The US Sees Russia as the Weak Link in Support for Assad – But is it?

Syrian opposition leaders are visiting Russia shortly after Russia announced that it will dock warships in Syria. Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of State, explains (below) why he believes that Russia is reassessing its commitment to Assad because it no longer believes that Assad can subdue the rebellion. SNC leader, Abdelbaset Sieda, says that after talks with Russia’s foreign minister he sees “no change” in Moscow’s stance toward Syrian President Bashar al Assad.  Russia circulated among U.N. Security Council members early Wednesday a draft resolution to extend a U.N. mission in Syria for three months. Critics say this is so it can shift focus from monitoring a non-existent truce to securing a political solution to the conflict, as violent crackdown left more deaths across the country. Meanwhile, Western Powers to Circulate UN Chapter 7 Resolution on Syria.

From the AFP: An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on July 10, 2012 allegedly shows a tank from forces loyal to the Syrian government being hit by a projectile in the town of Izaz, outside of Aleppo and on the Turkish-Syrian border. We don’t know whether the tank was destroyed or if this anti-tank weapon is a RPG or something new being supplied by western companies through the Gulf countries.

Stratfor’s Bokhari and Bella remind us why a Sunni win in Syria is likely to impact the balance of power in Iraq more perhaps than in Lebanon.  After all, the Sunni insurgency in Iraq is active and believes it can gain politically through violence against the Shia-dominated government. If the Sunni insurgency in Syria takes power, it may be willing to support the Iraqi Sunnis, particularly if Saudi and the Gulf states fund Jihad there in a continuing effort to limit Iran’s influence in the region and encourage regime-change in Tehran.

Rami Makhlouf

Release Rami Makhlouf: Buying Syria One Bank at a Time – Wikileaks

Wikileaks has published Rami Makhlouf statements of syp 135 million stock purchases through his Cham Capital, which is owned by his Ramak Group. This is Jan 2011 before the revolt and a small sum. All the same, the wikileaks allows others to track his money moves.


Russia Increases its troops level in Armenia to ‘divisional strenght’, in a clear message to Erdogan
by Moon of Alabama

“… Turkey depends on natural gas imports from Russia and Iran and a reminder on that may be a way to move Erdogan away from supporting the insurgents. Russia also has troops in Armenia, another neighbor to which Turkey is rather hostile, and is said to increase its troop size there to divisional strength. (The Armenia – Azerbaijan conflict is heating up and, with western support for Azerbaijan, may become one of the hot spots if the conflict over Syria or Iran escalates.) The Russian troop increase and the next two items seem intended to keep any western power away from stupid ideas….”

Considering a Sunni Regime in Syria | Stratfor
July 10, 2012 | Stratfor By Reva Bhalla and Kamran Bokhari

As one astute observer of the Syrian conflict explained, the al Assad regime is like a melting block of ice. The Alawite core of the block is frozen intact because the minorities fear the consequences of losing power to a Sunni majority. We have not yet seen the mass defections and breakdown in command and control within the military that would suggest that large chunks of this block are breaking off. But the Sunni patronage networks around that core that keep the state machinery running are slowly starting to melt. The more this block melts, the more fragile it becomes and the more likely we are to see cracks form closer and closer to the center. At that point, the al Assad regime will become highly prone to a palace coup scenario….

A Revival of the Mesopotamian Battleground?

It is safe to assume that Syria, between the fall of the Alawite regime and the turbulent emergence of a new, Sunni-empowered regime, would experience an interregnum defined by considerable chaos. Amid the sectarian disorder, a generation would remain of battle-hardened and ideologically driven militants belonging to Sunni nationalist and transnational jihadist camps who in the past decade have fought against regimes in Baghdad and Damascus. These jihadists harbor expectations that they will be able to aid their struggling allies in Iraq if they gain enough operating space in Syria. Under these circumstances, it is easy to imagine a revived militant flow into Iraq, and this time under much looser control.

Thus, the regional campaign against Iran is unlikely to end in Syria. Should Sunnis gain the upper hand in Syria, the Shiite-led bloc in Lebanon (led by Hezbollah and its allies) will likely lose its dominant status. Turkish, Saudi and Qatari backing for Sunnis in the Levant and the rise of Islamists in the Arab states will be focused on creating a more formidable bulwark against Iran and its Arab Shiite allies.

The most important battleground to watch in this regard will be Iraq. There are a number of regional stakeholders who are not satisfied with Baghdad’s Iranian-backed Shiite government. There also likely will be a healthy Sunni militant flow to draw from the Syrian crisis. These militants will not only need to be kept occupied so that they do not return home to cause trouble, but they can also serve a strategic purpose in reviving the campaign of marginalized Sunnis against Shiite domination. Iran may feel comfortable in Iraq now, but the domino effect from Syria could place Iran back on the defensive in Iraq, which has the potential to re-emerge as the main arena for the broader Arab Sunni versus Persian Shiite struggle for regional influence.

Syria: portrait of a town divided and gripped by civil war
Linking the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo, Atarib is a vital supply line for whosoever controls it in Syria. Ruth Sherlock meets some of the residents who have suffered.
By Ruth Sherlock, Atarib – Telegraph

Why Syria Could Turn Into 1990s Algeria
by Erica Chenoweth on July 3, 2012, in Violence,War

What’s Iran doing with Turkish gold?

July 9, 2012, By Humay Guliyeva and Pan Kwan Yuk

That is the question beyondbrics found itself asking after it had a look at Turkey’s latest trade figures.

According to data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), Turkey’s trade with Iran in May rose a whopping 513.2 per cent to hit $1.7bn. Of this, gold exports to its eastern neighbour accounted for the bulk of the increase. Nearly $1.4bn worth of gold was exported to Iran, accounting for 84 per cent of Turkey’s trade with the country.

So what’s going on?

In a nutshell – sanctions and oil.

