Opposition Disunity Becomes the Problem as the West Gets its Ducks in a Row

Western diplomats have gotten their ducks in a row. They have fulfilled their goal of diplomatically isolating President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian regime. Sanctions have been tightened and plans drawn up for a total oil purchasing ban by the EU. The major European countries have now all reiterated Washington’s statement that Assad must go. They are committed to bringing down the Baath regime.

The Arab League has taken the initiative to ask for presidential elections in Syria and an end of repression. Russia and Iran, although presently sticking by Syria’s side, have openly criticized Assad for his repression. Russia’s delegation has just returned from Damascus. Western leaders have prepared the world to support the Syrian revolution. Some may even be contemplating an eventual military solution. Today arming Syrians is not being openly discussed, but many are coming to the conclusion that it may very well have to be somewhere down the road.

The stumbling block in the way of developing further momentum for the revolution is the Syrian opposition itself. Western capitals have been driving the momentum over the last weeks with condemnations, enhanced economic embargoes, and by herding Arab and Middle Eastern statesmen to make accusatory and condemning statements about the Syrian regime. If the opposition continues sniping among factions, momentum will be lost. To whom should aid be sent? To whom could arms be sent if a military option is to be opened? More importantly, whom should the Syrian people look to as an alternative to this government?

Burhan Ghalioun

The announcement of the formation of the Syrian National Council with Burhan Ghalioun, a sociology professor at the Sorbonne, as its president was immediately denounced by leaders of the opposition within Syria, who claimed it had no connection to activists within the country or control over events on the ground. Muhammad Rahhal, Chairman of the Syrian Revolutionary Council of the Coordination Committees, said:

“Those who formed the Syrian National Council are ghosts claiming to represent a large part of the Syrian people, while they have no relations whatsoever with the revolution. We are not part of the opposition abroad. The revolution has an internal body that decides its course.”

A full fledged food fight has broken out among opposition leaders over who should assume control over the revolution, whether it should take up arms, and what role foreign powers are playing. Underlying these overt clashes is the question of how much play should be given to Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood; Arabism versus Syrianism (the Kurds want recognition of their national and linguistic rights within a Syria that is not defined ethnically), and can ex-patriots lead or do they establish a “Chalabi effect?” Distrust of the West remains strong in Syria. Activists inside Syria don’t appreciate how Western governments must be brought along step by step. They cannot get out too far ahead of their people, who don’t want to spend money right now. Expats believe that Western governments are going to be crucial in bringing down the Assad regime and must be treated with respect and brought along. Some in Washington are already warning that the Syrian opposition will soon begin calling for external military intervention and that Washington should prepare itself and NATO to intervene.

[End of Landis commentary]

New Round Up

Formation of the Syrian National Council, August 29, 2011

A meeting of the Syrian opposition in Ankara, Turkey has formed the Syrian National Transitional Council, following in the Libyan opposition’s footsteps. It is to be headed by Dr Burhan Ghalioun, a prominent opposition figure.

He is a Syrian thinker, director of the Centre d’Etudes sur l’Orient Contemporain (Ceoc) in Paris, and a professor of political sociology at the Université de Paris III

They have chosen 94 members for the council, 42 of whom are inside Syria and the rest are in the Diaspora.

The press statement was delivered by a spokesman for the Youth of the Revolution, saying the choices of the head and members of the council were mad based on consultations and agreement with those in Syria.

Addendum: Majhool corrects in the comment section:

I just spoke to a Homsi Friend, he confirmed that Ghalioun Family is a small modest Sunni family.

Abughassan writes in the comment section:

It is premature to draw conclusions about the choice of Dr Galioun to be the president of the transitional council formed by the opposition. I am not even sure if this council will be THE council for the opposition. I certainly see it as a positive step that must be followed by the public release of a roadmap for change. The opposition needs to tell us where it is headed.

Contacts with moderate elements in the army and among community leaders seem to be a reasonable second step. The council will be DOA if it does not deliver a moderate and inclusive message that is peaceful at its core.

Galioun, as most of you know, is a secular Alawi who is a bitter opponent of the Baath Party. But he is also just as fiercely opposed to Islamist.  It remains to be seen how he will be received by conservative Muslims and how effective and influential he will be at his position. He is also an expat which will be used against him by both foes and friends.

Naming Galioun was a political move to assure some Alawis and deliver a message to islamists but it is obviously too early to say much about his appointment or election by the council.

Syrian uprising to get aggressive- Activist,
29/08/2011, By Paula Astatih

“Regarding the announcement of the establishment of the Syrian National Council, Rahhal told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Those who formed the council are ghosts claiming to represent a large part of the Syrian people, while they have no relations whatsoever with the revolution. We are not part of the opposition abroad. The revolution has an internal body that decides its course.”

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Muhammad Rahhal, Chairman of the Syrian Revolutionary Council of the Coordination Committees has announced that the council has adopted a resolution to soon move into the second stage of the revolution, which requires arming it, and moving towards an aggressive direction.

Rahhal told Asharq al-Awsat: “We have adopted the resolution to arm the revolution, which will take an aggressive direction very soon, because what we are facing today is an international conspiracy that cannot be confronted except by armed uprising.” Rahhal considers: “The circumstances no longer allow peaceful dealing with the criminality of the regime. Moreover, confronting the ghoul that seeks the protection of the world countries requires weapons, especially as it has become evident to all that the world has not supported the Syrian uprising except by words.”

“We will declare the revolution with what we have in our hands of weapons and stones, and we will respond to the calls of the masses for arming the uprising.” Rahhal added.

With regard to the sources of weapons, the Syrian activist told Asharq Al Awsat: “The Arab countries, which are supposed to help and support us, are cowards, and they refuse to act. Therefore, we will follow the Afghan example; when the Afghans were asked: Where will you get the weapons? They answered: As long as the United States is here, there will be weapons.”

Regarding the announcement of the establishment of the Syrian National Council, Rahhal told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Those who formed the council are ghosts claiming to represent a large part of the Syrian people, while they have no relations whatsoever with the revolution. We are not part of the opposition abroad. The revolution has an internal body that decides its course.”

Divisions in Syrian opposition over arming protesters
Aug 29, 2011, AFP

Cairo – The first signs of divisions among Syrian opposition groups emerged Monday over the contentious issue of arming the pro-democracy protesters.

The Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC) rejected calls by some opposition groups to arm the protesters, saying such a move would be ‘unacceptable politically, nationally, and ethically.’

The LCC, one of several online groups that have been organizing and documenting the protests, said arming the protesters would minimize popular support for and participation in the rallies.

The group said in a statement that it understood the motivation to take up arms, but rejected it. ‘The method by which the regime is overthrown is an indication of what Syria will be like post-regime,’ it said.

‘If an armed confrontation or international military intervention becomes a reality, it will be virtually impossible to establish a legitimate foundation for a proud future Syria,’ the statement said.

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad has cracked down on the pro-democracy protests that started mid-March, triggering international condemnation. The United Nations says more than 2,200 people have been killed.

Mohammad Rahhal of another group, Syrian Coordination Committees, supported the decision to arm the protesters.

‘We made our decision to arm the revolution which will turn violent very soon because what we are being subjected to today is a global conspiracy that can only be faced by an armed uprising,’ he told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on Sunday.

In Turkey meanwhile, some opposition members announced the formation of a National Transitional Council to lead activists calling for al-Assad’s ouster.

While a council spokesman said the members were chosen after consultations with activists and protesters in Syria, according to Al Jazeera, some members told regional broadcasters that they were not notified about or consulted on their appointments.

The council is to comprise 94 members – 42 in Syria – and be led by Burhan Ghalioun, a sociologist at the Sorbonne in Paris. Hundreds of Syrian dissidents had gathered in Istanbul last month and agreed to form a council in order to unify the opposition. more…

Syrian opposition decides to take up arms against Assad regime, 28.08.11

Leader of Revolutionary Council tell London-based As-Sharq al-Awsat that the only solution to regime’s violence is armed uprising.

The leader of the Revolutionary Council of the Syrian Coordination Committees, Mohammad Rahhal, said in remarks published Sunday that the council took the decision to arm the Syrian revolution.

Since mid-March pro-democracy protests have engulfed most of Syria calling for political and economic reforms as well as for the ousting of Syrian president Bashar Assad.

“We made our decision to arm the revolution which will turn violent very soon because what we are being subjected to today is a global conspiracy that can only be faced by an armed uprising,” he told the London-based As-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Circumstances no longer allow dealing peacefully with the regime’s “crimes,” he added. “We will use whatever arms and rocks … We will respond to the people’s calls to arm the revolution,” he said.

“Confronting this monster (the Syrian regime) now requires arms, especially after it has become clear to everyone that the world only supports the Syrian uprising through speeches,” he added. Rahal lashed out some Arab regimes and described them as “cowards.”

Assad’s troops have harshly cracked down on protests against almost five decades of Baath Party rule, killing over 2,200 people and triggering a wide-scale international condemnation.

Sami Moubayed in Gulfnews

….The Syrian state, however, until this very day, does not feel weak or in danger. Wishful thinking is one thing, but hard reality is another. On the contrary, Syrian authorities are firmly convinced that the “crisis” is ending and the nation is still very much under control. Schools and universities are opening next September, infrastructure projects are still underway, employees are still showing up at ministries, and state salaries are still being paid. No serious defections have taken place in the army or the foreign ministry, and no critical mass has been recorded in the capital Damascus. Also, the state feels that the demonstrators are getting fatigued because of fear, death and so many arrests during the past two months.

For their part, the rioters are also now certain that the state is much stronger than they expected and unlikely to relinquish power as the case in Tunisia or Egypt, anytime soon. Given the current balance of power, the street will probably never take Damascus or Aleppo — the two largest cities in Syria — and nor will the protesters ever occupy a central part of the capital, as they did with Tahrir Square in Cairo.

That explains why there are certain voices in the Syrian underground now calling for taking up arms, claiming that a “peaceful revolt” will never achieve its objective…..

Syrian Attorney General Bakkour Kidnapped in Hama, Sana Says, 2011-08-29
By Vivian Salama

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) — A group of armed gunmen have reportedly kidnapped Syrian Attorney General Adnan Bakkour in the city of Hama while he was on his way to work today, state-run Sana news agency reported today, citing Hama police.

Everyone should buy this book of Ali Ferzat’s cartoons that Scott Davis published at Cune Press. It is excellent.

Some fear war, foreign intervention in Syria
By Phil Sand, Aug 30, 2011, the National

Damascus // With no sign that a political solution will be found to end a six-month-old uprising, Syria is sliding towards a full-blown war involving foreign forces, analysts and political figures in Damascus fear.

Pro-and anti-regime figures and independent analysts once spoke of civil war and international military intervention as remote possibilities. In the past 10 days, however, the already sombre mood in the Syrian capital has turned even darker and now there is a growing consensus that an escalation of armed conflict is likely, if not inevitable.

A turning point came on August 21, with the arrival of Libyan rebels in Tripoli. With the collapse of the Qaddafi regime, Mr Al Assad’s government saw its hope that Nato would be mired in another Afghanistan-style conflict melt away. Meanwhile, opposition activists and analysts took it as a signal that a once-distracted international community will now focus its attention – and perhaps military resources – on Damascus.

The fact that no state, including the Western nations most at odds with the Syrian regime, has proposed military intervention has done nothing to prevent grim speculation.

The gloom has been compounded by increasingly critical positions from the Arab League and from Turkey, whose president, Abdullah Gul, said Sunday that any reforms would now be “too little, too late.”

“Scenarios that lead to foreign military action in Syria grow more likely every day,” said one well-connected political analyst in Damascus, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He brushed aside Western and Arab League assurances that military action was not on the agenda, citing the rapid march to war in Libya as a precedent for how rapidly policies could change.

“The situation could start moving very quickly. If the [Syrian] regime keeps killing people in large numbers, we will enter a civil war, and if that happens Turkey, the West and the Arab states would decide to step in and finish it,” the analyst said. “That is exactly the direction we are now heading in.”…. “Every day we are coming up with political initiatives that we put to the authorities to avert the disaster of war and foreign military intervention but nothing is happening to change course,” said Mohammad Habash, a Syrian MP pushing for reforms. “Without real change, we go deeper and deeper into crisis. We are marching towards more bloodshed.”

Arab League proposes Syria peace plan, Telegraph
By Ben Farmer, 28 Aug 2011

The Arab League is sending its chief to Damascus with a peace plan to try and solve the bloody five-month-old Syrian crisis.

Nabil al-Arabi will visit the Syrian capital with “an initiative” to end the deadlock between the government and protesters, the league said in a statement demanding an end to the bloodshed.

The statement provoked an angry rejection from Syria though, which condemned it as “a clear violation … of the principles of the Arab League charter and of the foundations of joint Arab action.” Foreign ministers from the 22-member League met over the weekend in Cairo as an onslaught against anti-government protesters defied growing pressure from Damascus’s allies.

The United Nations has estimated more than 2,200 have been killed.

Months of international condemnation have failed to halt the bloodshed, which has seen the regime deploy tanks, snipers, and allegedly naval bombardment against street protesters.

In some of the weekend’s heaviest clashes, army defectors who had refused to fire on unarmed protesters reportedly fought loyalist troops in a northeast suburb of the capital.

Dozens of soldiers defected and fled into al-Ghouta, an area of orchards and farmland, after pro-Assad forces shot at a crowd of demonstrators near the Damascus suburb of Harasta to prevent them from marching on the capital, residents said.

Syrian authorities have denied any army defections, though protesters claim growing numbers of rank-and-file soldiers are mutinying against officers loyal to the Assad family.

One resident, who declined to be named, said: “The army has been firing heavy machineguns throughout the night at al-Ghouta and they were being met with response from smaller rifles.”

Security forces on Sunday shot dead two and wounded nine others in the northwestern province of Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Abdullah Gul, president of neighbouring Turkey, said he had lost confidence in Damascus’s promises to halt the crackdown and deliver reform.

“Today in the world there is no place for authoritarian administrations, one-party rule, closed regimes. Those either will be replaced by force, or the governors of states will take the initiative to administer,” Mr Gul warned.

Iran at the weekend warned Mr Assad to heed the “legitimate demands” of his people, but warned Nato would become bogged down in a quagmire if it interfered.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Tehran’s foreign minister, said: “Syria is the front-runner in Middle Eastern resistance (to Israel) and Nato cannot intimidate this country with an attack.

“If, God forbid, such a thing happened, Nato would drown in a quagmire from which it would never be able to escape …

“If the West should want to follow the same course as they have done in Iraq and Afghanistan they would not realise the desired result.”

