Week’s Round Up (4 May 2012)

Maps of the Syrian Conflict: Please acknowledge either syriamap.wordpress.com or, if you have space, as Brendan O’Hanrahan & Esther Kim, or Kim & O’Hanrahan..

The Week’s Round UP –

Because the Annan Truce has been so badly observed by both sides – government and rebel- most observers have struggled to apportion blame. The Syrian government has insisted that the rebels are the primary violators. It highlights the list of bombs being set off in Syria’s major cities and attacks against security personnel. For example, On Friday, a week ago, a suicide bombing in Damascus killed nine people in the Midan quarter and wounded others. Earlier this week, attacks on a government security compound and the country’s central bank killed nine and injured 100. In Aleppo, an explosive device was detonated in the car of the headmaster of Jaber bin Hayyan school in Aleppo, causing his death. Evidently, Headmaster al-Freij was killed when the explosive device went off as he was getting on his car in front of his house in Hanano area. Sana reported that eight students at the police academy in the countryside of Aleppo were kidnapped by armed elements. On the coast of Latakia, a group of insurgents who reportedly came from Turkey in inflatable boats landed off the coast of Latakia and staged an attack on a military unit stationed north of the city about 20 miles from the Turkish border. A number of Syrian soldiers were killed and perhaps some of the insurgents before they escaped back to Turkey.

The Syrian opposition insists that the Syrian government is responsible for these killings, i.e. they are setting off the bombs in Syria’s cities and that defecting soldiers attacked their own in Latakia. In Hama, where scores of people were killed by a deadly explosion in a poor section of town, opposition spokespeople insisted that the military had fired Scud missiles into the apartment block. The Syrian government insisted that rebels were responsible for the deaths due to the accidental explosion of an opposition “bomb factory”.

Hama – Explosion kills many
The BBC’s Jim Muir: “This kind of devastation would have been hard to cause by conventional shelling”

Opposition explanations for these deaths are not convincing. The government and Syrian military have taken the gloves off and are executing opposition members in ever greater numbers. There is no need to exaggerate their role in Syria’s brutality. The truth is horrifying enough. The reality is that the insurgency is become every more skilled and competent at killing. Far from destroying the opposition, the government crackdown is only serving to drive the opposition to ever more lethal methods of gaining power.

A harrowing report by Amnesty International of the Idlib crackdown will send shivers down anyone’s spin. After the retreat from Homs, the opposition became centered in the Idlib region on the Turkish boarder. The government crackdown there over the last few months has been brutal. Syrian forces have been executing and burning the residents of Idlib, Amnesty says.

In the Sarmin area near Idlib a mother claimed that her three sons had been taken from their home early on 23 March and killed. “[The military] did not let me follow them outside; every time I tried to go out they pushed me back,” the mother said. “When I was able to go outside, after a couple of hours, I found my boys burning in the street. They had been piled on top of each other and had motorbikes piled on top of them and set on fire.”

The son of Ali Haydar, a long-time and much respected leader of the Syrian Nationalist Party who was jailed for decades, was assassinated on the road to Tartus. This is not the branch of the SSNP which had taken a place in the “Progressive Front” in the Syrian Parliament.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has blamed the regime for widespread violations of the truce — prompting Syria to fire back that his comments were “outrageous” and accuse him of bias. Ban and Annan have cited violations by both sides, but generally portrayed the regime as the main aggressor. A Tishrin editorial said Ban has avoided discussing rebel violence in favor of “outrageous” statements against the Syrian government. The editorial said the international community has applied a double standard, ignoring “crimes and terrorist acts” against Syria and thus encouraging more violence.

At least four students were reportedly killed when Syrian security forces cracked down on a student demonstration at Aleppo University. Aleppo University suspended all lectures and classes, and evacuated the dorms of all residents as army units raided the campus. Aleppo University, the second largest university in the country, has been witnessing several demonstrations daily for over a month. Killing students and closing down the dormitories for the rest of the school year is a new phase in Syria’s metastasizing conflict.

So far, the uprising had been largely kept out of the schools. There had always been small, quick demonstrations organized at the University of Aleppo, but they were contained. The regime has depicted this uprising as the work of the rural poor and unemployed — those left behind by globalization and economic reform — and most importantly to the propaganda of the regime, those most likely to become salafists and jihadists.

University students are Syria’s future. They are the youth of Syria’s middle class and elite families – the ones who are supposed to be sympathetic to the regime and leery of chaos and revolution.

The class divide in Syria is now meeting the generation gap. Young Syrians – even those from “good” families – can no longer remain silent or remain on the sidelines. They are rebelling against their parents who are ordering them to shut up and stay out of the line of fire.

There are unlikely to be any great watersheds in this revolution. Syria is slowly grinding toward civil war and the collapse of the state. Universities – just one additional state institution, even if a very important one – have now slipped over the edge. They have become part of the boiling ocean of Syrian discontent. Next fall, they will probably not open. Parents will be thinking how to get their kids enrolled in foreign schools for the next year — and probably for years to come. The killing of university students has caused thousands to protest in Aleppo, the largest the city has seen since the start of the uprising.

Ahmad Fawzi, Annan’s spokesman, told a U.N. briefing in Geneva that “there are small signs of compliance,” despite continuing violations. On Thursday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the plan might be doomed.

“If the regime’s intransigence continues, the international community is going to have to admit defeat,” he said, adding that new measures might have to be taken, including a return to the U.N. Security Council. He gave no further details.

– News Round Up –

Daily life in Syria
Produced by Gari Sullivan, Friday, 4 May 2012

For those living in Syria, Normal is impossible. Even the most mundane, everyday tasks become difficult and dangerous when your home is a war zone.

Defying a Dictator: Meet the Free Syrian Army
by Jonathan Spyer in World Affairs

In Sarmin, the FSA appears to consist almost entirely of defectors from Assad’s army, several hundred of them. The force appeared disciplined and serious. The fighters are uniformed, equipped with AK-47 rifles; I saw RPG-7s, heavy machine guns, and a mortar. They are commanded by an impressive figure, Lieutenant Bilal Khabir, a twenty-five-year-old former officer of the airborne forces of Assad’s army. He and his men are motivated, respond to commands with military precision, and appear willing to fight to the end. “Either Bashar stays or we stay,” Khabir told me. “The regime has the heavy weapons—the people are with us.”

Khabir speaks with the earnestness and sincerity of a youth counsellor—hardly a macho stereotype. Yet volunteer soldiers seem far more likely to trust a leader like Khabir over a glory-seeker (especially when they are out-manned and out-gunned), and the young officer left me with the impression that the fighters in Sarmin mean business

In Binnish, on the other hand, the FSA is a smaller force, the majority of which is made up of local men who have taken up arms rather than former members of the army. Uniforms are scarcer, and the local FSA fighters do not bear arms during the Friday demonstrations that accompany prayer services, and hence have a less imposing and visible presence in the town.

