The West Worries about Civil War in Syria and Blames Russia

A Syrian woman cries as she carries her son, who was shot in the hand by the Syrian border guard as they were crossing into Lebanon at the Lebanese border town of Wadi Khaled. (Hussein Malla, Associated Press / May 30, 2012)

U.N. Monitors in Syria Report New Massacre
By: Patrick J. McDonnell | Los Angeles Times

United Nations monitors in Syria reported a new massacre Wednesday as diplomats at U.N. headquarters in New York scrambled to revive the faltering peace plan devised by special envoy Kofi Annan.

On Friday, Syrian activists blamed a pro-government militia for executing factory workers in Homs province a day earlier, while a pro-government Facebook page accused the rebel Free Syrian Army of carrying out the attack.
Syrian rebel group says it kidnapped 11 Lebanese, Fox News
Juan Cole writes:

The UN is debating whether to withdraw its observers from Syria, given that there is no point in deploying observers if they are just going to witness the violence.

The BBC has obtained satellite photographs of the central Syrian town of Houla at the time of its siege by Syrian artillery. Analysts confirm that the Syrian positions are consistent with their being in control of the scene.

What Does the Syrian Opposition Believe?
Also available in العربية
Wall Street Journal
May 30, 2012
There are increasing calls for international intervention in Syria after this weekend’s massacre in Houla, where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces murdered more than 100 civilians. Obstacles to intervention remain, however, especially concern that the opposition to Assad’s regime is dominated by religious fundamentalists. Until recently, for example, the Syrian National Council, a group of exiled opponents of the regime, was led by Burhan Ghalioun, whose unwillingness to counter the Muslim Brotherhood was widely viewed in the West as a troubling sign of Islamist influence.
But a confidential survey of opposition activists living in Syria reveals that Islamists are only a minority among them. Domestic opponents of Assad, the survey indicates, look to Turkey as a model for Syrian governance — and even widely admire the United States.
Pechter Polls, which conducts opinion surveys in tough spots in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, completed the Syria opposition poll in December 2011. Respondents were contacted over a secure Skype connection by someone they could trust — all native Syrians — who asked them to fill out a short questionnaire anonymously in Arabic. Interviewers were selected from different social and political groups to ensure that respondents reflected a rough cross-section of overall opposition attitudes. To ensure confidentiality, the online survey could be accessed only through a series of proxy servers, bypassing the regime-controlled Internet.
Given the survey’s unusual security requirements, respondents were selected by a referral (or “controlled snowball”) technique, rather than in a purely random fashion. To be as representative as possible, the survey employed five different starting points for independent referral chains, all operating from different locations. The resulting sample consisted of 186 individuals in Syria identified as either opposition activists themselves (two-thirds of the total) or in contact with the opposition.
What do these “inside” opposition supporters believe? Only about one-third expressed a favorable opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood. Almost half voiced a negative view, and the remainder were neutral. On this question, no significant differences emerged across regions.
Most of the survey’s questions asked, “On a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 means the most negative and 7 the most positive, how would you rate your opinion of X?” Answers of 1 to 3 were considered negative, 4 as neutral, and 5 to 7 as positive.
While many respondents supported religious values in public life, only a small fraction strongly favored Shariah law, clerical influence in government, or heavy emphasis on Islamic education. A large majority (73%) said it was “important for the new Syrian government to protect the rights of Christians.” Only 20% said that religious leaders have a great influence on their political views.
This broad rejection of Islamic fundamentalism was also reflected in the respondents’ views on government. The poll asked each respondent what country he or she would “like to see Syria emulate politically,” and which countries the respondent “would like to see Syria emulate economically.” The poll listed 12 countries, each with a scale of 1 to 7. Just 5% had even a mildly positive view of Saudi Arabia as a political model. In contrast, 82% gave Turkey a favorable rating as both a political and economic model (including over 40% extremely favorable). The U.S. earned 69% favorable ratings as a political model, with France, Germany and Britain close behind. Tunisia rated only 37% and Egypt 22%.
Iran was rated lowest of any country included in the survey, including Russia and China: Not even 2% of respondents had positive views of Iran as a political model. Fully 90% expressed an unfavorable view of Hezbollah, including 78% with the most negative possible attitude.
One of the surprises in the results is the scope of the opposition’s network inside Damascus, despite their difficulties in demonstrating publicly. One-third of the respondents, whether activists or sympathizers, said they live in the Syrian capital. (To protect their privacy, the survey did not ask for more precise identification.)
This “inside” opposition is well-educated, with just over half identifying as college graduates. The ratio of male to female respondents was approximately 3 to 1, and 86% were Sunni Arab.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were ambivalent about Syrian Kurdish demands for “political decentralization” (like autonomy). Views of “Kurdish parties” were evenly divided among negative, neutral and positive. (Such feelings are evidently mutual: In the six months since the survey was completed, Syrian Kurdish organizations have increasingly decided to go their own way, separate from the other opposition groups.)
Based on a statistical analysis of the survey, most secularists among the respondents prefer weak central government, presumably as a way to safeguard their personal freedoms. On the other hand, the one-third of respondents who support the Muslim Brotherhood also tend to have a favorable view of Hamas, despite the latter movement’s previous association with the Assad regime.
The survey demonstrates that the core of the Syrian opposition inside the country is not made up of the Muslim Brotherhood or other fundamentalist forces, and certainly not of al Qaeda or other jihadi organizations. To be sure, a revolution started by secularists could pave the way for Islamists to win elections, as has occurred in Egypt. But the Syrian opposition is solidly favorable to the U.S. and overwhelmingly negative toward both Hezbollah and Iran.
David Pollock is the Kaufman fellow at The Washington Institute and a consultant to Pechter Polls.