William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, ruled out a Libya-style Nato military campaign in Syria.

He claimed the success of Libyan rebels in taking Tripoli “vindicated” Britain’s policy of military action, but said there was no consensus for action in Syria.

It was unclear when the Arab League delegation would reach Damascus and details of the peace plan were not disclosed.

Russian diplomats were also preparing to send their own delegation with a competing initiative, Moscow said.

Council seeks ‘resort to reason‘; Delegates also recognize Libyan rebels, ask UN to release frozen funds, assets
By SAMI ABOUDI, Reuters August 29, 2011

Arab foreign ministers told Syria on Sunday to work to end months of bloodshed, and decided to send Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby to Damascus to push for political and economic reforms.

But in a conciliatory message to Damascus, the ministers also said after an extraordinary meeting in Cairo that Syria’s stability was crucial for the Arab World and the whole region.

Assad receives a message on the Russian vision towards regional issues

DAMASCUS, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received Monday a message from his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev ….

SANA said Assad has expressed “appreciation of Russia’s balanced stance towards the developments in Syria.”

Assad said “each step Syria has taken towards issuing laws that lay foundations for a new political era was followed by an escalation of the regional and international campaign towards Syria’s Arab and regional role.”

Bogdanov voiced his country’s support to the process of reforms Syria has commenced in the economic and political fields, underlining the importance of continued coordination between the two countries in all fields.

The Russian envoy’s visit aims likely to feel out Syria’s position on the draft resolution and to what extent Damascus would commit itself to its provisions if Russia and China were able to pass it in the Security Council instead of the Europeans’ proposed one.

The Russian draft stresses that the only solution to the current crisis is “an inclusive and Syrian-led political process,” and urges the opposition to engage in political dialogue with the government.

US ‘encouraged’ by tougher Arab stand on Syria

WASHINGTON – The United States said Monday that it was “encouraged” and “heartened” by a tougher stand from Arab countries toward Syria’s deadly crackdown pro-democracy protesters.

“We are very much encouraged, heartened by the strong statements that we’ve seen over the weekend by the Arab League as well as by the Gulf Cooperation Council,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

These are “further signs that the international community… is repulsed by the brutal actions of the Syrian government and is standing with the Syrian people,” he added.

If the Arab Spring Turns Ugly
Published: August 27, 2011

Vali Nasr is professor at Tufts University, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of “The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future.”
Points of Confrontation

THE Arab Spring is a hopeful chapter in Middle Eastern politics, but the region’s history points to darker outcomes. There are no recent examples of extended power-sharing or peaceful transitions to democracy in the Arab world. When dictatorships crack, budding democracies are more than likely to be greeted by violence and paralysis. Sectarian divisions — the bane of many Middle Eastern societies — will then emerge, as competing groups settle old scores and vie for power. Syria today stands at the edge of such an upheaval. The brutality of Bashar al-Assad’s regime is opening a dangerous fissure between the Alawite minority, which rules the country, and the majority Sunni population. After Mr. Assad’s butchery in the largely Sunni city of Hama on July 31, on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan, the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni group, accused the regime of conducting “a war of sectarian cleansing.” It is now clear that Mr. Assad’s strategy is to divide the opposition by stoking sectarian conflict.

Sunni extremists have reacted by attacking Alawite families and businesses, especially in towns near the Iraq border. The potential for a broader clash between Alawites and Sunnis is clear, and it would probably not be confined to Syria. Instead, it would carry a risk of setting off a regional dynamic that could overwhelm the hopeful narrative of the Arab Spring itself, replacing it with a much aggravated power struggle along sectarian lines.

That is because throughout the Middle East there is a strong undercurrent of simmering sectarian tension between Sunnis and Shiites, of whom the Alawites are a subset. ….

Tehran presses ally Assad for reforms
Published: Aug 27, 2011 22:48 Updated: Aug 27, 2011 22:48

TEHRAN: The Syrian government should recognize the “legitimate demands” of its people, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, whose nation is the main ally of Damascus, was quoted as saying Saturday.

“The government should answer to the demands of its people, be it Syria, Yemen or other countries,” the ISNA news agency quoted him as saying. “The people of these nations have legitimate demands and the governments should respond to these demands as soon as possible,” Salehi added.

“We have the same stance toward popular developments in the Middle East and North Africa. We believe that the developments in the region emanate from discontent and dissatisfaction in these countries,” he said.

But he warned against toppling the Syrian regime. “A vacuum in the Syrian regime would have an unpredictable impact for the region and its neighbors,” Salehi said, referring to calls by the United States and European leaders for President Bashar Assad to step down.

Salehi’s comments came two days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for dialogue between Damascus and the opposition to end months of deadly violence. “The people and government of Syria must come together to reach an understanding,” Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday.

Syria’s opposition has failed to offer a viable alternative, Aug 28, 2011. Russian News

Shortly after the execution of Saddam Hussein in December 2006, two stories began to circulate about his fate. One told of otherwise sane people reportedly seeing the face of the late Iraqi dictator on the moon on the night of his death. Another told a more believable tale: that the “real” Saddam was alive and well after a body double died on the gallows. It would only be a matter of time before he rose again.

These stories were, of course, nothing more than paranoid fiction. But they spoke to the psychological hold that Saddam maintained over much of the Iraqi public. People simply couldn’t believe his reign of terror was over. Indeed, some people didn’t want it to be.

A similar scenario is playing out in Syria today. Much like his father before him, Bashar Al Assad’s political decisions have rendered him illegitimate in the eyes of many. But fear of what could come next has kept his regime alive.

Mr Al Assad, like all totalitarian rulers, holds on to power in different ways: by force, by coercion, or by a combination of both. Decades of brutality have pushed some to accept tyranny.

But there are others who support the Assad regime for legitimate reasons. These Syrians, predominantly minorities, have profound concerns that must be duly addressed. And so far, the Syrian opposition has failed to reassure those sitting on the fence….

August 26, 2011
Iran Monitors Turkey’s Rising Regional Power
By Stratfor

A high ranking Iranian cleric used some tough language against Turkey on Wednesday. Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi – recently appointed to head the newly constituted Arbitration Council- accused Turkey of promoting a Westernized version of Islam to advance its interests in the region. Shahroudi, who is seen as a possible successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Turkey’s claims to be the “guardian of the resistance movement” are tarnished by Ankara’s relations with Israel and alliance with the United States. He said that Iran, despite its support of the Palestinians and efforts against the West, has been pushed to the margins.

Shahroudis comments come a day after another high-ranking cleric, Naser Makarrem-Shirazi (a grand ayatollah who is very close to the Iranian political establishment) criticized the Turkish government for turning against Syria, accusing Ankara of being at the complete disposal of the West. Earlier on Monday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sought Ankara’s help in protecting the Syrian regime from Western pressure during a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that lasted more than thirty minutes….

Turkey’s ‘house of glass’
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek has an explanation for the most recent escalation of violence in Turkey’s southeast: Foreign powers!

Mr. Çiçek’s reply to a reporter’s question as to who these foreign powers are may well earn him a nomination for the 2011 Speech Apraxia Award: “We know who they are… Those who know who they are know who they are… And they (the evil foreign powers) know it’s them.”

In the previous rise of armed conflict between the Turkish military and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, the Turkish government subtly accused Israel for playing the Kurdish card against Turkey – while not minding to play the Hamas card against the Jewish state. Today, it seems, “those who know it’s them” are either the Iranians or the Syrians, or both. But is it not bizarre to see Israel, Iran and Syria in the same camp? A very rare gathering, indeed…

Wikileaks has released a US embassy cable dated 2008 about the sale of commercial Airbus planes which has been blocked by the USA .

The blockage was already a well known fact. What was not known is : It also stressed that the airframer had “no intention of structuring the deal to attempt to circumvent [US government] sanctions” – ruling out lease and purchase agreements with private third parties.

Russia, China resist U.N. Syria sanctions push: envoys
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS | Fri Aug 26, 2011

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A U.S. and European push to impose U.N. Security Council sanctions on Syria for its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators is meeting fierce resistance from Russia and China, U.N. diplomats said.

The United States, Britain, France, Germany and Portugal have circulated a draft resolution that calls for sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, influential members of his family and close associates. They say they want to put it to a vote as soon as possible.

The measures are not as severe as U.S. sanctions in place and a proposed expansion of European Union steps against Damascus that would forbid the import of Syrian oil.

U.S., Israel Said to Monitor Suspected Syrian Weapons: WSJ 2011-08-27

WASHINGTON—The U.S. and Israel are closely monitoring Syria’s suspected cache of weapons of mass destruction, fearing that terror groups could take advantage of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad to obtain blistering agents, nerve gas …

Nasrallah urges Arabs to end unrest in Syria
By Dana Khraiche

BEIRUT: Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah called Friday on Arab and friendly states to combine efforts to end the nearly six-month unrest in Syria, adding Syrian support for Hezbollah had been essential in the liberation of south Lebanon from Israeli occupation.

“Everyone who is a friend of Syria and seeks to preserve the country and its unity should combine efforts to help push them toward dialogue and peaceful resolution,” Nasrallah said during a ceremony for the occasion of Jerusalem International Day in Maroun al-Ras, a village on the Lebanese border with Israel.

Nasrallah praised Syria’s support for the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance, noting that if it wasn’t for the support of the Syrian leadership, Hezbollah would not have succeeded in liberating south Lebanon in 2000.

“This land here [south Lebanon] would not have been liberated it wasn’t for the resistance and the resistance would not have won if it wasn’t for the Syrian support,” Nasrallah said, adding that the Iran had also provided support, via Syria.

In 2000, Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in what has been described by Hezbollah as a victory for the party, as has the 2006 war between Lebanon and Israel.

Nasrallah also warned that any positive or negative developments in Syria would affect the entire region, including Lebanon, and would harm the chances of liberating Palestine, praising Syria’s role in supporting the Palestinian cause.

Syrian opposition tries to unite, Turkey pledges more support

Syria’s fragmented opposition is on the edge of forming their leadership, as the unrest in the country is about to enter its sixth month.

The Syrian opposition gathered in Istanbul earlier this week and established the National Council after three days of meetings. The 120 members will be determined in two weeks.

“Options for the Assad regime are growing narrower by the day while the opposition is becoming bolder and more conscious of the pressing need to demonstrate that they are able to address the question of what happens after the collapse of the Assad regime,” says Amr al-Azm, a Syrian-American history professor.

Meanwhile, al-Azm adds, the opposition is unable to unite around a single representative body “that would then be able to speak on its behalf and articulate these demands in a cohesive and comprehensive manner”.

This is not easy “due to the unsettled relations between the various opposition groups and tensions that exist between those on the inside and the diaspora”, he tells SETimes.

“It is this daunting challenge of attempting to help the Syrian opposition coalesce around a representative body or council that Turkey may find a role to play in the coming days and weeks,” he adds.

Edward Dark, an activist from Aleppo and editor of the website Syrialeaks, said… “We view Turkey as a big brother who should protect us in our time of trouble… maybe [our] expectations are too high and sometimes unrealistic,” he tells SETimes.

Turkey, however, finds itself in a difficult position on the Syrian issue, while it tries to juggle its relations with the regime and links to the people.

“Maintaining this balance is not possible anymore,” Dark says, “The activists demand that Turkey sever its ties with the regime and take a very tough line, with threats of military intervention, under the umbrella of the UN or NATO.”

But in Ankara, officials seem unsure about the next step in their strategy.

“Our diplomacy is the diplomacy of persuasion,” Canan Kalsin, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) vice-chairman for foreign affairs, tells SETimes, adding that Turkey will continue its efforts to bring the sides together for dialog.

“[Erdogan] warned last week that unrest in Syria is part of Turkey’s internal affairs. That means the strengthening of the PKK in Syria is very sensitive for us,” she adds.

Oytun Orhan, Syria analyst at the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies, an Ankara-based think tank, explains that some in Turkey blame the recent wave of PKK attacks on Syria, believing that the al-Assad regime is tacitly backing the rebels in response to AKP government turning against its former ally.

“The regional picture is more complicated,” he told SETimes. “Syria is a key ally of Iran, which has, in recent weeks, suddenly stepped up its own attacks on PJAK, the PKK’s Iranian wing. Apparently, Iran also influences Turkey in this matter.”

Syrian Opposition Leader Riad Seif Recounts His Experiences in Prison and Says: ‘Dialogue Cannot Take Place between a Hangman and His Victim’

German prize for Syrian poet Sunday, August 28, 2011, BERLIN – The Associated Press

Adonis received the prize for bringing modern European ideas and critical thinking into current Arab culture.

Kordahi; Arab Star’s TV show pulled for his pro-Syria views
(DP-News – AFP)28/08/2011

DUBAI- The influential Saudi media group MBC has blocked the transmission of a game show because of the overtly pro-Syrian regime views of its Lebanese star presenter, Georges Kordahi. The Arabic-language version of the US show “You Deserve It” was to have been broadcast from September 10, and episodes had already been recorded.

In a statement received by AFP on Sunday, the Dubai-based Middle East Broadcasting Corporation said it had “taken this decision through respect for the feelings of the Syrian people.”

The Internet site of the Al-Arabiya satellite channel, which belongs to the MBC group, said Kordahi had been targeted by social networks and in Arab media for his remarks on the pro-government Dunia channel and on pro-Syrian Lebanese stations.

Diary from Syria: Ramadan Kareem or Ramadan Massacre
August 28, 2011 | By Jasmine Roman

….It has been confirmed that in a very wealthy neighborhood in Damascus city, gunshots were fired by security and police men on August 5th, 2011. The area was raided by more than fifty thugs and security officers searching for one unarmed young protestor who hopelessly hid behind the garbage box in the school yard. He was caught and beat violently by all fifty men with their wooden rods and guns. They then broke into the school and threatened to wreck the whole neighborhood if any word, photo, or video is released. This happened in my own street and the whole incident was witnessed by my own eyes. I was almost dragged and imprisoned by the security men as I was standing in the balcony with my family…..

Syrian gov’t troops kill 2 armed near capital: witness

DAMASCUS, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) — Two armed men were killed in clashes with Syrian government forces in Harasta suburb of capital Damascus late Saturday, an eye witness told Xinhua Sunday.

The witness, who asked for anonymity, said intense shooting occurred Saturday in Harasta after Ramadan night prayers between the government forces and armed men, adding that a number of parked cars were smashed with bullets from both sides.

The gunmen were armed with M16 rifles and pistols, said the witness.

After the shooting the government forces sealed off entrances of Harasta and prevented people of entering it, the witness added.

