Upheaval within the Opposition: Defections, Terrorism, and Preparing for a Phase II Insurgency

The Syrian opposition is reshaping itself following its defeat in Homs. A new leadership seems bound to emerge. In all likelihood, in the new phase of the battle the is shaping up to combat the Assad regime, opposition leaders are likely to champion new tactics of militancy and Islamization.

The opposition will have to rebuild itself to be more Islamic, militant and sectarian in order to take on the Assad regime. Opposition leaders on the ground, those who are actually fighting the regime, have already become more militant and Islamized. If the SNC doesn’t scramble to catch up, it will become irrelevant. I suspect that the upcoming opposition meeting in Turkey this Thursday and Friday (March 22-23) will reflect some of that shift. The recent high level defections within the the Syrian National Council suggest the opposition is responding to these pressures and new demands. The SNC is going through a period of soul searching and transformation in response to the government’s classic “clear and hold” operations carried out in Sednaya, Homs and Idlib.

The future strategy of the Syrian opposition will have to follow the outlines of a classic “phase two” insurgency predicated on guerrilla warfare. This phase is reached when the insurgent movement initiates organized continuous guerrilla warfare in an attempt to push government forces into a defensive role. “Phase three” insurgency is a war of movement. In this phase the insurgent can directly engage government forces and hold territory. The Syrian opposition prematurely tried to hold territory and take on the Syrian Army. This was a bad and costly mistake. In the first year of the Syrian uprising the opposition naively believed that the entire Syrian population would embrace it and abandon the regime or that Bashar al-Assad would hand over power. Based on the example of the North African uprisings, Syrian opposition members incorrectly believed a “Tahrir Square  moment” would arrive within months of the uprising’s start, eliminating the need for a coherent military strategy, a defined leadership, or how to parry government counter-insurgency operations. The passions of Syrians who have tasted little but contempt from their own government led them to rise up in an act of incredible courage. Now, however, the reality of just how difficult attaining victory will be is setting in.

The Assad regime remains vigorous and will last longer than many thought. The reason that mass defections have not destroyed the regime are twofold: sectarian anxieties prevent Alawite defections, and the regime turns out to be more sectarian than many thought; and class anxieties are more important as well.

Members of the Sunni middle and upper classes are not defecting in the numbers the opposition hoped that they would. The reason that neither Damascus or Aleppo have become centers of the revolution is usually attributed to their privileged position in Syrian society. Wealthy Sunnis living in the West have joined the revolution, but that may be because they do not fear the disorder and incompetence of the opposition in the same way as those living in Syria. They have also experienced the freedom and dignity afforded by the rule of law. They look at the brutality of the Assad regime and wonder, “how come we  have this?”

The Syrian revolutionaries are largely rural and young, just as were the Baathists in the 1960s. Wealthy and educated Sunnis fear the results of the present revolution could be the same for them as the results of the last revolution, when Syria’s rural poor took power. They will lose money, status and their quality of life, at least temporarily. If the Lebanon and Iraq revolutions are a guide, that decline could last a long time.

The coming “phase II” insurgency will be characterized by:

  1. the creation of cell-networks that maintain secrecy
  2. Terrorism: these techniques include bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, threats, mutilation, murder, torture, and blackmail. These actions will be used to provoke the government into overreactions that discredit the regime, alienate the populace, and demonstrate its inability to protect them.
  3. multifaceted attempts to cultivate support in the general population, by undermining the regime, proving that the opposition must be feared and will eventually win, and by winning gratitude and trust by providing food and shelter to those in need.
  4. attacks against the government and security forces, such as car bombings in Damascus and Aleppo and the planting of IEDs as in Iraq and Afghanistan will undermine military moral and its ability to move around the country.

In order for the opposition to organize an effective phase II insurgency, it will have to embrace guerrilla warfare and greater Islamization of the resistance. This means  Sunni sectarian recruitment, Islamic martyrdom operations, and all the aspects of Middle Eastern insurgency that we have seen used so effectively against occupation forces in the recent past, whether used by Palestinians, Afghans or Iraqis. Elements of the SNC who are unhappy with the way the Ghalioun has

The role of Burhan Ghalioun and members of the Syrian National Council closest to him, such as Ausama Monajed and Bassma Kodmadi, is bound to diminish or change in the coming phase of the struggle. They must be prepared to embrace a much more stridently Sunni insurgency. The regime has proven its viciousness.  The secular leaders of the SNC have been very successful at mobilizing the West against Assad. They have gotten sanctions put in place and the regime has been isolated internationally. But they look down on religion and warfare.

Kamal Labwani, a leader of the Syrian opposition who quit the Syrian National Council last week, accused the SNC of being an “autocratic” organization that has sidelined most of its members. “There is no council, it’s an illusion,” he said. Furthermore he accused council chief Burhan Ghalioun of being like Bashar and “running the organization …. [like] Assad’s ruling Baath party.” Haytham Mallah slammed Ghalioun for being reluctant to support the military effort of the Free Syrian Army. Anwar al-Bunni is worried that the Muslim Brotherhood has become too powerful within the SNC. These are all growing pains as the opposition struggles to keep up with the changes on the ground brought on by the Homs crisis and opposition defeat.

In keeping with the Islamization necessary to recruit financial and military assistance for the revolution, opposition organizers in the West are rallying support from the broader Islamic community by presenting the Syrian struggle in clear religious terms. Quoting from the Koran is key to this. Here are selected quotes from a recent Syrian opposition rally held in Australia. Notice the use of Islamic concepts of martydom, khalifa, the umma, rejection of nationalism, angles coming to the aid of Islamic fighters, blood nourishing the roots of Jihad, etc.

Sunni Shaykhs of Australia Speak at Rally to Gather Support against the Assad Regime

This is a video of the Muslim community protest for Syria held on Jan 21, 2012 at Paul Keating Park, Bankstown, Sydney, Australia. This video is of the entire protest, including all talks, chanting and videos. The following are snippets of the talks:

“We Stand United for the Sake of Allah and for our Brothers and Sisters who are Getting Slaughtered – We are all Muslims who are Worshiping Allah.” “We Ask Allah to Destroy the Assad Regime and his army.” The Muslim Umma stands as one. For one hundred years these dictatorships and these animals have reigned. … The Umma is one step closer to realizing the reality… the reality of the Khilafa to come. Put your trust in Allah. Allah ordains that our brothers and sisters in Syria stand firm, brave and courageous in standing against those who have been oppressing them for the past decades. We can see the wings of angles above Damascus. They will destroy Assad and his regime. Allah insists that his life will continue to exist and the light of his martyrs will continue and the only thing that will be destroy is the life of tyrants and the Assad regime and his army and to revive truth as he promised. God has made us one Umma. It is the Umma of God who is one.”