Not surprisingly, given its organic development, and consistent with similarly formed rebel groups in Libya, the FSA generally appears to be a loose collection of local militias, consisting largely of army deserters but also of Syrian civilians who have taken up arms against the regime. It is well equipped for street fighting, but does not have the weaponry or the expertise to withstand a frontal assault from Assad’s forces at this stage. It also does not appear to have an efficient or centralized command structure, though there is clearly communication on some level between different
local elements. There is a notional, Syria-wide leadership cadre based in Antakya, Turkey, and headed by former Air Force Colonel Riyad al-Asaad. But local FSA commanders readily admit that they are not under the daily command and control of this leadership. One civilian activist whom I spoke to openly dismissed the “national” leaders, noting (accurately) that they are confined to their compound by Turkish authorities and unable to keep up with, much less direct, fast-moving events on the ground in Syria. The FSA officers I spoke to also acknowledged the splits that have emerged in the ostensible leadership of the organization—with General Mustafa al-Sheikh, a recent defector from the Syrian Army, emerging as a rival potential leader to Riyad al-Asaad.

Asked what they needed to win their fight against Assad, the FSA men I spoke to—Lieutenant Khabir in Sarmin, Captain Ayham al-Kurdi in Antakya, and the fighters Mohammed and Ahmed in Binnish—all repeated a single demand: an internationally imposed zone from which they could organize and operate. A secondary, often-repeated demand was for arms and supplies—from the West, from Arab countries, or, as a few men said, “even from Israel.” When I asked if the FSA could win in the absence of outside assistance, they demurred. Kurdi and Khabir both acknowledged that, without international aid, the situation could continue “for
years” (Kurdi’s phrase). Khabir also mentioned the
possibility of a long guerrilla war, “like pesh merga,” as he put it, referring to the Kurdish guerrilla force. Kurdi added that the regime would not ultimately fall solely at the hands of the FSA, but rather as a result of a combined political struggle,…..

Idlib Province is a deeply conservative Sunni area. There is also a considerable presence of Salafi Islamist fighters in the FSA in both Binnish and Sarmin. Although these fighters appeared to be local men, not foreign jihadis, the Salafi presence, and the prominent role a number of these individuals have taken in recent fighting against Assad’s forces, should not be ignored.

In conversation with FSA fighters and activists, the sectarian issue, and the differing loyalties of the various Syrian communities, surfaced regularly. Inevitably, I heard a somewhat sanitized version of this from FSA commanders, while rank-and-file fighters and civilian activists were more likely to express openly sectarian views. Captain Ayham al-Kurdi echoed others when he observed that the fight represented a struggle primarily between Sunni Arabs and Alawi Arabs. “Ninety percent of Alawis,” he said, are with the regime. “Christians are neutral, the Druze are split, and the Sunnis who benefitted from the regime support it, while the others are opposed.” A civilian activist speaking to me in Binnish was more blunt: “This is civil war between the clans,” he said, then hurriedly reminding me that Sunnis nevertheless rejected the possibility of sectarian warfare as a matter of principle….

What I saw in Syria was a young but authentic insurgent movement, developing in a mode well established by others before it and set to fight a long and costly war of attrition against a classically ruthless foe who will do anything to stay in power. The daunting forces of Assad’s dictatorship have already shown their capability in Homs and elsewhere, but the rebel fighters I encountered displayed the will and determination to take on those forces, despite limited weaponry and weak central authority. As Lieutenant Khabir in Sarmin put it to me, “The regime is fascist and criminal. We expect what happened in Homs to happen here. But even with our simple weapons, we’re ready to fight. Our morale is high. We don’t know how to run away.”…

Louay Hussein, President of Building The Syrian State current, writes to Annan:

…..The authorities have recently been targeting famous non-violence figures. During the last few days they arrested the writer Salama Keileh and the religious figure Mouaz Al-Khatib, in addition to other recent similar arrests for peaceful figures such as the human rights activists Mazen Darwish and Mahmoud Isa; the non-violence campaigner Mohammad Ammar and many tens of young activists who campaigned for the killing to stop and for ending the Syrian blood shed.

We urge you to intervene with the Syrian authorities to release immediately and unconditionally, all these detainees in addition to the thousands of other peaceful detainees. Otherwise, time will pass and the political process that you are trying to build will find no partner outside the prisons, nor any party would have any faith in the authority or even the possibility of a peaceful solution.

Econmy

Syrian economy spirals downward as deposits, loans plunge
By Donna Abu Nasr, Tamara Walid, May 04, 2012, Bloomberg

Syria’s economy is collapsing. Deposits fell by an average of 35 percent in 2011 at Bank of Syria and Overseas SA, Bank Audi Syria and Banque Bemo Saudi Fransi, according to April filings to the Damascus Securities Exchange.

Lending plunged 22 percent last year, the filings by the three banks show, compared with a 6.9 percent increase in Egypt and a 3.9 percent gain in the United Arab Emirates. The central bank’s foreign reserves may drop to $10 billion this year, half the 2010 peak, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The 14-month long uprising that has claimed more than 9,000 lives is taking an increasing toll on the economy and the business class, mostly drawn from the majority Sunni Muslim community. Their support for President Bashar Assad – who stems from the minority Alawite sect – may buckle as the economy, which is forecast to contract 5.9 percent in 2012 by the EIU, spirals downward.

If “the government cannot come up with a consistent policy to stop this economic deterioration, at some point in time Syrian businesses are going to realize that backing Bashar Assad himself is too costly,” Ayesha Sabavala, an EIU economist on Syria, said in a telephone interview.

Syria’s pound weakened to about 68 per U.S. dollar, from 47 per dollar before the uprising started in March 2011, according to data on the Syrian central bank’s website. Unofficial money exchangers on the Lebanese side of the border sell the pound at about 72 per dollar.

Syria’s economy shrank 3.4 percent in 2011 because of the unrest, the EIU’s estimates show. Inflation may accelerate to 14.7 percent in 2012 from 4.8 percent in 2011, it said.

One of the country’s main exports has slumped since the European Union’s decision to stop importing Syrian crude oil last year. That has cost it $3 billion in revenue, Oil Minister Sufian Alao told the official Syrian Arab News Agency on April 30. State media regularly report “terrorist” attacks on the country’s oil pipelines, most recently in Deir Ezzor province this week.

Syria produced about 380,000 barrels a day before the move to impose sanctions, of which 150,000 barrels were exported, Alao said.

“The economy is a downward spiral and is trapped,” said Jarmo Kotilaine, chief economist at National Commercial Bank, Saudi Arabia’s biggest bank by assets. “This spiral can continue, and if it does, everyone including the government and individuals will revert to a more simple way of doing business. It’s not the ideal scenario.”…

Protracting crisis worsens poverty in Syria
2012-04-29

DAMASCUS, April 28 (Xinhua) — Life turns increasingly unaffordable for a large segment of the Syrian society as the spinning-out crisis in the country beats hard on the less well-off and spirals the percentage of the poor.

A recent report issued by the Labor Union in Syria reveals that the proportion of the poor has amounted to 41 percent of the 23 million Syrian population. It says that the Tenth Five-Year Plan was ambitious to create 625,000 new jobs in the first two years, but it actually provided 277,000, or only 44 percent.

Workers in both public and private sectors and retirees complain about their salaries which have been eroded in light of the skyrocketing prices of almost all commodities, as well as about the failure of the government to control the markets.

