“The Syrian Uprising of 2011: Why the Asad Regime is Likely To Survive to 2013,” by Joshua Landis in MEP

We are pleased to offer members of the press a preview of an article by Joshua Landis from the upcoming Spring 2012 journal Middle East Policy titled “The Syrian Uprising of 2011: Why the Asad Regime is Likely To Survive to 2013.” Click here to read the full article.

Dr. Landis (University of Oklahoma, Center for Middle East Studies & Editor, Syria Comment) believes that the regime’s chances for survival to 2013 are stronger than many think, for four reasons:

1. Asad remains strong militarily.
Unlike Mubarak in Egypt, who left the military in the hands of non-family members, the Asads have taken extreme “sectarian safety measures,” staffing the security forces and broader government with loyal Alawis. Some estimates suggest that as many as 80% of Syria’s officer corps are Alawi.

2. The opposition is weak.
Reports that the political Syrian National Council has gained control over the Free Syrian Army are by most accounts fictional. Whether peaceful or armed, the opposition cells in Syria work independently.

3. The international community is unlikely to intervene.
Syria remains in the realm of “too big to fail,” and foreign powers are unlikely to intervene if Syrians cannot unite and build a military force capable of providing, at the very least, a credible promise of stabilizing Syria on its own.

4. The economy is problematic.
Asad’s cousin Rami Makhlouf is “Mr. Ten Percent” of the Syrian economy, having assumed a majority stake in many major enterprises and holding companies, assuring that the Asad family maintained control over the economy.

To read the entire article, click here.

Comments (109)

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1. Revlon said:

Syrian Dream . سوريا الحلم
Khalidiya, Homs
about an hour ago

Prayers from Minerates’ loudspeakers attept at providing comfort and a sense of solidarity to the peoples of Khalidiya as their neighbourhood is currently being pounded by Assad forces.

سوريا الحلم . حمص . الخالدية . مسجد خالد بن الوليد . التكبير الأن عبر مكبرات الصوت لتخفيف حدة الخوف التي أصابت الناس نتيجة القصف

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February 23rd, 2012, 12:31 pm


2. jad said:

I doubt that the regime can survive until 2013 but nobody knows.
Here is a lengthy report about the Syrian crises and it support many points in Dr. Landis article.
The report includes critical points against both sides, the Syrian regime and the oppositions, I apologize for a long comment, here some parts of the report:

on the actors of the Syrian crisis
link: http://www.cf2r.org/

1. Criticism of the Syrian oppositions and the media coverage:

-Our principal observation is that the Iranian issue largely conditions the way the Syrian crisis is being handled. This « manufactured Lebanonization » of Syria is the result of actions led by three main groups: -­- the Syrian regime, its military units and various security services; -­- political and religious groups including the Muslim Brotherhood and leaders of Salafist groups with support from governments and political forces in neighbouring countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and, to a lesser extent, Iraq;-­- regional and international powers involved in the zone : Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UnitedStates, and, to a lesser extent, France.

-Media coverage of the crisis: In Syria, the difference between the situation on the ground and the perception given by Anglo-­-American and Arabic media networks is stark, even more so than in Libya where several members of the present delegation were able to observe the same phenomenon at work. It is important to underline the intense media campaign being waged against Damascus. This observation of fact should not be construed that the authors of the present report are in favour of one side or another in the conflict.
The Syrian crisis is the subject of a veritable media war involving a number of MMC – means of mass communications – conducted via the international media networks, American radio stations, Sawa, the Lebanese media with close ties to the « March 14 » movement, etc. It is also necessary to add that French-­-speaking media networks, though secondary players in this crisis, often take up the conclusions of the major Arab and Anglo-­-American media networks without verifying such information.
Misinformation techniques employed: The editorial board of Al-­-Jazeera has selected very precise wording to target the Syrian government and legitimize the demonstrations, and even acts of violence and terrorism.
Above all, for the last 5 months Qatari television network Al-­-Jazeera has spent nearly 70% of its broadcasting coverage on the Syrian crisis. Does this country objectively warrant such massive coverage? As in Libya, we can legitimately ask the question: in the name of what political agenda is this network service continuing to deploy such resources for coverage which is more militant in nature than informational.
Clearly, the Syrian regime is not a model of democracy, but Syria’s adversaries are pitting all their might to blacken the picture and sway international opinion behind external opposition forces to justify measures taken against the regime, in the hope of hastening its downfall.
This falsification of the facts seeks to hide from global public opinion the support – often reluctant -­- that the majority of the Syrian population have for the current regime and the fact that the external opposition is not the most legitimate stakeholder (as opposed to longstanding domestic opposition groups), neither do they espouse democratic ideals that they pretend to promote (given their strongly Islamist character).
The botched response of the Syrian authorities: In the face of this torrent of misinformation, the Syrian government, ill prepared for the information war, has been totally overwhelmed. Its response has been clumsy and inappropriate and has only served to reinforce suspicions surrounding the regime.
The Syrian National Council is largely dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, even though it front lines several French-­-speaking academics, researchers and university professors funded by the Ford Foundation and other American organisations, as well as by Qatari financiers. This Council seeks to replicate the tactic employed by the National Transitional Council of Libya (NTC), but it lacks a real footing in Syria. The SNC is regularly denounced by the domestic opposition which affords it no legitimacy whatsoever.There has been no movement that officially represents a political Islam inside Syria since 1982 (massacre in Hama). The Muslim Brotherhood are mostly present outside Syria – in Germany, London, Brussels and Washington – having only kept a few dormant networks in the country. They have, however, succeeded in establishing different support networks via front associations and with counterparts in various Salafist groups

2. Criticism of the Syrian regime

Hussein al-­-Odat, spokesperson of the National Coordination Committee that regroups domestic opponents to the regime was arrested at that time. Opposition groups sought to regroup and organise, but these attempts failed. Al-­-Odat remarks that the regime did everything in its power to impede the emergence of a responsible national opposition movement. « The servants of the regime constantly manipulate reality and give out false information. Syrian citizens no longer have consensual points of reference: no freedom, no democracy, no equality, no separation of powers. No rule of law. This a regime founded on the security services which have all the room for manoeuvre and can do anything with full impunity. Every initiative must be submitted for authorisation : 113 professions require the approval of the services before they can work (civil servant, teacher, etc.). This is a security regime founded on generalised corruption and nepotism: deputies, judges and magistrates are appointed by the regime. There is no social justice, no change in political power. And, the sovereign administration has never shown its competency in any area at all ».
Radicalization of the movement: On 18 March, three days after the beginning of the movement, military weapons were spotted not only in Deraa, but also in Homs, Hama and in different towns near the Turkish border. However, for three months, demonstrations were mostly peaceful. With ties to contraband networks, militants did not use their weaponry, but established stockpiles and dug tunnels for storage and refuge purposes. As of June 2011, the movement began to radicalize in most of the centers of protest and the activists began to demand the resignation of Bachar al-­-Assad and the end of the regime. According to many witness reports from among representatives of the domestic opposition and leaders of the religious communities, after the appearance of these armed activists in the summer of 2011, demonstrations were no longer peaceful and protesters were actively seeking direct confrontation with the security forces and started making use of their military hardware.
The National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCCDC) is an umbrella group that includes 11 Arab, Kurdish, Syriac parties and independent national figures. Of the Coordination’s twenty members, five are Alawites. This opposition grouping is the regime’s most credible and legitimate opponent. It makes up the most important, the oldest and most legitimate opposition movement. Loaï Hussein admits that the domestic opposition currently does not have the human resources to ensure a takeover from the current regime. This is why the NCCDC recommends a transition period, in order to introduce institutional reform.
The full report in English is here

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February 23rd, 2012, 1:40 pm


3. zoo said:

Military: Thousands of troops needed to secure Syrian chemical sites

By Barbara Starr
The U.S. military has calculated it could take more than 75,000 ground troops to secure Syria’s chemical warfare facilities if they were at risk of being looted or left unguarded, CNN has learned.

The conclusion comes from a military analysis of options for Syria that the Department of Defense is preparing for president should he request it, according to a senior U.S. official.

Securing Syria’s chemical sites would be “extraordinarily difficult” given the scope of the problem, a Department of Defense official told CNN.Both officials would only speak on the condition their names not be used because they were talking about military planning.

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February 23rd, 2012, 1:44 pm


4. zoo said:

Weren’t they opening an office in Qatar?

Taliban urge Afghans to attacks Westerners
Staff Reporter
KABUL (Reuters) – The Taliban urged Afghans on Thursday to target foreign military bases, and beat and kill Westerners in retaliation for burnings of copies of the Koran, Islam’s holy book, at NATO’s main base in the country.

“Our brave people must target the military bases of invader forces, their military convoys and their invader bases,” read an e-mailed Taliban statement to media released by spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.

“They have to kill them (Westerners), beat them and capture them to give them a lesson to never dare desecrate the holy Koran again.”

