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.

SYRIAN AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ DEFECTED TO KURDISTAN’S IRBIL:ARABIYA

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
2012-07-11

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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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)


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151. habib said:

120. Shami

If the choice is between being massacred and creating a state, the eventual outcome is pretty much a given. It is not preferred, of course.

Or do any of you seriously believe the Alawites will surrender, considering what we know about the conduct of the insurgents and their fellows in Libya?

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July 12th, 2012, 8:05 am

 

152. Amjad said:

“As for the Alawites: they have aspirations for independence that is growing day after day?”

Good. Obviously their ambitions have shrunk from the lofty days when they thought they could rule Syria and Lebanon unto perpetuity, and create a thousand Afghanistans and all the other ridiculous bombastic stuff we heard from Bashar. I look forward to furthering tempering of Alawite ambitions until they accept the idea that living in a society where all secs are on an equal footing isn’t such a nightmare afterall.

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July 12th, 2012, 8:54 am

 

153. Syrialover said:

Politics of hope.

Bravo Observer.

A society where all secs are on an equal footing

Bravo Amjad.

And first-rate analysis too, Observer.

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July 12th, 2012, 9:31 am

 

154. Syrialover said:

The sacked ambassador – now in Qatar

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18813759

Maybe his speech was produced by al Jazeera.

Whatever. It’s all good.

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July 12th, 2012, 9:41 am

 

155. irritated said:

Is Nawaf al Fares going to end up like Adnan Bakkour?
The background has become much more theatrical: Higher mediatic impact.

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July 12th, 2012, 10:00 am

 

156. Syrialover said:

“YES i will take a high place on this, and yes I will be arrogant and unforgiving” (#132 Syrian Hamster)

Hey, way to go on sectarianism. It’s the refuge of opportunists, blackmailers and bullies – and the weak and worried.

And as Observer says, “and in the face of a weak national identity and a weak state institutions it is only natural to revert to your clan/family/sect for help”.

I might change the wording to “a hijacked national identity” and “corrupted state institutions”, nudging it from general to this particular case.

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July 12th, 2012, 10:06 am

 

157. zoo said:

Top Syrian General Fails to Surface After Defecting; Enthusiam deflated.
Sharmine Nirwani’s article used by the NY times

By DAN BILEFSKY and MAÏA de la BAUME
Published: July 11, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/12/world/middleeast/syrian-general-manaf-tlass-fails-to-surface-after-defecting.html?pagewanted=all

PARIS — Nearly one week after the commander of one of Syria’s elite Republican Guard units defected, he has not been seen in public or tried to contact the opposition, raising questions about his motives and intentions, senior officials and opposition members said.

The mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the commander, Gen. Manaf Tlass, has dampened some of the enthusiasm that first greeted news of his decision to abandon President Bashar al-Assad.

Some analysts said the circumstances surrounding the general’s departure remained unclear and questioned whether news of his defection had been exaggerated.

Sharmine Narwani, a Middle East analyst and senior associate at St. Antony’s College at Oxford University, said the attempt to describe General Tlass’s escape as a defection was “pure propaganda.”

“I don’t know if he will join the revolution or the opposition or the private sphere,” Bassma Kodmani, a member of the council’s executive committee, said in an interview. “I hope if he joins the opposition in a decisive way, having taken the risk of defecting from the regime, that he will stand firmly on the right side against it.”

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July 12th, 2012, 10:21 am

 

158. majedkhaldoun said:

Can some one explain
there is Firas Tlass, and Manaf Tlass, but who is Talal Tlass?
Is Manaf Tlass not talking to protect Talal Tlass?

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July 12th, 2012, 10:31 am

 

159. zoo said:

How Syria Divided the World
Michael Ignatieff

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2012/jul/11/syria-proxy-war-russia-china/

The Syrian conflict has triggered something more fundamental than a difference of opinion over intervention, something more than an argument about whether the Security Council should authorize the use of force. Syria is the moment in which the West should see that the world has truly broken into two. A loose alliance of struggling capitalist democracies now finds itself face to face with two authoritarian despotisms—Russia and China—something new in the annals of political science: kleptocracies that mix the market economy and the police state. These regimes will support tyrannies like Syria wherever it is in their interest to do so.

In sixteen months, the situation in Syria has mutated from an uprising in a few outlying cities into a full-scale civil war. Now it has mutated again into a proxy war between the Great Powers. The Russians have been arming the regime—it was a Russian air defense system that shot down the Turkish F-4 Phantom jet—and the West is now arming the rebels. The Saudis and the Gulf states are funneling weapons straight to the Sunnis, especially to anyone with Salafist and Islamic radical credentials. Arms are trickling across the borders with Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan; the CIA has been given the difficult task of ensuring that at least the Turkish weapons are channeled to the right people and away from al-Qaeda affiliates. Who the right people are is anybody’s guess. In a village war, not even the CIA can be sure.

