What is behind Assad’s Violence? Three Opinions

The Syria Revolution 2011 Page on Facebook reveals the “Libya affect” on the Syrian opposition. The administrators keep pushing the “selmiye” or “peaceful” message. Commentators are largely getting upset and claiming that the Syrian revolution is losing momentum. Many claim that peaceful methods are flagging and cannot win against Syria’s determined and far superior security forces. They want a real military struggle like Libya’s. The individual Facebook pages of a number of leading Syrian activists demonstrate the same conflict and internal debate that is ranging among activists over whether they should take the big step to go military.

In Libya, the anti-Qaddafi forces were able to prevail because they used force. They organized an insurgency which won international backing. Foreign intelligence agencies gave them crash courses on warfare and tactics; arms were provided, and money made available. Many Syrians are coming to the conclusion that they must follow this example. Others are arguing that if the peaceful uprising becomes a civil war, the objectives of the civil society movement will be lost; revenge and the logic of violence will take over. What is more, the rebel army will have to depend on foreign help, which will leave it vulnerable to influence and meddling. Many Syrians fear a future of war. They look at Libya with foreboding, while others are inspired by the example and believe it must be emulated. [Landis Commentary]

News Round Up

Did Syria Use Tanks and Gun Boats to Shell Hama and Latakia?
by Ammar Shami (Not the author’s real name. He lives in Damascus.)
For Syria Comment, August 20, 2011

Did Syria use tanks and gunboats to shell their own cities? This is what a number of activists with obvious policy objectives have been telling Western reporters. But do Syrian authorities really have to use such unbridled force? Making claims that the Syrian army and navy shelled Latakia and Hama with gunboats and tanks may rally international support for the rebel cause, but distorting the truth can backfire. Hama has recently been visited by a delegation of foreign journalists. I was waiting to read their reports and see the newsreel of Hama’s devastation from “shelling.” The silence has been deafening. French and US journalists were included among those who traveled to Hama. So far there is no evidence of artillery being used in either city, whether from tanks or ships.

We have all heard about “shelling” and I put shelling into quotes because for the life of me, I couldn’t find any. I looked up over a dozen videos from YouTube. I searched for “Syrian army shelling” and I went through the results expecting to see cratered buildings, great chunks of concrete dangling from twisted re-bar and the sort of desolate moonscape that I had grown accustomed to watching the news after the US military swept through cities such as Falouja and al-Qaim hunting militant gangs and terrorists.

When I click on a YouTube clip titled, “Syrian Tanks shell Hama,” call me crazy, but I actually expect to see some shelling. Everyone knows what shelling looks like. The tanks stop, they move their turret and fire a huge projectile towards a target, the tank flings back a few meters and a loud explosion is heard, dust flies everywhere, the end. None of what I just described is to be seen. Even though, these days, everyone has a video camera on their phone, or a video camera. Yet for some reason, the exact moment of shelling is never captured, why would the word “shelling footage” be in the title of those clips? And boats? Shelling the coast, bombarding Latakia? The Syrian army might be aggressive, but only an idiot would use a boat to shell land on the coast. Those boats aren’t state of the art; they would do an effective job of bringing down an entire block, but they cannot be used to fight demonstrations or take out militants.

The only “possible” shelling I could see was of the mosque in Deir-El-Zoar. Mosques have been known to be used as great sniping and scouting locations, not to mention great for hiding weapons. If this mosque was used for that purpose, I wouldn’t be very surprised. Those tactics from Iraq are showing up all over Syria. More important is the coverage this video has seen. During the start of the events I visited my dentist in Bab-touma, a Christian part of town. The same day I was there a group of armed men stopped in front of the church and sprayed it with bullets. This story never made it to the news even though I saw the bullet holes with my own eyes.

Some of the videos displayed on YouTube of Hama show long plumes of black smoke twisting up above the city. These are used to prove that the city was shelled, but in all likelihood the cause of the black smoke is the burning of tires. People in Hama blocked roads with cinder blocks and burning tires. Most people who have never seen warfare would not know the difference between burning tires, shelling and buildings being ripped apart by heavy caliber shells. My father who served in the 1973 war has a good idea of what the plumes of smoke from shell-fire look like. He was the first to point it out to me.  “Tanks don’t make long plumes of black smoke, burning tires do,” he explained.

I’m guessing that the foreign journalists did visit Hama and they did see damage and lots of bullet holes, because soldiers did shoot up parts of the town. I cannot for the life of me find any evidence that Hama was shelled, however. I do believe that lots of live fire was used, and much of it had to have come from the machine guns placed on the top of the tanks. Tanks serve as effective troop carriers in urban warfare. They provide lots of armor for soldiers moving down the streets, but so far, the Syrian Army does not seem to have used them to shell the city or take down snipers. Jets have not been called in to drop 2,000 pound bombs or even 500 pound ordinance as has become standard practice in hunting rebels in Afghanistan or Iraq. Helicopter gun ships are not being depended to pound safe houses with cannon fire. And the Syrian Navy did not bombard the coast with gunships.

I don’t want to defend the Syrian Army’s handling of this uprising, anymore than I want to excuse the killing of my innocent countrymen. It is killing activists and sewing fear among the protestors. All the same, it is very frustrating to watch the international press repeat the spin of five or six activists living abroad, who have every incentive to paint Syrian soldiers as monsters. They want to win adherents for their cause by demonizing Syrians who have not joined them. US policy makers made bad mistakes because of the cheer-leading by the world press in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. Ahmed Chalabi and his cousin were able to play the West and excite its fears about Iraq’s possession of nukes and chemical weapons. This came at a tremendous cost to everyone concerned because reporters thought they were doing good by repeating tall tales. One got fired, as I recall. But most turned into critics of the war they helped start.

Why haven’t any of the international reporters who have visited Hama spoken out about whether Syrians shelled the city with tanks and artillery? Numerous articles have been written about how the suppression of Hama in 2011 was a replay of the terrible destruction of the city in 1982 under Hafiz al-Assad. Certainly there are parallels to be made, but shelling the city with tanks is not one of them. Why can’t any of those reporters – and there are many – just come clean and write an investigative report about the evidence – or lack of it – for the shelling of Hama and Latakia?

Reporting on the situation in Syria incorrectly can have many consequences. The government could decide to use heavier guns if it is convinced that the world already believes it is using them and has nothing to lose. Foreign governments could push ahead with policies that will fail because they are based on falsehoods or an improper grasp on reality.

A typical headline – Reuters: “Smoke rose from the Syrian city of Latakia on Sunday as the government bombarded it with gunfire from navy vessels.”

Why Assad need not fear Gaddafi’s fate
By Ed Husain, August 23, 2011, Financial Times

The dramatic scenes in Tripoli are already being seized upon by those keen to depose other despotic regimes. Taken alongside the unstable situation in Syria, there is now a risk of a dangerous moment of western triumphalism. This must be resisted, especially given that the odds of overthrowing dictator Bashar al-Assad are so small.

After months of holding his nerve, US president Barack Obama last week succumbed to calls from commentators and Syrian opposition leaders, and demanded Mr Assad’s removal. The decision was a mistake. Earlier in the week, Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, noted that, if the US called for Mr Assad’s head, then what?”. And, indeed, then what?

I lived in Syria for two years and still visit regularly, so I know only too well that the US is viewed with deep animosity. Officials told me many times, and with straight faces, that America is at war with Arabs and Muslims – a view also ingrained among the wider population, particularly after the Iraq war.

Calls for regime change will thus help Syria, as Mr Assad defies the west with ease. As elsewhere in the Middle East, defying Washington is a cause of strength and popularity, as Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran show. Every passing day will now be seen as a humiliation for Mr Obama, while the fragmented and shambolic Syrian opposition will be more credibly dubbed “American stooges”, or “Zionist agents”. For a population that is vehemently anti-American and anti-Israel, such labels are powerful and destructive.

The regime has been barbaric in responding to the brave people on the streets, but we must be careful about accepting the narrative that the whole of Syria is demanding change. The largest cities of Aleppo and Damascus remain relatively calm, while opinion in western capitals is led by reports generated via opposition movements, often using social media of questionable reliability. The army has committed many atrocities but hundreds of its members appear to have been killed, too. In the absence of international media, it is debatable whether the protesters are altogether peaceful.

Already, calls for military intervention are being made by Syrian opposition activists in meetings at the White House and US state department. Yet such movements have led us astray before, as when politicians such as Ahmed Chalabi misled the US about realities in Iraq. In truth, Mr Assad’s regime is much less likely to fall than that of Muammer Gaddafi: there have been no high-profile political or military defections, while Mr Assad remains relatively popular among senior military commanders, Syrian mosque clerics, the middle-classes and business leaders.

This brings us back to the “then what” question. The numbers being killed now will wither in comparison with a possible future civil war, if an increasingly sectarian Syria splinters between the ruling Alawites, the elite and urban Christians, the majority Sunnis, the Kurds, Druze and others. There is no civil society to engineer a peaceful transition, while Syria could plausibly become another Lebanon, acting as a proxy battleground for regional powers.

This risk partly explains why Syria’s ally Turkey has exerted such effort to rein in the slaughter, and why Saudi Arabia, Russia and China have not joined America’s lead. They all want to give Mr Assad more time – because they recognise the thin chance of getting rid of him, and because they fear the violence that would follow if he did fall.

Almost 90 per cent of Syria’s crude oil exports go to European countries. Almost $3bn of its annual trade is conducted with Turkey. Saudi Arabia is a regional power with vested interests in the country, and Russia and Syria enjoy historical relations, as well as arms deals. It is these countries that now must be on the front lines of reform, with the US largely working behind the scenes.

For the west, the most powerful and poignant moment in recent months came when US ambassador Robert Ford travelled to Hama, scene of protests, to show solidarity and monitor the regime’s actions. His quiet move warmed usually hostile Sunni communities elsewhere in the Middle East to America, while putting fear into the heart of the tyrant himself. Such innovative, soft power strategies will do more to help Syrian democracy than loud statements from the White House.

The most powerful pressure on Mr Assad so far, however, has been from Al Jazeera’s Arabic coverage, which encouraged Syrians to take control of their own destiny. This is surely right, for any long-term change must come from within. Sadly, in the short term and in a highly volatile region, at present Mr Assad remains the least worst option.

The writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and author of The Islamist

Assad Knows What He’s Doing
Gary C. Gambill, August 23, 2011

For all of their disagreement over particulars, Western pundits share a nearly unanimous consensus that Syrian President Bashar Assad has bungled his response to the current uprising. The Syrian regime is “digging its own grave,” the International Crisis Group concluded in a report last month. One prominent analyst went so far as to assert that the president “is losing his marbles.” The Obama administration’s recent call for Assad to resign, while long overdue, is largely premised on such boat-without-a-paddle views of the Syrian leader.

In fact, Assad’s strategy and tactics have proven astonishingly effective. By any objective measure of political vulnerability, Assad should have been among the first casualties of the Arab Spring. That he’s held on this long is no small achievement.

Unflattering portrayals of Assad’s decision making are invariably premised on the assumption that some combination of reform and restraint on his part could have defused popular mobilization after the outbreak of protests in March. However, given his Alawite-dominated regime’s unusually thin claim (even by Middle Eastern standards) to represent the will of the people and the infectious wave of popular revolt spreading across the surrounding Arab world, allowing his predominantly Sunni subjects to assemble and express themselves without consequence would have doomed the regime (or doomed Assad by precipitating a hard-liner coup).

The Syrian president recognized very early on that brute force (tempered by largely cosmetic “reforms”) would have to be the mainstay of his survival strategy, and he has employed it with great acumen. Contrary to formulaic Western media characterizations, government violence against protestors has hardly been “indiscriminate.” Most of the deaths have been the result not of panicked security personnel firing blindly into crowds of people, but of what the UN recently called an “apparent shoot-to-kill” policy. Regime snipers carefully selected their targets on the basis of specific criteria (filming demonstrations with cell phones, using megaphones, carrying banners, etc) designed to incapacitate mid-level organizers. It took nearly three months for the death toll in Syria to surpass the number of people murdered by Egypt’s government in just 18 days—an extraordinarily large bang for the bullet.

To be sure, security forces have opened fire on crowds—particularly in predominantly Sunni areas close to Syria’s porous borders with Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon—but these have mostly been targeted massacres. Lacking the ability to suppress all protests at all times, the regime has been selective as to when and where it strikes. In June, for example, Assad allowed the city of Hama to slip from his control, only to storm it with tanks last month. The fact the protests have not yet snowballed into a nationwide mass uprising (Syria’s two largest cities, Aleppo and Damascus have experienced comparatively little unrest) testifies to the effectiveness of these tactics.

This doesn’t mean Assad can “win” in the sense implicit in most outside commentary. Bloodletting cannot restore the status quo ante in Syria. It only takes a small minority of highly committed people to ensure that protests and killings continue as Assad remains in power. This can only spell the end of his regime in the long-term, pariah status a few notches above North Korea in the medium term, and the looming threat of civil war in the short term.

Assad likely recognizes this (the assumption that he is somehow ignorant of political realities apparent to outside observers is another glaring absurdity of conventional wisdom in the West), but that doesn’t mean the game is over. At this stage, maintaining Alawite solidarity is his primary goal, not subduing the masses. So long as the security apparatus remains loyal, he can be overthrown only through a long and bloody civil war that may prove unpalatable to regional and international governments. Even if the regime collapses, it’s quite possible that Assad and his security barons will regroup in the coastal mountain enclaves of their ancestors (offering physical protection and access to Iranian resupply by sea) and set up a de facto Alawite micro-state. Although the Syrian president’s predicament is unquestionably dire, it’s a good bet he knows what he’s doing.

Syria: Opposition undermined by divisions of the society
(Translated from french)
Propos recueillis par Emilie SUEUR | olj.com | 22/08/2011

Post-speech analysis, “Bashar al-Assad proceeds in his reform agenda as if nothing had happened, without regard to Western or Turkish pressure,” said Fabrice Balanche, a specialist in Syria.

Sunday night, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in an interview with state television, has rejected international pressure and announced that the reform program was under way, notably with local elections in December and  legislative elections in four to  eight months. “Bashar al-Assad proceeds in his reform agenda as if nothing had happened, without regard to Western  or Turkish pressure. And the fall that seems imminent fo Muammar Gaddafi does not seem to move him, “said Fabrice Balanche, a specialist in Syria within the Group for Research and Studies on the Mediterranean and the Middle East. A “serenity,” according to the expert,  that is based notably on the Russian veto to any international military intervention in Syria.

Furthermore, in regard to reforms and elections announced, they do not threaten the power to Assad. “The basic premise of Assad: I keep myself in power and from that, I see what I can offer as a reform to the people and the international community,” Mr. Balanche. In fact, the draft law on political parties precludes the formation of a Kurdish party or a party of the Muslim Brotherhood. “And anyway, the election will be handled as usual. Bashar al-Assad is simply trying to integrate the system of new players that do not threaten his power, “continued the expert. New players such as members of the Socialist Democratic Party, formed by the former director of the pro-government daily Teshreen, an incarnation, Balanche says, “the official opposition.”

Syrian President can also play the show because of the deep divisions that cross the opposition. “Between Islamists and others, there is no collaboration possible. They always meet separately. For example, in Lyon, in the begining, the seculars led the challenge. Today it is increasingly the Islamists who lead the protest, with about more and more radical. And they ejected secular committees, “says the researcher, who believes that the Islamists” want to take over the fight against Assad. ” As for the seculars, “they are still divided between young and old, between current human right and former communists.”

Fabrice Balanche, divisions within the opposition are just a reflection of the strong divisions across the Syrian society. Divisions at the heart of the policy of Assad. “Hafez al-Assad has played on the divisions of Syrian society and has only accentuated them. He managed to unify the Alawite community behind him and did everything to divide the Sunnis between city and countryside, between Kurds and Arabs, between Aleppo and Damascus … “said the researcher, giving the example of Damascus to support its About. “Damascus is a city unmanageable because it is divided into two provinces: Damascus city, that is to say that the center has 1.5 million inhabitants, and Damascus countryside, encircling Damascus city. Any proposed development on Damascus can not see the day, as the two governments hamper the others. From the perspective of management of the city, the situation is catastrophic, but from a political point of view, this scenario is great because it’s always the preside!
nt decides. And Syria, all works on this model. This is the principle of divide and rule “.

In this context, says Fabrice Balanche, “only a strong personality could unfortunately, bring people together. Today is Bashar al-Assad, before it was his father. And same goes for the opposition. In contrast, only tough individuals can gather to grip, so the least democratic. Those who play democracy can only go to the division. ”

According to the expert, the big fear was that the Syrian President for the month of Ramadan, the Sunni Arab world united against him. “That’s why he played on the map of social classes. To keep the “haves” with him, the President raises the specter of poor people who want to take power and appropriate the wealth. ” Until now, the Sunni bourgeoisie, and a broader middle class, have not shifted in the dispute, according to the researcher.

And to be certain that the religious fervor of Ramadan does not close the Sunni ranks, Bashar al-Assad has decided to strike hard, hence the violent suppression of recent weeks. “Assad knew he had to strike hard to reassure the military that could have broke up, to reassure expectations, and also show the Russians that it is able to hold the country so they can put their veto on foreign intervention “notes the researcher.

According to him, so we are going to a “quagmire” and “to a radicalization of the opposition, probably with the attacks. A scenario similar to the early 80’s. ” The only factor that could tilt things being the economic factor. On this point, the sanctions against the Syrian Petroleum taken by the Americans and announced by the Europeans, will hurt the regime. “Oil accounts for almost one third of the state budget and a lot of subsidies to the barons of the regime that divert part of oil production. Moreover, the fact that Assad has been declared illegitimate, will result in a cessation of foreign investment in Syria. However, these investments were still an engine of economic growth in recent years, “Mr. Balanche. The Syrian economy will emerge profoundly weakened. “But the process will take time,” says Fabrice Balanche who considers, however, that Western leaders are determined to topple the Syrian president: “For them, this time, they really want break the pro Iranian axis”.

UK minister cautious on Syrian oil sanctions
Sat, Aug 20 2011

LONDON, Aug 20 (Reuters) – Britain has not yet decided whether to back proposed EU sanctions on Syrian oil, and is wary of measures that could hurt the Syrian people more than President Bashar al-Assad, a junior foreign minister said on Saturday.

The United States imposed an oil embargo on Syria on Thursday in protest against Assad’s crackdown on civil unrest that the United Nations says has killed around 2,000 people.

But the European Union has taken a more incremental approach on sanctions. It agreed on Friday to expand the number of Syrian officials and institutions targeted, deferring discussion of an oil embargo until next week.

Some EU governments are concerned about harming their commercial interests and long-term relations with the government . Firms like Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and France’s Total are significant investors in Syria.

“We have not taken a decision on oil,” British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said in a BBC interview.

“Our view is that sanctions must continue to be targeted on those who support the regime, and sanctions should be considered on the basis of what will have most effect on changing that situation or improving the situation of the Syrian people.”

EU countries such as Sweden have been more supportive of an embargo on Syrian oil. Europe is a major consumer of Syrian oil exports, which are an important source of revenue for Assad’s government.

However, some analysts say that sanctions might drive Assad closer to Iran, and might have little short-term impact on the level of violence in Syria.

Burt said an oil embargo would need to be EU-wide, and that EU governments had to be wary of enabling Assad to blame them for any future economic hardship that Syrians suffer.

“What we have got to do and what we are doing is increasing the pressure in a manner that does not enable a Syrian spokesman to say ‘You are damaging the Syrian people’,” Burt said. (Reporting by David Milliken; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

Dissent in Syria Emerges as Front Line of Arab Uprisings
Published: August 22, 2011

“I am not worried,” President Bashar al-Assad declared in a television interview on Sunday.

But with the end of Colonel Qaddafi near and rebellions elsewhere in the Arab world either repressed or dangerously anarchic, the uprising in Syria emerges as the front line of the Arab revolts. In eight months, three strongmen have fallen in a region renowned for decades for its leaders dying on their thrones. While Libya and Syria have little in common beyond their repression, the arithmetic of the region seems to be betting against authoritarian rule that fails to reform.