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February 23rd, 2012, 1:48 pm


5. zoo said:

Syria ‘to try to evacuate journalists from Homs’
Thursday,February 23 2012, Your time is 1:53:03 AM
DAMASCUS – Agence France-Presse
The governor of Syria’s flashpoint city of Homs has been told to try to evacuate Western journalists killed or wounded in the city’s besieged Baba Amr district, the information minister said on Thursday.
“For humanitarian reasons, and although they entered the country without a permit to go to an area controlled by terrorists, the governor of Homs has been told to exert every effort possible to evacuate the journalists,” Adnan Mahmud told AFP.

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February 23rd, 2012, 1:55 pm


6. zoo said:

Incited by the media, thousands of sunni jihadists are heading to Syria from several middle eastern countries. What does it mean “the FSA refused to receive them”?

Free Syrian Army reject jihadists help

By Abdul Sattar Hatita
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Reports coming in from Syria indicate that the Free Syrian Army has refused utilizing Arab jihadists, some of whom have actually arrived in Syria, in spite of this army’s modest capabilities when compared with the army of the ruling regime.

The opposition “national council” hopes that more military personnel will defect from the regular army to help the free army confront the forces of Al-Assad and end the dictatorial rule in the country with Syrian hands.

A few days ago, 23 year old Egyptian Muhammad, disappeared from the Al-Sadat City near Cairo in Egypt leaving a letter to his family. The family members understood from the letter that he was going to support the Syrians against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

Muhammad is one of thousands of Muslim and Arab youths who several intelligence reports say began to head to Syria via several Middle Eastern states after they saw the horrific scenes of acts of killing that are carried out by the Al-Assad regime.

Imad Husari, member of the Syrian National Council and member of the executive office of the local coordination committees in Syria, says that a number of non-Syrian jihadists did indeed arrive in Syria and that the Free Syrian Army refused to receive them.

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February 23rd, 2012, 2:00 pm


7. Areal said:

In the related article from MEP, I found
“The Asads tutored their children in the arts of war so they could log is not take command of the military and police their population ”

May I remind the author that President Bashar al-Assad was tutored as a medical doctor before the death of his older brother forced him to take a military training.

Also , I remember that one commenter on this blog made a remarkable compilation of the martyred security people as published in Sana.sy website.

Unfortunately , as the comment section of this blog is not thoroughly referenced by the search enginee ( WHY ? , I have not investigated the matter ) , I can retrieve this particular comment.

I wonder if the compilation is still updated by the author !!

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February 23rd, 2012, 2:08 pm


8. jad said:

Washington wants Assad to fall but worries about who will take over:

واشنطن تريد سقوط الأسد وتخشى خَلَفه

يمثّل مؤتمر أصدقاء سوريا تدويلاً جديداً لمسألتها، من غير أن يتمكن من الخطو فعلياً نحو وقف الصراع الدائر ومنع الرئيس بشّار الأسد من الحسم الأمني ضد معارضيه المسلحين. يفيد مؤتمر تونس معارضة الخارج بتحميلها لافتة جديدة، ويبقي المبادرة في الداخل في يد الأسد

نقولا ناصيف
يلتئم في تونس غداً مؤتمر أصدقاء سوريا، في محاولة إضافية لدعم المعارضة السورية وتوفير أوسع مساعدات لها على جبه نظام الرئيس بشّار الأسد، ومضاعفة الضغوط عليه لحمله على التنحّي. بيد أن ما يُتوقع انعقاده في تونس لا يُشبه ما يستمر حصوله داخل سوريا، وهو مضي الأسد، بدعم روسي صريح، في حسم أمني عنيف ضد معارضيه المسلحين. يستضيف مؤتمر أصدقاء تونس المعارضة السورية، وأخصّها المجلس الوطني السوري، من غير أن يُميّز بينها وبين المعارضة المسلحة التي تخوض مع الأسد أكثر من محاولة بقاء، بل الصراع على السلطة.

وتبعاً لمطلعين عن قرب على الموقف الأميركي، تقدّم واشنطن تقويمين متنافرين لما يجري في سوريا والتحرّك العربي والغربي حياله، وفي الوقت نفسه لموقفها من المعارضة والجيش السوري الحرّ. ويكمن هذان التقويمان في معطيات أبرزها:
1 ـــــ تتطلع الإدارة إلى مؤتمر تونس على أنه جزء من جهودها المستمرة مع أصدقائها وحلفائها والمعارضة السورية، لبلورة الخطوات التالية توصلاً إلى وقف «مذبحة الشعب السوري »، والمضي في تحوّل سوريا إلى الديموقراطية. وتتوخى الإدارة التركيز على تثقيل الضغوط على نظام الأسد من خلال عقوبات اقتصادية إضافية لزيادة العزلة الدبلوماسية لسوريا، وتلاحظ أن تأثير العقوبات هذه بدأ بالظهور. وترمي من مؤتمر تونس إلى اقتراح إجراءات جديدة من العقوبات وعناصر الضغط، في موازاة تقديم مساعدات إلى المعارضة.
2 ـــــ تنظر واشنطن إلى الهدف المباشر من مؤتمر تونس الذي تشارك فيه بتمثيل رفيع هو وزيرة الخارجية هيلاري كلينتون ومساعدوها، وهو تعزيز دور المعارضة السورية وتوحيدها، وطرح أفضل الوسائل لتسهيل وصول المساعدات إلى الشعب السوري. إلا أن الإدارة تعمل، في الوقت نفسه، على نحو فاعل مع المعارضة السورية، مجموعات وشخصيات مستقلة، الملتزمة التحوّل السلمي نحو الديموقراطية والتعددية والدولة العلمانية التي يقبل بها الشعب السوري. ومن شأن مؤتمر تونس تقديم فرصة أخرى لمجموعات المعارضة للعمل معاً وتوحيد نظرتها إلى النظام الجديد الذي تريده لبلادها.
3 ـــــ لم تفصح واشنطن حتى الآن، على الأقل، عن إقرار بوجود معارضة مسلحة داخل سوريا، وإن تحدثت مراراً ـــــ من دون إجراءات جدّية ـــــ عن سبل تزويد المعارضة السلمية السلاح للدفاع عن نفسها في وجه العنف الذي يقابلها به النظام. وهي، إذ تتفادى الإقرار بوجود معارضة مسلحة، ترمي إلى تجنّب تداعيات الدعم الروسي لدمشق الذي أقر بالمعارضة المسلحة هذه، فبرّر للنظام لجوءه إلى العنف والقسوة لتصفية مناوئيه المسلحين. بذلك تهمل الإدارة أي موقف يستفيد منه الرئيس السوري في حملته العسكرية لتبريرها، وتحرص في الوقت نفسه على التحدّث دائماً وأكثر من مرة عن المعارضة السلمية، والتركيز على دورها في رسم مستقبل سوريا. وهي تلمس الآن، أكثر من أي وقت مضى، الفروق البارزة بين معارضتي الداخل والخارج، وبين أفرقاء معارضة الداخل القريبين من الحوار مع النظام والرافضين له بلا شروط مسبقة.
بيد أن أحاديث الدوائر المغلقة داخل الإدارة الأميركية، وفي وزارتي الخارجية والدفاع ولدى الاستخبارات، لا تنكر وجود مسلحين أضحوا جزءاً لا يتجزأ من النزاع الدائر مع النظام. ولا تخفي الإدارة قلقها من بطء مقدرة المعارضة السلمية على توحيد جهودها كي تكون جاهزة فعلاً لتسلم السلطة عند انهيار نظام الأسد. لا ترى مناصاً من انهياره، إلا أنها تنظر بحذر إلى قوة المعارضة المسلحة التي ستتمكن من الحلول محل الأسد، بدل المعارضة السلمية، عند سقوطه في استعادة حتمية لتجربة انتقال السلطة في ليبيا إلى المسلحين بعد مقتل زعيمها معمّر القذافي.
4 ـــــ على وفرة الجهود التي تبذلها في ممارسة الضغوط على نظام الأسد، تشعر واشنطن يومياً بأن دورها صغير في إحداث تطور كبير في سوريا، وهو يتضاءل أكثر. بالتأكيد يفضّل المسؤولون الأميركيون رؤية الأسد خارج السلطة، ولكنهم غير قادرين على الوصول إلى هذا الهدف في مدى قريب، ولا يسعهم إلا ابتكار مزيد من الضغوط عليه. تدرك واشنطن وحلفاؤها أنهم فشلوا في مجلس الأمن، إلا أنهم نجحوا في حمل الأمم المتحدة على تصويت 138 دولة ضد الرئيس السوري، وحمل هذا التصويت أكثر من دلالة: أولاها أنه أكبر ممّا توقعته الإدارة، وثانيها أنه أكد وقوف المجتمع الدولي بمعظمه تقريباً ضد العنف الذي يمارسه الرئيس السوري في بلاده. مع ذلك يتعذّر استثمار هذا التصويت أكثر من مغزاه المعنوي ليس إلا .
5 ـــــ تنظر واشنطن بقليل من الثقة إلى الجيش السوري الحرّ، وتعتقد بأنه قريب جداً من حركات ثوار منه إلى جيش نظامي، ولا يعدو كونه إلا صورة مطابقة للمسلحين الذين قاوموا الزعيم الليبي وأدت سيطرتهم على البلاد إلى وضعها بين أيدي ميليشيات، تتنازع النفوذ والسلطة ويبتز بعضها البعض الآخر بالمال. لا يجمع الجيش السوري الحرّ بسائر أطراف المعارضة في الداخل والخارج إلا العداء للنظام وللأسد،إلا أن ما يفرّق بينهم غياب التفاهم والتنسيق والتعاون، على نحو يُخشى أن يقود سوريا، بعد سقوط الأسد، إلى تعميم الفوضى فيها على الطريقة الليبية بسيطرة المسلحين الدائرين خارج فلك المعارضة السلمية.
6 ـــــ تتفق واشنطن مع الرياض والدوحة اللتين تقودان حملة إسقاط الأسد على الحاجة إلى أن يروا معاً نهاية الرئيس السوري التي تؤول حكماً إلى «تقزيم» إيران، التهديد الموازي للدول الثلاث هذه. وتقول واشنطن، في الاتصالات والتحرك المكوكي السعودي لديها، إن نظاماً كالذي يرأسه الأسد، مشابه للنظام الإيراني، لا بد من أن ينتهي. وبإزاء استعجال الرياض تسليح الجيش السوري الحرّ، تتساءل واشنطن عن سرّ برودة تركيا حيال تفاقم العنف في سوريا، وهي ـــــ كلاعب رئيسي في الأزمة السورية ـــــ لا يقوم بالكثير المطلوب منها.
مع ذلك، ليس بين المسؤولين الأميركيين مَن يسعه التنبؤ بحدود الخط الأحمر التي تحمل تركيا على تجاوزه من أجل التحرّك ضد النظام السوري. لا يمنع ذلك المسؤولين الأميركيين من ترداد عبارة قالها أمامهم دبلوماسي أوروبي عن الترّيث التركي وهو يتوقع بداية حرب أهلية في سوريا: تعتقد أنقرة أن النظام السوري بات كبيت من زجاج، لا بد من أن يتكسّر كله دفعة واحدة.
7 ـــــ تشير المراجعة المتأنية للإدارة لواقع الجيش السوري النظامي الذي لا يزال يدين بالولاء للأسد، إلى أنه لا يزال متماسكاً، ولا يبدو من السهولة بمكان تفكيكه كما حصل في ليبيا، عندما انفصلت عن الجيش الليبي مجموعات نظامية متكاملة بعديدها وعتادها. ترى واشنطن أيضاً أن الأشهر الطويلة المنصرمة من أحداث سوريا أظهرت فعلاً وجود جيش قوي يسيطر عليه الأسد وضبّاطه الكبار ويحفظون ولاءه للنظام والرئيس، في حين أنه لم يكن لليبيا، في واقع الأمر، جيش، بل فرقتان يقود كل منهما نجلا القذافي، إحداهما لخميس، والأخرى للمعتصم.

