The US Must Supply anti-Aircraft Missiles to the Syrian Opposition

The US Must Supply anti-Aircraft Missiles to the Syrian Opposition
by Joshua Landis
October 22, 2012

The US government should tell Assad that he must launch serious negotiations for a transition government. If he does not, Western governments should supply opposition militias with ground to air missiles in sufficient numbers to bring down the Syrian air-force. Circumstantial evidence suggests that US officials in Libya may already have been working to facilitate the transfer of portable heat-seeking missiles—the bulk of them SA-7s—from Libya to Syria.

As soon as the elections are over in the US, Washington should redouble its efforts at changing the balance of power in Syria, if Assad does not begin to form a transitional government in earnest.  He must come to terms with the most powerful rebel leaders or see his air force neutralized.

Lakhdar Brahimi of the UN should be empowered to monitor and report on these negotiations, judging if they are sincere.

Assad should be encouraged to work toward some sort of agreement comparable to the Taif Agreement — or National Reconciliation Accord — that ended the Lebanese civil war. It may be impossible to get the Sunni militias to accept such a solution, particularly as they remain so divided. All the same it is worth trying.

It is unclear whether Assad will chose to fall back to the Alawite Mountains, where he can may struggle to protect Alawites from uncontrolled retribution, but where his capacity to damage to the rest of Syria is severely limited.

Assad has no possibility of regaining control of Syria. He does not have soldiers enough to retake lost cities. But he insists on using his air force to destroy what remains of rebel held towns. This is senseless destruction. He has no hope of recapturing them. It should be stopped. He has been carrying out a scorched earth policy that is killing thousands, leaving hundreds of thousands homeless, and destroying Syria’s precious architectural heritage.

I have long resisted supporting US intervention, believing that the US should refuse to get sucked into Syria. It cannot determine what is fair. No one truly understands the “real” Syria today, as Syrians are only beginning to emerge from 40 years of sever authoritarianism that stopped politics in its tracks. What new social forces will emerge in the coming years is impossible to determine. Most importantly, the opposition has been too fragmented to replace the Syrian Army as a source of stability and security. Syrians need to find their own way forward and to create a new balance among the sects and regions. Decapitating the regime too suddenly, I believe, would likely result in a number of unhappy endings: a massacre of the Alawites, a civil war among militias that could bring even greater suffering, or a melt-down of security as happened in Iraq.

The various Syrian factions have to find a new equilibrium, which would not happen with an overpowering US intervention. Even one limited to the use of American air power, such as that carried out in Libya, could be too much force, used too quickly.

The supply of portable heat-seeking missiles, however, seems to be increasingly justified. US politicians fear that elements of the Syrian opposition may misuse ground to air missiles, but surely they cannot be misused more than are Assad’s jets and helicopters. Assad’s air superiority combined with his inability to rule Syria, is causing endless misery. Air power is so destructive that it should be denied to both sides. Fewer people would be killed and a new balance would emerge as an expression of regional forces.

Assad and his increasingly Alawite manned army can no longer control Aleppo and Damascus, which are overwhelmingly Sunni. Assad may not even be able to defend the Alawite Mountains from the growing strength of Sunni militias. The fate of the Alawite region is likely to depend on whether Sunni forces can unify — an eventuality that is not assured. The US should stay out of the struggle to define the internal arrangement of Syrian factions. Who knows how Syria will look when the fighting is over? Will the Kurds gain independence or a large measure of autonomy? How will the Alawite Territory be connected to Syria? Will the city of Latakia become an Alawite or Sunni dominated city? Will the government in Damascus hold central power as firmly in its hands as it has over the last 50 years? Or will Syria find unity in a larger measure of federalism? One can change views on these questions every day — the outcome depends on decisions yet to be made by Syria’s many leaders — but it seems clear that the Syrian air force has simply become an instrument of destruction. The day of reckoning for Alawites and for Syrians at large is only being put off by the lopsided use of air power. The US has already played a decisive role in tipping the balance of power in Syria against the Assad regime. It is time to help the Syrian opposition stop the government use of air-power.


Aleppo May Be Soon to Fall into Rebel Hands — Notes from an Aleppine friend

One of My wife’s sisters lives in Abu Dhabi. Her apartment in the Sabeel area of Aleppo was taken over this morning. Homeless people found out it was empty. They broke the lock and made it their home.

I sent Zaki the driver I use to the house. An elderly woman and a child were inside the house. He said if I offer you money would you leave? How much the lady asked, while the driver had the apartment owner in Abu Dhabi on the line. The offer came at 10 k Syrian pounds [$150]. Shockingly the lady took the offer and left the house. Man oh man. This just happened 5 minutes ago.

The driver just called me. He went with three armed men he rang the bell. He said this is my house. He paid the three armed men 5k too. He said when free Syrian army moved into his neighborhood in Bustan al Basha he called authorities and pleaded with them to come and clean the area up from the Free Syrian Army. They kept saying, “Yes, we know.” After a few weeks they came with planes. He had to leave the house with his kids. He called me to ask if he could stay in an empty office I have. He has been living there for the past two months.

After speaking to contacts in Aleppo, I think that the regime will have a very difficult time taking back the city now. The battle lines have tipped in favor of the rebels if you look at the map of the city. There are only one or two key regime holdouts before the city falls totally under their control….