“The change taking place in Libya in compliance with people’s demands, following what happened in Egypt and Tunisia, should teach a lesson to everyone,” the Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said Monday in Ethiopia, in a thinly veiled reference to Mr. Assad. “Leaders of other countries must also be aware of the fact that they will be in power as long as they satisfy the demands of the people.”

Jubilation, fascination and a hint of disdain at the Libyan rebels’ reliance on Western power reverberated through the Arab world Monday, as scenes were broadcast of rebels in Tripoli’s Green Square. “Victory” was a word heard about the end of a figure seen by many as despotic and unhinged; a line from a speech early on by Colonel Qaddafi, when he vowed to fight “zanga zanga,” or alley to alley, became a pop culture reference and was mockingly introduced as a new phrase into colloquial Arabic.

Syrian activists were quick to caution against parallels. Unlike Libya, they hold no cities; few if any are calling for Western intervention; and the military and security forces engaged in a brutal crackdown against them show little sign of fracture. But the lesson of the Arab revolts was reiterated — that absolute power can no longer go uncontested and that repression alone will not clear the streets.

“The fall of the Libyan regime is a victory for the Arab world,” said Samir Nashar, an opposition figure who took part in earlier acts of opposition to Mr. Assad.

He recalled the scene Sunday night at a cafe in Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city and, until now, relatively quiescent. When the television announced the arrest of Seif al-Islam, Colonel Qaddafi’s son often described as the heir apparent, many in the mostly intellectual crowd of about 70 jumped out of the chairs, congratulated each other and exchanged kisses. …

In a region with deep suspicions of foreign intentions, columnists, analysts and residents wondered what Libya’s rebels might owe the countries that intervened on their behalf. Others went further, suggesting that Colonel Qaddafi’s greatest crime was to surrender Libya to foreign states he once ostensibly defied.

“The return of colonial powers dressed as liberators is more dangerous than anyone can imagine,” wrote Talal Salman, the editor of As-Safir, a leftist Lebanese newspaper. “What a miserable choice it is that the dictators impose on the people of the Arab world: Either they lose their voice and give up their rights in their countries and agree to live without dignity, or they live under colonialism that comes this time under new slogans of liberation, ending oppression and giving the land back to its people.”

Fear of a new imperialism was an argument that Mr. Assad deployed on Sunday night. He never mentioned Libya in the interview. He did not have to.

“No matter what you do, they will still tell you it is not enough,” he said. “They don’t want to introduce reforms because they want your country to remain backward and unable to progress. We will not allow any country to interfere in Syria’s decisions.”

Atlas Shrugs: Muslim Brotherhood Goes After Syria: Fatwa in the Gulf, Signed by Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi
2011-08-23 11:00:29.136 GMT

Musim Brotherhood poised to grab Syria: Fatwa in the Gulf, Signed by Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi: Syrian Regime Is ‘Heretical’; Sever Ties with It MEMRI A fatwa recently published in Kuwaiti papers, issued by “the religious scholars of Kuwait,” states that …

China concerned with latest developments in Syria: envoy – 2011-08-23 03:43:26

GENEVA, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) — China has been following the latest developments of Syria with great concern and called on all sides to resolve the issue in a peaceful way, Chinese diplomat He Yafei said here Monday at a special session of UN Human Rights Council on Syria.

China has hoped all parties in Syria would show maximum restraint and refrain from all acts of violence, He, Chinese Permanent Representative to the UN office at Geneva, said in a statement.

The concerned parties should seek a political solution through dialogue and consultations, so as to prevent escalating violence and more bloodshed, and restore stability and order to the country as soon as possible, He added.

“The future of Syria should be determined by its people rather than being dictated by outside forces,” He said, stressing that the only way to end the current crisis is to initiate a home-led and inclusive political process.

DJ UN Team Ordered Out Of Syrian Protest City -Spokesman
2011-08-22 18:05:08.734 GMT

UNITED NATIONS (AFP)–Syrian authorities ordered a UN team to leave the city of Homs on Monday after protests erupted there, a U.N. spokesman said. Three people were shot dead when security forces opened fire on a rally in Homs on Monday, according to activists. The U.N. team was in the city as part of a mission to assess Syria’s humanitarian needs as President Bashar al-Assad pursues a deadly crackdown on protests. “The mission proceeded to Homs today as planned. A protest situation developed and the mission was advised to leave for security reasons,” U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters. “The mission did not come under fire,” he added. Crowds took to the streets of Homs when they heard the UN mission was in the city to make their voices heard, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. “Three people were killed and several wounded when some shabiha [pro-regime militiamen] and members of the security forces opened fire,” he said. The U.N. mission arrived Saturday for a five-day inspection and began its work the next day in Damascus to assess humanitarian needs, officials said. While the team was in the Damascus suburb of Douma protesters also rallied against Assad, witnesses said.

Why Turkey’s Kurdish Conflict Is Making a Worrying Comeback

A sharp escalation in fighting between Turkey and the Kurdish separatist PKK over the past three weeks has bucked the trend of recent years that saw Turkey inching towards a peaceful solution to three decades of conflict with its restive Kurdish minority.

The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had eased efforts to snuff out the Kurdish language and culture, and once-banned Kurdish music, literature and television flourished. Turkish authorities even took the once unthinkable step of holding secret talks abounding to ending the fighting with Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed PKK leader that Turkey would gladly have hanged after his capture in 1999 if it hadn’t been seeking to join the European Union which forbids the death penalty. And in June, a record 36 deputies from a pro-Kurdish party were elected to parliament.

But the potential consequences of a violent government crackdown are worrying – especially against the backdrop of the Arab Spring. The PKK enjoys huge support in the Kurdish southeast where tens of thousands take to the streets at a moment’s notice when called upon. (See why Turkey’s vote is good for democracy.)
Some Turkish observers blame the recent wave of PKK attacks on Syria, which shares an 840km border with Turkey, arguing that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is tacitly backing the rebels in response to Erdogan turning against his former ally. (Syria had during the mid-1990s allowed Ocalan to operate from Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, then under Syrian control, during a previous round of Syrian-Turkish tensions.) Erdogan warned on Thursday that he considered the unrest in Syria part of Turkey’s “internal affairs”.

The regional picture is more complicated: Syria’s key ally, Iran, has in recent weeks suddenly stepped up its own attacks on PJAK, the PKK’s Iranian wing. The U.S., which needs Turkey to do the heavy lifting on Syria, is expected to back Ankara’s stance on the PKK. “I think Turkey has America’s complete support regarding the PKK,” says Soli Ozel. “The US is so dependent on Turkish backing when to comes to Syria and Iraq, I don’t think they will think twice about writing the PKK off.” (Indeed, the PKK is listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization.) The Iraqi Kurdish leadership, a close US ally, has been largely silent on recent Turkish airstrikes on their region, and has previously cooperated with Turkish military efforts against the PKK. (See TIME’s photoessay: “Portrait of the Kurdish Rebels.”)

Erdogan is in a strong domestic political position, having won reelection by a convincing margin in June, and appearing to have prevailed in a showdown with the top military brass earlier this month. But any hopes that Erdogan’s rise and the military’s decline in political influence would bring a political solution to the Kurdish issue have been dashed by the prime minister’s hawkish rhetoric. His immediate plans include more air strikes, drone attacks and the re-introduction of specially empowered police teams to control the southeast. Human rights groups accused these paramilitary units of widespread abuses during the 1990s.

“You can see that the government hasn’t really internalised the idea of a peaceful solution,” says Mustafa Gundogdu, Turkey and Iraq desk officer at the Kurdish Human Rights Project in London. “There is no commitment. Before this they were constantly hedging. Now they think they can end it using the military and the police.”

… The difference, this time, may be that the calculations have changed in Syria, Iraq and Iran. The fate of Turkey’s Kurds may to some extent rest not only on Ankara’s decisions but also on those made in Damascus, Tehran and Erbil. And the consequences of decision made in any of those cities will certainly have an impact in the others.

Comments (174)

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151. Haytham Khoury said:

@ Norman #140

-ان تقرا او تسمع لكاتب او مثقف يساري علماني تاييدا للثورة السورية كما يسميها
I am an educated man and a liberal and I say to Ben jedou “I support fully the Syrian Revolution”. I have nothing to do with “petro dollar”, because I do not need them. I say to Ben Jedou “please go away. You do not know what you are talking about. You are labelling the Syrian revolution with the label that helps your own purposes and your own interest. I hope you will go to more desperation and hopelessness, because this the only fate that the people who support dictators merit.

-دعونا نتكلم بصراحة ان سوريا ورغم كل العيوب التي يجدونها في نظامها دولة اقليمية مهمة ومؤثرة دولة علمانية ووطنية

Syria is not a secular state. Syria is one the most sectarian states in the world. Hafez al-Assad used his sect to consolidate his power. He offered them a deal that was not a good deal. In order to support his reign, he offered them some candies. However, that was at the expense of them. At the expense of their feeling of stability and security. The fear that the Alawite community is living in now is what Hafez Assad brought to them. Further, I am not sure how Ben jedou understand nationalism. Is nationalism is empty slogans for him. was losing the Golan Heights nationalism? Was killing the Palestinians in Lebanon nationalism? was destroying Lebanon nationalism? was destroying Hama nationalism? Is destroying the Syrian economy Nationalism?

I think Ben jedou needs to review his concepts of many words.

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August 24th, 2011, 12:12 pm


152. Haytham Khoury said:

@ Revlon (#146).

Full support.

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August 24th, 2011, 12:17 pm


153. Evan said:

Aboud, No, I’m not asking you to dismiss Dayan completely, I’m asking you not to rely completely on his testimony. For 1948-1967 I go with Mati Peled’s assessment (similar to Dayan’s but a little less extreme), and when you get a chance ask an old Israeli from Hula valley about ’67. The two months from April 7 1967 to June 7 1967 there was random Syrian shelling on Israeli border towns, and that’s what led the Israelis to decide to take it. Dayan was against taking the Golan, as I’m sure you know, because he saw this as a lash-out measure by the Syrians, not as a true security threat. But the Israeli mantra is and has been that they will protect their own, and the only way they felt they could truly protect their citizens and their water resources (the unspoken resource that everyone was fighting over) was through occupation. I’d say it worked, but almost 50 years on I think we can end it and come to a real agreement. If Syria becomes a state that represents the will of its people, that is.

