Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
- Nadim KHOURY. Director of the Human Rights Watch Beirut office, Senior researcher on Syria and Lebanon (from Beirut);
- Joshua LANDIS. Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma (from Norman, Oklahoma);
- Patrick SEALE. Journalist and author of “The struggle for Arab independence”(from Fayence, France);
- Majd EID. Syrian Activist.
- When does a crackdown become a massacre?
- It seems that line has been crossed in the Syrian city of Hama – where rights groups say over 140 people have lost their lives since Sunday.
- so what of diplomacy?
Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said, “There’s no indication whatsoever that the Americans, that we would get involved directly with respect to this.” “the U.S. won’t use force against Syria but it will work in other ways to push for reform.” (2 Aug 2011)
….In Congress, increasingly incensed lawmakers are demanding that the administration impose additional sanctions on Mr. Assad and his inner circle. The administration has already hit Mr. Assad and a handful of senior Syrian officials with penalties and has said it is looking at more, including targeting the country\’s oil and gas industries.
On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of three senators said they would introduce legislation to ramp up pressure on the regime by penalizing foreign companies that do business in Syria\’s energy sector, which is responsible for about a third of Syrian export revenues.
Russia has been against UN sanctions against Syria because they would not settle the situation in this country, an official from the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
“We are not against everything; we categorically against all that does not work for a peaceful settlement. If there are unbalanced things like sanctions and pressure, such a set is really bad for attaining less blood and more democracy,” said Sergei Vershinin, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Middle East and North Africa Department.
Vershinin said that Russia has tried to avoid violence in Syria against both protesters and pro-government representatives. He noted that Syrian opposition should not dodge from the dialogue with the authorities about the country’s future.
“Reforms (in Syria) have been matured and they must be sped up,” he noted.
The diplomat stressed that the international community must learn from Libyan experience and not to adopt resolutions which later could be interpreted on a whim.
“(Such resolutions) lead not to the settlement but to the complicated situation on the ground,” the diplomat said, adding that military operation in Libya came into a deadend.
Vershinin also said that the frozen assets of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi abroad could be used only upon the UN Security Council’s permission. These assets should be evenly distributed to the east and the west of the country, the diplomat noted.
…The Chinese and the Russians believe, one U.N. diplomat told IPS, that “Western countries are likely to misinterpret any resolution against Syria and then unleash military attacks on Damascus – as they did with Libya.”
Iraqi president urges Assad to reform – 02/08/2011
By Ma’ad Fayad
London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A source close to Adel Abdel Mahdi, a leading figure in the Iraqi Islamic Supreme Council [IISC], which is led by Ammar al-Hakim, and resigned first deputy of the Iraqi president, disclosed details of the meeting that took place between Abdel Mahdi and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last week.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone from Baghdad, the source which spoke on the condition of anonymity said: “Abdel Mahdi met with Al-Assad in his capacity as a personal envoy of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. The visit was not an official one at all as Abdel Mahdi holds no official post.”
The source explained: “Abdel Mahdi conveyed a written message from President Talabani to President Al-Assad. In his letter, President Talabani urged Al-Assad to carry out genuine political reforms and stop using security and military methods against the Syrian people. He warned that continuation of the situation as it is will open the door to foreign intervention in Syria and make the situation in the region more critical.”
The source that is close to the leading IISC figure said: “The proposal to send a personal, unofficial envoy [to Syria] was the idea of the Iraqi president who did not want to send an official envoy as was preferred by the US Administration, which considered this move a positive step to ensure that the situation in Syria and the region will not develop further.”…
The source disclosed: “Since May, the US Administration has been trying to persuade some Iraqi officials who have influential relations with the Syrian president to talk to him and reach a formula to stop taking military measures against Syrian demonstrators.”
The source said: “Former US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad conducted shuttle trips to Arbil and Al-Sulaymaniyah to persuade President Talabani to visit Damascus and he discussed this move with close aides to President Talabani who has good relations with Al-Assad and can influence him.”