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February 23rd, 2012, 2:09 pm


9. jad said:

Ref. “Free Syrian Army reject jihadists help”
Coming from Alsharq Alawsat I think that it’s the new MEDIA plan to take away any reference of the ‘jihadists’ being active inside Syria to justify the measures of arming ‘peaceful’ ‘non-armed’ protesters, the west and the Khalijis are planning to do in Tunisia.

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February 23rd, 2012, 2:14 pm


10. ann said:

US preparing for military intervention in Syria? – 23 February, 2012


Sources in Washington tell Israeli news agency Debka that the Pentagon is currently drafting the approach they want America to take in the Syria ordeal, and once it is ready for the president, Obama could approve military action. Debka adds, however, that the decision will also depend on what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes away from this week’s Tunis conference.

Representatives from 80 countries across the glove are expected to descend on Tunis on Friday under the name “Friends of Syria.” Should Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and the UAR support a western intervention in Syria, Clinton could offer an endorsement to the Pentagon, who will in turn finish their draft for war plans and send them to the White House for approval. According to Debka’s sources, UK, France, Italy and Turkey also prepare to send their troops into Syria.

Earlier this month, President Obama seemed to side more with a solution that would save the US from directly dragging itself to war. “I think it is very important for us to try to resolve this without recourse to outside military intervention. I think that’s possible,” the president told NBC News.

Elsewhere in Washington, some representatives have already openly endorsed aiding the Syrian rebels. Speaking from Kabul, Afghanistan last week, Senator John McCain insisted that the US could offer support to the opponents of Assad without necessarily sending troops of their own over.

As RT reported earlier, FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds said she believes that American forces in conjunction with NATO have already been training Syrian revels since May 2011 in the Turkish city of Hakkari. Upwards of 10,000 Libyans are also believed to being trained nearby to assist in nearby Jordan.

Senator Lindsey Graham provided more information recently on America’s interest in toppling the Syrian government. He also this month advocated for the aiding of rebels, saying that a US intervention to remove al-Assad would assist in hurting Iranian interests in the region.


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February 23rd, 2012, 2:27 pm


11. Hans said:

Where is the USA, to support human rights in the KSA, isn’t about time that USA stands clear based on the founding fathers values of liberty and freedom for all and be on the right side of the history, instead of supporting a rotten, invested monarchy in the KSA.


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February 23rd, 2012, 2:42 pm


12. irritated said:


“Washington wants Assad to fall but worries about who will take over:”

It took them 10 months to realize this evidence!
USA foreign policy on the hand of Miss Piggy is going nowhere..

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February 23rd, 2012, 3:42 pm


13. zoo said:

A brilliant new idea from Tunisia inspired by the financial providers of Tunisia’s crumbling economy.
Maybe that’s the job Tunisia will offer to the thousands of unemployed youth in Tunisia: Peacekeeping in Syria.

Tunisia to propose peacekeeping force for Syria
Associated Press – 2 hrs 1 min ago

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia’s presidential spokesman says the North African country will propose a political solution to the Syrian crisis involving a peacekeeping force.

Adnan Mancer told The Associated Press Thursday in a TV interview that Tunisia would propose to the “Friends of Syria” conference for a Yemen-style transition, where the president stepped down.

Mancer says Tunisia is ready to take part in the peacekeeping force to back “a political solution because we totally oppose a foreign military intervention.”

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February 23rd, 2012, 3:49 pm


14. zoo said:

One more ultimatum to Bashar and then what?
A ceasefire? Who will stop the uncontrolled armed gangs and the snipers? Burhan Ghaliun, Erdogan, Nabil Al Arabi, Hamad Ben Jassem or some high tech US drones?
Moscow, Beijing reject ‘interference’ in Syria
By LYNN BERRY | Associated Press – 1 hr 48 mins ago

MOSCOW (AP) — Moscow and Beijing remain opposed to any foreign interference in Syria, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday as Russia worked to shore up international support for its position ahead of a major international conference.

Officials from the United States, Europe and Arab nations were meeting in London on Thursday to craft details of an ultimatum to Assad demanding that he agree to a cease-fire and allow humanitarian aid into areas hardest hit by the crackdown.

The ultimatum was to be presented at a major international conference Friday in Tunisia on the Syrian conflict.

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February 23rd, 2012, 4:01 pm


15. albert said:

I suspect that all requests for a ceasefire will fall on deaf ears. A bit too late to lose momentum through a ceasefire for whatever reason. Such momentum is necessary as a lever to bring the opposition to the table. A Regime demand that was not heeded so far.

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February 23rd, 2012, 4:18 pm


16. b said:

I agree with Prof Landis and his analysis.

In the part of the economic effects I miss the 1+ million Iraqi refugees who were welcome but nonetheless burdened Syria’s economy and still do.

I wonder why his headline sets a 2013 enddate. Why wouldn’t Assad under these circumstances stay longer? The piece never explains that.

I for one expect (and expected him) to stay for at least another full term as president.

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February 23rd, 2012, 4:23 pm


17. zoo said:

French wounded journalists trapped in Homs


Injured journalist Edith Bouvier and another french journalist working for Le Figaro and Times are asking the french authorities to rescue Edith Bouvier in a ‘medical’ way as she is not easily transportable.
The French and British government are now obliged to negotiate the logistics of such rescue with the Syrian government. In view of the medical situation of the journalist, a helicopter would be probably necessary.
The ‘medical’ staff keeping Edith Bouvier calls for the Red Cross to intervene but do not call explicitly for a ceasefire.

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February 23rd, 2012, 4:39 pm


18. zoo said:

China not to attend Friends of Syria conference
Updated: 2012-02-24 00:35
BEIJING – Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday that China will not attend the Friends of Syria conference to be held Friday in Tunisia.

Hong said China is not prepared to attend the conference as China needs to further study the aim, effect and mechanism of the conference and it has no idea of the preparations of the conference.

China is a friend of the Syrian and Arab peoples, Hong said.