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August 24th, 2011, 12:20 pm


154. Ghat Al Bird said:

By joining Abrams, Doren and Bolton obviously sympathise with the beliefs Abrams mentioned in his book Faith or Fear: How Jews Can Survive in Christian America.

He writes: “Outside the land of Israel, there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nations in which they live.

It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart — except in Israel — from the rest of the population.” Judaism and the Jewish way of life,” writes Abrams, is not “entirely voluntary, for the Jew is born into a covenantal community with obligations to God.” Jews, he goes on, “are in a permanent covenant with God and with the land of Israel and its people.

In essence then Bolton, Doren and Abrams are articulating their loyalties to Israel and Jewish interests over their loyalties to the US.

** submitted as comment to “Intervensionist versus non-interventionist”.

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August 24th, 2011, 12:21 pm


155. ann said:

Schism In Syrian Opposition Over Establishment of Syrian National Council – August 23, 2011


On August 23, Syrian oppositionists in Istanbul declared the establishment of the Syrian National Council, which is supposed to represent the Syrian opposition in the international arena and include 120 members – half from Syria, and half from abroad. The decision sparked disagreements in the Syrian opposition in and out of Syria.

The Supreme Body of the Syrian Revolution, which coordinates protests throughout Syria, requested to postpone the establishment of the opposition council and to focus on supporting the revolution itself.

The Syrian Committee for Change, which was established in an oppositionist conference in Antalya, Turkey in March, withdrew from the debates, claiming they were undemocratic.

It should be mentioned that this is not the first attempt to establish a unifying body for the Syrian opposition.

Source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 24, 2011; Sooryoon.net, August 21, 2011; All4syria.info, August 23, 2011.

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August 24th, 2011, 12:36 pm


156. jad said:

الطابور السادس في انتظار الأسطول السادس
by بقلم: نارام سرجون

التاريخ ليس دائما عن حكايات الهزائم والانتصارات وقصص الموت والحياة ..فالتاريخ وهو يروي لنا الحكايا يستريح أيضا من حديث أهوال الحروب والانقلابات والهزات، ويجلس ليحدثنا في استراحاته عن كاريكاتيرات تاريخية ومهرجين لايتخلى عنهم التاريخ فبدونهم لاتحلو الحكايات ولايتبدد سواد الأحداث ..ولعل أكثر مايجعل التاريخ يضحك بصوت عال هو أولئك الذين يحبون أن يلعبوا دور الأساتذة والوعاظ الناصحين وهم دراويش أميون ..ولكنه يضحك أكثر حتى تحمرّ وجنتاه وتنفخ عروق وجهه عندما يحدثنا عن أولئك الذين يعانون من العنانة وهم يريدون اظهار فحولتهم فيبعثون زوجاتهم الى فراش الباشا..ليحملن لهم منه..كي يبدو للناس أنهم فحول ورجال وتحبل منهم النساء ..وهنا يقصد التاريخ بالقول “المستأسدين علينا بالناتو” ..ثوار عنينون يريد أن يظهروا لنا فحولتهم فيتباهون بفحولة سيدهم وخصيتيه ..والتاريخ يتوقف عن الضحك لحظات ليقول: من كان فحلا فليظهر فحولته في فراشه ..ففحولة الناتو له وليست لكم…وأبناء ثورتكم “زوجتكم” التي شهدت فحولته هم أبناؤه ..ثم يغرق التاريخ في نوبة ضحك لاتنتهي..
منذ أن بدأت أحداث الشرق الأوسط والنزاع العربي الاسرائيلي في بدايات القرن الماضي ظهر لدينا الى جانب مآسيه وهزائمه هذا الخليط والفئة التي حدثنا عنها التاريخ من الوعاظ الأميين وعشاق دور الأستاذ الى جانب فريق العنينين ..هؤلاء يظهرون فجأة بعد الكوارث والملمات لأنهم يدعون أنهم يرون مالانراه .. ويكون نصحهم غالبا محشوا بالوعيد والتهديد والتخويف وغايته انتزاع شأفة العنفوان فينا..هؤلاء ليسوا الطابور الخامس بل هم الطابور السادس لأن الخامس هو الذي يتولى كل المهمات القذرة السرية التي تهيء للعدو الاختراق على الأرض أما هم فيتولون مهمة لاتشبهها الا مهمة الزبالين الذين على عكس زبالي العالم يقومون بجلب القمامة وتوزيعها على الاحياء والمنازل لجعل السكن فيها لايطاق وهؤلاء لايشبهون الا الدود الذي يأكل الموتى ..لاينشط الا على الجثث ..والجيف …لا لشيء الا ليذكرنا بحكمة أن كل نفس ذائقة الموت..
فعندما هزم المشروع القومي للرئيس عبد الناصر عام 67 نهض هذا الدود على جثث الجيوش العربية المهزومة وجثث السلاح العربي المقتول ..هؤلاء أعادوا على الأمة الدروس وذكروها بالعبر التي تستنبط من هزيمة عبد الناصر..القومجي وصاحب الخطابات الذي كلفتنا خطاباته وعنترياته الكثير.. وكانت هذه الديدان تتلوى في شماتة لاتوصف على جثة مشروع قتلوه طفلا يحبو..وقالت هذه الديدان: ان عبد الناصر لم يستمع لنصح الناصحين بأن أمريكا هي المحور الكوني ..فلقي جزاءه ..فاتعظوا ياأولي الألباب..واتعظ السادات فورا..
وعندما سقطت بغداد وهزم الرئيس العراقي صدام حسين أعاد هؤلاء ظهورهم كما توقعنا وسمعنا هسهسات الدود الذي يقتتل على وجه بغداد وفحوا فحيحهم لاضعاف هممنا ووعدونا أننا سنشرب من نفس الكأس الذي تجرعه نظام الحكم العراقي ..كيف لا ونحن النصف الآخر من البعث (في سوريا)..ولم يكن الرئيس بشار الأسد بحاجة آنذاك الى كولن باول ليأتي الى دمشق لابتزازه وتهديده وعرض خرائط الأهداف التي ستهاجم في سوريا -كما كشف مؤخرا- في المرحلة الثانية من اجتياح الشرق الأوسط لأن رسالة باول وصلت بسرعة قبله وبأمانة عبر الكاتب الكويتي أحمد الجار الله عندما كتب مقالا قال فيه: ان على طبيب العيون في دمشق أن يتبصر ويرى مصير نظام الحكم العراقي ..انها موعظة لمن يتعظ !! وبالطبع كان فريق الانشاد الصحفي العربي يردد ذلك بنشوة وشماتة..واتعظوا ياأولي الألباب..انها الأيام الأخيرة لسوريا..
وعندما اغتيل رفيق الحريري شمر القبضايات اللبنانيون عن سواعدهم ثم …توعدوا وهددوا بأنها الأيام الأخيرة لدمشق …ثم …أنزلوا سروال جورج بوش ليظهروا لنا “فحولتهم”..ولم يعرفوا أن بوش ترك فحولته معلقة في العراق .
وهكذا كلما وقع حدث جلل نظر الينا القبضايات مبتهجين بعيون تقول ..الآن جاء دوركم ..وانها أيامكم الأخيرة …واليوم وفي الهجوم الغربي على ليبيا يرقص فريق الانشاد ذاته بنفس ديدانه التي تقتات على جثث الليبيين وعيونه تنظر الى سوريا علها تتعلم الدرس .. وتتلوى هذه الديدان وهي تتوتر وتتحرك بحركات مقوسة سريعة نحو الجسد الليبي وهي تنظر الينا جذلى علّنا ندرك حكمتها وبعد نظرتها..ومن جديد أهل العنانة يباهون بفحولة سيدهم ..
مشكلتنا مع هؤلاء أنهم يعتقدون أننا نفكر مثلهم وهم يفكرون على طريقة حمار الوحش الحائر في ألوانه فلا هو أبيض مخطط بالأسود ولاهو أسود مخطط بالأبيض فان انتصرت رايات اللون الأبيض قال أن لونه أبيض مخطط بالأسود وان انتصرت رايات اللون الأسود قال ان لونه أسود مخطط بالأبيض ..هؤلاء انتهازيون لايستطيعون أن يقودوا قطيعا من حمير الوحش ولاأن يديروا محمية طبيعية في تنزانيا فما بالك بقيادة أمم وأجيال وانهاض المشاريع الكبرى التي تحتاج همما عذارى محرّمة على الهمم الكسالى ..
ومع هذا سننفق بضع دقائق نتحدث مع عرب ومعارضين “مخططين بالأبيض والأسود !! ” ويرتدون كوفيات بيضاء مخططة بخطين أزرقين وبينهما نجمة سداسية زرقاء (!) .. وسنقول لهذه المخلوقات الوديعة:
ماحدث في ليبيا لم يفاجئ أحدا.. فالعقيد لم يكن لديه جيش جرار ليحارب به جيش اسرائيل والعقيد لم يكن في منظومة دولية متماسكة .. بل ان خطأ العقيد أنه مد يده الى الغرب ووثق به آملا أنه يتجنب شروره وأصعد ساركوزي وتبرع بمفاعلاته النووية ولزم جانب الهدوء وابتعد عن الدب الروسي .. وتخلى العقيد كذلك عن تكوين منظوماته القوية بعد أن خذله العرب وبالطبع ليست المنظومة الافريقية بالتي يعتمد عليها لضعفها كما أن منظومة أميريكا اللاتينية لاتستطيع مساعدته لبعدها الجغرافي..أصدقاء العقيد مشتتون .. وأصدقاؤه الجدد مثل بلير وساركوزي وبيريسكوني دخلوا بيته عندما فتحه لهم ..وهؤلاء لصوص ومحتالون دوليون سرقوا مفاتيح خزائنه وأسراره..
ودخول المعارك الى طرابلس لم يكن ببطولة ثوارها بل بقصف الناتو العنيف لقوات القذافي..بطولة الثوار تشبه بطولة العنين بفحولة سيده التي حدثنا عنها التاريخ ..وتشبه كذلك فروسية أحد شيوخ العرب الذي توّج بطلا في الفروسية ورفع الكأس عند اعلان الفوز لأن حصانه الذي اشتراه هو من فاز بالسباق الدولي علما أن الحصان انكليزي والفارس الذي ركب الحصان في السباق كان انكليزيا (واسألوا أسامة فوزي عن هذا السباق وهذا الفارس …لأن فوزي سخر من هذا النصر وفش قلبنا اذ أنهى تعليقه على هذه النتيجة وهذه الفروسية في أحد مقالاته وقال بالحرف: **** على هيك بطولة وهيك بطل !!)..
وبالمقارنة تمكن النظام السوري من بناء منظومة متماسكة للغاية مبنية على التحالف والتخادم الاستراتيجي فلم يتخل عن الروس ولم يتخلوا عنه يوما رغم فترات فتور قصيرة متقطعة لم تصل الى حد التضحية بالحليف ..أما الغرب فلم نثق به مطلقا ولم نسمح له بدخول حديقتنا ناهيك عن بيتنا .. والتحالف القوي الآخر هو التحالف مع ايران .. أما التحالف مع تركيا الذي سقط بالطبع تبين أنه لم يكن تحالفا بل كان هناك حفلة تعارف ..وخطوبة .. وقد تعارفنا وكفى الله المؤمنين شر المعرفة..وشرالزواج من “أم صخر”..
لاأدري ماهي الحكمة من اضاعة الوقت مع هؤلاء الذين لايزالون يعتقدون أن الغرب آت الى ضفة البحر المتوسط الشرقية وأن الساعة السورية آتية لاريب فيها لأن مهمة القضاء على القذافي أنجزت وقد تفرغ الحلف كليا للوضع السوري..وكأن حلف الناتو كان قد زج بكل قواه لقتال القذافي ولم يكن لديه فائض لتوزيع الموت على السوريين..
العارفون بطبيعة التدخل العسكري في ليبيا يعرفون أن الناتو لم يخصص للقتال في ليبيا الا بضع قطع حربية تولى عملياتها -بشكل مباشر- بضع مئات من العسكريين..ولم يتورط الناتو أو يغامر في النزول على الأرض الليبية وترك مهمة الاحتكاك والموت لليبيين الذين تقاتلوا كما تقاتلت القبائل العربية في الجاهلية..بشكل لايصدق ..باسم الحرية والثورة