European voices go silent on Syria – Wash Post

… Asked Thursday whether he could envision a situation in which the United States would take military action in Syria without U.N. authorization, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said, “No, I cannot envision that because, look, as secretary of defense, my greatest responsibility is to make sure when we deploy our men and women in uniform and put them at risk, we not only know what the mission is, but we have the kind of support we need to accomplish that mission.”Speaking in Denmark, a key member of last year’s campaign against Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledged Thursday that on Syria, “we’re nowhere near putting together any type of coalition other than to alleviate the suffering.”

Clinton said the United States has been cautious for many reasons. Unlike in Libya, there is no unified opposition against Assad, and those fighting his rule don’t control significant territory. The Syrian military is much stronger than Gaddafi’s. The Arab League has not called for military intervention, as it did in Libya. And the prospect of a sectarian civil war that could engulf the region is also worrying….

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that the crisis in Syria could “descend into a full-fledged conflict” unless the international community supports Kofi Annan’s peace plan and an independent investigation into the slaughter of more than 100 civilians in Houla last week, which she said “may amount to crimes against humanity.”

Haaretz: Note to Syria interventionists: Be careful what you wish for
By Chemi Shalev | Jun.01,

Half-baked US initiatives could push the Alawites over the edge, along with their ballistic missiles and chemical weapons…… The slaughter of innocent women and children at Houla has elicited calls for American intervention in the ongoing Sunni uprising in Syria. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has urged that the US arm the rebels, while Senators John McCain …

It is the potentially lethal mix of those two elements – the centuries old blood feud between the Alawite minority and the Sunni majority and the Syrian regime’s arsenal of surface to surface missiles and weapons of mass destruction – that should give pause to anyone advocating military intervention, especially if it’s just for the sake of “doing something”. Because that “something” could set off a chain reaction that might have far worse consequences than another round of massacres, as harsh as that may sound – especially, though not exclusively, for Israel.

The Syrian conflict may have been sparked by the Arab Spring, but by now it has very little to do with it. The standoff between the Alawi-dominated regime and the exclusively Sunni opposition is not a part of some Facebook revolt or Twitter rebellion and is no longer, if it ever was, an insurrection of democracy-seeking civilians against an oppressive autocratic regime. This is now a sectarian blood feud, an age-old vendetta, another bloody chapter in an ongoing conflict between a pilloried, outcast and persecuted sect that 40 years ago, after a millennium of persecution and degradation, ingeniously succeeded in seizing power and turning the tables on its historical oppressors….

Syria is to the Middle East as the Balkans were to Europe a hundred years ago – a powder keg that needs just one superfluous match to ignite the entire region. Although the desire to take action against the murderous Assad regime is understandable, the “shot heard around the world,” in this case, could be a half-baked intervention that sounds the alarm and lights up the panic buttons in the Presidential Palace in Damascus. Even in a go-for-broke presidential campaign, that nightmare possibility should give pause to headline-seeking politicians, especially those who claim to have Israel’s best interests at heart.

Why Syria feels abandoned
By Donatella Rovera, May 30, Wash Post

Donatella Rovera is Amnesty International’s senior adviser on crisis response and has reported from numerous conflict zones on human rights violations since 1991. She has traveled inside Syria several times over the past two months.

In village after village in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of Syria, northwest of the central city of Hama, the scene was the same: burned-down houses and grieving families who described atrocities by Syrian soldiers — relatives of all ages dragged away and shot, their bodies often set on fire, making them literally part of the military’s “scorched earth” policy.

I spoke to people who are terrified of leaving their homes…..

Rebel training in Qusair, Syria (Los Angeles Times / May 30, 2012)

LA Timest – Syria rebels say they’re preparing for war

…rebels see this moment as an opportunity to rearm, regroup and prepare for what they regard as the inevitable escalation of fighting once the cease-fire, violated by both sides, is declared dead.

In the wake of Friday’s massacre of more than 100 civilians, many of them children, in Houla, some rebels are asking whether that time has come. In a video posted online Saturday, Free Syrian Army spokesman Col. Qassim Saad Eddine said it was no longer possible to comply with the peace plan.

“The battle is coming, and it will be bigger and will take longer,” said one defector, former army Sgt. Basil Idriss, who now heads a militia in Qusair. Many rebels escaping the battered Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs fled to Qusair, less than 20 miles away. “Annan’s plan will fall apart. It may fall apart tomorrow or next week, or it may take longer.”

Massive bombings in the capital and elsewhere have raised the specter of Al Qaeda involvement either in the rebel ranks or in independent cells in the country. But in the gardens and fields surrounding Qusair, the rebels insist they are on their own, making bombs, gathering weapons and scoping out army checkpoints and tank positions.

Occasionally people still ask, “Where is America?” or “Where is NATO?” but increasingly it comes off as rhetorical. “We only have God” has become a common refrain.

“We grew sick of the political solutions a long time ago,” said Maj. Ibrahim “Abu Al-Noor” Mutawi, another defector, who heads the Al Mughawir militia, one of several in Qusair. “We didn’t see anything to hold on to in this political path.”….

…Though the militias say they are refraining from offensive action, they also say they have begun sending groups of fighters to the capital to carry out small operations: attacking buses carrying members of the shabiha militia or security force vehicles, or even conducting assassinations.

“The final battle is going to be in Damascus, just like it was in Tripoli,” in Libya, Jumaa said.

In an online video posted last week a Free Syrian Army militia operating in Damascus and its suburbs claimed responsibility for assassinating six high-ranking security and government officials, including the director of general security and the defense minister. The claims were denied by the interior minister, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim Shaar, who was among those the rebels claimed to have killed.

Some say thousands of fighters have been sent to Damascus to prepare for the end of the peace plan; others say the number is more modest. In any case, it signals the uprising is likely to become bloodier.

