhaps take place in Russia—or, if that is not possible, at least under Russian sponsorship….

Andrew Sullivan – Syria’s Russia Problem

A turning point in Lebanon
The open invitation Syria once had to dictate its will in the country has ended, much to the dismay of Hizbullah
By Sami Moubayed | June 5, 2012, Gulf News

Lebanese President Michel Sulaiman’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, his meeting with King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz and his lunch with Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal speaks volumes about how Lebanon is struggling to escape Syrian tutelage at a time when pro-Syrian Lebanese parties are aggressively trying to drag Lebanon into Syria’s current mess. Had Syrian officials got their way, then this meeting would have never happened at a time when Syrian-Saudi relations are at an all-time low. Syrian officialdom, no doubt, would have preferred that the Lebanese President visit Damascus instead to hammer out the recent crisis in Lebanon — as customarily done since 1975.

The luncheon hosted by the Saudi minister, which was attended by ex-prime minister Sa’ad Hariri, was also a source of alarm for the Syrians, and of course, so was Prime Minister Najeeb Mikati’s visit to Istanbul where he discussed the Lebanon file with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The declared objective of the Lebanese-Saudi Summit was to prepare for the National Dialogue Conference that Sulaiman had called for at Baabda Palace, which is due to kick off on June 11. This is aimed at preventing Lebanon from sinking into sectarian strife after deadly fighting took place in Tripoli between the Jabal Mohsen neighbourhood, which is pro-Syrian regime, and the Sunni Bab Al Tabbaneh neighbourhood, which supports the Syrian revolt. From Saudi Arabia, Sulaiman headed to Kuwait, another Gulf country that has turned against the Syrian regime over the past year, with the aim of convincing its leaders to revoke their travel warning to Lebanon, ahead of the summer season that is reliant on Gulf tourists.

Coinciding with the Lebanese president’s efforts was a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, on the 23rd anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, delivered at the Unesco Palace. Earlier last week, Nasrallah had shown rather striking moderation, thanking his political opponent Hariri — rather than bashing him as Hezbollah has customarily done — while calling on his followers to refrain from street violence after the abduction of 11 Lebanese hostages, all Shiite pilgrims, in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. On Friday, however, Nasrallah addressed the captors — without identifying them — saying military action was an option if a peaceful solution was not found for the crisis. The National Dialogue, which was called for by Saudi Arabia, was accepted by Hezbollah, and Nasrallah even went a step further, hoping that no party would boycott it. Then came the clashes on Saturday, between pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian Lebanese, which left at least 15 people dead and which threatened to bring all reconciliation attempts back to square one.

All of this means something remarkable is happening in Lebanon and it plays out in favour of the Lebanese, if invested in wisely. The open invitation Syria once had to dictate its will on Lebanon has apparently come to an end, much to the dismay of Hezbollah and its allies. What then will the Lebanese discuss at the National Dialogue Conference and to what extent — if any — does Syria want this conference to succeed if it won’t have a final say on its outcome? The list of “high-priority topics” is long indeed. They have the hostages to deal with, the security situation in Tripoli, the distance from Syria that the international community is imposing on the Lebanese state, the future of the Najeeb Mikati cabinet, Lebanon’s controversial electoral law and, of course, the issue of Hezbollah’s arms.

Near paralysis

An estimated 60 to 70 per cent of the country’s public posts are vacant, leading to a near paralysis of the state, as most of these appointments have to abide by the delicate rules of sectarianism and political affiliations between Hariri’s March 14 and Hezbollah’s March 8 Coalition. In the past, Syria used its influence in Lebanon to make sure that Hezbollah’s arms were not mentioned at any Lebanese round-table talks, but today it no longer has the leverage to make things happen at will in Lebanon. No dialogue would be complete if Hezbollah’s arms are not on the table, and no reconciliation is possible in Lebanon if these arms remain autonomous from the Lebanese state, regardless of what Syria and Iran want for Lebanon.

This is a golden opportunity for Lebanese political figures to sit down and solve their problem just like the Palestinians did in early 2011, when they invested in the reality that both Egypt and Syria — the traditional patrons of Hamas and Fatah respectively— were too busy to meddle and obstruct the internal politics of the Palestinians. The real problem for the Palestinians was Syria and Egypt, not Fatah and Hamas. As a result, freed from outside Arab pressure, the Palestinians struck a historic deal, and the Lebanese can (if they pull the right strings) do the same next week at Baabda. Lebanon deserves a better future, no doubt, and that can only happen if and when its politicians start acting as Lebanese statesmen, rather than proxies or stooges for the Saudis, Iranians and Syrians.

Sami Moubayed is a Syrian historian, 
university professor, and editor-in-chief of 
‘Forward’ magazine.

Syria – the murder of tolerance
Eliot Benman in Your Middle East, June 4, 2012

The Al-Assad regime chooses to hold the highest contempt for a society that they themselves created, rather than trying genuinely to better that society. They willfully ignore the correlation between political, economic, and cultural oppression and the development of religious conservatism and radicalism, to their own benefit – or downfall. …. a sense of abandonment among the opposition has made Syria fertile ground for extremist ideologies.

Meanwhile, after egging on protesters and militants with empty rhetoric and sanctions, the so-called Friends of Syria continue pursuing flawed diplomatic solutions while trying to determine the merits of international intervention in its various potential forms. Policymakers must realize that in the time it takes them to ponder – the length of an electoral season perhaps – the Syrian regime’s brutality is creating a whole new generation of religious extremists.

When Syria becomes a hotbed of Islamist terrorism and radicals begin pouring from this once beautiful country into the rest of the region and beyond, Westerners will stand morally outraged at the ensuing atrocities and ask the inane question “why do they hate us?”

The answer on many lips will be “because they hate our freedom”, but the correct answer is: we failed to uphold theirs.

Comments (236)


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1. Uzair8 said:

“Syrians have abandoned the regime in spirit, even if they have yet to defect in body.”

