The World Closes in on Bashar al-Assad

Syrians must win the revolution on their own
by Joshua Landis in Foreign Policy, Mid East Channel

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (right) meets with Syrian President Bashar al- Assad Photo: AP

A growing chorus of policy experts in Washington are calling for the United States to get serious about Syria. They want Washington to take charge of regime change, hastening the downfall of the Assad government. This is bad advice. The U.S. should not try to hit the fast-forward button on the proce…

Obama Administration to Call for Syria’s Assad to Step Down
August 09, 2011| FoxNews.comSyrian President Bashar Assad

The Obama administration is planning to explicitly call for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down in coming days, two administration officials told FoxNews.

The State Department signaled for the first time that American efforts to engage the Syrian government are finally over. The White House is expected to lay out the tougher line by the end of this week, possibly on Thursday.

The administration will first consult with the United Nations Security Council as the Treasury Department prepares a new set of sanctions aimed at Assad’s family and his government, the officials told FoxNews.

The unilateral U.S. sanctions being prepared within the Treasury Department will be important to pay attention to, the officials said…..

Earlier in the day a spokesman for the State Department conceded that Washington had abandoned it bid to engage Damascus.

“In the case of Syria, the message from 2009 was if you are prepared to be a reformer, if you are prepared to work with us on Middle East peace and other issues we share, we can have a new and different kind of partnership,” said Victoria Nuland. But “that is not the path that Assad chose,” she added.

Turkey, Syria discuss steps to end violence
Associated Press | August 9, 2011

Turkey’s foreign minister says he and Syrian leader Bashar Assad have discussed “concrete steps” Syria should take to stop the bloodshed there.

But Ahmet Davutoglu did not say what those steps would be and whether Assad had agreed to consider taking them.

Speaking to reporters on his return from Damascus on Tuesday, Davutoglu said Turkey would continue talking with Assad in a bid to halt the violence.

Syria’s army has defied international criticism of the regime’s deadly crackdown on a 5-month-old uprising, and the soldiers continued their raids on restive areas Tuesday.

Davutoglu said: “We discussed ways to prevent confrontation between the army and the people in the most open and clear way.”

Davutoglu said the atmosphere was cordial when he met with Assad for more than six hours in Damascus on Tuesday, including a two-hour tete-a-tete.

Ali Mahmood Habib, Syria’s Defense Minister who stepped down two days ago, was on Syrian TV refuting all claims of his death and disagreements with the leadership.

The situation in Syria: a first hand account

Emeritus Professor Brian Stoddart, former Vice-Chancellor at La Trobe University, returned recently from an extended assignment working with universities in Syria. Below is his account of his time in a country now racked by anti-government protests and simmering sectarian tension.

Iran’s Irreversible Path in Syria
By: Dr. Ali Bigdeli, University Professor and International Affairs Analyst 08/09/11, Pevand Press

Since the Islamic revolution and especially after the Iran-Iraq war, Iran approached Iraq’s enemy Syria. Syria and Iraq had hostile relations due to their different interpretations of the Baath political philosophy. This relationship led to Iran’s generous assistance, particularly in oil sales, to Syria. During those years Parliament had passed a bill that guaranteed four million dollars of oil be sold to Syria at lower than the global price; we also gave one million tons of oil to Syria for free. The Syrian debt to us was about 5 billion dollars. Therefore, our regional policy during the 8-year war with Iraq was tied to Syria.

Nevertheless, then President Hafiz Al-Assad confronted us opportunistically. I wrote a book at that time on Iraq’s political history and I came upon a document which indicated that Hafiz Al-Assad annually received about 250 thousand dollars from the US.

In addition Al-Assad voted with the Emirates on many occasions over the ownership of the three disputed Persian Gulf islands, after the establishment of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council. In an interview he had said that he could not separate Arabism from his country. This proves that Arabism had priority over Islamism in Syria.

However, since we were at war during Al-Assad’s time, we had no other choice but to expand our relations with Syria. After the Resistance movement in Lebanon this relationship became even closer. Mr. Mousavi, the former Resistance leader, had close relations with Hafiz Al-Assad. This relationship continued until Hafiz passed away and his son Bashar came to power, but the relationship did not change much even then. Mr. Ahmadinejad’s first foreign meeting after his (first) election to the Iranian presidency was with Bashar Al-Assad, who had come to Tehran to congratulate him. With the Gaza issue our relations became even closer and we invested in Syria’s infrastructures.

After the “Arab Spring” developments started to spread to Syria, we preferred to keep quiet and even support Syria on international levels based on our strategic relations and friendship. Our behavior with Syria differed from that of Turkey.

The interesting point is that Turkey had the most investment in Syria. Turkey has the greatest political and economic relations with Syria. But we witnessed how cleverly Mr. Erdogan reacted to Syria’s situation. He used the same policy toward Lebanon and Libya as well. The escape of the Syrian opposition to Turkey gave the upper hand to the Turks. …Turkey’s clever policy toward Syria is a sign of its leadership in the Muslim world. It seems that Turkey has snatched that leadership from Saudi Arabia and Egypt’s hands. ….

Currently, we assume that if Syria faces any insecurity leading to Bashar Al-Assad’s removal, we will lose our link to the most powerful military potential in the region, Hezbollah. Therefore, Iran is putting all its strength into stabilizing the situation in Syria.

The truth is that we have entered an irreversible path. …We will continue this path until we see what will become of our strategic friend.

Regarding the reforms Bashar has announced,… After the killing of more than two thousand people, reform does not make sense. The Syrian people had limited demands in the first days of the protests, but now they demand is that Bashar Al-Assad, his family and all the Alawis should leave power.

In a situation like this reform will not do any good, and the continuation of resistance by Asad’s opponents shows that they have learnt from the experience of other Arab countries. The resistance of people in Arab countries is very interesting. In none of the revolutions worldwide had we witnessed people resisting continuously for months. Protesters are killed every day, but they continue their uprising. We cover the resistance of people in Yemen and Libya, but we say nothing about Syria. However, the future of all three will be the same, since the time for reform has passed in Syria. Therefore we should be skeptical about the continuation of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.

Iran discovers new gas field
Press TV – August 8, 2011

Managing director of the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Ahmad Qalebani says a new gas field has been discovered in eastern Asalouyeh.

“The gas field, named Madar and located 15 kilometers east of Asalouyeh, has reserves of about 495 billion cubic meters of gas,” Qalebani said on Monday.

Qalebani estimated the value of the gas field at USD 133 billion, Fars News Agency reported.

In June, Iran discovered Khayyam gas field with in-place reserves of 277 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the southeastern port city of Asalouyeh in Hormozgan Province.

The Islamic Republic discovered 13 new oil and gas fields with in-place reserves of 14 billion barrels of oil and 45 trillion cubic feet of natural gas from August 2009 to August 2010, Iran’s Oil Ministry reported.

Iran has 137.6 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, and 29.61 trillion cubic meters of proven gas reserves. It has the world’s third largest oil reserves and second largest gas reserves.

Former Syrian politicians condemn regime authorities
Phil Sands Aug 10, 2011

Damascus //In a sign that dissent is growing within elite Syrian circles, 41 former government ministers and former senior Baath party officials have called for the regime to stop violence against demonstrators and urgently implement sweeping political reforms.

The group of well-connected public figures, led by Mohammad Suleman, a former minister of information, condemned the authorities’ handling of a five-month-old national uprising and urged a change of course, saying the current policy of violent suppression had put Syria on the road to “catastrophe” and would result either in civil war or foreign intervention.

“Continuation of the security solution is not a choice and use of the armed forces, arresting thousands of people, is not acceptable, it puts a stick in the wheel of political change,” they said. “Military operations block the democratic opening.”

…. Criticism of the regime from inside the country escalated on Monday, in the wealthy Mezzeh Villas neighbourhood of Damascus, when the former officials launched a Democratic National Initiative, detailing a transitional programme to establish a full parliamentary democracy within a year….
“To see regime figures talking like this shows its support base is weakening even at a high level, the regime is getting smaller and smaller,” said one independent analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The crisis is getting closer to the president, each week the fire burns nearer to the palace gates.”

In their manifesto, the former regime officials said the autocratic system of government had been appropriate during the Cold War but that now a “democratic civil nation state” must be built, with a multi-party system guaranteeing media and cultural freedoms.

Mr Suleman said Syria’s “political leadership” had failed to create a fair society.

“We are seeing the farmers living around rural Damascus demonstrating against the Baath party, these are the very people who made the party and who once supported it,” he said. “The leaders of the Baath party do not deserve their positions.”

The group rejected foreign intervention of all kinds, insisting that change must be brought about by Syrians, not under international pressure. It also stressed that any future Syrian government must continue its struggle to regain the occupied Golan Heights from Israel. more….

Saudi Arabia’s message to Syria, decoded
Brian Whitaker:

It is Iranian influence, not the killing of civilians, that Saudi Arabia is concerned about as it recalls its ambassador in Syria

Turkey presses Syrian President Assad to end crackdown on protests in 6 hours of talks
9 August 2011

BEIRUT (AP) – President Bashar Assad discussed “concrete steps” to end the violent crackdown on protesters during six hours of talks Tuesday with Turkey’s foreign minister, even as the Syrian military unleashed a fresh assault on dissent that activists said killed more than 20 people.

Speaking to reporters on his return to Turkey, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the talks were cordial but did not say what specific steps they had discussed or whether Assad had agreed to consider them.

“We discussed ways to prevent confrontation between the army and the people and tensions like those in Hama in the most open and clear way,” Davutoglu said, referring to the Syrian city that has become a flashpoint in the 5-month-old uprising against Assad’s autocratic rule.
“The coming days will be important to see if the expectations are being met. We hope that internal peace and calm is achieved and steps for reform are taken,” Davutoglu added.

Syria not Turkish domestic issue, Turkish opposition says:

WSJ Editorials & Contributors: Joe Lieberman: Engage With Syria—the People, Not the Regime, 2011-08-09

Our ambassador’s visit to the city of Hama was a gutsy move. He should be confirmed to continue his mission.

This can only end with the Assads’ fall
By David Gardner for Financial Times

The debris of destruction Bashar al-Assad’s armour and artillery have left across the insurgent cities of Hama and Deir Ezzor in recent days now mixes with the smoke and splinters of the bridges towards his few remaining putative allies – all burnt by a regime whose narrow foundations are crumbling.

It may not look like it, especially to the hundreds of thousands of Syrians confronting the Assads’ “killing machine” with little more than their raw courage, but this regime is entering its twilight. The phrase was used by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, in which he said Riyadh “demands a stop to the killing machine … and calls for an act of wisdom before it is too late”.

But it is – as the king and rulers across the Middle East surely know – already too late. The Assad clan embarked on a road of no return in April, when it first sent the tanks into Deraa in the south, where the rebellion ignited in mid-March.

The clamour for change first heard in Deraa has now been thundering across Syria for five blood-drenched months. Neither tanks nor snipers, shelling or sieges, the vilest torture, mass round-ups and thousands of disappearances have silenced it.

The very savagery of the regime’s response means the rebels cannot stop – better to carry on and brave repression than to risk certain reprisals: death or the dungeon.

The youth-led, plural and, as in other Arab revolutions, initially peaceful movement can now only settle for real change: an end to the police state and the power monopoly of the Ba’ath party; free elections and an independent judiciary under the rule of law; and an end to corruption and the impunity of the business clique clustered around the ruling family….

