The US Looks for a More Muscular Response to Syria; Damascus Sells Gold in a Sign of Poverty

Syria seems to be trying to sell Gold from its reserves in Dubai. A sign that it’s money is running low due to sanctions and revolt.

The Obama administration insists that it is about to make some important changes to its Syria policy. Everyone expects that it will assume greater leadership by helping to arm the opposition. So far Washington has raised the rhetorical bar while refusing action. Sanctions have been the most it is willing to offer. The other countries — Turkey, Saudi and France – have refused to take the lead. They want to see an American commitment before taking their hands out of the pockets.  On the NSC, Steve Simon, who has not been keen on military involvement, seems to be making way for Derek Chollet, whose old boss was Anne-Marie Slaughter. She is for military intervention in Syria, as she made clear on the Charlie Rose Show that I appeared on with her, Fouad Ajami and Thomas Friedman. Ajami makes the most compelling argument for a more active US role in embracing the “future” in Syria. Here is what Josh Rogin has to say about Chollet’s appointment in Obama searches for a ‘Plan B’ in Syria:

The new push includes adjustments in personnel handling the portfolio. Before March, National Security Council Director Steve Simon headed up the internal interagency process. Now, multiple officials confirm that NSC Senior Director for Strategy Derek Chollet has been added to the leadership of the Syria policy team and has been coordinating the interagency process for several weeks. Simon, Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Feltman, and State Dept. Special Advisor Fred Hof are still active on the Syria portfolio.

Clinton says Syria is at a “crucial turning point”. She will be in Paris tomorrow to try to figure out what the Western states can do that won’t suck them into another Iraq, but that will show some teeth. Right now, Russia is calling the shots in Syria. Ironically, the last country we pushed Russia out of,  because we demanded greater control over its affairs, was Afghanistan. Most American policy makers today would probably agree that Russian controlled Afghanistan was much better than what came after. Ammar Abdulhamid suggests that Syria is more liberal and less Islamist than Afghanistan or even Egypt and Tunisia. He believes that US caution about the rise of Islamists in Syria is ill-founded. Amal al-Hanano hares Abdulhamid’s determination to promote secular and pacifist Syrian interests.  She is calling on secular Syrians to organize and counter-balance the Islamists.

News Round Up

Syria Said to be Seeking Gold Sales From Reserves: Reuters Link
By John Irish and Amena Bakr

PARIS/DUBAI, April 18 (Reuters) – Syria is trying to sell gold reserves to raise revenue as Western and Arab sanctions targeting its central bank and oil exports begin to bite, diplomats and traders said.

Western sanctions have halved Syria’s foreign exchange reserves from about $17 billion, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Tuesday after a meeting with about 60 nations aimed at coordinating measures against President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

“Syria is selling its gold at rock bottom prices,” said a Western diplomatic source, declining to say where it was being sold.

A second diplomatic source confirmed the information, adding that Damascus was looking to offload everything it could to raise cash, including currency reserves.

On Feb. 27, the European Union agreed more sanctions including prohibiting trade in gold and other precious metals with Syrian state institutions, including the central bank.

Two gold traders in the United Arab Emirates said the Syrian government had been offering gold at a discount, with one saying it was making offers at about 15 percent below the market price.

The trader said Damascus was selling small volumes of around 20-30 kilos which were easier to offload, with offers being made through private accounts set up with free email providers……

The World Gold Council estimates Syria had about 25.8 metric tonnes of gold as of February 2012, representing about 7.1 percent of its total reserves….The Syrian pound hit a record low on the black market in March of around 100 to the dollar, compared to 47 before the protests erupted, sharply raising the cost of imports…

At Wednesday’s spot prices, Syria’s total gold reserves are worth around $1.36 billion. …

“The most stunning, unsettling conclusion I drew from the leaders of the Free Syrian Army was that they have essentially got no help from anyone. They are literally running out of ammunition while Assad’s forces are being resupplied by Iran and Russia,” Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told The Cable in an interview.

Lieberman and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) spent their Senate recess on the Turkish side of the Turkey-Syria border, meeting with Turkish officials, FSA leaders, and refugees.

“What they want us to do is to lead. They want us to lead the Friends of Syria, who have given them increasingly sympathetic rhetoric but not the wherewithal to defend themselves,” he said

The Syrian internal opposition is buying weapons and ammunition on the black market at exorbitant prices and claims that large parts of the Syrian military are demoralized but are unwilling to break with the government until they see the opposition has real international support.

“They are all waiting for the U.S. to say ‘We’re in this,'” Lieberman said.