[An update sent 24 hours later] One of my relatives was kidnapped this morning from Syrian Jdide area (super safe untill now). Five armed guys took him away while his driver was waiting for him outside. They scared the driver away and snatched him. He is on medications. They called his son, a doctor, and told him that they had bought him the proper medications and that he was taking them. An hour later they called demanding SYP 15 million.

The whole family is crying.

This video explains to what level Syria has arrived. Syrian soldiers threaten to beat a young man as they make him chant that he loves Bashar and accepts him as God. They smile among themselves in self affirmation and mirth, as they terrify the teenager. He is cowering blindfolded against a wall. Bashar al-Assad claims his soldiers are fighting “fundamentalists” even as they impose their religion of al-Assad on terrified Syrians. The Salafis cannot be worse. This sort of video has become a trope. They have popped up with terrifying regularity since the first months of the revolution and express the ideological endgame of the regime. Assad is God

How US Ambassador Chris Stevens May Have Been Linked To Jihadist Rebels In Syria
Michael Kelley
| Oct. 19, 2012, Business Insider

The official position is that the US has refused to allow heavy weapons into Syria. But there’s growing evidence that U.S. agents—particularly murdered ambassador Chris Stevens—were at least aware of heavy weapons moving from Libya to jihadist Syrian rebels.

In March 2011 Stevens became the official U.S. liaison to the al-Qaeda-linked Libyan opposition, working directly with Abdelhakim Belhadj of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group—a group that has now disbanded, with some fighters reportedly participating in the attack that took Stevens’ life.

In November 2011 The Telegraph reported that Belhadj, acting as head of the Tripoli Military Council, “met with Free Syrian Army [FSA] leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey” in an effort by the new Libyan government to provide money and weapons to the growing insurgency in Syria.

Last month The Times of London reported that a Libyan ship “carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria … has docked in Turkey.” The shipment reportedly weighed 400 tons and included SA-7 surface-to-air anti-craft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Those heavy weapons are most likely from Muammar Gaddafi’s stock of about 20,000 portable heat-seeking missiles—the bulk of them SA-7s—that the Libyan leader obtained from the former Eastern bloc. Reuters reports that Syrian rebels have been using those heavy weapons to shoot down Syrian helicopters and fighter jets.

The ship’s captain was “a Libyan from Benghazi and the head of an organization called the Libyan National Council for Relief and Support,” which was presumably established by the new government.

That means that Ambassador Stevens had only one person—Belhadj—between himself and the Benghazi man who brought heavy weapons to Syria.

Furthermore, we know that jihadists are the best fighters in the Syrian opposition, but where did they come from?

Last week The Telegraph reported that a FSA commander called them “Libyans” when he explained that the FSA doesn’t “want these extremist people here.”

And if the new Libyan government was sending seasoned Islamic fighters and 400 tons of heavy weapons to Syria through a port in southern Turkey—a deal brokered by Stevens’ primary Libyan contact during the Libyan revolution—then the governments of Turkey and the U.S. surely knew about it.

Furthermore there was a CIA post in Benghazi, located 1.2 miles from the U.S. consulate, used as “a base for, among other things, collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles” … and that its security features “were more advanced than those at rented villa where Stevens died.”

And we know that the CIA has been funneling weapons to the rebels in southern Turkey. The question is whether the CIA has been involved in handing out the heavy weapons from Libya.

In any case, the connection between Benghazi and the rise of jihadists in Syria is stronger than has been officially acknowledged.

Among the Snipers of Aleppo
By BENJAMIN HALL, October 18, 2012, Nwe York Times
Antakya, Turkey

IN the Syrian city of Aleppo, there are neighborhoods that are almost entirely abandoned; blocks of buildings with their facades blown off, apartments open to the street; and other buildings, intact but empty, their curtains billowing out the windows. Broken water pipes have turned roads into debris-clogged rivers. And tribes of cats stalk around like predators; every now and then you pass one lying dead on the ground, its body torn apart by sniper fire.

The snipers, both rebel and regime, are everywhere. The MIG jets are always overhead, and shelling continues day and night. You cannot escape the smell of dead bodies, and it feels as if it is only a matter of time before you are hit, too.

This is life on the ground for the remaining residents of Aleppo. With only this in mind, it is easy to argue that the West should intervene — arm the rebels, help them overthrow the vicious rule of the Assads, and try to create something good from the chaos. After all, the rebels are outgunned, outsupplied and outfinanced. They are battling a force that is aligned with Iran and Hezbollah, and one that commits daily atrocities.

And yet, all things considered, I can’t argue for intervention in Aleppo, or in the wider Syrian conflict.

For a few days in September, I was embedded with the Ahrar al-Sham, or Free Men, rebel faction in the city. These men are fierce and battle-hardened. They sit chatting or sleeping while shells fall all around, and seem nonchalant while lobbing homemade bombs into government compounds. Some taunt the enemy. Others seem almost excited to fire their guns — for them the conflict is jihad, a badge of honor. We sat with one rebel marksman as he followed government soldiers through his scope and laughed as he shot at them. “My throat is full of victims,” he said.