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June 9th, 2012, 1:09 pm

 

2. Altair said:

I have been torn for months about what to believe about the regime and in particular, the head of the regime. I watched the full version of the interview with Barbara Walters. I watched speeches. I just found it hard to believe that this is the kind of man who would order mass killings. He is humble and soft-spoken. He even admits (in the Walters interview) that the majority of the population don’t support him but aren’t against: they are in the middle.

If he is capable of ordering the brutality we are now hearing about, then he is a master of deception.

I’ve heard some theories that the president is not in full control of his forces. I’ve heard others that he actually is, and I’ve heard yet another that he is the reluctant one to crack down with an iron fist, yet another that his mother or other family members convinced him to be harsher.

With all these theories, it’s not difficult to get confused by the situation. So I ask the question, albeit belatedly, is this a president fully committed to such a harsh crackdown? I’d love to hear some thoughtful opinions, whether sympathetic or not.

Syria is going down a very rough path, and we need to understand why this happening to a country famed for its warm and hospitable people.

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June 9th, 2012, 1:17 pm

 

3. zoo said:

After a top State Department official visited Moscow, hopes dwindle for Russia to change its stances

In Its Unyielding Stance on Syria, Russia Takes Substantial Risks in Middle East
By ELLEN BARRY
Published: June 8, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/09/world/middleeast/in-stance-on-syria-russia-takes-substantial-risks.html?_r=1

On Friday,, presumably seeking to persuade the Kremlin to reconsider its stance and contribute to an effort to engineer a transition from the rule of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a longtime Russian ally. In remarks after the meeting, Russia’s top negotiator was implacable, telling a reporter that Moscow’s position was “a matter of principle.”

Russia’s leaders have said repeatedly that their goal is to guard against instability, not to support Mr. Assad. They have signaled that Russia would accept a change of leadership in Syria, but only if devised by Syrians and not imposed from outside, an unlikely prospect in a country riven by violence.
….
The uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia were portrayed in Russia as largely organic, driven by young people frustrated by their economic prospects. But the Syrian conflict is seen completely differently, as orchestrated by other countries in the West and the Arab world and aiding the rise of radical Islam.

Mr. Bogdanov put the onus for the continuing violence on opposition forces and foreign countries, which, he said, “flirt with extremists and radicals of various kinds for the purpose of achieving their own goals.” Asked what would happen if international forces intervened without a mandate from the United Nations Security Council, he said it would be “a disaster for the entire Middle East region.”

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June 9th, 2012, 1:21 pm

 

4. Ghufran said:

A lot to read, thanks for taking the time to pick and post those articles,Joshua.
Christians know that they will not be the prime targets of the angry mobs after the fall of the regime but they are not willing to live in a failed poor state that is hostile to minorities. Christians in Syria,like many Syrians,hate the regime but they hate what might be coming even more,what they see now,especially in Homs ,sealed their case,a friend said that this is now the Syrian Islamic revolution,I am sure he meant Sunni but wanted to be PC.
The story is different for alawites,many are convinced that they will be slaughtered if the regime falls,and others are afraid that the herd mentality that takes over angry crowds in times like these will result in a wave of collective punishment against alawites regardless of what they did or who they are,Ghalioun in one dumb statement ‘”assured” Syrians that alawites have nothing to fear except that they will not be accepted to serve in the army or security forces (!!).
Like most revolutions,the poor pay and opportunists get paid, nobody from the ruling family or their buddies died or sent their kids to die,it is the poor alawites who are dying,what the regime started will be finished by the armed rebels with monetary support from the GCC and rich Syrians who also are not dying and not sending their kids to fight but feel qualified to incite violence and call for a civil war,it is easy to call for necks to be severed if you do not have a neck.
Without a compromise now,the future looks bleak for Syria,a victory for the armed rebels will only mean a new counter insurgency and long years of blood shed,and keeping the regime in place can only lead to a full scale civil war,my own sense is that nobody wants to save Syria except Syrians who have no influence on the ground,the country is doomed.

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June 9th, 2012, 1:33 pm

 

5. bronco said:

Russia looks beyond Syria.

The wave of condemnation and the succession of reported “massacres” seem to show an acceleration of the forced regime plan the Western countries have sought from the start of the uprising.

Reports keep repeating that the FSA is now stronger then ever, that since Damascus is every night shaken by sound bombs and fights, the Syrian army is weaker and now us using its secret militias to do the job of killing whole villages to create ‘fear’.
The reports are that the economy is diving and even the Sunni merchants are turning against the regime.

All is gloom, yet Russia stays on its course, repeating that it is a plot and that the opposition supported by foreign states with their own agenda, having failed in rallying demonstrations, are resorting to create fear and chaos by encouraging sectarian vendetta.

The Western countries, ally to Israel and enemies of Iran have an excellent motivation to finish with a regime that has for long time resisted the Western influence in the region and is standing along with Iran.

But what is the motivation of Russia in engaging its long term reputation just because of a regime and a man? Are they blind or are they aware that the Western plan is not about Syria?

The Russian know the Middle East much better than the USA does. They know what they are doing. The end of the USA influence in the region is getting closer with the growing reign of anti-western, anti-Israel Islamic regimes in the region. It is a matter of time that these new republics, deceived by the USA and EU’s blind support to Israel will turn to Russia as their main ally.

By defending the last strong bastion of resistance to the USA and Israel in the Arab world, and showing its faithfulness to its allies, Russia is looking to be rewarded in the future.

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June 9th, 2012, 1:42 pm

 

6. majedkhaldoun said:

Zoo said
“Most wars stops either if there is a winner or when the two exhausted parties realize there cannot be a victor. ( WW2 and Iran-Iraq war)”
Your example is far from the truth, US,England and France Won,they won the war and Germany surrendered,it was not because of exhaustion.

Mr. Landis
It is clear that Bashar is losing more and more,day by day, but he still has 1 million Alawite with him, the Christians,if they want to live with peace in Syria,they will have one choice,Michael Kilo,George Sabra made the right choice and many will follow them. No reasonable person likes to see massacres and hear bombs.and can’t find food and other necessities.we all have kids.
the time for Hafez is different from the time for Bashar, media and phones and images from the sky,are available, you can not hide.
It will get uglier before it gets better.