There was at least one State Department official inside the McCain-Lieberman meeting with leaders of the FSA, Gen. Mustafa al-Sheikh and Col. Riad al-Asaad, two U.S. officials confirmed. The FSA leaders asked the United States to provide RPGs, anti-aircraft guns, and ammunition. The FSA leaders also said they have proof that the Assad regime is using helicopter gunships to attack civilians in the city of Idlib, as apparently shown in this YouTube video.

Turkish officials told McCain and Lieberman that they were willing to let weapons flow over their borders and consider other more aggressive steps to help the internal Syrian opposition, but that they won’t do so unless Washington leads the way…..

Obama administration searches for a ‘Plan B’ in Syria
Posted By Josh Rogin Wednesday, April 18, 2012 -Foreign Policy

The White House is unhappy with the options it’s been given on Syria and is searching for a new strategy for removing President Bashar al-Assad, The Cable has learned.

“There was a fundamental decision made at the highest level that we need a real Syria policy with more options for the president,” one administration official with knowledge of the internal deliberations said. “Our allies were coming back to us and saying ‘What’s your next move?,’ and we were forced to admit we didn’t have one.”

The new push includes adjustments in personnel handling the portfolio. Before March, National Security Council Director Steve Simon headed up the internal interagency process. Now, multiple officials confirm that NSC Senior Director for Strategy Derek Chollet has been added to the leadership of the Syria policy team and has been coordinating the interagency process for several weeks. Simon, Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Feltman, and State Dept. Special Advisor Fred Hof are still active on the Syria portfolio.

Chollet, the former deputy to Anne-Marie Slaughter at the State Department’s Policy Planning shop, has also been nominated to be the next assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, replacing Sandy Vershbow, who is now deputy secretary general of NATO. Chollet has taken on the day-to-day management of the interagency process while he awaits confirmation.

New options are now being considered internally, including another discussion of setting up buffer zones inside Syria, one administration official confirmed. The administration has also authorized direct contact with the internal Syrian opposition, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and at least one State Department official has met with the FSA’s nominal leaders in Turkey.

The rethink comes eight months after Obama explicitly demanded the Syrian leader’s removal, saying, “The time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

His administration is still struggling to come up with a way to make that call a reality…..

UN monitors flee Syrian protest after gunfire

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian security forces opened fire Wednesday on anti-regime demonstrators surrounding the cars of a U.N. team meant to monitor a shaky cease-fire, sending the observers speeding off and protesters dashing for cover, according to activists and amateur videos.

The fresh violence in a suburb of Damascus, the Syrian capital, provided the first public glimpse of the work of the small team struggling to reinforce the international community’s stumbling efforts to end 13 months of deadly conflict in Syria.

The shooting, which wounded at least eight people, could also complicate the deployment of a larger U.N. mission to help a cease-fire take hold between President Bashar Assad’s forces and opposition fighters.

The difficulties of the team’s mission was clear Wednesday during its visit to the suburb of Arbeen, just northeast of Damascus.

The team did not announce its plans to visit the area, but a local activist said residents guessed they were coming when tanks posted throughout the area withdrew early Wednesday.

People quickly drew up signs as well as a list of the 34 residents killed since the start of the uprising and information on the scores who have been detained, an Arbeen activist named Ahmed said via Skype. He declined to give his last name for fear of retribution.

Amateur videos posted online showed hundreds of demonstrators crowding around at least three U.N. Land Cruisers, waving Syrian flags and chanting against the regime. In one video, a man with a microphone and huge speakers on the back of a pickup truck led the crowd in singing “Bashar, Bashar, we will not kneel!”

A handwritten sign apparently taped by a demonstrator on one of the cars read, “The murderer keeps killing, the observers keep observing and the people keep up the revolution.”

In another video, the protesters were walking down a boulevard surrounding the cars when a boom rang out, sending demonstrators scattering. Smoke rose in front of the crowd and the cars sped off, sirens blaring. In yet another video, protesters sprinted down side streets while gunfire is heard nearby.

Ahmed, the local activist, said the group was marching toward a square where the government had posted plain clothes security offices called shabiha and government supporters holding a counter demonstration.

“We started walking with the observers thinking that they’d protect us, but then the shabiha started shooting at us, even when the observers’ cars were at the front of the march,” he said.

After the observers left, security cars drove through the area firing, injuring about 20 people, he said.

“Once the committee was gone, there was no one else to see what they were doing,” he said.

The team’s head, Col. Ahmed Himiche, declined to comment on the incident, saying the team would report only to the U.N.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said eight protesters were wounded in Arbeen.