In recent months, western powers, notably the US and the European Union, have tightened financial sanctions on the Islamic regime in an attempt to force Iran to scale back or halt its efforts to enrich uranium.

In March, Iran was cut off from from Swift, the global payments network, effectively blocking the country from performing any international financial transactions.

With Tehran struggling to repatriate the hard currency it earns from crude oil exports – its main foreign currency earner and the economic lifeblood of the country – Iran has began accepting alternative means of payments – including gold, renminbi and rupees, for oil in an attempt to skirt international sanctions and pay for its soaring food costs.

“Iran is very keen to increase the share of gold in its total reserves,” says Gokhan Aksu, vice chairman of Istanbul Gold Refinery, one of Turkey’s biggest gold firms. “You can always transfer gold into cash without losing value.”

Turkey’s gold exports to Iran are part of the picture. As TurkStat itself noted, the gold exports were for “non-monetary purpose exportation”. Translation: they were sent in place of dollars for oil.

Iran furnishes about 40 percent of Turkey’s oil, making it the largest single supplier, according to Turkey’s energy ministry. While Turkey has sharply reduced its oil imports from Iran as a result of pressure from the US and the EU, it is unlikely to cut this to zero. The country pays about $6 a barrel less for Iranian oil than Brent crude, according to a recent Goldman Sachs report.

According to Ugur Gurses, an economic and financial columnist for the Turkish daily Radikal, Turkey exported 58 tonnes of gold to Iran between March and May this year alone.

“I saw the surge back in March, when gold exports increased by 36 times compared to March of 2011,” Gurses told beyondbrics. “I waited to see if the trend would evolve. Effectively, Iran converted $3bn of its reserves into gold through financial operations with Turkey, bypassing sanctions.”

Iran’s woes have proved to be a boon to Turkey’s current accounts. Turkey’s trade deficit narrowed by $1.6bn in May, compared to the same period last year. For the year to end of May, the deficit narrowed by $8.3bn, compared to the same period last year.

CNN: Russian views on Syria more nuanced than they may appear

The Russian government shares many of the U.S. concerns about the continuing violence in Syria, but Moscow is reluctant to embrace Washington’s proposals.

Russia sent warships to Syria

10.07.2012 Northern Fleet (NF) destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and three Russian amphibious assault ships left NF Main Base Severomorsk on July 10. The high official from Russian Ministry of Defence told Central Navy Portal.

Three amphibious assault ships transport Marine Corps submits on-board. Baltic Fleet guard frigat Yaroslav Mudry and auxiliary ships, based in Baltiysk, will join Admiral Chabanenko later. According to information available to Central Navy Portal, naval ships move into the Mediterranean Sea, into Syria water area.

À crew member from one of the ships confirmed the information. He also noticed, that the three-months mission in the Mediterranean Sea for Admiral Chabanenko and three Russain amphibious assault ships was planned in advance.

NYTimes Russia-Sends-Warships-on-Maneuvers-Near-Syria 

Russia said on Tuesday that it had dispatched a flotilla of 11 warships to the eastern Mediterranean, some of which would dock in Syria. It would be the largest display of Russian military power in the region since the Syrian conflict began almost 17 months ago. Nearly half of the ships were capable of carrying hundreds of marines. …

But the unusually large size of the force announced on Tuesday was considered a message, not just to the region but also to the United States and other nations supporting the rebels now trying to depose Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

Tartus consists of little more than a floating refueling station and some small barracks. But any strengthened Russian presence there could forestall Western military intervention in Syria. …

Russia’s Mixed Signals Regarding Syria
July 11, 2012 | Stratfor

…So as the al Assad regime’s prospects for survival have become increasingly hazy, Russia has had to adjust its calculus. On one hand, Moscow would prefer to prop up its ally al Assad, or at least the government he has come to represent. On the other hand, Russia has interests in the country that transcend al Assad and the ruling Alawite regime.

Therefore Russia has sent — and will continue to send — mixed signals regarding its intentions with Syria. From hosting Syrian opposition delegations in Moscow to following a weapons moratorium announcement with a large-scale naval deployment to the Mediterranean, Russia is keeping its true intentions hidden.

Moscow’s Marines Head for Syria
The Russians have dispatched a naval task force to Syria. As if the place wasn’t enough of a mess already.
BY MARK KATZ | JULY 10, 2012

Ahmet Davutoglu – Turkey’s Foreign Minister talks to Marc Perelman of France 24: Davutoglu calls on the international community to act more firmly to usher in a transition in Syria without Assad.

Al-Assad and the Alawites
By: Abdullah Al-Otaibi | Asharq Alawsat

…Al-Assad’s marked bias towards his Alawite minority and his family – an attribute which he inherited from his father and which he thinks could be the way for his salvation – may in fact accelerate his downfall. Syria is a country of multiple religions and ideological sects with ethnic and tribal loyalties. Therefore, in view of the blatant Alawi sectarian orientation adopted by the regime, there is a strong endeavor to unify all these variant categories and the Sunni majority to face the regime.

The al-Assad regime is almost over, and now it is only a question of time before the regime’s illusions collapse on its head. If Bashar al-Assad is to find shelter in the outskirts of Tehran or Moscow, his Alawite sect will still remain in Syria. Hence today it is the duty of rational Alawites to side with the people and the country, and announce their complete disavowal of al-Assad’s sectarian and blood-thirsty policies; otherwise the son’s legacy in Syria will be even worse than his father’s.

The future of our Arab republics seems to be full of sectarianism, fractured social loyalties, and the ideologies and organizations of political Islam. However, the future is not promising in terms of development, civilization, awareness and advancement.

Syria’s Deadlock Can Be Broken Only By an Arms Embargo
By: Jonathan Steele | The Guardian

Russia and the west must use their leverage to bring about a ceasefire and halt Syria’s descent into full-scale civil war

As Islamists Gain Influence, Washington Reassesses Who Its Friends Are
By Scott Shane | The New York Times

Long-held beliefs about allies and potential enemies have been upset as the Obama administration navigates the tumultuous events of the Arab Spring.