“The minute Annan, that dog, says there is no cease-fire and I have nothing to do with Syria, we’re going to light the capital on fire,” said Fidaa Aamir, a member of the Soldiers of the Merciful militia in Qusair, who each night leads residents in chants and song.

“We’ve already poured the oil on Assad,” said another man puffing on a hookah. “Now we’re just waiting to light the fuse.”

Syria: truth, lies and realpolitik – 30 May 2012
Brian Stoddart

US is heaping new pressure on Russia over Syria
By BRADLEY KLAPPER, Associated Press

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The U.S. is heaping new pressure on Russia to change course and support international action in Syria, warning that intransigence by Moscow may lead to open civil war that could spill across the Middle East with devastating effects.

Speaking on Russia’s doorstep in Denmark, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton derided the Russian government for continuing to support Syrian President Bashar Assad, even after last week’s massacre of more than 100 people in the town of Houla. In pointed remarks Thursday, she said Russia’s position “is going to help contribute to a civil war” and rejected Russian officials’ insistence that their stance actually is helping to ease the crisis….

“The Russians keep telling us they want to do everything they can to avoid a civil war because they believe that the violence would be catastrophic,” Clinton said, noting that they are “vociferous in their claim that they are providing a stabilizing influence.”

“I reject that,” she said, complaining that in fact Russia is propping up Assad as his government continues a brutal, 15-month crackdown on dissent in which some 13,000 people have died.

A day earlier, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough said the U.S. is lobbying Russia to distance itself from its ally Syria and to apply pressure on Assad to leave office. A negotiated exit similar to one the U.S. helped broker for Yemen’s longtime leader is one possibility, McDonough said, but he offered little optimism that the arguments are gaining traction.

Russian Church Is a Strong Voice Opposing Intervention in Syria
By ELLEN BARRY, May 31, 2012

MOSCOW — ….It is clear by now that Russia’s government has dug in against outside intervention in Syria, its longtime partner and last firm foothold in the Middle East. Less well known is the position taken by the Russian Orthodox Church, which fears that Christian minorities, many of them Orthodox, will be swept away by a wave of Islamic fundamentalism unleashed by the Arab Spring…..

Usama Matar, an optometrist who has lived in Russia since 1983, said he did not harbor any illusions about Russia’s motives for defending Syrian Christians like himself, whom he called “small coins in a big game.” But he said there were few international players taking notice of Eastern Christians at all.

“The West is pursuing its own interests; they are indifferent to our fate,” he said. “I am not justifying the Assad regime — it is dictatorial, we know this, it is despotic, I understand. But these guys, they don’t even hide their intention to build an Islamic state and their methods of battle, where they just execute people on the streets. That’s the opposition, not just the authorities. And we are between two fires.”

Comments (106)

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1. Dawoud said:

Yesterday, I was at my son’s lacrosse 7PM EST practice and listening live to Aljazeera English on my phone. Mr. Joshou Landis was interviewed live and I can list a few of the points that he said (I am paraphrasing him, not exact quotes):

1) Bashar’s army is spreading thin, and that’s why it is giving arms to Alawite villagers and militias-the Shabiha. These Alawite shabiha committed the Houla massacre. The Syrian army can’t deny responsibility/knowledge because its tanks were seen and verified through satellite imagery shelling Houla just before the Alawi Shabiha entered the village.

2) The regime is eventually doomed because the armed opposition, the FSA, will continue to get stronger because of Saudi/Qatari/external supplies!

3)No moral equivalency between the murderous regime and the people opposing it!

Free Syria, Free Palestine!

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June 1st, 2012, 11:07 am


2. Dawoud said:

To: MajedKhaldoun

Although I would like to see an Arab-Turkish humanitarian MILITARY intervention in Syria (including NATO air-and only air-support for Turkey-a NATO member) and arming of FSA, my criticism of President Obama’s inaction WILL NEVER MAKE ME VOTE REPUBLICAN! I am a center-left thinker and I can’t vote for a Republican right-winger nor a Republican moderate! Although Syria is dear to my heart and I would like to see Bashar’s murderous dictatorship toppled as soon as possible, I am NOT a single issue voter. Obama is not my ideal candidate-but he is the better choice between the two. Unfortunately, U.S. elections-given the American electoral system and money in politics-usually offer a very limited choice and voters have to choose the least harmful candidate. I support Obama’s re-election!

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June 1st, 2012, 11:14 am


3. majedkhaldoun said:

Thank you, , and yes Obama may get re-elected, why? because Romney ,in the past made comments where Israeli consider anti israel,and pro Arab.
Who would you prefer to win in Egypt?Ahmad Shafiq,or Mursi?

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June 1st, 2012, 11:32 am


4. omen said:

1. DAWOUD said: 2) The regime is eventually doomed because the armed opposition, the FSA, will continue to get stronger because of Saudi/Qatari/external supplies!

this reporter on the ground was interviewed by anderson cooper last night:

Joining me now is a war photographer, Robert King, who despite all the risks is there on the ground.

He witnessed an intense attack by the Syrian regime on civilians and Free Syrian Army Forces and others, and also medical staff in a place called Alkaser in Syria.

Robert, you’re in Alkaser right now. What did you see with your own eyes?

ROBERT KING, WAR PHOTOGRAPHER: What I saw with my own eyes today were as many wounded and many dead both civilian and FSA fighters inside a local field hospital in the city. The city was constantly being shelled early in the morning until even tonight, there’s still shells falling.


COOPER: We have been told that other Arab governments, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia is going to be sending in money so that they can buy better weapons. U.S. has talked about communications equipment. But in terms of what you’re seeing on the ground, you’re still seeing poorly armed opposition forces.