Remember that the blood of the Martyrs will never be wasted. It will continue to feed the roots of the tree. The prophet said that their will remain a group of my Umma who will fight on the command of Allah to suppress evil and uphold the unity of God.  Brothers in Islam, to remember that the outcome is for the beliefs. The outcome is for the beliefs. to remember the stance of the people of tawhiid. We had our Umma and our scholars stand up for belief against these regimes. When the likes of al-Buti and the likes of al-Hassoun, this dog wearing a turban, stood on the side of the tyrants. Remember that victory will only come with adhering to the book of Allah and his Sunna. Victory will NOTcome with the name of nationalism. Lift your fingers in the direction of God and say there is only one God. Oh Muslims of Syria Victory is near.


Al Arabiya: Al Arabiya declined to publish Assad’s ‘very personal emails’

None of the “very personal emails” of President Bashar al-Assad or his wife Asmaa al-Akhras were aired or published, Al Arabiya said on Friday. The pan-Arab news channel said that many “private” messages were in their inbox among thousands … Al Arabiya said that none of the emails were exchanged with senior military or government officials in the country. There weren’t any exchange of emails with members of the Assad family as well, but most of emails were exchanged with members of his wife’s family and his close friends who belonged to his inner circle….Hundreds of “scandalous” emails were accordingly deleted by Al Arabiya.

Bashar Al Assad’s Wife ‘Could Face Two Year Prison Term’ for Sanctions Busting After Shopping Spree – March 16 (Telegraph)

Syria: Bashar Al-Assad Email Reveals Mystery Near Naked Woman
by Raf Sanchez, March 16 (Telegraph) —

Mystery surrounds a photograph of an near-naked woman posing provocatively that was sent to Bashar al-Assad by a young female political aide. The undated picture shows the woman, clad only in white lingerie, pressing herself against a wall as her clothes lie discarded in a heap at her feet. It was discovered among thousands of emails from the personal accounts of the Syrian president and his wife after their passwords were smuggled out of Damascus by opposition groups. The photograph was sent to Mr Assad on December 11 last year by Hadeel al-Ali,

John Stewart: Homs Despot: Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s hacked emails reveal he’ll taunt NATO in the world community, but he won’t f**k with Apple.

Syria: Songs of Defiance – Al Jazeera.Net

An undercover Al Jazeera correspondent takes us inside the lives of Syria’s anti-government demonstrators.

Syria Puts On Mass Rally in Support of Assad
By ANNE BARNARD in the New York Times

“What happened in Homs is betrayal,” Mr. Labwani said in an interview. “There is a sense of irresponsibility on the part of the council.”

The council, he added, was in danger of causing splits in Syrian society by failing to create a single rebel military command under its control, leaving individual militias to seek their own sources of help. He accused Muslim Brotherhood members within the exile opposition of “monopolizing funding and military support.”

The 270-member council has been plagued by internal disagreements. A member of its executive committee, Samir Nachar, played down the latest frictions, saying the members had not submitted formal resignations. One, he said, was simply frustrated at his exclusion from a meeting with the United Nations special envoy, Kofi Annan. Mr. Nachar said Mr. Labwani had attended few meetings.

Mr. Nachar acknowledged the council needed to improve but said disagreements were inevitable, noting that many members had never met before the uprising and had widely varying backgrounds and opinions.

But this time the departing members include some well-known figures with deep credibility among Syrians both inside and outside the country, including Mr. Labwani and Haitham Maleh, an executive committee member and lawyer in his 80s who served many years in prison after defending Syrian dissidents, including Muslim Brotherhood members.

Mr. Maleh could not be reached for comment, but told Al Jazeera that he had resigned because of chaos within the group and doubt over what it could accomplish, adding, “We have not gotten very far in working to arm the rebels.”

Still, the way forward for the opposition seemed unclear. On Tuesday, the Syrian National Council had taken steps to bring the Free Syrian Army under its umbrella. But Mr. Labwani, the council member who is resigning, said the exiles had few ties to the fighters inside. “The Free Syrian Army is the people who are inside Syria,” he said.

He called the council’s head, Burhan Ghalioun, an autocrat who makes decisions “under our names without getting back to us.” Mr. Ghalioun could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Labwani said he had argued that the rebels should be armed only under a single command with the council controlling the finances, but Muslim Brotherhood members had objected.

“It will lead to disaster, especially if the revolution is turned into militias,” Mr. Labwani said.

The other two resigning members are Walid al-Bunni and Catherine Altalli. “The Brotherhood took the whole council,” Mr. Bunni said in an interview. “We became like extras.”

In a kind of warning, Mr. Labwani and Mr. Maleh last month formed a new group under the council’s umbrella.

Tony Karon in Time

…. Looking at the balance of forces on the ground, it’s not hard to see why [Assad] may be feeling lucky, at least in the near term. In recent weeks, he has sent armored units to recapture rebel-held neighborhoods first in Homs and then in Idlib. Having successfully driven opposition fighters outside of those areas they had held for months, he has turned his forces’ attention back to Deraa in the south, cradle of the rebellion. Of course, these operations have exacted a terrible toll in civilian life and suffering, not sufficient to prompt foreign powers capable of intervening to throw off the restraints they have imposed on themselves out of fear of the consequences of plunging into a messy civil war…..

Syrian rebels lack guns, money after key defeats
By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY | Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) — Two significant defeats at the hands of Syrian government troops have exposed the limitations of the country’s rebel forces: They are low on cash, running out of weapons and facing a fiercely loyal military that will fight to the death.

Insisting that their drive to oust President Bashar Assad by force remains strong, the Free Syrian Army says the arms shortage is the main obstacle.

“Send us money, we’re desperate. Send us weapons,” Ahmad Kassem, who coordinates military operations for the FSA, told The Associated Press in an interview. “We don’t need fighters. We have excess men who can fight, but we need weapons to protect our land and honor.”(..)