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June 9th, 2012, 2:07 pm

 

7. Dr. Ali Kamil said:

I wonder how joshua mentions what Arour said when inciting against Alawites, and still blame the regime for the sectarian nature of the struggle. I would like to refer Mr. Landis to this video, recorded back in March 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUu-yGTQW00
If he spoke Arabic, he would hear protesters chanting against Shiaa. This was the first week of the crisis. Was the regime behind this Joshua?
I am disappointed that a brilliant mind like you would fall into this media trap.

Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 32 Thumb down 19

June 9th, 2012, 2:21 pm

 

8. Hopeful said:

Altair #2

I, too, have come to the conclusion that Bashar is either the master of deception, or is utterly unaware of the reality of the situation. I believe it is the latter. History is full of examples of powerful men in leadership positions who were oblivious to their shortcomings and failures.

Bashar’s problem is similar to anyone who has been handed a leadership position without earning it. He does not have the legitimacy nor the qualities to be a leaders, so he compensates by seeking to come across as intelligent and knowledgable. His speeches sound like lectures, management classes, political science lessons, etc. In the first 30 mins of his latest speech, he sounded like a teacher who was teaching the new congressmen about their roles (and not a very good one, he tends to over complicate matters so that he sounds smarter).

On top of that, Bashar seems to truely believes in conspiracies, which makes it harder for him to make friends and figure out how to deal with the west and neighboring countries. It also makes it easier for the hard-core ideologists surrounding him, and the other people around him who are benefiting from the status quo, to convince him to stay firm and not seek compromise, which means the end of their ideology and privileges.

Then there is the “we know it all and we do not need your advice” attitude. Because Syria is the cradle of civilization, and because we are the decendent of the Arabs, then we must know everything there is to know about how to build modern societies. This attitude made him ignore help and advice from his old friends like the Turks, or demonize anyone who seeks to improve his country by seeking advice from the outside. In his view, to partner with a weston country is to become an agent of that country.

The worst part though is that he may believe that it is his calling to “save” Syria from the conspiracy against it, and he is the only person who can do that now.

Bashar maybe a good and a sincere person at heart. He may mean well. Only God knows his true intentions. But all of that is irrelevant now. To save Syria is to have a new leadership who knows how to unit the country, rally the world to its support, and lead us of this mess. He cannot do that.

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June 9th, 2012, 2:38 pm

 

9. S.A. said:

To Joshua,

I must admit that I was alarmed at your latest article on SC because it sounded like you have a very clear picture of what’s taking place in Syria right now. I think that you have only presented one side of the story.

I know people who have very clear accounts and even names of people who were killed, kidnapped, murdered and raped by the so-called revolutionaries or ‘rebel armies’. They are targeting Alawites for just being Alawites. There are detailed accounts of people who had relatives’ bodies returned to their families after being mutilated in the worst form. This and the assassination of the Alawite educated elite from prominent families has continued up till now. There are clear accounts of this and of people who know families who have been affected. The style of these attacks is very similar to the assassinations that took place in Syria in the 1980s when the Muslim Brotherhood tried to rebel against the government and were crushed.

Common sense tells us that there is no reason for the government troops to kill women and children from the villages. It is obvious that what’s happening now is a sectarian tit-for-tat war which is similar to what happened in the former Yugoslavia.

People who I have been able to talk to in Syria are very anxious that the ‘rebels’ stop the violence and fighting the government. And also yes what is being done inside Syria is terrorism and nothing less. I know families whose children on school busses barely missed the bombs that were targeting government buildings. Is this killing children on the way to school a tactic to fight for democracy? Friends in Syria ask the question “what is the government supposed to do to protect us from terrorism?” They say that the government has a duty to protect its citizens from terrorist acts.

Regardless of how the conflict started and who was to blame for it, what’s happening now is the start of a sectarian civil war. Putting the blame on the government and the Shabiha only is very one sided and does not portray the whole truth. This conflict is far more complicated than the way it is described in this article. I know that we are all looking for answers and a simplistic way of understanding this complicated and tragic situation, but it is very unfair to put the blame on one side only.

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June 9th, 2012, 3:03 pm

 

10. Uzair8 said:

An update on Sh. Yaqoubi’s twitter directed us to a new statement on facebook. Google translation of the arabic statement:

What have we done to save the people killed
Sheikh Muhammad Abul Huda Al Yacoubi

Steadfast to our people in Syria … The sectarian system the offender is trying to exterminate the population of cities and villages in the Sunni Homs, Hama, Latakia and works to scare people with murder, rape and burning people alive and the demolition of houses and the bombing of residential areas with artillery and rockets. The provisions of the religion and the principles of morality and human brotherhood, we had to loot all for the defense of our brothers in these areas by all means of peaceful and military to thwart the planned system. The rights of our brothers we have in these affected areas that the looting of relief and help to ease the pain of living by collecting donations and provide food and medicine to the needy and shelter for the displaced.

We reiterate the call for soldiers and officers in the Syrian Arab Army must dissent and disobeying the orders of the leadership. The army can not fight the enemy of the homeland, but kills people and destroys the country. The people who take up arms in the face of the system have no connection with terrorism and had no connection to extremism,…

Read more:

https://www.facebook.com/shaykhabulhuda/posts/10150944108987580

Twitter:

http://twitter.com/#!/Shaykhabulhuda

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June 9th, 2012, 3:18 pm

 

11. Karabennemsi said:

@ majefkhaldoun

Your statement about ww2 is only partly right, you left out russia, which was obviously at least as victorious the US, and France lost the war and its former standing as one of the mightiest societies.

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June 9th, 2012, 3:52 pm

 

12. omen said:

pbs newshour

Inside Syria: Who Arms the Rebels?
In any revolution, getting weapons is a key challenge. Syria’s rebels have found an interesting solution.

As they loaded the store room with new bullets and rocket-propelled grenades, Hamza Fatahallah, an army defector who joined the Free Syrian Army nine months ago, described the transaction that had taken place.

“We have caught many army prisoners,” he said. “We send them back home for a small amount of money on the condition they do not return to the regime. We use the money to buy weapons.”