While the rebels are gaining momentum inside Syria, the exile leadership of the Syrian opposition is frittering it away outside. When opposition leaders were placed in hotel rooms in Cairo and told, by the Arab League and other foreign diplomats, to get their act together, the meeting degenerated into chaos.

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July 12th, 2012, 10:33 am

 

160. zoo said:

“However, any honeymoon between Turkey and Iran is clearly over. In the coming decade, the struggle for regional influence between the two powers is likely to grow and increasingly reshape the politics of the Middle East.”

The Turkish-Iranian Alliance That Wasn’t
How the Two Countries Are Competing After the Arab Spring
F. Stephen Larrabee
July 11, 2012

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137773/f-stephen-larrabee/the-turkish-iranian-alliance-that-wasnt?page=2

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July 12th, 2012, 10:38 am

 

161. zoo said:

The Country That Is the World: Syria’s Clashing Communities
Charles Glass
http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/country-world-syria%E2%80%99s-clashing-communities

The population of Syria is so inharmonious a gathering of widely different races in blood, in creed, and in custom, that government is both difficult and dangerous.

— Sir Mark Sykes, Dar Ul-Islam: A Record of a Journey through Ten of the Asiatic Provinces of Turkey (1904)

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July 12th, 2012, 10:43 am

 

162. Syrialover said:

Bashar and his younger brother are arguing about what to do next.

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July 12th, 2012, 10:44 am

 

163. Uzair8 said:

153 Majed

From January:

“…Manaf Talal Tlass, son of the current Deputy Chief of staff General Talal Tlass, and not the son of former defence Minister General Mustafa.”

http://topnews-nasserkandil.com/topnews/share.php?sms_id=8878&mod=1&locale=en

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July 12th, 2012, 10:47 am

 

164. zoo said:

Damascus residents fear regime reprisals
12/07/2012
Asharq Al-Awsat
http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=1&id=30307


The Syrian dissident also stressed that “the final battle will take place in Damascus, as the regime will fight violently in this city, not to defend it, but to destroy it, because al-Assad is well aware that the majority of the social fabric of Damascus stands against him.”

As for the FSA and whether it is capable to positively resolve the battle for Damascus, Adnan told Asharq Al-Awsat “the FSA’s capabilities are modest in comparison with the regime’s arms” adding “the regime’s forces are stationed on the peak of Mount Kassioun [in Damascus], and they can destroy the city with artillery, if they want.”

Tariq also asserted that the presence of a Sunni majority that opposes the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus will not positively resolve the battle, particularly as the regime has armed the Alawite neighborhoods of the capital, particularly the Mezze Jebel neighborhood.

The al-Assad regime had been pointing to the stability in Damascus as evidence that the Syrian revolution was not widespread or broad-based, however the increasing demonstrations and FSA attacks within the Syrian capital over the past few days has served to counter this claim.

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July 12th, 2012, 10:49 am

 

165. Tara said:

Zoo@ 155

Unless Iran developed a nuclear weapon program, I do not think it is capable of widespread regional influence.  I think the current status of HA in power in Lebanon, Maliki in Iraq, and Batta’s Alawite rule in Syria is the max Iran can dream of achieving. 

With the eventual victory of the Syrian revolution and unless the Mullahs drastically change course before it is too late, it’s regional influence is destined to diminish.  Additionally, it’s soft power across the ME stands no competition to Turkey’s soft  power.

I am also wondering why the three dots ALL the time.  It gets me disappointed…

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July 12th, 2012, 10:54 am

 

166. zoo said:

Rami Abdel Rahmane: Nawaf Al Fares defection is suspicious

http://www.lorientlejour.com/category/%C3%80+La+Une/article/category/Derni%C3%A8res+Infos/article/767981/Syrie%3A_Nawaf_Fares%2C_un_dur_du_regime_dont_les_militants_se_mefient.html

….
But this reversal does not seem to have convinced the dissidents or activists of human rights. “I know that this man is a criminal,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (OSDH).

“This is quite similar to the history of Manaf Tlass. If the ambassador defected, he does so by greed for power as the Western intelligence services are trying to choose personalities that can be used for the transitional period”.

A view shared by an activist Hama appearing under the name of Abu Ghazi. “People are very suspicious about the motives that prompted him to desert. Perhaps at a time when Russia is changing slowly, the international community and the regime seeking to develop a consensus government and this defection is seen against this scenario. ”

“But, he adds, we want to live in a democracy and the rule of law and you can not build them with people who have so much blood on their hands so long and were accomplices of the regime”.