KING: Yes, they’re still waiting for the communications equipment. They’re still waiting for this so-called money that the Arab world has claimed to be donating to the Free Syrian Army. It’s not here.

fsa hasn’t even gotten the radios or sat phones the u.s. promised. how pathetic is that? according to king, the rebels are still poorly equipped.
i’m starting to think all these promises of help from countries being floated by the press is just propaganda. how many months of offers of help have we kept reading about only to see next to nothing be forthcoming. getting more bullets isn’t going to cut it.

i keep hearing jordan and turkey are keeping their borders tightly closed to arms traffic. these countries are u.s. allies. they would open their borders if the u.s. pressured them to.

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June 1st, 2012, 11:46 am


5. Dawoud said:


Of course, Mursi! Why would you even think that somebody like me would support Shafik-a corrupt remnant “Foloul” of the Mubarak Israeli-collaborator regime? I am not “afraid” of the Muslim Brotherhood. They will rule Egypt in the same wise/honest way that Tayyib Erdogan has ruled Turkey. Besides, anything-including the devil-is more merciful that Arabs’ dictatorial regimes, especially Bashar al-Assad-who is the worst Arab regime EVER!

No, Romney is Zionist right-wings’/neocons’ preferred choice! The NYT had an article a few weeks ago on Romney’s longtime friendship with Benjamin Netanyahu. They met each other more than 30 years ago when they both worked for the same private equity firm. The flirtation/support of the American religious right-which very influential in the Republican Party-with Israel is well-known.

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June 1st, 2012, 11:51 am


6. Dawoud said:


We will not see massacres and women raped when a Syrian Muslim Brotherhood candidate becomes president of Syria!

Anybody, including the devil, is more merciful and humane than Bashar (War Criminal) al-Assad!

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June 1st, 2012, 12:02 pm


7. Antoine said:

Send about 500 Kornet or AT-3 anti-tank missile launchers along with 500000 Anti-Tank Guided missiles to the boys in Homs,Idleb, Reef Halab, Daraa, Deir, Reef Dimashq. Plus lost and lots of mortar tubes and mortar rounds. Thats all. Problem solved.

When the conscripts see they are going to get killed inside their Tanks, not a single Sunni or Christian conscript will want to continue serving in the Syrian Arab Army.

Then it will be just 200,000 armed-to-the-teeth sectarians VS the rest of Syria.

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June 1st, 2012, 12:03 pm


8. Dawoud said:


I agree. As soon as the FSA becomes a credible force, most Sunnis and Christians will DEFECT. The war will become very short!

Even Hasan Nasrillat’s forces, Iran’s al-Quds, and al-Sadr’s al-Mahdi Army WILL go back to their countries. Surely, the Alawi Shabiha that committed al-Houla massacre will continue to fight because NOW they have no other choice!

Free Syria, Free Palestine!

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June 1st, 2012, 12:08 pm


9. majedkhaldoun said:

dear Dawood
I too think Mursi is much better than Shafiq,, with winning the parliament and the presidency, I hope we do’nt hear them discussing Hijab or circumcission, I believe also freedom comes first before religion, people are born free,before they learn religion, Omar ibn AlKhattab said,since when you enslave people and their mother gave birth to them free, this is what I like about Islam, it supports freedom, it is the people who interpreted Islam wrong.
The pro Assad must think about Syria , that we all love, The regime is going sooner or later, and if the regime goes out sooner and spare Syria the destruction, would be much better than if the regime leaves after civil war, where many will die, and the country will be destroyd, if we truely love Syria we must call the regime to go soon, and freedom and democracy will protect all Syrian, where as if war developed,then, extremists will win, and some will lose a lot

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June 1st, 2012, 12:24 pm


10. zoo said:

Syrian rebel group says it kidnapped 11 Lebanese


BEIRUT (AP) — A previously unknown Syrian rebel group says it’s holding 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims kidnapped in Syria.

The pilgrims were abducted on May 22, after crossing into Syria from Turkey on their way to Lebanon.

The group calling itself Syrian Rebels in Aleppo said in a statement obtained by Al-Jazeera TV that the hostages are in good health.

The statement included photographs said to be of the hostages and their passports. Al-Jazeera, which aired the photos Thursday night, did not say how it obtained the statement. Its authenticity could not be independently verified.

The group claimed five hostages were members of the militant Hezbollah group and demanded its leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah apologize for saying last week the kidnapping would not change his group’s pro-Syrian stance.

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June 1st, 2012, 12:28 pm


11. omen said:

A previously unknown Syrian rebel group


A previously unknown jihadist group


see a pattern?

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June 1st, 2012, 12:33 pm


12. irritated said:

#6 Dawood said

“We will not see massacres and women raped when a Syrian Muslim Brotherhood candidate becomes president of Syria! “

“In Turkey, despite huge progress in terms of legislation, levels of violence against women remain the worst in Europe and the US.”

According to a UN report, 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime. In Turkey, despite huge progress in terms of legislation, levels of violence against women remain the worst in Europe and the US.

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June 1st, 2012, 12:37 pm


13. omen said:

7. ANTOINE said:
Send about 500 Kornet or AT-3 anti-tank missile launchers along with 500000 Anti-Tank Guided missiles to the boys in Homs,Idleb, Reef Halab, Daraa, Deir, Reef Dimashq. Plus lost and lots of mortar tubes and mortar rounds. Thats all. Problem solved.

rebels have been begging for anti tank weapons for months now to no avail.

israel won’t allow the u.s. to give such weapons to “islamists.”

the question now turns to this: what’s stopping qatar from delivering them?

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June 1st, 2012, 12:40 pm


14. irritated said:

#9 Majed

Do you want a civil war to “start soon” or not?