For the release of this prisoner, Ahmed Haseeba, the group received $500. With this money, Fatahallah said they were able to buy ammunition from their main supplier: Syria’s national army, also known as the enemy.

This strange cycle of exchanging prisoners for weapons has been playing out between rebel forces and President Bashar al-Assad’s army since the beginning of the revolution.

Fatahallah estimated that his village purchased 40 percent of their weapons from the regime. Prisoner exchanges have so far contributed almost $80,000 toward weapons purchases, he said. And they obtain an additional 50 percent of their weapons during battle. The remaining 10 percent are donated and smuggled from outside the country, or are purchased from private merchants, mostly from Iraq.

[...]

For the regime, or at least the duplicitous members of it, supplying the enemy is a big business. Government officers also sell Kalashnikov bullets, which typically sold for less than 40 cents before the uprising, for about $4 each, according to Ahmed Al Sheikh, the leader of the armed opposition in Jabal al-Zawiya. He leads about 6,000 men from eight battalions that are collectively known as the Sham Falcons.

Kalashnikovs are bought for about $1,000, he said. Rocket-propelled grenade launchers, complete with a set of four rockets, cost up to $4,000, as does a BKT machine gun.

“These officers sell to us not because they love the revolution but because they love money,” Al Sheikh said of his chain of suppliers. “Their loyalty is to their pockets only, not the regime.”

While most of the sellers are corrupt officers, they said lower ranking soldiers have occasionally stolen supplies from government weapons storage and sold them to the rebel forces.

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June 9th, 2012, 3:55 pm

 

13. Tara said:

Bronco

You said 

“The Russian know the Middle East much better than the USA does…the  end of the USA influence in the region is getting closer with the growing reign of anti-western, anti-Israel Islamic regimes in the region. It is a matter of time that these new republics, deceived by the USA and EU’s blind support to Israel will turn to Russia as their main ally.”

I find this above statement contradicting the following statement in your post.  The Revolution was always accused of hiding Islamic agenda.  Russia then should just sit tight, allow this allegedly *Islamic* revolution to topple Bashar and take power, which will then turn to Russia as its main ally like its sisters revolutions, Why would Russia then care to keep the regime?

According to the logic above, whether it is Bashar or Islamists, Russia is a winner so why bother?

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June 9th, 2012, 4:28 pm

 

14. Hans said:

It is very hard to understand the tactical play of the USA in the world; in the 80′s the MouJahidins in Afghanistan supported by the CIA against the Russians became the ALqaida who continues to destroy the west through both soft and hard Jihad.
The american’s drones doesn’t miss an opportunity to haunt this people and their off spring. Afghanistan is a failed state at the current time, girls are burned with acid because they go to school.
In Iraq, the USA supported Saddam for years against Iran then turned against him, destroyed Iraq and left it as failed state.
Japan was destroyed in WW2 and was rebuilt with the help of the Americans.
Which way Syria will go in the future after Assad is toppled, is it going to be the new Japan or same like Afghanistan!
the difference between the two scenario is that with Japan there was no religious war against the USA.
The arab spring is overtaken by the radical theology of Islam therefore it would be plausible that the american drones will be haunting the one it is supporting at the current time.
USA owned Afghanistan after the Russian withdrew and the failure of the USSR, but failed to turn it into a democratic or progressive state.
I doubt that Afghanistan is any better off now than it was 30 or so years ago and personally, i don’t think the USA stands any better in the world than 30 years ago.

I am worried this is the future of Syria under the radicals who are supported in full by the USA.
I still can’t answer the question what’s in for the USA to support radical theology then attack it with drones or by having boots on the ground, any thoughts Mr. Landis!

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June 9th, 2012, 4:36 pm

 

15. Alan said:

I had an impression that article the highest carries hostility for the Syrian being! it is possible to consider it as the official report about a course of earlier prepared plan! Awfully! all is painted favourite colors which will calm soul of Mister Landis! Must be Shame for all westerns mentioned dirty game players ! already Gin is let out from a jug! and results of outstanding American schedulers wait in Oklahoma!

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June 9th, 2012, 4:52 pm

 

16. habib said:

“Christians know that they will not be the prime targets of the angry mobs after the fall of the regime”

Why does everyone think the Alawites will somehow lie down to be slaughtered if the regime falls? They’ll keep on fighting forever, with the same weapons they have now. Their numbers are irrelevant, just see how the outnumbered Alawites in Tripoli have kept thousands of Salafist at bay for decades.

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June 9th, 2012, 4:54 pm

 

17. Jasmine said:

To Hans @14
It is so easy to understand the American policy:it is a short term selfish act, reactionary ,impulsive,built on immediate interest and lack any political vision,moral or principles and led by Narcissist leaders and manipulated by few arm dealers and corrupt corporate seniors.

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June 9th, 2012, 4:58 pm

 

18. Alan said:

14. HANS :
excuse for weak knowledge of English and that didn’t suffice me Russian of mother F-R :)

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June 9th, 2012, 5:01 pm

 

19. Uzair8 said:

#12 Omen

Sham Falcons
8 Battalions
6000 men

Sounds cool!!

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June 9th, 2012, 5:03 pm

 

20. Uzair8 said:

#18 ALAN

Recently I suspected you may be Master Yoda. Your exchange with Hans Solo in #18 only increases my suspicions.

Serious this comment is not.

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June 9th, 2012, 5:07 pm

 

21. Alan said:

don’t write off to judge the religious master!

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June 9th, 2012, 5:15 pm

 

22. Hans said:

Jasmine well said, except you forgot to mention the Jewish lobby which runs the internal and the foreign policy of the mighty USA.
It is not decided if the Jewish lobby will reelect Mr. O for a second term or will ditch him as his role in destroying the USA and the rest of the world is over.

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June 9th, 2012, 5:17 pm

 

23. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Could not be best explained in a few words:

¨(Hafez Al Assad) … With one hand he held the gun, but with the other he offered a carrot. Bashar has lost the ability to offer carrots. He has no future to promise, only the gun. The regime is left with only the ugliness and inadequacy of sectarian logic.¨

Thank you once again.

