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
By BEN HUBBARD,

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.
BY AMAL HANANO | APRIL 18, 2012

….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.

ASSAD MUST BE FORCED TO ALLOW PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY
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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101. Alan said:

Yet Another Mini-Tet in Afghanistan: Karzai Has Good Reason to Suspect the US of Wanting to Dump Him

The US seeks to continue the Afghan war into a “perpetual state of low intensity guerilla conflict”, preventing the country to rebuild its infrastructure, says a prominent political analyst.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called for an investigation into what is described as the biggest coordinated Taliban attacks this year.

Karzai says intelligence failures on the part of US-led forces allowed the militants to sneak into the most secure neighborhoods. The weekend assault in the capital Kabul and elsewhere left over 50 people–including four civilians and 11 Afghan soldiers –dead.

Washington has dismissed Karzai’s claim, saying the attacks were likely carried out by the Pakistan-based Haqqani network. This comes weeks ahead of the NATO summit in Chicago, where Karzai is expected to ink a strategic pact with the US.

Meanwhile, the US is reportedly gearing up for a major offensive in the war-torn nation. Reports say the US-led spring offensive will be in the regions that control the main access routes into Kabul.

Press TV has conducted an interview with Webster Griffin Tarpley [...]

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April 19th, 2012, 6:13 pm

 

102. admir said:

@Mina

‘Sounds to me like the old ‘no Palestinians in Palestine’ tune… old story. What are your evidence and hints?’

Mina, palestine is a region and palestinians refer to a nationality not an ethnic group – the people living in palestine are arabs but the region they same from is palestine – thus you can call them palestinians (per nationality) just like you can call an arab living in syria ‘syrian’ since syrian is not an ethnicity.

those who claimed that there were no palestinians would have to admit that there is no palestine – a ridiculous claim.

the evidence and hints are the facts that many of the turks settled in syria since the times of the seljuk turks (starting with the zenghid dynasty) up until the end of ottoman rule in syria. much like the pieds noir (french descendants living in algeria), the turkish settlers living in then french syria had to leave for mainland turkey.

a large proportion of those turks who remained (and there were many who did), assimilated into arab culture and life and intermarried with arabs thereby mixing arab blood with turkish blood. across the border in iraq the best evidence given is the city of tel-afar, a city that claims of turkish descent yet the inhabitants speak arabic and practice the mesopotamian arab culture.

‘The Arab tribes were all Shia? But the Umayyad were Arabs and abhored by the Shia. What about the different Kurdish dynasties? You place them were in your DNA research?’

straw-man argument, i didn’t claim that the arab tribes were shia (although large number of tribes in the mesopotamian and gulf regions were). what i said was that ‘many’ (not all) sunni arabs ‘in syria’ (not all arabs).

yes there was also intermarriage between kurds and arabs and some kurds were even forced to hide their language, culture and identity because of the baathist regime (both in iraq and syria)

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April 19th, 2012, 6:16 pm

 

103. Haytham Khoury said:

Dear JNA:

Thank you for asking.

The meeting in Cairo went very well. We discussed everything, including sectarianism, FSA (origin, structure, how to deal with this phenomenon), military intervention (pros and cons), the opposition and Kurdish problem. The SDP will form a committee that will discuss with the other opposition groups to formulate a common vision for the opposition.

Please find below the link for the final declaration of the conference

http://haytham-khoury3.blogspot.ca/2012/04/blog-post.html

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April 19th, 2012, 6:19 pm

 

104. zoo said:

http://www.arabi-press.com/?page=article&id=32436
دلالات القرار 2042 .. ومأزق المعتدين على سوريا ؟
امين حطيط – البناء

منذ اللحظة الاولى التي اعتممد فيها انان مبعوثاً دوليا الى سوريا كان مؤكد ان العدوان الغربي – الاعرابي على سوريا فشل في تحقيق اهدافه ، فجاء تعيين انان لالتقاط الانفاس و منع تفاقم الخسائر في ما يؤمن حفظ ماء الوجه او على الاقل هدنة تمكن الخاسرين من المراجعة
(..)