Syria’s many new friends are a self-interested bunch
The National 21/7/12 – Charles Glass

In France, representatives of the US, Turkey, Britain, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, South Korea, the UN and the rest demonstrated their friendship in a communique as vague as it was biased. The group urged more economic sanctions, humanitarian assistance to victims of violence and “stronger United Nations Security Council action.” It promised punishment for government war criminals, while neglecting to suggest that rebels who violate the Geneva Conventions should receive so much as a parking fine

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: CNN  on the topic of whether Elections are stopping US Intervention in Syria. Is Russia stopping it? Does US support Democracy in Egypt or the Military?

AMANPOUR: Let’s go straight to the heart of the matter. We’ve been seeing signals from Russia over the last 24 hours, at least, that there seems to be some kind of shift, at least publicly, the Russians agreeing to host the Syrian opposition, the Russians saying that they wouldn’t be sending new weapons to Syria and basically a call for Assad to talk to his adversaries.

What do you think that signifies?

BURNS: Well, Christiane, I think it’s apparent that the Russians are now reconsidering whether or not they believe that Bashar al-Assad can stay in power. As long as they believe that he might weather the crisis in Syria, they were supporting him with everything they had, including blocking Security Council resolutions put forward by the U.S. and others.

But since the defection of that senior military officer in Damascus, and the continued ferocity of the opposition in Syria, the Russians appear to be hedging their bets now. As you said, tomorrow there will be a meeting in Moscow with the Russian foreign minister and the leading anti- Assad coalition group.

And the F-130s, the advance military jets that were promised to Syrian Air Force will now not be coming. So the Russians are sending a quite powerful message to Assad that they can’t — that he cannot bank on their support, and I think that’s highly significant.

AMANPOUR: Or, as I explained in the lead-in to you, we had talked yesterday to Dimitri Simes, who I know you know. And let me just play you what he told us about this very relationship.


DIMITRI SIMES, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR THE NATIONAL INTEREST: Russia would not welcome such an intervention; Russia would not approve such an intervention. It would not resist such an intervention and this intervention would not become a major issue in the U.S.-Russian relationship.


AMANPOUR: So, Ambassador, he’s basically saying that he had hosted a top-level meeting, including a Russian delegation. And the very question of intervention was raised, and it was very strongly addressed as he put it. That seems to me a green light now for the U.S., likeminded international capitals, to decided to do what they want to do.

BURNS: Well, President Putin gave a speech this — yesterday morning, I should say, in Moscow, where he was very clear that he felt that there had to be a diplomatic solution, some kind of an agreement between Assad and the opposition as opposed to military intervention. So I would, with respect, I don’t agree with Dimitri Simes.

I think the Russians still would block any kind of planned international military intervention. They’d use their veto in Security Council for that. I just think that Russia is trying to put itself in the driver’s seat to be a potential peacemaker between Assad and the opposition, and they’re trying to preserve their influence.

AMANPOUR: Absolutely. I’m sure that’s all true. But of course, you know better than all that President Putin often says things in public. In fact, many leaders do for domestic consumption.

What he was talking about, Dimitri Simes, was not so much a U.N. Security Council resolution, but a Kosovo-style act. I mean, you were in the Clinton and Bush administrations. You remember when President Clinton went around Russia, intervened in Kosovo, and Russia did not stand in the way. Might not have liked it; Milosevic was much closer of an ally than Assad is.

So is it feasible to say, as Dimitri Simes has, that actually the U.S. and the West is hiding behind Russia, and using that as an alibi to take even stronger measures, even short of intervention?

BURNS: I don’t agree with that. I don’t think so. I think Dimitri’s not correct about that. I do think there is still, in effect, a Russian and Chinese veto.

The Chinese also, as a matter of precedent, don’t want to see United States march into another country to overthrow the regime and second, Christiane, as you know well and you’ve covered on your show, there are really important problems about any kind of military intervention. Libya was relatively easier for a variety of reasons.

Syria, because it’s dense urban warfare would be a very, very difficult undertaking. I think there are a lot of reasons why the United States has been reluctant.

AMANPOUR: How much do you think U.S. presidential elections are playing into this? And let’s be very frank. President Obama has essentially staked his presidency — well, no, even before. He took a position that he wanted to end these American military interventions and adventures. He has done in Iraq. He’s talking about withdrawing from Afghanistan. I mean, it’s on track. He obviously doesn’t want to get into another adventure.

How much are these elections playing into a decision right now?

BURNS: You know, it’s hard to say what’s — what factor the elections are going to play in a specific foreign policy case like Syria. I do think you’re seeing a great deal of caution from the United States.

And, frankly, I think it’s warranted, because Syria, of course, an explosion in Syria or a further problem in Syria caused by a U.S. intervention, would have repercussions for Lebanon, for Jordan and for Israel. So I think there is a premium here to be very cautious as they move forward.

Having said that, obviously the United States would like to see the continuation of efforts by countries like Turkey and Qatar (ph) and Saudi Arabia to put pressure on Assad. I still think the U.S. prefers a scenario where Assad leaves voluntarily rather than he leaves because the U.S. 82nd Airborne has marched into Damascus.

AMANPOUR: All right. But you know that nobody’s going to be marching in anyway, and nobody’s made that suggestion. But you do — you raise an interesting point. You talk about what could be a possible deal for Assad to step down. What do you think the United States should do diplomatically to facilitate Russia’s diplomacy?

BURNS: Well, you know, I think that Russia is a key country here. It obviously has a lot of interest in both Syria and Iran, and those are two key actors, and the Iranians have a lot of influence on Damascus. President Putin, if he chooses to play this, could become, in effect, the lead international diplomat in trying to convince President Assad to leave power, to exit Syria, to go into exile in some third country, perhaps in a deal to be forgiven any possibility of imprisonment or being tried for war crimes.