Those of us living in Damascus when the revolution started knew for years, exactly from summer 2001, that this was happening and that Bashar had nothing new to offer but a disaster.

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June 9th, 2012, 5:21 pm

 

24. Hopeful said:

Jasmine #17

IMHO – Half of what you said about the American policy is accurate:

“it is a short term selfish act, reactionary ,impulsive,built on immediate interest and lack any political vision”

The other half is not:

“lack any moral or principles and led by Narcissist leaders and manipulated by few arm dealers and corrupt corporate seniors.”

American foreign policy actually does have very strong principles guiding it: support of American values and interests, which are typically aligned with the interests of large multinational corporations. US values of open markets, open economies, democracy, freedom, small government, independent media, stability of markets, etc., all work well in favor of business and less in favor of ANY national ideology, religion, etc. It is only in situations where American interests are at conflict with its values do we find inconsistencies in its policy and behavior.

I also would never describe American leaders as Narcissist or corrupt. It is very easy to also understand their motives: winning elections. Period. The best way to make sure the US is on your side is to win the American public opinion. Easier said than done, but it can be done!

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June 9th, 2012, 5:22 pm

 

25. SANDRO LOEWE said:

16. HABIB,

Please stop playing the fear card. The game is over and the sectarian fears will disappear with Assad II. We the christians are well known by our neighbours and they will be the first to protect us. They know christians were not responsible for bribery, abuses and tortures FOR 40 YEARS.

I, as a christian have an absolute respect for islamic population of Syria and I have faith on them and trust in their values.

We are not in medieval times nor we are in 1860. People is much better informed than in the past.

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June 9th, 2012, 5:27 pm

 

26. Jasmine said:

Hans @22

Thank you.
you said:
“It is not decided if the Jewish lobby will reelect Mr. O for a second term or will ditch him as his role in destroying the USA and the rest of the world is over.”
I think that:
Whoever is going to be elected next,he or she will be moulded accordingly, to fit the future demands of the god chosen nation.

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June 9th, 2012, 5:32 pm

 

27. omen said:

14. HANS said:
It is very hard to understand the tactical play of the USA in the world; in the 80′s the MouJahidins in Afghanistan supported by the CIA against the Russians became the ALqaida who continues to destroy the west through both soft and hard Jihad.

far be it for me to defend u.s. dirty actions (our hands are filthy) but in this regard, according to former officer and analyst pat lang, your version of history isn’t correct:

The groups we [the u.s.] supported were defeated by the Taliban in the civil war that followed Soviet withdrawal. The Taliban and Usama bin Laden were supported by the separate “Sayyaf” group of Mujahideen supported by Saudi Arabia and Deobandi fanatics in Pakistan.

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June 9th, 2012, 5:37 pm

 

28. Uzair8 said:

“Bashar has lost the ability to offer carrots.”

Rabbit of Golan! No carrots to offer!?!
The sanctions must be more effective than we thought.

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June 9th, 2012, 5:42 pm

 

29. Hopeful said:

Hans #22

There is no such a thing as a “Jewish lobby” in the US. There are, however, over 30+ “Jewish-related” political organizations in the US whose job is to influence US policy to advance their interests and causes. Some of them are advocates for the state of Israel, others have nothing to do with the state of Israel.

The reason US policies are typically pro-Israel is that the US public opinion is pro-Israel. Until that changes, any US elected or would-be-elected leader, whose main goal is to win elections, will always express pro-Israeli opinions.

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June 9th, 2012, 5:46 pm

 

30. jna said:

Looks incriminating for the regime forces.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/06/08/151723/survivor-says-slaughtered-syrian.html

Joshua Landis states his assessment: “The massacres at Houla and Mazraat al Kabir reveal the sectarian logic of the regime stripped down to its elemental barbarity. Bashar has nothing left but fear.”

Time for the regime to leave.

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June 9th, 2012, 5:49 pm

 

31. Stick to the truth said:

The last posting by Mr. Joshua Landis revealed the ugly sectarian of SC.

Sorry Mr. Landis, you have lost your credibility.

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June 9th, 2012, 5:57 pm

 

32. Jasmine said:

to hopeful @24
you said:
It is only in situations where American interests are at conflict with its values do we find inconsistencies in its policy and behaviour.

I say:
It is easy to preach than to practice and their written policy is so different than the applied one(ask the occupiers of wall street).

you said:
It is very easy to also understand their motives: winning elections.
I say:
Is this a moral motive?and why do they change once they are elected?

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June 9th, 2012, 6:00 pm

 

33. Uzair8 said:

#30 JNA

Welcome to the Opposition! :-)

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June 9th, 2012, 6:03 pm

 

34. Tara said:

JNA

For real?

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June 9th, 2012, 6:15 pm

 

35. SANDRO LOEWE said:

June 9th, 2012, 6:16 pm

 

36. majedkhaldoun said:

I found it strange, Russia is saying they support Annan plan, while Annan himself said his plan has not been implemented, meaning admitting that it failed.

Another massacre in Ma3arret Nu3man,20 dead, war of Massacres

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June 9th, 2012, 6:38 pm

 

37. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Assad gansters attacking Al Haffe, a sunni village surrounded by alawite majority in the Ansariah Mountains near Lattakia.

قتيلا12 بينهم 10 أطفال جراء القصف على قرية في الحفة في اللاذقية

Assad still has the stupid mirage of deserving an alawite state. So medieval…

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June 9th, 2012, 6:56 pm

 

38. Jad said:

So it turns out that the terrorist attacks in Damascus were not as some on here kept telling us ‘the regime did it’ it was committed by Alqaeda-like terrorist organization and with lots of daming evidence, but I’m sure the genius thinkers on SC will cover it up and stick to their usual baseless mantra ‘the regime did it’

Here is the Arabic verson hopefully they will translate it soon.