Tansiqiyat on the webpage, which includes the views of activists on the ground, one of them accuses the son of the former ambassador, Barges, buying luxury cars in Saudi Arabia without paying customs taxes by taking advantage the position of his father and selling them at exorbitant prices.

Another who calls himself “First Golan” quipped: “Tomorrow we will say that he is an honest man who tried to reform Syria.”

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July 12th, 2012, 11:03 am

 

167. zoo said:

Tara
I am also wondering why the three dots ALL the time. It gets me disappointed…

It’s to indicate that there is more to read, while yours indicate what?
As for Iran-Turkey competition, I think Iran has much more natural resources than Turkey that depends mostly on business, trading and tourism and therefore is highly dependent on “zero problems with neighbors” and good relation with the West.
In addition Iran has very limited problems with their minorities, while Turkey has a very serious problem with the Kurds that drags its energies and threatened its stability.

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July 12th, 2012, 11:14 am

 

168. Halabi said:

Assad’s army executing surgical strikes against terrorists by dropping cluster bombs on civilians. Or maybe these are the FSA’s Russian made missiles…

http://brown-moses.blogspot.com/2012/07/evidence-of-cluster-bombs-being.html

Adel Joujari, an Egyptian “journalist” and cheerleader for the slaughter of the Syrian people by his lord Assad, had a heart attack and died while defending Bashar on an Iraqi TV station.

http://www.sana.sy/ara/3/2012/07/12/430999.htm

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July 12th, 2012, 11:17 am

 

169. Tara said:

Zoo@162

“while yours indicate what?”

Mine indicates disappointment with yours. The three dots annoy me tremendously. I like variation. You behaved like the Syrian regime, promising something and delivering something else. You promised “more” and delivered “less” with this relentless three dots pattern. Can you please change them. And please, do not get excited about Sharmine Narwani. She made it to NY time because she offered an opposing view but she clearly has no intellectual weight.

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July 12th, 2012, 11:37 am

 

170. zoo said:

Turkey’s Erdoğan to visit Russia amid Syria controversy

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-erdogan-to-visit-russia-amid-syria-controversy-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=25344&NewsCatID=338

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan leaves for Russia next Wednesday to discuss the developments in Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin, his office announced Thursday.

“Significant regional and international developments led by Syria are on the table to be discussed thoroughly,” during Erdoğan’s visit, the written statement said.

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July 12th, 2012, 11:50 am

 

171. zoo said:

Tara

Just put your antidots glasses.

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July 12th, 2012, 11:53 am

 

172. irritated said:

#158
“…Manaf Talal Tlass, son of the current Deputy Chief of staff General Talal Tlass, and not the son of former defence Minister General Mustafa.”

Are you unveiling a family incest drama? He is the son of two men?

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July 12th, 2012, 11:56 am

 

173. Tara said:

10.48am: Syria: NPR has more confirmation that Syrian rebels have carved out a buffer zone in the northern border region.

Last week the Guardian’s Martin Chulov told us that “there is a de factor buffer zone in all but name,” after he spent several days in Aleppo province.

NPR’s Deborah Amos reports a similar picture in neighbouring Idlib province.  Amos writes:
Abu Amar, a rebel who has fought in Syria for five weeks, walked across this field from the Syrian village of Atma, which is now serving as a rebel headquarters. He says much of the northwestern province of Idlib is now controlled by the rebels, and it has become easy to move back and forth between Syria and Turkey here.

“Actually we have a buffer zone now. I mean it’s not declared by the Turkish government,” he says. “People transport arms freely. The Turks are closing their eyes. We bring our wounded people here; we go back and forth and nobody bothers us at all.”
(…)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2012/jul/11/syria-russia-un-draft-live#block-6

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July 12th, 2012, 11:59 am

 

174. omen said:

via wikileaks

is the regime exploiting the communist network in order to sow anti-interventionist animus abroad?

aldendeshe, your regime is in bed with the commies. is your party going to apply the same remedy it did in the past?

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July 12th, 2012, 12:00 pm

 

175. ghufran said:

لفت انتباه “سيريا بوليتيك” قيام الفضائية السورية الرسمية بذكر اسم نائب وزير الدفاع، العماد “طلال مصطفى طلاس”، وهي المرة الأولى التي يتم فيها ذكر نائب الوزير حيث درجت العادة في الإعلام الرسمي على ذكر اسم وزير الدفاع فقط وهو العماد داود راجحة، إلا أن الإعلام السوري جاء هذه المرة على ذكر الوزير ونائبه.
ويأتي ذكر “العماد طلال طلاس” بالتزامن مع انشغال وسائل الإعلام العالمية بمتابعة قضية انشقاق العميد مناف طلاس، نجل وزير الدفاع السابق مصطفى طلاس، وهو ما يشير إلى انقسام عائلة طلاس بين النظام والمعارضة.
وكان نجل العماد طلال، واسمه أيضا “مناف”، قتل في بداية العام 2012 من قبل مسلحين في دمشق، وهو طالب هندسة في العقد الثاني من عمره.
يذكر أن العماد طلال طلاس (أبو منهل)، هناك من يقول أنه ابن شقيق مصطفى طلاس، وهناك من يقول أن طلال هو الابن الثاني لعم مصطفى طلاس، واسمه (أبو عادل)