But every couple of streets in Aleppo is under the watch of a different brigade, and while they sometimes work together, they are just as often at odds. I have seen one brigade lay down covering fire to allow another group to retrieve the dead body of one of its fighters, only to see the same two factions scream at each other later in the day and refuse to cooperate in a battle that did not benefit them both. I have met some members of the Free Syria Army who prefer to enter Aleppo illegally rather than go through the gate held by the Northern Storm Brigade, a strict Islamist group under the umbrella of the F.S.A. “They’re not our guys,” one explained.

In addition to great mistrust, there is a general lack of leadership. The opposition coalition in exile, the National Syrian Council, debates from Istanbul but gets no respect from the fighters on the ground. Last month, the leader of the F.S.A., Riad al-Assad, announced that he was moving his headquarters to Syria in an attempt to unify the different battalions under his watch, but rumors abound that he remains in Turkey. Other leaders who have tried to command respect are defectors from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and they are not often trusted.

Many of the rebels are fighting for a noble cause, and have no motive beyond protecting their homes and families. But it is hard to pick them apart from those who seek to take advantage of the chaos to transform Syria into a Shariah-based fundamentalist state. In Aleppo, I heard Salafi jihadists talk of slaying the minority Alawites, and call for both the immediate support of America, and its immediate demise. These extremist groups are getting weapons from Saudi Arabia and Qatar already; they are not groups that the West would choose to arm. Compared with them, it is not clear that Mr. Assad is the bigger foe.

It would be an error for the United States and the European Union to supply arms to the rebels or intervene on the ground. No one would be happier to see America mired in the country than Iran, which sees a chaotic Syria as the next best thing to an allied Syria.

The most the West can do is impose a no-fly zone under the auspices of NATO to ground the government’s air force. This would level the playing field, giving the rebels space to try to form a more unified leadership near the Turkish border, while preventing the slaughter of civilians and the destruction of more cities like Aleppo. Since the rebels took over an air defense base near the city last week, this seems to be an ever more feasible option. But it won’t be easy: no-fly zones are hugely expensive, and Syria is no Libya; its air defense system is far more sophisticated.

And even with a no-fly zone, it’s hard to see a way out of this quagmire. Turkey has been in discussions with the rebels and the government about the possibility of beginning a peace process, but it seems unlikely at this point that the rebels will stop until they have taken Damascus.

So for all the horrors on the ground, it seems almost impossible that the United States and Europe can do much to help while the future is so blurred and so bleak. As President Bill Clinton once said, “Where our values and our interests are at stake, and where we can make a difference, we must act.”

Despite what I have witnessed, I am not convinced we can in Syria.

Benjamin Hall is a freelance journalist who writes on conflict and the Middle East.

Military intervention in Syria: Time to act
OUR foreign editor explains why, despite the huge risks involved, the time has come for the West and the Arabs to intervene in Syria
Oct 20th 2012 | Economist


Turkey calls on major powers to intervene in Syria
19 Oct 2012 , The Guardian

Turkey has called on the US, Britain and other leading countries to take immediate action to intervene in Syria to prevent a looming humanitarian “disaster” that it says threatens the lives of millions of internally displaced people and refugees as winter approaches and could soon ignite a region-wide conflagration. Appealing to the […]

A Syrian preacher: The charm of telesalafism
An influential rebel preacher who needs to tone things down
Oct 20th 2012 | BEIRUT | Economist

NOT so long ago, Sheikh Adnan al-Arour seemed like a gift to the Syrian regime. Keen to discredit the peaceful protesters who came out in March 2011, state media portrayed the grey-bearded preacher, an exiled dissident whose fiery blasts beam across two Saudi-owned Salafist satellite channels, as a bigoted ghoul.

Especially damning was footage in which the sheikh rose, shook a warning finger at the camera and vowed to “grind the flesh” of pro-regime Alawites and “feed it to the dogs”. The government gleefully dubbed its foes “Araeer”, a taunting plural form of Mr Arour’s name, insinuating they were just nasty Sunni chauvinists out to destroy Syria’s multi-sectarian harmony.

But as Syria’s misery has ground on, sectarian fault lines have inexorably widened. Mr Arour’s views, once widely dismissed as extreme, now look closer to the mainstream, at least among the three-quarters of Syrians who are Sunni Muslims.The sheikh’s recent return to the rebel-held swathe of northern Syria, where he starred at a rare gathering of commanders from rebel military councils, showed how popular he is among the fighters. Yet it is not just the surge in religiosity among Syrian Sunnis that gives him his cachet. Mr Arour has been a vociferous and effective fund-raiser in the Gulf.

Rather than back the most extreme of the groups, Mr Arour has now paired up with Mustafa Sheikh, a secular-leaning leader of the Free Syrian Army, and has spoken of a need to channel funding through military councils in order to reduce rivalry among the myriad rebel groups. Criticising the involvement of foreign jihadists, he has also denounced suicide-bombings as criminal. And it has been claimed that his blood-curdling video threat to Alawites, who comprise the core of the Assad regime’s support, is often taken out of context, since he directed his meat-grinder rant only at those Alawites who were actively suppressing the revolt; any of them who stayed neutral, he insisted, should be protected as equal citizens. Reassuring?