A shareholders’ meeting last month of Cham Holding, his company and Syria’s largest, was, according to an investor present, unable to elect a new board after Nabil al-Kuzbari, the outgoing chairman, was put on the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control blacklist. The business elites are starting to peel away from a toxic regime. Some are now funding its opponents.

The regime’s repressive capacity is looking finite too. Its two praetorian units, the Fourth Armoured Division and Republican Guard, staffed with loyalists from the Assads’ minority Alawite community and led by Maher al-Assad, the president’s volatile younger brother, are overstretched, unable to go in hard at more than three or four locations at once, as dozens of others erupt.

The struggle will still be prolonged and bloody. There will be no Libya-style deus ex machina to help the opposition; nor does it want one. That would enable what the world now recognises is a gangster regime to posture once again as the beating heart of Arabism. Arguably though, international action in Libya has already helped. Had Muammer Gaddafi triumphed there, that would have broken the wave of revolution that days later roared into Syria. Breakdown in Damascus?

Posted on Tuesday, August 9, 2011 by Elliott Abrams The use of deadly force against peaceful demonstrators has been the hallmark of the Assad reaction to protests, and yesterday the King of Saudi Arabia referred to this practice as Assad’s …

Turkey should stay out of military action in Syria, says CHP chief
Monday, August 8, 2011
ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

Main opposition party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to not push Turkey into a possible military operation against Syria.

“We should take lessons from history. It [Turkey] shouldn’t repeat its mistakes. Let’s take democracy, freedoms to Syria and contribute to Syria to make it a more contemporary country. But we shouldn’t be the pawn of Western sovereign powers,” Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, told the daily Hürriyet in an interview published Monday.

“We shouldn’t get involved in possible military action in Syria,“ he said.

“[Western powers] will force Turkey to actively participate in action toward Syria. If a prime minister [Erdoğan] says that our patience with the situation is running out, the next step is a military operation,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Mr. Qandil argues: (a pro-Syrian politician in Lebanon. In Arabic)

“The orchestrated warnings to Damascus from all US allies in the region is ” just bluff to cover their failure. it has become evident that The Syrian army is swiftly and successfully neutralising the chaos and terror hotspots setup by armed gangs supported and financed by king abdullah himself and other US allies .

The Turkish leaders have to calculate well the costs of their involvement in any military adventures. The Syrian army and people will stand up under the leadership of president Assad and and protect their sovereignty against any Nato /turkish military adventures .


Saudi Arabia is still weighing its options, but it knows that this opportunity to turn back Iran’s growing power in the heart of the Arab world may not come again soon. Should the Saudis decide to actively seek the fall of the Syrian regime, they too will throw a massive amount of resources at the goal, turning Syria into a key geopolitical and sectarian battleground.”

The situation in Syria: a first hand account

Syria conflict descends into ‘war of attrition’
AP By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY – Associated Press | AP – 8 Aug 2011

BEIRUT (AP) — Despite five months of blistering attacks on dissent, the Syrian regime has yet to score a decisive victory against a pro-democracy uprising determined to bring down the country’s brutal dictatorship.

President Bashar Assad still has the military muscle to level pockets of resistance, but the conflict has robbed him of almost all international support.

Even Saudi Arabia this week called for an end to the bloodshed in Syria, the first of several Arab nations to join the growing chorus against Assad.

The Syrian leader is being watched carefully at home and abroad to see how long his iron regime — which is still strong but wobbling — will continue to use tanks, snipers and security forces on hundreds of thousands of fervent, overwhelmingly young protesters who keep coming back for more.

“Syria is not burying the revolution,” said Nabil Bou Monsef, a senior analyst at the Arabic-language An-Nahar newspaper. “Protests are resuming everywhere, even in areas that were subject to crackdowns.”

He added: “It is difficult for one of the sides to win. Syria has entered a war of attrition between the regime and the opposition.”

India, SAfrica, Brazil envoys head to Syria
Associated Press

Envoys from India, Brazil and South Africa are heading to Syria to appeal for an end to the violent crackdown against civilians and to promote democratic reforms.

India’s U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri said his country’s representative is scheduled to arrive in Damascus on Tuesday and will join representatives from Brazil and South Africa for a meeting with Syria’s foreign minister to deliver the appeal.

Puri told reporters Monday the three countries will be “calling for restraint, abjuring violence, (and) promoting reform, taking into account the democratic aspirations of the people.”

Syrian troops start withdrawing from Hama
By FT reporter in Damascus and agencies

The Syrian army has begun to withdraw from Hama after more than a week of military operations in the city as Turkey’s foreign minister ratcheted up the diplomatic pressure on the regime by pressing it to end its violent crackdown on protests. … Hama activist Abo Ghazi, who is now outside the city, confirmed that tanks had started to leave, but said they had been seen moving on other villages around Hama where anti-regime protests are continuing. Communications to the city were partially restored on Tuesday morning. They had been down for much of last week, making it difficult to confirm details of events in the city…..

WSJ [Reg]: Isolation of Syria Gains Momentum, 2011-08-08

Gulf Arab nations joined in a reprimand of violence by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces, sharpening the international consensus against the regime, though the military continued its crackdown to stifle antigovernment protests. …

The pressure is mounting and the scholars of Aleppo have finally spoken and placed the blame where it belongs.

It’s also interesting that “Shaykh Yaqoubi of the Ummayad Mosque” is coming in support of the revolution. This is very significant. My understanding is that he is a Sufi master and a highly regarded scholar. ‘arour won’t be happy.

Syrian troops gradually withdraw from Hama, as normalcy restored: official
Source: XINHUA | 2011-8-8

DAMASCUS, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) — An official military source said Monday army troops are withdrawing from the central city of Hama after accomplishing their mission in restoring normalcy to the city.

Quoted by the official SANA news agency, the source said the army had conducted a “qualitative” operation in Hama, which helped confront the armed groups that terrorizing people and cut off city streets as well as sabotaging public and private properties.

Army unites arrested a number of the armed men and life is gradually returning to normalcy, the source concluded as saying.

Meanwhile, army troops exhumed the bodies of 14 police personnel and three civilians killed by armed groups, and dumped in Hama’s Orontes River, according to a Xinhua reporter who accompanied Sunday a government-organized trip to the scene.

Syria’s state-run television aired last week an amateur video footage, showing armed men in Hama shooting at government forces and dumping their bodies in the Orontes River.

bloggingheads with Michael Young and Elias Muhanna about Syria
Monday, August 08, 2011 11:09 AM

Syrian refugees in Turkey drop to 7,292

Why Turkey’s Alawite Community Thinks Assad Is the Victim
The New Republic

In a bustling park in the Turkish city of Antakya, Metin, a local merchant, is having a picnic with his family. His hazel eyes fixated on a large, turquoise pool by a grove of pines, he takes a sip from his raki and whispers as if he’s revealing a secret. “It breaks my heart to hear about it in the news,” he says, referring to the brutal government crackdown taking place across the border in Syria’s predominantly Sunni districts. “But, how can an Alawite be cruel like that?”

Like the ruling Assad family in Damascus, Metin is an Alawite of Arab origin. He holds a Turkish passport, yet he has relatives who live in Syria. Torn between devotion to his sect and disgust over what he calls the “alleged reports of violence,” he has a hard time making up his mind about the Assad regime. Indeed, having maintained a strong bond with the Syrian Alawite heartland of Latakia ever since Antakya’s annexation to Turkey in 1939, most Arab Alawites living in Turkey are distrustful of the news coming out of Syria, and they believe that President Assad is falling victim to an international smear campaign.

A sect with ties to Shia Islam, Alawites constitute about 12 percent of Syria’s 22 million people but hold a vastly outsized portion of the high-ranking positions in the government and the military. Due to their syncretic religion that blends Islam with other local traditions, the Alawites have long been considered heretics and were historically persecuted as such by Sunni Muslims. When Syria fell under French rule in the early 20th century, the Alawites were granted their own state, based in the port city of Latakia, and enjoyed relative autonomy until Syria gained its independence in 1946. Many religious minorities, including the Alawites, were split over the issue of union with the newly-established Sunni-dominated country. In the 1930s, a group of activists including Sulayman Al Assad, one of the prominent patriarchs of the country’s ruling clan, appealed the union with Syria to French officials. But the French rejected the Alawites’ demand to maintain their autonomy and, since then, the Assad family has been involved in the Alawite political movement in Syria, gradually assuming a guardianship role for the group and securing their loyal support in return. When Hafez Al Assad seized power in an intra-party coup in 1970, most of the Alawite community lined up behind him.

Since the outbreak of protests earlier this year, Syria’s burgeoning opposition has been striving to win the loyalties of the Alawite community, which constitutes the backbone of the regime in Damascus. Sondos Soleiman, one of the few Alawite opposition members, told me that her people have “also suffered from the suppression of the regime,” and, likewise, also aspire for a “democratic state and freedom of expression.” Last month, anti-regime protestors dedicated a Friday demonstration to Saleh Al Ali, a prominent Syrian Alawite who rose up against the French occupation in Syria in 1918. And the Change in Syria conference, which brought together a diverse group of Syrian dissidents in the Turkish city of Antalya in June, also emphasized that the opposition aimed to embrace all of Syria’s ethnic and religious groups. Molham Al Drobi, a member of the Islamic Brotherhood and an executive committee member at the conference, told me that Alawites “will lose a historic opportunity” if they don’t side with the Syrian revolution.

But in Antakya’s Alawite neighborhoods, I found that most residents were still more likely to take their cues from Syria’s embattled dictator Bashar Al Assad, who in a June televised address blamed the unrest on “saboteurs” and urged his nation to ruminate on the motivations driving the protests. “What is happening to our country, and why?” he asked. “It doesn’t require much analysis, based on what we heard from others and witnessed in the media, to prove that there is indeed a conspiracy.”…

With the gap between Syria’s two critical religious groups widening, it seems unlikely in the near future for President Assad to lose support of his fellow Alawite clansmen in the region. Despite his stained record, many continue to see him as the most reliable anchor for their safety, and they ascribe symbolic importance to his leadership. So far, at least, the Alawites in Antakya appear unwilling to think otherwise, even it if means suspending their disbelief.

Afsin Yurdakul writes about Turkish politics. Her work has appeared in Foreign Policy and The Daily Beast, among others.

Comments (99)

Pages: « 1 [2] Show All

51. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

It was published that the meeting yesterday took 6 hours. 3 hours between the delegations, and 3 more hours, the Turkish FM with Assad in private. What did they talk about for 3 hours? Doesn’t this sound strange to you ? 3 hours?

I think they discussed the day after the Assads. Just like the Yemeni president, what mostly concerns them is their personal survival, and naturally, immunity from future persecution. Such kind of discussion and bargain can take 3 hours. Nothing else can.

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August 10th, 2011, 12:00 pm


52. Revlon said:

44 Dear Aboud, thanks for the note.
Would you have more information on the writers and signatories to this declaration?

I do think that the cracks are widening in the 3alawi community solidarity.

The sidelining of the Defence Minister, this announcement, and the launching of the Democratic National Initiative by ex-officials of the regime posted by Joshua underscore an evolving discontent at a relatively high order in the 3alawi community.

I believe the potential impact of such developments on the course of events on the ground, shall be negligible.
Parties to the crackdown, including the top army echelon, the security forces high command, and shabbeeha are locked in a battle for survival; their motto is kill or you will be killed.

However, such announcements from the 3alawi community are very important for maintaining and strengthening the nationalistic identity of the revolution and safeguarding against potential sectarian tension in post-Asad Syria.