The daunting pressures on all businesses in Syria have forced many employers to sack workers, raising thus the number of the jobless.

The report says special attention should be paid to the workshops and crafts and to motivate them to shift from the shadow economy to formal and legal economy, and also emphasizes the need to restrict the activities of investment and holding companies in the high-cost projects, and to increase the state’s support for the poor and develop a consistent policy of wages compatible with the cost of living.

As observers fear that the rising poverty caused by prolonged uncertainties would foment popular wrath, the report calls for the need to reduce unemployment, especially among young people, by increasing government investment in public sector with the cooperation of the private sector to provide new job opportunities.

Prominent Syrian economic expert Aref Dalileh recently told media that the economic problems in Syria have stemmed from the decades-long political system, while the economic factor in turn constitutes the main reason for the current events in Syria today.

According to Dalileh, the roots of the economic problems lie in the way the government manages the national economy and the economic surplus, especially its failure to use the surplus in development.

The Syrian unrest that erupted over a year ago and the ensuing U.S., EU and Arab sanctions have tightened the squeeze around the already slow-moving economy that has been striving to shift from the socialist style to open market, hitting hard all businesses in the country ranging from tourism, oil to banking sectors, and after all, people’s daily life.

As the EU said lately that it is mulling new package of sanctions on Syria, Amru Eiz-eldin, a 35-year-old worker, told Xinhua that “It’s not a secret that prices have gone up tremendously and that people’s purchasing power has decreased. We’ re all feeling it.”

“Some people are no longer eating meat,” he said.

Der Spiegel: Losing Hope In Syria’s Devastated Countryside, 2012-05-01

The world is still hoping that the efforts of United Nations envoy Kofi Annan will succeed in Syria, but regime forces have inflicted such brutal destruction in the country’s northwest Idlib province that no one there believes peace is possible …

Regime Change in Syria: We Should Learn the Lessons of Iraq
Huffington Post – Steven Strauss

Obama’s critics cite our success in Libya as a model for intervening in Syria. … America’s worst case scenario in Syria would be a civil war, resulting in a failed state. That failed Syrian state could become a regional base for terrorism, whereby chemical weapon stockpiles fall into the hands of Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. The Assad regime is evil; the successor regime could be even worse. As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff emphasized, we know almost nothing about the Syrian rebels.

In Libya, the Qaddafi regime openly threatened genocide against the opposition. While this remains a risk in Syria, currently violence is at a murderous (but not genocidal) level. Over the last year, approximately 9,000 to 11,000 people died in Syria as a result of the Assad regime’s brutality. The death of even one person is a tragedy, and the Assad regime has murdered many times over.

However, to put this in context: people are being killed at the rate of about 40-50 deaths per 100,000 Syrians, per year. This is equivalent to the murder rate in New Orleans or Detroit. Perhaps we should intervene in New Orleans before tackling Syria.

The Politics of Sectarian Insecurity: Alawite ‘Asabiyya and the Rise and Decline of the Asad Dynasty – Leon T. Goldsmith began his study in 2008; this is his PhD dissertation

ProjectSyndicate: The Anarchy Factor in Syria
2012-05-02

The failure of the Obama administration, its Western allies, and several Middle East regional powers to take bolder action to stop the carnage in Syria is often explained by their fear of anarchy. In fact, anarchy is setting in now: it is preceding …

INTERVIEW: Opposition says al-Assad’s regime is a “stinking corpse”
By Jackline Zaher, DPA 2012-05-01

Cairo (DPA) — The leader of Syria’s main opposition group believes the country’s regime is finished and says its citizens are already preparing for a post-Bashar al-Assad era. The president’s regime is “no longer a regime, just an organization of military, security and militia forces that are killing the people,” Burhan Ghalioun, head of the Syrian National Council (SNC), told dpa by phone. “As far as we are concerned it is finished, the only question that remains is how we can bury this stinking corpse,” he said. Ghalioun nevertheless expects al-Assad’s government to remain in place until its security forces becomes powerless. “As a regime it has collapsed on every level, politically, economically and culturally, and it no longer enjoys any relations with the Arab world or internationally,” the Paris-based professor said.

He also said that after the fall of al-Assad, “there will be no basis for continued preferential relations with Iran; and Hezbollah will have to change its approach and deal with the new Syria if the regime changes.”

Al-Assad’s government has been Iran’s military and strategic ally in the region, and both countries provide support to Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and the Islamist group Hamas, based in the Gaza Strip. Ghalioun also rejected reports that the SNC or any revolutionary group in Syria might strike a deal over the future of the strategic Golan Heights in return for Western or Israeli support in bringing down the al-Assad regime. “The Golan is and will remain Syrian territory, and is recognized as such by all the world. Syria’s democratic revolution will be in a better position to regain the Golan.”

“It is the regime, not the opposition, that has collaborated with Israel and allowed it to stay in the Golan,” Ghalioun argued.

Son of former Syrian PM wants to form government in exile
Father imprisoned by Baath party when it came to power in 1963

April 26, 2012,

PARIS (AP) — The son of a former Syrian prime minister says he wants to form a government in exile aimed at bolstering Syrian rebels and encouraging international military intervention.

Nofal al-Dawalibi’s attempt at forming a government of those who oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad only highlights divisions among those trying to oust his regime from outside the country. Al-Dawalibi said Thursday the opposition Syrian National Council, which has enjoyed support from several countries, has failed to accomplish anything and is an “artificial” body.

French diplomats say anti-regime activists in Syria appear to operate on their own and don’t take orders from opposition groups abroad. Al-Dawalibi’s father, Maarouf, was elected prime minister in 1961, but was later jailed and fled to Saudi Arabia in 1963. [ … ]

Syria faces neo-mujahideen struggle
By Victor Kotsev

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may have won a battle earlier this year (as the retreat of the Free Syrian Army from the ruined city of Homs testifies), but he is nowhere near winning the war. The uprising is quickly turning into a full-scale insurgency – a foreign-sponsored insurgency, to be more precise, which some analysts term a “neo-mujahideen strategy”.

2012-04-28, Thomas Friedman

If the Annan plan fails, then the West, the United Nations and the Arab League need to move swiftly to set up a no-fly zone or humanitarian corridor — on the Turkish-Syrian border — that can provide a safe haven for civilians being pummeled by the regime and send a message to the exhausted Syrian Army and residual supporters of Assad that it is time for them to decapitate this regime and save themselves and the Syrian state. The quicker Assad falls, the less sectarian blood that is shed and the more of the Syrian state that survives, the less difficult a difficult rebuilding will be….

It’s like a kid who was beaten and left uneducated by his parents for 50 years and one day the kid finally decides to fight back, he added. “Morally, you have to support his right to revolt, but this guy is very traumatized.” So let’s help in an intelligent, humane way, but with no illusions that this transition will be easy or a happy ending assured.

CLINTON SAYS TURKEY MULLS REQUEST FOR NATO SUPPPORT

Ghalioun’s statement that there is “No Syrian Kurdistan” Stirs Controversy.