Syria’s Salafists: Getting stronger?
Salafists are on the rise but have not dominated the opposition—so far
Oct 20th 2012 | ANTAKYA AND BEIRUT – Economist

….Salafists have been on the rise in Syria since the start of the year, when Jabhat al-Nusra (The Support Front) presented itself. The group, which sees Syria’s struggle as part of a global jihad, is the only one explicitly recognised by al-Qaeda. It marks itself out with suicide-bombings that often cause civilian casualties and has a slick media operation. With its forces on the front line in the raging battle for Aleppo, Syria’s second city, its impact is getting stronger.

Ahrar al-Sham (Freemen of Greater Syria) is another slightly more moderate Salafist network, operating mainly in the north-west province of Idleb. Like Jabhat al-Nusra, it wants to impose a strict Islamist state and sees the fight in Syria as a sectarian battle of Sunni Muslims versus Alawites, the esoteric Shia offshoot to which the Assads belong. The two groups’ numbers are probably relatively small. Whereas Mr Assad’s regime encouraged the flow of jihadists into Iraq to kill Americans after the invasion in 2003, it has generally stamped on extremists. But jihadists are a minority within the Salafist trend; most Salafists are of a milder bent.

“Rebel ranks are drawn disproportionately from poor, conservative areas where Salafism has resonance,” says Noah Bonsey, an author of a recent report by the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based lobby, on jihadists in Syria. He thinks the regime’s reliance on Alawite soldiers and on thugs known as the shabiha, as well as the support of Shia powers, including Iran and Hizbullah, a Lebanese Shia party-cum-militia, has helped to spread the Salafist idea that the uprising is really a struggle for Sunni dominance…..

2 Zarqawi cousins detained in Jordan after fighting in Syria
By Bill Roggio October 18, 201 Long Wars Journal

Two cousins of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the slain leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, were arrested by Jordanian security forces as they returned from waging jihad in Syria.

The two cousins, Zayed Sweiti and Firas Khalailah, were detained by Jordanian border guards after spending five months in Syria, Mohammad Shalabi, a Salafist who is also known as Abu Sayyaf, told AFP.

“A third jihadist, Mohammad Najmi, was also arrested with Sweiti and Khalailah. The three men decided to return to Jordan because there was no fighting against Syrian regime troops in the area the were in,” Shalabi told the news agency. “The intelligence department is currently interrogating them.”

The report of the capture of the three jihadists takes place as the US has stepped up support for the Jordanian government as the situation in neighboring Syria deteriorates…..

Al Nusrah backed by radical Jordanian cleric

The Al Nusrah Front has been backed by known radical Islamist clerics with ties to al Qaeda. In May, Abu Muhammad al Tahawi, a Salafist Jordanian cleric who has encouraged jihadists to fight in Iraq and elsewhere and who is close to Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, Zarqawi’s mentor, released a statement backing Al Nusrah.

Al Tahawi’s lengthy statement, which is titled “Supporting the Victory of the Al Nusrah Front,” was posted on jihadist forums and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. In the statement, al Tahawi said that it was an obligation for Muslims to fight in Syria, and accused NATO, the UN, Arab regimes, and the media of backing Assad. He also praised suicide attacks, and said jihadists will expel the West, Israel, and Arab regimes from “Muslim lands.”

“The people who wrapped explosive belts around themselves, on their bellies, and
tore apart the idol of the era America and put its nose in the dirt of defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan, and very soon in the Levant, will put down the nose of the Nusayris [Alawhites], the daughter of Zionism, and extirpate them from the heart of Muslim land,” al Tahawi said….

Hezbollah Hedges Its Bets on Assad.”Thank you very much,Giorgio Cafiero
(650) 799-1080

Syria as dress rehearsal: Securing WMD in midst of civil war
By Bennett Ramberg OCTOBER 19, 2012

As Syria’s civil war spirals into mounting violence, the Assad regime’s chemical weapons stockpile is generating increased anxiety throughout the Middle East and beyond. Taking precautionary measures, the United States has reportedly placed 150 “planners and other specialists” in Jordan to work on contingencies — including the chemical weapons threat.

As odd as it may seem, however, we are lucky that Syria’s chemical stockpile marks Damascus’s most serious weapons of mass destruction risk. Had Israel not bombed the country’s weapons reactor in 2007, the embattled nation — and the rest of us – could have been staring at the globe’s first civil war with a nuclear dimension.

Consider the domestic and international panic that could ensue if rebel factions, terrorists, government insiders or looters in civil war got control of nu

Understanding the Situation in Syria
By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi & Oskar Svadkovskyon 7.19.12
Minority numbers aren’t adding up for Bashar Assad’s defenses.

It’s become an article of faith among policy makers and analysts in the West that Syria is a nation of minorities. Various sources put the share of non-Sunni Muslim minorities at around one quarter of the population. These minorities are believed to constitute the bulk of the support base of the Syrian regime. Some ventured as far as to suggest that the regime was deliberately stoking sectarian tensions with the massacres in Houla and Qubeir in order to consolidate its minority support base.

The commonly accepted percentages of Syrian minorities are: Alawites and Shia — 13%, Christians — 10%, and Druze — 3%. Syria, however, does not collect or publish data related to the sectarian composition of its population and trying to track the origin of common estimates usually leads nowhere.