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August 10th, 2011, 12:12 pm


53. Friend in America said:

The short article by Iranian Professor Ali Bigdeli in Joshua’s morning report above is very telling. Comments and political statements from Iranians need to be read carefully. The Teheran government has decided it is in their interest for the Assad regime to survive. Substantial foreign funds have already been transferred to shore up the central bank. Iranian influence is noticed in the military and Ministry of Information; some Iranians have begun posting on this site. The more Iran becomes involved, the more the Saudis will become involved. That will make Syria the “battleground” for 2 foreign powers, an outcome no Syrian should desire. Will those who prefer Syria for Syrians prefer a negotiated settlement? They probably would if they can trust the process. Consider the following analysis:

1. What are the regime’s interests? What do they want? 4 years ago an individual in the regime stated to me the policy of the Assad regime both foreign and domestic will always be the preservation of the Assad presidency. Everything can be interpreted in those terms. There is no indication the ruling family thinks otherwise today. The current policy of the regime is restore the status quo using force, torture and imprisonment as frequent as necessary.
Comment: Unless the family had to negotiate terms of abdication they will not entertain a relinquishment of any form of power. Therefore it will take others to force the Assads to negotiate or abdicate. Negotiations with persons in non governmental leadership rolls such as generals, capitalists, bankers, etc. may be the only route at this time.

2. Who are the decision makers in the Assad regime and what is Bashar’s roll? For the past 10 years a family council has been making most of the decisions – little of importance passes without the family’s approval. Basher is an important member of the council but grandfather is the moderator. Other family members include two hawks, Bashar’s brother, who commands the elite 4th division, and the brother in law, who commands the secret police.
Comment: Bashar is not a figurehead. He probably is the most influential council member and often in the past other council members have deferred to him. But for the present crisis Bashar is deferring to others in the family council and he may now be unable to change the course.

2. What do the demonstrators want? In diplomatic terms, what are the demonstrators’ interests?
(a) end the secret police and close all torture chambers.
(b) prosecution of those who engaged in torture and murder.
(c) Release of all held in custody
(d) freedom of speech, press and assembly
(e) Dignity and respect
(f) Equal and fair participation in the selection of government officials through free and open elections.
(g) for some, the end of the Assad regime.
Comment: The secret police and its activities, control of speech and press, and control of elections are pillars of the Assad regime. One should anticipate the Assads will not give up any of its pillars. It would appear at this time that there is nothing that can be the subject of negotiation.

3. The possibility of successful negotiations appear dim at present. It is in these situations that skilled international diplomats are most successful. What is needed is an inquirer with a diplomatic passport, an individual who will contact persons of interest. Instead of face to face negotiations between the parties, the inquirer travels first to one, then to the other searching for common ground. The inquirer must be trusted by everyone he contacts. This roll is is too dangerous for a Syrian to assume. My suggestion is a skilled professional international diplomat. Consider Norway’s diplomatic corps. Norway is a little country so one can never say the parties were forced into agreeing by a powerful nation. Their diplomats are very, very skilled. It was Norwegian diplomats that put Arafat and Begin together, a feat the world considered impossible.

4. Is there time? Maybe not. Events may overtake the effort of the inquirer, but it is better to try than not to try.

Comments and suggestions are encouraged.

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August 10th, 2011, 12:20 pm


54. Mango said:

50- ادهب لصناعة السينما في هوليود
51- ساعده في هوليود

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August 10th, 2011, 12:22 pm


55. Revlon said:

51. Dear Amir, that is a good point!
However, one may argue that a conflict than could be settled with someone flexible in minutes, may take hours and still be left unresolved with an obstinate!

When asked about her husband in an interview with an American magasine last February, Asma described him as argumentative!
I recall that someone, and may be it was you, commented then, that scuh meant that he was stubborn and the battle was going to be long drawn!

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August 10th, 2011, 12:23 pm


56. beaware said:

Islamist militant group resurgent in Egypt
By Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, CNN
El Arish, Egypt (CNN) — The town of el Arish in Egypt sits on the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean, its fine beaches lined by palm-trees. Developers have built luxury resorts close to this town of about 100,000 people.

But in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, el Arish is becoming known for something far different from tourism. A well-armed jihadist group is making its presence felt on the dusty streets here, intimidating opponents and demanding Egypt becomes an Islamist state.

On a scorching hot day late in July, several dozen people were demonstrating outside the al Nasr mosque in el Arish after Friday prayers. They were Salafists – conservative Islamists who want Egypt governed according to Islamic law. But not conservative enough for members of the Takfir-wal Higra – a group sympathetic to al Qaeda’s goal of establishing an Islamic Caliphate.

Mohamed Mahmoud, who was among the protestors, recalls what happened that day. “The Takfiris stormed in by the hundreds mounted on pickup trucks and motorcycles waving black flags, a symbol of Jihad,” he told CNN from a safe house not far from el Arish.

“The militants were heavily armed with machine guns, hand grenades and rocked-propelled grenades,” he said.

“They attacked two police stations and scared the residents under the name of Jihad. We only call for Jihad if someone attacks our Islamic country or people,” added Mahmoud.

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August 10th, 2011, 12:25 pm


57. William Scott Scherk said:

Syria’s unconstitutional constitution

Excellent critical analysis of the necessary overhaul of the Syrian constitution — detailing the essential dismantling of laws and edicts that contradict its rights guarantees. “Bill of Rights” – ” at Syria Today.

By Alma Hassoun & Nadia Muhanna

What does the constitution say about citizenship and how might this change?

With the escalation of the unrest in Syria and the accompanying surge in political dialogue, there has been a resurgence of discussion about the concept of citizenship.

In his book Guide to Citizenship, Hassan Abbas, a Syrian researcher, wrote that it is not enough to define citizenship as acquiring a nationality and enjoying the civil and political rights it offers. The definition includes active participation in public life.

“Freedom is the legal status quo of the citizen meaning that a citizen is free to choose between becoming an active citizen who participates in public life or…being a passive one,” Abbas wrote.

“Citizenship means the right of citizens to participate in all aspects of life,” Adel, a young theater critic who asked to remain anonymous, told Syria Today. He explained that the concept combines rights and duties, but that in Syria, duties trump rights.

Until recently, broader duties and rights as citizens went ignored, he argued, because people were more concerned with their everyday struggles.

“Through chatting with friends or with the grocer, I have a perception that the majority of people here have a similar direction in life: to secure a living for their families,” he said. “What has been happening [since the unrest started] put this view to the test. Things are bigger than that.”

The outline

Lawyers interviewed by Syria Today argued that deficiencies in ensuring citizens’ rights in Syria come from flaws in the constitution, where the state defines its idea of citizenship and organises the relationship between the government and citizens. Others said that the constitution guarantees adequate rights to citizens; however, the problem lies in many laws which are, in fact, unconstitutional.

In his speech last month, President Bashar al-Assad said that the new media, parties and electoral laws will allow “citizens to participate in making decisions, monitor and denounce” activities of the state. Making this change, Assad said, might require revising the constitution or issuing a new one.

President Assad said that no changes will take place before September and if any do occur they will be based on what the national dialogue meetings, held in July, recommended. It called for the establishment of a committee to “offer suggestions” that would create a “contemporary and new” constitution that “ensures political collectivity, social justice, the sovereignty of the law and basic human rights”.

Contradictory rulings

To implement citizens’ rights, as outlined in the Syrian constitution, articles from the very same constitution must be changed and effectively applied.

People’s political and civil rights can be found in the first chapter of the constitution titled “Basic Principles”. It grants all citizens personal freedom, equality before the law, participation in the political, economic, social and cultural life of society, the freedom of faith, the right (and duty) to work, free obligatory education, the right of free and open expression, freedom of the press and the right to demonstrate peacefully.

However, articles like number 8 – which grants the ruling Ba’ath party a monopoly on political power in the country – contradict and effectively negate the right of citizens to participate in political life.

Nazih Maalouf, a lawyer and former judge and the manager of Syria Court, a legal website that covers human rights and other legal issues in Syria, said the constitution includes many contradictory articles. For example, it states that all Syrians have equal rights and opportunities, but another article says that the country’s president must be Muslim and that legislation must be based on Islamic jurisprudence.

“Syrian women cannot pass down citizenship to their children, and they do not have the right of equal inheritance, or even [the right] to take independent decisions in many cases; like marriage, or travel,” Diala, a 27-year-old working in a private bank who asked to remain anonymous, said.

Anwar al-Bouni, a lawyer and head of the Syrian Center for Legal Studies, said that problems like these come from laws that contradict the constitution.

“In the Syrian constitution, there is no discrimination between men and women, but discrimination exists in some laws like the nationality one [which prevents Syrian mothers from passing their nationality to their offspring],” Bouni said.

Recently, a committee was set up to study the draft bill about amending Article 3 of the Nationality Law, which includes granting nationality to the children of Syrian women married to non-Syrians.

Another measure that contradicts the notion of universal equality came in with the constitution of 1961, which was drafted following a military coup that ended three years of union between Egypt and Syria, when the Syrian republic was first defined as Arab. This remained unchanged.

“Limiting citizenship to Syrian Arabs is unacceptable,” Maalouf declared. “A citizen must be any person who lives in this land and has specific rights and duties. Equality and people’s general liberties must be established by the constitution regardless of their religion or ethnicity.”

A new constitution, if amended or overhauled, should more clearly delineate citizens’ rights in order to prevent such contradictions in the future, he said.

“Individual liberties must be addressed by the constitution and should not be governed by laws because laws are subject to change, according to who is in power and are easy to play around with,” Maalouf explained. “The constitution is obligatory and is not easily changed.”

Challenges to change

“Changing the constitution alone is not enough. There should be a new constitution,” the veteran lawyer Bouni said.

According to Bouni, the power of the country’s constitutional court is restricted. It is supposed to be able to strike down unconstitutional laws. But the president, according to the constitution, assigns the members of the constitutional court to four-year posts, limiting the court’s independence. Another article in the constitution states that only the Syrian president or a quarter of the parliament can challenge unconstitutional laws.

As a result, the system is crippled, Bouni added.

“Obviously, they [members of parliament] are not going to issue unconstitutional laws and then refer them to court. Consequently, there are hundreds of unconstitutional laws in Syria and no one can challenge them,” he explained. “Since the establishment of the constitutional court not a single Syrian law has been challenged as unconstitutional.”

Syria Today used only first names for interviewees who wished to remain anonymous.


Stuck in the Past

The current constitution has many articles in common with the series of constitutions drafted since the French left Syria in 1946. In a report published on the Damascus Center of Theoretical Studies and Human Rights, Syrian researcher Jan Habbash wrote that it was the 1958 and 1964 constitutions, for example, that introduced the one party political system in Syria. The constitution of 1950, on the other hand, first restricted presidency to Muslim Syrians after the French mandate.

Written in 1973, the Syrian constitution is out of date with how Syria has changed in the last four decades, according to Nazih Maalouf, a lawyer and former judge. Syria’s 10th Five-Year Plan called for an open, social-market economy while the constitution clearly states that the country’s economic policy should be socialist. References to “socialism” and the “socialist Ba’ath party” occur 25 times in the first few pages of the constitution.

Maalouf said in reality the concept of citizenship rests on the political system of the state. The general concept of citizenship, he said, is stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but in reality this concept relies on the political systems of socialism or capitalism.

Ahmed Haj Suleiman, from the parliamentary Constitutional and Legislative Committee said in an interview with state television that the constitution should be read and discussed as a whole, because all articles are related to each other.

Legal experts like veteran lawyer Anwar al-Bouni and Maalouf say that country’s political and legal authorities should be involved in writing a new constitution.