Saudi Arabia shut down its embassy in Damascus, the Saudi foreign ministry announced Wednesday. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies withdrew their ambassadors in February.

Assad Tells Annan he has three conditions for Cease Fire,”  Shamlife, Thursday, March 15, 2012

  • Armed groups must promise to cease fire
  • Neighboring countries must promise to stop the smuggling of weapons into Syria
  • Countries must promise to stop financing the opposition

علمت صحيفة “النهار” ان “رد الرئيس بشار الاسد على المبعوث المشترك للامم المتحدة وجامعة الدول العربية كوفي أنان في سوريا، تضمن ثلاثة شروط هي، تعهد المجموعات المسلحة وقف النار، تعهد دول الجوار وقف تهريب الرجال والسلاح، وتعهد الدول الممولة للمعارضة وقف تمويلها”. وعندما تتحقق هذه الشروط يوقف الرئيس الأسد العمليات العسكرية ضد المسلحين.

A Chrisian friend from Homs writes of how refugee families are occupying empty apartments.

My family left Homs because of their fear for their lives, some went to Damascus and some to Lebanon and few families went to Marmarita and Amar AL Huson,

My cousin who went to her Daughter in AL Raga, went back to Homs and found people in her house, it is 2 bedroom house so she told them that she needs the house as it is too small for more than her and her family, so they left, another relative of mine in Hameedia, they left first then when they came back they found people in their home so they asked them to leave, they refused and asked the owners my relative to talk to the office in one of the Hameedia restaurant that is occupied , so they went there and asked for their house back, they complied and the office of the armed militia ( i think) asked the people who were staying in the house to leave and give the house back, apparently they occupied the houses of the people who left, I am not sure if they forced the people out, that is what i heard from my family.

Google Ideas Director Involved in ‘Regime Change’

Explosive news: Ex-State Department employee tuned Google director pushes programs supporting regime change in the Middle East. This comes on the back of news that Avaaz’s campaign manager is also ex-State Dept. This really begs the question whether there is a policy decision to infiltrate social media at the top as well. Disturbing stuff…..

Syria’s rebels will have to deal with Assad
By Julien Barnes-Dacey
Senior Policy Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, European Council on Foreign Relations, www.ecfr.eu

No one wants to deal with dictators. But one year after the Syrian uprising began, the harsh truth is that Bashar al-Assad maintains the upper hand and the opposition – with its international backers – may have little choice but to cut a deal with him if they want to ease the Syrian people’s suffering.

Through brutal suppression, cynical sectarian mobilisation and continued support from Russia and Iran, the regime has maintained its grip on power. Mr Assad has lost most of his legitimacy and Syria’s economy is crumbling but, so long as the regime has internal cohesion and external support, it is unlikely to collapse soon. The headlines accorded the recent defection of a powerless deputy minister have only served to highlight the struggle facing the opposition.

Short of unlikely direct foreign intervention, the worst scenario Mr Assad faces is prolonged civil war, particularly if foreign powers arm the opposition as demanded by the Syrian National Council and Free Syrian Army. But without artillery and air support, the balance of power is unlikely to change quickly. Moreover, while this route could eventually help the rebels to a military victory, it may further empower Mr Assad among his internal and external backers, by providing a justification for regime violence. The one certainty is that an already horrific toll will increase exponentially, as it did in civil wars in Iraq and Lebanon.

From a humanitarian perspective, then, it is urgent to find a political solution….

For Russia – as well as China and even Iran – to change tack and to press Mr Assad to implement a ceasefire, the opposition will have to consent to direct talks with the regime, not preconditioned on Mr Assad’s immediate departure or on that of regime forces from urban centres. In effect, the initial price will be an outcome that favours the regime’s position on the ground. Distasteful as this will be, there is no other way to end the bloodshed. However, if Mr Assad was to agree a ceasefire, even if he remains in power, he will be far more marginalised internationally and under severe pressure to comply. Such an outcome could ease the entry of humanitarian aid and of a new, enhanced team of monitors.

More positively, such a deal could prepare the ground for a political process, however difficult, that could swing the balance in the opposition’s favour. After four decades of repression, a vibrant, politically mobilised population is now intent on seizing its own future. The state of fear has been broken. This is a force Mr Assad is unable to resist except by violence. A political track may therefore be a surer way of ultimately ending the regime.

The regime could of course renew its violence, but commitments by Syria’s protectors – principally Russia and China – to the process, as well as continuing western economic and political pressure, would make it harder for Mr Assad to extricate himself. A political process could also help erode internal support by persuading senior Alawites to support the Arab League transition plan, under which Mr Assad would step down. It should be remembered that Yemen’s transition plan only succeeded on the basis of talks with President Abdullah Saleh.

While the SNC and FSA reject talks with the regime, many Syrians – including activists – already think political dialogue is the best means of averting a devastating civil war. It should be the west’s preference too.

Date: 19 February 2012 07:41:51 GMT
From: CF2R Secrétariat <info@cf2r.org>
You’ll find here attached our latest report, THE LEBANONIZATION OF SYRIA. Report on the actors of the Syrian crisis, Paris, January 2012.

Organised at the instigation of the Centre Français de Recherche sur le Renseignement (French Center for Intelligence Studies – CF2R) and the Centre international de recherche et d’études sur le terrorisme et d’aide aux victimes du terrorisme (International Center for Research and Study on Terrorism and Aid to Victims of Terrorism – CIRET-AVT), an international delegation of experts travelled to Syria from December 3rd to December 10th, 2011, in order to assess the situation in Syria in an independent and impartial manner and to meet with the actors of this nine-month-long crisis. It completed its assessment mission with meetings with various representatives of the Syrian opposition abroad, as well as with a panel of Middle East experts from Europe.
The aim of the present report is to provide objective information on a crisis which is being substantially deformed by the control that Syria’s adversaries have over international media networks.
The media networks of the Gulf states, with support from major Anglo-American press agencies and their European and French counterparts, have become frontline players in this crisis, with « global » coverage aimed primarily at the overthrow of the Damascus regime, similar to what occurred in Libya.
This falsification of the facts seeks to hide from global public opinion the support – often reluctant – that the majority of the Syrian population have for the current regime and the fact that the external opposition is not the most legitimate stakeholder (as opposed to longstanding domestic opposition groups), neither do they espouse democratic ideals that they pretend to promote (given their strongly Islamist character).
By Robert D. Kaplan | March 14, 2012
…The Arab Spring has periodically been compared to the stirrings of 1848. But with the exception of the toppling of the Orleans monarchy in France, the 1848 revolutions ultimately failed. Dynastic governments reasserted themselves. They did so for a reason that has troubling implications for the Middle East: Conservative regimes in mid-19th century Europe had not only the institutional advantage over their liberal and socialist adversaries but also the moral advantage….