The report couldn’t be independently verified as journalists are banned from going to restive areas.

Iraq-Kuwait Tensions Rise Over Rocket Strikes – August 28, 2011

Shi’ite Militia Accused of Firing Rockets Against Kuwaiti Project

The disputes between Iraq and neighboring Kuwait are long-standing and well documented. Tensions between the two nations seem to be on the rise again as Iraqis loudly oppose the Mubarak al-Kabir Port project.

The opposition to the port centers from concern that it will reduce the value Iraq’s own nearby port of Grand Faw. This led a number of Iraqis to rally against the Kuwaiti project, with the port being the latest in a long line of bones of contention between the two.

Now, it seems, matters have gone beyond simple protest, as a group inside Iraq has fired a number of rockets against Kuwait. So far the rockets fell short of Kuwaiti territory, but led to angry complaints from Kuwait and a rebuke from Iraqi MPs, who warned that the situation could escalate.

CFR.org: How Will Assad Fall?
2011-08-29 by Elliott Abrams

It is easy to say that with Qaddafi gone, the next vicious regime to fall is that of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished, but realists and pessimists have …

Amid Syrian Raids, Reports of Desertions, By NADA BAKRI in NYTimes

reports that dozens of soldiers, possibly encouraged by the rout in Libya of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, had deserted their positions in a village near Homs,…

Comments (249)

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1. Haytham Khoury said:

@ Norman #97.

That is completely true. The Ba’ath arose as a Nationalistic party with Islamic soul.

Michel Aflak gave a lecture with title “The Arabic Prophet” to praise the Prophet Mohamed character (I think it was 1947).

The atheist (or rather anti religion nature of Ba’ath) started to emerge in the 60s, due to Salah Jedid (who adopted communist type ideology) influence. Thereafter, Hafez Assad used that in a selective way (whenever suited him he encouraged religiousness and in the remaining time he was anti religion).

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August 29th, 2011, 11:34 pm


2. beaware said:

Russia opposes West-drafted UN resolution on Syria: diplomat
2011-08-29 23:11:52
MOSCOW, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Russia stands against a West-drafted UN resolution on Syria, said Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitali Churkin on Monday.

“The draft resolution on Syria is completely non-objective and it envisages pressure on the Syrian authorities only,” Churkin told the Russia Today television channel.

“We are afraid that the resolution could push the most radical Syrian opposition forces to more active operations to topple the government. Just because of that, we categorically do not accept the aims our Western colleagues try to attain with that resolution. We offer the alternative,” the Russian diplomat said.

He stressed that the draft resolution does not contain a single word about political dialogue between the Syrian opposition and the government.

“The UN Security Council should not stay aside but it must act in a positive way,” Churkin stressed.

Also on Monday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent a message to his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, via his envoy Mikhail Bogdanov, announced the Kremlin.

Medvedev urged Assad “to stop immediately and completely” any violence from either side.

The Kremlin also stressed that the opposition should not dodge participation in a dialogue proposed by the authorities, saying dialogue is the only way to the restoration of social order and a democratic transformation of Syria.

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August 29th, 2011, 11:58 pm


3. Vedat The Turk said:


Bravo on your recent posts. They have all been very informative and insightful. I know that you have come under criticism lately by many (including at times from myself) for personal biases in your analysts. But truth be told, your blog is the single best source of information on what is happening in Syria! Your critics may not like it but your insights into what the elites in Damascus are thinking as well as ordinary Syrians is second second-to-none. Moreover your blog continues to be the first to report on important events that are only later picked up my main stream media (if at all).

For example, earlier this week you reported on the less than supportive comments that Iranian President Ahmedinejad made on Almanar TV about the Assad regime. As far as I could tell your blog was the first to break this story of all English press outlets! If they awarded Pulitzers for bloggers, yours would certainly be in the running.

On another subject: Everyone should note the distance that Iran is placing between itself and the Assad regime. This is a critical time for Tehran’s allies in Damascus. But instead of unwavering moral support and robust financial assistance, the Mullahs in Iran have begun to hedge there bets. This is shocking when one considers that for over 30 years Syria has stood by Irans side at great cost to itself. Syria has repeatedly felt the wrath of it’s Arab neighbors and the broader international community for the sake of its alliance with Iran. Indeed, the Assad clan has been so loyal that they have rejected every effort to flip it against the Iranians.

However after only 20 weeks of demonstration Iran is ready to dump the Assads! Dr Landis described it as Iran “not wanting to throw good money after bad”. This is even more shocking when one considers that after years of high oil prices Tehran is flush with cash. No matter, as the mullahs are only willing to think of themselves. This should be an important lesson for supporters of Hezbollah and Hamas who claim that Iran would never abandon them. If the mullahs in Tehran can shun there Syrian allies in there time of desperate need, they are capable of doing the same to Hezbollah, Hamas and whomever else is foolish enough to fall into an alliance with them.

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August 30th, 2011, 12:29 am


4. Abughassan said:

For months I argued that foreign nations,including turkey and Iran ,can not be trusted to solve Syria’s crisis. These two nations,turkey and Iran, are competing over Syria and do not want to take the side of a losing horse. Both countries will reverse course if the regime emerges victorious out of this uprising. As for the west,the secret code is Iran and to a lesser degree israel.most western governments will swallow their harsh rhetoric and modify sanctions if the Syrian regime gives its back to Iran,hizbullah and Hamas.
This crisis is Syrian and only Syrians can solve it.outside intervention will make things worse,and arming the opposition is a mere plot to transform Syria into another Iraq,only idiots and collaborators will sign on this vicious idea. We do not need arms to change the regime,people waited 48 years on albaath, 30 years on Hafez and 11 years on Bashar but want to create a new country in 5 months !!

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August 30th, 2011, 1:17 am


5. Majhool said:

Not that it matters, but i don’t believe the Burhan Ghalion is an Alawai. To my knowledge he is a sunni from a modest background.

Anyways, he is loved in Syria, and has the respect of most, even of the pro-assad people.

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August 30th, 2011, 1:56 am


6. Majhool said:

I just spoke to a Homsi Friend, he confirmed that Ghalioun Family is a small modest sunni family.

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August 30th, 2011, 2:11 am


7. NK said:

This is a very interesting article regarding this council, it’s in Arabic and sadly I don’t have time right now to translate it, if any of you guys want to do it for Prof. Landis, go for it. Otherwise I’ll try to get it done sometime tomorrow.

كيف ولد المجلس الانتقالي في أنقرة

هذا المقال تم تداوله على صفحات الفيس بوك من قبل المعارض خلف علي الخلف, النوت الأصلي على الرابط التالي


لأخذ العلم بما يجري في كواليس المؤتمرات,

نورده لكم كما وصل إلينا


في ظل حالة الانسداد التي وصلت لها المعارضة السورية كنت قرأت تعليقاً لحكم البابا يرد فيه على أحد منتقديه الذي كتب له على صفحته بأنه”لايعجبه العجب” وذكر في رده على منتقده أنمجلسا فيه فلان وفلان و… وذكر عددا من اسماء المعارضين السوريين الذين لا يختلف عليهم اثنان.

اتصلت بحكم وقلت له : اخي هي الاسماء التي ذكرتها في تعليقك هل تضمن موافقتها؛ فرد حكم اخي قبل أن تكمل فكرتك ما رأيك بأن نطلق مبادرة ونضعهم أمام مسؤولياتهم وتقرير ما يرونه مناسباً؛ قلت له أنا أتصل بك من أجل ذلك لكن عليك أن تضمن لنا موافقة الدكتور برهان غليون؛ والذي أعرف أن حكم على علاقة طيبة به فاتفقنا أن يكون اسم الهيئة المقترحة ” مجلس حكماء الثورة”

وبدأنا نصيغ نص المبادرة شفهيا وهو نص قصير يتحدث عن الوضع الحالي للمعارضة وعدم إثمار أيا من المؤتمرات التي عقدت عن نتيجة تكون رافعة للحراك السوري وليس عبئاً عليه، وقررنا أن يكون “مجلس الحكماء” من المعارضين السوريين الذين يشهد لهم تاريخهم السياسي و”النضالي” ويحظون بالقبول والاحترام من الناس، فتشاورنا في الاسماء واخترنا أولئك الأشخاص الذين عليهم شبه اجماع من السوريين، سجلنا أكثر من 30 اسماً وتوقفنا على أن نكمل لاحقاً؛ بعد التشاور مع أصدقاء آخرين من طرفي وطرف حكم وطرف أصدقاء آخرين حيث تم إضافة أسماء أخرى.

وكان المعيار الأساسي في اختيار الأسماء أن يكون تاربخ هؤلاء الاشخاص يؤهلهم لان يكونوا “شيوخ” أو “حكماء” أو ” مستشاري” الثورة إضافة إلى نشاطهم المستمر في مقارعة الاستبداد، أضافة للقبول العام

وقررنا أن نطلق هذه المبادرة دون مؤتمر ودون تكليف محدد للاسماء المختارة بل أن يقرروا هم ما يفعلون.. ويقرروا هم الصيغة التمثيلية للثورة ويقرروا هم ماذا يفعلون؛ على أن نحشد توقيعات لشخصيات ثقافية وسياسية فاعلة ولها احترامها على المبادرة قبل اطلاقها ونطرحها للتوقيع بعد اخذ رأي التنسيقيات في الداخل حول الامر

في اليوم نفسه كتبت الصيغة الأولية لنص المبادرة وأرسلته لحكم كي يضع ما يراه من تعديل عليه وكذلك مسودة قائمة الاسماء التي كتبناها..

اتصل بي مساء اليوم نفسه على السكايب العزيز كمال سنقر رجل الاعمال السوري المعروف والذي كان خلف مؤتمر أنطاليا وراعياً له.

وبدأت حديثي بعتاب يشرح أسباب فشل أنطاليا وأنه من وجهة نظري السبب كان الاسماء التي تم اختيارها في المكتب التنفيذي؛ بعد “مصيبة” اختيار الهيئة الاستشارية والتي كادت أن تفجر المؤتمر في حينها لولا رغبة الجميع بعدم السماح بالفشل كونه أول مؤتمر سوري …

إذ أنه كانت فكرتي أيام انعقاد مؤتمر انطاليا أن يكون المكتب التنفيذي من خارج الهيئة الاستشارية واختيار اسماء للمكتب من خارج مؤتمري أنطاليا تحظى بالقبول العام ويكون لها وزن وفاعلية على أن تكون الهيئة الاستشارية مفتوحة للإضافة؛ ولأسباب معروفة بالنسبة لي تم تجاهل هذا الأمر. وفيما بعد قدمت لبعض اعضاء الهيئة الاستشارية لأنطاليا مذكرة داخلية في حينها عن كيفية توسيع شرعية المؤتمر ولم أكن قد فقدت الأمل منه في ذلك الحين (والحديث عن أنطاليا يطول)… الخ

أكد لي “أبو ربيع” أن حكيي صحيح ومعي حق لكن هذا ما حدث.. فقلت له لكنكم ترتكبون نفس الاخطاء الآن مع “جماعة اسطنبول” وكانوا في حينها نشروا بيانا “أي جماعة أنطاليا” يعلنون فيه انسحابهم من المشاورات.. التي كانت تجري لتشكيل المجلس الوطني الذي أُعلن عنه

وفي سياق الحديث سألني أبو ربيع شو الحل أخي؟ لازم نعمل شي الناس عم تموت داخل سوريا.. فقلت له طول بالك شوي هناك مبادرة نعمل عليها أنا وحكم ومثقفين آخرين فحواها كذا… فقال لي خلص ونحن معكم بس ابعت لي الاسماء وأنا عندي توكيلات رسمية من بعض “التنسيقيات” والمجموعات الشبابية وسوف نكون معكم لكن أريد رؤية الأسماء أولاً… ولأن قصة الاسماء دائما هي مربط الفرس خفت تسربها وقلت له القائمة ما زالت أولية وما زلنا نعمل عليها، فأصر على إرسالها له؛ فقلت له سأرسلها لك لاحقا. إلا أنه ألح أن أرسلها له حالاً.. فقلت له أغلبها من القائمة التي وضعناها للاشخاص المدعوين لمؤتمر أنطاليا ( وكنا أنا وحكم وآخرين عملنا على قائمة الاشخاص الذين تم توجيه الدعوة لهم لحضور المؤتمر) لكني لم أرسلها

بعدها بقليل اتصل بي حكم فقلت له أن ” أبو ربيع ” كلمني وقال أنه يؤيد الفكرة وأن هناك مجموعات شبابية ستوقع على المبادرة قبل اطلاقها. فهب حكم كالملدوغ منزعجا من تسريبي للأمر قبل اكتماله وأن ذلك سيفشلها.. قال حينها حرفيا ما تستغرب بكرا أبو ربيع يعمل القصة بالطريقة نفسها تبع أنطاليا.. أبديت استبعادي لفكرة أن يقوم أبو ربيع بتنفيذ الفكرة فقال لي حكم أخي مشان الله ما تحكي لحدا إلا نخلص

بعدها سألته إن كان أخذ موافقة الدكتور غليون فقال لي أنه أطلعه عليها وأنه موافق على ذلك واقترح علينا تعديل اسم الهيئة من ” مجلس حكماء الثورة” الى الهيئة الاستشارية للثورة السورية على أن نستشير لاحقا بعض من وردت أسماؤهم في الهيئة

اتصل بي حكم اليوم صباحا وكنت ما ازال نائما و “ياغافل” لك الله فقال لي شو قصة هذا المجلس اللي اعلنوه في انقرة، قلت له وين ؟ فرد بيقولوا على الجزيرة . قلت له لا علم لي بشيء دعني أتصل وأرى… اتصلت ببعض ممن وردت أسماؤهم فنفوا علمهم بالقصة..