They also call for the separation of power between the legislature, executive and judicial authorities, to protect the rights of Syrians citizens.

“I haven’t read the constitution, thus I do not know what should be changed. However, everyone is talking about it now, and specifically Article 8,” Mujd al-Hamwi, a 22-year-old fine arts student in Damascus said. “What I know is that when people call for political pluralism and setting a certain presidential term, it is not because of a certain person or a certain party but because they want to participate,” he said.

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August 10th, 2011, 12:25 pm


58. OFF THE WALL said:

Besho likes to talk. And he talks and lectures too much. He also likes to listen to his own talking thinking that he is making profound statements as he did in his high-school governance 101 lecture to the new cabinet. I would say that 2 of the 3 hours were a lecture in the history of imperialism, conspiracy, and good governance given to the Turkish FM, who seems to be be a very capable diplomat and a gentleman.

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August 10th, 2011, 12:27 pm


59. Friend in America said:

The article by Iranian Professor Ali Bigdeli in Joshua’s morning report needs careful consideration. Teheran has decided it is in Iran’s interest that the Assad regime survive. Substantial foreign currency funds have been made available to shore up the central bank. Iranian influence is detected in the military and Ministry of Information. In the past 3 weeks several Iranians in Syria’s Ministry of Information have entered comments on this site. The more Iran supports the Assad regime the more the Saudis will finance an alternative. Will those who desire Syria for Syrians prefer the alternative of a negotiated settlement? While the prospects seem dim, the door is open to skillful negotiations.

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August 10th, 2011, 12:33 pm


60. beaware said:

Turkish PM Erdoğan expects Syrian reforms within 15 days
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday that he hoped Syria would take steps towards reform within 10-15 days and that Ankara had given a clear message to Damascus to halt bloodshed from its brutal repression of pro-democracy protests.

Erdoğan, whose foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, visited Syria on Tuesday for talks with President Bashar al-Assad, said Turkish Ambassador to Damascus Ömer Önhon had visited the besieged city of Hama and reported back that tanks were leaving the city. “In Syria, the state is pointing guns at its own people,” Erdoğan said. “Turkey’s message to Assad is very clear: Stop all kinds of violence and bloodshed,” he said at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Ankara. He also reiterated the call for Damascus to meet the democracy demands of the Syrian people.

“We hope that within 10-15 days this will be realized and steps will be taken toward a reform process in Syria,” Erdoğan said.

The prime minister said that news of tanks leaving Hama, the scene of a fierce military crackdown this month in which human rights groups say up to 300 people were killed, showed that Turkey’s efforts are generating positive outcomes.

“[Assad] also shared his convictions with us and we have concretely discussed some important steps that need to be taken. We will all together see what will happen in coming days. I don’t want to lead to an expectation and I don’t believe that it is right to create an expectation in this or that way. … [As] we are passing through a critical period … from now on, days are important, weeks are important; with the steps to be taken, the shape that the process will take will become clear,” Davutoğlu added.

On Wednesday, speaking only minutes after Erdoğan, Davutoğlu reiterated that Ambassador Önhon had confirmed that tanks and heavy artillery have been withdrawn from Hama.

Some members of the press were also allowed to visit Hama for the first time since the military offensive began, Davutoğlu said, noting that this was one of the pieces of advice he conveyed to al-Assad on Tuesday. Journalists of both Turkish and foreign media will travel to Hama in the coming days to provide coverage of the events taking place. Davutoğlu emphasized that media access to other Syrian cities is also important. He appeared satisfied with the measures Syria is now taking, noting that the Syrian government took a major step less than 24 hours after their talks in Damascus.
Turkey’s messages conveyed to Syria

Speaking to reporters upon his return from Damascus on Tuesday, Davutoğlu underlined that the messages he conveyed to al-Assad were those of Turkey and not any third party, dismissing charges at home that he had visited Syria on behalf of the US.

“I want to emphasize, as a matter of principle, that I only convey considerations by our president, the prime minister and the government,” Davutoğlu said when reminded of a phone conversation he had had with the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, prior to his visit.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner lauded Davutoğlu’s visit and reiterated that Clinton had spoken with the Turkish foreign minister on Sunday. “They did talk about the situation in Syria, you know, and we believe it’s another opportunity to send yet another strong message to Assad that this crackdown on peaceful protesters cannot stand,” Toner said on Monday.

Toner gave reporters an insight into the nature of the phone conversation, where he highlighted that the US had requested Turkey to “press Syria” for certain moves during Davutoğlu’s visit. Toner’s explanation included Clinton’s clarification of the US position that “Syria must immediately return its military to [the] barracks and release all prisoners of concern.” She had requested her Turkish counterpart “reinforce these messages with the Syrian government.”

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August 10th, 2011, 12:35 pm


61. beaware said:

Militants urge British rioters to topple system
CAIRO (AP) — Militant online forums are abuzz with calls to Muslims in Britain to launch Internet campaigns in support of the British rioters and to urge them to topple the government.

Dozens of contributors on Wednesday suggested Muslims in Britain should flood social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, with slogans and writings inciting the British youth to continue rioting.

One contributor says the rioters should adopt slogans similar to those used by Arab protesters during the uprisings in the Middle East this year.

“The people want the killer of Mark Duggan punished” is suggested — a reference to the British man whose death sparked the riots.

Another contributor says an Internet media attack is very important and that “chaos is useful to militants in London.”

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August 10th, 2011, 12:44 pm


62. beaware said:

Turkish PM Erdogan expects Syrian reforms within 15 days
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that he hoped Syria would take steps towards reform within 10-15 days and that Ankara had given a clear message to Damascus to halt bloodshed from its brutal repression of pro-democracy protests.

Erdogan, whose foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, visited Syria on Tuesday for talks with President Bashar al-Assad, said Turkish Ambassador to Damascus Ömer Önhon had visited the besieged city of Hama and reported back that tanks were leaving the city. “In Syria, the state is pointing guns at its own people,” Erdogan said. “Turkey’s message to Assad is very clear: Stop all kinds of violence and bloodshed,” he said at a meeting of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Ankara. He also reiterated the call for Damascus to meet the democracy demands of the Syrian people.

“We hope that within 10-15 days this will be realized and steps will be taken toward a reform process in Syria,” Erdogan said.

The prime minister said that news of tanks leaving Hama, the scene of a fierce military crackdown this month in which human rights groups say up to 300 people were killed, showed that Turkey’s efforts are generating positive outcomes.

“[Assad] also shared his convictions with us and we have concretely discussed some important steps that need to be taken. We will all together see what will happen in coming days. I don’t want to lead to an expectation and I don’t believe that it is right to create an expectation in this or that way. … [As] we are passing through a critical period … from now on, days are important, weeks are important; with the steps to be taken, the shape that the process will take will become clear,” Davutoglu added.

On Wednesday, speaking only minutes after Erdogan, Davutoglu reiterated that Ambassador Önhon had confirmed that tanks and heavy artillery have been withdrawn from Hama.

Some members of the press were also allowed to visit Hama for the first time since the military offensive began, Davutoglu said, noting that this was one of the pieces of advice he conveyed to al-Assad on Tuesday. Journalists of both Turkish and foreign media will travel to Hama in the coming days to provide coverage of the events taking place. Davutoglu emphasized that media access to other Syrian cities is also important. He appeared satisfied with the measures Syria is now taking, noting that the Syrian government took a major step less than 24 hours after their talks in Damascus.
Turkey’s messages conveyed to Syria

Speaking to reporters upon his return from Damascus on Tuesday, Davutoglu underlined that the messages he conveyed to al-Assad were those of Turkey and not any third party, dismissing charges at home that he had visited Syria on behalf of the US.

“I want to emphasize, as a matter of principle, that I only convey considerations by our president, the prime minister and the government,” Davutoglu said when reminded of a phone conversation he had had with the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, prior to his visit.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner lauded Davutoglu’s visit and reiterated that Clinton had spoken with the Turkish foreign minister on Sunday. “They did talk about the situation in Syria, you know, and we believe it’s another opportunity to send yet another strong message to Assad that this crackdown on peaceful protesters cannot stand,” Toner said on Monday.

Toner gave reporters an insight into the nature of the phone conversation, where he highlighted that the US had requested Turkey to “press Syria” for certain moves during Davutoglu’s visit. Toner’s explanation included Clinton’s clarification of the US position that “Syria must immediately return its military to [the] barracks and release all prisoners of concern.” She had requested her Turkish counterpart “reinforce these messages with the Syrian government.”

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August 10th, 2011, 12:46 pm


63. jad said:

Sanctions against the Syrian Commercial Bank.
The reason?
Dealing with North Korea!?!?

الولايات المتحدة تفرض عقوبات على المصرف التجاري السوري

أعلنت الولايات المتحدة اليوم فرض عقوبات على المصرف التجاري السوري، اكبر مصارف سوريا المملوك للدولة، لاتهامه بتقديم خدمات مالية لكوريا الشمالية.
وتتضمن هذه العقوبات تجميد اي اصول قد يكون المصرف يملكها في الولايات المتحدة ومنع الشركات الاميركية والرعايا الاميركيين من التعامل معه.

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August 10th, 2011, 12:55 pm


64. norman said:

The Us just declared that Syria will be better without president Assad, the covert regime change has just become overt, Syrians should hold on to seat belts,

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August 10th, 2011, 12:59 pm


65. solitarius said:

How smart of Amir

You rarely see such genius nowadays. He was able to tell what the conversation was about just from the length of it. If only more people were like you Amir.

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August 10th, 2011, 1:01 pm


66. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Dear Revlon #51,

Yes. It was me. Argumentative, stubborn, inflexible, may be even a bit immature (the childish giggles ?).


You forgot I’m an Israeli. Like all of us Israelis, I’m a Mossad agent, and have my unique ways of knowing things, you will never find out!! Brrrrrr.

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August 10th, 2011, 1:03 pm


67. jad said:

Erdogan hails success of Ankara message to Syria
Ankara – Syria’s withdrawal of tanks from the central city of Hama showed that Turkey’s diplomatic efforts were effective, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday.
The prime minister was speaking to members of his Justice and Development Party in their headquarters a day after Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spent more than six hours talking to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.
Turkey sought to persuade the Syrians to withdraw their armed forces from the streets, where they have been confronting pro-democracy protesters, and to put an end to the bloodshed, which has claimed an estimated 1,600 lives since the uprising began in mid-March.
After two months of anti-government demonstrations in Hama, Syrian troops, tanks and armoured personnel carriers rolled into the city last week.
Pro-democracy activists say at least 250 people were killed as the military tried to impose its authority on the city.
Death tolls cannot be independently verified as the Syrian government does not allow free access to journalists and human rights groups.
Erdogan said Turkey’s ambassador to Syria, Omer Onhon, had visited Hama on Wednesday and reported that heavy armour was leaving the city.
‘This is a sign that our initiative is producing results,’ said Erdogan, according to the newspaper Today’s Zaman.
Separately, Davutoglu told reporters that ambassador Onhon had witnessed that tanks and armoured vehicles were leaving Hama.
‘The important thing is that Damascus took the first step less than 24 hours after I visited the country,’ Davutoglu said, according to the semi-official Anatolian Agency.
He added there could be a similar withdrawal from the eastern city of Deir al-Zour in the near future.
The military entered Deir al-Zour, the hub of Syria’s oil industry, a few days ago after weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations.
Analysts who have watched the uprising note that the focus of activity tends to change, with the security forces concentrating on detaining dissidents in one or two cities at a time, and then moving on to other towns.
Later, protests re-emerge in the towns first occupied by the military. For instance, the military first went into Deir al-Zour in May.