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July 12th, 2012, 12:19 pm

 

176. Tara said:

Ah..I know Khaula.  She lived in my neighborhood.  I am so proud of her.  I am so proud and humbled by those great Syrians…

For Syrian-American Doctors, A Painful Homecoming
by DEBORAH AMOS

The Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations was founded by an American doctor from Texas. The office in Antakya is run by a fashion designer from Syria. His managerial skills are crucial for the work here — for the first time, compiling complete case records of Syrian patients in Turkish hospitals, with recommendations for follow-up care.

Across the street, a medical supply warehouse is run by another Syrian-American, a clinical pharmacist from Cincinnati, Ohio, named Khaula Sawah.

Sawah, who was born in Syria, is working on a system to organize what has been an ad hoc smuggling operation.

“I am all the time here to organize medical supplies inside Syria, as well as taking care of the injured here,” she says.
(…)
http://www.npr.org/2012/07/12/156629925/for-syrian-american-doctors-a-painful-homecoming

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July 12th, 2012, 12:19 pm

 

177. Halabi said:

Al Jazeera interviews Nawaf Fares. I haven’t seen it yet, but apparently he says Bashar was personally involved in sending Al Qaeda terrorists to Iraq.

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July 12th, 2012, 12:43 pm

 

178. Son of Damascus said:

MJabali,

“To tell you the truth, I never believed in the existence of the document that al-Assad’s grandfather sent to the French asking them to keep the Alawi state separated from Syria. al-Assad’s grandfather was in no position of power among the Alawis at that moment. In al-Qurdaha itself they would not even stand up to al-Khayyer family, or Islamil. al-Assad’s family was not as strong or rich as the other two families. It looks like a fabricated document. Did anyone ever showed a copy of that ?”

More than a few historians have referenced to that document, Patrick Seale wrote about it in his book Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East (You will find the relevant info at p. 20):

“Asad’s Father Ali Sulayman fought the French at the start but was later drawn into French arrangements being appointed in 1926 member of a committee set up in Latakia to draft a constitution for the territory. He was one of eighty signatories of a letter which Ibrahim Al-Kinj sent to French Prime Minister in 1936 stating that the overwhelming majority of the Alawi people rejected attachment to Syria and wished to remain under French protection”

Can you please provide us with an example where an academic argues against the existence of such a document? I have never read any academic or historian argue against that, and I believe the letter can be found in the archives in Paris, I will try to see if there is a digital copy of it and link it here later.

On a different note if I may add something to Qaf issue you brought up a few posts ago.

I don’t think the lack of affinity towards the Qaf accent by Damascenes is inherent of their prejudice towards Alawis per say, but more to do with the inherent arrogance us Damascenes have over our city. Damascenes I believe have a historic prejudice for anyone from outside the city walls, whether Sunni, Alawi, Christian or otherwise, and is not something exclusively directed at a certain ethnic group or sect.

The history of Damascus is filled with a lot more examples of religious tolerance towards each other, than the dark times that we turned on each other. History should not be treated as a waiter in a restaurant where you pick and choose what you want based on your taste, if we do that we damn ourselves into repeating it.

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July 12th, 2012, 12:44 pm

 

179. Bruno said:

@Halabi

(Al Jazeera interviews Nawaf Fares. I haven’t seen it yet, but apparently he says Bashar was personally involved in sending Al Qaeda terrorists to Iraq. )

The same terrorists that are in Iraq are now in Syria aiding the Syrian Free Army even Danny Abdul Dayem The CNN stager was in Sryia with the FSA proclaiming that there is no Al Qaeda in Syria.

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July 12th, 2012, 12:50 pm

 

180. Expatriate said:

119. MJABALI
Syria may break up fast into little states. The one on the coast is going to be with Alawite majority. The Christians are numerous on the coast, as well as the Sunnis. But, the Sunnis in the cost are mostly Trukmans and Kurds leaning towards conservatism. The Alawis and Christians both want a more liberal way of living.

This is the religious, ethnic and sectarian engineering, specific spoken by Mr. Landis in last year and which is the basis for the division of the Arab world into small fragmented! This will not happen at all! Stop loss!