في هذا الوقت كانت الجزيرة أعادت فقرة من نص الاعلان عن المجلس وكان العزيز ضياء الدين دغمش يتلو ما أصبح معروفاً… اتصلت بحكم فقال لي: سنقر مو؟ قلت له نعم سنقر. قال: أخي إنت تتحمل كل المسؤلية على هي الطوشة اللي صارت اليوم…

لا اعتراض لي على الفكرة بالتأكيد لكن دائما مقتل المؤتمرات في هيئاتها وعدم مراعاة حساسيات الناس وعدم التدقيق في الاسماء التي يتم اختيارها … فكانت أسماء مجلس أنقرة ” شوربة” ومن الواضح أن من أعدها إما أنه لا يعرف الخريطة السياسية للمعارضة ولا للناشطين ولا للفاعلين أو أنه تعمد هذا الخلط بين أسماء من الواضح أن السوريين لا يختلفون عليها وبين أسماء أخرى عليها إشكالات كبيرة وأسماء أخرى لا يعرفها أحد…

بالنسبة لي الهدف من إعلان المجلس بهذه الطريقة وهذه السرعة كان واضحا وهو قطع الطريق على المبادرة التي تحدثنا عنها وكذلك قطع الطريق على “مجموعة اسطنبول” التي لم ترضخ “لشروط” إنطاليا في اختيار الأسماء، وكانت هذه الخلطة والطريقة هي إعادة تعويم مؤتمر أنطاليا ومكتبه بعد أن فشل فشلا ذريعاً، وبعد الاحساس المتراكم لدى “الأنطاليين” بأن مؤتمرهم لم يشكل حجر الأساس في أي مجلس محتمل. فكانت هذه القنبلة الصوتية

بكل الاحوال ما تزال المبادرة قائمة إلا إذا استجد شيء أكثر نفعا منها أما ماهو الخلاف بينها وبين المجلس المعلن فهو التالي:

1- آلية اختيار الاسماء واضحة ومحدد والنقطة الاساسية هي اجماع السوريين عليها
2- كل مشارك في هذه المبادرة ليس جزء منها بل سينتهي دورنا بعد إطلاقها
3- الهيئة ليست مجلسا انتقاليا بل هي مرجعية سياسة للثورة تقرر ما تراه مناسبا
4- ليس هناك برنامج أو ترتيب من طرفنا بل هم من يضع ذلك

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August 30th, 2011, 2:17 am


8. CC said:

In checking back, I was unable to establish when and where this Revolutionary Council was formed. Also, what is the background/context for Muhammad Rahhal?

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August 30th, 2011, 2:40 am


9. Said AL-TAYYAR said:

The conspiracy is going on. Now its Georges Qardahi’s turn and Syrian actors… why is this a two side thing? Ordinary people, ya3ne not only actors or known personalitys, in Syria are against the chaos being made in Syria by the protestors… they lock the country down. Lets give a chance to Bashar and we’ll see what he can do. They are with the people and say what they think, this is not ‘maslaha’ or something… this is what they think and this is what the Syrian people thinks (most of them). They did not say, we do not want a better live for the syrian people, they did not say NO to the reforms. They say we want the president to stay and to implement the reforms promised to the Syrian people.

These are our actors, they also suffer from the same problems we syrians suffer. But, just like the syrian people, they don’t force it, they don’t want the regime to fall so zionists like Tara and others will give chaos abig welcome.

I still think it’s wrong to say the majoryty is against Bashar, and what they say about people being scared to say that they’re agains him and the govt. No the large majority is WITH Bashar and the current govt.

I will fight against them no matter what the Saudi Arabia says or does to appease the Zionists and their 3abeed.

Syria forever and long live our president. 🙂 :):)

In your face TARA 🙂 and other zionists serving people. They are logged-on Syriacomment 24/h-7.. all what you see is their names.. and their probaganda

Ya Tara, if you want to fight bravely go to Syria and fight along your Muslim brotherhood friends and take arms (dont call for hate and arms, do it yourself). We will wait for you at the airport with flowers of welcome to the qutr.

Ahla w sahla ya3ne. bel mhalli ya rouhi


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August 30th, 2011, 2:44 am



Stick – Stuck

The learned professor writes

Russia and Iran, although presently sticking by Syria’s side,

I propose an edit

Russia and Iran, although presently sticking by Syria’s Assad’s side,

The Assads are not Syria

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August 30th, 2011, 4:15 am


11. SYR.EXPAT said:

A speech by an Iraqi scholar condeming the Syrian government’s crackdown and accusing the Syrian and Iranian governments of sending terrorist to Iraq to wreak havoc. This speech and others are thought to be the reason for the suicide bombing targeting the scholar few days ago. The scholar survived.

Read more: فيديو – خطبة الدكتور احمد عبد الغفور السامرائي عن سورية التي بسببها تم محاولة اغتياله | وطن


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August 30th, 2011, 4:20 am


12. SYR.EXPAT said:

الكاتب وطن
الاثنين, 29 أغسطس 2011 20:49

لسنوات عديدة تم مطاردة صحيفة وطن الورقية الصادرة في امريكا من قبل شخص يدعى نهاد الغادري في المحاكم الأمريكية، وكان وقتذاك يعمل مستشارا لملك السعويدة (فهد بن عبد العزيز) ومنحته السلطات السعودية وعائلته الجنسية السعودية.
الغادري رفع قضية ضد صحيفتنا لأسباب يطول شرحها الآن
ولكننا سنعود إليها بالتفاصيل في أحد أهم فضائح المملكة التي تناولتها الصحف الأمريكية وقتذاك بالتفاصيل المملة عن دور نهاد الغادري وابنه فريد والأمير بندر بن سلطان سفير المملكة في واشنطن وقتذاك.
نهاد الغادري يستقر اليوم في بيروت ويصدر نشرة ورقية اسمها المحرر، فيما ابنه الذي وقع معه بنزاعات شديدة على الملايين التي تم قبضها من السعودية يعيش في واشنطن ويعلن نفسه معارضا سوريا وقد زار تل أبيب عدة مرات وخطب في الكنيست الاسرائيلي، وهو بالمناسبة كان يعرض نفسه قبل عشرين عاما انه معارض سعودي حتى قبض المعلوم وكف عن معارضته.
هؤلاء يتاجرون الآن بالدم السوري، ولا احد قادر على فضحهم غير (وطن) التي ستتصدى لكل آل الغادري.. بما لديها من معلومات جد خطيرة. سننشرها قريبا.
ما دعانا لفتح هذا الملف التصريح الأخير اذ قال فريد الغادري أنه في يوم ما سيرفع العلم (الاسرائيلي) في دمشق، لأن الشعب السوري مسالم وطيب ولا يستطيع أن يحمل الكراهية، ولكن فرض بشار الاسد على الشعب أن يكره ويقاتل ويعادي .

وشدد على أن حماس والقوى الفلسطينية ستطرد من بلاده بسبب استخدامها العنف والارهاب، مضيفاً:’ سأعمل على هذا الشيء بكل قوتي وقدرتي وعلى الفلسطينيين أن يقاتلوا (الاسرائيليين) من داخل غزة ‘.

وكشف الغادري الذي يقيم في العاصمة الاميركية واشنطن أن جزءاً من المخابرات اللبنانية تدعم التحركات المناهضة للنظام السوري لقناعتتها بأن رحيل الأسد يأتي في مصلحة بلادها، لكن الغادري لم يذكر إن كانت الأفراد الأمنية اللبنانية محسوبة على فريق يقف على خصومة ضد بشار الأسد أم لا.

وتابع :’ هناك لبنانيون كثيرون يعانوا أيضاً من النظام السوري ولدينا أناس داخل المخابرات اللبنانية تساعدنا في أعمالنا لماذا؟ لأنها تعتبر أن نظام بشار الاسد هو نظام ديكتاتوري ليس من مصلحة لبنان أن يكون النظام قائماً’.

وطالب المجتمع بالتدخل العسكري والوقوف مع الشعب السوري الذي يريد حريته، لافتاً الى أنه:’ عشرون صاروخا على عشرين مبنى مخابرات في سوريا سيسقط هذا النظام’ .

واعتبر إدارة الرئيس الأميركي باراك اوباما غير جادة في التغيير في سوريا ، مبيناً أن هناك فريقين داخل البيت الابيض فيما يتعلق بالوضع في بلاده الاول يرفض رحيل الأسد بحجة أمن اسرائيل والتخوف من الحركات السلفية، والثاني يؤيد إعطاء السوريين حريتهم.

وتوقع وقوع حرب أهلية بسبب تعمد قتل المدنيين، لكنه أكد أن الشعب السوري جاهز للدفاع عن نفسه. تجدر الاشارة أن الغادري زار اسرائيل العام 2007 وحل ضيفا على الكنيست وقام بالتجول بعدة مدن من بينها مدينة حيفا.

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August 30th, 2011, 4:21 am


13. hsyrian said:

Dear Joshua

You said:

The Arab League has taken the initiative to ask for presidential elections in Syria and an end of repression

The article fronm AlJazeera said:
“It did not give details of the initiative, but Al Jazeera has learned that some of the suggestions would include the holding of presidential elections, withdrawal of the army from the cities, the release of political prisoners and those rounded up in the protests, and the formation of a national unity government that includes members from the opposition. ”

Furthermore the Lebanese Foreign minister said :

“Arab League did not agree to issue statement on Syria: Mansour
The statement issued by the secretariat was not discussed during the meeting and was not agreed upon”

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2011/Aug-29/Arab-League-did-not-agree-to-issue-statement-on-Syria-Mansour.ashx#ixzz1WV3N0U8A

You have to be more careful with sources from Al Jazeera

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August 30th, 2011, 4:44 am


14. hsyrian said:

Dear Joshua,

You wrote :
“Arabism versus Syrianism (the Kurds want recognition of their national and linguistic rights within a Syria that is not defined ethnically)”

So I look for a country (state) which is defined ethnically
UK , England, Ireland ,Scotland , Wales
France, Germany , Italy , Spain ,
USA, Canada , Mexico
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh , ..
Saudi Arabia , Kuwait , Qatar , United Arab Emirates , Bahrain ,

Syria, Lebanon , Palestine , Turkey, Jordan , Irak , ..

Not even sure about Iceland

It is interesting to find that one Syrian CNT is composed in majority by people who had little interest in Syria for years and are holding foreign passport.

Still my little unanswered academic question :
” How many ( 5000 ? ) INNOCENT victims has been killed by the terrorists of the Muslim Brotherhood between 1976 and 1982 until the Syrian Army terminated the Islamist armed uprising in Hama and the Islamist terrorist actions stopped in Syria.”

Including the slaughter of ( > 83 ) cadets at the Aleppo Artillery School in 16 June 1979.
Including the murder of the rector of Damascus University, Dr. Muhammad al-Fadl, killed in February 1977
Including the murder of the doyen of Syrian dentists, Dr Ibrahim Na’ama, killed in March 1978
Including the murder of the neurologist Dr. Muhammad Shahada Khalil, who was killed in August 1979

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August 30th, 2011, 5:24 am


15. MNA said:


I would like to raise my objection to your post Video showing the shelling of a minaret by Syrian army. I watched the video several times and failed every single time to confirm that the tanks or soldiers that were in the vicinity were actually shelling the minaret. This video would not stand in any court as it does not prove anything. I believe that we all have a responsibility in avoiding to criminalize the Syrian army, the best chance that Syria has in any future senario.

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August 30th, 2011, 6:29 am


16. MNA said:

Yes Ghalioun is a Sunni from Homs.

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August 30th, 2011, 6:37 am


17. Tara said:

Post 9

Your implicit threat to Tara at the end of the post does not scare me a bit. It is pitiful. It tells us what your regime is all about: killing it’s way through for 40 years.

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August 30th, 2011, 7:09 am




Sunni, they said
some said Alawite
Don’t tell me if you know
For i care, not the slight

on the streets rages a flood
Of humanity
and of blood
and a dam made of tanks
of barbarians
and their flanks

do’t you think time has come
to feel the tears behind the sound
to see the hound
a top the mound
to see the ground
with blood abound

don’t think time has come
to call the duck a duck
to kick out
the lazy bum.

Sunni, they said
some said Alawite
don’t tell me if you know
for i care, not the slight


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August 30th, 2011, 7:40 am




“The conspiracy is going on.”

Back to the old conspiracy theory I see. My god if you only realised how ridiculous that sounds, especially in the face of such large opposition protests. Were all those protests in Hama part of some big conspiracy?

“Lets give a chance to Bashar and we’ll see what he can do.”

Leaving to one side questions of legitimacy, the man has had ten years to implement reforms, the fact that so many people are out protesting suggests that very little has been achieved. But all this is besides the point, why should we give him any more time, who says he should be the president in the first place? The protests are about something far more fundamental than whether or not he has successfully carried out economic reform.

“don’t want the regime to fall so zionists like Tara and others will give chaos abig welcome”

Everyone knows that the fall of this current regime will impact negatively on Israel, if anything Israel wants Assad to remain in power. This is so obvious that even Rami Maklouf said as much.

“I will fight against them no matter what the Saudi Arabia says or does to appease the Zionists and their 3abeed.”

Then you too will eventually suffer the same fate that Gaddaffi’s supporters are now facing. You will become a stranger in your own country, everyone will know that you were one of those that prolonged the regime’s survival and the demonstartors’ suffering.

We both know that when it comes down to it, you will silently peel away from this regime, slip over to the side of the protesters and shout out their slogans as though you had always done so. Why? Because you don’t give a damn about the politics of this regime (whatever they are), your sole concern is for your future income.

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August 30th, 2011, 8:12 am


20. majedkhaldoon said:

MNA said
This video would not stand in any court as it does not prove anything.
You are wrong,it stands in court,and it proves beyond any shaddow of doubt,that the troops around the mineret are the people who are shooting at the mineret.

Did Ibn Taymeyyeh issued Fatwa to kill Alawis, He was right in consider them Kuffar,but he has no right to issue fatwa of killing them, Freedom of religion is very clear in Islam,, but I am not sure he issued fatwa to kill them,only to say they are Kuffar.

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August 30th, 2011, 8:29 am


21. Akbar Palace said:


I had no idea you were a Zionist. Welcome to the club. I’ll send you your free information packet in the mail. We’ve really been inundated recently now that the Saudi Arabians have joined as well as the Turks and the PA.

In addition, the telephones are ringing off the hook in our Hama office as we are taking application after application.

If you know any other potential Zionist, you know, anyone who isn’t fond of President X-box, please send them my way.

Shalom u’vrakha,


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August 30th, 2011, 8:58 am


22. ann said:

Man delivering cash to families in Syria stopped at airport


A Syrian man allegedly carrying €60,000 in cash to help families suffering as a result of the uprising in his country was stopped at the Malta International Airport after he failed to declare them.
34-year-old Khalil Hamed, who is married to a Maltese woman and who lives in Santa Venera, was stopped at the airport yesterday afternoon, and found to be carrying cash above the €10,000 limit which would require no declaration.

Mr Hamed, who was arraigned today, said that members of the Syrian community nominated him to take the money to their relatives in Syria.

Defence counsel Joe Brincat asked for bail, noting that there was no risk of Mr Hamed fleeing the country since his family lived here and also since the money would remain confiscated until judgment is passed.

Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera duly granted bail against a €2,000 personal guarantee.

Inspector Maurice Curmi prosecuted.