If President Putin wanted to be the one to make that happen, I think that you’d find a lot of countries supporting him, including possibly the United States and the European countries themselves.

AMANPOUR: Let’s go back to the role of U.S. elections and a more robust effort to find a solution to Syria. You talk about President Putin. You don’t really believe that he wouldn’t oppose — he wouldn’t oppose intervention.

But what about what the Turks are trying to do? And you just mentioned Turkey. As you know, the Turkish foreign minister came to Washington, met with secretary of state, met with a lot of State Department and other officials and presented a slew of alternatives, all the way from a coalition of the willing, with the Arabs on board, buffer zones at Syria’s border — which, by the way, the defectors have told us, if only there were buffer zones, you’d see the whole army defecting — humanitarian corridors to the besieged cities and a joint effort to help organize the army defectors.

He said that the U.S. basically said, no until after November, again raising this specter, that it is U.S. politics at the moment, despite the difficulties, as we know, that’s standing in the way. What do you make of the Turks saying that? It’s not Simes now, or Putin.

BURNS: Well, I didn’t hear the Turks say that, but you know, I think the Turks have been — you know, their relationship fell apart with Syria. There has been — there’s very bad blood between Prime Minister Erdogan and President Assad. The Turks are obviously trying to push the United States.

But the U.S. has to calculate not just the domestic impact in our elections here, but how about the foreign policy impact in countries that really matter to us? I’m thinking first and foremost of Israel, the importance of stability on the Golan Heights and Israel’s northern border, and of course Jordan and Lebanon, which are much more unstable countries.

I think the U.S. is trying to do no harm here. They obviously — we obviously want to see Assad leave power. They want to see the opposition strengthened. They want to see Assad out the door. I think the U.S. is still of a mindset they’d prefer to see that happen because Syrians make it happen rather than the United States taking a lead in a Kosovo- or a Libya- style military coalition.

AMANPOUR: And just before we switch to Egypt, Ehud Barak, the defense minister of Israel, told me in no uncertain terms that they think it’s time for some kind of intervention and to get rid of Assad like that.

But, look, let’s move to Egypt. What we’ve seen today is — and I know that you were a member of the staff of the embassy there in the `80s, so you know that country very, very well. There was a consultation (ph) today between the new president, Mohammed Morsi, and essentially the military, when he reconvened parliament for a very short period of time.

The military has now said — or rather the courts — that they stand by their decision; parliament is dissolved. So let’s see what happens. But in the meantime, why is the United States, the bastion of democracy, continuing to pay the military $1 billion a year with no conditions attached in terms of democracy?

Don’t you think it’s time for the U.S. to say, look here, we like you; we support you. You’re our ally (ph), but you can’t go around hijacking democracy if you want our billions.

BURNS: Well, I think United States is trying to preserve the influence that it does have with the Egyptian military at a really critical time.

Here, again, Christiane, I suspect that the motivation in Washington and some other capitals is, again, can we work with both sides — in this case the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Morsi and the Egyptian military — to try to get them to work out some modus vivendi, some way for them to coexist, live together, share power and have Egyptian democracy evolve in a positive direction.

I think the fear is that if United States comes down on one side or another and begins to pick winners and losers, it actually might exacerbate the problems in Egypt itself. And it was an extraordinary day in Egypt today.

And you saw a very bold move by Mohammed Morsi to, in effect, try to take back some of the powers that the military took from him just before the presidential elections. But I think the U.S. hopes it sees the Muslim Brotherhood rising in influence. It wants to have a relationship with them. It wants to retain influence with the new leadership.

But it understands that the military will have a say on certain questions, and particularly on security, the U.S. interests are paramount. The peace treaty with Israel and of course Egypt helping to block Iran. So the U.S. is trying not just to have it both ways, to have influence in two camps that may be sparring in Cairo for months into the future.

AMANPOUR: In one word, you said U.S. doesn’t want to come down on one side or the other. Doesn’t the U.S. have to come down on the side of democracy? The freely elected president?

BURNS: Well, I think — I think they did. When President Obama called President Morsi on the day of his election, the president and the White House have made very clear that we support the legitimacy of this new government, the Muslim Brotherhood government, that we want to see the results of the elections actually take hold and not be stolen by the courts.

I think the U.S. has actually stood up for democracy, whether we use our influence, Christiane, with the $1.3 billion, I think if the military began to act in clearly anti-democratic ways and tried to arrest the movement of this new government, then you might see some consideration of that in Washington.



July 11, 2012 | 0601 GMT


Comments (292)

Pages: « 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 » Show All

51. Antoine said:


the USA is the enemy of the Syrian Revolution as long as the Democrats running it, USA basically solf odd Iraq to Iran, they do not have any military agencies in Iraq any more, they basically ran away. Any “military agencies” in Iraq are all Iranian, I am told by some sources that Iraqi mukhabarat and Police tried to seal off the building when they got the hunch, but by that time he had already fled.

Moreover, it was Iyad Allawi, the Iraqi opposition leader and some Sunni tribal chiefs, who helped him to get to Turkey.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:24 pm


52. bronco said:

The new UNSC Resolution: More arms twisting on the opposition and its allies to comply with the 6 points, without calling for the regime to go.

Aware that it would be otherwise vetoed, the new draft UNSC resolution presented by Britain, France, the United States and Germany does not call neither for chapter 7 ( that was Hollande and the SNC main demand at the Paris conference) nor military sanctions.
It is about the UN mission renewal and a deadline for both to the Syrian government AND the opposition to stop violence with new sanctions (non military) looming.
This is the chance for Russia to include a statement reaffirming that the only plan is the Annan six points plan and none other. In addition, after its humiliating rebuff by the SNC in Moscow, I think Russia will include in the UNSC resolution a binding element “forcing” the opposition its allies to accept the “dialog” without preconditions. There will a mandatory call for an official acceptance by the UN members and the Syrian opposition of their compliance with the 6 points plan.
Russia will probably make sure there is a UN watchdog mechanism to review the political progress on regular basis and denounce any violation of the resolution.
Annan is moving in the next steps of his plan: Will the opposition arms twisting work this time ?