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July 12th, 2012, 1:41 pm

 

181. VOLK said:

Russia says sanction resolution against Syria ‘red line’

Russia says it will veto a US-backed UN draft resolution which calls for more sanctions against Syria, declaring a “red line” against sanctions.
“Anything can be negotiated but we do not negotiate this. This is a red line,” AFP quoted Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Igor Pankin as saying on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters at the Security Council after the world body’s first talks on the Syria resolution, Pankin also reiterated Moscow’s opposition to any military intervention in Syria.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov also ruled out a resolution to impose sanctions against Syria as “unacceptable” for Moscow. He said the West-proposed draft resolution is unbalanced as it only calls on the Syrian government to fulfill its obligations.
Britain, the United States, France and Germany have been calling for sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
The Western-backed British draft envisages non-military sanctions against the Syrian government if the army does not withdraw from crisis-hit regions within 10 days.
However, the proposed resolution would be under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which can be enforced militarily.
Russia, which has already vetoed two anti-Syria resolutions at the Security Council along with China — another permanent member of the council — remains firmly against sanctions on Damascus.
The Security Council has to pass a resolution by July 20 when the 90-day mandate for the nearly 300 UN observers in Syria expires.
A ceasefire deal brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan failed to end rampant violence in Syria and the UN monitors had to suspend their operations in June.
Russia has proposed a resolution to extend the mandate for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria for another three months.
http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/07/12/250594/russia-threatens-to-veto-syria-sanctions/

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July 12th, 2012, 2:43 pm

 

182. omen said:

alawite mini state? why settle? does this mean loyalists have given up on the regime plan of killing off all the sunnis?

expatriate, i didn’t realize genocide was a liberal value.

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July 12th, 2012, 2:55 pm

 

183. Osama said:

TANK PICTURE

Here is the youtube video of the screen grab posted by the Prof.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gia_eofYTmI&feature=relmfu

The Tank showing the explosion is not destroyed as it keeps moving and it appears to be an RPG hit from the soundtrack…

The destroyed tank is the one in front – just off the road – this one clearly hit a landmine – the video is spliced so its not clear if the crew escaped…

any way – no TOW missiles for the FSA yet – just plain old landmines and RPGs.

I think the US is happy to keep this one “low-cost” a la Nicargua – and Saudi under writing.

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July 12th, 2012, 3:24 pm

 

184. ghufran said:

former envoy to Iraq has dismissed the international peace plan prepared to stop the violence and called for the regime of Bashar al-Assad to be violently removed. One day after leaving his post in Baghdad and fleeing to Qatar, the ambassador, Nawaf al-Fares, told al-Jazeera TV that only force could remove the Syrian dictator. He had earlier denounced the embattled regime and called on other ambassadors to do the same.
comment: i did not expect him to go to Qatar then support a political solution to the crisis.

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July 12th, 2012, 4:19 pm

 

185. jna said:

176. omen said:
“alawite mini state? why settle? does this mean loyalists have given up on the regime plan of killing off all the sunnis?expatriate, i didn’t realize genocide was a liberal value.”

Quite the wild rant there. But, in the context of escalating opposition stories, not too surprising.

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July 12th, 2012, 4:23 pm

 

186. SANDRO LOEWE said:

There is a strange sense of justice that exists in historical terms. Right many righteous people die without justice and many corrupted enjoy life in sickness and sins.

But when studied in long term or historical point of view everything make sense. Alawites had been abused and mistreated for a long period before independence of Syria. As a reward they got control of Syria for some 40 years. Now when their abuses and mistakes have gone beyond the red line, history is there to bring back its justice sense. If alawites had aspired to have their own country in 1920 or 1930 it would have been possible, but now history will not give them an Alawite State. Their sins and mistakes, their arrogance, their abuses and the hate they have created will make it impossible.

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July 12th, 2012, 4:36 pm

 

187. SANDRO LOEWE said:

I can feel the shivering of pro Assad elements in this SC forum. They are begining to feel horror and panic for what is coming next. You were very self asured 15 months ago when the peasentry and young revolution took the streets. This is Revolution, this is the people in Syria in motion against the foreign intervention of Russia, Iran and HA. Is it hard to swallow?

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July 12th, 2012, 4:40 pm

 

188. ghufran said:

قال وزير الخارجية الفرنسي لوران فابيوس أن العميد السوري المنشق مناف طلاس يجري حاليا اتصالات مع المعارضين السوريين.
وقال الوزير في تصريح صحفي اليوم الخميس : “أعرف أن هناك تقاربا ما بين المعارضة وهذا العميد. تجرى بينهم اتصالات”.
وامتنع فابيوس عن التعليق على الأنباء التي تشير إلى أن طلاس يتواجد حاليا في فرنسا.
There is something not right about this,” said Colonel Abu Hamza, a commander from Jebel al-Zawiya. “There were two eyes on him when he prayed and when he ate. How could he and his family escape without them knowing? We need to get to the bottom of it.”