“would be much better than if the regime leaves after civil war, where many will die, and the country will be destroyd,”

You said a few comments ago:

“Civil war is not much worse than what is goin on in Syria now, it is also unavoidable, the regime will not go till the country is destroyd, we have to accept civil war, and the sooner it starts the sooner we will get rid of this vampire,”

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June 1st, 2012, 12:44 pm


15. Observer said:

Juan Cole has this information

He also thinks that arming the rebels is not a good idea and he gives 10 reasons all of which have to do with realpolitik and nothing to do with moral and ethical reasons to allow people to defend themselves.

Again as I pointed out before the regime miscalculated from the very beginning
1. Punishing Atif Najib would have nipped the revolt in the bud
2. Conducting real reforms and demoting key figures of the regime would have sent a message of serious committment to change such as breaking up the phone business of the cousin
3. Bringing in all into drafting a new constitution instead of having it tailor made to fit one person only.
4. The use of crowd control without force
5. Talking openly about the fear of minorities

Instead it resorted to brute incompetent force and to sectarian strife and to arsonist behavior and to stupid propaganda and now we have a logic of brutality that is overtaking the country as a whole. The greatest indicator of how stupid the regime has become is the Putin press conference today.

He said he does not send weapons that could be used to suppress the population. He said that he is not in support of any regime. He said he is against civil war. He said he is for the Annan plan to succeed. He said that he is not wedded to Fredo rule.

So if Russia wants to appear as a credible power that is playing a responsible role in world affairs it must deliver on the Syria side and this includes
1. Cessation of violence
2. Real concessions for a dialogue to even come off the ground
3. Transition period and government
4. Truth and reconciliation
5. Civil society and rule of law in completely recreated state institutions.

The wild card is the Corleone family and Co. They have proven intransigent to the extreme. They can not fathom not being in total control of the enslavement policies of the last 40 years of darkness. They can and will screw Putin. I would love to see his face when Fredo tells him to buzz off.

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June 1st, 2012, 12:46 pm


16. irritated said:

#13 Omen

“what’s stopping qatar from delivering them?”

UPS does not have a delivery service for Edlib

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June 1st, 2012, 12:47 pm


17. irritated said:


“They can and will screw Putin. I would love to see his face when Fredo tells him to buzz off.”

Do I sense a hidden admiration for the guts of ‘Fredo’ and his family?

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June 1st, 2012, 12:49 pm


18. Hopeful said:

Clinton’s threat yesterday to Russia means that the US *may* soon move to the phase of seriously helping arm the FSA and other rebels in Syria. If that happens, a serious civil war in Syria will erupt, and the West will blame Russia for it.

Russia is partially to blame. No one has the ability to ease the regime out peacefully and politically other than Russia. Russia should do with Syria what the US did with Egypt: convince the army that it was time to abandon the regime and support the change. Russia has as much influence on the Syrian army generals as the US has on Egyptian army generals.

The mistake that the US/West is making (And has constantly made), is the constant public humiliation of Russia. Perhaps it is because of the media-centric culture that is pervasive in the West, but I believe that the US can get Russia’s help much more effectively if they “criticize in private” and “praise in public” instead of the other way around. The russians are extra sensitive when it comes to their national pride.

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June 1st, 2012, 1:02 pm


19. omen said:

juan cole caught a lot of flack for supporting the libya mission. he’s still defensive about it.


irritated, qataris are richer than god. they don’t need ups.

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June 1st, 2012, 1:04 pm


20. Hopeful said:

If a referendum is conducted today among all Syrians on the following options:

1. Regime survival at all costs
2. Regime removal at all costs
3. The end of the regime without civil war and without military intervention

I believe that the overwhelming majority of Syrians will vote for option #3.

Given that, and given that the goal of the revolution is “the voice of the people”, the UN, Russia, the US, China, Europe, and everyone else should make that option their goal and work collectively on it. The only country which can make it happen is Russia. So it is time for everyone else to start negotiating with Russia on what it will take for it to do so.

Of course you may argue that the people will vote for another option, and I am happy to listen to your argument if you have one.

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June 1st, 2012, 1:16 pm


21. Halabi said:

Can we get an investigation about the Syrian military crushing a man with a tank? Or the countless cases of torture and abuse of detainees?

Warning, Assad crimes…

Of course the soldiers might be in an Al Qaeda tank.

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June 1st, 2012, 1:42 pm


22. majedkhaldoun said:

Link Added:

قبل قليل انتهت جلسة مجلس حقوق الانسان التابع للأمم المتحدة في جنيف الخاصة بسورية وهي الجلسة الرابعة التي يعقدها المجلس بشكل خاص عن سورية حيث إدانة بأقسى العبارات مجزرة الحولة التي قضى فيها ٤٩ طفلا تحت سن العاشرة كما نص القرار حرفيا ويحمل الحكومة السورية المسؤولية عن هذه المجزرة وعن الجرائم ضد الانسانية ويطالب لجنة التحقيق الطولية بإجراء تحقيق دولي وفق المعايير الدولية عن هذه الجريمة

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June 1st, 2012, 2:21 pm


23. Amjad said:

Oh no, what ever happened to the regimists favorite Leftist sell out? Even he can’t defend Bashar’s actions anymore.

“I have received information in the last few days that some of the victims in Hula were Shi`ites. That was also reported on New TV and on the Syrian dissident website, Al-Haqiqah. I was told that the victims from the families of `Abdur-Razzaq and As-Sayyid were Sunnis who had converted to Shi`ism in the 1980s. I contacted those who reported that and I contacted people in Hula itself and I can tell you that there is no evidence whatsoever to that claim (which has obvious propaganda value particularly since that Syrian regime media never discuss issues of sects–unlike the Syrian opposition media which are blatant in its sectarianism and sectarian agitation). And if you add this (the story that has not been proven) to the lousy and empty press conference in Damascus yesterday about the Syrian regime investigation of the massacre, I can only conclude that the Syrian regime is looking more and more guilty. We don’t have all the facts as of yet, but this is my feeling now in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

[…] ”

Dear me, all the lies and pakistani shabiha conspiracy theories don’t seem to be able to stop Bashar’s inevitable day in the Hague. If he’s lucky.