For example, all observers commenting on Syria believe that Syrian Druze live primarily in Jabal al Druze and constitute 3% of the Syrian population. This claim, however, does not square with the results of Syria’s last population census. According to the census, in 2004 the population of the province of Sweida, where Jabal al Druze is located, had only 313,231 inhabitants against 17,920,844 of the total population of Syria. This makes for 1.7% and not 3% of the population. On top of this,…

Syrian government airstrikes hit the opposition controlled town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province killing at least 44 people and leaving massive destruction on Thursday. The opposition secured the town last week after intense fighting, and had begun providing basic services for residents. Maaret al-Numan is located on a strategic highway and supply route connecting Damascus and Aleppo. A missile hit a residential area, damaging four buildings, four homes, and a mosque. Over 20 children were reported to have been killed in the attack. The strike on Maaret al-Numan signals a shift of government tactics according to some analysts. Rather than trying to win back territory gained by the opposition and the “hearts of the people,” the regime is merely destroying and abandoning towns so that the population will resent the opposition.

Turkey and Egypt Seek Alliance Amid Upheaval of Arab Spring
By Tim Arango | The New York Times

Lebanon and Syria: The strife spreads
Oct 19th 2012, Economist
A bomb blast in Beirut kills eight people

Comments (231)

Pages: « 1 2 3 4 [5] Show All

201. Albo said:

I think AIG can do without your cheerleading, SL, but the punches are easily countered so far, thank you.

Still the contradiction is appreciated, AIG.

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October 23rd, 2012, 3:42 pm


202. AIG said:


“The reason why I was apolitical, beyond my living abroad (but I still have the citizenship), is that I clearly understood I shouldn’t mess with politics. Most Syrians were likeminded, and if you lived there you you’d know. People didn’t want to get in trouble, regardless of class.
So you mischaracterized what I was saying: it was not selfishness, and if it was most Syrians could have been described as selfish as well.”

Why did you come to the conclusion that you shouldn’t mess with politics? Because otherwise harm might come to you? So basically your excuse is cowardice. Not much better than being selfish though I am sure it was a combination of both.

And the poor Syrians who were barely putting food on the table were not selfish. They did not have the time or the energy to be political. It is the fraction that is better off, that faction that you belong to that has to do that, that has the responsibility to do that.

Just think how ridiculous your argument is though. If an Islamist government comes to power and is as tyrannical as the Assads, what would you say about people that accepted this government with the excuse that they “clearly understood I shouldn’t mess with politics”. Would you still hold the same view if an Islamist government is in power? I think not as the fact of the matter is that you have decided to indeed “mess with politics”. So what does it say that you held this view about an Assad government?

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October 23rd, 2012, 3:45 pm


204. Syrialover said:

ALBO #190,

You have freedoms, opportunities and options beyond the wildest dreams of people living in Syria, and yet seem to think that those inside do not deserve the same.

You don’t know what will improve people’s lots. And you apparently don’t know what is driving Syrians to make desperate sacrifices and attracting the support of the free world.

I suggest you start looking more closely at the messages and aspirations of Syrians and Asad’s response because it is going to hit you squarely on the jaw next time you make a visit.

For those who have real human and material stakes in Syria, not just distant emotional ties, you are fishing in very shallow waters with earplugs in.

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October 23rd, 2012, 3:46 pm


205. habib said:

Angry Arab said it well:

Joshua Landis wants missiles
So Joshua Landis, using his long-standing military expertise obtained in graduate studies of the Middle East, calls on the US government to supply the Free Syrian Army gangs and Al-Qa`idah affiliates with anti-aircraft missiles. I read this and thought: have you noticed this rule about the Syrian conflict? The most vocal advocates of the armed Syrian opposition gangs in the West (aside from Zionists) are those writers and academics who were for years apologists for the Syrian regime? I mean, you really can go one-by-one and find that to be true. Is this guilt? Or is this a silly attempt to whitewash one’s own record?

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October 23rd, 2012, 3:50 pm


206. Syrialover said:

ALBO (#194),

Oh I’m sure AIG doesn’t mind my cheerleading. All competitors like to hear the roar of the crowd.

His punches have NOT been countered. ZOO appears to be out for the count and Mina is reeling and rambling.

And sorry Albo, so far AIG has dodged your jabs and come back with firmer ones.

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October 23rd, 2012, 3:53 pm


207. habib said:

88. Syrialover

Peaceful transition. Forget everything about revenge and prosecution, that won’t get you anywhere.

In a perfect world there should be Scandinavian style democracy. But hell, that isn’t even found in southern Europe. So we have to be realistic.

And realistically, I think the only viable outcome is secession. I’m not for it, but the way both sides are acting, they won’t be able to live together any more.

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October 23rd, 2012, 3:56 pm


208. AIG said:


I have no interest in peace with people like you. If you cheer your fellow countrymen being bombed and killed, what is a signature on a piece of paper that you signed worth? Nothing at all. That is why I for years have been saying that Israel should only sign a peace agreement with a democratic and free Syria and never with Assad. The only peace agreement that is worth anything is one which a majority of the Syrian people freely supports and not some dictator tells them to accept.

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October 23rd, 2012, 3:56 pm


209. Tara said:

And the Copt pretending to be a Sunni is still hanging around SC calling everyone thugs and backward except the real thugs.

Mina, you need to learn a lesson. There is nothing wrong being a Copt. There is much wrong in misrepresenting yourself to advance your political view. One really loses all respect to people who
resort to this.