 If conservative — even reactionary — orders are necessary for inter-communal peace, then they may survive in one form or another, or at least resurface in places such as Egypt and Iraq. Iraq in 2006 and 2007 proved that chaos is in some respects worse than tyranny. Thus, a system is simply not moral if it cannot preserve domestic peace. “Progress includes Order,” John Stuart Mill wrote in Considerations on Representative Government (1861), “but Order does not include Progress.” In other words, nobody is saying that conservative-reactionary orders will lead to social betterment. Nonetheless, because order is necessary before progress can take hold, reactionary regimes could be the beneficiary of chaos in some Middle Eastern states, in a similar way that the Habsburgs were after 1848. For it is conservative regimes of one type or another that are more likely to be called upon to restore order…..

While Syria’s al Assad is seen as illegitimate, that does not mean that the future in Syria automatically means either democracy or sectarian chaos. It may mean eventually a new form of authoritarianism that alleviates or better manages such instability in the first place. Remember that a system is not defined by the name it gives itself, but by how the power relationships actually work behind the scenes. Thus, Iraq may call itself a democracy, but in truth it is a sectarian “thugocracy” that barely keeps order, and if it continues to falter in that regard, it may eventually be replaced by a full-fledged authoritarian regime (hopefully one far less brutal than Saddam Hussein’s).

Indeed, democratic uprisings in 1848 did not secure democracy, they merely served notice that society had become too restive and too complex for the existent monarchical regimes to insure both order and progress. In Political Order in Changing Societies (1968), Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington wrote that the more complex a society becomes, the greater the number of institutions that are required to govern it.

So one should not confuse the formation of new regimes in the Middle East with their actual consolidation. This will require coercive power in the form of new police forces and intelligence agencies, notes Antonio Giustozzi of the London School of Economics in his provocative new book, The Art of Coercion (2011). And such extreme forms of compulsion are only alleviated by the building of civilian institutions of the kind Huntington talks about, which can then maintain order in a more benign manner. If new bureaucratic institutions do not emerge in a more socially complex Middle East, the Arab Spring will be a false one, and it will be remembered like 1848.

Meanwhile, the authoritarianism of the al-Saud family lingers on in Saudi Arabia, the strategic linchpin of the Arabian Peninsula. And lesser monarchs from Kuwait south to Oman appear not to be in danger. With the exception of the oppressed Shia in Bahrain and in eastern Saudi Arabia, the peoples of the Persian Gulf still broadly associate stability and progress with conservative orders. Thus, the emirs and sultans have the loyalty of their populations and hence the moral advantage.

Syria is at this very moment a bellwether. It is afflicted by ethnic and sectarian splits — Sunnis versus Shia-trending Alawites versus Druze and Kurds. But Syria also can claim historical coherence as an age-old cluster of cosmopolitanism at the crossroads of the desert and the Mediterranean, a place littered with the ruins of Byzantine and medieval Arab civilizations. The Western intelligentsia now equate a moral outcome in Syria with the toppling of the present dictator, who requires those sectarian splits to survive. But soon enough, following the expected end of al Assad’s regime, a moral outcome will be associated with the re-establishment of domestic order and the building of institutions coercive or not. Because only with that can progress be initiated.

1848 had tragic repercussions: While democracy in Europe flowered briefly following World War I, it was snuffed out by fascism and then communism. Thus, 1848 had to wait until 1989 to truly renew itself. Because of technology’s quickened advance, political change is faster in the Middle East. But for 2011 to truly be remembered as the year of democracy in the Arab world, new forms of non-oppressive order will first have to be established. And with the likely exception of Tunisia — a country close to Europe with no ethnic or sectarian splits — that appears for the moment to be problematic.

Five myths about Syria,” by Roger Owen in Wash Post

5. The international community has to do something to stop the violence…. As the recent history of such interventions demonstrates, the desire to put an end to what are regarded as the evil policies of an evil regime can easily cause politicians to neglect the other side of the balance sheet: the number of civilian lives that will undoubtedly be lost in the attempt to save them. Think, for example, of the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who’ve been widowed since the Russian invasion some 30 years ago.

Hands On Syria, Hands Off Iran
Martin van Creveld, Jason Pack, 14 Mar 12

CommentsCAMBRIDGE – Israel is daily ratcheting up its threats to attack Iran over its nuclear program. Unfortunately, these threats have come to overshadow more pressing events in Syria, which is the epicenter of a regional crisis that will determine the future of the Arab Spring, as well as Iran’s role in the Middle East….. The Israeli government has vastly exaggerated the threat that a nuclear Iran poses to its security, …. The ascendant powers in the Middle East are Turkey and Qatar. These Sunni countries, along with Saudi Arabia, should join with their international allies and initiate a regional solution to Syria’s crisis. …..Now is not the time to provoke Iran, but rather to tend to Syria’s troubles before it is too late – for example, by publicly offering Assad a way out of the country that will safeguard the minority Alawite community if he is toppled or forced to flee. If the Syria situation is ignored, its spillover may inadvertently provoke Israeli or Iranian action, inciting a regional war and a global depression.

Amnesty International’s latest report ‘I wanted to die’: Syria’s torture survivors speak out

Iraq Lets Iran Fly Arms to Syria Despite U.S. Protests
By: Kristina Wong | The Washington Times

The Iraqi government has refused U.S. requests to stop Iranian cargo flights to Syria, despite being aware of credible intelligence that the planes are transporting up to 30 tons of weapons, according to a U.S. official.

Syria Marks Anniversary of Uprising Against Assad
By: Patrick J. McDonnell and Paul Richter | Los Angeles Times

A year after the revolt began, President Bashar Assad shows no sign of easing his grip on power. Rebels have no plans to back down, leaving Syria at an impasse.