The group, which relies on an activist network in Syria, also said government forces shelled opposition areas in the provinces of Homs in central Syria and Idlib in the north.

For its part, Syria’s state news agency said roadside bomb attacks in Idlib and Aleppo killed 10 security officers and one civilian. The incidents could not be independently verified. The Syrian government bars most media from working in the country…..

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Syrian opposition forces of provoking the government’s backlash in order to thwart the cease-fire. He urged nations that have leverage with the opposition to force it to abide by cease-fire….

“There must be a tough demand not to allow any provocations and respect the cease-fire,” Lavrov said….

Clinton Says Syria Measures to Be Discussed Tomorrow in Paris
2012-04-18 By Roxana Tiron

April 18 (Bloomberg) — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she will attend a meeting in Paris tomorrow to dicuss with allies what further measures may be taken against the Syrian government and in support of the opposition movement. The “ad hoc group” meeting will be led by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, Clinton said, speaking to reporters today in Brussels.

Syria is at a “crucial turning point” at which the government either will abide by the UN-backed peace plan or face further sanctions, she said.

Foreign Policy

The ceasefire appears to have broken down, as levels of violence remain high in several regions in Syria. Up to 70 people have been killed by heavy shelling in the Jourat al-Shayah, Qarabis, Bayada, and Khaldiya districts of Homs, areas that have remained out of government control. According to the Local Coordination Committees, clashes continued in Deraa and Aleppo, as well as in the Idlib province where government troops were accompanied by tanks and helicopters. The Syrian government has said it is willing to comply with Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan. However, the regime has only agreed to a small United Nations’ observer mission of 250 monitors, and it refuses independent air support despite recommendations of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said, “I think this is not enough, considering the current situation and considering the vastness of the country.” Meanwhile, the advance team of monitors has not yet been permitted to operate throughout the country as negotiations on a memorandum of understanding between the Syrian government and the U.N. team have stalled.

The leading voice of the opposition talks to PJ Media about the state of the conflict.: Syria’s Revolution: An Interview with Ammar Abdulhamid
by Barry Rubin, April 17, 2012

(Ammar Abdulhamid has been the most articulate and credible voice of the Syrian opposition and the movement to overthrow the current regime. Barry Rubin interviewed him to get a clearer view on what’s going on in Syria and on what the future prospects are for the bloody conflict.)

What should we know about the Syrian regime that we don’t already know?

That it is not reformable and that its key leaders can never be part of the solution.

What are the causes of the uprising?

Lack of developments when it comes to basic services and infrastructure along with increasing poverty, absence of any accountability on part of the leadership, the sense of impunity that corrupt officials on the local and national levels exhibit on a daily basis, the failure of President Bashar al-Assad to show himself as a true reformer, and his increasing involvement with the corrupt practices of his family and friends.

Can you describe for us the Syrian opposition, both within the country and outside?

We have two types of opposition: the traditional and the new. The traditional opposition is made of old parties and figures who have been around for decades, and the new one is made up of the activists who started and continue to lead the revolution.

The arrogance of the traditional opposition and their inability to provide effective representation and guidance to the revolutionaries created a problem of mistrust between the two, and does not augur well for the ability of such coalitions as the Syrian National Council (SNC) to provide effective leadership either now or during the transitional period. The new opposition is pragmatic, goal-oriented, and open to new possibilities as far as relations with the outside are concerned, or how the state should be administered in the future. The traditional remains ideological, dominated mostly by Leftist and Islamist elements, and unable to be proactive or to come up with actual strategies and programs for effective communication and representation.

So, the real dichotomy is between these two types of opposition groups, not between those inside the country and those outside.

You have often been critical about the organization and strategy of the leading opposition groups. Can you tell us more about your view, and also provide a description of the main opposition organizations?

Traditional opposition groups keep thinking along ideological lines, and they fail to listen to the protesters and their demands. They keep seeing leadership as a right rather than a responsibility. They keep confusing making policy with making pronouncements and confusing coming up with strategies with academic research. This is why they can never be effective leaders.

For this, the international community needs to conduct outreach efforts to identify leaders and forces on the ground. They need to work with existing traditional opposition in order to make them better at the task of communicating with grassroots protesters and enablers of the new emerging leadership. Many believe that the regime will never negotiate its way out of power, but it seems the same applies for traditional opposition figures and parties. They will never accept giving their positions to the new emerging figures; they seem incapable of coming to terms with the failure of their ideologies at inspiring this mass moment.

Many observers are concerned that the Syrian opposition might be dominated by Islamists who would institute an even worse government for Syria, at least in international terms. How would you respond to that view?