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June 1st, 2012, 2:29 pm


24. Alan said:

The West Worries about Civil War in Syria and Blames Russia

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June 1st, 2012, 3:20 pm


25. Alan said:
Putin+Merkel: No to Syrian invasion & Euro collapse

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June 1st, 2012, 3:22 pm


26. Alan said:

CIA SABOTAGE OF SYRIA PEACE PLAN: Miami Cuban Dissidents Join Hands with Syrian “Opposition”

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June 1st, 2012, 3:35 pm


27. SALAH ADDIN said:

7.Antoine said: Send about 500 Kornet or AT-3 anti-tank missile launchers along with 500000 Anti-Tank Guided missiles to the boys in Homs, Idleb, Reef Halab, Daraa, Deir, Reef Dimashq. Plus lost and lots of mortar tubes and mortar rounds….

Papa Noel is collecting wishlists from the good behaving boys. Make sure your boys have their addresses clearly legible, so he can drop each one their gifts in their chemeneys, as per your above wishes.
And if they are very well behaved, Christmas might come early this year. Make sure you include a note that these are needed to kill Sunni and Christian conscripts inside their tanks, as this could expedite Christmas to an overnight delivery.

By the way are you and Khaled Tlass related?

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June 1st, 2012, 3:47 pm


28. Alan said:

Sentenced to Extermination

The operation aimed at eliminating Syria is in full swing, it has already moved to the final stage. According to the CNN the US military instructors prepare the special operations forces of Jordan to capture government buildings and overthrow the Syrian government. The “Eager Lion-2012” military exercises started in Jordan in the middle of May bringing together up to 11 thousand special operations troops from 19 Arab and European countries. The exercise is led by the US Central Command. Besides Jordan hosts the US army units that have left Iraq and the militants who came back from Libya to get more training by Jordanian, Saudi and Pakistani instructors.
The US leading think tanks had spent a number of years to come up with the plan. The goal of the Greater Middle East concept is creating chaos in the region that would make appear an axis of instability from Lebanon, Palestine to Syria, Iraq, the Persian Gulf states, Iran up to the border with Afghanistan. Besides the Anglo-Saxon military “road map” appears to encompass the whole post Soviet Central Asia, a region to link the unstable Middle East with even more unstable Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Michael Davie’s map doesn’t include the territory of Syria in its present day borders: instead there is a small state of Alawites at the sea shore, while Syria itself becomes part of a “new entity” formed together with the Iraqi Sunni. As Davie sees it, the Golan heights would become part of Israel as a result of liquidation of Syria as a sovereign state. Besides a new Palestinian state is going to become established on the territory of contemporary Jordan in exchange for Israel’s refusal to claim East Jerusalem. Lebanon is to be divided into two states: one belonging to the Shiites, another to the Maronites.

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June 1st, 2012, 3:49 pm


29. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Having dinner with a high level rank who is working in a syrian ministry he recognized to me last week that he has lost faith in the regime. He always tried to be optimistic about Assad regime and specially in ¨reformists¨ like him surrounding the leader but now he has given up. He is sure the regime will fall, at best through an agrement, as he is sure that when ¨others¨ (sic) get in power he like thousands like him will be labeled as loyalist and thrown away.

I consider this is an interesting insight into the regime and just wanted to share it with you.

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June 1st, 2012, 3:53 pm


30. Tara said:

• Alex Thomson, from Channel 4 News, who has just returned from Houla, said the conclusions of Syrian government’s inquiry “would be laughable were the events that took place in Houla not so revolting, brutal and tragic”.

He said:

We know, and all sides agree, there was a long artillery barrage, and then we know, and all sides agree, these militia entered a zone which had been subject to heavy shelling. They conducted a massacre and not a single shell landed anywhere near them, not a single mortar, not a single bullet round – fired by the Syrian army. So you have to believe that that was either a fantastically lucky coincidence for the people doing the massacre, or they were acting in co-ordination with the army. I invite our viewers to make their own judgement.


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June 1st, 2012, 4:28 pm


31. Tara said:

Bronco @146 from previous thread

“A civil war on a maximum of 5% of the territory? ”

I hope you are right and I am wrong. I have a strong feeling of impending doom haunting me for the last several days, that the country has already been lost, and that Yara will be grown up into an all American girl and will never see our home land…

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June 1st, 2012, 4:40 pm


32. zoo said:

Link Added:

The “Yemen” solution for Syria?

As violence rises, U.S. and allies pulled into Yemen
By Peter Apps

LONDON | Fri Jun 1, 2012 5:37am EDT

LONDON (Reuters)- U.S. policymakers might talk down “boots on the ground” in Yemen but with an estimated several hundred military advisers already deployed, Washington and its allies are already being drawn ever deeper into the country.

Western security and intelligence officials have long seen Yemen as central to their fight against Islamist militancy, viewing local franchise Al Qaeda on the Arabic Peninsula (AQAP) as the most dangerous single foreign group plotting attacks against the West. U.S. officials say the group was behind a thwarted airline attack plot last month, the latest of several such schemes.

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June 1st, 2012, 4:42 pm


33. bronco said:

31. Tara

If you want to live in a city close to ‘democratic countries’ such as Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, I recommend that you stay where you are.

I know you don’t like Damascus, but there you’ll be able to enjoy the peaceful mixing of religions, ethnicity and historical tolerance.

Damascus and Aleppo are the real heart of Syria.

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June 1st, 2012, 4:47 pm


34. bronco said:

#24. Alan

“The West Worries about Civil War in Syria and Blames Russia”

Easier than to blame themselves…

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June 1st, 2012, 4:57 pm


35. Tara said:



My mother told me when someone feels sad you comfort him/her. Did you miss that class? Or… I am the…. enemy?