Comments (900)

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401. mjabali said:

Been trying to post this response every now and then since this morning. Let me try again after spending all of this time on this response…

Comment # 377 You said:

“the facts are that Alawis since then they hated Sunni, and killed many Sunni leaders they made themselves hated”

This is false. Can you name one Sunni leader the Alawis killed from the days of Ibn Taymiyah till al-Assad’s ascend to power?

“many facts in history proved that they cooperated with Monguls and yes with the crusaders against the Sunni”

Again this is a false statement. It is laughable for real.

The Sunnis who said this about the Alawis were Mongols themselves.

Ibn Taymiyah worked for one: Mohammad Ibn Qalawuun. Ibn Taymiyah was issuing fatwas against the Alawis accusing them for aiding the Mongols while he was working for one of them. This historical lie by the Sunnis regarding the Alawis’s cooperation with the Mongols is the brainchild of those who are trying to hide the truth. At the time of the Crusades and the Mongols the Sunnis were supposed to protect the land. The failure of the Sunnis to protect mixed with their accusatory logic made them want to look for an escape goat and is there anyone better to blame than the Alawis. The list of the Sunni rulers of the different parts of Syria during the Mongol and Crusade periods show who was who.

In brief: this is another slander the Sunnis brainwashed the masses regarding the Alawis.

When you say facts in history: I am still waiting to see one.
I can bring you facts from history when the Sunnis cooperated with the Crusades and the Mongols.

3- you said: “during Ottoman empire it was not Sunni Syrians against Alawis, it was Turks against Syrians”

Again you made a historical mistake Majedkhaloun. It was the Sunni Ottomans vs any non Sunni element in Syria.

The Ottomans, and with time, played with the demographic composition of Syria either through massacres and religious/ethnic cleansing (Alawis and Druze were rooted out from many of their spots) or the settlement of the non-Syrians Ottoman subjects in Syria proper.

Majedkhaldoun said :”and after 1945, Allawis were allowed to enter the army and even reach high ranking position,yet Mjabali calls this intolerence,He attribute that to luck, they were not treated differently from people in the northeast Syria, or people in Horan area, ”

France let the Alawis enter the army and not the Sunnis. An example of the Sunnis never wanting any Alawi to reach a high rank was the Assasination of Mohammad Nasser, the First Alawi general in the Syrian Army. Why they killed him in cold blood in Damascus? Why his killers never got any punishment? If you read the Syrian History well you see how Sunni high ranking officers started fighting and staging one coup after the other against each other. The Sunni high ranking officers started losing their grip around 1963. Jamal Abd al-Nasser contributed to their demise too. Read Syrian History. I am not making this up. There are books and there are people who are still alive from that time period.

You said: ” Mjabali mentioned that Nasser,Umran Jedid and Hafiz assad were in high ranking position in 1963, yet he calls that sunni intolerence”

Nasser was assassinated in the 1950’s and when 1963 came Hafez al-Assad was out of the army I think with a mid level rank. Hafez got lucky with the rise Jadeed and Umran who brought him back to the Army. Umran was the first Alawi officer to have a notable position in Syria. He and Jadeed brought Hafez back. See it is luck 101. As for tolerance please go and check what was the reaction of the rise of these non-Sunni officers; case study: Marwan Hadid and the incidents in Hama during Amin al-Hafez days. You will see from this that some Sunnis started noticing this non-Sunni control and fought it right away. Remember there were no petro dollars back then, or Safa TV.

Majedkhaldoun said: “many agriculture projects were done in their area, teachers were brought to their area from educated Sunni to the open schools and allow them to enter equally all kinds of jobs, there was never any bad feeling about them as a sect”

What agricultural project you are talking about? This happened in ghost land. Up to 1959 most of the Alawi villages were owned by some Feudal Landowners from the leftovers of the Ottomans. I remember three or four families in Lattakia owned the whole coast. I can name them to you. None of them is ethnic Syrian or an Arab. Jamal Abd al-Nasser came in 1958/1959 and limited their ownership.

As for the imaginary teachers you are talking about and jobs opportunities they never existed. This could explain to you why Alawis went to the Army when they were allowed to.

Majedkhaldoun Said: “there was never any bad feeling about them as a sect”

To this I say: My generation from Syria was a really good one that was least infected with the Salafi virus. That generation is the product of the good 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s. Other than this generation there was always a look down at the Alawis as if they are mutants or something. Look at how you blamed them for helping the mongols who ransacked Syria and occupied it for hundreds of years. Check this mentality and tell me do you really have bad feelings about this sect or not?

Majedkhaldoun said: ” the alawi were allowed to be in president position since 1970 till now”

Actually no one allowed them. al-Assad saw the chance and took it and established a system to protect him and his interests. If the Sunnis had the power they would NEVER let him get even close to any position in the government.

I say: I have to go to my work and leave this blog and hope I did not waste my time today….

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March 21st, 2012, 10:59 am


402. Tara said:

What does “commit to appoint am empowered interlocutor when invited to do so by the envoy” means? Wasn’t that what the AL called for (specifying Farouq al Sharaa) at that time.

Moreover, the regime has to accept international observers …what a humiliation! It called on the regime to immediately cease troop movements, etc and did not equate the murderer with the victims.

All in all, It is the AL’s proposal now endorsed by the UNSC.

I hope the international observers are al Qaeda expert so we know for sure who was behind the terror attacks in Damascus and Aleppo.

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March 21st, 2012, 11:04 am


403. majedkhaldoun said:

Not only Sunni say Nusayris are not Musslems, everyone who studied Nusayri religion came to the conclusion that they are not Musslems,,

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March 21st, 2012, 11:07 am


404. omen said:

all you have to do is too look at south africa. minority rule is bound to fail in the long run. you can only oppress the majority for so long.

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March 21st, 2012, 11:15 am


405. omen said:

mjabali @ 10:51 am

same thing happened to me yesterday.

if you fear your first attempt at posting a comment has failed, change the wording around a little bit before attempting to repost.

trying to post a comment twice with identical wording gets marked as spam, even though it isn’t.

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March 21st, 2012, 11:26 am


406. jad said:

Son of Damascus

With all due respect, your respected friend is not telling the truth, I was on the phone exactly 3min after the bombing with my…..who lives in one of the burned apt building you saw and who lost everything in the apt with injured son and husband.

You may know about your ‘hood’ Almalki but you apparently don’t know Alkasaa3 well, I do.