ولأن مصطلح “هذه الدولة ليست كتلك” أي سوريا ليست ليبيا يثير حفيظة الآخرين وسخرية العنينين فسنقول شيئا آخر أكثر دقة قد يفهمه الأساتذة الناصحون،وهو ما يقول الفيلسوف هيراقليطس:.لاجديد تحت الشمس ولكن لايمكنك أن تقفز في النهر الواحد مرتين …والشاطر يفهم مقصد هيراقليطس
ولعلم العنينين الذين يباهون بفحولة الناتو نقول ان تحطيم القوة العسكرية السورية سيحتاج حجم قوات يعادل ضعف حجم قوات غزو العراق لاحداث هزيمة محققة …علما أن فاعلية سلاح الجو الأطلسية ستكون أمام امتحان صعب أمام بطاريات صواريخ س 300 التي يعتقد على نطاق واسع أن الروس زودوا السوريين بها … والناتو يعلم ماذا يعني للطيار أن يعلم أنه قريب من مجال رادارات س 300 .. والناتوكذلك تذوق طعم الصواريخ البحرية على جسد المدمرة الاسرائيلية ساعر وهو يعلم أن صواريخ ياخونت الروسية ستكون بانتظار بوارجهم على الضفة الشرقية للمتوسط بمدى 300 كم والتي يمكن أن تزود به طائرات من طراز ” ميغ – 29″..صاروخ لا يتوقع الخبراء ان يشهد العالم مثيلا له خلال السنوات العشر القادمة على اقل تقدير..الصاروخ الذي تتعوذ من سماع اسمه كل قطعة بحرية وكل بحّار….ولذلك سينتظر الطابور السادس السوري كثيرا ولن يصل اليه الاسطول السادس

على كل حال ان كان هناك من درس نتعلمه من أعدائنا هو أنهم يعملون بجد ليل نهار وبلا كلل وبلا يأس فلا يكاد يمضي عام الا ولديهم أفكار جديدة ومشاريع ..وجهدهم في مؤسسات البحث ومراكز أبحاث السياسات يستحق الاعجاب والثناء…عمل متواصل لايهدأ ولايعرف له قرارا ولااستقرارا ..عقول تعمل دون توقف وبلا استراحات ..هم نظفوا بلدانهم من الأساتذة والناصحين الدراويش وأبقوا على الأساتذة ذوي العقول ونظفوا ثقافتهم من ثقافة العنانة ودود الأموات…ولذلك يستحق منا هذا الاعداد أن نعد أنفسنا جيدا ..وأن نعمل ليل نهار وبشكل متواصل لايكل ولايعرف اليأس ..وأن نضع أمامنا أن من هزم في أحد لم يهزم في الخندق…وأن الموسوسين في صدورنا حاولوا كثيرا اثناء الرعيل الأول عن مهمته لكنهم لم يوقفوا صوت “اذا جاء نصر الله والفتح”..من أن يهدر في مكة بالأمس..وأن يهدر في القدس غدا

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August 24th, 2011, 12:38 pm


157. Averroes said:

Ammar Shami,

Ammar, great piece up there. I really appreciate your honesty and analysis.

I would urge you, however, NOT to identify your dentist in Bab Touma. This forum is read by many people including fanatics on both sides. Some revolution fanatics have committed crimes and can indeed identify your friend as a target. Please do not make this mistake.

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August 24th, 2011, 12:47 pm


158. ann said:

U.S. believes its ties to Iraq are stronger than Iran’s – August 24, 2011


BAGHDAD — The U.S. ambassador to Iraq said Sunday that the U.S. maintains stronger relations with Iraq than does Iran, despite recent media reports that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s statements about the unrest in Syria were soft and indicated a philosophical shift toward Iran.

“No other country has the depth and breadth of relationships with Iraq that we do,” U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey said in an interview with Stars and Stripes.

Jeffrey said that Iraq’s trade and religious ties with Iran are strong, but that is normal and expected because of their geographic location and historical links.

“Our concern specifically with Iran is that it sometimes uses illegitimate means, like arming of militias and pressure on the Iraqi political system, and uses all of its various tools to steer Iraq in various directions.”

Syria’s use of military force on political protesters has led to condemnation from much of the world and a call from President Barack Obama for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to step aside. Maliki’s call for Syrian protesters to use the democratic process to pursue change — in a country that doesn’t have one — disappointed some international observers who had hoped for a hard-line approach.

University of Michigan professor and Middle East expert Juan Cole told Bloomberg news service that Baghdad’s response shows a government that “tilts to Tehran.”

“It is embarrassing for Washington in general for the Iraqi executive to be taking a soft line on Syrian repression,” Cole said.

Jeffrey said the Iraqi government understands political change will occur in Syria.

Iraq is very nervous that instability in Syria will result in trouble along their shared western border, Jeffrey said.

“Syria has been a highway for foreign fighters to come into this country, and these foreign fighters have made up the vast majority of all suicide bombers,” he said.

“Our argument is that the change is coming. It’s better first to acknowledge that and prepare for it.”

As the chief of mission for the United States in Iraq, Jeffrey will be in charge of efforts to assist and train Iraq’s government and security forces following the drawdown of U.S. forces at the end of this year.

Following testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February, Jeffrey said the number of embassy staff and private contractors would have to rise from 8,000 to 17,000 by 2012 to continue the training and development mission in Iraq.

Jeffrey declined to update those figures Sunday, but said he expected the final figure to be “somewhat below” 17,000 workers.

The largest portion of those workers will be devoted to security and support. A contingent made up mainly of contractors will train Iraqis on the billions of dollars worth of weapons Iraq is purchasing from U.S. companies.

The State Department’s International Bureau of Narcotics and Law Enforcement will take over the advising of Iraq’s police forces from the military. However, there could still be a police advisory role for the military if a new security agreement is negotiated that would allow up to 10,000 troops in Iraq next year. The current agreement allowing U.S. troops to remain in Iraq expires Dec. 31.

Jeffrey said that whether the military stays will not fundamentally change his plans, though he sees benefits in having the military remain.

“We would like an agreement … that provides the kind of training support the Iraqis have told us they need and that our military assessment [says] that they do need,” Jeffrey said.

If the Iraqis reject a continued U.S. military presence in 2012, the U.S. would likely negotiate a separate agreement that would allow the private security contractors who have sold Iraq military equipment to work in Iraq, Jeffrey said.

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August 24th, 2011, 12:49 pm


159. ann said:

Democracy, stability or just opportunity? Washington chooses which dictators to embrace – August 24, 2011


WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama praised Libyans this week for being the latest Middle Easterners to prove that “the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.”

It helps when the Washington does not support the dictator. First, the U.S. backed the downfall of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, then Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and now Syria’s President Bashar Assad. So, why not more?

In the name of “stability,” U.S. military leaders since the start of the Arab Spring have continued unapologetically backing undemocratic regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.

It’s tradition. Since the early 20th Century, America has embraced autocrats who permitted a strategic foothold in the region. The U.S. military, coldly, must deal with the foreign leaders and military officers they are dealt, officials say.

Look to Bahrain, where the royal family tolerated protestors until the day after former Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the al-Khalifa regime in Manama. Then that regime’s iron fist turned deadly, firing military-grade weaponry on peaceful protestors and imprisoning human rights activists.

Bahrain is home thousands of Americans and the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Last November, the U.S. established a new forward-deployed headquarters for Marines in Central Command. And Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is already telling troops he expects a high-tempo of counterterrorism operations requiring the U.S. to maintain a forward-deployed presence across the region.

So, while rebels in Tripoli have received four-months of legitimizing U.S. rhetoric and thousands of NATO sorties overhead, protestors in other countries fend largely unaided.

“To me, opportunism is a good word in foreign policy, not a bad word,” said Greg Gause, Middle East professor and chairman of the political science department at the University of Vermont. “I want my foreign policy to be opportunistic.”

