Will Sanctions Bring Down the Syrian Regime?

Will Sanctions Bring Down the Syrian Regime?

It is doubtful that sanctions alone will cause regime-change in Syria. Economic deprivation and reduced government spending does not usually lead to regime-change. It is hard to think of a Middle Eastern government that has been brought down by sanctions. Some of the countries that have faced sanctions for decades are Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Sudan. Of course Gaza has faced severe sanctions in an effort to bring down the Hamas government with very little success. What sanctions do very effectively is make people poor and hungry. Governments are good at passing along the pain.  In Gaza there is 80% unemployment and widespread malnutrition but no regime change. The UN estimates that sanctions on Iraq killed over 300,000 Iraqis in the 1990s. Starving Syrians is not the intention of US and European policy makers who imposed the sanctions. They continue to insist that Assad will step down due to sanctions. But what Arab leader has ever stepped down as a result of having his country sanctioned? As Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

The good policy makers in Western capitals are not insane, so what are they up to?

  1. Are they simply imposing sanctions because it is a politically inexpensive way to do something? After all, military intervention, which is the tested method to bring about regime change, is unthinkable today.
  2. Could some policy makers be hoping to ratchet up the humanitarian disaster in Syria in order to create an “intervention friendly environment” down the road? This seems far fetched but the humanitarian argument was one of the more persuasive rationals for intervening in Iraq. The more extreme the disaster, the more extreme solutions people are willing to entertain.

The problem with sanctions is that they destroy national institutions, decimate the middle class, and degrade society. We saw this in Iraq. The results are not pretty. They make building democracy all the more difficult when the offending regime is finally overturned. The only thing we know about democracy promotion with any certainty is that its chances of success rise exponentially with greater per capita GDP.  A long sanctions regime can only hurt democracy promotion. We all know about the magic of the middle class. It is hard to do anything constructive in a country without one.

Religion. The Arab League vote split the Arab countries along Shiite-Sunni lines. Countries with large Shiite populations — Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen — voted with Syria or abstained. Another troubling aspect of the Syrian conflict is that the region’s minorities are remaining faithful to Assad and Syria’s Alawi-led regime even as it grows increasingly isolated. The Christian minority in the region has come out fairly solidly behind Assad. Egyptian Copts prayed for Assad in a large stadium the other day (Egyption Christians pray for Syrians And Syrian President 11-12-2011). Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo, Yohana Ibrahim, said President Bashar al-Assad was “the best man” to lead reform in Syria. (Syrian archbishop says ‘everyone loves’ Assad). The Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon upset many when he backed Assad and warned against regime-change in Syria. The growing religious divide in the Middle East is not new, but it is troubling. It suggests that Assad will not relinquish power, as King Abdullah of Jordan and other regional leaders are urging him to do. It also suggests that Assad’s base support among minorities will not crumble easily. Religion has a way of making martyrs.

A friend writes that his parents cannot find cooking gas in Aleppo. The replacement bottles for the stove are unavailable in the market. Mazoot, or fuel-oil, which is used to heat homes, power taxis and farm equipment is also absent, or available at high prices. Aleppo authorities also warn that extended electric cuts are coming due to lack of power. Syria is facing a cold winter. Older people are standing in lines to get small containers of mazoot filled.  The Syrian pound has fallen to 54.25 to a dollar.

News Round Up

Pro-Syrian regime protesters, carry a giant Syrian flag during a demonstration against the Arab League decision to suspend Syria, in Damascus, Syria, November 13, 2011. Similar pro-government demonstrations were held in Aleppo and Latakia.

DJ Arab League To Send 500 Observers To Syria, 2011-11-14

 CAIRO (AFP)–The Arab League is preparing to send observers to Syria but needs guarantees from Damascus on their mission and the rights of each side, the organization’s chief, Nabil al-Arabi, said Monday.

Foreign Policy

An estimated 70people have been killed mostly in clashes between Syrian security forces and defectors in the southern city of Dera’a, in what has been the bloodiest day since the start of the uprisings. Meanwhile, crowds angered by comments byJordanian King Abdullah urging President Bashar al-Assad to step down stormed the Jordanian embassy in Damascus, bringing down the country’s flag.

The suspension and imposition of sanctions by the Arab League on Syria that is due to take effect on Wednesday is being met with uproar from the Syrian regime and its supporters. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem denounced the move as an “illegal” and “dangerous step” saying that “Syria will not budge and will emerge stronger…and plots against Syria will fail.” Regime supporters attacked the Turkish, Saudi Arabian, and Qatari embassies in protest of the suspension.Foreign governments have had varied responses. Russia condemned the suspension accusing Western nations of inciting the opposition. Angered by the attack on its embassy, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davultoglu asserted, “We will take the most resolute stance against these attacks and we will stand by the Syrian people’s rightful struggle.”The European Union reached an agreement to extend sanctions. King Abdullah of Jordan called for Bashar al-Assad to resign stating, “If Bashar has the interest of his country, he would step down, but he would also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life. Syria has requested an emergency meeting with the Arab League prior to the suspension and said it will meet with representatives from the opposition on Tuesday.