الموقف التركي تجاه احداث سوريا تدرج نزولا فأربك المعارضات وأراح النظام

همس قيادي مستقبلي في أذن أحد كبار مستشاريه معربا عن خشيته من أن لا ينطبق حساب الحقل اللبناني المعارض على حساب البيدر الدولي والاقليمي، ما يفرض التفكير باستراتيجية جديدة للتعاطي مع الشأن السوري. فالولايات المتحدة لا يبدو انها جادة في عملية اسقاط نظام الرئيس بشار الاسد، وهي التي لم تدعه حتى اللحظة صراحةً إلى الرحيل، بل انها تطالبه بوقف حمام الدم، وهذا لا يبدو رأيا مسموعا لدى النظام السوري الذي يستمر في حسمه العسكري بالرغم من كل النداءات والدعوات العربية والاقليمية والدولية لوقف النشاط العسكري واعادة الجيش النظامي إلى ثكناته. كذلك الامر بالنسبة إلى الاتحاد الاوروبي الذي يراوح مكانه في موضوع الضغوط والعقوبات التي تقتصر حتى الان على مواقف لا تسمن ولا تغني ولا تبدل في واقع الحال، حتى ان تركيا التي توعدت وهددت بنفاذ صبرها عادت عن مواقفها بصورة غير متوقعة، فما صدر من مواقف على لسان وزير الخارجية التركية احمد داوود اوغلو في اعقاب اللقاء الذي جمعه بالرئيس السوري بشار الاسد في دمشق تناقض بالكامل مع ما كان قد صدر عن الرئيس التركي منذ ايام حول نفاذ صبر تركيا، وبالتالي فان تطورات الساعات الاخيرة توحي بان صفقة ربع الساعة الاخير نجحت في لجم الاندفاعة التركية التي جاءت بطلب اميركي مباشر، وغطاء اوروبي وعربي.
هذا الكلام جاء في اعقاب التسريبات الاعلامية التي واكبت زيارة وزير الخارجية التركية، والتي اجمعت على ان الرد السوري كان حازماً لجهة عدم تنفيذ اي من المطالب الاميركية قبل انهاء حالة العصيان المسلح، والمعني بهذا القول هو القضاء على بؤر التوتر وكل ما يتصل بها. فالمسلحون لا يرمون القوى الامنية بالورود، وبالتالي فمن سقط منهم وهم بالمئات سقط نتيجة اطلاق نار ما يثبت بان ما يحصل في سوريا ليس مجرد مطالب اصلاحية او تغييرية، ولا هي ترمي إلى تحقيق تطلعات سياسية، بل انها حركة تمرد مسلحة مدعومة ماليا ولوجستيا من خارج الحدود السورية بدليل وجود هذا الكم من السلاح المتطور والذخائر العائدة له.
وفي موازاة الكلام السوري جاء الرد التركي خجولا خصوصا ان الولايات المتحدة لا تبدو راغبة في اي حال من الاحوال في توسيع رقعة تدخلها العسكري. فلا هي نجحت في افغانستان ولا حققت مطالبها المعلنة في العراق، بل انها دخلت في الرمال المتحركة الكامنة في الدولتين المذكورتين. كما انها لم تتمكن من حسم الموقف لا في اليمن ولا في ليبيا ولا في اي من الدول العربية والاسلامية، وبالتالي فان واقع الحال يشير إلى عدم رغبة المجتمع الدولي بالمزيد من التورط العسكري.
وفي هذا السياق تشير معلومات صحافية غربية مواكبة لزيارة الوزير التركي ان الرئيس الاسد بدا صارما في موقفه في ظل قناعة متولدة لديه ولدى نظامه بان الوقت يلعب لمصلحته. فتطهير مناطق التوتر واحدة تلو الاخرى يضعف المعارضة الداخلية المسلحة ويدفعها إلى اعادة حساباتها لاسيما ان تركها وحدها في الميدان سيؤثر على معنوياتها التي بدأت تنهار بعد سلسلة الاخفاقات التي رافق ممارستها العسكرية، وذلك في ظل اكثر من مؤشر على ان ايا من الدول العربية او الاقليمية لا يرغب في الدخول على الخط العسكري.

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August 10th, 2011, 1:07 pm


68. Abughassan said:

I am a US citizen and I owe a lot to this country. The US can be a force for good in Syria but not when israel’s interests dictate US foreign policy in the middle east. Another concern is the obvious downturn this country is taking especially economically. The policies of the neoconservatives and previous president dealt a serious blow to US prestige and credibility. The US is still a major player in the Mideast but its influence and its ability to shape events are overestimated.

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August 10th, 2011, 1:09 pm


69. jad said:

قلق تركي من سباق التسلح في منطقة الشرق الأوسط من قبل إيران و الخليج

أعربت الحكومة التركية عن قلقها البالغ إزاء عقود التسلح “الهائلة” التي وقّعتها دول خليجية في الفترة الأخيرة مع شركات التصنيع العسكري الأمريكية، لعلمها أنّ هذا التسلّح يبقى هدفه واحد: إيران.
وكانت تقارير صحفية ذكرت في وقت سابق أن دول الخليج قامت بعقد صفقات لشراء أسلحة أمريكية تقدر قيمتها بـ 123 مليار دولار أمريكي لمواجهة القوة العسكرية الإيرانية، وذلك في واحدة من أكبر عمليات التسلح في وقت السلم، حسب تعبير الصحيفة.
ورغم أنّ صنّاع القرار في أنقرة غير مرعوبين من إمكان اندلاع نزاع مسلح بين الغرب وبعض العرب من جهة، وإيران من جهة أخرى، “على الأقل في المستقبل القريب”، على حد تعبير سفير تركي متقاعد، إلا أنّ سباق التسلح الذي أطلقته السعودية والكويت والإمارات وعُمان يبقى مصدر قلق مزمن عند الأتراك.
وتوقع السفير المتقاعد لصحيفة “توداي زمان” التركية، عدم قيام واشنطن بتوجيه ضربة عسكرية قريبة لإيران، لأنّ الرئيس الأمريكي باراك أوباما “أذكى من أن يورّط نفسه بجبهة عسكرية جديدة عشية الانتخابات النصفية للكونجرس” في الثاني من نوفمبر/تشرين الثاني المقبل.
من جهته، استبعد الخبير التركي في شؤون التسلح، مصطفى كيبار أوجلو، أن تكون الحكومة التركية تنظر إلى سباق التسلح هذا على أنه تهديد مباشر لها، وبالتالي فمن غير المرجَّح أن تطلق بدورها حملة تسلُّح مقابلة قريباً.
إلا أن أوجلو حذّر من أنّه “إذا تواصلت الجهود التسلحية للدول الخليجية، وخصوصاً السعودية منها، فإنّ تركيا قد تقوم بصفقات حربية كبيرة خلال السنوات العشر المقبلة.
وترى الصحف التركية انّ سباق التسلح الذي أطلقته السعودية قبل أسبوعين، من شأنه عدم تشجيع إيران على الاستمرار في المفاوضات النووية مع مجموعة الدول الست، كذلك فإنها خطوة “لا تساعد الاستقرارين الإقليمي والدولي بتاتاً”.
وبحسب أوجلو، فإنّ السباق الذي أطلقته الرياض، هو جواب مباشر على المشروع النووي الإيراني. من هنا ينبع القلق التركي إزاء مدى تقبُّل السعودية والولايات المتحدة لوساطة تركية ما على خطّ التهدئة، وخصوصاً أنّ نسبة الرضى الأمريكي والسعودي من تركيا ليس في أعلى مستوياته في هذه المرحلة، وتحديداً منذ دبّرت أنقرة مع البرازيل اتفاق 17 مايو/ أيار الشهير، وصوّتت ضدّ قرار العقوبات الجديدة بحق طهران في مجلس الأمن الدولي.
وربما لهذه الأسباب، تجد تركيا نفسها مضطرة بين الحين والآخر، لطمأنة “من يهمّه الأمر”، إلى أنها لا تعمل على كسر قرار العقوبات في علاقاتها الاقتصادية مع جارها الإيراني، أكان على المستويات النفطية أم المصرفية والتجارية العسكرية، لكن كل ذلك في حدود احترام اتفاقياتها الموقَّعة سلفاً مع طهران، وفي إطار أولوية المصالح القومية التركية السلمية.
صفقات سلاح ضخمة
كانت صحيفة “فاينانشيال تايمز” البريطانية ذكرت في عدد سابق لها، أن دول الخليج قامت بعقد صفقات لشراء أسلحة أمريكية تقدر قيمتها بـ 123 مليار دولار أمريكي وذلك في مواجهة القوة العسكرية الإيرانية، وذلك في واحدة من أكبر عمليات التسلح في وقت السلم، حسب تعبير الصحيفة.
ونقلت هيئة الاذاعة البريطانية “بي بي سي”، عن الصحيفة إن المملكة العربية السعودية عقدت صفقة لشراء أسلحة تصل قيمتها إلى أكثر من 67 مليار دولار أمريكي مما يجعلها أكبر صفقة منفردة لبيع أسلحة تقوم بها الولايات المتحدة.
وتقدر الدفعة الأولى من صفقة الأسلحة التي سيقرها الكونجرس الأمريكي قريبا بحوالي 30 مليار دولار أمريكي.
واشارت الصحيفة إلى أن دولا أخرى بجانب السعودية مثل الكويت والإمارات العربية المتحدة وسلطنة عمان قامت بعقد صفقات لشراء وتحسين قدرتها العسكرية ويصل مجموع هذه الصفقات إلى 122.88 مليار دولار أمريكي.
وتمثل هذه الخطوة ، بحسب الصحيفة، جزء من الاستراتيجية الامريكية لتقوية حلفاء امريكا العرب في مواجهة إيران وبرنامجها النووي المثير للجدل.
واضافت الصحيفة “ان ادارة أوباما تجري محادثات حاليا مع السعودية لتزويدها بسفن حربية وانظمة دفاع مضادة للصواريخ بقيمة عشرات مليارات الدولارات”.
ونقلت الصحيفة عن مسئولين رفيعي المستوى قولهم “هذه الصفقة المقدرة بـ60 مليار دولار تسمح للادارة ببيع 84 مقاتلة من نوع “اف-15” وتحديث 70 طائرة اخرى وبيع ثلاثة انواع من المروحيات: 70 “اباتشي” و”72 بلاك هوك” و36 “ليتل بيردز”.
من جانبها، قالت صحيفة “وول ستريت جورنال” إنه بإمكان الكونجرس إدخال تعديلات وفرض شروط أو تجميد العقد، كما تجري مفاوضات لتعزيز أنظمة الدفاع الباليستية السعودية، إذ تشجع واشنطن الرياض على شراء أنظمة صواريخ تعرف باسم “تي إتش آي آي دي “أو أنظمة الدفاع الحرارية المرتفعة، وتحديث صواريخ الباتريوت التي تملكها لتخفيض خطر الصواريخ الإيرانية، غير أن المسؤولين الأمريكيين أشاروا إلى أن تكلفة هذا المشروع لا تزال غير معروفة.
وتعد أكثر اجزاء الخطة اثارة للجدل هو عتاد من صنع شركة “بوينج” يحول القنابل غير الموجهة الى ذخائر تتسم بدقة التوجيه وهو بند أغضب انصار اسرائيل في الكونجرس.
وعلى الجانب الإسرائيلي قال المحلل الإستراتيجي إن “الصفقة نزع منها تجهيزات لأنظمة صاروخية بعيدة المدى، وبالتالي لا تسبب قلقا لإسرائيل، مؤكدا أن الدول الخليجية ستظل في حاجة إلى الدعم الأمريكي في هذا المجال، مهما زادت كميات الأسلحة لديها.
تهديد إيراني بتدمير الخليج
كان مسؤولون إيرانيون هددوا أكثر من مرة بقصف دول الخليج وأن تدفع منطقة الشرق الأوسط بأكملها في حرب مدمرة إذا هاجمت الولايات المتحدة منشآتها النووية.
حيث قال اللواء رحيم صفوي، أحد مستشاري المرشد الأعلى ،علي خامنئي، في تصريحات سابقة له إن إيران تتطلع إلى وضع يدها على منطقة الخليج لأجل خنق أمريكا وباقي الدول الغربية. واضاف: في اعتقاد إيران أن السيطرة على الخليج هو السيطرة علي العالم.
وحول التهديدات الأمريكية- الإسرائيلية بضرب إيران، قال صفوي : لا نعتقد حصول ذلك لأن إيران ستحرق الخليج كما أن إيران ستحرك خلاياها النائمة في العراق ودول المنطقة”.
أما ،علي شمخاني، كبير المستشارين العسكريين لدى خامنئي، فحذر دول المنطقة من حرب شاملة تستهدفها في حال نفذت الولايات المتحدة أي هجوم على المنشآت النووية الإيرانية.
وأضاف أن دول الخليج ستكون هدفا للصواريخ البالستية الإيرانية وأن إيران لن تضرب القواعد العسكرية الأمريكية في المنطقة فحسب بل ستضرب أيضا أهدافا استراتيجية لدول الخليج.
ولم يستبعد شمخاني ضرب مضخات النفط ومحطات الطاقة في دول الخليج العربي في حال إقدام واشنطن على توجيه ضربة عسكرية ضد طهران. وأكد شمخاني أيضا أن إيران لن تستثنيَ إسرائيل كهدف للصواريخ البالستية الإيرانية.
واتهم شمخاني الدول الخليجية بمساعدة الولايات المتحدة لإضفاء شرعية على هجومها المتوقع ضد إيران.
وكانت “المنظمة الإسلامية السنية الأحوازية” كشفت في وقت سابق عما أسمته “المفاصل الرئيسية للمخطط الإيراني السري للحرب المقبلة في المنطقة”.
حيث يقوم المخطط على “ضرب أهداف عسكرية وصناعية ومدنية دقيقة في الكويت, واحتلال محافظات في جنوب العراق تمهيداً للدفع بنحو 400 ألف عسكري إلى منطقة الخفجي باتجاه المملكة العربية السعودية”, بالإضافة إلى شن هجمات بحرية وجوية على كل من الإمارات والبحرين وقطر.
وأكدت المنظمة في تقرير موسع نقلاً عن ضابط رفيع “متعاون معها” من استخبارات “الحرس الثوري” ونشرته صحيفة “السياسة” الكويتية، أن طهران حشدت “قوات ضخمة من الحرس والجيش والبحرية في الأحواز المحتلة وعلى طول الساحل الايراني والجزر الإماراتية المحتلة, استعداداً لشن حرب مباغتة, بإشراف شخصي من المرشد الأعلى علي خامنئي”.
ويشرف قائد الحرس الشخصي لخامنئي مباشرة على ترتيب مسرح العمليات والإعداد للحرب التي وضعت خطتها “لتتناسب مع جغرافية العراق والخليج العربي”, حيث “بلغ عديد القوات المسلحة نحو مليون و700 ألف جندي”, كما أعيد تموضع الكثير من فرق الجيش و”الحرس الثوري” وقوات التعبئة “الباسيج” تماشياً مع متطلبات تنفيذ المخطط الحربي.