The White House was right, Gause said, to wait before jumping on the Arab Spring bandwagon until oppositions in some countries showed they had gained a foothold, instead of trying to lead revolutionary change. He disagreed with Obama’s decision to involve the U.S. military in Libya.

“I don’t think we should lead on Syria, I think we should follow,” he said. “And if the regime collapses, it collapses and we’ll deal with what comes next. … But I don’t think that it’s worth spending any of our capital and certainly no military force to push a political change in Syria.”

Just look at the Bush administration, he said, which pushed for Palestinian democracy in Gaza only to legitimize a Hamas electoral victory.

Obama seems content avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach. Bahrain’s protestors have never shown serious signs of toppling the royal family, which has agreed to some reforms.

Saudi Arabia’s rulers prevented the Arab Spring from awakening there by promising a bloodbath on demonstrators should Saudis get any ideas about self-determination. Still, both Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen made it a point to stop in Riyadh this year before retiring.

Further south, in Yemen last year, Gen. David Petraeus publicly courted President Ali Abdullah Saleh with millions in military aid and counterterrorism forces after discovering the attempted Christmas “underwear bomber” went through that country. Critics were glad the U.S. gave more attention to Yemen’s fomenting extremism. But they questioned Petraeus’ hasty visit that put the U.S. on the same side with a deeply unpopular autocrat, stirring anti-U.S. sentiment where none previously existed.

Saleh on Tuesday returned to Sanaa for the first time since a June bombing, Yemen is flailing, and the U.S. remains a marginal player.

“There’s always going to be complaints about double-standards in U.S. foreign policy,” Gause said, “because liberals in the Arab world want us to force governments to be more liberal. On the other hand, nobody in the Arab world wants to be seen as a client of the United States.”

Andrew Cordesman, the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ prolific Middle East security expert, warned this week: “We need to consider the very real risk – and probability – of elections [in Libya] that trigger deep political divisions and elect leaders with little real political experience and no experience in governance.”

In other words: instability.

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August 24th, 2011, 12:57 pm


160. Revlon said:

Statement by the Antalya conference group on their withdrawal from current consultations in Istanbul.

بيان خاص بالاجتماع التشاوري لتجميع المعارضة وإعلان مجلس وطني سوري

– 2011/08/24نشر فى: أخبار محلية

يعلن المؤتمر السوري للتغيير (أنطاليا)، انسحابه من المشاورات التي ضمت عدداً من الجهات السورية المعارضة في الاجتماع التشاوري الذي عقد في مدينة اسطنبول التركية. ومع إعلانه هذا، يرغب “المؤتمر” توضيح مجموعة من الأمور، التي أحدثت إرباكاً والتباساً، لا وقت لهما، في ظل العمل من أجل إنهاء نظام بشار الأسد الوحشي والفاقد للشرعية الوطنية، خصوصاً محاولات زج اسم المؤتمر السوري للتغيير، من قبل جهات محسوبة على المعارضة السورية، في اتفاقات وهمية، عبر تصريحات غير مسؤولة، تضمنت معلومات غير صحيحة.
والمؤتمر السوري للتغيير، الذي يؤكد نهجه المُعلَن، بأهمية التواصل مع كل أطياف المعارضة السورية، لتحقيق الهدف المنشود بالتخلص النهائي من نظام الأسد، ورص صفوف هذه المعارضة للهدف نفسه، يؤكد على أن المشاورات التي أجراها عدد من أعضائه المكلفين، لم تتضمن أية اتفاقات مسبقة، حول أية قضية كانت، بما في ذلك إعلان المجلس الوطني السوري. كما يؤكد أيضاً، التزامه بالنهج العملي والعلمي، لا الارتجالي، ويلتزم بثوابته الديمقراطية، التي تحتم العودة إلى الهيئة الاستشارية المنبثقة عنه، في القضايا المحورية التي تشكل تحولات وانعطافات في مسيرة عمله.
ويشدد المؤتمر السوري للتغيير، على أنه يؤيد الخطوات والجهود والاتصالات، الرامية إلى توحيد مواقف المعارضة السورية، بصورة مقبولة للأطراف الرئيسية، وفي مقدمتها أهلنا في سوريا، الذين يواجهون حرب إبادة على أيدي نظام الأسد وعصاباته المحلية والخارجية، ويشدد في الوقت نفسه، على أنه لن ينخرط في أية خطوات وجهود واتصالات، لا تستند إلى أرضية صلبة، ولا تأخذ في الاعتبار المعايير الديمقراطية، بما في ذلك تشكيل مجلس وطني. وقد اشترك المؤتمر السوري للتغيير، في الاجتماع التشاوري في اسطنبول، بدافع من هذه الثوابت-المنطلقات، وقدم اقتراحاته على أساسها.
ويستنكر المؤتمر السوري للتغيير، الذي يضم غالبية أطياف المعارضة، التصريحات الصحافية غير المسؤولة، لاسيما تلك التي تضمنت موافقته على إنشاء المجلس الوطني السوري. ويؤكد بأنه لن يتسامح مع أي فرد (أو جهة) يقوم بإطلاق مثل هذه التصريحات في المستقبل. فـ “المؤتمر”، لا يعمل بذهنية الأمر الواقع، لأنه هو الذي يساهم في صناعة الواقع، مستنداً إلى مكوناته السياسية المتناغمة، التي تجمعت تحت مظلة واحدة، وفق المبادئ الديمقراطية، ومفهوم الإشراك. وعلى هذا الأساس، كان حراكه، وسيكون في المستقبل أيضاً.
يذكر أن المؤتمر السوري للتغيير، عُقد في أنطاليا بتركيا في الفترة الواقعة ما بين 31 أيار/ مايو و3 حزيران/ يونيو، بمشاركة أغلب القوى والأحزاب السياسية والشعبية، فضلاً عن مشاركة عدد كبير من الشخصيات الوطنية السورية المستقلة. وبلغ عدد المشاركين 420 شخصاً، انتخبوا في نهاية المؤتمر، هيئة استشارية مكونة من 31 شخصاً، تم تفويضها بالعمل على الوقوف إلى جانب الثورة الشعبية العارمة في سوريا ودعمها. وكانت الهيئة الاستشارية قد انتخبت بدورها مكتبها التنفيذي المكون من 10 أعضاء. وقد طالب المؤتمر السوري للتغيير في بيانه الختامي، باستقالة رئيس النظام السوري بشار الأسد من كل مناصبه، ونقل السلطات وفق الأطر الدستورية، إلى أن يتم تشكيل مجلس انتقالي، يقوم بوضع دستور جديد، والتحضير لانتخابات حرة تقود إلى قيام دولة ديمقراطية مدنية في البلاد، بعد أن شدد المؤتمر على أن الشعب السوري يتكون من قوميات عديدة، عربية وكردية وآشورية وسريان وتركمان وشركس وأرمن وسواهم.

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August 24th, 2011, 1:07 pm


161. Averroes said:

Norma @ 140

This piece is not by Ghassan bin Jeddo. This is by Ali Salman. I agree to most of its content, but I just needed to correct an error in citation.

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August 24th, 2011, 1:11 pm


162. ann said:

The crisis in Syria is leading the Middle East into uncharted territory

Olivier Roy

Published 24 August 2011


The war by Bashar al-Assad on the people of Syria has created a civil impasse, and could lead to all-out conflict between Damacus’s Shia ally Iran and a modern, self-democratising Turkey.

Syria is undoubtedly the country in which the Arab spring has the most profound geostrategic implications. The fall of Bashar al-Assad’s government would change the situation in the Middle East entirely. Indeed, even the impasse that appears to prevail today has accentuated the polarisation of regional actors, between those who are for Assad and those who are against him, with the risk that any internal escalation in Syria will have wider repercussions. As for the western powers, they are out of the game for the moment. The Libyan adventure makes intervention almost impossible. Nato doesn’t have the resources to act and a US intervention on the scale that would be required is highly unlikely, even though the stakes in Syria are infinitely higher than they are in Libya.

The novelty – and the great danger – is that the Syrian crisis brings into conflict two states that, until now, have coexisted peacefully despite belonging to opposing camps, namely Iran and Turkey. Both are directly implicated in what is happening in the country.

Turkey is involved not as a member of Nato, but in its new role as a major regional power. For the Iranians, the fall of the regime in Damascus would be a catastrophe. Syria is Iran’s only Arab ally and a vital link with Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is the spearhead of Iranian influence in the Middle East. Without Syria, Iran’s foreign policy in the region – in which it positions itself as the last remaining bulwark against Israel and as the defender of an Arab nationalism betrayed by the regimes (and, although this is not said explicitly, abandoned by the new democratic movements) – would fall apart. Were Assad’s clan to be ousted, the replacement would be Sunni and anti-Iranian, whatever its other political affinities. For this reason, Iran has sent money, military advisers and arms to Syria. And it would not hesitate to go further in order to save Hezbollah.
Behind red lines

The Turkish position is harder to read. It has moved from compliance to a hostility that stops just short of intervention. Turkey is amassing troops on the Syrian border, trying to organise Syria’s internal opposition and calling overtly for the overthrow of the regime. This stance is unprecedented in the history of the modern Turkish state – until now, it has used military force in the Middle East only when dealing with the intermittent threat of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). It has never called for regime change – not even when the Islamic Republic of Iran openly contested the legitimacy of Kemalism. Not only has it never sent troops into the Middle East (one recalls Turkey’s refusal to enter Iraq in 2003, despite a request from the US to do so), but it has not allowed its territory to be used as a base for any Middle Eastern opposition movement. And with good reason: as long as it was preoccupied with entry into the European Union, Turkey remained very prudent where the Middle East was concerned. Today, however, its proactive foreign policy compels it to take sides in local conflicts even if it would prefer to play the role of mediator.

A dangerous and unexpected scenario looms: a confrontation, through intermediaries, between Iran and Turkey, while the usual arbiters, Israel and the US, keep their powder dry. The Syrian regime represents all that Israel detests, but it has always respected “red lines”. Syria is an adversary but one that can be managed. Unless Iranian troops set foot on Syrian soil, it is highly improbable that the Israelis will act.