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July 12th, 2012, 4:46 pm

 

189. ghufran said:

Charlie Skelton-The Guardian:
Many of the “activists” and spokespeople representing the Syrian opposition are closely (and in many cases financially) interlinked with the US and London – the very people who would be doing the intervening. Which means information and statistics from these sources isn’t necessarily pure news – it’s a sales pitch, a PR campaign.
But it’s never too late to ask questions, to scrutinize sources. Asking questions doesn’t make you a cheerleader for Assad – that’s a false argument. It just makes you less susceptible to spin. The good news is, there’s a skeptic born every minute.

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July 12th, 2012, 4:57 pm

 

190. ghufran said:

this is why Arabs are the butt of jokes in the world today:
دبي، الإمارات العربية المتحدة (CNN) — قال الرئيس المصري، محمد مرسي، إن السعودية “حاضنة الحرمين الشريفين وراعية مشروع الإسلام الوسطي السني،” مضيفاً أن مصر “هي حامية لهذا المشروع، ومابين الراعي والحامي أنساب وصهر

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July 12th, 2012, 5:06 pm

 

191. zoo said:

Nawaf Fares: defected Syrian raises suspicion
12 July 2012

http://www.france24.com/en/20120712-nawaf-fares-defected-syrian-raises-suspicion
AFP – Nawaf Fares, the first Syrian ambassador to defect to the opposition, was widely seen as a regime hardliner and his decision to break ranks has triggered suspicion among activists.

Some dissidents say Fares has been likely groomed by the West to play a role in a transitional government while others have spoken about his “criminal” past.

Fares, who has served as governor in several Syrian provinces and has held senior security and Baath party posts, hails from the prominent Oqaydat Sunni tribe in eastern Syria, which also has members in Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

A former policeman, Fares had close ties to the dreaded intelligence services before becoming governor and later Syria’s first ambassador to Iraq following a 30-year rupture in ties between the two neighbours.

He announced his defection on Wednesday, as the regime battles a growing rebellion that has claimed, according to monitors, more than 17,000 lives since it erupted in mid-March 2011.

“I announce my defection from my post as representative of the Arab Syrian Republic in Iraq and my withdrawal from the ranks of the (ruling) Baath party,” Fares said in a message aired on Al-Jazeera satellite channel.

“I call on all free and worthy people in Syria, particularly in the military, to immediately rejoin the ranks of the revolution,” said Fares, a grey-haired man who sports a bushy moustache and wears glasses.

“Turn your cannons and your tanks towards the criminals in the regime who are killing the people,” he added.

On Thursday the Syrian foreign ministry said Fares has been “discharged” and “needs to be legally prosecuted and subjected to disciplinary action” due to his remarks which contradict his duty.

Fares, the first ambassador to break ranks with the regime, announced his defection only days after Manaf Tlass, a top general with close ties to President Bashar al-Assad, deserted.

Fares hails from the city of Al-Bukamal in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, near the border with Iraq. He holds a degree in law and graduated from the Deir Ezzor police academy.

He began his career as head of political security in the coastal province of Latakia (1990-1994) before heading the ruling Baath party in Deir Ezzor until 1998 when he served as governor of Latakia for two years.

For the next two years he was governor of the northeastern province of Idlib, where anti-regime sentiment is now strong, and from 2000 he served eight years as the governor of Quneitra, capital the Golan Heights most of which is annexed by Israel.

‘Power thirst and bloody hands’ –

————————————

On Wednesday, Fares, who is now believed to have sought refuge in Qatar, a vocal critic of Assad’s government, turned on the regime.

His change of heart however has failed to persuade opponents of the regime and activists.

“I know this man is a criminal,” said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which has tallied the death toll from 16 months of violence at more than 17,000 people.

“It’s quite similar to the Manaf Tlass story. If the ambassador defects, he does it because he is greedy for power because Western intelligence agencies are looking for figures who can fit into a transitional phase,” Abdel Rahman said.

An activist in the central Syrian city of Hama, who identified himself as Abu Ghazi, shares this view. “People are very wary of the reasons he has defected,” he said.

“This defection could be part of a scenario at a time when Russia is starting to slightly shift in its position, and while the international community and the regime are searching for ways to establish a transitional government,” Abu Ghazi added.

“We want to live in a democracy, in a state of law and you can’t build that with people who have so much blood on their hands and who have been complicit for so long with the regime.”

Not so, say supporters of Fares on the website of his Oqaydat tribe.