“China supports all efforts that are conducive to peacefully and properly resolving the Syrian issue,” Hong said, adding that China hopes to work with all concerned parties to play a positive and constructive role in the process.

China believes that any action taken by the international community should help to cease tensions, boost political dialogues, resolve differences and maintain peace and stability in the Middle East, Hong said.
Russia and China on February 4 vetoed an Arab-European draft resolution on Syria backing an Arab League plan which demands a regime change in the Middle East country. And later on February 16, China voted against a draft resolution on Syria at the UN General Assembly.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun, as a special envoy of the Chinese government, on February 18 met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damasucs.

During his two-day visit to Syria, Zhai also met with Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Mualem, Vice Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad, assistant Foreign Minister Ahmad Arnous and heads of Syria’s opposition groups.

Zhai said that China has followed closely the development of the situation in Syria, and is deeply worried about the escalating crisis in the country, which has caused civilian casualties and affected peace and stability in the Middle East region.

He said China urges all parties concerned in Syria to immediately launch inclusive political dialogue with no preconditions attached, and jointly discuss a comprehensive political reform plan and mechanism.

China supports efforts by the Arab League (AL) in seeking a political solution to the issue of Syria, Zhai said. He called on parties concerned to strengthen communication and consultation, and join efforts in seeking a peaceful and proper solution to the Syrian crisis within the AL framework and on the basis of AL’s political initiatives.

Zhai stressed that China takes an objective, just and responsible stance on the issue of Syria.

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February 23rd, 2012, 4:46 pm


19. zoo said:

Iran, Hezbollah are on Syria side: Velayati

Velayati, a former foreign minister, said those Arab rulers that “begged the Americans” to keep Hosni Mubarak in power, gave sanctuary to the Tunisian dictator, and supported the killing of the Yemeni people are now portraying themselves as the defenders of the Syrian people.

He said Syria is the only government which has withstood Israel since the 1967 war and it is the only country which has not accepted the Camp David agreement.

“It is for these reasons that they have targeted the most sensitive center of the resistance (movement) ignorant of the fact that Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah are standing on the side of Syria strongly and we are witnessing that Russia and China have also come to this side and its reason is that they have understood that the situation of the world in changing.”

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February 23rd, 2012, 4:49 pm


20. zoo said:

Lowering political expectations: The first meeting is about humanitarian aid.

‘Friends of Syria’ 2nd meeting to be held in Turkey: Davutoğlu
LONDON – Hürriyet Daily News
Second meeting of the “Friends of Syria” group will be held in Turkey, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said during a press conference in London today.

The first meeting of the group will be held on Friday in Tunisia.

Davutoğlu said Turkey expressed its request for the group to take concrete measures regarding the situation in Syria.

“Those measures will be clarified in tomorrow’s meeting,” Davutoğlu said and added that Turkey was ready to assist the people of Syria anyway it can, starting with humanitarian aid.

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February 23rd, 2012, 4:54 pm


21. DAWOUD said:


I will send an email as soon as I have more time (maybe tomorrow morning US EST) to Professor Landis and CC it to Ehsani and Mr. Okraji. It will explain my perceived “provocative” tone. For now, please keep in mind the following points:
– Everything I say is my opinion, which does not mean that anybody has to believe in it. Does it mean that Prof. Landis has to have an “affirmative action” policy? Of course not! But, it’s my right to voice my opinion against any slant when there are those on this blog who question whether Bashar is a dictator! And others who claim that Hamza al-Khateeb was killed by Saudi terrorists!
-I don’t care what anybody’s religion/sect is, but both factors have unfortunately become relevant to the ongoing Syrian revolt. When Prof. Fawaz Gergis on CNN’s GPS describes that on his recent visit to Syria he found Syrian Christians loyal to Bashar, we need to discuss it here. Surely, it has to be done without generalizations and threats of violence and racism. I have always done this discussion in a responsible manner.
-MORE will be said in the email

PS., thanks to our brother AND sisters in occupied/besieged Gaza for their anti -Bashar rally:
انشودة يلا ارحل يا بشار بنسخة غزاوية

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February 23rd, 2012, 4:59 pm


22. albert said:

With all due respect, Prof. Landis’ prediction about the current regime’s demise in Syria is highly speculative and takes away from the otherwise good research he has done to write his essay, however.

A very close look at the current developments in Syria would reveal that the major power behind regime change in Syria is none other than President Bashar al-Asad himself.

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February 23rd, 2012, 5:06 pm


23. mjabali said:

Prof. Landis:

Good article but there is a point I have a problem with. you said:

“Alawis already by the mid-1950s constituted some 65 percent of all noncommissioned officers in the Syrian military.2 Within a decade, they took control of the military leadership and, with it, Syria itself.”

You got this quote from the notable historian Hanna Batato as you footnoted.

I think this percentage is over estimating and not accurate. There is no way the Alawis would constitute 65 percent of the noncommissioned officers by mid-1950’s.

Remember how the Alawis of the Syrian National Party were killed in numbers following the Assassination of al-Maliki in 1955.

The two highest Alawi officers in the 1950’s were assassinated and their killers walked away free.

General Mohammad Naser was assassinated in Damascus in 1950, he was a Chief in the army, but his killers walked away free of any punishment.

Colonel Ghassan Jadid was assassinated in 1957.

If the Alawis were 65 percent on the non-commissioned officers no one could have done that to them in the 1950’s.

From the 1950’s to 1966, a big stop in the history of Syria, many non Alawi officers lost due to the political changes, to explain:

1958 union with Egypt made many Sunnis from the old Ottoman heritage not to join the army.

1961 Separation from the Union with Egypt, the minority officers were very weak to do anything. By minority officer: we are talking about a sizable Druze and Ismaili officers also.

Remember that the Sunni officers from Damascus kind of alienated many Sunni officers from other cities and excluded them. For example, the Nasiri officers rising from Allepo after the separation from Egypt.

1963 was the first time the Alawis and their allies show force.

After 1963, Mohammad Umran was the first Alawi officer to hold a major position. The Alawis were not that strong up to that moment, but they got lucky with the appointment of Salah Jadid, the Baathi/Leftist brother of the Syrian Nationalist Ghassan Jadid.

It is a very complicated matter, but if you go throw the number of coups, and mini-cuops in Syria you will see how Sunni officers lost their grip on the Army.

In the mid 1960’s the Alawis did not have anything yet. But, they were solidifying their rule especially after the 1966 mini coup against Amin al-Hafez. That time period saw the rise of Hafez and his brother. But, those guys would not gain control till the 1970’s. The 1960’s did not see any Alawi revival instead, by the end of it Hafez put many of the top Alawi officers in Jail when he took over in October 16 1970. When Hafez took control he did not depend on any of the Alawi strong men, he saw them as a threat. He groomed the generation of officers that I saw take over Syria in my lifetime.


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February 23rd, 2012, 5:47 pm


24. jna said:

Rebels and Ordinary Citizens Alike Struggle to Survive the Bombing of Homs
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/02/23/rebels-and-ordinary-citizens-alike-struggle-to-survive-the-bombing-of-homs.html […read it all, some pasted below]

…The rebels may still be hanging on, but the activists increasingly are not. Abdullah had to flee last week after suffering a shrapnel injury. He spoke from a safe house just outside Bab Amro. Likewise, 21-year-old Omar Shakir of the Bab Amro News team said he fled two days ago, also to a safe house just outside the neighborhood. Before that, he’d been staying in the same makeshift media center in Bab Amro as Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, the two foreign reporters killed Wednesday after a shell hit the building. Four of the activists from Shakir’s team were also injured in the attack. Activists suspected that government forces directly targeted them after locking onto the satellite signals being used for their broadcasts. Danny Abdul Dayem, the British-Syrian dual national whose dramatic English-language videos became regular features on global news broadcasts, escaped to Lebanon ten days ago. Rami Ahmad al-Sayyed, responsible for livestream broadcasts, was killed earlier this week when a mortar hit the car out of which he was helping unload injured patients. Even Fadwa Suleiman, the Alawi actress who galvanized protesters when she joined them in Homs, left the city earlier this week, according to a statement posted on Facebook by a friend.

…Of the neighborhood’s popular figures who have given the world faces and name to attach to Homs’ story, only two remain. Khaled Abu Salah, who rose to fame when he challenged Arab League observers to work harder to see the government’s atrocities, appeared in film showing the foreign journalists’ bodies in the rubble of the press center. Abdulbaset Sarout, the 22-year-old soccer star who pumped his fist in protests and gave voice to popular revolutionary chants, stayed, too. Alongside violent footage of the escalation, Arabic satellite channels played on loop a video of both of them sitting with Rami Ahmad Sayed, gathered in the dark playing the oud and signing of a freedom, a ghostly reminder of the sacrifices all three have been willing to make.

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February 23rd, 2012, 6:10 pm


25. ann said:

Reports say many killed in ongoing violence across Syria on Thursday – 2012-02-24


DAMASCUS, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) — A family of six members was murdered by unidentified gunmen in central Homs province, as eight law-enforcement troops were killed Thursday in clashes with armed groups in several parts of Syria, state-run SANA news agency reported.