تفجيرات دمشق – تحت الضوء
بث التلفزيون العربي السوري اليوم فيلما وثائقيا يلقي الضوء على تفجيرات دمشق الارهابية ومنفذيها.. وأكد الإرهابي محمد عبد الله أن تفخيخ سيارتي تفجيري القزاز تم بمزرعة في المليحة … ونفذه انتحاريان أردني وفلسطيني الجنسية كما أكد أن تجهيز السيارات المفخخة كان يتم بمغسل بمنطقة يلدا … ومنفذ تفجير الميدان الثاني عبد السلام عواد الحياوي وهو سوري الجنسية

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June 9th, 2012, 7:35 pm

 

39. Jad said:

Propaganda Is the Name of the Game in Media Reports of Atrocities in Syria
by Jeremy R. Hammond

Another massacre has allegedly taken place in Syria that is being compared to the recent massacre in Houla. There are indeed striking similarities. As with the Houla massacre, claims that Syrian government forces or pro-regime militias carried out the atrocity are being parroted by the Western media despite the fact that such claims made by opposition groups and rebel forces remain unverified.

In the case of Houla, there are numerous indications, including eyewitness testimony, that the massacre was actually carried out by rebel forces or allied terrorist groups—with the U.S. and its allies actively supporting the opposition, including by funding and arming the rebels. The allegations of government-backed massacres of civilians are predictably being used as a pretext by the U.S. to implement a policy of regime change in Syria.

The latest massacre was alleged to have occurred on June 6, the same day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton headed to Turkey to “talk strategy with America’s allies,” as the Associated Press put it, “and look for a way to win Russia’s support for a transition plan ending the Assad regime.”

“It’s time for all of us to turn our attention to an orderly transition of power in Syria that would pave the way for democratic, tolerant, pluralistic future,” Clinton told reporters in Azerbaijan before leaving for Istanbul.

Clinton made clear that the U.S. was not supportive of the peace plan brokered by U.N. special envoy and former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, which seeks a diplomatic solution to Syria’s civil war.

“We think it is important for us to give Kofi Annan and his plan the last amount of support that we can muster,” she obliquely declared, “because, in order to bring others into a frame of mind to take action in the Security Council, there has to be a final recognition that it’s not working.”

A State Department official briefed reporters on Clinton’s meeting in Turkey by saying she had set forth “essential elements and principles that we believe should guide that post Assad transition strategy, including Assad’s full transfer of power.”
{…}
The mainstream corporate media reports on the latest alleged massacre have apparently relied exclusively on claims from the Syrian opposition that pro-regime forces were responsible. The Guardian reported, “On the face of it, the circumstances of the apparent massacre at al-Qubair, a tiny village near Hama, look grimly familiar: tank or shellfire followed by an assault by the feared shabiha, paramilitary thugs drawn from the minority Alawite community of President Bashar al-Assad.”

The Guardian thus reported the account given by the opposition as fact before providing the government’s version: “The regime blamed ‘armed terrorists’ for killing nine people and accused ‘media backing Syria’s bloodletting’ of spreading lies. Opposition activists have listed 56 named victims and claim 78 died.”

Of course, if the victims of the alleged massacre—described here as “apparent” even though there had yet been no independent confirmation that a massacre even occurred, apart from the Syrian government’s own claim of nine dead—were in fact killed not by pro-regime militias but by rebel forces or allied terrorist elements, then the charge against the media of “spreading lies” would be perfectly accurate.

http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2012/06/09/propaganda-is-the-name-of-the-game-in-media-reports-of-atrocities-in-syria/

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June 9th, 2012, 7:45 pm

 

40. Jad said:

Report: Rebels Responsible for Houla Massacre
By John Rosenthal
It was, in the words of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, the “tipping point” in the Syria conflict: a savage massacre of over 90 people, predominantly women and children, for which the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was immediately blamed by virtually the entirety of the Western media. Within days of the first reports of the Houla massacre, the U.S., France, Great Britain, Germany, and several other Western countries announced that they were expelling Syria’s ambassadors in protest.

But according to a new report in Germany’s leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and the bulk of the victims were member of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad. For its account of the massacre, the report cites opponents of Assad, who, however, declined to have their names appear in print out of fear of reprisals from armed opposition groups.

According to the article’s sources, the massacre occurred after rebel forces attacked three army-controlled roadblocks outside of Houla. The roadblocks had been set up to protect nearby Alawi majority villages from attacks by Sunni militias. The rebel attacks provoked a call for reinforcements by the besieged army units. Syrian army and rebel forces are reported to have engaged in battle for some 90 minutes, during which time “dozens of soldiers and rebels” were killed.

“According to eyewitness accounts,” the FAZ report continues,

the massacre occurred during this time. Those killed were almost exclusively from families belonging to Houla’s Alawi and Shia minorities. Over 90% of Houla’s population are Sunnis. Several dozen members of a family were slaughtered, which had converted from Sunni to Shia Islam. Members of the Shomaliya, an Alawi family, were also killed, as was the family of a Sunni member of the Syrian parliament who is regarded as a collaborator. Immediately following the massacre, the perpetrators are supposed to have filmed their victims and then presented them as Sunni victims in videos posted on the internet.

The FAZ report echoes eyewitness accounts collected from refugees from the Houla region by members of the Monastery of St. James in Qara, Syria. According to monastery sources cited by the Dutch Middle East expert Martin Janssen, armed rebels murdered “entire Alawi families” in the village of Taldo in the Houla region.
{…}
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/302261/report-rebels-responsible-houla-massacre-john-rosenthal#

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June 9th, 2012, 7:49 pm

 

41. Moriah Conquering Wind said:

Telegraph UK pimping death squad stories?? The mother of all colonial torturers pointing fingers? There have been SAS troops training the ‘shabiha’ opposition for nearly a year now- in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Just as they did in Iraq. Alistair Crooke nails it when he tracks the atrocities to Qaeda, and NOT a national army- Qaeda, which the UK paid for going back 2 decades- even Hillary recently remarked Qaeda is a western op, American-Saudi-Iz-UK creation.

How about backstory on Rothschild, Blair, Cameran’s dealings with Saif Qaddafi? Where is he now? Executed quickly so he wont talk?
Bit of insight into Operation Tubal Cain in the Hesperides:
Location, location, location…!
22* 12’12 N 22* 12’12 E

We could jump even farther back to Afghanistan… Is SAS still drug running over the Khyber? Righteous indignation from generational psychopaths is just too much!