“He excelled in all his public duties… He honoured his tribe and has become a symbol for Deir Ezzor thanks to his modesty and the love he has for people,” wrote one supporter.

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July 12th, 2012, 5:16 pm

 

192. annie said:

http://www.maysaloon.org/2012/07/never-ending-lies.html

The Never Ending Lies…

A must read although we all have read this before
“here is a list of the lies I can remember being told since the start of this revolution:
1. There is nothing happening.
2. There are some minor protests, but these are isolated and not important.
3. Some people have been killed, it was a mistake.
4. People are getting killed, but it is because they are being violent.
5. There are armed gangs who are shooting at the security services – one month into the uprising.
6. Hamza al Khateeb was not tortured to death by the security services, and neither was his friend. Hamza al Khateeb is a rapist, he is not a child.
7. The repression in Bayada never happened, the footage was in Iraq and the perpetrators were Kurdish peshmerga.
8. The repression in Bayada did happen, and the man the regime arrested who was filmed disproving the lie was alive and well in a Syrian prison, to show Syrians that the man they hold, who was repressed in the town that was not in Syria, allegedly by the Kurdish peshmerga, has not been murdered.
9. The demonstrators are getting paid and being given drugs. Some of the drugs had al Jazeera stamped on them.
10. The demonstrators were waving Israeli flags.
11. The demonstrators were all salafists and funded by Bandar bin Sultan.” etc.

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July 12th, 2012, 5:43 pm

 

193. omen said:

182.

i read that piece

at least two people mentioned (i’d have to look up the others) that skelton tries to taint bassma with, via the fallacy of guilt by association, are kissinger and zbig. skelton seem unaware that both those two came against intervention. zbig went so far as to argue not to get “emotional” about the regime slaughtering people.

some conspiracy. two people mentioned don’t even support intervention.

he also mentions hillary clinton when this thread has noted how washington, while paying cheap lip service, has been acting obstructionist in blocking delivering help for the rebels.

so bassma kodmani went to bilderberg or is member of cfr. it’s understandable. if i were desperate to free my people, i’d reach out to every power i could trying to win allies to support my cause.

idealogical purists construct straw man associations while shrugging off genocide.

Asking questions doesn’t make you a cheerleader for Assad – that’s a false argument. It just makes you less susceptible to spin.

devastated homs is spin? 10,ooo – 16,poo people the regime murdered is spin? i’d understand a westerner being bamboozled. after all, the “american psyche is easily manipulated,” but you know better than that, ghufran.

throwing up dust to obscure the clear moral imperative involved here, that assad must be stopped – is in fact working to benefit the regime.

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July 12th, 2012, 5:46 pm

 

194. zoo said:

Syria Faces UN Sanctions Push (?) as Ally Russia Resists
By Flavia Krause-Jackson on July 11, 2012

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-11/syria-faces-un-sanctions-in-draft-measures-russia-resists

….
Annan discussed with Assad in Damascus on July 8 how a political transition would unfold. That process should “be completed within six months to a year,” he told the council, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “Assad indicated that this could be possible if conditions were correct.”

Annan specified that a “key issue at this stage is the appointment of an effective empowered interlocutor who is clearly authorized to negotiate.” Assad proposed Ali Haidar, Syria’s minister for national reconciliation affairs, according to a report in the Lebanese daily newspaper al-Akhbar.

Efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict have put the U.S. and its European allies at odds with Russia. The Western nations signaled they won’t support an extension of a UN observer mission in Syria unless real pressure is put on Assad. Their draft proposes a 45-day extension. Russia proposed July 10 an alternative resolution that would extend the monitors’ stay for 90 days.
No Teeth

“We have waited 18 months,” Gerard Araud, France’s ambassador to the UN, told reporters. “The Russian proposal does not have teeth, it’s very clear.”
….

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July 12th, 2012, 6:24 pm

 

195. Tara said:

If the Sunnis peel away, Mr Assad’s claim to represent anyone other than his family and the Alawite elite diminishes.

Syria: Bashar al-Assad’s shrinking circle

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syria-bashar-al-assad-shrinking-circle

The fact that high level defections are happening does not of itself shorten the terrible war that is going on there. But it does speak to the sectarian and tribal fissuring that is taking place under the pressure of these extreme forces. The defection of Syria’s ambassador to Baghdad, Nawaf al-Fares, is important not just because of who he is – a Sunni bestowed with the honour of being Syria’s first ambassador to Iraq in three decades. It is also about the people Fares represents. He is head of the Uqaydat tribe which straddles the Syrian-Iraqi border and is highly armed. If Fares’s parting message to the Syrian military to turn their guns on the criminals of the regime is heard, it will be heard by his own tribe first. His defection opens up a whole new eastern front for the opposition which stretches well into Iraq. Other tribal areas have yet to follow suit and an important meeting will take place in Cairo next week, but the area of Syria on which Mr Assad can count is shrinking. As importantly, if other Sunnis follow Fares’s lead, it means that the regime is retreating back to its ethnic Shia Alawite…