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April 19th, 2012, 6:20 pm

 

105. Uzair8 said:

Top story on Al Arabiya English website at the moment:

*******************************************************************

Assad’s ‘Crisis Cell’: leaked documents expose attempts to contain Syrian unrest

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Highly classified documents from a covert Syrian government unit have exposed attempts by the regime to contain the unrest sweeping the country since March 2011, leaked reports obtained by Al Arabiya reveal this week.

One month into the anti-government protests across Syria, a “Crisis Cell,” was formed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to monitor events and decide to tackle the unrest with military-led solutions.

The cell included top intelligence, government and security force figures who documented events across Syria, gathering information which would reach the president directly on a daily basis.

But one member of the cell was not part of any official Syrian party. In fact, he was a political science graduate who has admitted to “knowing the right people” in getting the position that he did.

Read more:

http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/04/19/208771.html

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April 19th, 2012, 6:20 pm

 

106. admir said:

‘Why, why , why….why….Mr. Admir, you tell me why the Shia regime of Iraq thought it okay to hang the former Sunni President of Iraq on Eid al-Adha day for Sunnis ?’

i didn’t ‘thought it okay’ to hang the former Sunni President of Iraq on Eid al-Adha day for Sunnis. those who conducted the trial were flawed and only charged him with the 1982 killings of 100+ shiites in dujail (an insignificant event compared to the near massacre of the entire kurdish city of halabjah).

if you look at the video of the execution of saddam you will hear the killers proclaim ‘long live…’ and mention a religious figure who was killed under saddam’s regime (baqir al sadr, sadiq al sadr, etc.), indicating that they killed saddam for revenge and not justice – and that they were shia islamists.

that and the bombing of samarra shrine by sunni islamists were the key events that led to the civil war in iraq pitting shiites against sunnis – driving away almost 2 million sunnis out of iraq and increasing percentage of shiites in iraq by around 70%.

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April 19th, 2012, 6:24 pm

 

107. Khalid Tlass said:

Mr. Admir, in a previous comment some time back, you angrily rejected the notion that al-Anbar is majority Sunni. Can you back this up with facts ?

I hope you know that recently the Diyala Governorate Council has voted for autonomy ?

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April 19th, 2012, 6:28 pm

 

108. Khalid Tlass said:

ADMIR,

Which areas do you think the majority of Turkmen settled down in Syria ?

Also, do you think there are obvious anthropological and physical differences between Syrians of the 4 geographic regions ? ( Coastal mountains, Orontes Valley, Houran, and al-Jazira / al-Badia)

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April 19th, 2012, 6:31 pm

 

109. admir said:

‘Will wage war on any Alawi State seperated from Syria proper and task the Mujahedeen with a quota from every Moslem country, nation and tribes to fight them. Will hold Iran and HezboAli responsible unless they too send men to join the Mujahedeen quota.’

that is like asking the mujahideen to free nagorno-karabakh from armenians and back to the hands of muslim azerbaijan (which they did), but when the mujahideen realized that it was for nationalistic reasons they abandoned the fight.
similarily if you tell mujahideen to ‘liberate’ alawite region back into the hands of the sunni muslim syrian, they aren’t going to fight because it will be for nationalistic reasons – they will only fight if you tell them that you are conquering that region for islamic caliphate and not syria (something that will cause intervention by countries like the west or russia)

btw you dont even know if russia will support it or not (since they have their interests there in the tartus port), also including the fact that if the regime or alawites retreat there, they might bring all their heavy weapons there with them.

and how will mujahideen fight the coastal state without world support through arms and money? the libyan rebels only won because of no-fly zone and some weapons (and that took them 6 months), in contrast it could take at least a year for the mujahideen (excluding intervention by west or russia and equal weapons on both sides).

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April 19th, 2012, 6:37 pm

 

110. Tara said:

Dear Zoo

Did you read the article entitled “why Turks do not smile”. The article sounds plausible and applicable to the ME in general. What is your take in regard to that article? Do you agree with it? It is becoming one of my goals to make you smile…Is there a hope?

Also can you please save some links till after 8 pm EST. You have been slacking off lately during the evening hours when I have time to read. It seems to me that I am the only one “at work” then and kt becomes boring. You have to maintain your status being the first of the class all the time. I wouldn’t accept any less.