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July 11th, 2012, 6:26 pm


53. Antoine said:


Your good life in Damascus will be finished and the upper class women of Malki and Rummaneh will be forced to work as house-maids in poor homes in Idleb and Homs.

Down with the Syrian Upper Class.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:32 pm


54. Ghufran said:

“ما يحدث في سوريا ليس مسألة خلاف بين المعارضة والحكومة للحديث عن حكومة وحدة وطنية بل هي ثورة سورية”
قال رئيس “المجلس الوطني السوري” المعارض عبد الباسط سيدا، يوم الأربعاء، إن “الجانب الروسي غير متمسك بالرئيس بشار الأسد ولا بالمؤسسات القمعية، وجاء تعبيراً عن احترامه لإرادة الشعب السوري، ولكن بالانتقال إلى التفاصيل كان هناك تباين بالرؤى بين الجانبين”.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:32 pm


55. irritated said:

#43 Majedlalkaldoon

The trio of Turkey,Syrian Iraqi, and then Egypt,is our goal..

First that’s a quatuor, second I doubt they’ll play the same music. It’ll be a cacophonia.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:34 pm


56. Antoine said:

50. Tara said:


The FSA tortures Shabeeha?”


Of course, its their right.

Btw Muneer al Shlaibeh was the same guy who was involved in the Seidnaya Prison massacre along with Maher al Assad.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:34 pm


57. Antoine said:

Hear this , the elites of Damascus will be FORCED to live a humble life, this has always been a core of the revolution and the poor will never forget what the parasitic Syrian Upper Class did in the last 50 years.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:36 pm


58. Syrialover said:


Whatever your think of the politics of the Americans in Iraq, they still have very strong security setups in place there. The Americans would have been very well aware and working in conjunction with Turkey if that proves to be his main exit link.

You can be sure that there are strong defection invitations and pressures going on with all Syria’s ambassadors at the moment – as there were with Libya’s.

I think we’ll find America’s connections inside Iraq would have been a factor in getting this one.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:36 pm


59. bronco said:

#53 Antoine

Wrong address, sorry.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:37 pm


60. Antoine said:

49. Ghufran said:

“It is hard to believe that the goal of all of althwrajieh is to eliminate dictatorships,I will believe this claim when dictators in the Gulf face the same rebellion and opposition as the ones in Syria and soon Iraq. ”


The reason dictators in the Gulf do not face the same rebellion as in Syria is because most of their citizens, for the time being, are mostly happy with the way things are. Bahrain is obviously the exception.

The Gulf Dictators do not face rebellions for the same reason that Assad doesn’t face a rebllion from the more well-off Syrian citizesn in the 2 cities.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:40 pm


61. bronco said:


Now you have in front of you one more reason why I don’t trust the opposition. Just read the hatred, revenge and childishness pouring in here.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:40 pm


62. Tara said:


You are scaring me.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:40 pm


63. Antoine said:


Comment deleted for personal attack. Please consider this your first warning. Thank you. The new moderator.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:45 pm


64. bronco said:

Now that the moderator has defected, the SC thugs will feel free to start their personal, vulgar, sectarian and stupid attacks.
Is it time to go on vacation too?

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July 11th, 2012, 6:45 pm


65. bronco said:

I am off… the stage is yours..

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July 11th, 2012, 6:48 pm


66. Antoine said:


The Syrian upper class have made themsleves irrelevant ( not the rich Syrians in the Gulf, they are fine).

I have no problems with rich Syrian expats, only rich Syrians inside Syria, fat-cats that is. All their income is undeserved.

They should pay for rebuilding Homs as well.

And after the Revolution succeeds, Syrian expat businessmen should be offered to take up the Syrian-owned businesses.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:48 pm


67. Antoine said:


Deleted for personal attack.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:49 pm


68. mjabali said:

Syria is going to divide because of those who insist on violence to solve this complex problem. Religion and dictatorship are also involved, so you know it is bad news.

It is going to be a long fight, because there are many participants (domestic, and foreign) who could put their weights to drag it on. It is obvious that all participants have Zero respect for anyone who is not like them.

Yesterday we have a man on this board that said that the Alawis are from North West Iran. We know that this is a very laughable claim. If it has any merit many would responded to it, but since it is really funny and ludicrous no body did.

The man who said this about the Alawis is about to embark onto joining the militant fighters of the opposition. Do you see a future for Syria with men like this? Can you see sectarian clashes: today and no one reports it there are open sectarian war in Idleb and around al-Haffe. Wake up people!!!!!!!

As for the Alawi state: I say it may appear soon as a result of the fight that is not stopping. All indications point to more fighting. This fight is what gonna divide Syria. The Algerian model may occur, but, Syria is no Algeria first of all. There are going to be probably more dead.

The Alawi state if appeared in the coastal cities of Tartus and Lattakia it can survive easy. It has water, seaports, tourism, food and lots of open minded people. Syria is going

It has all elements for a modern state. A very modern state that the Middle East had never witnessed in a long time based on modern law and rules. Let the Sunnis who do not want to live with the Alawis live under the Sharia, good for them. But also, leave the Alawis and the rest of the minorities alone.

The Christians of the Middle East is getting kicked out systematically, so why don’t they stay in the Middle East and live in a place like the Alawi states where they are equal and could rule …etc Remember that many Alawis were Christians not too long ago.

The Alawis of the eastern board of the Mediterranean coast long to live together faraway from the heavy hand of the Sunnis. The Alawi aspirations are legit and what is giving it a push these days is the

Day after day you could read from the internet how Syrians can not live with each other anymore. They are calling in the open for the worst things to happen to each other. This is a fact.