EU Places New Sanctions on Syria – Wall Street Journal

European Union foreign ministers announced new sanctions on Syria even as they insisted that the situation in the country didn’t merit the same military response they mounted in Libya earlier this year.

Turkey May Review Energy Supplies to Syria, Minister Says, 2011-11-15, By Emre Peker

Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) — Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the government is currently providing power supplies to Syria and may reconsider “all decisions” on the matter if its southern neighbor’s policies don’t change, according to state-run Anatolia news agency…..

Iranian Officials Meet With Syrian Opposition – 2011-11-14, by Richard Spencer in the Telegraph

Iranian officials have held talks with Syrian opposition leaders, in a dramatic sign of the growing isolation of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Several separate opposition sources have told The Daily Telegraph that Iran opened a channel to a “moderate” opposition group about a month ago. Officials met Haytham Manna and other members of a group known as the National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change, or the National Coordi

nating Committee. The group is strongly opposed to foreign intervention in Syria, and is likely to be seen as more acceptable to Iran than the largest group, the Syrian National Council, which has argued for “international protection” for civilians…..

هيئة التنسيق ستزور قطر .. والمناع يوضح موقفه ويؤكد : الحل يجب أن يكون عربياً Haytham Manna

هيئة التنسيق ستزور قطر .. والمناع يوضح موقفه ويؤكد : الحل يجب أن يكون عربياً | عكس السير دوت كوم

Syria’s fragmented opposition
As anti-government forces try to develop a united voice, Al Jazeera looks at the disparate groups within.
Roxanne Horesh Last Modified: 10 Nov 2011 13:42

Syria’s economy is key to Assad’s future
By Liz Sly, Monday, November 14

BEIRUT — The dramatic decision by Arab states to turn against President Bashar al-Assad could further damage Syria’s economy at a time when it is already unraveling, posing perhaps a graver challenge to Assad’s survival than the country’s nearly-eight-month-old popular uprising, analysts say.

The broader loss of regional support represents an important psychological blow to a regime that has long prided itself as a champion of Arab nationalist causes. In one indicator of how far Assad’s fortunes have fallen, Jordan’s King Abdullah II suggested Monday that the Syrian president step down, though he hedged that call, telling the BBC that Assad needed to ensure an orderly transition.

It was, nonetheless, the most explicit rejection yet by an Arab leader of Assad’s rule ahead of an Arab League meeting Wednesday to discuss further measures against Syria, including economic sanctions.

They could have a more profound and immediate effect than the withdrawal of political support, given that Western powers are ruling out military intervention and anti-government demonstrations have seen neither the protest movement nor the Syrian security forces gain a decisive advantage. On Monday, the European Union announced that it would expand its sanctions, to include 18 more individuals associated with the Assad regime and denial of access to the European Investment Bank.

“The economy is a trigger of a lot of other issues on a broader level,” said Ayham Kamel, Middle East analyst with the Eurasia Group. The business community has supported Assad so far, he said, “but over a longer period of time, they’re going to reevaluate.”

The extent of the damage is difficult to measure, and Syrian government officials say they don’t have indicators. But they do not play down the gravity of the situation.

Syrian Economy Minister Mohammad Nidal al-Shaar said at a conference last month that the economy is in a “state of emergency,” according to comments quoted by the Damascus-based Syria Report. In a recent interview in Damascus, Adib Mayalah, governor of the Central Bank of Syria, described the situation as “very serious” and ticked off the problems the economy is facing.

“Unemployment is rising, imports are falling, and government income is reduced,” he said. “In areas where there are protests, there is no economic activity — so people aren’t paying tax. Because they aren’t working, they are not repaying their loans — so the banks are in difficulty. And all this is weakening the economy.”

Merchants interviewed recently on the streets of Damascus report a 40 to 50 percent fall in business as consumers hoard cash and cease spending on all but the most essential items. Tourism has skidded to a halt, representing a loss of $2 billion a month to an economy worth $59 billion last year, Mayalah said.

“The whole system has been shrinking — and very fast,” said Rateb Shallah, a prominent Damascus businessman. “The sanctions are squeezing us, and it is definitely affecting us quite a bit.

To what extent the downturn is due to the sanctions isn’t clear, however.

Until now, only the United States, the European Union, Canada and Japan have imposed sanctions on Syria, with relatively limited measures mostly targeting individuals and financial services. The most serious measure, a European embargo on oil purchases imposed in August, goes into effect only on Tuesday because Italy sought to ensure that its existing contracts were honored.

But the experience of the oil embargo illustrates the broader crisis of confidence confronting Syria. European nations, which account for a vast majority of Syrian oil exports, immediately halted their purchases, even though they were not required to do so for three more months. And oil pumped since then has gone unsold, despite Syria’s boasts that it would easily find other customers. Syria has curtailed its oil production by more than 25 percent, Mayalah said.