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April 19th, 2012, 6:40 pm

 

111. Tara said:

Antoin @105

Live to demonstrate! I thank God for that.

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April 19th, 2012, 6:41 pm

 

112. Uzair8 said:

From the documentary video in the article in #111. 15 min 55 sec:

“No decision would be made without the knowledge of the Republican Palace and the {Crisis} cell’s leadership. By Republican Place I mean not only Bashar al-Assad, but a plethora of figures that make up the regime such as Maher al-Assad and Anisi Makhlouf and the Religious Council.”

What is the ‘Religious Council’?

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April 19th, 2012, 6:42 pm

 

113. admir said:

@Aldendeshe

nice comment there, who told you baathism started in moscow?

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April 19th, 2012, 6:58 pm

 

114. admir said:

@Khalid Tlass

I apologize if i mispoke or misinformed, al-anbar is definitely majority sunni (though not exclusively sunni), maybe i was claiming that in a certain context.

however the recent declaration for autonomy of diyala is being spearheaded by sunni arabs. the province is mixed with a slight shiite majority. after the declaration there were almost spontaneous protests against it in diyala, just like there were in salah ad-din (another mixed province but with sunni majority)

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April 19th, 2012, 7:05 pm

 

115. Syria no Kandahar said:

Live to kill
اغتيال العميد وليد جوني

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April 19th, 2012, 7:05 pm

 

116. admir said:

@Khalid Tlass

‘Which areas do you think the majority of Turkmen settled down in Syria ?’

near aleppo and near the turkish region (idlib, hama) – some were in quneitra but after israel took over they were dispersed elsewhere.

‘Also, do you think there are obvious anthropological and physical differences between Syrians of the 4 geographic regions ? ( Coastal mountains, Orontes Valley, Houran, and al-Jazira / al-Badia)’

well i’m not an expert on syria but from what i studied the people on the coastal regions are more caucasian than than the rest of syria (which is why syrians elsewhere refer to the coastal people as ‘al-amaan’ i.e. german). the arabs in jazira and badia resemble the arabs across the border in al-anbar, iraq; whereas the the arabs in southern syria resemble the arabs across the border in jordan – i dont know what the arabs in the orontes valley look like.

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April 19th, 2012, 7:13 pm

 

117. ann said:

Skepticism overshadows Syria’s gold reserves – 2012-04-20

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-04/20/c_131538987.htm

Governor of the Central Bank of Syria Adib Mayalah denied as ” baseless” some foreign media reports that the Central Bank of Syria plans to put for sale some of the gold reserves, saying such news aim to “discredit the Syrian economy and stir up public opinion.”

In a recent statement to private al-Watan newspaper, He stressed that the bank has abundance of hard currency, and there is no need to sell gold reserves.

President of the Goldsmith Association George Sargi also dismissed the report as “nonsense,” adding that the central bank has large quantities of gold that were confiscated over the past years.
[...]

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April 19th, 2012, 7:25 pm

 

118. Syria no Kandahar said:

Moderator

In response to your question about my statement regarding :90% of Sunnis thinks that Alawis are infidel. I might be off a bit, but the reality is really painful. When I lived in Syria we could care less about who the neighbor is. In one building in Aleppo you could find a Christian, a Sunni, an Alawi, an Armenian and a Kurd.

This war on Syria was started by Alkaradawi declaring the president that he is a hostage of his clan, and by Alaaroor declaring that النصيريون اشد كفرا من النصارا

KSA and Qatar directly sponser and almost employs these guys. The game is successful and Alfitna is going on. Did watch Alsaroot singing بدنا نبيد العلويه

Did you see demonstrators singing العلويه بالتابوت والمسيحيه عابيروت ? Do you think that 90%is off? I hope so. I might be off up or down that is the question.

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April 19th, 2012, 7:27 pm

 

119. Darryl said:

I would like to come out of retirement from SC perhaps just for this post just because I could not believe that the “Prom couple” Bronco and Tara are at each other’s throat.