Al-Qamishli: Further demonstrations in the Kurdish regions: Kurdwatch Newsletter

KURDWATCH, April 27, 2012—Despite the existing ceasefire, nationwide protests on April 20, 2012 again resulted in numerous dead and injured. Throughout the country, demonstrators demanded the fall of the regime. Whereas in the previous week, all Kurdish demonstrators took to the streets under a unified, all-Syrian slogan, this week there were once again two slogans. The majority demonstrated under the nationwide slogan »We will win, Assad will lose«. Other demonstrators took to the streets under the slogan »Here is Kurdistan«. This slogan was in protest of the Syrian National Council chairman’s remarks that there is no »Syrian-Kurdistan« [further information on the remarks].

Erbil: Chairman of the Syrian National Council comments on the Kurdish question

KURDWATCH, April 23, 2012—In an interview on April 16, 2012 with the Iraqi-Kurdish magazine Rûdaw, Burhan Ghaliun, Chairman of the Syrian National Council, commented on the Kurdish question. He explained that in Syria there are areas that are predominantly settled by Kurds, but there is no »Syrian Kurdistan«—neither geographically nor politically. To speak of Syrian Kurdistan is to apply the Iraqi model to Syria. He further explained that if the Syrian Kurds continue to cling to a federalist model, this will lead to misunderstandings with other groups who will interpret these demands as a desire for secession. At the same time, he emphasized that in past decades, the Kurds have been discriminated against and marginalized, and that the Syrian parties and political movements recognize Kurdish national identity. »I say the Syrian state and the political rulers must provide the conditions for protecting this identity. The right to education in Kurdish and developing Kurdish culture and literature, as the second culture in Syria, must be provided.« He further stated that the Syrian National Council stands for a decentralized system, in which provincial and city councils will receive a broad-range of authority. In reaction to Ghaliun’s comments, numerous dissident demonstrations took place in the Kurdish regions on April 20, 2012 under the slogan »Here is Kurdistan!«. Ghaliun had already drawn criticism in 2011, when he compared the Syrian Kurds to immigrants in France—he subsequently retracted this statement.

 Two different Syrian Opposition organizations expressed their own formulations of the Kurdish question in Syria – they are  the General Assembly of the Syrian Democratic Platform which met in Cairo from April 13 to April 16, 2012, and the National Union of the Forces for Democratic Change which met in Paris on April 14.

CIA Asset Gloria Steinem’s “Women Under Siege” Joins Syrian Propaganda Campaign
admin Apr 27, 2012 The International Campaign to Destabilize Syria

How Russia, Iran keep fuel flowing to Syria
By Jessica Donati and Julia Payne, Thu Apr 26, 2012

(Reuters) – Russia and Iran are helping Syria import fuel which it needs for heavy vehicles including army tanks, allowing Damascus to avoid the full impact of tightening Western sanctions imposed over its violent suppression of dissent.

Nikolaos van Dam [nikolaosvandam@gmail.com] Recommends books on Syria - He adds: I had also strongly recommended Lisa Wedeen’s book and the new book of Carsten Wieland, but due to lack of space they are now olny mentioned in the footnote (which is better than not to be mentioned at all).

Time for a rethink of U.S. policy towards Syria
Posted By Geoffrey Aronson Thursday, April 26, 2012 – 6:01 PM Share

Simply opposing Assad is not a policy, but that is what the current U.S. policy risks. By demonizing the regime, Washington has walked away from the table. This decision left the U.S. ill-placed to tease out disaffected members of the regime in the hopes of mounting an insider’s coup, the best hope for a less violent transition. That power now rests in the hands of Moscow and Teheran, who may yet decide that a change in the regime is the best means of preserving their interests. Efforts by Syria’s Arab antagonists to undermine the ruling family have come to naught. This vacuum has left the diplomatic field to Kofi Annan, Tehran, Beijing, and Moscow, who appear united in an effort to craft a diplomatic solution with the regime — repudiating Washington’s preferences both tactically and strategically.

Washington’s ambivalence about the Annan mission is a product of the squeeze Moscow, Beijing, Baghdad, and Teheran are putting on U.S. policy. “Walking back” American support for regime change and the concomitant opposition to everything short of this goal, is not easy, but some former U.S. diplomats and even others currently wearing pinstripes believe it can be done. Our lukewarm support for Annan reflects the first, tentative baby steps in this direction

The Obama administration, however, cannot bring itself to support a solution with the regime and its allies. It is has proven easier to embrace a number of more vague and often incompatible policy options: to snipe at the Annan mission from the sidelines, to debate tactical questions relating to humanitarian relief, or to engage in internal debates about the ease with which, for example, Syrian air defenses might be taken out

Lacking a strategic compass, Washington finds itself not leading from behind but being dragged from behind in support of the policies and agendas of others — including in the Gulf and among the Syrian National Council — that promise at best to continue bleeding the regime, its opponents, and the long-suffering Syrian people, and that threaten the institutional and even the territorial integrity of the Syrian state.

These are the stakes of the game now being played by diplomats in drawing rooms and rebels in the alleys of Daraa and Homs. The Assad regime and the ruling state institutions are heinous, but there is still room for Washington to champion an engagement that aims at moving the Syrian government and the Syrian public to a wary, uneasy accommodation.

Syria In Vogue But On The Outer
Posted by Prof. Brian Stoddart on April 27, 2012

Syrian Psychosis
– www.weeklystandard.com
Yesterday the Washington Post inexplicably published a piece about the Vogue profile of Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad—a profile published in March 2011.

The Islamization of the Uprising and the Loss of Syria
by Randa Kassis

The Islamists in Syria are increasingly swooping down on the popular movement, suggesting that they are the strongest and the most widespread among the Syrian groups through their dependence on the religious and conservative bases of certain communities. Their presence is due first to the sense among the Syrian street participating in the uprising that the international community had abandoned them and that they have been left prey to the brutality of the Syrian regime. Second, this is due to the Islamists’ exploitation of the Syrian psyche in order to slowly penetrate the Syrian street in an organized fashion. In addition, the Islamists’ control over the distribution of supplies and humanitarian assistance significantly contributed to their extensive appearance in the squares and streets, resulting in the appearance of gaining a monopoly over this uprising. The Islamists have taken advantage of the divide between the communities previously supported by the ruling regime and those they call the majority group, thus upholding sectarian discrimination and fueling feelings of aggression and repulsion between the groups in order to gain a wider segment of the Syrian society. They also capitalize on the principle of “the strongest majority,” which gives that majority the right to direct society according to its desires and standards. Here, we are entitled to review what they consider the majority and the minority, who comprise, according to their view, singular, collective blocks.

How Many Syrians Will Die?
2012-04-28, By Jennifer Rubin

April 28 (Washington Post) — Paul Wolfowitz writes:

“American policy on Syria today seems paralyzed by the understandable fear of getting into another war like those in Afghanistan or Iraq. But no one, least of all the Syrian people, wants to see an American invasion and occupation of Syria.” In essence President Obama has set up one of those false choices to justify doing nothing effective to oust Bashar al-Assad:….

Perhaps one day an American president will go to the Holocaust museum and ask his fellow citizens, ” How could we allow mass atrocities in Syria?” The answer: Obama wanted a second term.