An armed group brutally killed a family at al-Arman al-Janoubi neighborhood in Homs Thursday, said SANA, adding that the group hand-cuffed Mohammad Riyad Dawish, his wife and his four children, and stabbed them to death.

Meanwhile, three law-enforcement personnel were killed and seven others were injured when a primed explosive device, planted by an armed group, went off at the southern entrance of Idlib city in northern Syria, said SANA, adding that the military engineering units dismantled three explosive devices in Jiser al-Shughour region in Idlib countryside.

In the central province of Hama, two law-enforcement members were killed and another was injured by the gunfire of an armed group that attacked with grenades and machineguns the police station of Mahardeh in Hama countryside Thursday.

In southern Daraa province, three law-enforcement members were killed and five others were injured in an attack by an armed terrorist group in al-Sad area, said SANA.

In a related context, Syria’s Health Ministry on Thursday denied as “untrue” the death of seven babies in a hospital in Hama countryside because of power outages.

In a statement carried by SANA, the ministry stressed that “no babies died in Hama hospitals because of power outages,” adding that “all hospitals are equipped with power generators.”

The ministry added that the systematic misleading campaigns will increase the determination of national health institutions in serving all patients.


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February 23rd, 2012, 6:35 pm


26. jad said:

US and al-Qaeda teaming up in Syria?

“According to US intelligence, extremist are rushing into Syria to help the anti-government rebels overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. US officials have blamed al-Qaeda for a series of bombings in Damascus aimed at the Syrian Military and intelligence facilities. Washington war hawks are calling for arming the uprising in Syria, but so is al-Qaeda. So is it possible for the two to support the same cause? Here is our report.”

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February 23rd, 2012, 7:01 pm


27. ann said:

Youssef Al-Ahmed turned down $10 million of qatar blood money to turn his back on his own country

Syrian ambassador leaves Cairo – 2012-02-24


CAIRO, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) — Syrian ambassador to Egypt Youssef el- Ahmed and his family left Cairo to Damascus on Thursday in response to Egypt’s decision to withdraw its ambassador to Syria, official news agency MENA reported.


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February 23rd, 2012, 7:02 pm


28. Syria no kandahar said:

The religious and ethical duty of Al Saoud:
Spreading fitna and sectarian war in Syria

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February 23rd, 2012, 7:12 pm


29. aron said:

MJBALI – I agree with you. As I recall, the context provided by Batatu is that Abdelhamid Serraj (then the boss of the 2ième bureau = Military Intel) discovered these proportions when he was investigating the Malki murder. (Update: Yes, just checked the Batatu article, it’s sourced to a conversation between Batatu and Serraj in 1980.)

I have no idea what’s true or false about that part of the story. I assume Batatu (a great scholar) reports his conversation correctly, and perhaps Serraj really thought he had found such a number. But the 65% of NCOs figure has always struck me as impossibly high, and there’s plenty of evidence against it.

There is a very good article by N. E. Bou-Nacklie in the Intl Journal of ME Studies from 1993, on the sectarian composition of the colonial-era Troupes spéciales du Levant, which later formed the core of the army after independence in 1946. The article investigates the complaints that France over-recruited from minorities; his short conclusion is “yes, but…”. I recommend reading the whole thing!

It provides a lot of statistics for the sectarian composition of the Troupes. These tables reveal that the number of Alawites (of all ranks) in the Troupes (which covered both Syria and Lebanon) started at slightly below 20% in the 1920s and rose to 22% in the last measurement in 1944. That was clearly an overrepresentation, double the 10% Alawi rate of population in Syria+Lebanon, but it is very far from a rate of 65% of NCOs.

Money quote:

“‘Alawi overrepresentation in both the Syrian Legion and the Troupes Speciales remained constant from 1921 to 1944, but almost all of them were in the lowest ranks. On the eve of independence many were either demobilized by the French, as the ‘Alawi-dominated Bataillon de Côté was, or given to the Lebanese, as was the other ‘Alawi-dominated Première Bataillon du Levant, which was demobilized shortly after independence. Over 500 of the remaining ‘Alawis chose to go overseas as Avenantaires with the French, leaving the Syrians with only about 2,000 ‘Alawis out~of an army of about 14,000, or 14.3 percent, as against 10.1 percent representation in the population. The other 1,100 ‘Alawis were illiterate laborers.”

The Syrian military did of course begin to grow very rapidly after the Palestine war. But to get from 14% of the total army to 65% of non-commissioned officers, you’ll have to have had an absolutely astounding rate of Alawite over-recruitment during the the first six years of independence. They would more or less have been forced to recruit ONLY Alawites into the officer corps from 1946 to 1954. I’m sure there was some over-recruitment of Alawites even then (possibly quite large, due to social factors and military tradition in various families and so on), but it’s wholly unlikely it could reach anywhere near the 65% NCO mark. If that figure were true, it would in fact mean that the Jadid/Assad takeover in 1963-1970 had resulted in LESS Alawite sectarianism in the armed forces. Which it plainly didn’t.

In sum: I don’t want to distract from Landis’s larger points, that there has long been a very large over-representation of Alawites in the Syrian officer corps, and that the capture of the state by Alawite officers had some roots in colonial policy. That is absolutely correct, and this doesn’t detract from his argument at all.

But I would caution against using that particular figure, 65% of NCOs in 1954. I don’t think it’s accurate at all, and my only conclusion is that Serraj was either wrong or lying (he was in exile in Sadat’s Egypt, which was actively fanning the flames of Syrian sectarianism at the time…), while Batatu was wrong to take his word for it.

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February 23rd, 2012, 7:23 pm


30. jad said:

No wonder they want to replace Valerie Amos with Kofi Annan, she is too smart for them while Kofi doesn’t speak much and he says YES to everything the big rich guys ask him to do…

Amos warning against military intervention as a reason for humanitarian aids in Syria:

اموس تحذر من مغبة التدخل العسكري لتقديم المساعدات الانسانية في سوريا

الامم المتحدة – 23 – 2 (كونا) — حذرت مساعدة السكرتير العام للامم المتحدة للشؤون الانسانية فاليري اموس اليوم من مغبة التدخل العسكري لتقديم المساعدات التي يحتاجها بشدة المحاصرون بمدينة حمص ومواقع اخرى في سوريا.
وقالت اموس في رسالة الى كافة الدول الاعضاء ومنها فرنسا التي دعا وزير خارجيتها الان جوبيه الى مد ممرات آمنية لتقديم المساعدات الانسانية “يجب علينا تجنب عسكرة المساعدات الانسانية”.
واعربت اموس عن اعتقادها بأن ايصال المساعدات الانسانية للمحتاجين عبر التفاوض “هو المنحى الأكثر فعالية” محذرة من الدعوات التي تنادي بتدخل عسكري لدعم العمل الانساني وما يتضمنه من تأمين للممرات واقامة مناطق عازلة.
وشددت على ان تلك الخطوة من شأنها “تعريض المستضعفين وعمال الاغاثة للمزيد من الخطر”.
وفي المقابل قالت اموس انه “يجب علينا جميعا ترديد” المناشدة التي وجهتها اللجنة الدولية للصليب الاحمر للموافقة على هدنة مدتها ساعتان يوميا للسماح بوصول الامدادات الى المدنيين واجلاء عدد متزايد من الجرحى في حمص وأماكن أخرى.
وقالت “جميعنا علينا التزام للاستجابة لاحتياجات الشعب السوري وسيكون في غاية الاهمية دعمكم لحث كل من الحكومة السورية وجماعات المعارضة على الوفاء بالتزاماتهما من اجل منح المرور بأمان ودون اعاقة لعمال الاغاثة ومواد الاغاثة لكافة المناطق المتضررة “.
واشارت الى ان منظمة الهلال الأحمر العربي السوري لديها “شبكة شاملة في جميع انحاء البلاد وكانت قادرة على الوصول الى البلدات الأكثر احتياجا” ولكنها شددت على ان “هناك حاجة للقيام بالمزيد”.
واكدت ان “ضمان الوصول الى البلدات الاكثر تضررا من القتال يحتل الاولوية القصوى للامم المتحدة”.
وعلى صعيد متصل قال دبلوماسيون ان البعثتين الفرنسية والروسية تعدان بشكل منفصل مشروعي قانون متنافسين بشأن الوضع الانساني في سوريا من المقرر ان يجرى تقديمهما الى المجلس خلال الايام القليلة المقبلة.
وكشف متحدث باسم الامم المتحدة ان اسم السكرتير العام السابق للامم المتحدة كوفي انان تردد لتعيينه مبعوثا خاصا للمنظمة الاممية الى سوريا ولكنه لم يتم التوصل الى أي قرار بهذا الشأن بصورة رسمية حتى الآن.