Firstly Bronco, it is obvious that you have never seen a naked duck as they are actually not plumb as you describe them. This off course is due to the fact that the all Wise, all knowing and best of all deceivers Allah has given ducks the ability to run, swim and fly; and they cannot do that very efficiently and expend lots of energy, hence they do not build meat to become “plump”.

Perhaps the image you have of a duck is through seeing looney tune cartoons, although Daffy Duck was always portrayed to be muscular looking character. If I were you Bronco, I would bestow on Tara a description of a Swan as they are quite elegant in their natural habitat; that is on water.

Tara has been calling President B. Assad a Butta (Duck) perhaps that has been an inadvertent compliment given that he has been able to run, swim and fly away from all the danger that the west, GCC and the revolutionaries have thrown at him.

I will close my post by offering you a recipe for char-grilled duck thighs. Marinate the duck thighs (skin on) with hot chilli sauce (a specialty in Syrian and Lebanon), garlic, ginger and rosemary over night. Char grill to perfection and enjoy with a chilled bottle of fruity Chardonnay.

Some amount of Aspirin can be added to the marinate to make the meat a bit more tender (Aspirin being an acid) and it will also help the digestion process as the person’s blood will be slightly thinned to cope with the rich and elegant fat in the duck and lastly, to help if you get a hangover from drinking too much Chardonnay. Enjoy!

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April 19th, 2012, 7:31 pm

 

120. jad said:

Jalal Chahda, a Lebanese anchor on Aljazeera, just ‘resigned’, another hack, this time both, his twitter and FB site:

Jalal Chahda
about an hour ago
أعلن استقالتي من قناة الجزيرة , لأنها لم تعد قناة الرأي والراي الآخر
https://www.facebook.com/JalalChahda.Official

Jalal Chahda
‏ @jalal_chahda
أعلن استقالتي من قناة الجزيرة , لأنها لم تعد قناة الرأي والراي الآخر
https://twitter.com/#!/jalal_chahda/status/193112809154945024

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April 19th, 2012, 7:37 pm

 

121. Afram said:

103. Tara said:

Bronco

If the demonstrations die out, then Assad wins and Syria becomes indeed his farm and all of us his slaves. The demonstrations gave to go on till we Chieve regime change. Otherwise, All the blood spilled would have been waisted in vain.

=================

Hi Tara, Bronco.

Syria needs peace process, like of Northern Ireland to stop the madness.

The population of Syria is 74% Sunni, 12% Alawi, 10% Christian, 3% Druze, Kurds 9% + Turkmens and Circassians.

Establish Syrian council of Elders to negotiate for national parliamentary political system.

Create proportional quotas for all,its more effective at weakening the regime than reform.

A coalition government:

Say there are 100 seats, 15 for MB, 15 for women, the rest get divided between:

Sunni secularists, Alawis, Christians, Druze, Kurds, Turkmens, Circassians.

right a constitution /in which several political parties cooperate.

Appoint figurehead president.

Election time/bring in the Carter Center for election observation & monitoring, they good at leading the fight against corruption.

Then duplicate/The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Offer the abused Syrians compensation

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April 19th, 2012, 7:57 pm

 

122. habib said:

“Karzai says intelligence failures on the part of US-led forces allowed the militants to sneak into the most secure neighborhoods.”

So by the logic of several folks here, the attack must have been an inside job, since it happened in “secure neighborhoods”. Am I right?

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April 19th, 2012, 7:58 pm

 

123. Halabi said:

“Did you see demonstrators singing العلويه بالتابوت والمسيحيه عابيروت?”

For more than a year the pro-Assad side has been claiming that this is the main chant of the revolution. But as with 90% of their claims, this simply isn’t true.

As long as we are discussing percentages, what portion of Alawites believe deep down that every Sunni has been waiting for decades for the chance to kill the men and enslave the women, thereby justifying extreme violence against Sunnis?

Please, no need to answer. These types of arguments make things worse. Only one side today has called for equal rights for all citizens – the regime enshrined a racist constitution and all its slogans are based on one man/family: Assad’s Syria, Assad or we torch the country, no God but Bashar, etc.