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August 30th, 2011, 9:05 am


23. Joshua said:

Thanks for kind words, I have published an addendum about Ghalioun being a Sunni. Thanks Majhool. I get most of my information, articles and frequently ideas from the comment section. So keep me honest, corrected, and smart. SC is a group effort. I frequently don’t give credit to the help provided by commenters. I should, but I am appreciative.

I will have to begin publishing much less on Syria Comment and will perhaps have to shut it down for some time, as I must complete a book.

Writing a blog, such as SC, does not fit well with the demands of academe. SC is not considered to be “research” or “intellectual work” by my bosses and colleagues. Rather, it falls under the category of “service”, which is only weighted as 10% of my annual evaluation. I have been writing SC daily since the spring of 2004, so it has become my major preoccupation other than my family. It is always my great joy to dive into my community here at the end of a day or first thing in the morning, even when I am taking a pounding for my biases and mistakes. It puts a little Sham in my prairie.

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August 30th, 2011, 9:08 am


24. Revlon said:

Personal perspectives on today’s post
– Burhan Ghalyoon, to my knowledge is a Homsi sunni. I do hope that Joshua could further clarify this point.
– The so called “national transitional council” is no more than a virtual plan. It consists of a list of names that was compiled
o out side the framework of any of the opposition groups in Turkey, Brussels, or USA
o without prior consultation with selected members, and
o Without stipulating basis of selection

– As such, it would not be warmly received by excluded elements of aforementioned opposition bodies
– The original initiative that was apparently pre-empted by the “NTC” , as per its initiator Mr Khalaf,is still on the table. It calls for the formation of “the consultative assembly for the Syrian revolution الهيئة الاستشارية للثورة السورية”
– The positive in this flux of initiatives is the rising sense of urgency on the part of the various opposition groups to unite. The downside is that the selection process and its basis were not transparent and representation raised too many eyebrows.
– It is my personal belief that the NTC needs to be amended in order to achieve better representation and transparency in selection process and be re-named a “consultative body”.
– Putting emphasis on peaceful means for the revolution is fast becoming outdated, and divisive. This item must be left to ground activists and demonstrators who are best suited to assess their best interests.
– I am inclined to believe that coordination committees in areas of mounting casualties particularly Homs and country side, Dar3a and country side, Idlib and countryside, and probably Damascus country side as well, are the ones who more inclined to call for taking up arms.

I want to thank NK for his post number 7 where he provided the text and link to the “making of the NTC”. Here it is again:

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August 30th, 2011, 9:12 am


25. Haytham Khoury said:

@ Syrian Hamster #18


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August 30th, 2011, 9:12 am


26. Darryl said:

20. majedkhaldoon said:

“Did Ibn Taymeyyeh issued Fatwa to kill Alawis, He was right in consider them Kuffar,but he has no right to issue fatwa of killing them, Freedom of religion is very clear in Islam,, but I am not sure he issued fatwa to kill them,only to say they are Kuffar.”

If Muslims were a bit more reflective of what is contained in the Qur’an; you may have discovered Newton’s 3rd law before anyone else:

“For Every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”

The Qur’an seems to advocate one thing and somewhere else the exact opposite exists.

Freedom of religion is stated as a verse but it is not permitted in practice and under any circumsatnce. I once saw an interview with Sheikh Kaled Al Jundi ( I think that was his name, an Egyptian) and he was asked about this question. His response went as follows:

“Yes you can be killed as you become an apostate, hence it is better for you a muslim to PRETEND that you are a muslim and avoid being killed”

Natrually, I was very impressed with his answer. Lastly, being Kuffar will always attract the death penalty and will be carried out by some one who is a true believer wanting to earn browny points. The key is not to be placed in the Kuffar basket at all, and this requires a true spirit of what the Messinger said ” you have Your religion and I have Mine” and leave it to God to make a judgement.

How come this priciple is not followed, which could lead the ME to be a much more tolerant place and everyone leaves their religion at home instead of carrying it as a massive piece of luggage on their backs or a sinker around the neck?

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August 30th, 2011, 9:19 am


27. ann said:

The Kurdish Problem

August 30, 2011


Whatever his impressive domestic achievements, Turkish prime minister Erdogan has done a lot of fancy footwork this year trying to repair a vigorous and much-advertised Middle East involvement. Once the avowed comrade of Qaddafi, Bashir, Assad and Ahmedinejad, he has now emerged as a rousing democrat, defender of the Arab revolts. He seems to have been successful in burying the past—at least in Turkey where public criticism is increasingly muted and he reigns supreme. In Syria, he has joined the West by distancing Turkey from Assad but not yet disowning him, incurring the wrath of both Syria and its staunchest ally, Iran, which has sent warnings to Ankara. In Libya, which once bestowed upon him the Qaddafi human-rights award, he is trying desperately to restore the huge Turkish economic stake by fervently and helpfully embracing the rebels. But for all his foreign-policy activism, he can no longer escape his biggest problem, an internal one: the growing difficulties with his own twelve million or so Kurds.

In the period between 2005–2009, Erdogan became the first Turkish leader to do much for the Kurds, bringing in significant investment and notably accepting the ‘Kurdish reality.” He implemented some modest reforms on expressions of Kurdish identity—whether he believed in them or did so to guarantee the vote in southeast Turkey and a route to a new presidency is not clear. But the basic issue has advanced little, and today intensified military activity on the part of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) has once again shattered a deceptive Turkish calm. Some forty Turkish soldiers have been killed and many wounded in the southeast over the past two months. In response, Erdogan has shifted gear and publicly declared his intent to finally destroy the PKK and, along the way, to undermine the major domestic Kurdish political party.

Erdogan has resorted to the usual military tactics—bombing the PKK in Northern Iraq and intensifying military activities in the southeast. He also seems intent on turning the ground war in Turkey over to special police units and the gendarmerie rather than to the army, which he distrusts and whose tactics he has publicly belittled. There are fears he might mount another large ground operation in Northern Iraq, but that is unlikely and certainly unwelcome to the Turkish military, which has been under great pressure from ongoing investigations and detentions. Politically, at least for the moment, he appears to have fallen back on traditional Turkish nationalism instead of the Islamic communalism he used to espouse to bind in the southeast. Peace with the PKK seems a long way off.

The next page-turner will be the promised new Turkish constitution sometime this autumn and what reforms he will secure in that document for the Kurds. Top AKP leadership rhetoric on the new constitution has been democratic and conciliatory, but with popular nationalist feeling running high and Kurds deeply skeptical, not much can be expected. Many fear violence will extend to Turkey’s major cities and to urbanized Kurdish youth. That has always been a concern that has not yet materialized, although small-scale clashes like car burnings, attacks on coffee shops and flash mobs are on the rise. With the schism with Iran the possibility of urban violence may have increased.

This time, however, Turkey’s internal Kurdish issue may turn international. Kurds in Iraq, Syria, Iran—Turkey’s next-door neighbors, are all agitating.

Turkish elites have always been haunted by the possible establishment of an independent or even autonomous Kurdish entity in Northern Iraq, which took place after the first defeat of Iraq and gained even greater credence with its enormous economic success after the second Iraq war. One might dispute this, but I believe the present, virtually independent and flourishing Kurdish entity has had a major psychological impact on the outlook of the Kurds next door in Turkey as they consider their own position. It has helped make it unclear what will now politically satisfy Turkey’s Kurds. Northern Iraq has been also the military home of the PKK, which is allowed to operate, with misgivings, by the Kurdish regional government and receives help from friendly Iraqi Kurds. Erdogan impressively changed Turkey’s long-standing isolation policy; rather he embraced Iraq’s Kurdish government and invested heavily in the region. The Iraqi Kurds are increasingly troubled by what is happening in Turkey and seemingly caught in the middle. Turkey has pushed the United States hard to help defeat the PKK in Iraq. They have gotten significant American intelligence support but no willingness to attack PKK forces or try to make the Iraqi Kurds do so.

Syrian-Turkish relations have long been troubled. Syria once housed PKK leader and Kurdish idol Abdullah Ocalan until the Turkish government scared the Syrians into expelling him; the Americans found him and turned him over to Ankara. Erdogan embraced Assad, thinking he had the influence to change the Syrian president and ultimately change Syrian-Israeli relations. He either did not or could not because of his own increasing frictions with Israel after the 2008-09 attack on Gaza, and now relations with Syria are in shambles. He remains fearful of what might follow Assad’s demise and worried about Syria cooperating with Iran to undermine Turkey on the Kurdish issue. Some two million Kurds live in Syria, so far very meekly, although there are some indications of ferment. Attacks on them and a much greater flow of Kurdish refugees into Turkey could traumatize even today’s much-stronger Ankara. Interestingly, President Obama has apparently relied heavily on Erdogan’s views on Syria in managing American policy toward Damascus.

The Turkish-Iranian honeymoon has come to an end over Assad. Iran helps to keep Assad going. While Iran has been tough on its own Kurds (and although right now an Iranian counterpart of the PKK operating from Northern Iraq is doing battle with Iran), relations with Turkey have become increasingly testy. An unspoken Turkish-Iranian military coordination against the PKK appears to continue for now, and while one cannot preclude its deepening, there has been increasing concern that Iran is sending signals to Turkey that it could reverse that policy if it so chose. Tehran could also use its assets in Ankara to help generate PKK violence in the cities. Turkey is not without means to counter Iran. This is an important, evolving, highly volatile tale with repercussions for other Turkish-Iranian issues.

So the Kurdish issue now has a bigger canvas. Turkey must see it in a broad, long-term perspective. Right now Turkey’s domestic prospects for resolving the Kurdish issue look bad, and one cannot be optimistic that we will not see a lot more violence. Ocalan still remains the leader of most of Turkey’s Kurds, although some are skeptical his control of the PKK is what it used to be. Many Kurds are not happy with the growing violence. Whether Erdogan can produce a domestic political solution that satisfies both nationalists and Kurds is increasingly in doubt, particularly if PKK violence continues. The United States and the European Union might help on the regional aspects, but Turks have long had deep suspicions about Western interest in Kurds. Erdogan alone is in the hot seat.

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August 30th, 2011, 9:27 am


28. beaware said:

Turkey suspends dialogue with Syria- sources
Monday 29 August 2011
By Tha’ir Abbas

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Turkish diplomatic sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat that Ankara has suspended all forms of dialogue with Damascus, while it waits for the Syrian regime to fulfill promises made to Turkish officials, including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. An official Turkish source said that his country “is losing hope from the regime. The situation is now in the hands of the Syrian people who should decide their future alone”.
Meanwhile, speculation is growing in Turkish political circles that it may have reached the point of no return in its relations with the Syrian regime. Such speculation is rife after Turkey’s initiatives toward the Syrian regime reached “promises without results”, according to Turkish officials.
Turkish political analyst Ilham Tenir says that Turkey cannot ask Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave because “it would then be embroiling itself in a situation that would make it unable to talk to the regime”. Tenir adds that if the Syrian regime does not respond, Turkey may lose its “diplomatic intervention” card and Ankara does not seem prepared to do that, particularly since it is not happy with the situation of the Syrian opposition and it has “certain observations” about the growing internal agitation in Syria. The Syrian opposition is not united and is still unable to provide a convincing alternative to the regime. Tenir added that Turkey has indeed passed the point of no return in its relationship with the Syrian regime. It has realized that it cannot continue to tell the regime “stop the killing” because it may retort “mind your own business”. Tenir points out that “There is no alternative. The Syrian opposition should work to fill the streets with people that would lead to more international support and more rifts within the regime”. Ersat Hurmuzlu, the Turkish president’s senior adviser, asserts: “The people, regime, and opposition in Syria should understand that Ankara does not have any hidden agendas on Syria. My country supports the Syrian people in all its demands. Some statements being made by Syrian or non-Syrian observers of Syrian affairs do not reflect Turkey’s true position”. Hormuzlu goes on to say: “I wish the Syrian nationalist forces (the opposition) would unify its ranks and stand firm before the world and before Syrian public opinion. The future is up to the Syrian people. They should unite their national forces because the current situation of the opposition harms it and benefits the regime”. The source said that the situation in Syria is “critical and dangerous. There are many scenarios and we are taking into account the best and worst scenarios”.
A Turkish foreign ministry official told Asharq Al-Awsat that Turkey “is very concerned about the developments in Syria”. The official who declined to be identified called on the Syrian authorities “to deal with the popular protests softly and to stop the bloodshed”. He urged the Syrian authorities “to carry out the reforms they had promised. These reforms are for their own people and not for any other country. We waited for what they had promised after they told us that the reforms would take place within a few days. However, these reforms were not made or were made too late. There will be no dialogue with the Syrian authorities unless they carry out their promises within an acceptable and reasonable period”. When asked about the timeframe that Turkey considers appropriate for the reforms to be carried out, the source said: “Yesterday and even long before yesterday. However, it is always better late than never”. On alternatives if the Syrian regime “hastens its oppression and is slow in bringing reforms,” he said: “I believe that the international community will proceed wit h its steps that may take us to a situation that none of us wants”. In the same context, another official Turkish source said: “There is no point in continuing the dialogue. The time for words is over; it is now the time for actions”.

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August 30th, 2011, 9:28 am


29. beaware said:

Looking for the Damascene Abdul Jalil
By Ali Ibrahim
Ali Ibrahim is Asharq Al-Awsat’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief, based in London
The Libyan and Syrian revolutions are relatively close in age, with a time difference between them of less than a month (17th of February [Libya] and the 15th of March [Syria]). The revolutions share roughly the same grievances and likewise demands for freedom and justice, with differences in the details, the nature of the two societies, and the method of totalitarian rule. The first [revolution] has almost succeeded, whilst the second continues to resist through various bloody methods of repression.

In Libya, Gaddafi resorted to repression immediately, without any attempt to wrap it up in political initiatives. Instead, he asked his famous question to the demonstrators: “Who are you?” He described them as rats to the very end, and the rebels responded with arms until they surrounded Gaddafi in Tripoli, and forced him out.

In Syria, the regime resorted to armed force wrapped up in a political and media discourse talking about insurgents and terrorists, and promises of political reform. However, the people did not buy this, because they did not see anything on the ground except bullets, and their trust began to wane. Despite this, the Syrian revolution has remained entirely peaceful, with demonstrators insisting on the peaceful nature of their protests.