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June 1st, 2012, 5:00 pm


36. zoo said:

Published: 15:47 June 1, 2012

Even if the Shabiha are responsible for Houla, however, there is no clear evidence that the regime ordered the massacre. There is no obvious chain of command from the regime to the Shabiha, and it is difficult to assign blame for much of the country’s bloodshed because the violence has become so widespread and chaotic.

Besides the government-sanctioned violence, rebel fighters are launching increasingly deadly attacks on regime targets, and several massive suicide attacks this year suggest Al Qaida or other extremists are joining the fray. Syria severely restricts the media in the country, making it difficult to gain a credible account of events on the ground.

Still, Shabiha gunmen have a long history in Syria, dating back to Al Assad’s father and predecessor, Hafez, who ruled Syria from 1971 until his death in 2000.
Mousab Alhamadee, an activist based in the central province of Hama, said the Shabiha appear to be operating increasingly as rogue elements, without direct orders from on high.

“The Shabiha are more and more out of government control,” he said, and said the Houla massacre appeared to be a case in point.

“This massacre embarrassed the regime a lot,” he said. “The regime tries to avoid such crimes because of pressures from the international community and Russia.”

Still, the links with the regime remain strong. Alhamadee said he notices Shabiha in areas that are newly taken over by government troops.

“They move behind the troops, and their jobs is to rob and loot,” he said.

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June 1st, 2012, 5:04 pm


37. SANDRO LOEWE said:


¨Damascus and Aleppo are the real heart of Syria¨

By your words I can see you do not know Syria. Where most of the inhabitants of two biggest cities come from? Do you know it? They come from Al Jazeera (Raqqa, Deir ez Zor, Albu Kamal). They come from Hauran and Rif Dimasqh. They come from Afrin and Idleb. They come from Tartus, Safita and Hama. Most of them, maybe 70 % are of rural or even semi-desert or steepe regions. They are kurds, ´arabs (semi-nomadics and sedentary) and rural origins.

The real heart of Syria is its people. Aleppo and Damascus maybe are the real hearts of the regime but nothing else. Just be informed that by now the hearts of the reagime are bypassed and the blood running through it belongs to the syrian people from all Syria. Maybe this is why the regime is getting to its end.

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June 1st, 2012, 5:05 pm


38. bronco said:

35. Tara

I thought it would cheer you up to know that you will not need to stay for the rest of your life with Uncle Sam.

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June 1st, 2012, 5:07 pm


39. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Most of pro-Assad members of SC do not live inside Syria. You
enjoy freedom and citizenship rights. I always wonder the same question:

Why would anyone living in a democratic or at least tolerant country would support a moukhabaraaty system? Why justify tortures and power mafias?

I have no idea.

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June 1st, 2012, 5:10 pm


40. bronco said:

#37 SL

That’s exactly my point. Damascus and Aleppo are the meeting places, the melting pot of Syria. Their inhabitants come from all over Syria and have learnt about each other and live with each other in harmony.
That’s what I call the heart of a country where there is no more barriers of villages, sects and ethnicity.

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June 1st, 2012, 5:14 pm


41. zoo said:

After flexing his muscles with Merkel, Hollande is flexing his muscle with Putin: No need for Annan’s plan, sanctions and pressure will make Bashar go. Bernard Henry Levy, his mentor, wrote him a letter about that.

PARIS – France’s president said Friday that the only way to end the violence in Syria is for its president, Bashar Assad, to go, saying his regime had acted in an “intolerable way.”

Francois Hollande said pressure and sanctions would bring about the departure of Assad’s regime and lead to a peaceful resolution.

“The regime of Bashar Assad has conducted it in an unacceptable, intolerable way and has committed acts that disqualify it” from power, Hollande said after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syria’s principal backer and protector.

“There is no possible exit from this situation except with the departure of Bashar Assad,” he added.

Read it on Global News: Global News | France’s president says only way to end violence in Syria is for Bashar Assad to go

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June 1st, 2012, 5:31 pm


42. SANDRO LOEWE said:


All Syria is a melting pot. Sects and ethnicity have been existing in many villages and areas of Syria without reports of conflict for long time. The fact that religion becomes a desintegration factor happens inside cities too when poverty, injustice, and state crimes injury people´s dignity. The difference between rich cities and poor cities and villages is simply this, richness and poverty. It will only take some time until poverty in main cities mines the regime from within.

Maybe this revolution ask for freedom and dignity but in any world history revolution there is always a common factor: poor masses asking for redistribution of richness.

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June 1st, 2012, 5:35 pm


43. bronco said:

“poor masses asking for redistribution of richness.”

For once I agree with you.

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June 1st, 2012, 5:59 pm


44. Tara said:

How can a woman live without dark lilac blue nail polish?..,

The immodesty of nail polish.

Last Tuesday a Saudi woman in Riyadh was followed at a major mall by the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV). They demanded that she leave the mall because she had nail polish on. She in turn refused and started videotaping the incident on her cell phone and informed the CPVPV member that she’s also uploading it to social media. Then she called the police and in the second video you can see three police officers trying to calm the situation and hear her tell them that she’s afraid to leave the mall because the CPVPV might follow her in the car and purposely cause a car accident.

 The witness statement was made by a Talal Al Gharmoul who claims to have been there and tweeted:

 By God, I stood by and witnessed the incident, the woman does not have an atom of modesty. Her face was only covered by a transparent veil over her mouth. She also had a lot of make-up on. In addition to her wearing an abaya accentuating her waist, very similar to a dress. She had her mobile’s earphones in and she was reeling and swaying in front of the men. The CPVPV advised her politely and respectfully. Suddenly she raged against them and started screaming until everyone heard her cries. What was of the CPVPV men only to act leniently while she held up her cell phone. Then she sat beneath the escalators with her mobile held up and her earphones in and continued to scream at the men. She had her legs crossed with one foot swaying left and right in a shameful way. The CPVPV men stood about 4 meters away out of modesty. The CPVPV men insisted on her leaving the mall politely and respectfully while they faced her insults and profanity such as her saying “Do I look like I’m naked to you?”