Al Jazeera, “Searching for a ‘plan B’ in Syria”, Jonathan Paris, Sami Hermez, and Farah Atassi, a Syrian political activist. The introductions are 3:20 minutes into the program.

Assad intensifies cyberwar against Qatar
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad©AFP

The Qatari prime minister’s daughter is arrested in London. Qatar’s army chief stages a coup against the emir. Hamad bin Jassim, the prime minister, is sacked. None of these stories is true, but for a while Syria’s embattled regime tried to make them credible partly thanks to a group of loyal hackers. Late on Monday, the so-called Syrian Electronic Army, the cyber activists who spam Facebook and Twitter with pro-government messages, hacked into the Twitter account of Saudi Arabia’s al-Arabiya news channel and planted the report of Mr bin Jassim’s removal. As al-Arabiya rushed to report that its social networks were infiltrated, the hackers posted news about an explosion at a Qatari natural gasfield.

The cyberwar against Qatar is part of escalating efforts by Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, to paint the revolt against him as a geopolitical struggle by wealthy Gulf monarchies bent on Syria’s destruction, rather than a brutal attempt to put down a popular uprising . To a certain extent the regional battle is real: Qatar and Saudi Arabia, long-time rivals in the region, have been remarkably unified over Syria, and have taken the harshest line against Mr Assad. The removal of the Syrian strongman, Iran’s main ally in the Arab world, would alter the balance of power in the Middle East in the Sunni Gulf monarchies’ favour.

US News: Syria’s cultural treasures latest uprising victim
2012-05-01 By ZEINA KARAM, Associated Press BEIRUT (AP) —

On its towering hilltop perch, the Krak des Chevaliers, one of the world’s best preserved Crusader castles, held off a siege by the Muslim warrior Saladin nearly 900 years ago. It was lauded by …Besides the break-in at Krak des Chevaliers in March, gunmen have also targeted a museum in the city of Hama, making off with antiques and a priceless gold statue dating back to the Aramaic era, said Jammous, of the government’s museum agency….Government assaults on opposition stronghold cities and neighborhoods — often with shelling and heavy machine-gun fire — have also caused extensive damage.

Comments (565)


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151. zoo said:

#148 Tara

Oops, sorry, I’ll be more careful next time.

Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

May 6th, 2012, 9:57 am

 

152. Tara said:

To complement the NYT article posted by Zoo @133, another article about the MB

Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood rise from the ashes
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis | Reuters – 3 hrs ago

http://news.yahoo.com/syrias-muslim-brotherhood-rise-ashes-100148941.html
….

In a demonstration of their financial muscle, Brotherhood operatives were dispatched last month with suitcases of cash to a dusty camp for Free Syrian Army defectors in a Turkish region bordering Syria near Antakya.
Sources in the camp said the Brotherhood was supporting Colonel Riad al-Asaad, one of the first prominent defectors last year, now at odds with more senior officers who deserted later.
Colonel Asaad now sports a Brotherhood-style beard. Street activists who have had little to do with the Brotherhood are also being lured by promises of instant support for the revolt.
“I approached them and they instantly gave me 2,000 euros when I asked for help…and I am not even Ikhwan (Brotherhood),” said veteran activist Othman al-Bidewi, who regularly travels between Syria and the border region in Turkey to drum up support for street demonstrations against Assad in Idlib province.
“The Brotherhood wants to restore its political base. It is their right,” he added.

more…

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May 6th, 2012, 10:14 am

 

153. habib said:

“Colonel Asaad now sports a Brotherhood-style beard.”

Loool, says it all, doesn’t it?

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May 6th, 2012, 10:39 am

 

154. zoo said:

What about the 100 journalists jailed in Turkish jails?

Release of 2 Turk journalists in Syria to ‘take time': group

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/release-of-2-turk-journalists-in-syria-to-take-time-group.aspx?pageID=238&nID=20041&NewsCatID=338
….
The two journalists are “in the hands of the regime,” said Oruç, adding that IHH was holding negotiations with Iranian and Syrian officials to secure their return home.

“We are carrying out humanitarian diplomacy for their release,” he said while hailing the permission granted by Damascus to the aid group’s meeting with the pair as a “significant step.” IHH (Insani Yardim Vakfı) is a relief foundation close to the conservative Islamist-rooted government and has organised aid for Syrian refugees who have fled the bloodshed in their country for Turkey and Lebanon.
more…

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May 6th, 2012, 10:48 am

 

155. bronco said:

#151 Tara

So Qatar is opening wide its wallets to salvage their allies, the Moslem Brotherhood, who are loosing steam in Egypt.
The new target to try to buy out : Syria’s confused and destituted opposition

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May 6th, 2012, 10:52 am

 

156. Tara said:

Syrian state TV broadcasts ‘confession’ by detained citizen journalist
By the CNN Wire Staff
May 5, 2012 —

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/05/world/meast/syria-citizen-journalist/?hpt=hp_t3

(CNN) — Syrian state TV aired Saturday what it said was a confession by citizen journalist Ali Mahmoud Othman, who activists say was arrested in March after he helped foreign journalists escape from the besieged city of Homs.
Othman helped run a media center in Baba Amr area of Homs, which provided information to international news media during a months-long crackdown on the civilian neighborhood by government forces.
Reporters Without Borders, the journalist watchdog group, said last month it was “extremely concerned” for the life of Othman after his detention.
….
In the interview Othman describes how the media operation was set up in Baba Amr, and talks about demonstrations and the role of armed groups.
It is unclear under what circumstances the interview was taped.
But Heather Blake, UK representative for Reporters Without Borders, said: “Research by our organization and many other organizations indicates that many human rights defenders who are detained have been shown to give false confessions under much duress and torture.
“We would advise anyone watching this to be very aware of that fact. The fact that Othman was arrested after committing no crime would suggest that he is speaking under duress.”

more…

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May 6th, 2012, 10:59 am

 

157. zoo said:

For the ones waiting for a Godot-like Turkey military intervention

“All this demonstrates the growing gap between Ankara’s ambitious discourse and its actual willingness and capacity to act.”

Explaining Turkey’s inaction in Syria
ÖMER TAŞPINAR
06 2012, Sunday
http://www.todayszaman.com/columnist-279526-explaining-turkeys-inaction-in-syria.html

What are the driving factors of Turkey’s Syria policy? The same question could be asked by focusing on why Turkey is so cautious and reluctant to take unilateral military action in Syria — for instance, by establishing safe havens or a buffer zone. Four main factors can help us explain Turkey’s Syria policy.

The first driver of Turkish policy is the Kurdish problem at home.

The third driver of Turkey’s Syria policy is the concern about economic stability. Turkey depends on Iran and Russia for close to 85 percent of its energy consumption, particularly natural gas
….
This second important strategic vision, Kemalism, is Ankara’s default position. Where neo-Ottomanism is proactive and grandiose, Kemalism is cautious and always realistic in its assessment of Turkish national interests

Today Damascus controls 80 percent of the country, while there are still pockets of resistance where the opposition shows resilience
..
In short, Ankara will resist the militarization of the crisis. It is no coincidence that under such circumstances Ankara and Washington are on the same page.