The biggest difference between the two cases is that in Libya, protestors found that figures within the regime were angered by Gaddafi’s method of responding to the demands of the people. They broke away from him and tendered their resignations, declaring their affiliation to the rebels, led by Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the former Minister of Justice in Gaddafi’s government who became leader of the Transitional Council. The Council’s leadership based itself in Benghazi, becoming a symbol of the revolution and a wise voice in difficult circumstances. Abdul Jalil was not alone; there was an army of officials, diplomats and military leaders, including Abdul Fatah Younis, defecting and joining the revolution. They provided it with momentum, supplying it with men experienced in government, and with knowledge of its inner corridors. The Syrian revolutionaries are less fortunate than their Libyan counterparts; for a Syrian or Damascene Abdul Jalil has not shown up so far. No government official or member of the senior leadership in the country has resigned expressing outrage about what is happening, or concern for the path taken by the country. Six months of uprisings, demonstrations, and more than two thousand people killed, alongside those injured and detained, and there has not been a single voice of opposition from within the regime, which is puzzling. It is as if everyone has agreed to drown together on the sinking ship. Is this out of fear, or is anyone waiting for the right moment?

By questioning the whereabouts of the Syrian or Damascene Abdul Jalil, this does not mean I wish the Syrian revolution to take the armed path of the Libyan revolution. The conditions of each society are different to the other, and the rebels in Libya had no other option, faced with extermination from all types of weapons. NATO had to undertake air cover to protect them; otherwise they would have been bombarded by Gaddafi’s warplanes.

However, there is no guarantee that Syria won’t follow the same path if the stalemate continues. Protestors and whole cities are rising up, finding nothing in front of them except tanks, the Shabiha, and a regime whose friends and allies such as Iran have begun to distance themselves, and call on the regime to respond to the legitimate demands of its people. Turkey declared that it has lost confidence in the regime, and now stands with the people. Meanwhile, the Arab states have finally tried to intervene but it is too late, the door is locked and no-one wants to hear from them.

If there are those [inside the Syrian government] waiting, then this is the right moment to put pressure on the regime from within. Or, if the regime wants to save itself and its country, then it must take serious steps to convince the people that the path is clear for change. This could include the appointment of an opposition or independent figure, respected by the people, to head the interim government with full powers to implement accountability, change, and supervise the transition to a democratic system, as demanded by the people.

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August 30th, 2011, 9:32 am


30. Tara said:

I don’t like that Josh may need to shut SC down.

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August 30th, 2011, 9:37 am


31. Revlon said:

A car carrying Sahbeeha passengers was ambushed and blown up by another shabbeha unit!
Is this an example on infighting amognst the shabbeha mobs?

أموي مباشر #syria ◄ حماه : عاااااااجل وبشرى ::::::::::: المدخل الغربي لحماة : منذ حوالي ساعتين عبرت سيارة خاصة قادمة من قرية الربيعة و تم إستهدافها من قبل عناصر الامن و الشبيحة بالأسلحة الخفيفة و الثقلية , مما أدى إلى انفجار السيارة و من بداخلها . و عند قيام الجيش بسحب الجثث من داخلها , تبين انهم خمسة شبيحة من قرية الربية يتوجهون إلى عملهم اليومي المعتاد , و بهذا يكون قد قُتِلَ القاتِلُ بيد أهلة

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August 30th, 2011, 9:40 am


32. beaware said:

‘More UN sanctions petrify Syrian opposition’
Published: 30 August, 2011, 00:26
The US and EU have suggested freezing more Syrian assets in response to continuing violence in the country. But journalist Simon Assaf says further UN sanctions would suit neither Assad nor the protesters.

The UN Security Council has also received a counter-resolution drafted by Russia and China. This one, instead of talking of travel bans and freezing assets, urges the conflicting parties in Syria to stop the bloodshed and start negotiations.

Simon Assaf, an investigative journalist with the Socialist Worker newspaper, believes most Syrians would welcome a dialogue between the current regime and demonstrators. With the protests affecting the country since March, the danger is high that the situation will spin out of control.

“Syria is in a Libyan situation, in which foreign powers found ways for intervening,” Assaf told RT. “Judging from the Syrians I have spoken to, there is a big argument between those who think there should be an armed insurrection and those who think it is a very dangerous path to take.”

Still, the Syrian opposition is not able to present a completely united front, continues the journalist. President Assad should step down but beyond that the dissidents have not worked out any further agreement. The opposition is growing more diverse every day, but still seemingly fails to represent the Syrian majority.

“There is a common silent majority: those who are unsure of the opposition but are still unhappy with the regime,” says Assaf. He believes the reforms announced by President Assad are aimed at these people rather than the demonstrators. Nevertheless, once the government starts to implement the reforms, some steam will be taken from the opposition.

The journalist believes that if the UN Security Council imposes more sanctions against Syria, it will be totally counter-productive.

“The opposition is petrified with what sanctions will do. They would make everyone’s life harder and make everyone think what they are going to eat next day, whether they will have a job and so on rather than punish the regime,” observes Assaf.

Simon Assaf doubts President Assad’s capability for holding a dialogue, but a dialogue is something most Syrians would still prefer, he concludes.

­However, according to political scientist Nada Hashwi, Syrian reforms cannot come overnight. She told RT that the West should give President Assad time to implement changes.

“Changes in a country do not happen overnight. It needs some time and they are not giving him time,” she said. “President Assad will never step down. If that happens we are going to see turmoil, not only in Syria but in all the surrounding countries – Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, all the Gulf area – everything is going to turn upside down.”

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August 30th, 2011, 9:42 am


33. beaware said:

Russia suggests settlement plan for Syria
Alexander Vatutin
Aug 30, 2011 15:19 Moscow Time
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov has visited Baghdad to hand over a message from President Dmitry Medvedev to Syrian head of state Bashar al-Assad. According to the Kremlin press service, the Russian side places major emphasis on the necessity of an immediate and complete end to violence from whatever side.

The Russian president’s envoy urged the Syrian government to start taking specific steps and implementing the declared reforms. It was stressed at the same time that the opposition should not deviate from taking part in the dialogue with the government. This is the only way to restore civil peace and consent, the Kremlin believes. Moscow voiced support of Syria’s course for political and economic change.

Following negotiations with Mikhail Bogdanov, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad referred to Russia’s stand as balanced, unlike that of the West which only envisages pressure on the Syrian authorities. Dmitry Medvedev’s message provided the basis for Russia’s own version of a draft resolution of the UN Security Council. It has already evoked a positive response from Russian BRICS partners – Brazil, China, India and South Africa. Moscow’s diplomatic initiative became an alternative to the resolution presented by the US and EU member states, which, according to Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, is “totally non-objective and one-sided”. Adopting such a document may encourage the Syrian opposition’s radical groups to intensify efforts in their desire to oust the government, the Russian diplomat said. “We agree that the Security Council must not remain aloof, but we believe that it is necessary to act in a positive way,” Churkin said, ruling out the possibility of developing a single text based on the two draft resolutions. The diplomat compared this to intercrossing creatures from different planets. The resolution must stimulate dialogue and political compromise instead of using the language of sanctions and aggravating the country’s inner conflict. However, the UN ambassador said, if the West has some constructive ideas, Russia is ready to include them in the text of its resolution.

The stand taken by Moscow is aimed at a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis and urges active discussions. The international community should have an accurate position to avert the repetition of the Libyan scenario in Syria. It is also necessary to consider the situation around Syria itself, according to Orientalist expert at the Institute of Strategic Assessment and Analysis Sergey Demidenko:

\”There is a very dangerous point in the entire Syrian game, namely the security of Israel. If Assad’s rule collapses, the security of its northern territories will become a matter of dispute. Serious consultations are therefore under way to decide on further actions, because the main thing is not to make the cup run over. Unlike Libya, the Syrian situation requires careful actions in order to prevent Islamists from assuming power,” Sergey Demidenko said.

It is therefore impossible to speak the language of ultimatums when dealing with Damascus, even though EU countries are already going to take a step to that effect and declare an embargo on Syrian oil supplies in the next few days, which looks like nothing but blackmail. Syria’s incumbent leaders should not be taken as incapable of conducting a dialogue. The only civil war panacea is inner dialogue and the end of violence.

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August 30th, 2011, 9:46 am


34. Akbar Palace said:

Rather, it falls under the category of “service”, which is only weighted as 10% of my annual evaluation.

Professor Josh,

Greetings. Just curious, what is the other 90% based on?

Let me guess. Is it based on article-after-article explaining why the Assad regime is best for Syria?

It is always my great joy to dive into my community here at the end of a day or first thing in the morning, even when I am taking a pounding for my biases and mistakes. It puts a little Sham in my prairie.

No hard feelings. We’re all biased one way or another!

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August 30th, 2011, 9:55 am


35. Some guy in damascus said:

Do you know how much time I’ve put into finding out whether ghalioun is Sunni or alawi???? Zero, nada, zilch….NOTHING!!!! I don’t care if the next 1000 leaders of Syria are Alawis. What matters is their first priority: the WHOLE nation or just a select few??

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August 30th, 2011, 10:30 am


36. ann said:

Russia warns not to meddle in Syria internal affairs – Aug 30, 2011


Russia warns against meddling in Syria’s domestic affairs and urges Syrian authorities to push for political and socio-economic reforms, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in Damascus on Tuesday.

Bogdanov stressed the necessity of halting hostilities and holding talks between the authorities and the opposition in Syria, still hit by anti-government protests.

Scores of people have reportedly died there in armed clashes between protesters and security forces.

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August 30th, 2011, 10:51 am


37. ann said:

U.S. ambassador to Syria attacked – 8/30/11 9:03 AM EDT


The U.S. Ambassador to Syria – who has repeatedly demonstrated his support for anti-government protestors – was attacked in Damascus last week by a supporter of President Bashal al-Assad, a new video shows.

A video broadcast by Syrian television pictures pro-Assad protestors following Ambassador Robert Ford and chanting slogans. One protestor then approaches Ford from behind and tries to wrap him in a poster featuring a picture of the Syrian president.

Ford’s security team, which was already rushing him to a waiting car, pushed the Ambassador into the vehicle.

Tensions have been heating up between the Syria and the United States over the last several months.

“We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led,” Obama said in a statement released two weeks ago. “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

Ford has also raised the ire of Syrian authorities.

The harassment outlined in the video happened just before he took an surprise trip to the city of Jassem last Tuesday. The trip raised eyebrows with Syrian authorities, as the town has been a flashpoint for anti-government protests.

Ford had traveled to the city without the permission of Syrian authorities, arguing that Syrian officials had already refused his previous requests to travel to several cities in the country.

Last week the Syrian government delivered a diplomatic note of protest to the United States, arguing that Ford’s had not followed proper procedures.

This was not the first time that Ford had made an unsanctioned visit to a Syrian town known for anti-government sentiment. Nearly two months ago Ford had travelled to another focal point for dissent against Assad’s government, the city of Hama. The Syrian government had condemned the trip as an attempt to incite protests.

After Ford’s trip to Hama, the Assad regime encouraged supporters to throw rocks and eggs at the U.S. embassy.

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August 30th, 2011, 10:55 am


39. beaware said:

Prominent Syrian poet Adonis urges Assad to step down
AFP, Friday 5 Aug 2011
The prominent Syrian poet Adonis urges Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power calling the opposition to adopt strict secular ideology

Prominent Syrian liberal poet and writer Adonis urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, but called on the opposition to adopt a strict secular ideology, in comments published Friday.

“President Assad should do something. If I were in his place, I would leave the presidency,” Adonis said in an interview with Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper.

“The least he can do is to resign from his post,” the Beirut-based secular intellectual said.

Adonis, whose given name is Ali Ahmed Said, is a member of Assad’s Alawite minority. The poet has been criticised by Syrian and Arab writers for not taking a clear position on the bloody crackdown on Syrian protesters.

However, he criticised the opposition for being fragmented and dominated by religious groups, adding the appropriate solution for Syria is to establish a civil state where religion and politics are separated.


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August 30th, 2011, 11:14 am


40. ann said:

Turks reject bid to postpone flotilla report – 30.08.2011


In the past few days the Turkish government has rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to postpone the publication of the Palmer Commission report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla by another six months. The report is now expected to be published this Friday.

Haaretz has learned that Netanyahu made his suggestion to both Turkey and the United Nations secretary general, but the idea was dismissed by the Turks. The Palmer Commission report – probing the events surrounding the 2010 Gaza flotilla in which nine Turkish activists died onboard the Mavi Marmara after an IDF operation – has been postponed three times. In each case the postponement took place following the consent of Turkey and Israel, and as a result of their joint request to the UN secretary general.

The Turks saw the new move as an attempt by Netanyahu to avoid a decision on the reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey, and to buy time. The Turks made it clear that, although they consider the report very problematic, they prefer it be published on September 2 rather than postponing it for months, at the end of which time it still won’t be clear whether Netanyahu will agree to apologize.

The outline of the reconciliation agreement has already been approved by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and includes a softened Israeli apology for the flotilla episode, in exchange for normalization of relations with Turkey and a Turkish assurance not to submit indictments against Israeli soldiers and officers.

Turkey has made it clear that if Israel does not apologize, it will conduct a legal and diplomatic battle against Israel.

Netanyahu has refrained for months from making a decision on the matter. In conversations with senior American officials, he initially claimed that although he was interested in accepting the outlines of the agreement and apologizing to Turkey, he was afraid that this would lead to the resignation of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman from the coalition.

After Lieberman declared that he would not resign from the government even if there was such a decision, Netanyahu changed his excuse and told the Americans that he couldn’t apologize because he was under political pressure due to the social protests.

About a week ago, Netanyahu called U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and informed her that Israel would not adopt the outline for ending the crisis with Turkey and would not apologize. Nevertheless, after that conversation he agreed once again to postpone the report to September 2 and subsequently asked for another six month postponement.

The Prime Minister’s Office refused to discuss the issue, claiming that it is a sensitive subject.

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August 30th, 2011, 11:17 am


41. ann said:

What’s REALLY Happening in the Middle East Today


A few hours ago I wrote that the Egyptian military government reportedly told Israel that a major Israeli offensive into the Gaza Strip might create an out-of-control situation in Egypt. The Egyptian generals weren’t being threatening or hostile, they were saying that they could either not control a wave of violence that would result or perhaps be unable to resist demands for strong action. For this and other reasons, Israel has not retaliated.

One reason for the generals’ lack of desire to confront Israel now–aside from knowing they would be defeated and lose U.S. aid–is that they may be aware of three things. First, the Egyptian government has acknowledged that three Egyptian citizens participated in the terror attack on Israel. The story is covered here.

Second, as was made clear by his comrades at the funeral, Egyptian soldiers killed an Israeli soldier in an unprovoked shooting as the Israelis were packing up to leave the border area.