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August 10th, 2011, 1:21 pm


70. Aboud said:

Come on, we all know what those three hours were spend on. Besho was showing off his leet skillz on Call of Duty.

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August 10th, 2011, 1:22 pm


71. jad said:

غموض يلفّ 6 ساعات سورية ــ تركية… ورسالة وصلت ولم تصل

ساد لغط كبير قبل وأثناء وبعد زيارة وزير الخارجية التركية المنتظرة الى دمشق. فالحملات الاعلامية التي سبقت هذه الزيارة حملت سيناريوهات عدة ابرزها أن هذا اللقاء سيكون الفرصة الاخيرة امام سوريا حتى ان البعض شبهه باللقاء الذي عقده وزير خارجية اميركا جيمس بايكر مع طارق عزيز في جنيف.
لكن جميع هذه التعليقات كانت غير دقيقة لأن نتائج الزيارة كانت خلافا لما بثته وكالات الانباء والمواقع الالكترونية، خصوصا ان هذه المواقع لم تتوقف طيلة يوم امس عن بث «الفلاشات» وكلها تشير الى معلومات عن قرب الانفجار وأن منطقة الشرق الاوسط ستدخل في دوامة من الصراع وبحرب واسعة النطاق.
لكن، فور مغادرة وزير الخارجية التركي، عاد كل شيء الى طبيعته وبدأت تتكشف بعض التفاصيل عن اللقاء المطوّل الذي عقده الرئيس السوري بشار الاسد مع وزير خارجية تركيا.
والمعلومات التي حصلت عليها «الديار» تفيد أن الاجتماع بدأ متوترا جدا، لكنه انتهى بشكل جيد ومريح، وخلال الاجتماع قدم الرئيس السوري ملفا شاملا عن الاحداث التي وقعت في سوريا بدءا من 15 اذار الماضي وفيه التفاصيل الكاملة عن العمليات التي قامت بها العصابات المسلحة التي روعت السكان.
وتضمن هذا الملف الشامل، الذي احتفظ به اوغلو، صورا واشرطة فيديو عن المسلحين والاسلحة كما قدم الاسد إليه اوراقا عن العملية الاصلاحية وتفاصيل عن الاجراءات التي اتخذها الجيش ضد المسلحين، كذلك ابلغ الوزير التركي أن المسلحين هم الذين عرقلوا العملية الاصلاحية، لكن الاسد ابلغ ضيفه التركي انه مهما حصل فإن خيار الاصلاحات قد اتخذ وهو نهائي وان العقبات لن تثني القيادة السورية عن إكمالها.
وابلغ الاسد اوغلو ان سوريا ستشهد ثورة في الاصلاحات تعتبر نموذجا فريدا في منطقة الشرق الاوسط.
بدوره، رحب الوزير التركي بالنوايا السورية الاصلاحية واكد للرئيس السوري أن تركيا لن تتدخل بالشؤون الداخلية السورية وتعتبر ان طريق الاصلاح هو الطريق الاسلم للانتهاء من الفوضى الحاصلة.
وفي المعلومات ان الوزير التركي لم يحمل اية رسالة اميركية ولم يهدد كما اشيع في وسائل الاعلام، وان كل ما اذيع هو وسيلة من وسائل الضغط التي تتعرض لها سوريا.
من جهة اخرى، وفي معلومات مناقضة تفيد بأن الوزير التركي لم يحمل رسالة اميركية بل الصحيح انه حمل رسالة تركية تشدد على الاصلاح وعلى ضرورة وضع جدول زمني لهذه الاصلاحات حتى تعود الثقة بين السلطات السورية والمحتجين، وان هذه الرسالة كانت محور المحادثات التي اجراها الوزير التركي، اضافة الى رؤية تركيا في كيفية خروج سوريا من النفق الذي تعيش فيه حاليا.
وقد ظهر ان الوزير التركي كان متشددا فور عودته الى انقرة حيث عقد مؤتمرا صحافيا اكد فيه «ان الايام الحرجة قادمة ونحن نراقب سوريا بعد ان دعوناها لوقف العنف».

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August 10th, 2011, 1:26 pm


72. jad said:

سوريا تسحب سفراءها من دول الخليج

اكد مصدر مطلع ان دمشق استدعت سفراءها في كل من السعودية والكويت والبحرين وقطر وجميع الدول التي سحبت سفراءها من دمشق، احتجاجا على تدخل هذه الدول في الشؤون الداخلية لسوريا ودعمها للمجموعات المسلحة.
وافاد موقع “نهرين نت” الثلاثاء، ان هذه الخطوة جاءت احتجاجا من دمشق على دعم تلك الدولة والمجموعات السلفية الوهابية المتشددة للمسلحين الذين تدعمهم الولايات المتحدة ودول غربية.

وتزامن قرار السلطات السورية في سحب السفراء، مع تاكيد الرئيس السوري بشار الاسد خلال لقائه وزير خارجية تركيا احمد داود اوغلو انه لن يتهاون في ملاحقة المجموعات الارهابية، من اجل حماية استقرار الوطن وامن المواطنين.

وكانت السعودية والكويت والبحرين قد استجابت لضغوط اميركية قبل 48 ساعة، واعلنت تلك الدول عن سحب سفرائها من دمشق بهدف تضييق الخناق دلوماسيا وسياسيا واعلاميا على سوريا، وفي سابقة خطيرة في التدخل بشوؤن دولة عربية.

كما شهدت الكويت تجمعا للتيار الوهابي السلفي الثلاثاء بالقرب من السفارة السورية بمشاركة شخصيات برلمانية وسياسية وهابية كويتية معروفة بالتطرف الديني، ولم تقدم الاجهزة الامنية الكويتية على تفريق المتظاهرين.

من جهتها، اكدت دمشق تورط النظام السعودي في تقديم المساعدات للمسلحين ولبقية المجموعات التي تحسب نفسها على المعارضة .

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August 10th, 2011, 1:29 pm


73. Revlon said:

Jr-Turkish FM meeting failed.
Jr to the Turkish FM:
– If you expecame to strike a deal then we have nothing to offer
– If you came to threaten us with war then I tell you we are ready for a regional war.

الأسد لأوغلو: لن نساوم، وجاهزون لحرب إقليمية إذا جئت لإعلان حرب

مروان طاهر – شفاف الشرق الأوسط – خاص

قالت مصادر متطابقة سورية وتركية إن اللقاء الذي عقد في دمشق اليوم بين الرئيس السوري بشار الاسد ووزير الخارجية التركي داوود أوغلو انتهى الى فشل ذريع.

وأضافت المصادر أن سوريا أرادت توجيه رسالة الى أوغلو فور وصوله الى دمشق حيث إستقبله نائب وزير الخارجية السوري، فيصل المقداد، وليس نظيره وليد المعلم .

وأشارت المصادر الى أن اوغلو حمل الى الاسد المطالب التالية:

1 – إصدار عفو شامل وتطبيقه فعلا لا قولا.

2 – إطلاق سرح جميع المعتقلين من شروط ومن دون استثناء.

3 – ضمان عودة جميع النازحين وعدم التعرض لاي منهم باي تهمة او جريمة.

4- إجراء إنتخابات نيابية ورئاسية مبكرة تحت إشراف دولي.

5 – عودة الجيش السوري فورا الى الثكنات.

6 – الضغط على الحكومة اللبنانية للتعاون في ملف المحكمة ذات الطابع الدولي.

وفي المقابل تضمن تركيا إقامة هانئة للاسد وعائلته في تركيا في حال خسر الانتخابات.

وفي المقابل ذكرت مصادر سورية أن الرد السوري الحازم جاء على الشكل التالي: إذا كانت للزيارة لإجراء مساومة ما فلن نساوم، وإذا جئتم لإعلان حرب فنحن جاهزون لحرب إقليمية، حسب ما ذكرت المصادر.