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May 6th, 2012, 11:03 am

 

158. Observer said:

The post by Irritated is exactly the point I am making on how perverted the regime has been. Syria was a democracy before the Baath, imperfect and yet it had a constitution and one of my relatives took to court a security official who was opening his mail outside of the law and that person went to jail.
Spouses of ministers were scolded in the free press Syria enjoyed and corruption came to the fore. Guarantees of private property were secure and Syria paid off all of its debts in less than one year in 1960-61. All of the projects for the expansion of the ports and the building of rail and roads and electrical grid were laid in between 1959-62 including the refinery and the Euphrates dam. Go read the archives of Almoudhek Almoubki a famous newspaper shut down by the Baath.
Go and show me that Damascus has written a new phone book since 1962; yes it is still the same phone book of 1962 and no new one has been published. This is the kind of incompetence and mediocrity one defends on this blog. Mind numbing indeed.

Gradual my foot we have been waiting fro gradual to s—- or come off the commode for more than 50 years. Gradual till some smuggle their fortune out or secure the persistence of graft and corruption and torture and killing?

Why not implement the law after the abrogation of the state of emergency? WHy don’t someone ask the stupid Fredo and his cronies why is it that the rule of law is not applied? How is it that the state of emergency is abrogated and yet the army is deployed? How come in this new Gradual Constitution we are back to square one with the head of the executive also the head of the Supreme court and the source of legislation with the power to dissolve parliament? Is this the most stupid retarded gradual constitution some want?

As for the famous Iranian revolution let me remind those of you that glorify the alliance
READ THE FIRST ARTICLE OF THE CONSTITUTION OF IRAN; SOVEREIGNTY BELONGS TO GOD. Is this the great new secular constitution and gradual realistic path some want us to forge towards?

Democracy has been a hallmark of political movements and attempts by people around the globe for more freedom for more than 400 years now and we the most resourceful people on earth can surely take all the positive and negative experience including our own and come up with a constitution that is worthy of the sacrifice of the people.

Gradual my foot go tell Haitham Maleh who argued for years with Corleone on the limits of power and the rule of law and was put in prison repeatedly. Go tell Bara’aa Saraj on his journey from Tadmur to Harvard of the need for gradual reform.

Stupid Fredo has now infected stupidity across the board to the point that Lavrov looks and talks stupid when it comes to Syria.

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May 6th, 2012, 11:10 am

 

159. zoo said:

The Washington Post (and other western media) gloomy mantra.. yet the reality on the ground allow for hopes.

“Western hopes for salvaging a nearly four-week-old cease-fire in Syria have all but evaporated, as new assessments raise fresh doubts about the prospects for the U.N.-brokered accord and the chances for removing the country’s repressive leadership in the near term, diplomats and intelligence officials say.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/syrian-cease-fire-violations-deepen-gloom-over-options-for-ousting-assad/2012/05/05/gIQA72xP4T_story.html?hpid=z3

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May 6th, 2012, 11:10 am

 

160. Tara said:

“We chose this face, accepted by the West and by the inside. We don’t want the regime to take advantage if an Islamist becomes the Syrian National Council’s head,” former Brotherhood leader Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni told supporters in a video.
The footage is now being circulated by Brotherhood opponents, seeking to highlight its undeclared power.
“We nominated Ghalioun as a front for national action. We are not moving now as Muslim Brotherhood but as part of a front that includes all currents,” 

Where is Ghalioun’s voice declaring his independent will and judgement for god sake.  Can SNC get any stupider.  Why aren’t we hearing statements defending their position.  Why aren’t they condemning suicidal attacks.  They are making big mistakes

—–

Bronco, I am still mad. How about sorry. Does it kill?

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May 6th, 2012, 11:12 am

 

161. Dawoud said:

Do you remember the post-9/11 dreadful name, “American Taliban?”Isn’t it as dreadful and scary to have an “American Hizballah?”I am sure that at least one of them is posting here :-) Very scary? Hizballah, among its terrorist activities, carried out the Khobar terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and, in February of 2005, it carried out a huge terrorist bombing in Beirut that killed Rafiq al-Hariri and several others.

As rape, including raping women in front of their husbands/brothers, has become a common sickening tactic of Bashar al-Assad’s murderous security and Shabiha, how do women here on SC and in general feel about this disgraceful crime? How do pro-dictator/Hasan females still manage toHuh ???propagate on behalf of this rapist regime?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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May 6th, 2012, 11:14 am

 

162. irritated said:

Observer

I wonder who shows more stupidity and has a mind more distorted by hatred and bitterness.

“Go and show me that Damascus has written a new phone book since 1962; yes it is still the same phone book of 1962 and no new one has been published.”

Now the success of a democracy is measured by the frequency of republishing phonebooks.

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May 6th, 2012, 11:15 am

 

163. Norman said:

irritated,
They are very advanced in Syria, they use the net and their neighbours.

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May 6th, 2012, 11:18 am

 

164. irritated said:

#162 Norman

Despite the unrest, the disruptions and the economic crunch, Internet in Syria is working much better than any other neighbors and is much more affordable, thanks to the “stupidity” of the regime who should print instead millions of phonebooks to prove to some that it is a democratic country.
Who asks for phonebooks anyway these day? My nostalgic grandmother does sometimes

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May 6th, 2012, 11:23 am

 

165. zoo said:

Egypt’s future looks familiar – and grim
Youssef Hamza
May 6, 2012
http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/egypts-future-looks-familiar-and-grim#full

With less than three weeks to go before the country’s landmark presidential election, Egypt’s transition to democratic rule is looking as doubtful as it did under Hosni Mubarak.
..
The political feuding and the bloodshed on the streets do not bode well for Egypt’s future, regardless of the election of a new president.

A non-Islamist president would not have the cooperation or the support of the Brotherhood and other Islamists in the legislature who, combined, control about 70 per cent of all seats. Lack of cooperation would likely slow legislation, perhaps even derailing it. An Islamist president would alarm minority Christians, liberals and leftists and push Egypt much farther along the road to a fully religious state.

Already, the Islamists, particularly the Brotherhood, have shown a tendency to seek domination or push through their own agenda regardless of the nation’s greater interest. It tried to dominate the panel mandated with drafting a constitution to ensure, among other things, that the new charter gives the president less powers while according the legislature they dominate more. A court ruling disbanded the Islamist-dominated, 100-member panel and the Islamists and the military are now locked in a stalemate with the Islamists in the search for a new selection process for a more balanced panel.

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May 6th, 2012, 11:35 am

 

166. zoo said:

Col Assaad vs US spokerman: Al Qaeda is in Syria or it’s fake?

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-05/06/c_131571288.htm
…..
Head of the rebels Free Syrian Army breakaway Col. Riadh Asa’ad reportedly said that Annan’s plan is doomed to failure, accusing the regime of staging attacks to frame the rebels.

However, media reports claimed that jihadists from Libya have infiltrated Syria coming from Lebanon and Jordan and they have carried out several attacks against the government troops. Some of them were reported to have been killed in Syria and their names had appeared in some jihadists websites.

The U.S. State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, expressed the U.S. concern that some terrorist groups, particularly al-Qaida, seek to exploit the situation in Syria, stressing the need for implementing the UN envoy Kofi Annan’s plan to halt the violence.