Maybe, Syrian could go back and live together if there is the right elements, but, alas, look the government now and look at the opposition and you can tell that Syria is going to hell for the near future.

Here is a very interesting link to think about what is the middle east:

the title of this article is : The reasons behind the migration of Christians from Iraq.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:50 pm


69. mjabali said:


Your comment about Allepo and Sayf al-Dawleh was good. But, as you know I found many points to argue against. I will post it tonight after work, hoping it is not that late to do so.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:52 pm


70. Antoine said:

Dear Professor Joshua Landis,

We would like to tell you that we prefer less, not more Moderation. Especially when people are defending war-criminals like Assad, it is a bit naive to expect comments to be Moderate.

I say we should have very loose Moderation.

Sorry for some of the agry comments, but I think people should be banned from this blog for being Assad apologists.

Professor Landis, will you allow Nazi apologists and Holocaust deniers to have their say on your Blog ?

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July 11th, 2012, 6:53 pm


71. Bruno said:


(And after the Revolution succeeds, Syrian expat businessmen should be offered to take up the Syrian-owned businesses.)

So Antoine you could see into the future and actually tell that the Revolution will succeed? what happens if it doesn’t?

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July 11th, 2012, 6:53 pm


72. Bruno said:

I guess joshualandis admits that this is a proxy war agaisnt Iran and Russia has stated in this comment.

(Stratfor’s Bokhari and Bella remind us why a Sunni win in Syria is likely to impact the balance of power in Iraq more perhaps than in Lebanon. After all, the Sunni insurgency in Iraq is active and believes it can gain politically through violence against the Shia-dominated government. If the Sunni insurgency in Syria takes power, it may be willing to support the Iraqi Sunnis, particularly if Saudi and the Gulf states fund Jihad there in a continuing effort to limit Iran’s influence in the region and encourage regime-change in Tehran.)

Seeing how the American supported backed intelligence colored revolution (Green) Revolution failed in Iran, this is the second try.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:55 pm


73. Antoine said:


Your pipe dream of an Alawi State is doomed from the beginning, even though Turkey actually wants an Alawi State so that it can do business with it at the same time fleecing Syria for export duties.

Latakia and Tartous is not even self-sufficient in agriculture, they have to depend on Idleb for Wheat and grains. I don’t think Alawis would prefer to eat imported Russian wheat at the cost of cheap Syrian wheat.

Besides Latakia and Tartous do not have many advanced industries.

Tourism is the only thing they got, its almost like Cyprus.

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July 11th, 2012, 6:59 pm


74. Tara said:


Sorry, but this behavior is not acceptable. We voted on moderate to severe moderation. I too can’t be on a site that allows personal attacks like this. Please show some respect.

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July 11th, 2012, 7:01 pm


75. Uzair8 said:

Please let’s continue to self-moderate otherwise Prof Landis will bring an early end to the comment section. It’s difficult for all sides to control their emotions but we should try. Let’s keep it respectful.

Also. Continuing from yesterdays discussion regarding surrendering Assad forces (and behaviour on the battlefield in general), the opposition should continue to abide by Geneva conventions. The leadership shouldn’t give orders that go against the conventions or endorse any bad behaviour. Otherwise how could we criticise the regime for doing so?

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July 11th, 2012, 7:02 pm


76. Antoine said:

58. Syrialover said:


Whatever your think of the politics of the Americans in Iraq, they still have very strong security setups in place there. The Americans would have been very well aware and working in conjunction with Turkey if that proves to be his main exit link.

You can be sure that there are strong defection invitations and pressures going on with all Syria’s ambassadors at the moment – as there were with Libya’s.

I think we’ll find America’s connections inside Iraq would have been a factor in getting this one.


USA is on Assad’s side, get up and smell the coffee. USA wants Assad to crush the Revolution, Kofi Annan is their dog.

However you are right that there have been a number of “defection invitations” to Syrian Ambassadors, as the hacked Assad Emails revealed , but most of these have come from European and Arab Governments, not from USA.

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July 11th, 2012, 7:05 pm


77. Antoine said:


BRONCO defended the Hama massacre, he defends all the massacres, I think he should be banned from the Blog, but since that is not going to happen, I thought I might as well push him off the Blog by being unpleasant.

TARA do you agree that anybody who defends Hama massacre and tries to be a regime apologist should not be allowed to use the Comments’ section ?

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July 11th, 2012, 7:08 pm


78. Ghufran said:

Nawaf is suspected of being kidnapped according to regime sources,this claim is hard to believe,I think he probably defected. Manaf Tlas is another story,his departure from Syria may not have been totally a surprise to the regime,there are already stories about one meeting he had in France and another one scheduled with a Russian official. My own opinion is that manaf wants to be in the middle but I doubt the opposition is willing to accept him.
Ariha in Idleb is said to be the next target of regime forces, claims about Damascus battle by the FSA are probably not true,the FSA is more likely to do back and forth attacks (karr Wa Farr), those attacks are not enough to topple the regime and they may require months or years before they can change the balance on the ground,it is sad that nobody today is interested in a compromise.
Tara,much of the strange material posted on this board comes from non Syrians,the Syrian crisis is fought online also,foreign soldiers are used in cyber space and on the ground.

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July 11th, 2012, 7:12 pm


79. Antoine said:

LOL the regime just arrested an NCB ( Mannaa group) leader in Damascus.

Syrian authorities have arrested a prominent businessman and opposition figure on charges of inciting civil disobedience, a top human rights activist told AFP on Wednesday.

“Mohammad Bassam al-Malek, 65, was jailed on orders from the state prosecutor for inciting civil disobedience due to his role in a strike by merchants in May,” activist Anwar Bunni said.

The strike was held in protest against the Houla massacre, when more than 100 people, many of them children and women, were slaughtered in central Syria, Bunni said.

UN investigators said last month they suspect pro-government forces of much of the killing in Houla, while the Syrian authorities have denied any involvement.