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August 10th, 2011, 1:30 pm


74. solitarius said:


I’m aware that you are Israeli. Also you might or might not be a Mossad agent, it’s irrelevant.

Anyway.. I don’t know about other cities. but here in Homs there is no indication that the government is going to fall apart to the extent that Assad now has to worry about Asylum. There are tons of things to talk about. 3 hours is barely enough to cover Syria let alone talking about other countries having termoil next door. The problem in Homs is the presence of armed people who are keeping things tense, and the frequent sounds of gunfire which is probably mostly the work of the government.. but who really knows what’s happening. Eventually we learn in what area the gunfire was from but nobody knows the details. People are voluntarily moving to safer areas for the summer but will have to return to the city once schools and winter arrive. It’s not that it’s “dangerous” per se.. it’s just annoying with sporadic danger. For example, there was an incident when armed people entered a public bus (armed with knives and guns) and asked for security personnel. The story goes that people were jumping out of the windows of the bus but it’s hard to believe. The story is true however (the part about the armed gangsters). They just disappeared afterwards when they didn’t find what they wanted.

There is also the sad story of a guy who lived in Bab el Sbaa and was murdered by the democracy seekers. They shot him, and when they found out that he didn’t die, kidnapped him from the hospital and stabbed him to death. They later found out that they killed the brother of their target. So apparently recently they killed the correct brother. He was a Christian and according to their story he was a collaborator. It makes no sense either way to kill a person whether he was a civilian collaborator or not. What does it even mean? they said he allowed the police to use his balcony or rooftop. Can someone really say no to the police if they wanted to use his house for such purposes in Syria? so it’s a criminal act either way. It’s a true story and my aunt went to his funeral. His last name is Turk. Actually a distant relative of ours is now apparently on their death list.. مهدور دمه
Why? who knows. they can have whatever silly reason they want. He operates a jewelry store.. so maybe he wasn’t closing his store in the market like they want.

Long story short, I honestly don’t know of a single true peaceful demonstration in Homs. Perhaps i’m illinformed, but it’s also something to consider that all stories I have are of violent rioters or at least eventually turn into violence. I have similar stories from Deir Ezzor from a Deiri guy.

With this kind of atmosphere no resolution can be expected that will be to the benefit of the opposition. They cannot get enough critical mass. Slowly they are losing the interest of the general population. All stores are pretty much closed in Homs.. People are running out of money. I’m sure they will be fed up with this whole thing by the end of Ramadan.

At the same time, Bashar better get serious and implement some reforms. Enough BS.

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August 10th, 2011, 1:31 pm


75. 5 dancing shlomos said:


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August 10th, 2011, 1:31 pm


76. 5 dancing shlomos said:

Obama Administration to Call for england’s cameron to Step Down:

i am appalled by the english regime’s use of violence and brutality against its own people.
the reports out of london and liverpool are horrifying and demonstrate the true character of the cameron regime.
once again, pm cameron has shown that he is completely incapable and unwilling to respond to the legitimate grievances of the english people. his use of torture, corruption and terror puts him on the wrong side of history and his people.
through his own actions and inactions, david cameron is ensuring that he and his regime will be left in the past, and that the courageous english people who have demonstrated in the streets will determine its future.
england will be a better place when a democratic transition goes forward.
sanctions will be considered as well as a nato response to prevent further slaughter of innocents.

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August 10th, 2011, 1:32 pm


77. 5 dancing shlomos said:

testing posts but nothing else.

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August 10th, 2011, 1:33 pm


78. solitarius said:

well .. are your tests working?

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August 10th, 2011, 1:46 pm


79. Revlon said:

We have just learned of the Turkish demands.
We still do not know the other part of the ultimatum!

Mubarak was there, by serendipity to rescue his father’s ass from the Turkish wrath had he failed to meet their ultimatum!

There is no one in sight yet that have the potential to broker Jr’s submission.

It is interesting, that the offer that concerned Jr’s future gave guarantees of safe residence in Turkey for “him and his family”

Finding out what was meant by “family” may shed more light on the intricacies of the negotiations.

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August 10th, 2011, 1:50 pm


80. Aboud said:

“Long story short, I honestly don’t know of a single true peaceful demonstration in Homs. Perhaps i’m illinformed”

Check the links I posted on the marvelous demonstrations in Khaldia.

“. I don’t know about other cities. but here in Homs there is no indication that the government is going to fall apart to the extent that Assad now has to worry about Asylum.”

Do you mean have we reached the stage where we can declare an Islamic Emirate (heheheh). Nope, but have you been by the old Karnak? Count the number of armored vehicles parked there. There is a heavy security presence in Homs that has done nothing to subdue the demonstrations.

You hear that gun fire from Baba Amr? Some soldiers with their APCs defected.

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August 10th, 2011, 1:58 pm


81. Aboud said:

“He operates a jewelry store.. so maybe he wasn’t closing his store in the market like they want. ”

I personally know a super market owner near Damascus road who never closes. As far as I can tell, in five months no one has tried to murder him.

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August 10th, 2011, 2:00 pm


82. N.Z. said:

Can someone please comment on Mohammad Suleiman, the former minister of information and 41 former minister, if their manifesto carries any weight or pressure on junior and his brother and in law.

Their diagnosis of the problem and the solutions they offered is completely in line with the protesters and the opposition inside and outside.

No one seem to give it any importance, why?

I was truly hopeful after reading it. Is it wishful thinking.

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August 10th, 2011, 2:01 pm


83. solitarius said:

ABOUD do you have any evidence about the defect of the units in Baba Amr? Because the fire has stopped now. I don’t really buy that story. It sounds more like the government is shooting here and there to keep people from going out or they are pursuing some people. I think if it was a defection it wouldn’t last that long.. the fire was for most of the day sporadically.

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August 10th, 2011, 2:06 pm


84. jad said:

واشنطن تفرض عقوبات اقتصادية جديدة على سورية

أعلنت وزارة الخزانة الأمريكية في 10 أغسطس/آب فرض عقوبات جديدة على سورية قالت إنها تستهدف البنية التحتية المالية التي تدعم موقف حكومة الرئيس بشار الأسد.

ونقلت وكالة “رويترز” عن الوزارة أن العقوبات تستهدف المصرف التجاري السوري وهو مؤسسة مالية مملوكة للدولة وفرعه في لبنان المصرف التجاري السوري اللبناني، وذلك على أساس أمر رئاسي بمعاقبة الجهات المسؤولة عن انتشار أسلحة الدمار الشامل وداعميها. [WMD! not again! is Clinton going to do a presentation in the UN any time soon?]

كما يستهدف القرار شركة “سيرياتل” وهي أكبر شركة لتشغيل الهاتف المحمول في سورية بموجب قانون منفصل موجه ضد المسؤولين السوريين وغيرهم من المسؤولين عن انتهاكات حقوق الانسان في سورية.

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August 10th, 2011, 2:09 pm


85. N.Z. said:

In Baba Amr another fresh massacre is taking place. So far 18 civilians slaughtered by Assad killing spree.

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August 10th, 2011, 2:22 pm


86. jad said:

Vested interests make Syria oil unlikely EU target

(Reuters) – Despite worsening bloodshed in Syria, there appears little prospect that Western countries will put teeth in their sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad any time soon by targeting his vital oil industry.

While states like Turkey and Saudi Arabia have recently increased political pressure on Syria, dissidents and analysts say divisions among European states and a reluctance to sacrifice commercial interests have emboldened Assad in a crackdown that activists say has killed more than 1,600 people.

Syria produces about 400,000 barrels of oil a day, exporting most of about 150,000 barrels per day to European countries including the Netherlands, Italy, France and Spain.

While small on a global scale, analysts and activists say the exports bring in millions of dollars a day to Assad’s government, accounting for perhaps 30 percent of its income.

Despite daily increases in the protester death toll and the use of tanks against anti-government demonstrators, the European Union has continued to take an incremental approach to sanctions.

In four rounds since March, it has subjected 35 individuals including Assad to asset freezes and visa bans and targeted military-linked firms linked to the suppression of dissent.

But it has not touched the oil sector, where big European corporations Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell and France’s Total are significant investors.

Last week, after the EU expressed shock at the “massacre” of civilians in the town of Hama, EU ambassadors agreed to expand the sanctions list in coming weeks and said consideration should be given to expanding the “scope” of restrictions.

However, EU officials say that any more robust steps against Syrian economic interests that might include the oil sector are unlikely even to be discussed before the end of the EU’s August summer break.

At last week’s ambassadors’ meeting Germany called on EU states to “explore options on economic sanctions” while adding that it was “not sure” itself if this was the best approach.

Britain said the bloc should “start the process of considering” economic sanctions and France raised the possibility of sanctions against the Commercial Bank of Syria.

The meeting concluded by inviting the EU executive to draw up an “options paper,” with the suggestion that this would “be good to have” before an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Poland on September 2-3, an EU official said.


Such a lack of urgency not only betrays vested EU interests, but has played directly into Assad’s hands, analysts say.

“Sanctions on the energy sector would be an obvious next step,” said Clara O’Donnell of the Centre for European Reform.

“But if there were a real interest to do that it would probably have gone further already — the level of violence the Syrian authorities have been inflicting has been quite prolonged now and it’s striking to see how slow the exploration of widening sanctions has been,” she said.

“Clearly the desire of European policy makers not to damage the economic interests of some firm may be a playing a role.”

Rime Allaf, a Syrian Middle East expert at Chatham House, said the EU approach had likely worsened the bloodshed.

“Making a noise about sanctions and not actually acting has given the regime a lot more self-confidence that it can literally get away with murder,” she said.

Among arguments advanced by EU states reluctant to pursue economic sanctions is that they could increase the suffering of civilians, even though dissidents say more and more Syrians would stomach short-term pain for long-term gain.

EU states have also been unable to agree to declare that Assad has lost legitimacy and should step down, or to follow Italy’s lead in pulling out its ambassador to Damascus.

“The main concern for us is to stop the killing,” said a diplomat from one EU state. “But there are some strong arguments that economic sanctions will not really help. And there are some strong counter-arguments saying the opposite.

“So there is no unanimity for the time being.”

A Swedish official said differing views on extending sanctions to the oil industry and financial institutions meant for now “the likelihood of a strong response appears small.”

And while the United States might have wanted to go further, “they don’t want to push the question if there aren’t EU countries that also support it,” he said.

Ausama Monajed, a spokesman for the Syrian opposition in Europe, called for sanctions to be extended to the Syrian oil sales and marketing companies Sytrol and MAHRUKAT, as well as to the Syrian Real Estate Bank and the Syrian Commercial Bank.

“By sanctioning the oil companies you would dry up the major sources of funding being used to buy bullets to kill people,” he said, while warning of a campaign of increasing public pressure on EU governments and companies.

“If they want their logos associated with the images of 11, 12 and 13-year-old kids being shot in the head, then let it be.”

Even so, it remains unclear how effective such a campaign might be, given limited European public interest in what is seen by many as just the latest Middle East unrest, and preoccupation with internal problems such as the euro zone debt crisis.

“It’s unlucky for Syria that it’s just the latest in country to go through this,” said O’Donnell. “And the Libya episode has definitely made governments more cautious in their responses.”

The lack of quick results from the Western intervention in Libya and of any guarantee that any Syrian transition would be smooth, or even friendly to Western interests, has killed even theoretical talk of a military option in Syria.

Again this has played into Assad’s hands.

“It is very possible that Assad will remain in control,” O’Donnell said. “The fact that he knows military action is completely off the cards means the Americans and Europeans have lost their bluff cards and can’t even keep up the pressure by implying they might intervene,” she said.