Answering a question at a press briefing in Washington last Wednesday on whether the U.S. is worried that the Syrian opposition has taken up the form of al-Qaida attacks the likes of the latest terrorist bombings in Damascus, Idlib and Aleppo, Toner said that the U.S. is concerned that a terrorist group which is al- Qaida mostly seeks to take advantage of such cases.

He called for abiding by Annan’s plan for realizing a real halt of violence.

Meanwhile, Asa’ad said the failure of Annan’s plan would positively reflect on the help some countries might for the rebels “as their stances have progressed regarding arming the Free Syrian Army.”

Asa’ad questioned the prospect of Annan’s plan amid “ongoing detentions and murders in all Syrian cities.” he said the UN observers “have turned to perjurers.”

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May 6th, 2012, 11:43 am

 

167. jna said:

155. Tarasaid:

Syrian state TV broadcasts ‘confession’ by detained citizen journalist ( … )

It could likely be that he is confessing under duress. But where were all these disclaimers and doubts from the opposition and media regards the taped confessions of attorney general Adnan Bakkour in September 2011, after he was kidnapped by the opposition. It appears that Ali Mahmoud Othman is still alive. We cannot say that about Adnan Bakkour.

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May 6th, 2012, 11:54 am

 

168. Syria no Kandahar said:

This opposition dumbo is giving today date as
٦/٥/٢٠٠٤
How can somebody off by 8 years unless he is
محشش

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May 6th, 2012, 12:01 pm

 

169. Alan said:

116. ZOO said:
المعارض الوطني جميل : نعد الناخبين خلال خمس سنوات بحل مشكلات الفقر !
معليش أخ قدري ! هذا الكلام فيزيائيا غير واقعي بسبب سنين التراكم !

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May 6th, 2012, 12:04 pm

 

170. Alan said:

156. ZOO said:
For the ones waiting for a Godot-like Turkey military intervention
أولا لتحل تركيا مشكلة أكرادها !
ثانيا لتستعمل ديبلوماسيتها ليقبل بها في الاتحاد الأوروبي غير المتجانسة معه
ثالثا لتعيد لنفسها ماء الوجه عندما هزأها الاسرائيليون لأكثر من مرة
رابعا لتعتمد عسكريا على نفسها و لاتستقوي بأحد
خامسا لتشرب الأطلسي مع طباليها!

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May 6th, 2012, 12:18 pm

 

171. Syria no Kandahar said:

Preview of post Assad Syria

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May 6th, 2012, 12:26 pm

 

172. Mina said:

“In a demonstration of their financial muscle [actually the author of the article seems to have voluntarily dropped the s here!!], Brotherhood operatives were dispatched last month with suitcases of cash”
Sounds like Egypt and the Gulf: the only active muscle is to pull out cash. What about exercing the brain?

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May 6th, 2012, 12:43 pm

 

173. Aldendeshe said:

المعارض الوطني جميل : نعد الناخبين خلال خمس سنوات بحل مشكلات الفقر !
معليش أخ قدري ! هذا الكلام فيزيائيا غير واقعي بسبب سنين التراكم !

______________________________________________________________

Great, that is the goal, but how is that possible. Can we see the economic plan and evaluate its merit, maybe you are bluffing, or the plan not viable.

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May 6th, 2012, 12:43 pm

 

174. Alan said:

172 who we are ? do you ask me ? i am independence person !

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May 6th, 2012, 12:57 pm

 

175. Mina said:

The Egyptian Salafis and MB are having a debate, in this time of international turmoil. Who among them is really Muslim?
http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/sundays-papers-mounting-tension-between-brotherhood-and-salafis

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May 6th, 2012, 1:02 pm

 

176. Ghufran said:

Attacking state institutions and valuable civilian assets ,like Tishreen Hospital in an attempt to “liberate” it , shows why the future of Syria is not simply linked to a regime change. There is a deliberate campaign to destroy Syria from the inside and when this is done,only Syrians will shed any tears over it but no one will come to their rescue. We read every day about the government thugs,it is time to talk about the “other thugs”,they are the elephant in the room that most opposition leaders and “think tanks” has no choice but to ignore because that issue is a huge embarrassment to a group of politicians who exist because of a fairy tale they created,and when that fairy tale ends ,they end too.

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May 6th, 2012, 1:03 pm

 

177. Antoine said:

89. NORMAN said :

“Antoine ,

Three undemocratic countries where the Christians accept their second class status, don’t you think?.

Syria was safer and the Christians were more or less equal,

Egypt, the Christians were better off, but still and i don’t know if you recognise that Christians were not allowed to specialize in Urology or OB/GYN, women specialists.”

Norman, Mar Bechara Butros al-Rai, the Maronite Patriarch, himself said, after visiting Jordan and Kuwait ; that Christains are well-of and well-respected there and mostly quite safe. He was talikng about th expatriate Lebanese community in Kuwait as well.

Egypt is the most dangerous, because unlike in other countries where only radical Muslims attack Christians, in Egypt, most of the non-religious Muslims, as well as the so-called secular Egyptian Army, attacks Christians, and this has been going on subtly since 1956 after the Suez Crisis. Since 1950s Egypt Christians have been painted as anti-national pro-West, non-Arab by so-called secular Nasser ideology.

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May 6th, 2012, 1:11 pm

 

178. Mina said:

Ghufran
And the worse is that exactly the same happened in Iraq in 2003, but that most of them are too young to remember it in detail.

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May 6th, 2012, 1:13 pm

 

179. omen said:

147. zoo said:“anything is better than this regime.”
I disagree, Iran is a good example. 9:34

you should have thought of that before allowing the regime to kill off, or force into exile, all of the secular leftists! you made your bed, now you have to lie in it.

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May 6th, 2012, 1:31 pm

 

180. Ghufran said:

Thanks to those who asked that I help in moderation,especially Dr Landis, however,I have to pass on this offer due to time constraint and the fact that I may not be able to separate my personal views from my duty to be neutral as a moderator. It pains me to see that educated Syrians need a moderator on a site like this,just stay away from personal attacks and do not use filthy language,why is that too hard to do?
On a positive note,I am glad to see that Dr Landis kept this site alive,those who attacked him want a blog that serves as a mouth piece for their own views,this will mean the end of SC.

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May 6th, 2012, 1:31 pm

 

181. Alan said:

175. GHUFRAN
all jackals are in the contract to tear Syria to pieces!so Bernard ibn Luis gave out!

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May 6th, 2012, 1:35 pm

 

182. zoo said:

#178 Omen

“you made your bed, now you have to lie in it.”

At least there still a bed to lie on. If we follow you, we’ll be all soon sleeping on a muddy and polluted ground.