No one can tell how long this is going to go on, although the defections probably come too late to stop the descent into civil war. But they make the diplomatic gridlock with Russia and China in the UN increasingly irrelevant over the future of the 300-strong UN observer force whose mandate expires on 20 July. The defections undermine Russia’s argument that a fresh mandate could be given to this force, without any mechanism for enforcing the withdrawal of troops and heavy weaponry from population centres that a ceasefire requires. Russia’s motion refocuses the UN mission on the search for a political solution, but between who and whom? If the Sunnis peel away, Mr Assad’s claim to represent anyone other than his family and the Alawite elitediminishes. Mr Assad’s threats of retribution against his Sunni defectors will only accelerate his end.

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July 12th, 2012, 6:25 pm

 

196. Ghufran said:

أكد الكاتب الليبي حسام المصراتي ان مشيخة قطر وقناة الجزيرة تدعمان الفتنة القبلية في ليبيا وفتح النار على القبائل الليبية.
وقال الكاتب في مقال نشرته صحيفة ليبيا المستقبل اليوم بعنوان الجزيرة، بعد إخفاق مشروعها، تلجأ للفتنة القبلية في ليبيا كنا نتوقع رد الفعل الهستيري حول النتائج الأولية للانتخابات من الجانب القطري عبر قناتها الجزيرة ولكن ما لم يكن في الحسبان هو أن تنجر قطر لإثارة الفتنة القبلية وفتح النار على القبائل الليبية، سواء المشاركة في الانتخابات أو ما اعتبرتها بأنها مكونة لتحالف القوى الوطنية.
I have to admit that the Libyan election results caught me by surprise,I hope that this healthy trend is a sign for things to come,Islamists (the non violent ones) have the right and win but they also must accept defeat and should not be allowed to dominate.

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July 12th, 2012, 6:33 pm

 

197. zoo said:

Omen thanks.. who do you listen to?

The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syrian-opposition-doing-the-talking?CMP=twt_gu

The media have been too passive when it comes to Syrian opposition sources, without scrutinising their backgrounds and their political connections. Time for a closer look …

SNC:
- Bassma Kodmani
- Radwan Ziadeh
- Ausama Monajed

- The money through Wael Merza (SNC secretary general).

- Michael Weiss
One of the most widely quoted western experts on Syria – and an enthusiast for western intervention – Michael Weiss echoes Ambassador Ross when he says: “Military intervention in Syria isn’t so much a matter of preference as an inevitability.”

- The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

- Hamza Fakher

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July 12th, 2012, 6:33 pm

 

198. jna said:

176. omen said:
“regime plan of killing off all the sunnis?”

???????. Would be helpful if you provided some documentation of this “plan”. Without that it seems another opposition story without factual basis.

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July 12th, 2012, 6:40 pm

 

199. zoo said:

#188 Ghufran

It’s no surprise. The Moslem Brotherhood have been corrupted by Seif Al Islam and despite the money that Qatar poured in were tainted and didn’t have enough time to change the perception. In addition poverty is not as wide spread in Libya as it is in Egypt. The state was providing free medical services to everyone: The MB social services was not essential.
Yet, in my view, the liberals victory may be short lived, as Qatar is pouring money to reinforcing the MB image for the many elections that will be proposed to the Libyans.
The victory of the MB in Egypt and Tunisia will gradually influence Libya.

Libya Is Still Fighting for Democracy
By Karim Mezran

Jul 12 2012, 7:02 AM ET 5

The battle against Qaddafi might be long over, but the struggle to build a free, stable, and pluralistic Libya is just beginning.

For all the reasons to celebrate Libya’s election, many in the West might be overestimating the importance of the presumed electoral victory of the secularists and liberals, led by Mahmoud Jibril, who had served as interim prime minister of the revolutionary transitional government during the 2011 conflict.
..
It’s still not clear exactly what Libyans were voting for. The roadmap for Libya’s political transition, established in August 2011, said that the election of a Constituent Assembly would be held within a year. This assembly was supposed to appoint a government and write a new constitution. According to the plan, Libyans would then vote for a parliament or house of representatives as described in the hypothetical new constitution. The winners of that election would then form the first definitive, non-transitional government. But is that still the plan?

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/libya-is-still-fighting-for-democracy/259697/

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July 12th, 2012, 6:46 pm

 

200. irritated said:

What happened to the Christian Salafist? Was he sent back to his cave?

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July 12th, 2012, 6:49 pm

 

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