Third, the Egyptian government knows that three Egyptian soldiers were not killed by Israel on purpose but were spotted by an Israeli helicopter hunting the terrorists, who were wearing Egyptian army uniforms, and fired two missiles and machine guns at them.

Remember, by the way, that the Mubarak-era commanders are still in control of the army. Within a year, these people will be gone, possibly to be replaced by hotter-headed subordinates appointed by a radical nationalist president presiding over a largely Islamist-radical left parliament.

But as i have written since January, Hamas well understands this situation and apparently wants to provoke a confrontation. The pattern is clear: a ceasefire is announced by Hamas, the world media reports a ceasefire is in place, and then more rockets rain down on Israel fired by Islamic Jihad, Hamas’s ally, obviously with Hamas’s permission.

Before the terror attack, there were serious negotiations about a prisoner exchange to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is 25 years old today. While they probably would not have succeeded, people familiar with the situation thought they came closer than many previous tries.

But back to the strategic situation. A lot of rockets are being fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel to provoke an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in order to set off a massive crisis. On Wednesday, August 24, alone more than 20 rockets were fired into Israel. What should Israel do? There is no easy answer. Israel is targeting specific rocket and terrorist sites in the Gaza Strip, especially those of Islamic Jihad, a Hamas ally, but refrained from a bigger attack.

If you don’t think this strategy works for the terrorists, read for example the Washington Post, which reports that Israel broke the ceasefire by attacking Gaza, not mentioning that rockets had been continually fired from the Gaza Strip against Israel. In other words, terrorist groups know how to play the Western media like a fiddle. Readers of the Washington Post, and no doubt other newspapers, are being told that those nice Hamas people wanted a ceasefire but Israel acted as the aggressor, a wonderful case study of how media coverage helps recruit sympathy for terrorists. Here’s an ongoing count of rocket attacks on Israel.

And where are all the weapons coming from for terrorists in Sinai and Gaza? From Libya. Amid the celebrations of the apparent downfall of the dictatorship, a lot of money is being made by selling and smuggling arms to terrorists. And the Palestinian Authority, always described in the Western media as “moderate” endorsed the cross-border attack from Egypt.

Meanwhile, every day the Turkish regime is arresting officers and dissidents on the most ridiculous charges of conspiring to murder people and overthrow the regime. The Western media largely ignores these stories and even continues to praise the regime. In fact, this very Islamist regime is being used by the Obama Administration to mediate the future of Syria!

Finally, the allegedly moderate Muslim Brotherhood is gaining confidence and increasing its demands. Media Line reports that the Brotherhood’s political party is now demanding the Ministry of Tourism institute a dress code for tourists and starting to push for the ban of alcohol sales in Egypt.

Here’s the quote of the day, from Professor Hani Henry of the American University in Cairo,:

“This is how things began in Iran. The moderate youth wanted to implement changes, but the mullahs hijacked the revolution. The same thing is now happening here in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood. It makes me sick to my stomach.”

Me, too. Here’s a sensible analysis from a former British ambassador to Syria of prospects for Syria and Libya.

And speaking of acid reflux, consider this from the great Media Sampler (featured daily here)

David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy writes about a video of Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch discussing the Arab world in 2009.’ He singles out the following part of her talk:

“The weirdest moment in the talk, though, is when Whitson points out that no Arab country allows freedom of speech, the cornerstone of a free society. What one example, of all possible examples, does she use to illustrate the lack of freedom of speech? That Arab governments tried to prevent their populations from protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza in the war against Hamas in late 2008/early 2009. Just, WOW!”

In other words, the key leader of one of the world’s main “human rights” groups–a woman who previously was trying to fundraise for Human Rights Watch in Saudi Arabia by bragging about how they bashed Israel–argues that the most important use of freedom of speech is to attack Israel. Yes (sarcasm used), that’s been the main right Arabs have been denied for decades. Of course, the Islamists, radical nationalists, and many of the “moderates” agree with her. No doubt, the number-two item is attacking the United States.

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August 30th, 2011, 11:24 am


42. Haytham Khoury said:

More U.S. Muslims feel targeted by gov’t


Any islamophobic label does not hurt only Muslims, but it hurts all Arabs and all citizens of the Middle East (no matter whether they are Muslims or not).

I remember in 1995 (during that time France was subject to terrorist attacks), I was coming from England back to France. I was the only one to be stopped for more that 30 minutes by the border protection agent. It was so humiliating; all people were looking at me strangely.

Till now and despite having two western passports, every time I cross the US border it is a big hustle.

For this reason, nobody really benefits from the islamophobic labeling.

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August 30th, 2011, 11:24 am


43. ann said:

Can blossom come from the Arab Spring?

Those hoping for a transformation in Libya and Syria are in for a rude awakening.


Are we being thoroughly naive about the Arab Spring? The term itself is deeply misleading, with its connotations of Prague and peaceful progress towards democracy. Recent events have been more like a series of earthquakes than the green shoots of spring. Regimes have been destroyed; most have been shaken to their foundations. Populations don’t know how to put their shattered lives back together. Is it progress?

You might think I am being a little too pessimistic. But let’s consider Libya. Like many other countries in the region, it has been ruled by a ruthless dictator, expert in wielding raw power. The secret police were the key to this. We in the West can hardly imagine living in constant fear of a dawn commotion at our front door, being wrenched from our homes and families to be thrown into jail with the prospect of torture and indefinite detention in the harshest of conditions. One in four of your neighbours is likely to be an informer – perhaps even a member of your family. This iron hand is accompanied by skilful footwork as the ruler holds the ring between competing groups and distributes money, jobs and influence between them.

It is this structure that has been so badly shaken in the past months. The desire for more freedom, dignity and decent employment had been growing steadily in the region, but was suppressed by fear. That fear has now gone up in smoke. It was partly the arrival of Twitter, which swept through and had the astonishing effect of neutralising the secret police and transforming the balance of power in society. All well and good. But what will replace dictatorship?

Let us not expect a blossoming of democracy in the wake of Gaddafi. These are revenge cultures and there are a great many people who have every reason to seek it, just as there are plenty of secret policemen who can feel the ground shaking beneath them.

Existing power relationships have been shredded and in Libya there is no mechanism for resolving the remaining tensions. Even in such a small, relatively wealthy country, there is a serious risk of chaos.
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24 Aug 2011

Gaddafi pleads for support in new broadcast
24 Aug 2011

Gaddafi vows ‘martyrdom or victory’ in fight against ‘aggression’
24 Aug 2011

And that chaos may spread further. How will Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad react to developments in Libya? He will certainly not take Hillary Clinton’s advice and meekly hand over power to “democratic forces”. Syria, like most other countries in the region, is an extremely complex society. Myriad regional, ethnic and religious communities have been held together by the Alawite Assad dynasty – using the traditional methods, of course.

The Alawites, a mountain community with a faith distantly related to Shia Islam, joined the armed forces in droves in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Sunni majority were busy politicking and making money. They achieved dominant positions in the military to such a degree that Hafiz

al-Assad, father of the current president, was able to seize power, ruthlessly eliminate any opposition and rule unchallenged for 30 years. These are the shock troops on which Bashar is now relying to put down the demonstrators with whatever force necessary. Raw power is still being wielded here.

And so far he has succeeded. There is a reason for that. Many Syrians are deeply fearful of what might happen if the regime were to fall. It could be a bloodbath for the Alawites, leading to wider ethnic conflict. They have watched the ghastly events in Iraq in recent years and even give shelter to nearly a million Iraqi refugees. They also remember the events in their sister country, Lebanon, in the 1970s, when rival checkpoints were set up and anyone of the wrong religion was simply murdered.

Bashar is well aware of all this and so is not in the least interested in Western advice. He will cling to power by force while introducing some concessions in the hope of drawing the opposition’s teeth.

Meanwhile, Western criticism could well strengthen him at home. Syrians hate to be pushed around. And Syria’s key position in the politics, history and geography of the Arab world means that there will be no serious regional pressure. The Saudis will be very cautious, as always, and the Turks have little clout in domestic Syrian politics. Egypt is, to put it mildly, preoccupied, while Iran is a strong supporter of its only ally in the Arab world.

Internally, there are two dangers. One is that parts of al-Assad’s army will eventually refuse orders to fire on civilians. The other is that the opposition will progressively take up arms. Assad claims that there are already “armed gangs” at work. He means the Muslim Brotherhood who, in a long struggle, might well come to be the prime opposition to his regime, an unwelcome eventuality at a time when their rise is already causing alarm in the West. So much for the effortless blossoming of democracy. Whatever the outcome, the struggle will be long and deadly – and certainly no spring.

Sir Andrew Green is former British ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia

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August 30th, 2011, 11:28 am


44. ann said:

What Middle East Pundits Get Wrong – August 29, 2011


A British writer named David Hearst has suggested in the Guardian that Israel will disappear because Arabs and Muslims continue to “resist” its existence. This is a fascinating example of the many things wrong with political analysis, media, intellectual debate, and the understanding of the Middle East today. Here’s a list:

1. The confusion between wishful thinking and analysis. Every day I am forced by reality to say things I don’t want to say. But people who no longer understand scholarly, scientific and intellectual values assume I only say it because of some political agenda. And that belief derives from the cynical, neo-Marxist, post-modernist concept that everyone merely represents a specific political interest. That concept kills democratic discussion.

An example: I would love Egypt to be a stable democratic state. That isn’t, however, what I see based on evidence. Yet if I say so, the response is likely to be insults or name calling. For instance, I only say it because Israel or America wants to discredit the Egyptian revolution. Yet understanding and policy can only be made on the basis of honest assessment. Otherwise, they will fail or make things worse.

Of course, the British writer is echoing what he hears in Arab discussions. They want Israel to collapse, hence they predict it. But basing their lives and policy, spending their blood and money, on this effort will lead Arabs to disaster – as it has already done for 60 years – and postpone progress for themselves.

2. The lack of real historical perspective. This article in question could have been written in 1948 or in any year since. If people continually predict something and it doesn’t happen, might that not indicate a need to change their view? Indeed, evidence shows that Israel has become more successful while Arab states – as recent months unfortunately prove – have become mired in internal conflict and retrograde Islamism.

3. One of many ironies about “multiculturalism” is its egocentrism. “Other” peoples are reduced to political symbols, something like an old Communist poster of heroic workers and equally heroic peasants.

Their views are only taken into account if they are led by the “proper” leaders. A Muslim leader who denounces the West and makes demands on it for accommodation is “legitimate,” but an immigrant who wants to integrate fully into Western civilization, or a leader who wishes to be an ally of the United States – they are sell-outs not worthy of respect. Moderate Muslims or democratic oppositions in Iran, Lebanon, and Turkey are put into that category. That’s why there are no campus or other demonstrations on their behalf.

In addition, true inquiry into other countries and groups is discouraged because it might lead to “unacceptable” conclusions. It’s amazing how little we know – especially from academic research or journalistic investigation –about Muslim communities in the West. There is hardly any real work on, say, Palestinian politics, political groups in Egypt, the Syrian opposition or the nature of Turkey’s ruling party.

4. Policies and behavior so intent on injuring one’s enemy that they end up injuring yourself.

Since ideology and “political correctness” trump factual correctness and enemies are demonized, the goal is to hurt opponents even if that means doing disastrous things. There is no better example than the Arab-Israeli conflict, in which an attempt to destroy Israel has come close to destroying the Arabic-speaking world. And just when we thought that it might pull itself out of the swamp in the 1990s they jumped back in.

One of the reasons that Israel is so criticized, attacked and misunderstand is that Westerners who dwell in the lands of pragmatism simply cannot believe that anyone else would act so differently. Consider the gap between a yuppie and a suicide bomber.

5. There is an ideology collapsing today in the Middle East, but it isn’t Zionism. It’s pan-Arab nationalism, which will be replaced either by Islamism, nation-state nationalism (the “normal” kind), or a moderate and pro-democratic philosophy. If someone doesn’t realize that this is the great battle going on now, they can probably understand nothing about the world.

What the kind of article I’m discussing in the Guardian does is to incite decades more of wasteful, deadly and useless struggle. What, resistance will destroy Israel? Then why should Palestinians negotiate a compromise deal for a state or Arabs make peace? Just hold out, fight on, and they’ll win! And that indeed is the philosophy of a long list of people, groups and governments.

The outcome is the mass production of socially approved Middle Eastern equivalents of Anders Breiviks who, once dead or imprisoned, become heroes whose faces look down from posters; are taught as role models in schools; and have youth camps, sporting events and public squares named after them. US taxpayer funds sent to the Palestinian Authority are then used to pay them salaries and to support their families.

That’s a good way to understand the contemporary Arabic-speaking world: a place where the Breviks are the heroes and the moderates are the villains.

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August 30th, 2011, 11:37 am


45. N.Z. said:

There is a vacancy that needs to be filled in Syria. The endless incursions on everything Syrian by Assad security forces needs to be addressed, specially when reporters are denied access.

It is precisely why the American ambassador, Mr. Ford, has stepped forward, and rightly so. I cannot but admire his bravery, knowing the savagery of Syria’s non-cringing, sycophant mafia, Assad’s men. The Shabiha. This word will no doubt make it to the English vocabulary. They are a distinct bred of being.

I have never thought that this day will come, when I will thank an American official for taking such an honourable stance.

Mr. Ford, my heartfelt thank you, for standing with Syrians, by doing whatever you can to stop the bloodshed. I know many will join me in thanking you. My blessings for your safety, to you and yours,

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August 30th, 2011, 11:38 am


46. ann said:

Jihad el-Khazen: Reasons for hating Israel are completely justified

Tue Aug 30, 2011


There is the story about the psychiatrist who is unsuccessful in treating a patient with an inferiority complex. The doctor tells the patient, “Maybe you don’t have a complex. Maybe you’re really inferior.”

Israel is the one with the inferiority complex, and like the patient, is actually inferior. No one likes it, and it responds with what makes people hate it even more.

I put together translations of the Israeli press from the weekend, and found an item in Maariv, saying that Israel decided to start a fight with Qatar because of its growing anti-Israeli activity in the world. The item focused on the huge legal and political support offered by Qatar, as the chair of the Arab Follow-up Committee with the Palestinians, to demand recognition of an independent Palestinian state in the General Assembly of the United Nations next month.

Thus, the leaders of the Foreign Ministry, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, and with the knowledge of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, decided that “Qatar is leading anti-Israel activity on the international stage and we cannot continue to act as if the relationship is normal.”