I could not resist again taunting you for this. I think the best solution for you if you do not want to participate in a Mali comment is to come back under a new name.

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October 23rd, 2012, 3:57 pm


210. Jasmine said:

Albo 190
I share with you the frustration and anger about what is happening in Syria,nevertheless IMHO,there are numerous factors which brought the country to this stage but my criticism is carrying the flag of Arab ism for too long without looking after own interest has done a lot of damage to the country.
As an expat,I don’t think that we can influence the political life in Syria and we will never be taken seriously ,no matter how much wisdom or vision we have,and we will never be able to contribute as much as we like to.
Democracy doesn’t happen in a flick of a switch,till now in the west they are not sure if they ever will be able to achieve it.
pain make patience a habit,and being pragmatist is the only way of finding a way out,accepting the fact that this revolution was build on revenge will lead every one to think about :what next?
I am not trying to lecture or preach,I am just in pain.

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October 23rd, 2012, 3:57 pm


211. Michal said:

I fully support your opinion -Assad’s airforce should be stopped. I am happy you came to this conclusion.
The agony of the regime is long and painful, massacres are terrible, I hope it will end soon.

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October 23rd, 2012, 4:00 pm


212. Syrialover said:

HABIB #200

I want transition and I want it now.

But tragically, Assad has gone to lengths nobody imagined possible to make sure it couldn’t be peaceful.

The world has learnt a lot about the possibilities of reconciliation and recovery. And I’m confident Syrians have it in them as much as anyone else.

But first, clean out the virus (Assad).

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October 23rd, 2012, 4:02 pm


213. Mina said:

You attack me without even knowing me or my positions, so do not expect my respect or sympathy. As I have repeated here several time, I am not Syrian, I have many Syrian friends inside and outside Syria, and I call for elections with international monitoring since the very first demo in the Hamidiyye (shortly after Daraa). But did the armed rebels and their Gulf mentors ever let a possibility for this to be even put on the table?

It’s not because I read news about Egypt and criticize the MBs that I am a Copt. You should grow up a little and fight this narcissism that makes you believe that as a Syrian you should feel concerned only with Syria and with your close relatives.

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October 23rd, 2012, 4:06 pm


214. Syrialover said:

TARA #202

My problem with Mina is not sectarian.

It is that she appears to dismiss absolutely everything and everyone in the Middle East as a mess and failure beneath contempt.

Consistently, relentlessly. Nothing happening in the region ever receives a comment of approval or support, just sneers and negativity all round on everything.

I don’t understand how she can bear to focus on the place and visit SC, the whole region and its people are such a disastrous rubbish zone in her mind.

Afterthought: Does she wear a mask to hide her thoughts when she is with her Syrian friends and visiting Syria? Or do they wear a mask to hide their opinions of her?

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October 23rd, 2012, 4:13 pm


215. Tara said:


The only concern Mina has is for the Christians in the ME. No one else matters in her book. The only praise she gives is to Persia. Just observe.

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October 23rd, 2012, 4:23 pm


216. Syrialover said:

TARA,( ref. Mina #206)

You naughty narcissist you for caring about Syria on Syria Comment!

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October 23rd, 2012, 4:25 pm


217. Albo said:

“Why did you come to the conclusion that you shouldn’t mess with politics? Because otherwise harm might come to you? So basically your excuse is cowardice. Not much better than being selfish though I am sure it was a combination of both.”

Cowardice? Remember the wall of fear? If I was a coward, then I was barely alone or distinguished in that. I’m interested to know how someone as brave as you deal with a Leviathan, though, after you’re done calling other cowards. For your information, a lot of Syrians of all stripes are still refusing to fight and get involved, and many of those who do are guided by misplaced religiosity.

“Just think how ridiculous your argument is though. If an Islamist government comes to power and is as tyrannical as the Assads, what would you say about people that accepted this government with the excuse that they “clearly understood I shouldn’t mess with politics”. Would you still hold the same view if an Islamist government is in power? I think not as the fact of the matter is that you have decided to indeed “mess with politics”. So what does it say that you held this view about an Assad government?”

You don’t understand do you. If an islamist government comes to power, it will be generally bad but much worse for several groups in Syria, slightly less than 1/3 of its population to be precise. I’m “messing with politics” online on an american blog, comfortably sitten behind my computer in a first world country, like most of us. Are you out of your mind?
But now I think I know why you just say that, I think you’re still making wild assumptions as you did in our first exchanges. For your information, I do not contribute one inch to the events unfolding in Syria. I’m still apolitical, just reflecting and discussing as before. If islamists come to power, I expect it will be after such violence that most of the other communities will flee, kind of what happened in Turkey; or the country will more likely break up, so your point is moot.

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October 23rd, 2012, 4:26 pm


218. Tara said:


Guilty as charged!

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October 23rd, 2012, 4:29 pm


219. Tara said:


I just watched al Jazeera. It looks like Hamad and Moza were well received in Gaza and they are pretty liked by the Palestinians. What not to like anyhow with their philanthropic contributions to rebuild Gaza. I think if Batta and Athma ever go to Gaza, they will be thrown with stones and rotten tomatoes after the mayham they caused in Yarmuk refugee camp.