Although pro-Assad thugs sometimes say واحد واحد واحد, we all know that the slogan was first used by the revolution. I think it will continue to be a dominant theme to keep Syria together. There is hatred that must be overcome by all sides to save Syria, especially the one with the tanks and bombs who are destroying lives and property.

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April 19th, 2012, 8:05 pm

 

124. jad said:

Huh ??? Juergen from East Germany,

Since you are fluent in Arabic and in the Syrian dialect, could you please translate word by word of what they are saying.

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April 19th, 2012, 8:07 pm

 

125. bronco said:

#19 Tara

“Are YOU the owner of that blog?”

Huh ??? Watch the moderator…

[Write the moderator if Team B have problems they cannot solve amongst themselves. Otherwise, Tara and Irritated, Jad and Bronco, Son of Damascus, you are all on mutual self-moderation, free to slag each other, reason with each other, attack, make up.

Effectively, the moderator is on strike as far as your mutual squabbles are concerned. If you Syrians cannot freely solve civility and respect issues and conduct a dialogue, no one can coerce you to do so, nor to make peace. Nobody can make Syrians treat other Syrians with with the attitudes times demand. No one outside the circle of trust can compel. If they cannot treat for peace and civility, so be it.

In case of emergency, contact Joshua, Alex, me or someone you trust with the keys to intervene.

SCModeration@mail.com]

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April 19th, 2012, 8:21 pm

 

126. jad said:

‘واحد واحد واحد’ of the Pro-Asad thugs is not as good as ‘واحد واحد واحد’ from Pro-3ar3our ‘Angels’…not even comparable…and they should never ever be permitted to use it…shame on them!

Monsieur 3ar3our speaking to his 3ar3eer:
الشيخ العرعور يتوعد النصيرية باعلان الجهاد

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April 19th, 2012, 8:21 pm

 

127. Aldendeshe said:

All you hear and read from this Huh ??? Alawi-Baathi dictatorial regime and supporters is weird and retarded stuff that you can not make any sense off. Mockery, sarcasm, racism, Arrour, Qatar, Islamist, mundasseen, Israel, you name it, they throw it at you incoherently with obnoxiously rude loudness, leaving you shaking your head in disgust at the amateurish propaganda.

When this regime and those paid to defend it are going to respond to the specific grievances mentioned over and over against this evil Baathist -Huh ??? Alawite monopoly rule. I don’t have time to give you the long, long list of the grievances, someone else maybe can, but hardly any human on earth that don’t know what this regime is about and the evil they are doing to own people and own country.

Posting articles about UN. this and that, U.S. giving the nod, Turkey chikining out, who cares about all those, your problem is with the Syrian people who wants you out and tried and convicted. You can have Ali (Amen) and his Huh ??? mighty-mouse Shia army on your side, you will be defeated. There is no going back on this don’t you see that, you are not going to tire this power or this group, the end is you will tire yourselves and be weakened with your backers to the back wall.

I look at videos of Iran revolution and watch it with glee, not at the victory Iranian celebrating and stamping Iran Noble Shah pictures (what a great man he was), burning his effigies in the streets, no, I glee over it, knowing that these videos could be one day the Iranian people rising up, toppling the deceiving, corrupt mullahs, the munafekeen out of power with the same vengeance. Just as I watch my favorite videos of Russian toppling the commies out of power.

The day is coming, the videos are not going to be pretty for the Huh ??? Alawites and Baathists.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzHX7VE5sSQ

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April 19th, 2012, 8:22 pm

 

128. Ghufran said:

http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=today%5C19qpt999.htm&arc=data%5C2012%5C04%5C04-19%5C19qpt999.htm

Syria’s neighbors must remember that a war will not be limited to Syria and the outcome of such a war is uncertain, the only certain result of such an evil development is utter destruction and the end of the Levant as an inhabitable place for decent people who want to live and let live. I refuse to believe in this ungodly prophecy.

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April 19th, 2012, 8:22 pm

 

129. Tara said:

Affram

I would support your proposal wholeheartedly.

What do you want to do with those who have blood on their hands?