The relationship was never normal. When Qatar accepted to open a trade office for Israel in Doha as part of the peace process, the goal was to encourage Israel to take part in this process. However, Israel today is ruled by an extremist, right-wing mafia that is racist and fascist; Qatar expelled Israel’s representative in 2009 after the attack on Gaza. Two employees remained, but Israel closed the office in March, so that Qatar would not use it as a means of pressure against it.

The Israeli news item quoted a secret Foreign Ministry document saying that it would halt all of Qatar’s activities in Palestinian territories (all of it is Palestine), such as building the Doha stadium in Sakhnin, and other projects, including the Fakhoura project in Gaza to help students calling for lifting the siege (this is only a crime in Israel), helping Hamas-affiliated charities from receiving around 100 million euros from Qatar every year, and the funding of legal cases against Israel for attacking the Turkish peace flotilla.

Israel objects to Al-Jazeera because it broadcasts harsh statements against Israel and criticizes the country, and because it hosted a conference on religion, sponsored by the Emir, in which Israel was criticized. Thus, Israel decided to halt Al-Jazeera’s activities in Israel and ban its correspondents, just as it banned all activity by the Qatar Foundation, which is sponsored by Emir Hamad bin Khalifa, from providing social and educational assistance.

I once wrote a column about Israel’s prime ministers from Ben Gurion to Netanyahu and explained that they all, without exception, changed their family names because they were of “no origin,” as we say. Today, the war criminals Netanyahu and Lieberman, the Moldavian bouncer, confronting Emir Hamad bin Khalifa and Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr. The Israelis are immigrants to Palestine, descended from murderers and thieves, while the Qataris are sheikhs from a family that has ruled its country for hundreds of years.

The Israeli inferiority complex is justified. No one likes Israel, and the reasons for this are as clear as day. However, people like Lieberman have the nerve to believe that an Arab country wants to have positive ties with Israel, as it occupies, kills and displaces people; they do not see that this country tried to push Israel toward peace. Qatar is not alone. Without going back too far, I can say that the campaign against Qatar coincided with a campaign against Egypt. The Israeli press says that Egypt warned Israel over a new war against Gaza, after the recent armed confrontations in the Strip. Egypt said that if Israel did such a thing, the Egyptian government might not be able to halt the popular response against Israel.
This was translated as meaning the great majority of Egyptians want to end the peace treaty with Israel. At the same time, an Israeli diplomat who once worked in Turkey said “They (the Turks) hate us a lot.”

Moving from countries to individuals, I read an attack on two friends. The first is Professor Jack Shaheen, who I have met between Beirut and the United States. He has done the best job in cataloguing the attacks against Palestinians in Hollywood films. The second is the British-Egyptian novelist, Ahdaf Soueif, whose “Map of Love” sold a million copies; she was attacked for sympathizing with the Palestinians and criticizing Israel. Once again, what could the position of a professor of Lebanese origin, and writer of Egyptian origin, be, other than opposing Israel’s crimes and those who cover them up?

I am not a psychiatrist and I do not have an inferiority complex. Speaking plainly, I can say that the reasons for hating Israel are completely justifiable.

(The writer is a former editor of Asharq Al Awsat newspaper. This article first appeared in the Dar Al Hayat newspaper on Aug. 29, 2011)

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August 30th, 2011, 11:54 am


47. Mango said:

قال مسؤولون في “اتحادات الطلبة” الاسرائيلية، إن ما يجري في لندن والحرائق المشتعلة هناك تشكل تحذيرا وضوءا احمر لنتنياهو في الكيان الاسرائيلي. ونقل موقع “يديعوت احرانوت”، عن مسؤولين في الاتحادات قولهم “ما يجري في لندن يجب ان يشعل ضوءا احمر امام نتنياهو ليرى ما يمكن ان تتطور اليه الامور في حال اكتشف الجمهور عدم جدية المفاوضات، ما يعني تفاقم الغضب داخله”.
ومن ناحيته، قال رئيس اتحادات الطلبة “ايتسيط شمولي”، “إن الطلبة يسعون للحوار مع الحكومة لكنهم يطلبون التوصل الى عملية سوية وحقيقية من شانها ايجاد حلول حقيقية وتغيير سلم الافضليات والطلبة بقيادتي لن يلجأوا مطلقا للعنف ضد الحكومة”.
وفي السياق ذاته، هدد محتجون إسرائيليون في “مدينة حولون” جنوب “تل أبيب” بالقيام باضطرابات على غرار تلك المندلعة في العاصمة البريطانية لندن، بعد أن طالب مفتشو “البلدية” المحتجين بتفكيك “أكشاك خشبية” أقاموها في معسكر خيام الاحتجاج في حي “جيسي كوهين” بالمدينة، فيما انطلقت مسيرات احتجاجية في العديد من “المدن” الإسرائيلية مساء الأربعاء.
وذكرت وسائل إعلام صهيونية أن مفتشي “البلدية” حضروا إلى معسكر “جيسي كوهين” مساء الاربعاء وطالبوا المحتجين، وغالبيتهم يفتقرون لمأوى، بتفكيك أكشاك خشبية أقاموها في المكان خلال 24 ساعة. ورفض المحتجون استلام الإخطارات واندلعت مشادة في المكان فيما أشعل قسم من المحتجين الإطارات المطاطية وأرائك وسط شارع رئيسي في “حولون” ما أدى إلى ازدحامات مرورية وقد أغلقت الشرطة الشارع.

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August 30th, 2011, 11:55 am


48. N.Z. said:

الناشط البارز نجاتي طيارة خرج من السجن إلى أقبية المخابرات الجوية

– 2011/08/30نشر فى: أخبار محلية
مراسل المحليات : كلنا شركاء
خلافاً لكافة القوانين النافذة عطلت المخابرات الجوية بحمص إخلاء سبيل الناشط البارز نجاتي طيارة .. وقامت باعتقاله من جديد فور خروجه من سجن حمص المركزي يوم أمس الاثنين بعد أن قررت محكمة الجنايات بحمص إخلاء سبيله بكفالة مالية وقدرها خمسة آلاف ليرة سورية ظهر يوم أمس..
وقد علم مراسلنا في مدينة حمص أن دورية من المخابرات الجوية اقتادت طيارة مكبل اليدين من السجن إلى فرع المخابرات الجوية بحمص. ليس من أجل جريمة ارتكبها، بل ربما من أجل إعطائه دروساً مكثفة في الوطنية على اعتبار أن الشعور الوطني لدى نجاتي طيارة قد اضمحل وأصابه الضعف والوهن خلال فترة اعتقاله التي دامت أكثر من ثلاثة اشهر. تماماً كما حصل مع باقي المعتقلين الذين تم الإفراج عنهم وفي مقدمهم المحامي أنور البني وميشال كيلو وفايز سارة ومعتقلي تجمع إعلان دمشق.. وهذا يؤكد تماماً أن القرار القضائي لا قيمة له أمام سلطة الأجهزة الأمنية ولا حتى القانون ليس له أية قيمة تذكر أمام القرار الأمني.
ويذكر أن الناشط نجاتي طيارة كان قد اعتقل من قبل المخابرات الجوية التي يرأسها اللواء جميل حسن يوم الخميس في 12/5/2011 على خلفية نشاطه الكبير في فضح الحملة العسكرية التي تعرضت لها مدينة حمص . وطيارة معتقل سياسي سابق ولعب دورا بارزا في الحركة المطالبة بالحريات السياسية المعروفة باسم ربيع دمشق التي سحقت عام 2001 بعد عام من تولي بشار الأسد الرئاسة خلفا لوالده الراحل حافظ الأسد”.

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August 30th, 2011, 11:59 am


49. abughassan said:

I have not met Dr Galioun but I read some of his work and listened to him few times. A number of media outlets called him “an alawi opposition leader” but they may be wrong,and I certainly do not see his religious affiliation as a plus or a minus but that will matter to some. Shutting down SC will be an unfortunate decision now because it provides useful info to a lot of people about Syria and allows people from different backgrounds to exchange opinions(and insults). For the sake of “ventilation” I have to confess that I am less likely to read posts on SC than before after realizing how shallow and hateful some posts are,this includes posts written by people who claim they are religious or highly educated,but good luck finding any trace of that in their posts.

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August 30th, 2011, 12:02 pm


50. Revlon said:

The organising Committee of the Istanbul Consultative Meeting have issued a statement distancing themselves from the “The National Transitional Council” broadcasted by AlJazeera.

They stated that they continue their efforts to form a council, within 15 days.

بيان هام جدا يوضح تشكيلة المجلس الوطني السوري


بيان المجلس الوطني السوري

توضيح هام : تعلن اللجنة
التحضيرية المنبثقة عن اجتماع اسطنبول
التشاوري من أجل تأسيس المجلس الوطني السوري أنه
لاعلاقة لها بما أذيع على قناة الجزيرة من أنقره بتركيا حول تشكيلة ما سمي بمجلس وطني انتقالي لا من قريب ولا من بعيد.

ومن جهتنا فإننا نود أن نعلن مايلي:

إن اللجنة التحضيرية تتابع أعمالها في استكمال التشاورات مع القوى والشخصيات الوطنية في الداخل والخارج بقصد الوصول
إلى تشكيل المجلس خلال 15 يوما،ً ويتم حالي ا اًلتشاور مع ممثلي شباب الثورة وكذلك مع التجمعات السياسية المعارضة
بالداخل، وهناك تقدم طيب في كلا الاتجاهين لتأسيس المجلس وإعلانه في الموعد المحدد.

ونتوجه هنا للشعب السوري العظيم و قواه السياسية ببيان ما تم القيام به خلال الفترة التشاورية الاولى . لقد بات من القضايا
المعروفة محاولات نظام العصابات السوري والمحسوبين عليه التشويش على الاجتماع التشاوري الذي انعقد في اسطنبول بين
23 آب بغرضإفشاله، واشتدت المحاولات بعد أن خرجت المبادرة إلى العلن في المؤتمر الصحفي بتاريخ 23 – 20
آب/أغسطس 2011
في هذا السياق وإزالة للالتباس وتبديدا للتشويش المغرضنوضح لشعبنا السوري الأبي ما يلي:

المجلس الوطني السوري هو هيئة , وطنية مؤقتة، تعمل لتمثيل الثورة ولا تدعي التمثيل الشعبي إطلاقا، ولا تعكس على نحو
مطلق جميع القوى السياسية، لكنها تعكس قدرا لًا بأس به من التوافق يمكّنها من أن تكون ذراع ا سًياسية للثورة السورية، وأن
تخدم سياسيا الحراك الوطني في الداخل والخارج، وتقوم بمساعدة الثورة لتحقيق الاهداف المرجوة في إسقاط النظام وتنظيم
عملية تسليم الحكم الى مجلس انتقالي سوف يتكون بعد رحيل النظام كي لا ينشأ فراغ سياسي أو سواه.

من هنا، نعيد التأكيد بأن المجلس الوطني ليس مجلسا انتقاليا لإدارة الانتقال إلى سورية الجديدة، كما أنه ليس حكومة انتقالية أو
حكومة منفى… إن العمل على إنشاء مؤسسة المجلس الوطني جاء على
خلفية الإحباطات المتتالية التي منيت بها محاولات
المعارضة في التوافق، مما انعكس إحباطا للًشعب السوري وشباب الثورة.

ومع تزايد الحاجه الماسة إلى وجود أداة سياسية موحدة وفاعلة تخدم الحراك الوطني سياسيا وتحقيقا لهذا الهدف اجتمع عدد من
المستقلين سياسيا ممن توفرت فيهم الخبرة بالعمل السياسي والأكاديمي لبلورة خارطة طريق لوجود تلك الأداة. وبناء على ذلك
تم تكوين فريق تكنوقراط مؤلف من 26 شخصا لرسم التصور والآليات لتشكيل مشروع المجلس الوطني السوري بعيدا عن
الأضواء الإعلامية.

أعد الفريق خلال العمل خارطة دقيقة للقوى السياسية التقليدية والحديثة في الداخل والخارج لينتج عنها قوائم تضم مئات
الأسماء من المعارضين و المستقلين ونشطاء بارزين في الحراك الشبابي في الداخل والخارج أيض ا.ً تقاطعت جهود مجموعة
العمل هذه مع جهود مجموعة عمل أخرى كانت عاكفة أيض ا عًلى فكرة شبيهة جدا. تلاقي الفريقان فشكلا لجنة متابعة وشرعا
في تحضير مشروع المجلس الوطني ووضعت مجموعة من المعايير الموضوعية منها الكفاءة العلمية والكفاءة السياسية و
النشاط في الشأن العام و القدرة على العمل الجماعي والأهلية القانونية المعروفة وغيرها من المعايير لتحديد المرشحين
لعضوية المجلس. وتم انتخاب لجنة مؤلفة من 7 أشخاصللمتابعة والاتصال بالشخصيات الوطنية وفق جدول زمني.
ثم انطلقت المشاروات من خلال الاتصال بالمرشحين والقوى السياسية في مختلف البلدان وفي اجتماعات مكثفة دعيت إليها
أطراف عديدة للتباحث في إنشاء المجلس وتطوير فكرته وعمله، دون أن يكون لتلك الاطراف أي صفة رسمية.

ولابد من التأكيد هنا على مجموعة من الحقائق تتعلق بالمشروع. فالفريق الذي قام بتصميم الفكرة ورسم خارطتها متنوع يمثل
كل الأطياف الفكرية. كما أننا نؤكد بوضوح عدم وقوف أي طرف سياسي دولي خلف المشروع.

أما فكرة المجلس فتقوم على
أساس أنه هيئة سياسية واحدة للداخل والخارج معا،ً بحيث يكونغالبية أعضائه من الداخل بما فيه أعضاء ممثلين من القوى
الشبابية والثورية الجديدة.

و في هذا السياق لا بد من التأكيد على أن المجلس الوطني بصيغته المطروحة هو أداة سياسية لخدمة الثورة وبالتالي تمثيل
وضع الحراك الشعبي، وهو يلعب دور المؤسسة الجامعة التي يتفق و يختلف داخلها السوريون في خدمة بلدهم و ثورتهم. كما
أن مهمته الأساسية محددة وتتمثل في إسقاط النظام و ليس الانتقال الى الحكم

لمزيد من المعلومات يرجى الاتصال :
أ.خالد الحاج صالح: هولندا
د. بسمة القضماني : باريس
أ.عبيدة النحاس: بريطانيا
00 (44) 7775 845959
اديس طسابلادبع.دديوسلا : 0046731520541 abdulbaset.sieda@yahoo.se
د.وائل مرزا: الإمارات
00(971) 503404619
00 (966) 503019591
د.نجيب الغضبان: أمريكا
00 (479) 283-4833

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August 30th, 2011, 12:09 pm


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