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February 23rd, 2012, 8:04 pm


31. ann said:

UN, Arab League name Kofi Annan special envoy on Syria – 2012-02-24


“The special envoy will be the high-level representative of the secretaries-general of the United Nations and the League of Arab States on the Syrian crisis,” the statement said. “The special envoy will provide good offices aimed at bringing an end to all violence and human rights violations, and promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis.”

“He will consult broadly and engage with all relevant interlocutors within and outside Syria in order to end the violence and the humanitarian crisis, and facilitate a peaceful Syrian-led and inclusive political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people through a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition,” said the statement.


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February 23rd, 2012, 8:07 pm


32. jad said:

معنى التدخل الأميركي في سوريا
سمير كرم

بدأت الولايات المتحدة تدخلها العسكري في سوريا.
هذا هو معنى ومدلول تحليق أعداد غير محدودة من طائرات التجسس الاميركية بلا طيارين (وتسمى من قبيل التعمية طائرات استطلاع) لمراقبة تحركات القوات النظامية السورية.
لن يغير هذا التفسير ببدء التدخل العسكري الاميركي في سوريا ما حرصت المصادر العسكرية (مصادر البنتاغون) والمخابراتية الاميركية ما اعلنته من ان تحليق هذه الطائرات في اجواء سوريا لجمع المعلومات عن مواقع القوات النظامية السورية “هو بغرض المراقبة وليس من باب التحضير لتدخل عسكري اميركي… إن إدارة الرئيس الاميركي باراك اوباما تريد فقط جمع الأدلة وقراءة تحركات الحكومة السورية واتصالاتها العسكرية لاستخدامها لاحقاً في الدفع باتجاه استجابة دولية واسعة ضد نظام الأسد”.
فإما أن هذه المصادر الاميركية بهذا النفي فيما يتعلق بالتدخل العسكري تفترض السذاجة في الآخرين، بمن فيهم الاطراف المعنية المحيطة جغرافياً بسوريا، ومنهم الذين تربطهم بسوريا علاقات تجعل هذا التدخل جريمة بحقهم، أم الذين تربطهم بسوريا حالة عداء تصل الى درجة احتلال جزء من اراضي سوريا والتلويح بما هو اكثر. او ان هذه رسالة اميركية مشفرة ومعكوسة الى المنطقة بأسرها بأن اميركا تقترب من خطوط اقتحام سوريا، حتى وإن فشلت في استصدار قرار من مجلس الامن الدولي، يعطي لأميركا وحلف الأطلسي إشارة ضوء اخضر بأن تكرر في سوريا ما سبق ان قام به الحلف بقيادة الولايات المتحدة بالتدخل العسكري في ليبيا.
لم تكتف المصادر الاميركية العسكرية والمخابراتية بهذه التعمية، بل اضافت ان مناقشات تجري في البيت الابيض ووزارتي الدفاع والخارجية الاميركيتين بشأن إمكانية إيفاد “بعثات إنسانية” الى سوريا، وأن مخاوف قد نشأت خلال تلك المناقشات من عدم إمكانية إرسال مثل هذه “البعثات الانسانية من دون تعرض المشاركين فيها للخطر، مما ستكون نتيجته الحتمية اضطرار الولايات المتحدة للقيام بدور عسكري في سوريا”.
ومعنى هذا هو ان التصريحات التي بدأت بقصد نفي التمهيد لتدخل عسكري في سوريا بتحليق طائرات الاستطلاع الاميركية في سماء سوريا، انتهت بتأكيد استعداد اميركي لتدخل من هذا القبيل. رافق هذا النفي/التأكيد الاميركي المتضارب المقصود، عدد من الظواهر التي تتعلق بهذا الاحتمال القوي للتدخل، ضاربة عرض الحائط بمجلس الامن والفيتو الروسي والصيني الذي منع صدور قرار من هذا المجلس، تحت ضغوط الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد الاوروبي وعدد من الدول العربية تتقدمها المملكة العربية السعودية.
اول هذه الظواهر المصاحبة لتمهيدات التدخل الاميركي يتمثل في اهتمام المصادر الاميركية بالاشارة – في اليوم نفسه – الى ان سفينتين حربيتين ايرانيتين، وصلتا الى ميناء طرطوس في سوريا، بعد ان عبرتا قناة السويس بموافقة من السلطات المصرية على هذا العبور. وكأن المصادر الاميركية تعطي مبرراً “إيرانياً” للتدخل الاميركي في سوريا بالقول، بأن إيران تتدخل في احداث سوريا. وبهذا تغفل المصادر الاميركية حقيقة ان وصول السفينتين الإيرانيتين سبقه الحصول على تصريح من السلطات السورية المعنية. هذا فضلاً عن استخدام اسلوب الضغط الاميركي على مصر التي وافقت سلطاتها على عبور السفينتين الإيرانيتين قناة السويس، في حين تعرف هذه المصادر الاميركية قبل غيرها ان حرية الملاحة في قناة السويس مفتوحة لجميع دول العالم بما فيها الولايات المتحدة التي لا تكف سفن اسطولها الخامس والسادس عن عبور القناة، وبما فيها اسرائيل، التي تعبر سفنها قناة السويس في الاتجاهين.
اما المظهر الثاني الذي رافق خطوة التحليق الجوي الاميركي في سماء سوريا فكان أنه تزامن مع الخطوة التي اتخذتها السلطات المصرية بسحب سفيرها من دمشق، في خطوة لا بد ان تكون قد فاجأت سوريا، بقدر ما فاجأت الرأي العام المصري، الذي يرقب احداث سوريا بقلق وخشية من التدخل الاميركي والاطلسي.
وأما المظهر الثالث الذي صاحب التحليق الاميركي بطائرات التجسس في سماء سوريا وخطوة سحب السفير المصري، فكان إبداء مرونة من الجانب الاميركي في محادثات تجري في القاهرة وفي واشنطن ازاء النزاع بين البلدين، حول تقديم مسؤولين في منظمات المجتمع المدني المصرية – بينهم اميركيون ومصريون – للمحاكمة بتهمة تلقي اموال من جهات رسمية اميركية لممارسة النشاط في مصر.
يبقى المظهر الرابع – الذي قد يبدو بعيدا عن هذه التطورات للوهلة الاولى – وهو محاولة الوفد الاسرائيلي في الجمعية العامة للامم المتحدة اضافة صوت اسرائيل الى الدول التي تبنت قرار الجمعية العامة بإدانة العنف في سوريا. وقد قام الوفد المصري بالتصدي لهذه المحاولة الاسرائيلية، الامر الذي تناقض تماما مع قرار القاهرة بسحب السفير المصري في دمشق. ولعل هذا تم في إطار محاولة لإيجاد توازن في الموقف المصري ..لكنه بدا على أي الاحوال ادنى بكثير من الموقف الروسي – الصيني في مجلس الامن. وليس خافياً ان الموقف المصري كما تمثل في سحب السفير قد تم اتخاذه تحت ضغط من جماعة الإخوان المسلمين وحزبها (حزب الحرية والعدالة) وهي حليف “استراتيجي” لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين التي تلعب دوراً أساسياً في احداث سوريا، والتي أيدت بلا تردد دعوة لتدخل خارجي – اميركي اطلسي – في سوريا. لقد ارادت اسرائيل ان تضم اسمها الى اسماء الدول العربية التي صوتت مع قرار الجمعية العامة ولكن وفد مصر رفض هذا رفضاً تاماً، ووجه تهديداً الى الوفد الاسرائيلي بأن تفتح مصر موضوع حقوق الانسان في الاراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة. وهنا تراجع الوفد الاسرائيلي عن مطلبه
ليس في التاريخ الاميركي مع هذه المنطقة ما يدعو للاطمئنان.

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February 23rd, 2012, 8:12 pm


33. Jad said:

A very bad sign, when Haytham Manna3 decline to attend, it means evil:

بيان من وفد هيئة التنسيق الوطنية إلى مؤتمر أصدقاء سورية في تونس
تابعت هيئة التنسيق الوطنية لقوى التغيير الديمقراطي جملة التحركات التي سبقت مؤتمر أصدقاء سورية منذ انطلاقة هذه الفكرة، وكان المبدأ الذي انطلقت منه هو حسن النية خاصة وقد استضافت المؤتمر دولة انطلاق الربيع العربي التي طالما أكد المسؤولون فيها رفضهم للتدخل العسكري الأجنبي في سورية ورفض الطائفية والعنف من أي جهة كان والحرص على وحدة الأراضي السورية والتسمك بوحدة النضال الديمقراطي عبر السعي لتوحيد جهود المعارضة السورية لا شقها وتمزيقها بعقلية التمييز والاستقصاء، والتأكيد على خطة العمل العربي باعتبارها القاسم المشترك الأعلى للحراك الشعبي والتعبيرات السياسية والمدنية في سورية. لذا قررت الهيئة تشكيل وفد موسع برئاسة الدكتور هيثم مناع نائب المنسق العام وعضوية المحامي عبد المجيد منجونة والمحامي رجاء الناصر والأستاذ مأمون خليفة والأستاذ صالح مسلم والأستاذ محمد حجازي والدكتور هاني أبو صالح والدكتورة هدى الزين والأستاذ فاضل علي والأستاذ عبد الرحيم خليفة  وكلهم من قيادة هيئة التنسيق الوطنية داخل وخارج البلاد.