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June 1st, 2012, 6:00 pm


45. omen said:

things that make you go hmmm…


Another angle, which Joshua has repeatly taken, is the allegation that the opposition is “sectarian”. That allegation is grossly exaggerated, I say, based on my view of the evidence. But a lot of ignorant people, especially in the West, are easily talked into believing it, and it has helped to lean them towards a negative view of the opposition.

even mawal doesn’t buy the sectarian argument but he recognizes the propaganda value of making such a case.

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June 1st, 2012, 6:18 pm


46. omen said:

culled from the news roundup from the previous thread:

How Washington Lost Syria

Signals can also have the reverse effect. A striking illustration followed the death of Hafez Assad in June 2000, when the region was awash with speculation that Sunni Vice-president Abdulhalim Khaddam might try to assert his constitutional prerogatives against Bashar Assad, who held no major government office at the time. Bashar’s estranged uncle Rifaat announced that he was returning from exile to lead a “revolution,”[10] while Saudi Arabia and other Arab states appeared to be hedging their bets.[11]

Into this mix, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright convened a press conference and declared that “it’s important for Dr. Bashar Assad to take on the mantle” in Damascus.[12] One after the other, Arab and Western governments followed suit.[13] Even UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s spokesman referred to Assad as the “future leader of Syria” nearly three weeks before his election.[14] Assad’s ascension would likely have gone smoothly without this intervention, but if anyone was entertaining thoughts about obstructing it, Washington clearly helped put them to rest.[15]

the u.s. played kingmaker? then they have blood on their hands.

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June 1st, 2012, 6:29 pm


47. Tara said:

Chilling account into what happened.  Animals want “to take revenge for Imam Ali”?   Imam Ali has nothing to do with these shabeehas.  They must be tried and executed and only called Animals  

The Houla massacre: reconstructing the events of 25 Ma
Interviews with survivors reveal the full story of the bloody horror that left more than 100 Syrians dead

“Then they brought my father into the room and shot him in front of us,” she said.

“I saw my father’s brains spill from his head.” One of the security men fired his gun into the ceiling, she said, and shouted: “We took revenge for you, Imam Ali” – a reference to the most revered imam of the Shia Islamic faith.

“They were security men and Shabiha,” she said. “One of them then said to the other, what are we going to do with the children? The other replied shoot them before the elders.”

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June 1st, 2012, 7:07 pm


48. Tara said:

I honestly do not know how can we forgive and forget. How can we coexist? How can’t we not demonize the whole group? How can we have them as neighbors knowing that if they hold power in the future, they will not hesitate to take revenge for Imam Ali from an infant. How? Please tell me how?? There has been no strong Alawi voice condemning what happened. My blood is boiling of rage and I am thousands and thousand of miles away. Where are you people?

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June 1st, 2012, 7:19 pm


49. Son of Damascus said:

Amal Hanano on the Rise of Aleppo.

Syria’s largest city finally lifts its voice to embrace the revolution

It is March 28, 2012. A group of young men are crouching behind parked cars on a wide street lined with stone buildings. The YouTube video on which they appear is as choppy as the filmmaker’s breath. You can hear the adrenaline, the defiance and the fear. You can also hear the sound of gunfire. A bullet hits one of the group and a man’s body is now in the frame, blood pooling on the asphalt behind his head. The sounds are chaotic. A few seconds ago, they were just a group of students chanting behind cars. Now, one of them is dead.

The dead man’s name was Anas Samo. He was, according to his friends, a “polite and kind-hearted” 21-year-old. He was also the first of the many University of Aleppo students who would soon meet their death.

What the viewer can’t see in these powerful frames are the long, ugly residential blocks that form the dormitory complex in what is known as al-Madineh al-Jam’iyeh, or the University City. In a city famed for its ornate buildings clad with limestone, these poorly-designed government structures have always been architectural eyesores.

The dormitories were built in the late 1960s to house students from all over Syria, notably those of modest means who could not afford to rent an apartment. For a few dollars a month, any student from any town or village could have access to the same education as the offspring of the most affluent local families. The concept was a Baathist dream: Syrian universities as classless utopias, cutting across social and economic divisions, where young Syrian citizens were supposed to be equal. Of course, unspoken strings – including unconditional loyalty to the regime – are attached to every tenancy agreement. As the students have watched their hometowns burn as the uprisings in Syria have turned increasingly violent, this unquestionable obedience began to shatter.

In April 2011, during the regime’s siege of Daraa, Aleppo’s students began to stage peaceful protests. They held nightly indoor demonstrations, chanting anti-government messages from the windows of their dormitories. The government responded by expelling 300 students. This year’s students would not be as lucky.


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June 1st, 2012, 7:39 pm


50. omen said:

regime apologists keep accusing the opposition the very thing the regime is guilty of. the slander needs to be denounced and disproven.

these agenda driven arguments trying the taint the opposition as sectarian were paved before the houla massacre. while the regime’s sectarian cleansing was barely remarked upon, dressed up instead as “providing security” or “fighting terrorism.” houla is a turning point. of course it’s going to be harder now.

but i do know this. fsa targeting regime military/security branch isn’t the equivalent to the regime killing innocent civilians. when have rebels ever killed babies?

tara: There has been no strong Alawi voice condemning what happened.

maybe not, but the brutality has disturbed their conscience. this is a shift.

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June 1st, 2012, 7:39 pm


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