Malek owns several shops across Syria selling household appliances and is also a top member of the Coordination Committee for National Change and Democracy which is tolerated by the regime”

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July 11th, 2012, 7:14 pm


80. Tara said:


I think you owe Bronco an apology. People in Syria are dying to achieve freedom and dignity, their children are slaughtered and their wives are raped. For what again? For freedom and dignity. Denying people on this blog freedom of expression and bullying them away is more consistent with shabeeha approach of confiscating freedom and dignity rather than a true revolutionist’s approach.

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July 11th, 2012, 7:16 pm


81. zoo said:

Because of its refusal to ensure Iran Oil Cargo, European companies who have the monopoly of this lucrative business are gradually been bypassed. More loss of business for Europe.

Japan insurers expand cover to boost Iran oil shipping capacity
By Osamu Tsukimori

TOKYO, July 11 (Reuters) – Japanese insurers are expanding their maritime coverage to allow more domestic tankers to transport Iranian crude, as Tokyo looks to keep oil flowing despite tough Western sanctions, industry sources said on Wednesday.

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July 11th, 2012, 7:18 pm


82. Antoine said:

I should add that rich Syrians who support the Uprising are angels.

Basically the dividing line is between those who support and oppose the Uprising.

Those who have opposed it consistently will cop it sweet.

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July 11th, 2012, 7:18 pm


83. Antoine said:


There is a reason why Nazi apologists and Holocaust deniers are put behind bars in civilzed countries. Some categories of people do not deserve human values, Assad supporters belong to this category.

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July 11th, 2012, 7:20 pm


84. habib said:

63. Antoine

Loool. One “Shabiha” could break those skinnies like twigs, according to your own opposition-propaganda.

72. Antoine

An eventual Alawite state would be the size of Lebanon, along the coast. Plus, it would be more or less homogeneous in composition, perhaps with Christians as well. No problem with being self-sufficient. A Christian/Alawite-less Syria would be a brain-drained, landlocked desert.

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July 11th, 2012, 7:22 pm


85. anwar said:

Christian living in harmony under an Alawi state ? lol the govt puppets are truly delusional. Do you really think we want anything to do with a bunch of murdering thiefs with no morals or an actual religion ?

Where do alawite get the idea that the christian community is dying to support their cause ? Do we nod when you rant about illeterate angry muslims paid by the CIA or whatever ? I am sure some do. Christians simply want to avoid conflict and they will go along your tirades but we know you far too well to be fooled.

Antoine is right, this is the Elite (mostly alawites but some sunni and christians) vs the rest…

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July 11th, 2012, 7:22 pm


86. habib said:

83. anwar

Lol, what did Christians get from living among Sunni extremists in Iraq, Palestine and Egypt? Not to mention Turkey and the Balkans. Shia/Christian conflict has historically been almost non-existent.

Alawites have lived peacefully along Christians in Syria and Lebanon for centuries.

The only time they turned against the Christians was when they tried to help Palestinians. Which hasn’t really paid off, to say the least.

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July 11th, 2012, 7:29 pm


87. zoo said:

Syria opposition lashes out at Annan (and the AL envoy): What have you achieved?

Opposition in exile, activists on ground have hit out at international envoy Kofi Annan, accusing him of bias.
By Serene Assir – BEIRUT

Syria’s opposition in exile and activists on the ground have hit out at international envoy Kofi Annan, accusing him of treating the victim and aggressor in the country’s brutal conflict on the same terms.
They also lashed out at the UN-Arab League envoy for seeking to placate President Bashar al-Assad’s ally Iran

A Syria expert at the Brookings Doha Centre, Shadi Hamid, said the envoy, appointed on February 23 by the UN Security Council, has failed to be tough enough with Damascus.

“It is clear that Annan is not the right person for this, he is not capable of playing hard ball with the Assad regime and I think that that was always the criticism about him,” Hamid said.

“His diplomatic skills are appropriate in some contexts but it is clear that Syria is not one of them. He does not have the right skills for what is required in Syria right now,” he said.

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July 11th, 2012, 7:32 pm


88. habib said:

To speculate even further on an Alawite state, someone claimed it would not be able to sustain itself, due to lack of agricultural experience. An easy solution would be to import Alawites from the countryside of North Lebanon, where all the Alawites are farmers.

It would be a nice country indeed, likely much larger than what’s seen here:

And contrary to ridiculous claims, Alawites are native to the area, perhaps more than any other groups there.

Better leave the mess and let the Sunnis and Kurds squabble among themselves for the desert.

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July 11th, 2012, 7:45 pm


89. Syrialover said:

Antoine # 75 said: “USA is on Assad’s side, get up and smell the coffee. USA wants Assad to crush the Revolution, Kofi Annan is their dog.”

Are you serious???!!

That’s exactly the sort of over the top paranoid stuff we get all the time from the pro-Assad conspiracy theorists. And Assad himself, of course.

You are on the right side in this fight. But being determinedly fiercely anti-American just restricts your understanding and effectiveness.

You need to concentrate your anger and accusations on those who really deserve it.

You have made some excellent comments at times that I applaud. But you sabotage it with that kind of extremist claim.

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July 11th, 2012, 8:11 pm


90. SC Moderator said:

Please observe SC rules. Personal attacks will not be tolerated. A warning was given to Antoine and his offensive comment was deleted. Repeated warnings will lead to banning. Let us keep SC civil. Thank you all.

The new moderator.

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July 11th, 2012, 8:14 pm


91. habib said:

87. Syrialover

“You are on the right side in this fight. But being determinedly fiercely anti-American just restricts your understanding and effectiveness.”

Lol, no room for diverse views and free speech in the “democratic opposition”?

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July 11th, 2012, 8:17 pm


92. VISITOR said:

I support Antoine and agree with him that these pro-regime commentators are not some people you can reason with and carry out a debate. The less they talk the better.