ورغم تطمينات الرئيس التونسي بأن التعامل مع أطراف المعارضة سيتم دون أي تفضيل أو تمييز وأن لا اعتراف بأحدها على حساب المجموع وأن التدخل العسكري الأجنبي خط أحمر وأن العسكرة المتصاعدة تشكل خطرا فعليا على السلم الأهلي ونجاح الثورة السلمية، رغم كل ذلك تحركت مجموعة دول مغلقة لرسم مؤتمر بأهداف محددة وتصورات مسبقة الصنع في أروقة مجموعة مغلقة من أحد عشر بلدا عربي وغربي. الأمر الذي كان من أسباب عكوف دول كبرى عن الحضور. ثم لاحظنا توجها أكبر وأخطر نحو سحب المبادرة من الجامعة العربية باسم انقاذ خطة العمل العربية وتحديد من يمثل الشعب السوري مكان الشعب السوري ومكان مؤتمر المعارضة التي أقرته الجامعة العربية،  وترك قضية التسلح عائمة وفتح المجال للتطبيع الدولي مع فكرة التدخل العسكري الخارجي. وفي هذا تعارض صريح مع مصالح الشعب السوري وثورته وحدود سورية ووحدتها والنضال من أجل الكرامة والديمقراطية والعدالة التي كانت في صلب انطلاقة الثورة السورية. ورغم أن ورقة العمل الأولى كانت قد وصلتنا وأوصلنا لأكثر من طرف مخاوفنا من التمسك بها، فقد أقرت الدول الإحدى عشر البيان الختامي للمؤتمر في لندن بإقرار ما طالب به الجناح الأقل عقلانية والأكثر تعصبا وتحزبا في مواضيع تشكل خطرا على الوحدة النضالية السورية، وتعزز قدرات وأسلحة السلطة الدكتاتورية، عوضا أن تكون سندا للشعب السوري وثورته.

لقد وجد الوفد فيما أحاط بترتيبات المؤتمر وأوراقه ودور بعض الدول المريب ما يسمح له بوضع مشاركته في المؤتمر موضع تساؤل كبير وأن يقرر الإمتناع عن المشاركة في المؤتمر وإحالة ملف كامل حول هذا الموضوع الهام إلى الأخوة والأخوات في المكتب التنفيذي لاتخاذ الموقف المناسب من المؤتمر وقراراته وتوجهاته وأشكال المتابعة المنبثقة عنه.

عاشت سورية مدنية حرة وديمقراطية

تونس في 24/2/2012

وفد هيئة التنسيق الوطنية إلى تونس


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February 23rd, 2012, 8:43 pm


34. Leo Syriacus said:

A brilliant article, thank you Dr Landis for your insight and analysis, it has been a pleasure reading your writings about Syria for years as it is some of the most accurate in westren media.
I tend not to agree with you on two points though:
1-The 65% presence of Non-Commissioned Alawite officers in the mid-50’s…I believe they did not attain such percentage in the army until the late 60’s-early 70’s
2-The time frame of the regime collapse..all the factors contributing to the regime defeat such as the disatisfaction and unrest of the masses in Syria, the defection of army soldiers (albeit rank and file versus high rank officers), the economic collapse, the sanctions, the diplomatic isolation, the organization of the opposition groups and the possibility of military action…all of this is gaining momentum by the day and is significantly greater than 3 months or six months ago.
As strong as the regime may seem to day I doubt it will withstand all this pressure for another year..the silent majority which was made of fence sitters is joining the opposition at high rates and for a multitiude of reasons

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February 23rd, 2012, 8:57 pm


35. Leo Syriacus said:

If my previous comment discussed points of disagreement ( to which I welcome any further comment from Dr Landis ) I do thank Dr Landis for highlighting some points that any Syrian of intellect has known for a long time:
1-The “fault-line” of the revolution is economic and not sectarian, the agrarian heartland of Syria ( Horan-Central Area-AlGhab Plain-The Eastren Plains) is suffering and this is the reason for the intense revolution in Homs,Hama,Deraa,Deir Alzor, and Idlib..versus the calmer more affluent Damascus and Aleppo
2-The regime being minoritarian is doomed and will collapse..no oligocracy has ever lasted long in history anywhere
3-The regime being the remnant of a colonial project will be swept aside by the popular revolt and the Arab Spring
4-No Syrian, pro- or against the regime, will advocate the destruction of the Syrian state, its institutions,or law and order
what is needed is regime change not destroying the state.

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February 23rd, 2012, 9:10 pm


36. mjabali said:

Mr Aron Comment # 28

Thanks for the great link…As for al-Sarraj and Sadat: Sadat for sure hated the Alawis. I listened to his rants against the Alawis few times. He used to call them Anjas..(Dirty) during his almost daily radio speeches…al-Sarraj, I think was exaggerating..

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February 23rd, 2012, 9:25 pm


37. ann said:

‘US agenda in Middle East is very obvious’ – 24 February, 2012


The pressure is ramping up on the Syrian regime as calls for a peacekeeping force to get involved in the crisis intensify. But retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski says such missions hide another agenda.

Kwiatkowski expressed doubts that any peacekeeping mission sent to Syria would be neutral. “Our experience with peacekeeping forces is that they are never neutral, that they always take sides,” she said in an interview with RT. “In fact, we have plenty of experience with the repeated and abject failures of peacekeeping forces. Obviously it hides another agenda.”

She claims that when it comes to the Middle East the United States is “extremely biased.”

“We have an agenda and it is very obvious to people around the world and to the governments what our interests are. The American government couldn’t care less about most of the people in the Middle East,” she states.

Moreover, Kwiatkowski believes that the US does not possess accurate information about the actual situation in Syria. “What is needed is a greater understanding of what is actually going on inside of Syria. And we don’t have that.”


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February 23rd, 2012, 9:26 pm


38. ann said:

On Annan to Damascus, Syrian “Thinks” He Can Get In, Ban Comparison: of Oil for Food and Kofi’s Karma


UNITED NATIONS, February 23 — In front of the UN Security Council on Thursday morning, Inner City Press asked Portugal’s Permanent Representative Cabral what he’d think if former Secretary General Kofi Annan were named envoy to Syria. Cabral said Annan’s “name’s around, I like the idea but I’m not sure he would take it.”

India’s Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri told the Press of Annan as envoy, “Why not? You need stature, and he has it.”

Throughout the day, as a debate on Women, Peace and Security took place inside the Security Council, a range of diplomats weighed in with Inner City Press. Several of them noted how much lower profile the UN Secretariat has become under Ban Ki-moon.

“Kofi did Kenya,” one of them said. “What’s Ban got to show?”

At 6:10 pm, Ban’s spokesperson’s office issued a statement that Kofi Annan was, in fact, the joint UN – Arab League envoy.

Inner City Press asked Margot Wallstrom, Ban’s sexual violence in conflict expert, about the appointment but she declined to comment.

When Syria’s representative who spoke in the Security Council came out, Inner City Press asked if Annan would be allowed into Syria, “can he come in?”

A western diplomat told Inner City Press that Finland’s Martti Ahtisaari was in consideration. “But after his Ahtisaari plan on Kosovo, the Russians wouldn’t accept him,” the diplomat concluded. Watch this site.


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February 23rd, 2012, 9:45 pm


39. Syria no kandahar said:

[Edited to correct link typo]

If you are with the opposition don’t buy nuts from this guy,he will be nuts:

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February 23rd, 2012, 9:49 pm


40. ann said:

Syria: Christians Afraid To Go Out At Night, Ask For Prayer – February 24, 2012


In the wake of a year of protests and violence, the volatile situation in Syria has brought great suffering to the entire population. Syrian Christians say their greatest need right now is prayer, according to Open Doors, an international ministry supporting persecuted Christians and religious freedom around the world.

The danger has prompted many churches across the country to meet only in daytime, many only on Sundays. On Fridays, the weekly Islamic day of assembly, many Christian schools now close. Because of rampant killing, theft and kidnapping of children, some parents have stopped sending their children to school. Syria also suffers a lack of fuel and electricity, an economy in shambles and few jobs.

“Christians’ plights vary by place,” said Dr. Carl Moeller, president and CEO of Open Doors USA. “Damascus Christians seem to have the fewest difficulties; in contrast, many Homs believers have fled what has become a war zone.”

Some Christians want to stay; others desperately seek to emigrate, said Moeller. Many say they simply cannot flee.

“Many believers tell us that Syria is where they belong and will remain, even if that means dying there,” he said.


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February 23rd, 2012, 10:10 pm


41. bronco said:


Kofi Anan or someone else. The objective as explained by Ban Ko Moon and reported by Ann #31 task looks stangely like what the Russians have been asking all along.
If this is true, maybe besides the humanitarian arrangement discussions, in the corridors, the main purpose of the meeting in Tunis is to force the opposition into accepting the dialog with the Syrian government. Maybe I am giving too much credit to the common sense of the international community…

“and facilitate a peaceful Syrian-led and inclusive political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people through a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition,” said the statement.