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May 6th, 2012, 1:39 pm

 

183. zoo said:

Russian Foreign Policy after Putin’s Return
Nikolay Kozhanov

Also available in العربية

May 2, 2012
http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/russian-foreign-policy-after-putins-return
….
On the surface, at least, Russia’s stance on Syria and Iran will probably undergo certain negative changes. Putin is a populist, and he will definitely try to shore up his domestic support by catering to nationalists and others who are angry about the liberal course of Medvedev’s foreign policy, implying more-aggressive Russian rhetoric on these issues. Yet such rhetoric is typically aimed at the domestic audience and does not influence the main principle of Russian diplomacy: the readiness to discuss and negotiate. The real degree of Russian cooperativeness in the Middle East will therefore depend on the West’s willingness and ability to negotiate the key issues. Appropriate guarantees that preserve Russia’s interests in Syria and Iran — coupled with a nonconfrontational approach to dialogue — would probably have the most positive influence on Moscow.

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May 6th, 2012, 1:46 pm

 

184. omen said:

143. Alan said:
barter use in an exchange is the tool of economy and in Syria too! it isn’t anything new in present.
China and Russia but on the countries BRIKS is observed such tool in address avoidance on US dollars 7:16

thank you for providing context.

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May 6th, 2012, 1:48 pm

 

185. omen said:

146. Hans said:
ARABS ARE NOT READY FOR DEMOCRACY UNLESS THE DENOUNCE…

i expect this kind of bigotry from americans, but to see it coming from syrians…

do basharists not consider themselves arab?

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May 6th, 2012, 1:54 pm

 

186. Syria no Kandahar said:

شهود الزور
[صناعة الكذبة الكبرى حول سوريا: اطردوا شهود الزور]
http://www.aljaml.com/node/83540

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May 6th, 2012, 1:58 pm

 

187. Ghufran said:

Sarkozy : lost
Jordan is likely to witness a very hot summer,but that will not be enough to reassure many who want Arab Spring to include GCC countries too. Arabs will not be relevant again until they change their political systems and provide basic rights to women, you can not bring a society up if you keep half of it in a box.
http://www.alquds.co.uk/index.asp?fname=today%5C04qpt963.htm&arc=data%5C2012%5C05%5C05-04%5C04qpt963.htm

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May 6th, 2012, 2:00 pm

 

188. Mina said:

When they travelled to the US, the Egyptian MBs closed the parliament, now they did the same while they are on trip to KSA, officially to protest against Ganzouri’s cabinet… Amateurism?
http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2012/05/egypts-muslim-brotherhood-bows-down-to.html
(Memo: “On Sunday [last week], the Freedom and Justice Party-led Parliament decided to suspend sessions for a week in protest of the military council’s refusal to replace the current cabinet with one that reflects the makeup of Parliament.” and all this without submitting it to a vote of the assembly!
http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/muslim-brotherhood-calls-immediate-dismissal-cabinet)

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May 6th, 2012, 2:01 pm

 

189. Syria no Kandahar said:

احقر واوسخ ماانتجته سوريا
http://www.arabi-press.com/?page=article&id=34885

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May 6th, 2012, 2:08 pm

 

190. Alan said:

183. ZOO
لو كان معهد واشنطن دائما يلعب دورا تنويريا صحيحا لما غرقت أمريكا في
كثير من الأوحال !
لا ! لن يكون مسموحا للغرب في هاتين الدولتين أي سوريا و ايران التفرد بالعدوان ! لا اعتبارات انتخابية و لا بلوط ! لن يكون ذلك مسموحا و نقطة انتهى
كلام فارغ = Nikolay Kozhanov
ان التحالف الشيطاني ليس بين روسيا و ايران انه بين كل الدول الغربية
بصدارة الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية و اسرائيل

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May 6th, 2012, 2:21 pm

 

191. Mina said:

Nothing new in their sick brains: just as the Wahhabis did in Yemen at the beginning of the 20th century and elsewhere for the rest of our recent history, the new Salafis attack Muslim saints tombs in Mali.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17973545
“Islamist fighters said to be linked to al-Qaeda have destroyed the tomb of a local Muslim saint in the Malian town of Timbuktu, officials and locals say.
The gunmen attacked the shrine and set it on fire, saying it was contrary to Islam, according to the official.”

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May 6th, 2012, 2:34 pm

 

192. Ghufran said:

Regardless of how you feel about Sarkozy,you have to get depressed when you compare France to Syria or any other Arab country. The guy lost by 4% margin but was very gracious when he gave his concession speech,compare that to the dinosaurs we have in the middle east and how we handle people who challenge authority or have a different opinions or beliefs. Sarkozy asked for a regime change in Syria but we ended up with a regime change in France,Bashar stayed in power by using guns and boots,Sarkozy lost his job by elections,this E word needs to find its way into the Middle East dictionary.

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May 6th, 2012, 2:38 pm

 

193. Norman said:

Ghufran,

And if it were not for France and company, president Assad would have not needed to use guns and boots. He is the Saul of modern time, needed a defeat as Saul needed a blindness to stop abusing God’s people in Syria.

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May 6th, 2012, 2:43 pm

 

194. Norman said:

Ghufran,

Many people are more afraid of the other thugs than from the government ones, they have an address for the government but they do not have one for the other’s.

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May 6th, 2012, 2:53 pm

 

195. Uzair8 said:

Update on Sheikh Yaqoubi’s facebook.

Sh. Al-Yaqoubi calls the Syrian people to boycott the parliamentary elections tomorrow and says that it is as haram to take part in it as it is a way to aid the regime in its massacres and oppression against the syrinan people and to cover up on the crimes of the regime.
People should continue their uprising till the regime is ousted and a new government is elected to start building justice and civilisation

30 minutes ago.

Read more (Arabic):

http://www.facebook.com/shaykhabulhuda/posts/10150827149447580

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May 6th, 2012, 3:02 pm

 

196. Uzair8 said:

This is a mafia. Everything else is a facade. Imitating a government. It motions in various fields such as diplomacy, elections etc including it’s ‘agreeing’ to monitoring missions and plans.

One commentator recently said the regime needed to show action and not mere motion as it is currently doing.

It’s a mafia. In Assad’s own words in his interview with Barbara Walters:

“It’s a game we play.”

How can we expect the people to trust any promises or concessions from this regmie?

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May 6th, 2012, 3:18 pm

 

197. Mina said:

Uzayr
Syrians should kill each other while your sheikh seats in his sofa. You think the “well-guided” caliphs would have been able to sell such a plan?

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May 6th, 2012, 3:21 pm

 

198. Uzair8 said:

@197 Mina

That’s putting words in my mouth. :-) Neither I nor the Sheikh said that.

The Sheikh is Syrian and can say what he wishes. Others can disagree. I think he has been very considered in his approach.

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May 6th, 2012, 3:54 pm

 

199. Mina said:

You say: “People should continue their uprising till the regime is ousted and a new government is elected to start building justice and civilisation”
so what if 51 percent elect a new government before the regime is ousted?

I was just questioning how “Islamic” it is for a sheikh to advocate an uprising, i. e. per definition, a violent fight, without physically participating in it. As you know it is trending in Egypt between Muslims to ask each other how genuinely Muslim they are.

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May 6th, 2012, 4:29 pm

 

200. Ghufran said:

This is one organization that you can use to help Syrian refugees: mercyusa.org.
I still prefer old fashion charity by donating directly to those in need.By skipping the third party you can eliminate the cost of running those organizations from your donation ,that cost can be as high as 70% of revenue.

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May 6th, 2012, 4:54 pm

 

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