There are Islamists, that’s for sure. But Syria’s ethnic makeup is simply too diverse to allow for the kind of dominance we saw in Egypt or Tunisia. However, since winning elections is about organization and not just demographics, and since Islamists are better organized and funded, there is definitely a need for domestic and international players concerned about Islamist influence to begin preparing themselves with all seriousness for the transitional period ahead.

What is the strategy of the Assad regime in trying to survive?

Transforming the crisis into a sectarian conflict; play on minority fears about the Sunni Arab majority in order to bring these minorities to the side of the regime or at least to neutralize them. Use overwhelming force and foster the expansion of pro-Assad militias and death squads to terrorize and punish the population of restive communities. Play on the fears of Western powers toward Islamists by trying to cast the revolutionaries as Salafist. Rely on support from Iran, Hezbollah, the Maliki government in Iraq, and Russia to keep the international community at bay and incapable of adopting strong policies toward the situation….

Why should the world support the Syrian opposition’s struggle?

Besides the geopolitical gain of weakening Iran’s grip over the Middle East and containing its rise as a major source of instability there, there is the added humanitarian advantage of preventing a rapid balkanization of our troubled region. The Assads are driving the country and the region to the brink of implosion into warring ethnic enclaves. The world needs to stop them and to help the Syrians in their search for alternatives.

What do you think is likely to happen in Syria?

Irrespective of my wishes, the inability of the Obama administration to move quickly on this matter has allowed for the situation to turn into a proxy war involving all major regional players as well as Russia and China. This is going to be a longer-term struggle and the humanitarian cost will be too high. I will keep up my activities meant to support the local resistance and empower the more pragmatic and representative elements to emerge as the true leaders of Syria down the road, but this will not be an easy task.

We were let down by the leaders of the international community and the leaders of the traditional opposition, not to mention our intellectual elite, and it’s clear by now that we have no true friends. Still, we have no choice but to soldier on, as we transform from a protest movement into a more complex resistance and liberation movement.

(For more on Ammar Abdulhamid: he is a liberal Syrian pro-democracy activist whose anti-regime activities led to his exile in September 2005. He currently lives in the United States. He is the founder of the Tharwa Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to democracy promotion, and is a fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He writes Syrian Revolution Digest, a blog dedicated to following events and monitoring trends related to the Syrian Revolution.)

Any Given Friday
How a battle over a Facebook page became a war for the soul of the Syrian revolution.

….Last week, before the Facebook polling closed for the name of the April 13 protests — the day after the U.N. ceasefire deadline, the day in which solidarity was key — one name was in the lead: the Friday of the Armies of Islam. Yet another divisive (and completely off message) choice. This time, however, peaceful activists were ready to take action and fight back in a battle for the Friday name.

On Wednesday, April 11, media activists on Facebook and Twitter began a campaign to “rock the vote” for Friday’s name. They advocated the secular, inclusive choice, “A Revolution for all Syrians.” It was an intense campaign. Usually around 8,000 votes are cast each week, but last week there were more than 30,000. It was as much a battle between Islamic sentiment and secular inclusiveness as it was a struggle between those dedicated to solely an armed resistance, and those who still valued the power of nonviolent activism. ….
The gap between the two names slowly narrowed, and eventually the message of unity won by almost 2,000 votes. This small but significant victory unleashed palpable excitement among Syria’s online activists: There was a sense that they had been heard and gained control of the revolution’s message, at least for the moment. It was a needed boost of energy to a group of worn-out activists and, more importantly, it proved that a revolution within the revolution was not only possible but necessary.

By Andrew J. Tabler
April 18, 2012

…Syrians are afraid to express their demands as part of the “Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, pluralist system” and have demonstrated in lesser numbers than expected over the past week. Even if a viable ceasefire can eventually be brokered, protests and other forms of civil resistance will be the key means to judge what the people want going forward….  severely limiting the people’s ability to use civil resistance to make Assad “step aside” — the stated goal of President Obama. The regime has had a far harder time dealing with civil resistance over the past year than armed resistance. Assad’s actions thus far indicate that he wants to use the Annan plan to grind down not only the armed opposition, but the overall protest movement as a whole….

WSJ RT Brussels: EU Goes Silent On Assad Departure
2012-04-18 By Laurence Norman

….Last August, to considerable fanfare, Washington and Brussels made a joint declaration on Syria. Enough was enough, they said. The rising death toll, continued repression and broken reform promises of President Bashar al-Assad …Officials note that Mr. Annan’s six-point plan is not just about stemming the violence. It also demands the Assad regime allows peaceful protests and accepts a Syrian-led political process to address what it calls “the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.”