In fact, there is no value for debate in the present Syrian circumstances. That’s why I valued majedkhaldoun’s comment of the last post (# 106) in which he revealed plans to go to Syria and join the revolution.

Therefore, I wouldn’t mind JL closing the site for the time being.

This is the time for popular war of liberation of Syria, not the time for idle talk particularly if the talk is with the pro-regime propagandists.

And dream not about dividing Syria into Statelets. Winner takes all.

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July 11th, 2012, 8:22 pm


93. omen said:

this is what happened the last time the united nations called for rebels to disarm:

Srebrenica had been declared a `safe haven’ for Muslim refugees by the United Nations, a place they could take refuge from savage mass murder, rape and expulsion of civilians by Serbs. Muslim refugees were assured they would be protected by the UN if they laid down what few small arms they had.

The Serbs ignored the UN, stormed the city and methodically slaughtered 8,000 Muslim men and boys. The killing extended over three days and was videotaped.

Cowardly Dutch UN troops supposedly guarding the refugees took no action to halt the mass killing. They simply stood by while Serb forces rounded up thousands of civilians and took them off to be executed.

Calls for NATO air strikes to end the atrocity were blocked by France and Britain, who were covertly backing Serbia while officially protesting its crimes. Both were seeking political influence and arms sales to what they assumed would be an expanded, post-war Serbia.

Over 250,000 people died in the 1991-1995 wars that tore apart Yugoslavia, and 2.3 million were made refugees. The overwhelming majority were Muslim Bosnians.

i am sure this pattern from world leaders of public denunciation while secretly backing the aggressor – is being repeated again.

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July 11th, 2012, 8:23 pm


94. Amjad said:

“So Antoine you could see into the future and actually tell that the Revolution will succeed?”

Yes, I can see into the future, just like any person with two working brain cells could have foreseen Hitler’s collapse after Stalingrad, and Saddam getting his butt kicked twice by the Americans. But of course, those two were the last to face the inevitable. To his dying day, Hitler thought that the Allies would have a falling out before they could read Berlin. We are seeing the same kind of delusional thinking among the “Meteh Snorting Republic of Qurdaha” gang here. Syria without the mafia family and their leeching parasites will be a paradise.

And Alawites lived with Christians in peace? LOOOOOOL! Snort more of that meteh will you. How many Christians were jailed in the 80s on charges of being members of the MUSLIM Brotherhood. Or do I have to draw you people a crayon drawing to explain to your peasant mentalities just how ridiculous the idea of a Christian in the MB is? Yeah, Alawites tolerated Christians, as long as Christians were subservient and obedient. Just take a look at where Christians place in your Made-to-fit-Bashar constitution. A Christian cannot be president according to the meti-snorters who made that “constitution” up.

And Syria is to Russia what Israel is to the USA? My God, the mehti snorting has reached unprecedented levels on this forum. I guess it’s a sign of the stressful times. Russia’s relationship to the Baathist gang of Qurdahan peasants can be likened to that of an unethical lawyer, who tells you that your dubious law suit has merit, as long as you routinely send him cheques for $10,000 every once in a while. Putin is nothing more than a glorified ambulance chaser.

El Batta will never be able to subdue the country. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are sitting back and smirking at Bashar’s discomfort and agony. What can El Batta do in return? Whine to German and Russian media as more and more of his former henchmen defect.

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July 11th, 2012, 8:26 pm


95. Amjad said:

Does anyone else find it strange that one of the pro-war-crime supporters here claims to be a “westerner”, and yet has atrocious sentence structure? And I don’t know the last time I saw someone so pathetically obsessed with the number of thumbs down he gets on a forum. Seriously, do we have to endure such whines every second post? Is this a Miss Popularity Contest? I think the person in question agonizes more over the number of thumbs down he gets than the number of people who have been killed in Syria.

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July 11th, 2012, 8:30 pm


96. Syrialover said:

Habib, Knee-jerk bashing America in this situation is pouring intellectual energy down the sink.

Conspiracy theory obsessions block thinking and dialogue.

Lift the game. The stakes are too high and the issues too complicated, real and urgent.

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July 11th, 2012, 8:32 pm


97. Amjad said:

“TARA do you agree that anybody who defends Hama massacre and tries to be a regime apologist should not be allowed to use the Comments’ section”

I agree with Antoine. Even Canada doesn’t allow war criminals into its borders, and places restrictions on promoting ethnic cleansing and war crimes, so I don’t see why such people should be given a platform to spread their poison.

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July 11th, 2012, 8:36 pm


98. Syrialover said:

A big welcome and big thanks to the new moderator.

I cheer you for being willing to take on such a wriggling and fussy beast as this forum and putting firm reins on it.

Wait, I hope I didn’t discourage you.

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July 11th, 2012, 8:40 pm


99. habib said:

94. Amjad

Eh, anti-government Alawite activists were arrested in large numbers as well (and still are, probably more than Christians), so how is this a sectarian action?

Tell me again how Alawites have done anything even approaching what have been done to Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and Turkey.

Just one example.

Alawites (not to mention Shias) and Middle Eastern Christians have never killed each other off for sectarian reasons. The same can’t be said of Sunnis and Christians.

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July 11th, 2012, 8:40 pm


100. Ghufran said:

Lebanon has just paid almost 27 million euros for the international court (2012 dues ) at the Hague to finance a collection of highly paid group of lawyers whose only job is to get hizbullah after trying to get Syria. This is the type of measures that can win the approval of western governments. whether it is a dictatorship or not,the prerequisite factor for any middle eastern government to enjoy normal relations with the west is to be a puppet.
It is sickening that Arabs have to choose between the likes of the Syrian regime and the GCC type Bedouinvilles,if you think a third option will be allowed you must be dreaming.
(SC should not be allowed to become a playground for rude and superficial posts written by obnoxious people ,many of whom are not even Syrian)

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July 11th, 2012, 8:41 pm


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