When you start easing the blame on the terrorists and start the usual blaming game of ‘Assadists did it’ is called ‘terrorist supporter’ in my book.

So, please don’t be too sensitive if someone tell you something different than what you write and start this endless debate about it, I’m not interested.

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March 21st, 2012, 11:32 am


407. jad said:

Omen, Kol Kh ara ma li khil2ak

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March 21st, 2012, 11:33 am


408. ann said:

407. jad said:

I was on the phone exactly 3min after the bombing with my…..who lives in one of the burned apt building you saw and who lost everything in the apt with injured son and husband.

I’m sorry to hear about your family and friends JAD

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March 21st, 2012, 11:41 am


409. majedkhaldoun said:

Omen #405
i will close my eyes with rapture

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March 21st, 2012, 11:44 am


410. omen said:

is there a word to describe the tyranny of the minority over the majority? a sort of internal colonialism?

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March 21st, 2012, 11:46 am


411. ann said:

410. omen said:

is there a word to describe the tyranny of the minority over the majority?

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March 21st, 2012, 11:53 am


412. majedkhaldoun said:


Therre are many mistakes you said, It is not going to be free I have to respond to them, but I hope no one else bother so i do not bore them.

M Nasser was assassinated by someone whose wife had sex with Nasser, Nasser was womanizer and had sex with several women and some were married.

As for hafiz Assad hewas Mukaddam, colonel, he was in Egypt when Nehlawi staged his coup, and in that time Nehlawi Who is Sunni, he brought him back after he was canned by Nasser, the assention by Assad was a combination of conspiracy and exploitation, he in 1960 held a secret meeting in Qurdaha along with several Nusayri officers,and put a plan to take over.and to do that they exploited the Baath party as a secular party,which has many minorities,

I have to go now the rest will follow

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March 21st, 2012, 12:09 pm


413. bronco said:

#402 Tara

“All in all, It is the AL’s proposal now endorsed by the UNSC.”

Minus key issues: the request for Bashar to step down in favor of the VP, minus the request for a national unity government, plus the request to the armed opposition to stop their violence, plus UN observers etc…

It is totally different from the Al plan, it is more like the Russia resolution proposed 2 months ago.

We will see how Qatar and KSA will accept that the AL plan they fought so fiercefully for at the UNSC is not even mentioned in the UN statement.

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March 21st, 2012, 12:16 pm


414. mjabali said:

Thank you Syria Comment for releasing my post from the Spam jail…

Thank you Omen for your advice…

And Thank you Majedkhaldoun for your brief response in comment # 403 that prove beyond a doubt that tolerance is not in your vocabulary.

Your “tolerance” level towards others is very obvious with every gem of a comment you are posting here. your “tolerance” level is equal to your historical “knowledge.”

بصراحة يصيبني الملل من مناقشتك ياماجد لسبب واحد وهو ضعف معلوماتك التاريخية الواضح

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March 21st, 2012, 12:18 pm


415. ss said:

403. majedkhaldounsaid:
Not only Sunni say Nusayris are not Musslems, everyone who studied Nusayri religion came to the conclusion that they are not Musslems”

Nusayris are not Muslims
Isma3ilia are not Muslims
Drooz are not Muslims
Chrsitians are Crusades
Jewish are the enemys
Chinese and Indians have no God.
Shia are Rawafed

Only Muslim, Sunnis have the keys to the heaven. They are the right religion and all should follow their steps, if not then enjoy the hell. I wish they leave it to God to decide who is good and who is not, no not at all, they must judge us on earth and we, the free minded people, had to suffer on earth before we meet our creator. We need to get killed, beheadedm, chopped into peices because MB, qaeda alike want to make sure that religion is applied to their delusional rules

and the list goes on and on, this is just to reflect to you how narrow minded some might be in their thinking especially when they cannot acept the others and everything is around religion and only religion. I am amazed how these people got intigrated in the American society. It is indeed unfortunate.

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March 21st, 2012, 12:33 pm


416. irritated said:


“is there a word to describe the tyranny of the minority over the majority? a sort of internal colonialism?”

The notion of minority is debatable. Are you talking about religious or ethnic minorities?

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March 21st, 2012, 12:35 pm


417. Tara said:


The AL never asked Bashar to step down. Show me where it is written in their proposal. The Presidential statement called for International monitors as opposes to low profile Arab monitors sent by the AL, a much bolder step. The military activities of the FSA was negligible then. It intensified after the siege of Baba Amr. It is expected that the UNSC asks the opposition to hold military activities when the regime committs to ceasing movemt of the troops, etc..

Sorry but I see no significant difference from the AL’s proposal.

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March 21st, 2012, 12:41 pm


418. bronco said:

Who bears the responsibility for the non-prevention of this crime?
The USA, The French police?

The US forces in Afghanistan allegedly had send back to France the 24-year-old Muslim shooter, identified as Mohamed Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin after he was arrested in Afghanistan and detained by the police for bomb making in the lawless southern province of Kandahar in 2007. He is said to have escape from the jail.

Despite the fact he was under french police surveillance for hsi past in Afghanistan and his “radical islamist beliefs”, he was able to perpetrate this hainous crime in daytime.



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March 21st, 2012, 12:50 pm


419. ann said:

417. bronco said:

Who bears the responsibility for the non-prevention of this crime?
The USA, The French police?
They were grooming him to send him to Syria, instead he turned on his own handlers

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March 21st, 2012, 12:55 pm


420. Afram said:

Syria: 1 Year “Syrian Revolution” or Conspiracy


I began to think the Tunnels Found Used By Fake Syrian Army& Terrorists To Smuggle Weapons to Homs were dug and readied way,way before the uprising/it,s huge undertaking to be done without the syrian authority notice.the usual suspects financed this ugly endeavor design…

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March 21st, 2012, 12:55 pm


421. Khalid Tlass said:

Moderator, I protest your decision to kep my comments under moderation for 1 week. I request you to treat my comments on par with normal commenters.

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March 21st, 2012, 12:56 pm


422. bronco said:

$416 Tara

Sorry, are you censoring your memory, or it is just failing?
The issue of Bashar passing on his power to the VP was key in the AL Plan that Qatar was trying to sneak into the UNSC resolution that was vetoed.
Nothing of that has been kept in the Annan peace plan.
This is to refresh your failing memory.