The hope in Brussels is that once the violence has ebbed, Mr. Annan will unleash a political reform and democratization process whose momentum will sweep away Mr. Assad, like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh before him.

Syria must be held to the law of war
By Laurie R. Blank and Geoffrey S. Corn, Special to CNN
April 4, 2012

Comments (634)

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601. Ghufran said:

Another look at the stalemate in Syria
The moment when fighting factions accept the fact that Syria can not be ruled by one party or one sect has not arrived yet. Until this magic point is reached,keeping the violence at ‘acceptable levels” seem to be a doable first goal. Easing pressure on average Syrians may help also,I was amazed to read the disappointment some expressed on social media about the decline of the $ against the Lira ($ was sold as low as 67 lira today).

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April 24th, 2012, 8:35 pm


602. bronco said:

#600 Ghufran

An excellent and realistic article. Thanks.

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April 24th, 2012, 8:42 pm


603. Ghufran said:

With friends like these who needs enemies
For the records,the label ” Sunni terrorist” used in the article reduces the value of that piece,terrorists come in a variety of shapes and forms and they have no religion.

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April 24th, 2012, 8:44 pm


604. zoo said:

A blow to Qatar and Islamists in Libya?

Religion-based parties banned under new Libya law
AFP – 2 hrs 33 mins ago
Libyan authorities on Tuesday passed legislation governing the formation of political organisations which rules out religious, regional and tribal platforms and bans foreign funding.

“Political parties and associations should not be built on the basis of regional, tribal or religious affiliation,” a member of the ruling National Transitional Council told AFP.

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April 24th, 2012, 8:46 pm


605. zoo said:

After Erdogan and Juppe, Moncef al Marzouki as an interim Tunisian president, predicts and advises Russia, China and Iran on what they should do .

Syria’s Assad “finished”, Tunisian leader says
Reuters – 15 hrs ago

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Bashar al-Assad’s international allies must realize the Syrian president is “finished” and persuade him to step down to avoid further bloodshed, Tunisian President Moncef al-Marzouki said in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday.

“The Russians and Chinese, and the Iranians must understand that this man is finished and they cannot defend him. They must persuade him to leave power and hand over to his deputy,” Marzouki told the regional Arab newspaper Al-Hayat.

Assad “will go one way or another … dead or alive,” he added.

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April 24th, 2012, 8:54 pm


606. Ghufran said:

In Egypt,Ahmad Shafeeq is out,this leaves 2,Amr Mousa and Abu Alfutooh.
Amr Mousa is preferred by the US and the establishment but I think Abu Alfutooh may be Egypt’s next president.
Here is a short Bio:

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April 24th, 2012, 10:38 pm


607. omen said:

afram: Islam is state then religion, saudi has no Constitution, only chopping off hands islamic sharia law rule..steal a stick of gum, you lose a hand, drink a beer 80 lashes, love someone..they stone to death. syria is no Kandahar or Qandahar

so…you prefer secular based brutality over religious based brutality? how discerning of you.

brutality is brutality. what’s the difference?

if the punishment for theft is the chopping off of a hand, why doesn’t the punishment for rape follow the same logic?

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April 25th, 2012, 2:01 am


608. omen said:

603. zoo said:
A blow to Qatar and Islamists in Libya?
Religion-based parties banned under new Libya law
AFP – 2 hrs 33 mins ago
Libyan authorities on Tuesday passed legislation governing the formation of political organisations which rules out religious, regional and tribal platforms and bans foreign funding.

how many anti-interventionists predicted that gaddafi would be replaced by an islamist dictator who would only be worse than he?

how many defenders of this bloodthirsty regime are using the same islamic fearmongering? you’ll be proven wrong as the libya critics.

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April 25th, 2012, 2:25 am


609. Nour said:

Libya is a complete mess. Passing any law right now means nothing there because on the ground there are still armed militants committing brutal attrocities and the country is in a state of chaos. No one opposed NATO intervention in Libya because they thought Qaddafi was a great guy, but because the consequences of foreign military intervention in any country are well-known to any rational person. Libyan cities were brought to ruin by NATO bombardment. The most conservative estimates put the death toll there at 50,000, with some estimates going as high as 130,000. All this so we can get corrupt and extremist figures to control the situation on the ground and create destruction and total insecurity for the people as a whole. It will possibly take generations to undo in Libya what NATO did in a few months. Anyone proposing this as a solution in Syria doesn’t really have Syria’s best interest in mind, but is merely salivating at the opportunity to satisfy a desire for vengeance.