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April 19th, 2012, 8:26 pm

 

130. jad said:

beret 44 Updated

مداخلة الدكتور هيثم مناع في مؤتمر هيئة التنسيق الوطنية في باريس 14 ابريل
الدكتور هيثم مناع

[ + Google automated translation symbol Published on Apr 19, 2012 by Mannahaytham

+ Haytham Manna of NCB in Paris, April 19, 2012. Captured from Youtube via Dr Manna's Youtube channel. All rights reserved.

From Dr. Haytham Manna's Youtube page.]

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April 19th, 2012, 8:29 pm

 

131. ann said:

128. JAD

What is this Psycho saying?

Thanks

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April 19th, 2012, 8:29 pm

 

132. Tara said:

Darryl

Nice to see you around. Stop being silly and come out of your retirement. 2wks ago, I was at a function and suggested Australian Shiraz. People spent few minutes talking about “Tara’s sophisticated taste. Was pretty good.

You missed a great shoes topic, Loubotin for all..men and women alike, children too.

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April 19th, 2012, 8:32 pm

 

133. Aldendeshe said:

SC MOD, I appreciate what you are doing here. But not the extremes. The regime is an Alwite-sectarian one. There is no reason why this fact can not be stated on SC. Even CNN and NYT, LAT state the term as so. What are trying to do by sensoring this fact? We are fed up and don’t like or care about this minority any more in Syria.

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April 19th, 2012, 8:42 pm

 

134. jad said:

Ann

What do you think a ‘psycho’ will say?

Nothing of importance, the usual rhetoric sectarian issues that will lead to more killing and will never help solve any of the slogans the Syrians revolt against.

What is disturbing the most is to know that this ‘psycho’ has lots of supporters who actually listen to his brainless ‘orders’.

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April 19th, 2012, 8:45 pm

 

135. daleandersen said:

I knew that, sooner or later, the SC Moderator would give up on this band of idiots. I’m glad it was sooner…

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April 19th, 2012, 8:48 pm

 

136. Halabi said:

I just worry about pro-Assad thugs (a term I hate to use but we-love-you is banned) losing their purity when adopting 3ar3our chants. Saying “I want to annihilate the followers of Mohammad” as this sniper does is much better. http://youtu.be/loUIglMuszo

Joining the multi-faith terrorist sleeper cells in Europe and the U.S. that Hassoun spoke of is much better than chanting for unity…

I think there is a darker reason why the Syrian military and we-love-you crowd uses the term 3ar3our and 3ara3eer when describing the opposition, even if they are Christians, non-believers or have never heard of this fringe televangelist. It’s because it rhymes with cockroach in Arabic, an insect that should be exterminated. It’s the same term used to inspire the killers in Rwanda.

For supporters of a government that releases Al Qaeda terrorists while arresting women who call for the end of violence, subliminal promotion of genocide is just part of a good days work.

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April 19th, 2012, 8:58 pm

 

137. Tara said:

Are pro-regime going to express admiration towards Hillary now?

Is Bashar al-Assad a war criminal? US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won’t say so.

CNN..posted a portion of Clinton’s interview yesterday with Wolf Blitzer in which he asks her if Assad is a war criminal.

“I’m not going to get into the labeling, Wolf,” Clinton said. “We really don’t want to be labeling what we see which are clearly disproportionate use of force, human rights abuses, absolutely merciless shelling with heavy weaponry into unarmed civilian areas, even shelling across borders now in Turkey and Lebanon.”
(…)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/19/syria-crisis-bahrain-unrest-live#block-49

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April 19th, 2012, 9:08 pm

 

138. jad said:

Good one, comparing an anonymous guy who may or may not be a true soldier to an ‘uprising’ ‘Figure’, freedom ‘Lover’ and beloved ‘Leader’ like 3ar3our is so convincing.

Let’s forget 3ar3our, how about Zou3bi, Ma2moun Al7omsi, or even Sarout to name few ‘leaders’ rhetoric and sectarian message of hate..what about the emails of Ghalyoun on Alakhbar where they used sectarian messages? How about the MBs ‘leaders’ or or or….aren’t all these people the political ‘leaders’ of the hijacked uprising..

On the other hand, not one of the Syrian official used any ‘sectarian’ word against any element of the Syrian society, not even once….yet, they are the ‘thugs’.