While this mobilisation takes place on Syria’s borders, it is hard to identify the political forces at work in the country. Beyond the knowledge that the regime is primarily the mouthpiece of an Alawite minority, even if it has some support among Sunnis, we can be sure of very little. How united are the Alawites? What role is the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) playing in opposition? Even the local population seems to be largely in the dark: everyone fears a civil war, but at the same time denies the reality of sectarian tensions today. It is clear that Assad is playing on this fear of sectarian conflict; he reminds the Sunnis of the Hama massacre in 1982 and the Alawites that power can only be maintained through force. To the Christians, the regime appears to be the best protection against the kind of anti-Christian violence that erupted in Iraq after the invasion in 2003.
Choosing sides

What of the Kurds (who number well over a million)? The borders with Turkey and Iraq are open and arms are passing back and forth. The PKK has a presence in Syria and the Kurds are taking against a regime that has marginalised them. In this, they join with the Sunni majority against the government.

The MB no doubt failed to construct a clandestine activist network after the repression of 1982-83. Yet the policies that were designed to counter the MB have had perverse effects – they have given carte blanche to Sunni religious conservatives who, although they appear to be apolitical, regard the Alawites as heretics and believe that Shia Iran has no business in Syria. Where are they going to stand? In my view, against the regime.

The Syrian internal situation will continue to escalate, causing a further rise in tensions between Turkey and Iran. And all this at a time when no one really knows how the political forces inside Syria are distributed and when there is no precedent for the confrontation between Ankara and Tehran – and thus no guide for preventing the situation from spiralling out of control.

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August 24th, 2011, 1:12 pm


163. ann said:

CHINA ON SYRIA (Part II) – August 24, 2011


The Diplomat speaks with Prof. Eyal Zisser of Tel Aviv University about sanctions against Syria.

This week, The Diplomat has been providing coverage of the Syrian crisis from an Asia-Pacific perspective. China has featured prominently, as any escalation against the Assad regime could threaten Chinese national interests. Given the country’s powerful voice within the United Nations, and its ability to undermine the effectiveness of US-led energy sanctions, The Diplomat’s Eddie Walsh is conducting a series of interviews with thought leaders from US and regional think tanks looking at how recent events affect the position of China and other Asia-Pacific. In this second interview in the series, Walsh speaks with Prof. Eyal Zisser, Head of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University and Senior Research Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center.

Commentators have expressed doubts as to whether the United States and its European partners can secure support for regime change in Syria from rising Asian powers (China and India) or Russia. Without this support, some analysts doubt the US and EU can achieve regime change through the current round of energy sanctions. What’s your view?

Unless there is a military intervention, and I doubt if there will be such intervention, sanctions won’t change the reality on the ground. Thus, the fate of Syria is clearly in the hands of the Syrians, and if they continue in their protest they might bring, at the end of a bloody and long struggle, the collapse of the regime.

Israel has important relations with China and Russia. Can you please describe how these two powers are engaging the current Israeli administration on the Syrian crisis, and vice versa?

Israel has close relations with both China and Russia. But they do separate between these economic and cultural relations, and between the political aspects. So China and Russia have their interests in maintaining their relations with Iran and Syria, and Israel maintains strong relations with the United States. I don’t see any signs for any dialogue with China or Russia on these issues.

Iran, one of Syria’s closest allies, has important relations with China, India, and Russia. Given the economic importance of those relationships, how does Iranian support for Syria affect the positioning of these three powers on Syria?

Iran has nothing to do with these countries’ approach to the Syrian crisis. These countries have a traditional position against any interference in any given country’s domestic affairs. In addition, Russia has strong historical relations with Syria that started long before Iran became an intimate ally of the Syrian regime.

Israel has long-standing ties with the United States and EU. However, its ties with Turkey also have been particularly strong, although strained as of late. How has the reluctance of Turkey and other Arab countries affected Israeli calculations on Syria?

Israel looks at (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) as the devil she knows. This is why, regardless of any other consideration, it prefers stability and a quiet border over a regime change. So clearly, Israel’s approach is different than that of the US or other countries in the region.

Some regional experts suggest that Turkey is constrained in part by its reluctance to have Syria turn completely to Iran as this could have long-term consequences for Turkish power in the region. Do you see Iran exploiting this concern and how would such a turn affect Chinese, Indian, and Russian interests in the region?

Once again, if Assad falls, Iran will be the great loser because the Syrians in the street will not forget its support for the Assad regime. Turkey may benefit because the alternative to Assad might be a Sunni Muslin government. Russia, China and India won’t be affected. These countries are far away and not too identified with Assad.

Lebanon, a member of the UN Security Council, represents a particular challenge for the United States and EU as the country is composed of both elements sympathetic to the opposition and to the Assad regime. Is there any possibility of the US and EU getting Lebanon on-board with energy sanctions against Syria? How are China, India, and Russia leveraging their influence in Lebanon on this issue?

China, Russia and India have no influence over Lebanon. Lebanon will try its best to get away from any direct involvement in any move against Syria. But Lebanon isn’t important when it comes to sanctions and, in any case, will not violate any UN decision on Syria.

Does Israel foresee any risk in supporting regime change in Syria for its economic interests?

Yes, Israel prefers stability. The Assad regime kept the border along the Golan Heights quiet. The fall of this regime may bring with it chaos and a lack of stability in Syria and the activity of terrorist cells that might carry out terrorist attacks along the border.

Does Israel believe that the Arab Spring is redistributing global power?

No, Israel is very sceptical and thinks that it might bring lack of stability, but not more than that.

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August 24th, 2011, 1:19 pm


164. ann said:

Turkey mulls cutting economic ties with Israel

Israel’s refusal to apologize for the Marmara incident seems final.

Turkey has informed the US that Israel’s refusal to apologize for the IDF operation to thwart last year’s Turkish flotilla bringing supplies to the Gaza Strip will not go unpunished. The flotilla was attempting to break the naval blockade that Israel has imposed on the territory. Eight Turkish citizens and one US-Turkish citizen aboard one of the vessels, the Mavi Marmara, were killed in the operation when, according to the IDF, militants assaulted Israeli commandos taking over the ship. The Turkish government says that Israel’s refusal to accede to Turkish demands for an apology will naturally lead to further deterioration in relations between the two countries. Among other things, Turkey is examining the possibility of cutting off economic ties with Israel completely, according to a report in Turkish newspaper Hürriyet.

Sources inform “Globes” that, despite the Turkish threat, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision not to issue an apology is final. Jerusalem believes that such an apology will not lead to an improvement in relations with Ankara, and will only strengthen the political standing of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Turkey and Israel have made attempts to meet each other halfway in the past few months, but the perception grew in Jerusalem that Erdoğan was constantly upping the ante. His behavior on the international stage, not just on the narrow question of Israel-Turkish relations, indicates that he suffers from megalomania, according to Israeli assessments. Because of this, decision makers in Jerusalem came to the conclusion that an Israeli apology would fail to damp down the flames of the dispute with Ankara, and would instead give Erdoğan more mileage without Israel deriving any benefit.

According to reports in Washington, the US pressured Israel to try to reach agreement with Turkey on a formula for an apology, but so far, Netanyahu has refused to concede on the matter. However, in response to a US request, Israel has asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to defer the release of the Palmer Commission report on the Mavi Marmara incident, to enable further negotiations with Turkey to take place. The report is due to be published tomorrow (Tuesday). Turkey earlier made its own approach to the Secretary General to defer publication, but he has decided to reject both requests and to release the report as planned.

According to reports in the press, the commission recognizes Israel’s right to act against those who threaten its stability and security, even in international waters, but severely criticizes the IDF for use of excessive force against civilians.

According to Hürriyet, among the reprisals being considered by Turkey if Israel does not apologize are the downgrading of diplomatic relations between the two countries to the level of second secretary, suspension of all economic and political ties, and an older threat: a visit by Erdoğan to the Gaza Strip. There is also no doubt that Turkey will be an enthusiastic supporter of the Palestinians’ initiative to win UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

Despite the tension between Jerusalem and Ankara, economic activity between Israel and Turkey has carried on almost as normal. Professor Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, associate professor of international relations at Ankara’s Gazi University, described relations between the two countries to Turkish newspaper Zaman: “The relationship between Turkey and Israel has deteriorated somewhat on the surface, but deep underneath there really is no change in the relationship. Economically, we have seen some decrease in tourism, but the red lines have not been crossed and the US will not let two of its most important allies in the Middle East cross those lines.”

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August 24th, 2011, 1:24 pm


165. Revlon said:

Security Council economic black list of 24 Syrian officials

The offer by Antalya conference group for Mr F. Sahre3 to head the transitional government has become void.

عقوبات دولية تطول أكثر من 24 شخصية سورية نافذة بينهم 4 من عائلة الأسد

2011/08/24نشر فى: أخبار محلية

دبي – العربية.نت، وكالات
قرر مجلس الأمن الدولي تطبيق عقوبات اقتصادية تطول أكثر من 24 شخصية سورية نافذة، في بادرة كبرى للضغط على النظام السوري باتجاه التعامل الإنساني مع التظاهرات التي أصبحت تخرج بسكل يومي في البلاد.
وتشمل العقوبات الاقتصادية على سوريا تجميد أرصدة وممتلكات أربع وعشرين شخصية سورية تشمل

الرئيس بشار الاسد
وأخوه ماهر الاسد،
وعلى مملوك
وأصف شوكت
، و حسن جميل
وعبد الفتاح قدسية،
ومحمد ديب زيتون،
ومحمد نصيف خيربك
وهشام إختيار،
وحافظ مخلوف،
وعاطف نجيب،
ورستم غزالة،
وإياد مخلوف،
وعلى حبيب محمود،
داود راجحة،
توفيق يونس،
ومحمد أحمد المفلح،
وأمجد العباس،
وفواز الاسد،
ومنذر الاسد،
وأيمن جابر،
ومحمد إبراهيم الشعار،
وفاروق الشرع
ورامي مخلوف.

كما شملت العقوبات فرض حظر على سفر نفس الشخصيات وهي نحو اربع شخصية وجمدت ممتلكاتها وارصدتها.
كذلك فإن العقوبات تتضمن تجميد أموال وأرصدة اربع مؤسسات أيضا وهي شركة بنا العقارية التي يقول الملحق يتحكم بها رامي مخلوف، و شركة استثمارات المشرق، وهي أيضا وفقا للملحق يتحكم بها رامي مخلوف، و المؤسسة العسكرية للاسكان وهي وفقا للملحق يتحكم بها رياض شليش، ومديرية الاستخبارات العامة التي تشرف ايضا على الاستخبارات المدنية السورية.