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April 25th, 2012, 2:50 am


610. omen said:

nour, libya is not a complete mess. from juan cole:

5. The Libyan transitional government provided uniformed troops to Tripoli’s major airport on Monday, relieving grateful Zintan militiamen who had been more or less doing volunteer duty there. The militiamen engaged in celebratory fire at the turnover. The new Libyan military is still small, but is gradually growing and getting training. This baby step is a sign of the beginning of regularization on the part of the transitional government.

Meanwhile, Libya’s petroleum output has risen 100,000 barrels a day since February, to 1.5 million b/d. Before the Libyan revolution it was 1.6 million b/d, a milestone expected to be reached in July. The exports, and the substantial revenue stream they bring to the transitional government, are another hopeful sign that the new state is becoming established and will have the wherewithal to develop new institutions and the economy.

Aljazeera English reports on the slow recovery of Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city, from the massive destruction wrought on it by the Qaddafi brigades and regime mercenaries, who intensively bombarded civilian apartment buildings and the port, and used cluster bombs in civilian areas, in spring-summer 2011. Misrata held municipal elections in February, and residents look forward to the national elections this summer.

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April 25th, 2012, 3:23 am


611. Mina said:

606 Omen,
You ask about the punishment for rape but you should know if you check the news once in a while (outside FB news) that recently Afghanistan and Morocco have cases which show that they think that in the 21th century it is decent to apply the point of one version of shari’a where the woman raped has to marry the rapist, otherwise SHE goes to jail.
I bet the GCC countries have similarly ‘inspired’ law, if ever a written law exist there.

You are right, “it’s all lies” and Syria has no border with Iraq.

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April 25th, 2012, 4:12 am


612. Mina said:

Juan Cole shows journalists how one should write to get a work at al Jazzara. To be bold enough to state that “The Libyan transitional government provided uniformed troops to Tripoli’s major airport on Monday, relieving grateful Zintan militiamen who had been more or less doing volunteer duty there” and you deserve a barrel of zift!

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April 25th, 2012, 4:20 am


613. omen said:

oh, gawd, don’t make me work for it, mina. do i have to post every positive development i’ve seen on libya? you’ll just dismiss it all anyways.

i was intrigued by the development of political tourism happening now in libya. i hope the same for syria after the regime falls.

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April 25th, 2012, 4:59 am


614. omen said:

p.s. good to see you again, mina!

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April 25th, 2012, 5:02 am


615. omen said:

recently Afghanistan and Morocco have cases which show that they think that in the 21th century it is decent to apply the point of one version of shari’a where the woman raped has to marry the rapist, otherwise SHE goes to jail.

i saw that story. followed it on twitter: #ripAmina. the girl, at wits end, wound up killing herself. indeed, that was an outrage.

one of the UN monitors is from morocco and helped cover for bashar by denying their convoy was shot at by the regime!

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April 25th, 2012, 5:11 am


616. Mina said:

Political tourism? expect contractors and a few mormons, jehovists, evangelists, ufo lovers, just the same as the “post-war” Iraq mix.
It’s the definition of “freedom” everywhere but in the GCC countries after all.

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April 25th, 2012, 5:34 am


617. Juergen said:


welcome back, you may be interested in this blog article:

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April 25th, 2012, 5:53 am


619. omen said:

i’m none of those things, mina, and i would love to go. there are plenty like me.

this doesn’t sound like a “complete mess.” there wouldn’t be tourism at all if every corner was overrun by marauding rebels. an image critics like to paint.

such pessimism. one would think syrians would be eager to regain back tourism dollars. extra revenue is going to be needed to help the country get back on its feet again after the regime falls.

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April 25th, 2012, 6:00 am


620. Alan said:

Syrian border guards repel Islamic incursion

Syrian border guards have repelled an incursion by armed Islamic extremists from the territory of Iraq, the Syrian Al Watan reports.

According to the newspaper, the armed groups consist of mercenaries who have been hired by Saudi and Qatar authorities to influence the lineup in Syria by force.

Armed groups operating on the territories of other countries have tried to invade Syria before.

Washington Post reports that radical Islamists who are fighting on the side of the Syrian opposition have been trying to penetrate the territory of Syria and western diplomats say that groups of Islamists are infiltrating Syria from Iraq and other neighboring countries.

Kofi Annan concerned about resurgence of violence in Syria

Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States Kofi Annan is concerned about the resurgence of violence in Syria that followed the arrival of UN observers in the country.

On Tuesday at a closed briefing for members of the UN Security Council Annan said that the situation in Syria remained unacceptable. Opponents of President Bashar al-Assad state that after UN observers visited the city of Hama a great many Syrians were put to death there.