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February 23rd, 2012, 10:14 pm


42. irritated said:

#37 Ann

“What is needed is a greater understanding of what is actually going on inside of Syria. And we don’t have that.”

Obviously Heckle Ford’s work in Syria and his rantings on Facebook were totally useless.

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February 23rd, 2012, 10:19 pm


43. bronco said:

No more AL plan? No more resignation of Bashar? No more VP taking over?
He will seek to “facilitate a peaceful Syrian-led and inclusive political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people through a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition,” it added.

Ban announced Annan’s appointment after final talks in London with el-Arabi and other international leaders on the next steps to take to end the Syria violence.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and foreign ministers from Britain, France and Arab countries were expected to give public support for Annan’s task at a Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis on Friday.

Dealing with Assad will however be one of the toughest challenges taken on by Annan in more than four decades as an international diplomat.

Richard Gowan, of the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, said Annan’s work as a mediator in Kenya “is widely viewed as one of the finest pieces of preventive diplomacy in recent years, so there will be hopes he can pull off another coup here.”

Weeks of often tense talks saw Annan pull off a deal between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga so that their followers ended unrest in which more than 1,300 people died.

Annan has also been critical of the western campaign last year against late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi. “That may give him some additional credibility with the Assad regime,” Gowan told AFP.

“Despite Annan’s personal profile, the key to successful mediation is for him to have genuine political support from across the international system. If the Russians and Chinese don’t give him sufficient support, Assad and his supporters are likely to refuse to talk seriously,” Gowan said.

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February 23rd, 2012, 10:30 pm


44. Ghufran said:

There are good reasons why SC is still the most visible blog on Syria,that was only possible through the good work of Joshua,Camille, Ehsani and all bloggers who took the time to dig deep and go beyond the obvious to tell the real stories about Syria’s internal and external issues. The minute I see fighting parties put down their weapons and start talking to each other will be the minute of victory for this revolution,otherwise,it will be a path for destruction and national decline.

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February 23rd, 2012, 10:38 pm


45. ann said:

Sources: Obama has not requested review of military options for Syria – February 23, 2012


White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters traveling with the president on Thursday that the White House is still focused on ending this crisis with political pressure.

“Further militarization will lead to a dangerous and chaotic path,” Carney said of arming opposition forces. “We’ll continue to evaluate as time goes on. The fact of the matter is the aggression is being carried out by Assad and that’s why we’re working so hard with international partners to cease and desist.”

Military plans for larger-scale military operations could be presented to the president by the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a moment’s notice, but officials in the Pentagon say the president is right to be cautious. It would be a much different mission than the one in Libya last year to protect civilians and oust dictator Moammar Qaddafi.

Syria has four times the population of Libya on one-tenth the landscape. The fighting is largely urban, meaning air power would be less effective against Syrian tanks and more likely to cause civilian casualties. It’s also widely believed that Syria has a larger and better-equipped military than Libya.

“Libya was a lot easier,” former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said in an interview with Fox News. “All its population centers are on the coast. (It had) a very small and weak army that Qaddafi kept weak.”

Right across the Mediterranean from Libya, Hadley added, were nearby NATO naval military bases from which to launch operations.

“So militarily it was very easy to do,” Hadley said.

Hadley also pointed to concerns about arming a fragmented opposition force, which has been said to have links with al Qaeda.

National Intelligence Director James Clapper spoke about these concerns in front of a Senate panel last week.

“Another disturbing phenomenon that we’ve seen recently apparently is the presence of extremists who have infiltrated the opposition groups,” Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We believe that al Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria.”

Clapper also pointed to the uncertainty surrounding many chemical weapons sites in Syria that would be vulnerable should Assad lose his grip on power. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, U.S. officials told Fox News that close to 50 chemical warfare component sites exist, although Clapper made reference to only a few.


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February 23rd, 2012, 10:39 pm


46. zoo said:

The ineptia of the Syrian opposition soon exposed at the “Friends of Syria” in Tunis

After a Year, Deep Divisions Hobble Syria’s Opposition
Published: February 23, 2012

The need to build a united opposition will be the focus of intense discussions at what has been billed as the inaugural meeting of the Friends of Syria. Fostering some semblance of a unified protest movement, possibly under the umbrella of an exile alliance called the Syrian National Council, will be a theme hovering in the background.
The council’s internal divisions have kept Western and Arab governments from recognizing it as a kind of government in exile, and the Tunis summit meeting will probably not change that. Russia, Syria’s main international patron, is avoiding the meeting entirely.

The divisions and shortcomings within the council were fully on display last week when its 10-member executive committee met at the Four Seasons Hotel in Doha, Qatar — its soaring lobby bedecked with roses and other red flowers left over from Valentine’s Day.

“They were in a constant, ongoing struggle, which delayed anything productive and any real work that should be done for the revolution,” said Rima Fleihan, an activist who crawled through barbed wire fences to Jordan from Syria last September to escape arrest. She was representing Syria’s Local Coordination Committees, an alliance of grass-roots activists, on the council until she quit in frustration this month.

“They fight more than they work,” Ms. Fleihan said. “People are asking why they have failed to achieve any international recognition, why no aid is reaching the people, why are we still being shelled?”

He said lack of money was the group’s most acute problem. Although the Qatari government picked up the bill for the Doha meeting and for frequent travel, council members said that no significant financial support from Arab or Western governments had materialized despite repeated promises, so they must rely on rich Syrian exiles. They hope Friday’s meeting in Tunis will begin to change that.
demanding to know why they seemed to swan from one luxury hotel to the next while no medical supplies or other aid flowed into Syria.

The bickering takes place in plain sight. “Is this any way to work?” yelled Haithem al-Maleh, an 81-year-old lawyer and war horse of the opposition movement, as he came barreling out of one Doha meeting, only to be corralled back in. “They are all stupid and silly, but what can I do?”

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February 23rd, 2012, 10:51 pm


47. zoo said:

Contradictions and confusion in the draft declaration over Bashar’s resignation.
More threats and ultimatums may hamper the eventual cooperation of the Syrian government in any humanitarian effort.

“Friends of Syria” to demand ceasefire
By Lin Noueihed and John Irish | Reuters – 1 hr 34 mins ago


A draft declaration from the meeting, obtained by Reuters on Thursday, called on Syria to implement an immediate ceasefire to allow the United Nations access to Homs, and to let agencies deliver aid to civilians affected by the violence.

U.N. humanitarian envoy Valerie Amos was expected to attend the meeting, along with representatives from the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), which is already working with the Syrian authorities and opposition to arrange daily ceasefires to allow in humanitarian aid.

Instead, it called for a ratcheting up diplomatic pressure on Assad to step down and endorsed an Arab League plan that sees him handing power to a deputy as a prelude to elections.

The wording of the draft reflected a harsh reality: there is little the outside world can or will do to stop the violence as long as Russia and China, both of which declined invitations to the Tunis meeting, reject Security Council resolutions.

Another problem facing world powers is divisions within the Syrian opposition, which they will seek to overcome before offering full backing.

The draft stopped short of fully endorsing the main opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people but proposed that it be recognized as “a legitimate representative of Syrians seeking peaceful democratic change.”

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February 23rd, 2012, 11:04 pm


48. Michel said:

You said “I don’t care what anybody’s religion/sect is, but…….When Prof. Fawaz Gergis on CNN’s GPS describes … he found Syrian Christians loyal to Bashar, we need to discuss it here.”

Syrian Christians have no weapons, and no armed military presence in Syria. IF there is a change in Syria they will quietly accept whatever change exists. There are notable figured such as Michel Kilo and George Sabra in the opposition. What you are doing is inciting hatred against non Sunnis in Syria. Do you want a situation where we leave Syria as Egyptians are persecuting their Christian community or the Iraqi one is too? Leave Christians ALONE.

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February 23rd, 2012, 11:15 pm


49. Ghufran said:

هناك ثلاثة احتمالات للأزمة السورية، فإما أن ينتصر النظام، أو تنتصر المعارضة، أو يُنهك الطرفان ويضطران للقبول بحل وسط في نهاية المطاف، ولكن السؤال الذي يطرح نفسه هو أي سورية سيحكم المنتصرون أو الذين سيصلون إلى الحكم عبر أي طريقة كانت، هذا إذا بقيت سورية التي نعرفها وهو ما نشك فيه كثيرا ً.
I do not know about the SNC and the militia,but I think the regime has decided to try to make as much progress on the ground as possible before it is forced to sit down and negotiate,the offensive campaign in Homs will not last much longer.

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February 23rd, 2012, 11:17 pm


50. Equus said:

Police and hardline Islamists clash in Tunisian town
The security forces are chasing about 200 armed Salafists

Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:48pm GM


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February 23rd, 2012, 11:35 pm


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