“Also Assad knows that particularly when it comes to the Europeans, they don’t even have the military means to take forceful action because they are over-stretched elsewhere.”

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August 10th, 2011, 2:27 pm


87. Aboud said:

Solitarius, the firing stopped briefly during iftar, but has come back. And on the contrary, the firing has been taking so long *because* there was a defection. All the firing has been concentrated in the same area, and it’s been very very indiscriminate. Alot of civilians have been taken to the hospitals nearby.

Why would the security forces care about people from Baba Amr going out? It would only make sense if it was part of a campaign simultaneously targeting Khaldia, Bab Asba3, Al-Bayada, Al-Qusur, Al-Hamra, Al-Insha’at (ok it’s pretty near to Baba Amr), Karm al Shami…etc etc.

The security forces have never been able to take on all the neighborhoods of Homs all at once, they just don’t have the manpower (thank you Aleppo for keeping them up there hehehhe)

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August 10th, 2011, 2:32 pm


88. jad said:

[Changed again; the sanctions against the Syrian Commercial Bank are not only because of ‘Korea’ or the ‘WMD’ but according to the lovely Tabler, are for ‘Oil’]

U.S. sanctions Syrian bank linked to oil exports

The Obama administration slapped fresh sanctions on Syria’s biggest bank on Wednesday, a move that could harm the country’s ability to export oil, analysts and officials said.

The new penalty on the Commercial Bank of Syria, a state-owned institution, was the latest step in the administration’s efforts to tighten the noose around President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. government, with little economic leverage of its own in Syria, has been trying to build a stronger international front to pressure Assad over his crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

At least 2,000 peaceful protesters have been slain by Syrian forces since the uprising began earlier this year, according to U.S. officials.

White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated Wednesday that Syria “would be better off without President Assad.” But he stopped short of an outright call on Assad to step down.

The George W. Bush administration had already banned U.S. companies from doing business with the Commercial Bank of Syria. But Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that those 2004 sanctions were weaker because they were an attempt to target money laundering. Therefore, they did not stop some European countries from doing business with the bank.

In contrast, the latest U.S. designation accuses the bank of providing financial services to Syrian and North Korean institutions allegedly involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

“This will encourage the Europeans to target the Commercial Bank of Syria completely,” said Tabler, author of an upcoming book on U.S.-Syria relations, “In the Lion’s Den.”

Such a move would be significant because the bank handles Syria’s oil revenues, a major revenue source for Assad’s government. European countries are the biggest customers for Syria’s oil.

The latest sanctions also target Syriatel, the country’s largest mobile phone operator.

Syriatel is owned by Rami Makhluf, an influential Syrian businessman who was hit with U.S. sanctions earlier this month because of his support of the Assad government.

The U.S. government has been trying to increase pressure through sanctions on influential business allies of the Assad government, in hopes they will lessen their support.

David S. Cohen, the Treasury undersecretary for financial intelligence, said in a statement that the measures showed “we are taking aim at the financial infrastructure that is helping provide support to Asad and his regime’s illicit activities.”

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August 10th, 2011, 2:41 pm


89. William Scott Scherk said:

@82 NZ asks if someone can please comment on Mohammad Suleiman and his group of signatories, ex-Ba’ath, ex-ministers. I second that call, noting that some commentary on twitter stresses the their plan’s retention of the current government in its transition scheme . . . but otherwise the suggestions, as you point out, are the same as the straight opposition (Hussein, Declaration fellows) and the streets, and Abughassan for that matter, pretty basic bottom line regarding the failing ‘security solution.’

But, of course, the story is blacked out completely from official and semi-official mass media in Syria. What can you do when such an event is cloaked from view? Is this news on DP-news, or SANA, let alone BBC? No, no and no.

I think it is a job for a Landis or a politico-watcher (or Syria Superperson) to give this development some serious attention and further reportage, someone who has the information on these gentlemen and their earlier roles in government and leading party. It seems these guys may need a marketing hand, too.

In my most cynical moments I think that news like this little-remarked story in the National (UAE organ) is even kept from the President’s eyes, lest he go off-script. It is as if the clan built a machine, and now the Machine controls even the President, what he sees, what he hears, what he thinks. Somehow it seems to me that Shaban and the other regimists were at his first three hours to keep him on script.

Besides this mystery, is there even a suggestion on the wind that the Ba’ath party is functioning — is it meeting, thinking, shaping, reacting or just following the crisis rulebook of the Machine?

PS — Spamcatcher 2 WSS 0 so far today . . .

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August 10th, 2011, 2:44 pm


90. N.Z. said:

Assad mafia, newest target are the minarets of Syria. They are the hallmark of the opposition. What can we expect next from this Syrian Mafia?

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August 10th, 2011, 2:45 pm


91. N.Z. said:

I agree with you W.S.S. “I think it is a job for a Landis or a politico-watcher”.

Professor Landis any suggestions?

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August 10th, 2011, 2:50 pm


92. OFF THE WALL said:

Several factors:

1. The Regime is being literally a rabid skunk convinced that its murderous rampage is working.

2. Other states continue to extend one probationary period after another and regime uses every extension hoping to get things back to the Pre-Jan 2011 period. Both are delusional with regime sycophants being the most delusional of the bunch.

The regime is not interested in solutions that will result in accountability, which only means most members of the extended Assad Clan above 18 will be indicted for crimes against humanity, not to mention other crimes punishable by the existing criminal code of Syria.

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August 10th, 2011, 3:16 pm


93. Khalid Tlass said:

That S.O.B Dawudoglu is drinking the kool-aid about “armed gangs”.

Erdogan just have Junior 2 weeks to kill more people. Great.

Aboud, are sure the soldiers in Baba Amr defected ? Are they safe ? How many people have been killed in Baba Amr ?

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August 10th, 2011, 4:32 pm


94. Sheila said:

To NZ and WSS,
I completely agree with both of you about the importance of this declaration. It is in effect, historic. Over the 40 some Assad years, we have seen a few declarations, but never before by people of these ex- high ranks in the regime itself.
I want you to watch and mark my word, as we see these signatories to the declaration, be killed, arrested or withdraw their signature in public after being “convinced” by the regime. I forgot one more option: suicide by two bullets in the head(possible only in Syria).

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August 10th, 2011, 4:58 pm


95. solitarius said:


the defection story doesn’t make sense. never did. If as you say the government doesn’t have enough forces to tackle all neighborhoods at the same time, that means they are only using loyal units, and those won’t defect. To this day there is no evidence of any significant defection. Promoting this idea without merit is only an attempt to legitimize foreign intervention and targeting the Syrian army/security because they are “defecting” from within.

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August 10th, 2011, 5:38 pm


96. Aboud said:

“the defection story doesn’t make sense.”

Whatever you say Solitarius. All those guys flashing their military IDs? I guess there is a salafi printing factory that prints them by the dozens.

“If as you say the government doesn’t have enough forces to tackle all neighborhoods at the same time, that means they are only using loyal units”

They can only depend on loyal units to go into the neighborhoods and places like Hama. They put just anyone on the checkpoints. It’s not like the entire army is confined just to its bases 24/7

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August 10th, 2011, 5:42 pm


97. Abughassan said:

More Baathists and regime loyalists need to speak out against violence and in support of freedom and democracy. A political break thru is not possible without an admission by both sides,especially the regime,that there is no military solution to this crisis.
The army needs to pull out of cities and security forces need to act only when civil peace is threatened. Arresting peaceful opposition figures is a sure way to aggravate the situation and push Syria deeper into a tunnel of bloodshed and violence.
Bashar’s departure is needed but not enough. A broader agreement is needed about the road ahead. Even in Egypt,which does not have an army loyal to the regime,Mubarak did not give his post to the streets,he gave it to a military council.

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August 10th, 2011, 6:28 pm


98. beaware said:

Assad withdraws tanks as Ankara still cautious
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Turkey cautiously welcomes the pull-out of Syrian tanks from Hama
after its top diplomat’s visit to Damascus but calls for more steps soon
The tensions in Hama grow after a huge protest against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers last week. Reuters photo

Turkey on Wednesday welcomed the pull-out of Syrian tanks from Hama as a direct outcome of its pressure on Damascus, but remained cautious and urged more steps within “10 to 15 days” to ease the turmoil.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey’s ambassador to Syria confirmed that tanks and security forces were leaving the revolt hub of Hama after the envoy visited the city Wednesday following seven-hour talks between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus the previous day.

“This is very, very important as it shows that our initiative has produced a positive result. We hope that things are fully completed within a period of 10 to 15 days and steps are taken regarding the reform process in Syria,” Erdoğan said.

“We will continue to closely monitor the developments in Syria and watch for the issues that we discussed” with al-Assad, he said, adding that Ankara’s pressure was motivated by its commitment to promoting democracy in the region. The immediate measures Ankara expects from al-Assad’s government include the announcement of a timetable for elections and the release of all political prisoners, a senior Turkish official said.

Erdoğan said the use of force against civilians must stop “as soon as possible” and stressed that al-Assad’s pledges for reform “would convince neither the Syrian people nor the international community as long as people are being killed every day.” Ambassador Ömer Önhon toured Hama, the scene of the bloodiest security crackdown since anti-regime protests erupted in Syria in mid-March, talked to residents and prayed with them at a mosque, Davutoğlu told reporters.The ambassador reported the city was free from tanks and heavy weaponry but “lacked activity and vivacity.”

“The second important step we expect [from Damascus] is media access” to Syria, Davutoğlu said, adding that Ankara would organize within a few days a press tour to Hama and Deir Ezzor, another flashpoint in the uprising. Following his talks with Davutoğlu, a defiant al-Assad pledged to pursue a relentless battle against “terrorist groups” whom the regime has blamed for the violence.

Davutoğlu said Wednesday that he had spoken over the phone with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as well as his counterparts from Brazil, Germany and Jordan after he returned from Damascus. “If Syria begins to take steps in line with the demands of its people and ends the bloodshed, and if the international community unites to speak in one voice on the issue, the process may advance in a way that would ease everybody’s concerns,” he said.

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August 10th, 2011, 6:33 pm


99. beaware said:

Assad has nine lives
Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Israelis used to make a political joke in the first few years of Bashar al-Assad: Syrian generals trembled as the father Assad entered the room; the son trembled as generals entered the room.

Not anymore. Nowadays Israelis join Iranians, perhaps uniquely on the indispensability (for the time being) of the son Assad as the president of Syria, despite mounting pressure from all over the world regarding the violent methods Assad’s generals use against their own people who demand more democracy.
Yet, like many others, Turkey doesn’t want Assad to go now despite diplomatic indications that the United States is set to call him to empty his chair. This is also despite reports sent to Ankara that said that at the very moment when Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced Syrian tanks had withdrawn from Hama and Turkish Ambassador to Damascus Ömer Önhon joined noon prayers there, other Syrian tanks and troops were carrying out similar operations in towns in the west of the country near the Turkish border.

The reason why Assad is ignoring almost all calls and warnings and ultimatums is the same with his indispensability in the eyes of so many countries, especially the neighboring ones. Because, no one knows who is going to replace Assad and no one is sure whether the situation will be any better under his successor.

That is the reason why Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan reacted in anger to the Turkish main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu when the latter asked, “What are you going to do when your patience is exhausted? Are you going to go for a military intervention?” Everybody concerned knows there are no conditions for military intervention in Syria; like Libya or Iraq. And Assad knows that one of his main powers keeping him in his chair is his weakness.


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August 10th, 2011, 6:42 pm


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