The envoy wants to accelerate deployment of an expanded observer mission in Syria. Of the 300 anticipated observers there are still presently only 11 in Syria.

The second delegation of the opposition Syrian National Front for Change is arriving in Moscow today for talks on how to put an end to violence which has been going on in Syria for over a year.

Annan to UN: Violence in Syria unacceptable, expedite observer deployment

Kofi Annan has said the situation in Syria is “bleak,” expressing concern at reports the government was still conducting military operations. But experts say the West’s biased approach is to blame for that.

Addressing the UN Security Council in a videoconference, Annan, the organization’s envoy to Syria, called the situation in the country “unacceptable” and expressed his concern over media reports of government troops attacking the city of Hama, where UN observers are not present.

“If confirmed, this is totally unacceptable and reprehensible,” Annan said.

Annan also called for the speedy deployment of all of the 300 UN observers to monitor the observance of a ceasefire that has formally been in effect since April 30. ………….

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April 25th, 2012, 6:48 am


621. Alan said:

Moderator ! stop your informations embargo ! raise mad blockade!

Drums of Intervention: Syrians refuse to dance to foreign tune

The UN’s bolstering its observer mission to Syria – as multiple reports continue that the teetering ceasefire is being violated by both sides. The rebels’ political leaders still want a UN-backed military intervenention. But the public have no appetite for foreign interference. RT’s Oksana Boyko reports from Damascus.

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April 25th, 2012, 7:04 am


622. Alan said:

NGO Your Enemy: Bogus reports fuel intervention industry

Far from helping an embattled nation, NGOs operating in Syria are being accused of helping the push towards military intervention. Some are peddling unverified reports to deliberately encourage foreign action. The agencies hold sway with groups like NATO, which has weighed in on their findings before – with deadly consequences. RT’s Marina Portnaya has more.

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April 25th, 2012, 7:08 am


623. Atheist Syrian Salafist Against Dictatorships said:

Nour @608 and all the other Assadist Mafiosi and Associates (AsMAA) apologists:

We keep hearing about how NATO killed and destroyed Libya and left it in the hands of armed militants and then the same is argued about Syria yet none of them is willing to ask why the wonderful leaders that were/are in place (Gaddafi, Asad) did not pre-empt all those horrid events by listening to their people and instituting real reform while they had a chance. If they were so popoular why not invite the UN to monitor either elections or referendums about their rule? Why were/are they so afraid of peaceful demonstration that they’d send their thugs and snipers and even tanks to stop them? WHY?

Because they knew they would be exposed for the real despots and dictators they really are, that’s why.

Thus, ASAD LIL ABAD AU NA7ROQ-L-BALAD (Asad forever or we’ll burn the country down). What a wonderful democratic slogan.

Once a despot always a despot!

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April 25th, 2012, 10:30 am


624. Karabennemsi said:


What you say is mostly true, but one can only ensure that this regime will not simply be replaced by another one, when the people are willing to make hard sacrifices for deeply structural reforms.

it starts on a very small scale by the decision not to answer violence with violence.

As long as there are dozens of militias who in part don’t even answer for their actions to their own conscience, the regime has every excuse in the world to circumvent real change.

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April 25th, 2012, 10:49 am


625. Nour said:


It is this type of labeling that turns people away from you. You claim to want to fight a system that doesn’t tolerate any different viewpoints than its own, while in practice you are doing the same thing. You and many in the so-called “opposition” cannot tolerate any opinion, idea, or thought that is not an exact replica of your slogans. So anyone that challenges anything you say immediately becomes a “mafioso”. This has in fact led to the justification of the murder of many Syrians by simply labeling them as “shabbi7a”, “loyalists”, “Regime trumpets, etc. thereby degrading them and rendering their killing acceptable.

You can keep repeating that the regime played a role in bringing the situation to what it is today, and I don’t disagree with you, but the bottom line is do we want to move to a better situation or do we simply want to exact revenge on the regime even if it means destroying the whole country.

No one in their right mind would not lay at least part of the blame on Saddam Hussein for what happened to Iraq, but does that make the US invasion any less destructive, and is Iraq in a better situation now than it was before? What I have said since the very beginning is that I want what is best for Syria, not simply what is worst for the regime, regardless of the consequences.

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April 25th, 2012, 11:11 am


626. Atheist Syrian Salafist Against Dictatorships said:

Nour @621

To borrow your words, what is best for Syria is necessarily what is absolutely the very worst for the regime because the regime is a mafia-like organization; this is not a label to denigrate and libel, it’s a statement of fact.

Giving people the freedom to choose who rules them is a death sentence to the regime; there are no in-between choices, I’m afraid: you can’t have half a dictatorship or half a democracy.