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October 23rd, 2012, 4:39 pm


220. Albo said:


You have freedoms, opportunities and options beyond the wildest dreams of people living in Syria, and yet seem to think that those inside do not deserve the same.

You don’t know what will improve people’s lots. And you apparently don’t know what is driving Syrians to make desperate sacrifices and attracting the support of the free world.”

Open your eyes SL, there exists many democracies in poor, barely literate countries, and they’re all trainwrecks. Take a closer look at some African countries, at India where half of the children are malnourrished. In authoritarian China, hunger has disappeared and shanty towns are non-existent.

There isn’t some miracle about democracy and liberal values, and this is my response to MICHAL as well: historically, functional democracies emerge in countries where a large enough middle class has been formed, and where the population has been adequately politicized. I don’t think both conditions were fulfilled in Syria, and if you think otherwise I want you to show me your reasons to think so.

Absent these, most democracies don’t really improve people’s lives. And worse, don’t necessarily prepare a better future.

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October 23rd, 2012, 4:42 pm


221. Visitor said:

Today, I decided to be nice.

I brought to the idol worshipers on this site a little present.

This has nothing to do with halloween or anything like that. It is just that I located your ‘god’ in order for you to keep expressing your adoration just in time before your present ‘god’ retires,

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October 23rd, 2012, 5:07 pm


222. Michal said:

@ 213. “Open your eyes SL, there exists many democracies in poor, barely literate countries, and they’re all trainwrecks. Take a closer look at some African countries, at India where half of the children are malnourrished. In authoritarian China, hunger has disappeared and shanty towns are non-existent.”

It is absolutely not true that shanty towns are nonexistent in China. See the UN statistics. Using datan.un, 30% of Chinese urban population lives in what is defined by the UN as a slum, ie. missing basic sanitation, with inadequate space and with non-durable buildings. How can you make claims about India and its poverty and ignore the same going on in China? I don’t know why are you spouting such utter nonsense. Are you merely ignorant or do you have an agenda?

“There isn’t some miracle about democracy and liberal values, and this is my response to MICHAL as well: historically, functional democracies emerge in countries where a large enough middle class has been formed, and where the population has been adequately politicized. I don’t think both conditions were fulfilled in Syria, and if you think otherwise I want you to show me your reasons to think so.”

Ah, and if a dictatorship does not permit the creation of a large enough middle class, then the people should just continue to suffer under it. If the dictatorship does not permit the creation of a sufficiently democratised civil society, then the same should apply? What an enormously corrupt logic.

What kind of wealth constitutes middle class anyway? What is a sufficient size?

There is working democracy in Ghana and I have significant doubts on whether Ghana is somehow terribly more backwards than Syria.

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October 23rd, 2012, 5:08 pm


223. Syrialover said:

ALBO #197,

You are using the lite and shorthand version of “democracy”.

In doing so, you have no idea what this is all about. No idea at all.

My eyes are open much, muuch wider than yours.

One of the bottom lines of “democracy” is not just liberal values. It is that the State cannot massacre citizens, disappear and torture them by the thousands and use military force to smash up infrastructure. It is institutionally impossible.

And your country examples are very weak. (For example, I am astonished at your comment on China not having shanty towns! They are there, under your feet as you walk around, workers living in concrete tunnels with their children left behind in dirt poor villages. Read up on it)

I repeat: You have freedoms, opportunities and options beyond the wildest dreams of people living in Syria, and yet seem to assume that those inside do not want and deserve the same.

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October 23rd, 2012, 5:10 pm


224. Observer said:

ZOO I have pointed out the mistakes of the regime one by one and I am not sure that I did not cover all of them.

AIG is right that the only response is to point the finger elsewhere and it could be in Libya or Mali or Syria. It is NEVER EVER THE FAULT OF THE REGIME. This is because you and your Alawi Adoring News Network ( to which you are fully entitled to have along with any state you want living in freedom and dignity and equality ) have had one mantra characterized by abject worship of the current regime and complete denial of the reality of its methods and mentality.

I challenge you to give us the number of demonstrations that were dispersed by tear gas or cordons of police especially if they were in any way shape or form not entirely peaceful.

I challenge you to show me demonstrations against the regime that were not treated with brutality. I challenge you to show me a real end to the state of emergency and I challenge you to show us where are the so called loyal opposition like Khaier and his colleagues after their return from China.

I challenge you show us the visits by the ICRC to the prisons and the state of the detainees there and to show us that anyone who was detained got a fair hearing in front of a judge without 72 hours of his/her arrest as it is stipulated by the constitution and after the so called abolition of the state of emergency.

I challenge to show us one session of the parliament bringing in any minister for questioniong and I challenge you to show us the results of the so called inquiries into the death of Mughnyah and of the bombing of the facility in the North in 07 and of the “mistakes” that your Prethident acknowledged after the SAA forces were humiliated into leaving Lebanaon in disgrace and in their shabby trucks filled to the brim with stolen goods without even a modicum of covering them with tarp.

As for the discourse of the minorities I have said this many times:
1. This is proof beyond proof that there is no such thing as a Syrian National Identity. The minoriites fearing Sunnis wanted a secular state and yet all of a sudden they do wish to remain defined as a minority first and Syrian second. This is from those that gave us Arab and Syrian Nationalism.
2. All of the minorities want the Sunni majority to be secular while they retain their minority special status. Either you are Syrian first and foremost or you are not. It is an oxymoron to have minorities declare that they are Syrian but want to be Minority first.