France rules out military intervention in Syria
PARIS, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) — The French authorities on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of military intervention in Syria, citing that the situation in Syria was different from Libya. “The situation in Libya and Syria are not similar. No option of a military nature is considered,” said Christine Fages, deputy spokeswoman of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during a regular press briefing. Full story
Syrian President Bashar Assad has “lost all humanity,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday as the UN held talks over the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on protesters, AFP reported. “Since the beginning of this situation, I …
“World cannot stop Syria from going through these convulsions” 02 August, 2011
Within its 1730 gmt newscast, Syrian Satellite Channel reports on the launch of Nur al-Sham Satellite Channel’s test transmission, a new Islamic Syrian channel.
Syrian Television says that the channel will be “a great window into our Arabic culture, which Islam was the light in”. The channel notes that Nur al-Sham “will present Islam’s comprehensive and moderate message.”
The channel then carries a video report in which it says that Nur al-Sham has launched its satellite transmission “to carry Islam’s tolerant message.”
The channel then shows Minister of Information Adnan Mahmud saying: “Nur al-Sham will be concerned with the message of the heavens in its purest image, principals, and highest goals in a framework that brings all Muslims together.”
Syrian Television adds that Nur al-Sham, which chose to launch with the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, will present a series of religious programmes.
The channel then shows Awqaf Minister Muhammad Abd-al-Sattar saying: “The channel is a pulpit for all scholars and a door for all knowledge,” noting that the channel is “for all Muslims all over the world and for all Arabs.”
WSJ [Reg]: Syrian Raids Spur Resistance
2011-08-02 13:42:15.616 GMT
BEIRUT—Thousands of Syrians marched Monday evening in a show of solidarity with two opposition strongholds attacked by the government a day earlier, while security forces renewed their raids on the cities of Hama and Deir el-Zour. A feared scenario—that protests would intensify during the holy month of Ramadan, which began Monday, and that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime would scramble to regain full control of restive cities—appeared to be unfolding. Government security forces raided mosques in several cities Monday evening and used nail bombs to disperse crowds gathering to march in support of Hama and Deir el-Zour, said residents and activists…..
Analysis: Syria army keeps cohesion but risks overstretch, LONDON | Tue Aug 2, 2011
By William Maclean
(Reuters) – The Syrian army, a vital pillar of President Bashar al-Assad’s power, is showing little sign of the serious splits and defections the opposition seeks in its ranks, despite strains caused by his military repression of unrest.
But as tanks spearhead a crackdown in the city of Hama, Assad must wonder whether is most loyal and heavily-armed soldiers are sufficiently numerous to deploy in several places at once if the need arose.
The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, usually a time of family visits and gift-giving that can produce much larger night-time crowds than normal, could severely test Assad’s armed might if protests escalate and Syria’s crisis grows more bloody.
“We are seeing some defections but nothing near the critical mass that might indicate the beginnings of a serious mutiny by Sunni soldiers,” said Andrew Terrill, Research Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Army War College.
The army command is drawn from Assad’s minority Alawite sect, while majority Sunni Muslims make up the rank and file. Most of the protesters targeted by army action are also Sunnis.
Firas Abi Ali, an analyst at British-based Exclusive Analysis forecasting company, said he rated the cohesion of the Syrian military as “quite high” in terms of possible splits that could trigger a coup d’etat, but sheer numbers were a problem.
SHORTAGE OF LOYAL UNITS
“If they don’t have enough loyal units to take Hama, they don’t have enough loyal units to take on much bigger cities like Homs, Aleppo or Damascus,” he said.
“I don’t think they have enough of these units to crack down in a major way on multiple cities at the same time, at least not without seeing defections and without risking expanding the scope of the protests.”
The holy month of Ramadan, usually a time when streets are bustling with cheery shoppers as they make their purchases throughout the night until the last hours before dawn, has begun on a dreary note in various Syrian towns as shops remain closed …