Arab League calls for unity government in Syria
January 22, 2012|From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, For CNN

Arab League demands al-Assad resign

The Arab League agreed on a path forward in Syria on Sunday that instructs President Bashar al-Assad to delegate powers to his vice president following the formation of a national unity government.

The Syrian government roundly rejected the plan, which it views as “blatant intervention in its internal affairs,” Syria’s official SANA news agency reported soon after the announcement.

The Arab League called for the government to start a dialogue with the opposition within two weeks, and for the new government to be formed within two months.

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March 21st, 2012, 12:58 pm


423. Khalid Tlass said:


Do not provoke the Sunnis, our people have been too kind for the last 1 year, during this Uprising the Sunnis could have massacred many Alawi civilians if they wanted but they did not do so for the sake of revolution. None is fooled by the fake explpsions in Damascus and Halab, everyone knows that Alawis are the real targets for extremist Sunnis, and so far not 1 Alawi neighborhood or village has been targetted by the explosions, which proves that extremists are not behind this, rather the regime elements.

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March 21st, 2012, 12:59 pm


424. Khalid Tlass said:

MJABALI, however your comments have some logic, I understand you do not like the historical role of Sunnis vis-a-vis Alawis, well then, pls tell your people, take your Alawite State in Latakia and Tartous, make it independent like the Kurds have done in Iraq, do whatever you want there, but leave Syria alone. Since by your logic, Alawis desire security and freedom, they can have that in the Alawi majority provonces by declaring it Alawite State, so why are your leaders holding on to power in Damascus, Idleb, hama, Homs, Deirezzor, Daraa, to the best of my knowledge, the people from these areas are not / will not going to come to tartous villages to attack you. So give us our freedom, and you take yours.

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March 21st, 2012, 1:03 pm


425. Mina said:

A Sunni is someone who “imitates the Sunna of the prophet”, i. e. who is afraid for every soul, including that of ants, and lives an ascetic life of prayer and fast.
Not someone who threats his neighbors of “massacre”.
He puts himself outside the category “Sunni”, sorry.

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March 21st, 2012, 1:08 pm


426. omen said:

khalid did you not read the moderator’s notes about not posting too many pages of copy/paste material?

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March 21st, 2012, 1:10 pm


427. omen said:

ann @ 11:53 am


true, true.

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March 21st, 2012, 1:12 pm


428. mjabali said:


Again your scientific crime scene analysis is not correct. Mohammad Nasser was assassinated for reasons that has to do with politics and religion. Read this article by Ghassan al-Imam from al-Sharq al-Awsat. You know both of them do not like Alawis but here:


AS for al-Qirdaha meeting: it is one of those fabrications about the Alawis. What gives it out as a fabrication is the fact that the high Alawi officers when this alleged meeting took place were not from al-Qirdaha. Umran and Jadeed were not from al-Qirdaha as you know. Why in al-Qirdaha? Any one care to find a logical answer to this?

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March 21st, 2012, 1:20 pm


429. mjabali said:

Khaled Tlass:

I say the truth and do not intend to provoke anyone. The truth leads to better understanding and probably better future. Secularism is the only way for Syria and Syrians that should be equal no matter what.

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March 21st, 2012, 1:24 pm


430. Leo Syriacus said:


Omen the best word would be Oligocracy ( the rule of a minority )

And if you like examples :Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, and Baathist Iraq

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March 21st, 2012, 1:32 pm


431. omen said:

Khalid Tlass @ 1:03 pm

Alawis desire security and freedom, they can have that in the Alawi majority provonces by declaring it Alawite State, so why are your leaders holding on to power in Damascus, Idleb, hama, Homs, Deirezzor, Daraa, to the best of my knowledge, the people from these areas are not / will not going to come to tartous villages to attack you. So give us our freedom, and you take yours.

fascinating idea. an anthropologist i know recommended the same:

Maybe the French should be made to be responsible for this mess. It was their colonial administration that imposed a change in name among the Nusayris or Ansaris, followers of the bab, Ibn Nusayr to “Alawi” or follower of Ali. Up until that time these people were a religious minority and one traditionally persecuted by the Sunnis. The French administration also encouraged these “Alawis” to join the colonial military and thus they became the dominant sect where officers of the Alawis in 1960 began concerted efforts to take control of the army and the Ba’th Party. Since the greatest density of Alawi followers is in the province of Latakia, and they only make up 12% of the population, it would seem reasonable to create a separate Syrian semi-autonomous region for the Alawis to guarantee their safety after the fall of the regime.

are alawites receptive to this?

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March 21st, 2012, 1:35 pm


432. jna said:

“Churkin said Moscow’s stance remains the same – it wants to see an end to the violence and a move toward a Syrian-led political dialogue.”


An excellent step toward a peaceful democratic transition. But just one step.

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March 21st, 2012, 1:36 pm


433. Mina said:

Spotted by an Angry Arab correspondent:
Taleb sent me this: “Did you note that aljazeera leak translated the 4 documents into English but they didn’t translate the 5th one and even in the 5th document Enlglish summary they ignored important part???because the 5th document contains clear orders to prevent police and security men to take guns when they are dealing with demonstration in Fridyas !!! Read the last part of the 5th document in arabic.(I don’t think it is professional from aljazeera English)…Besides, the 5th document contains the real number of demonstrators! this will show their lying about Numbers!”

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March 21st, 2012, 1:37 pm


434. omen said:

true as well, leo. although i’m not used to thinking of the US oligarchy as being a different sect than me.

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March 21st, 2012, 1:38 pm


435. irritated said:

For those who were saying that Bashar al Assad will go in the dustbin of history, the Arab League plan has already gone there.
I wonder who will follow, the SNC, Ghaliun maybe?

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March 21st, 2012, 1:39 pm


436. ann said:

BBC, CNN, VOA, TIME, NYT, and all the news wires are desperately trying to hide the fact that killer in France is a member of Al-qada despite his own admission to the fact!!!

Why are they protecting Al-qada now?!!!

So pathetic!

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March 21st, 2012, 1:41 pm


437. irritated said:

#432 Mina

Are we surprised by Al Jazeera manipulation of the information and abusing readers?
This station that started well, is going down the drain.

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March 21st, 2012, 1:42 pm


438. irritated said:

#435 Ann

Admitting that Al Qaeda is still a threat shows that the death of Ben Laden was useless in crushing the movement.
With most Arab countries becoming sympathetic to Salafists and the USA still supporting blindly Israel, it is expected that the movement will get a new breath. The EU and the USA are in denial and then KSA and Qatar are doing good business in France, so why annoy them?