I like it when the same people who keep calling anybody who disagree with them as ‘menhebak’ or ‘thug’ get offended by calling them ’3ara3eer’ and start crying ‘Rawanda’….I guess the anti-everything crowds are so sensitive when the are talked back to…
Regardless of whatever they write or preach or scream, the slogan ‘واحد واحد واحد’ is for every Syrian to use, Syria is for all and not to you or them, fhamowa ba2a!

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April 19th, 2012, 9:17 pm

 

139. Tara said:

Blue Beret US military has contingency for civilian safe havens if Syria violence escalates

Pentagon remains reluctant to intervene in Syria, but defence secretary tells Congress all military options are under review

Thursday 19 April 2012 13.37 EDT


Protesters surround a United Nations observer vehicle on the outskirts of Damascus on Wednesday. Photograph: Shaam News Network/AFP/Getty Images

US defence secretary Leon Panetta disclosed Thursday the Pentagon has plans in place for establishing humanitarian corridors in Syria, an idea publicly aired by French president Nicholas Sarkozy earlier in the day in Paris.

Panetta, giving evidence to the House armed services committee, said the plan for humanitarian corridors was under review in the Pentagon along with other military options for intervention aimed at helping the Syrian opposition and toppling Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

The Pentagon remains reluctant to intervene militarily in Syria, saying that the conditions that existed for action in Libya do not yet apply in the country.

Panetta, citing the divided nature of opposition groups inside Syria, said: “Outside military intervention could make a volatile situation worse”.

But Panetta, giving evidence alongside the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey, said that all military options are under review in the Pentagon, ready to be implemented if Barack Obama gives the order.
(..)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/19/us-military-plan-syria-escalates?newsfeed=true

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April 19th, 2012, 9:20 pm

 

140. jad said:

No need to worry because comparing an anonymous guy who may or may not be a true soldier to an ‘uprising’ ‘Figure’, freedom ‘Lover’ and beloved ‘Leader’ like 3ar3our is so convincing.

Let’s forget 3ar3our, how about Zou3bi, Ma2moun Al7omsi, or even Sarout to name few ‘leaders’ who spread rhetoric and sectarian message of hate..

what about the emails of Ghalyoun on Alakhbar where they used sectarian messages?

How about the MBs ‘leaders’ or or or….aren’t all these people the political ‘leaders’ of the hijacked uprising?

On the other hand, not one of the Syrian official used any ‘sectarian’ word against any element of the Syrian society, not even once….yet, they are the ‘th ugs’ and the freedom leaders are the ‘angels’ sure!!

I like it when the same people who keep calling anybody who disagree with them as ‘men hebak’ or ‘thug’ get offended by calling them ’3ara3eer’ and start crying ‘Rawanda’….I guess the anti-everything crowds are so sensitive when they are talked back at…

Regardless of whatever they write or preach or scream, the slogan ‘واحد واحد واحد’ is for every Syrian to use, Syria is for all and not to you or them, fhamowa ba2a, no Syrian is leaving the homeland, and nobody will force any Syrian to leave, if any side doesn’t like it tough luck…they will learn!

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April 19th, 2012, 9:22 pm

 

141. Afram said:

132. Tara said:
Affram
I would support your proposal wholeheartedly.

What do you want to do with those who have blood on their hands?
=================
Truth and reconciliation commission is a court-like justice body.
would be tasked to fix all wrongdoings.

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April 19th, 2012, 9:41 pm

 

142. Halabi said:

I guess I hit a nerve. We-love-you is a terms that pro-Assad supporters use themselves and are proud of. On the other hand, 3ara3eer is mostly used by soldiers who graffiti the walls of villages they plunder all over Syria, or when they are spitting and abusing dead Syrians. (I will spare everyone the videos this time).

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April 19th, 2012, 9:49 pm

 

143. Son of Damascus said:

Halabi,

Is it not sad how some people to this day think that Syria is Assad, as if our country was founded by the clan of Wahesh.

Most of the direct decedents of the founding members of our country are living in exile from the Mardams, Kouatlys, Azms, Khanis and Dawalibi, while the family that has raped, maimed and destroyed Syria continue to sit on their illegitimate throne.