Zeitung von Deutsch gives some details of how a death squad in Syria operates. Suspiciously like Libya.

http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/neue-erkenntnisse-zu-getoeteten-von-hula-abermals-massaker-in-syrien-11776496.html

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/syria-crisis-less-lebanon-more-turkey

….and while we’re at it: is it true Lady Diana was about to support the Palestinian cause before she was murdered? I think ya’ll forgot to mark her June 3 anniversary when you were so busy saluting The Mother of Darkness’ Diamond Jubilee. That is sad.

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June 9th, 2012, 8:19 pm

 

42. habib said:

25. SANDRO LOEWE

Where did I mention Christians? I’m addressing the widespread claim that Alawis will somehow be exterminated. No such luck. At worst, they’ll set up a separate state. They’ve been forced to be fierce mountain fighters for centuries, this is not the worst that has happened to them.

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June 9th, 2012, 8:25 pm

 

43. Jad said:

Another version of the documentary of Alqaeda terrorist attacks in Damascus:

التسجيل الكامل للوثائقي الخاص باعترافات عدد من الإرهابيين منفذي التفجيرات في دمشق و غيرها من المحافظات
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fyb6eUJuvIs
وثائقي اعترافات منفذي التفجيرات الإرهابية 9-6-2012

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June 9th, 2012, 8:28 pm

 

44. Hans said:

To Omen 24.
Based on your analysis, the situation in Syria is the same; the true revolution was started by the Syrians who have legit reasons to be against the repressive regime but currently ( similar to Tunisia, Egypt) it is also hijacked by similar radicals supported by Alqaida and financed by the KSA and the GCC.
it is clear that the only loser in this so called revolution at the current time are the Syrian people.. I wonder why the USA is repeating the same mistake!!! That’s what I have been saying for months that the USA will find itself using drones over Syria to destroy Alqaida who are taking over the country at current time, destroying Syria, turning it into another Somali or Afghanistan.

BTW i wonder if it is clear that many of the terrorists, suicide bombers in Syria are coming from the Palestinians camps in Syria, add to foreign national mercenaries from all over the Sunni radical countries…it appears that Syris became Israel for this Palestinians and being a suicide bomber in Damascus or other city is the way to liberate Palestine, it is a sad moment to look and see what the Arabs are doing to Syria.
If I was Bashar I would launch all the long range missiles at KSA and GCC ( I am being cynical) given the Israeli patriot’s missiles will defend KSA, it is a joke how the politic of this world goes around. But remember one of the Quadafi inner circle was a CIA recruit!!

It is also clear that the western media with the instruction of the state department that to blame the Syrian regime for anything happens in Syria without verifying any of the event, event the CNN spreads fabricated/edited video of lies.
The American people in general don’t give a hoop about Syria/Syrians, 99% of them don’t know where is Syria and if Syria part of Africa, Asia of it is another state in the USA ( the last statement is a true story was told to me 30 years ago that an American asked a Syrian living in the USA if Syria is one of the USA states)
The western media proved to be unreliable in Syria, although they claim the regime didn’t allow them access but it was a rightful decision given the biased view they carry and the editing which takes place after the shooting.

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June 9th, 2012, 8:38 pm

 

45. SALAH ADDIN said:

If I were Putin, looking after the interest of Russia, in the midst of the current Syrian crisis. If I were to take the worst case scenario, which would be the regime is loosing ground. Why would I make it any easier for the US, by helping with the ushering of the regime out, and facilitating the take over by the US puppets, who will not be in control of their destiny, even if they had the slightest inclination, to keep even the weakest of a relation with Russia. The rebels will be told by their sponsors, the US and the GCC, that Russia is out and they will have to comply.
A good example is Afghanistan, where the US made sure that, not only the Mujahedin did not have any relations with Russia, but also the Northern Alliance, who were a liberal leftist leaning group of secular rebels, all were under the complete influence of the US, that is until Bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda reversed course.
In the breakup of Yugoslavia, the US and its European allies, asked the Russians to be part of the UN/NATO solution, only to end up in excluding any Russian input or influence on the final outcome, and punishing the Serbs, Russia’s allies.
When Russia allowed the breakup of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact peacefully, it found itself under siege and under attack by the US and NATO, using its ex-Soviet Republics as a platforms for those attacks and siege, and no peace dividends came to materialize.
Putin is certainly not Gorbachev, or Yeltsin, and he has the benefit of the Russian experience with the US, the West and the GCC, since the Afghanistan war in the early eighties to the present.
If Russia is faced with the loss of an ally in Syria, due to the actions of the US and its western allies and the GCC. It is to be expected that, it will exit and leave them to deal with the worst problem on their hand, namely a civil war, a counter insurgency, a broken country, and a center for instability for the surrounding area, for many years to come.
When Hillary Clinton tells Russia to be part of the solution, otherwise they will be excluded. Russia knows exactly what that means, it has been down this road before.
Prof. Landis keeps saying that the US should stay out of Syria, otherwise it will assume ownership if it were broken. Well it is broken, and the US owns it. Since the US publicly instructed the rebels not to accept any amnesty and not to put down their weapons to solve the conflict by political means, it has assumed the responsibility of the results, which will get worse by the day.
The last chance for the US was the support of the UN Annan plan. But no, the US thought it was too clever to allow such a plan, advanced by Russia, to bring a political resolution, while allowing Russia, a foothold in the future of Syria.
Like I said, if I were Putin, and look at the opposition, and see them driving Syria off a cliff, and the US is proudly assuming the conductor role of that train wreck, and there is nothing I tried to do, or did, that could change their deadly course, and given the US unrelenting attack on my country’s interests, I would let them all go down that path, and maybe, I will come back years later, and pick up the pieces.

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June 9th, 2012, 9:09 pm

 
 

47. bronco said:

Tara

“Russia then should just sit tight, allow this allegedly *Islamic* revolution to topple Bashar and take power,”

You are right to point that out.