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March 21st, 2012, 1:46 pm


439. Aldendeshe said:

A Sunni is someone who “imitates the Sunna of the prophet”, i. e. who is afraid for every soul, including that of ants, and lives an ascetic life of prayer and fast..”

Oh Yes, Oh yes, AMEN, AMEN, AMEN_RA to that..just like Mohammed the Prophet of Allah did (PBUH). It is said in the Quran and reported in the Hadith, that he once broke his 2 legs and 2 hands trying to avoid stepping on an ant. Afterward, 72 of his follwers did the same to couple tribes of Christian and Jews to teach them the “Sunna” and compassion of Mohammad (PBUH). Did you read this in the Talmudi Quran in Herzalia Tlass? What would the world be like if Mohammad (PBUH) did not born, it will be full of darkness.

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March 21st, 2012, 1:47 pm


440. Mina said:

Indeed, the dots connect: the Taliban office in Qatar, a mad French soldier who has been making explosives in Afghanistan, the ultra Sunnis gathered in Syria, the blackout on Yemen.
They think no one is seeing their total incompetence or what?
If one could give an advice, it is: just change the script and the scriptwriters.

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March 21st, 2012, 1:48 pm


441. omen said:

mina @ 1:37

did the angry arab acknowledge he was wrong? he originally argued the leaked emails were fake.

what’s the timing of the 5th page? the official who leaked these emails said the regime suspected there was a mole a month before he left.

if the regime suspected there was a leak, they’re going to plant favorable evidence in attempt to cover their rear-ends.

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March 21st, 2012, 1:51 pm


442. Tara said:


Failing memory? والله عسل as my Egyptian freind likes to say.

No. I don’t think so. Not in my thirties.

This is thae actual AL’s proposal not someone’s interpretation of the proposal as you liked to post. Check out page 2


Moreover, Nabil al Arabi has repeatedly stressed (to my dismay) that the AL’s proposal did not ask for resignation of Bushbush.

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March 21st, 2012, 1:54 pm


443. omen said:

mina @ 1:37

because the 5th document contains clear orders to prevent police and security men to take guns when they are dealing with demonstration in Fridyas

the 5th document also detailed how assad’s security forced treated the “terrorist” protesters to tea and cake!


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March 21st, 2012, 1:55 pm


444. Mina said:

You are mixing two things. The Guardian so called leaks of Asad personal emails, on which he was not wrong but gave the name of who is actually Sam (just read his blog, you’ll find it), and the al Jazeera leaks, which are official documents.
Just read the links provided and get an idea by yourself.

The BBC has it on its frontpage now “French prosecutors say the Toulouse shooting suspect, now surrounded in his flat, planned more killings and admits being trained by al-Qaeda. “

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March 21st, 2012, 1:59 pm


445. Khalid Tlass said:


I would like to respectfully ask you ;

What is the reason for some of your relatives on your mothers’ side for supporting Bashar ? What reason do they give ? Are they practising Sunnis ?

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March 21st, 2012, 2:01 pm


446. omen said:

ann @ 1:41

bbc america reported this is how the french shooter characterized himself.

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March 21st, 2012, 2:01 pm


447. zoo said:

Are the armed rebels who withdrew from Bab Amr now in Khalidiyeh?

Homs toll up, Syria activists fear ‘new Baba Amr’
By Haro Chakmakjian | AFP – 2 hrs 21 mins ago


Syrian army troops rained shells on the Homs district of Khaldiyeh on Wednesday, as the casualty toll from two days of bombardment rose to at least 19 dead and dozens wounded, activists said.

“Khaldiyeh is being bombed, with shells and rockets, for a second day,” Hadi Abdullah of the Syrian Revolution General Commission told AFP, reached by telephone from Beirut.

Abdullah said he feared a repeat of the month-long battering that killed hundreds in the Baba Amr district of Homs before the army moved in on March 1 after a pullout by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), made up mostly of army deserters.

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March 21st, 2012, 2:01 pm


448. bronco said:

#441 Tara

4.b says exactly that
تفويض رايس الجمهورية نائبه الأول بصلاحيات كاملة مع حكومة الواحدة الوطنية…

You know very well what was meant and what it meant to Qatar and the others who wanted it him out.
What about the حكومة الواحدة الوطنية
It is not in the Annan plan.
Don’t try to convince yourself to save face to the AL.
The Annan plan is not a regime change plan, it is peace plan.

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March 21st, 2012, 2:13 pm


449. Leo Syriacus said:

Mjabali and Majedkhaldoun

Thank you both for your “protracted” discussion about the Sunni-Alwai relations history and allegations of treason and mutual mistrust.
No one can deny that for about 700 years of Mamluk and Ottoman rule the state had episodes of discrimination against all religious minorities all over the Levant and Mesopotamia.
While such persecution never amounted to the atrocities seen during European sectarian wars such as the Thirty Year War and it was mostly during apocalyptical and difficult times ( the Crusades,the Tatar invasion, and the last 60 years of Ottoman rule)it should be said that Alawis,Ismailis,Shiaa,Druze,Jews, and Christians have seen less of political and economic rights during some stages of Syria’s history.
This has improved greatly over the last 90 years, first during the French Mandate, then after independence, and particularly under the Assads, and Hafoozah-Yellan Rohoh-Assad did a lot to “Sunnify” Alawis and other non-Sunni Muslims so a moderate, inclusive, modified form of Sunni Islam prevails in Syria.
The rise of Alawis in the state and army positions was first because they were excluded from the economy and they in turn did the same and excluded Sunnis from the security apparatus.
I am totally against the Lebanonization of Syria, and against the thugocracy of Iraq..I want to see a democratic Syria, for all Syrians, with a share of power and wealth to every Syrian that will become a beacon of democracy in the region

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March 21st, 2012, 2:19 pm


450. zoo said:

The witch hunt for Bashar Al Assad supporters in the UK

Assad’s father-in-law under pressure to quit British Syrian Society

Fawaz Akhras’ email advice to Bashar al-Assad on crisis is ‘last straw’ after society’s British board members resign

Ian Black, Middle East editor
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 20 March 2012 19.02 GMT


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March 21st, 2012, 2:20 pm


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