So ZOO thinks that the prediction of the quick demise remain unrealized gives
a) justification to the repression
b) fits the narrative of a world wide war on the regime
c) means a victory for the regime

are pure hogwash.
WHo would have predicted that people would revolt against a regime that is one of the most brutal on the face of the earth with a pervasive security services of about 17 different branches?


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October 23rd, 2012, 5:12 pm


225. Syrialover said:

Stay in the ring OBSERVER (#217).

You are boxing swift and powerful. A roar of cheers!

But I think ZOO has been carried off on a stretcher.

Not that we mind. He routinely accounts for 30% of the posts here by number and well over 50% by length.

Room for some decent discussion at last.

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October 23rd, 2012, 5:21 pm


226. Syrialover said:


Look, your front line is collapsing. Where are you when needed by your collaborators/colleagues?

I hope you will at least see that ZOO gets some medical (psychological) support.

It wasn’t up to much, but I think he gave all he had before going down.

Mina is proving little use as you can see.

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October 23rd, 2012, 5:32 pm


227. Albo said:

First of all to Michal and SL let me rectify what I said, I’m not in the business of making stuff up, but my memory failed me on this one.

UN-Habitat says “China’s urban population living in slums fell from 37.3 percent in 2000 to 28.2 percent today; [2010]”

I was thinking of a prize China received (I think by the same institution), and for the moment I couldn’t find you the article again. But it was praising China for having fought shanty towns the most efficiently worldwide. I had this headline in mind.
In fact if you look again at the figures I just quoted, you must remember that in those ten years, urban population there augmented by 200 millions. That the slum population decreased as a percentage with such urbanization rates unabated is an achievement unparalleled in the developping world, and I think the prize was about China not having *new* shanty towns built, hence the mistake. Sorry.

But as for my point, yes China is FAR ahead of democratic India in most development metrics, and I have ample (and sourced!) info to back that claim. So the point still stands.

Syria’s middle class was growing, but not fast enough. And inequality rose, particularly for the rural populations it was aggravated by the droughts. So yes overall, this wasn’t working.
But it’s still not a reason to have your country, with all its flaws, go through an Iraqi or Lebanese process. Whatever was wrong about economic conditions in Syria pale in comparison, as we’re witnessing now. I’m absolutly against your assertion that we should have envied Ghana: GDP per head PPP
Ghana 2011: 1,884 VS Syria 2010: 5,262 (World Bank)

HDI score 2010: Syria 0.632/ Ghana 0.541

Intentional Homicide rates (before the events, doesn’t count war casualties) : Syria/Ghana: 2.3/15.7 per 100000 inhabitants.

Syria Lover:
“It is that the State cannot massacre citizens, disappear and torture them by the thousands and use military force to smash up infrastructure. It is institutionally impossible.”

Of course it should never do that, but in wars all bets are off. Even if you say it’s 100% the regime fault, that’s still war, not normal conditions and everyone has to gauge the opportunity of their actions, including setting up a rebel force and fighting an intense guerilla war.

Be careful not to take a punch in your eye if its too wide open (I know this wasn’t all that necessary but since you insist 😉 )

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October 23rd, 2012, 5:55 pm


228. Tara said:

The day ended in Syria with 220 martyred. Among them 10 women and 20 children jihadists…
New post is on.

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October 23rd, 2012, 6:49 pm


229. AIG said:


Your thinking is of course circular:
1) There should be no democracy in Syria because of the economic situation
2) Therefore, Assad should stay in power
3) But Assad has not improved the economic situation in Syria
4) Therefore go to 1

Your argument would have had some merit if Assad had a proven track record of sustained economic improvement at the 10% growth level like China. But he hasn’t. So your “economic” excuse is just that, an excuse. Democracy is not at a miracle cure. But Assad is certainly a very bad disease. The choice is obvious.

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October 23rd, 2012, 7:20 pm


230. Weitere Rückschläge für die westliche Wertegemeinschaft an der syrischen Front « Mein Parteibuch Zweitblog said:

[…] Kriegsfront Syrien in einer Sackgasse. Selbst Joshua Landis, einer der übelsten sektiererischen Kriegspropagandisten der westlichen Wertegemeinschaft, hat inzwischen eingestanden, dass das US-Konzept, in Syrien über […]

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January 4th, 2013, 2:50 am


231. Comment on CNAS policy brief “Syria’s hard landing” by Dr. Marc Lynch | jonasrenz said:

[…] The debate over the right approach to the tragedy that is unfolding in Syria has sharply polarized the foreign policy community. In the past months, advocates of stronger US involvement seemed irreconcilably opposed to proponents of non-involvement—a rift that divides academia, political analysts, Capitol Hill and even the national security team of President Obama. However, as the fighting escalates, the two sides appeared to hesitantly converge on some aspects. Critics of intervention might have noted that the option of a Libya-style bombing campaign has widely disappeared from the discourse. At the same time, even proponents of a hands-off approach grudgingly concede that a workable strategy to alleviate the suffering must include some military elements. […]

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February 26th, 2013, 3:04 pm


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