The USA supported all the dictators of the region as long as they were not a danger to Israel. Recently poverty and injustice brought the population in uprisings. The USA were obliged to dump these dictators as all their bad doings became apparent.

The USA is now in danger of loosing control of these ‘ally’ countries and has to deal with the dangerous consequences on Israel’s security. The USA is trying to bring in power USA sympathizers in Egypt (Shafiq) and in Libya. But the hatred toward the USA who pampered their dictators is met by a huge resistance from the people.
Turkey is trying to calm down the US in assuring it that an ‘islamic republic’ under the Moslem Brotherhood can be tamed to keep “military neutrality” with Israel just like Turkey is now. The USA is still trying to convince itself about that.
Overall, it does appear that these countries will become Islamic republic anti-western and anti-Israel.
The USA and EU will try to bribe them to bring them back under their influence, but the popular suspicion that the USA is trying the same game it did with Mobarak will hamper the relations with the Western countries.
Syria is a different story. It has remained an ally of Russia and the USA has not succeeded in luring it to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Hafez Al Assad was not ready to become another puppet of the USA.
The revolutionaries and the average people in Egypt hate the USA for having loved Mobarak.
The revolutionaries in Syria love the USA for having hated Al Assad, but the average Syrian hates the USA and the Western countries and even more now after the sanctions. The USA is not welcomed in Syria.

Russia will never allow these pro-US revolutionaries to take the last country faithful ally in the the region away from them.
It is clear that Syria, with its large number of minorities, will never become a viable Islamic republic as the MB in Syria is fairly weak.

A success of the diplomacy of Russia in countering the USA and the EU and bringing peace and democracy to Syria would have a direct effect on the anti-western Islamic republics: Russia will appear to be a potentially powerful and relevant alternative to the USA that brought only misery to the region.

Therefore Russia is playing a very crucial gamble in Syria. If Syria falls into the hands of the West, Russia will loose its strategic regional launching pad and with it its chances to recapture its place in the Arab world in the near future.
If Russia is able to push Syrians in finding a local solution that moves them towards democracy without ceding to the USA diktats and conditions, then the Arab world will open up to Russia.
Only time will tell how it will unravel.

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June 9th, 2012, 9:38 pm

 

48. mjabali said:

Sandro L said:

“Assad gansters attacking Al Haffe, a sunni village surrounded by alawite majority in the Ansariah Mountains near Lattakia.

قتيلا12 بينهم 10 أطفال جراء القصف على قرية في الحفة في اللاذقية

Assad still has the stupid mirage of deserving an alawite state. So medieval…”

Where is Ansariah Mountain? Is this a new mountain? the other day you were talking about “world known facts” about the Alawis where we find out that you really do not know where al-Haffe is.

Also, what happened and is happening in al-Haffe is very important and overlooked in the news.

The Armed opposition made a demonstration in al-Haffe, then the population left and then they attacked the Assad positions.

Learn your facts before you spread nonsense.

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June 9th, 2012, 9:51 pm

 

49. zoo said:

Lavrov: Rice is “thoughtless” to exclude Iran

Russia presses for conference on Syria
9:24 AM Sunday Jun 10, 2012
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10811973

Russia has pressed its idea of an international Syria conference including Iran and again voiced opposition to the use of force to end the deadly violence.

Moscow said that denying Tehran – a key Damascus ally – a role in helping to negotiate an end to the 17-month crisis in Syria would be “thoughtless”.

“We want this event to be effective,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.

“To say that Iran doesn’t have a place because it is already to blame for everything and it’s part of the problem and not part of the solution, this is thoughtless to say the least from the point of view of serious diplomacy.”

The Iranian government is one of the most important of a dwindling number of friends for Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad, who is facing mounting calls to go.

Lavrov said Moscow would be “glad” to support Assad’s departure but only if Syrians themselves agreed on it.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, has called Iran a “spoiler” and said it is “part of the problem in Syria.” The United States has accused Iran of arming Assad’s forces.

Russia has said a conference was needed to overcome differences over the implementation of the peace plan of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, left in tatters by the continued violence.

Lavrov said permanent UN Security Council members Russia, the United States, France, Britain and China, Syria’s neighbours including Lebanon and Jordan, as well as the EU and the Arab League should take part in the get-together.

Moscow wants to hold the conference “as soon as possible”, Lavrov said, without being more specific.

He stressed it might be necessary to overlook ideological divisions to settle the Syria crisis and he suggested that the United States should do so over Iran.

“Americans are pragmatists. When they want, they do not pay attention to ideological problems,” Lavrov said. “This is pragmatism. It’s simply necessary in foreign policy.”

“We are talking about saving people’s lives.”

The main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, voiced doubt about involving Iran in any conference on the future of Syria.

More…

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June 9th, 2012, 10:30 pm

 

50. mjabali said:

Sandro Loewe said:

قتيلا12 بينهم 10 أطفال جراء القصف على قرية في الحفة في اللاذقية

this translates into English:

“12 dead among them 10 children from shelling a village in al-Haffe in Lattakia.”

First of all the fight is in al-Haffe itself and few Sunni villages around it. The Sunni fighters are the ones who started this fight.

For those who do not know, al-Haffe is a Sunni town next to Salah al-Din Castle in the Alawi Mountains. There are few Sunni villages next to it. They have been demonstrating against al-Assad for a year at least and this is the first time it becomes a violent fight on this scale because of the sensitivity of the location.

Many Alawis have been kidnapped in the last few days. This is new to that area and very dangerous.

These fighters, some say they include many non Syrians, have attacked the Christian village of Kenseba on their way.

The Sunnis planned this fight and therefore all the Alawi villages around are armed now and watching. The police/mukhabarat and army are fighting there. The Sunnis are trying to wage many contact points: like from Idleb to Slenfeh.

The Sunni fighters have been gathering for a while for this fight. Some estimate them in the thousands. It is going to be the new hot zone. Assad forces used choppers because of the mountainous wooded nature of the area. Some of these nice woods are burning because the fighters are in them and al-Assad forces are shelling the area.

The situation is very dangerous over there. If you have a mind and a heart with love for Syria help us end this.

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June 9th, 2012, 10:33 pm

 

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