Souria Al Assad ili kheirbet beitna, ma7aloun yefhamou ino Souria Hurra ou malla la beit Assad. Tuz be beit el Assad ou kil el bi7yeehun

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April 19th, 2012, 10:16 pm

 

144. Ghufran said:

Bahrain and Saudi protests, especially in Bahrain, are poised to become more violent, efforts to shield these two countries from the wave of popular uprising are likely to fail, the regimes in the GCC will use the usual fig leaf of “foreign conspiracy” and may seek US help. If Bashar emerges as a victor from this crisis he will make sure that he returns the favor to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, toppling the syrian regime is now more important to KSA and Qatar than reforming their own governments.

If Syria gets out of this mess with a reasonable political formula that includes most parties, the whole region will follow and a new chapter in the middle east modern history will be written that can for the first time includes foreign words such as freedom and democracy, this is a challenge for all and not just the regime, it is a race between warmongers and advocates of peaceful change.
I agree with SOD, the term “Syria Al-Assad” is an insult to a country that invented the first alphabet.

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April 19th, 2012, 10:26 pm

 

145. Son of Damascus said:

Afram,

I think you have a solid plan, however a major concern for me would be the sect allocation based system. If we look at Lebanon that has proved to be a disaster and people end up voting based on sect rather than politics, also as is the case in Lebanon the percentage of sects might be one thing today, and a whole other thing a decade down the road.

What I think would be a better solution is perhaps assigning certain cabinet positions to sects, positions that are usually assigned by the President and are not voted upon by the public. This might help ensure minority concerns are met, and that if a party such as the MB is the party chosen by the peoples vote they would still need to have members of the minorities in their cabinet to form a government.

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April 19th, 2012, 10:34 pm

 

146. Ghufran said:

Muhammad Habash may be ready to change camps:
http://www.shamlife.com/?page=show_det&select_page=9&id=22250

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April 19th, 2012, 10:41 pm

 

147. Halabi said:

[ blue diamondUpdated from spam. Disgusting goat-human/3arouri countries.]

Russian democracy – the absolute best case scenario for Assad’s Syria. Sure it’s better than Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and other disgusting goat-human/3arouri countries (curiously the repressive Islamic theocracy of Iran is never lumped in that list), but it falls short of what Syrians are actually demanding: freedom and democracy that civilized people enjoy in the West, where most men7ebaks who post here live.

Having Vowed Reform, Kremlin Said to Dilute It – WSJ

“Some of Medvedev’s promised moves to open up the political system that opponents say have since been weakened:

- Political party registration. New rules will let dozens of parties form. But parties won’t be allowed to form blocs that could boost electoral chances.

- Governor elections. Kremlin to reinstate voting, but retains influence in screening which candidates can run.

- Public television. Russia says it will launch a public TV network. But Kremlin is to appoint its top official.”

http://on.wsj.com/JGicmO

Here’s a BBC report from Taftanaz, a village that has been under siege for months and posed no real threat to the regime but was nevertheless brutally crushed.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17779186

تفتناز يا نور العين

The revolution has connected the pro-democracy side to almost every town and village in the country, forging a new Syrian identity based on common sacrifice and aspirations, a more powerful bond than those based on the worship of a family or sect. This shared identity is perhaps the most important result of the revolution and will form the basis of a democratic and united Syria in the future, after Assad flees into a luxurious exile while his supporters pay the price for his crimes.

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April 19th, 2012, 10:44 pm

 

148. Ghufran said:

In the crowded market of press releases and speeches,the only one who is making sense is Lavrov:
http://www.shamlife.com/?page=show_det&select_page=9&id=22301

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April 19th, 2012, 10:47 pm

 

149. jad said:

The west future is bright for hosting all kind of 3ra3eer!

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April 19th, 2012, 11:20 pm

 

150. Afram said:

@148. Son of Damascus

constituencies elect their Representatives.

Then form a coalition government, syrians would have all the time national unity government, all-party coalitions, this will lead to no more national crisis..what the heck, create country wide inspector general’s office to to investigate fraudulent conduct by those in power.

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April 19th, 2012, 11:21 pm

 

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