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August 24th, 2011, 1:32 pm


166. ann said:

Egyptians plan million-man rally against Israel – 08.24.11, 19:36


Facebook groups call for mass protest outside Israeli embassy in Cairo, as protesters demand ambassador be expelled, embassy be closed.

Egyptian daily al-Youm al-Saba’a reported Wednesday that Egyptian citizens have created groups on Facebook and other social networks calling for “a million-man protest” outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo on Friday.

The protesters say the focus of the demonstration will be the demand to have the Israeli ambassador expelled from Egypt and Israel’s embassy in the capital closed.

Meanwhile, protesters continue to demonstrate outside the embassy for the fifth day in a row. They called out “Expel the ambassador immediately”. Others gathered outside the ambassador’s Cairo residence and called fellow citizens to join them in order to “force the ambassador to leave Egypt”.

The anti-Israel protests erupted in Cairo last weekend following reports that six Egyptian security officers were killed by the IDF during fire exchanges with the terrorists who carried out the terror attack near Eilat last Thursday. The demonstrations were further inflamed by Israel Air Force strikes in Gaza.

The protesters burnt Israeli flags, and even threw fire crackers at the embassy building in a bid to burn an Israeli flag on a flagpole at the embassy. An Egyptian youth later climbed the building, took the Israeli flag down and became a national hero.

The incident on the border stirred a diplomatic crisis between Jerusalem and Cairo. Egypt’s cabinet said on Sunday that an Israeli statement expressing regret for the border deaths was not enough, but it stopped short of saying if it would recall its Tel Aviv envoy.

The embassy protesters are demanding that the peace treaty with Israel be altered, especially with regards to military presence in Sinai, or completely abolished.

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August 24th, 2011, 1:36 pm


167. Revlon said:

Declaration of Damascus Opposition group:
Change can neither be implemented nor mediated by the regime.

اعلان دمشق المعارض: التغيير لن يكون بوساطة النظام الحالي ولا من خلاله
2011/08/24نشر فى: أخبار محلية
كمال شيخو_ كلنا شركاء

ناقش اجتماع مكتب الامانة لإعلان دمشق في اجتماعه الاخير, الذي عقد يوم امس في العاصمة السورية دمشق, المبادرة المطروحة من شخصيات معارضة والتي اطلق عليها ( نداء الى احرار السوريين في كل مكان) كما ناقش المجتمعون تطورات الثورة السورية ودراسة اخر المستجدات السياسية والميدانية.
وحضر الاجتماع اعضاء من المكتب الرئاسي من المجلس الوطني لإعلان دمشق, كما حضره اعضاء مكتب الامانة, ورئاسة الامانة العامة لإعلان دمشق. وقالت مصادر مطلعة لكلنا شركاء” ناقش المجلس المبادرة المطروحة, وابدا تأييديه من حيث المبدأ لأي فكرة جامعة للمعارضة الوطنية الديمقراطية في الداخل السوري, وحتى في الخارج. ولكن كل ذلك مرهون برؤية سياسية واضحة حول اهداف التغيير المنشود, وتفسير معنى هذا التغيير, لأنه في الكثير من الحالات يكون هناك التباس حول معنى التغيير. بالنسبة لإعلان دمشق: فان التغيير يعني تغيير النظام السياسي القائم بأشخاصه ومؤسساته ومنظومته الأمنة والسياسية السائدة منذ اربعة عقود من عمر الاستبداد, وهذا يعني ان التغيير لن يكون بوساطة النظام الحالي ولا من خلاله”
وأعلن رئيس مكتب الأمانة العامة لإعلان دمشق المعارض سمير نشار, نية إعلان دمشق عقد مؤتمرا لمجلسه الوطني خلال الفترة القادمة, وسيناقش المؤتمر الاستحقاق التنظيمي وضرورة عقد اجتماع للمجلس الوطني, لانتخاب أمانة عامة جديدة من جهة. وسناقش الاعلان من جهة ثانية كيفية دعم الثورة التي تمر بها سورية منذ ما يزيد عن الخمس اشهر, وتداعياتها الداخلية والخارجية. واتخاذ الموقف السياسي الذي يلاءم تطلعات الشعب السوري والمؤتمرين والتي بالضرورة ستكون عاملا مشتركا مع اهتمامات السوريين, تجاه ما يحصل وكيفية مساندة الانتفاضة السورية.
وقالت المصادر المطلعة” ان اعلان دمشق من خلال رؤيته السياسية يرى انه من خلال التغيير الذي ينشده الشعب السوري منذ انتفاضته في اواسط شهر اذار الماضي, والذي يتمثل بأسقاط النظام, يمكن ان تتحول سوريا من دولة استبدادية شمولية, الى دولة ديمقراطية تعددية مدنية. تكون موطنا لجميع ابناء سوريا”
وعن الحوار الذي اجراه التلفزيون السوري مؤخرا مع الرئيس السوري بشار الاسد في مطلع الاسبوع الجاري, قالت المصادر” ان الخطاب لم يتضمن اي شيء جديد وزاد من خيبات الامل لكل مواطن سوري, والتي تراكمت عبر الخطابات الثلاث السابقة. ولازال الرئيس الاسد يردد المزاعم عن وجود عصابات مسلحة ولم يشر في حواره المتلفز مؤخرا, لا من قريب ولا من بعيد الى الاحتجاجات الشعبية التي خرجت اليها مئات الالوف في بعض المدن السورية ( كما حدثت في كلا من دير الزور ومدينة حماة) واكتفا الرئيس بالتأكيد على ان الحل الامني هو خياره الوحيد”
وحدد إعلان دمشق مجموعة نقاط للمرحلة الانتقالية لسوريا والتي تمثلت بتشكل مجلس وطني في المرحلة الانتقالية، من ممثلي الشباب الثائر وممثلي المجتمع السوري بكل أطيافه وممثلي المعارضة، مع قادة الجيش وأهل النظام ممن يقبلون عملية الانتقال ولم تتلوث أيديهم بدماء المواطنين أو ثروتهم الوطنية.
كما دعا اعلان دمشق الى تشكيل المجلس الانتقالي حكومة من ذوي الكفاءات لتسيير أمور البلاد في هذه المرحلة. كما ستجري تحت إشراف الحكومة الانتقالية انتخابات حرة وبضمانات كافية لجمعية تأسيسية تقر دستورا جديدا ومعاصرا، يقرّه استفتاء شعبي.
من جانبها اضافت المصادر المطلعة” اعتمد النظام السوري على شرعيته من الشعب على الرغم من ان الجميع يعرف ان الرئيس السوري جاء عن طريق التوريث, فقد ورثه والده الرئيس السوري السابق حافظ الاسد النظام والسلطة, ولكنه لم يورثه الشعب” على حد وصف تلك المصادر.

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August 24th, 2011, 1:38 pm


168. abughassan said:

Politicians in the west will repeat the same mistakes again and again when it comes to the Middle East as long as they depend on a tribe of advisers who share two things in common: a stubborn support for Israel and an astonishing lack of understanding of The Middle East.The feverish move by some NATO governments to appease Islamists while giving their back to secular movements is in defiance of common sense and will not serve either side,the middle east or the west.
Islamists,who hate the west more than anybody else, may be playing nice now but that won’t last,and Al-Qaida founding fathers who were praised by Reagan are a shining example,another example is the back and forth alliances the US made with both Shia and Sunni groups in Iraq. The truth is,political Islamists can not be trusted and should not be allowed to dominate governments in the Middle East.
The old say that we have to choose between existing corrupt regimes and political Islamists is mostly circulated by militants on both sides,especially existing regimes,to rally support and silence people who believe in a third option,the one that Syria needs. I yet have to see any INCLUSIVE list of leaders that came out of any opposition meeting,tell me about it when you see it,
I support a regime change (even though I think you guys are too optimistic about a quick fall of the regime), but I want to see the faces of Syria’s proposed new leaders,some western diplomats are already sending opinions about a possible hybrid government in Syria that may provide a face-saving solution to many,however,I do not believe that will be acceptable to the Syrian youth in the streets.

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August 24th, 2011, 2:00 pm


169. Revlon said:

تداعيات الزلزال السوري
فهمي هويدي

…النظام السوري مضطر لاستخدام السياسة فقط في الخارج لأن ثمة طرفا آخر ينبغي مخاطبته والتعامل معه. وهو ليس مضطرا إلى ذلك في الداخل لأن المجتمع ملغى من المعادلة. والتعامل معه يتم على قاعدة الإخضاع وليس الحوار…..More

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August 24th, 2011, 2:03 pm


170. Washington's battle over Syria – Global Public Square - CNN.com Blogs said:

[…] Read: What's behind Assad's violence? Three opinions. […]

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August 24th, 2011, 2:46 pm


172. Syria Comment » Archives » No Bullet Holes in Bab Touma; Several Accounts of Life in Syria said:

[…] at a church front in Bab Touma during the opening weeks of the revolt. The article was entitled “Did Syria Use Tanks and Gun Boats to Shell Hama and Latakia?,” which set off a heated debate. A commentator who goes by the name, “Some Guy in […]

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August 29th, 2011, 2:07 pm


173. Articles sur l’opposition syrienne et diverses opinions tirés du blog Syria comment | syriafrance said:

[…] at a church front in Bab Touma during the opening weeks of the revolt. The article was entitled “Did Syria Use Tanks and Gun Boats to Shell Hama and Latakia?,” which set off a heated debate. A commentator who goes by the name, “Some Guy in Damascus” […]

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August 31st, 2011, 2:19 pm


174. En Passant » Where is Syria’s revolution going? said:

[…] the U.S. and NATO should be welcomed. Indeed, the Libya developments are sparking intense debates, as Joshua Landis explains on his Syria Comment blog: The Facebook [Syrian] Revolution Page reveals the “Libya effect” on the Syrian […]

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September 5th, 2011, 6:47 am


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