Good night!

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April 25th, 2012, 11:38 am


627. Nour said:

Atheist @622:

That is not necessarily true. Because what is worst for the regime could also lead to the destruction of the country. Toppling the regime in such a sudden manner will lead to consequences for the country that none of us want to see materialize. We have a chance and an opportunity to begin disassembling the regime and move to a better system through a calm, deliberate, studied process, and to simply blow up the country because we are too blinded by our hatred for the regime will only hamper this process.

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April 25th, 2012, 1:04 pm


628. anwar said:

nah Mission Complete: STOP assad and his wife’s head on stick

Moderation noticeAlawite back to the mountains

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April 25th, 2012, 1:48 pm


629. omen said:

10:49 am

it starts on a very small scale by the decision not to answer violence with violence.

tell me, karabennemsi, would you take your own advice? if you looked down the street and saw criminals going house to house, would you not seek to protect your family?

jews didn’t answer violence with violence. look at what happened as a result: the holocaust.

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April 25th, 2012, 6:23 pm


630. omen said:

11:11 – nour, it amazes me to no end how regime defenders are more offended by discourse than they are by the rivers of blood flowing through the streets.

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April 25th, 2012, 6:29 pm


631. equus said:

Obama Becomes Pinochet: The Growing Despotism in Washington

One of Obama’s most recent executive orders is an obvious study in pure hypocrisy.

He’s claiming that in order to help those “dissidents” in Iran and Syria (you know… the ones who aren’t from Iran and Syria but they pretend to be so they can get the paychecks from institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy and the State Department for committing acts of terrorism?) they are now claiming the authority to penalize various institutions and individuals who make it possible for the official governments of those countries to monitor the “dissident’s” activities.

Obama is actually hypocritical enough to make the claim that Iran and Syria are oppressing their people, committing “human rights violations” by trying to keep track of the foreign terrorists who are killing civilians on behalf of NATO countries in an effort to destabilize those countries.

How hypocritical is this? Let me count the ways:

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April 25th, 2012, 6:38 pm


632. omen said:

equus, state sponsored terrorism is worse than al qaeda.

i’m sure you agree with me but are simply unwilling to acknowledge so.

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April 25th, 2012, 6:55 pm


633. jerusalem said:

اول انجاز للربيع العربي الاخونجي في مصر وتونس …. السماح بنيك الاطفال وشراء الجواري لنيكهن…. برضو
April 25 2012 06:01
عرب تايمز – خاص

واخيرا بدأت ملامح الربيع العربي الاخونجي تظهر في عدد من الدول العربية بدءا بمصر وانتهاء بتونس … ففي مصر طالب ثوار الربيع الاخونجي من السلفيين بالسماح بنيك الاطفال … وفي تونس طالي الثوار ليس فقط باجبار الرجال على الزواج من اربعة وانما ايضا بالسماح بعمليات بيع وشراء للنسوان … لنيكهن طبعا … مشروع القانون المصري بزواج نيك الاطفال تقدم به النائب ناصر مصطفي شاكر عضو مجلس الشعب عن حزب النور السلفي ويقضي القانون بتخفيض سن زواج الفتيات من 18 إلي 16 عاماً أو أقل ولا يمنع من زواج الطفلة وعمرها 12 عاماً طالما تمت سن البلوغ …. مما يعني ان نيك الاطفال في مصر سيصبح قانونيا وشرعيا بعد ان كان القانون السابق يحدد سن زواج الفتيات ب 18 سنة

تركوا الفلول والمليارت التي نهبوها … ودقوا بخناق عادل امام

April 25 2012 06:22

أيدت محكمة مصرية الثلاثاء حكم سابق بحبس الفنان عادل إمام، لمدة 3 شهور، بعد إدانته بتهمة “ازدراء الأديان”، في بعض أعماله الفنية، إلا أن المحكمة حددت كفالة مالية قدرها 100 جنيه، أقل من 20 دولار، لوقف تنفيذ الحكم، لحين البت في الاستئناف.وذكر موقع “أخبار مصر”، التابع للتلفزيون الرسمي، نقلاً عن وكالة أنباء الشرق الأوسط، أن “محكمة جنح الهرم” رفضت، في جلستها الثلاثاء، “المعارضة الاستئنافية”، التي تقدم بها عادل إمام، على الحكم السابق بحقه، والصادر عن نفس المحكمة

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April 25th, 2012, 7:02 pm


634. URL said:

… [Trackback]…

[…] Find More Informations here: […]…

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December 29th, 2012, 3:11 pm


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