In a similar fashion, the restrictions on financial services and individuals have had a detrimental effect even on aspects of the economy that aren’t directly connected, by dissuading investors and companies from doing business with Syria. The Central Bank of Syria has not been sanctioned, but many businesses are refusing to engage with it because they fear falling foul of the U.S. prohibition on trade in services with Syria and jeopardizing their interests elsewhere, Mayalah said.

Foreign investment has slowed to a trickle for the same reasons, he said, even though there are no restrictions.

But investors may be equally deterred by Syria’s shaky political future and the escalating violence. The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group, reported the deaths of 50 people in violence Monday, 28 of them in the southern province of Daraa, where there were unconfirmed reports of major clashes between the Syrian army and defected soldiers. The official Syrian Arab News Agency said two members of the security forces were killed in Daraa.

A trade embargo would be difficult to enforce. Syria can still count on two key neighbors with which it shares long and porous borders: Lebanon, one of only two countries that voted against the Arab League’s resolutions censuring Syria, and Iraq, which abstained.

Yet even trade with Iraq, which has been seeking to boost business ties with Syria as the region tilts against it, has fallen because of the indirect effect of sanctions, said Syria’s deputy economy minister, Khaled Mahmoud Saloutah. The two trading companies that handle most cross-border trade are based in Europe and have been forced to curtail their transactions, reducing the value of Syria’s exports to Iraq by 10 percent, he said.

“The economy is not going to collapse overnight,” Kamel said. “But it is definitely taking Syria down a risky path.”

The newly sanctioned Syrians — other than military and intelligence people — include 3 young members of the Syrian Electronic Army, Rami makhlouf’s lawyer – actually one of his good friends called me today to explain that he had not taken a case for Makhlouf in four years. Another is the head of Berri clan shabbiha in Aleppo. #13 on the list is the most interesting. He is simply named Maj General Nazih. No last name is given. So any one with the name Nazih will have to think twice about a trip to Athens.

Qatar Presses Decisive Shift in Arab Politics – by Anthony Shadid in NYTimes

The tiny emirate’s intentions remain murky to its neighbors and even allies — some see a Napoleon complex, others an Islamist agenda….

“Do they fill a void? Yes,” said Bassma Koudmani, a Syrian opposition leader who credited the Qataris with a key role in the Arab League’s startling decision Saturday to suspend Syria and isolate a government at the pivot of the region’s relations. “They are filling a space and a role that is not being taken up by other countries.” … American diplomatic cables in 2009, released by WikiLeaks, claim that Qatar has occasionally offered Al Jazeera’s coverage as a bargaining tool. A senior journalist there said while no order was given, the network’s reporting on Syria changed sharply in April.

“We could feel the change in atmosphere,” the journalist said.

Syria: It’s the Economy Stupid
by Armand Hurault, Arab Insurrection Analyst, Transnational Crisis Project

The Syrian economic policies over the past 25 years have underpinned the current uprising. I argue that the economy may well be the Achilles’ heel of Assad’s grip on power…..

Dr Emad Mustafa NBN 11 11 11 02

Syria’s neighbors helping shape its fate LA Times

Syria’s embattled government must face the changing dynamics of the region as old alliances fade and new brokers emerge, most notably Qatar….

عشاء المعارضة السورية مع اللجنة العربية حسم الموقف من نظام الأسد
Ash-Sharq al-Awsat
بسمة قضماني لـ «الشرق الأوسط»: الجامعة استجابت لمطالب المجلس الوطني

How Syrian Authorities can Hurt Ex-pats – (in French)

Maidhc Ó Cathail The ‘Humanitarian’ Road to Damascus: Pro-Israel Groups Outline U.S. Options to Assist Syrian Opposition -mForeign Policy Journal

عاجل : اقالة الأمين القطري المساعد لحزب البعث العربي الاشتراكي محمد سعيد بخيتان
وتنصيب وزير الدفاع السابق حسن تركماني

Arab leaders shouldn’t kill their people?
Posted By Marc Lynch

I am an Alawi from Antioch. I have many relatives in the alawite communities of Turkey including those in Mersin, Tarsus, Iskenderun (Alexandretta), Arsuz and Samandag, many of whom I do not know personally. I also visited Syria and am told I have relatives in Latakia, Homs, Damascus, and Aleppo. I am responding to Ms. Kahf and Mr. Landis’ claims regarding Alawite tribes. The truth is as far as I know, there is no such a thing as an Alawite tribe. This is just simply a reflection of modernization, educational attainment, and the prevalence of an urban lifestyle which weakened the traditional intra-communal links. I am about 50 yrs of age and never heard of “tribes”. Even close family relationships are non-existent. I have many relatives that I do not know and could not recognize even if I saw them on the street. I live in the USA and some of my relatives are scattered in Europe including Norway, France, Holland, Germany, Sweden, and the Middle East including Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. So much for the “tribes”!

Human Rights Watch accuses Syrian government of “crimes against humanity”- The human-rights group, Human Rights Watch, released a 63-page report accusing the Syriangovernment of “crimesagainst humanity.” The report reflects the accounts of 110 victims andwitnesses who claim Syrian forces killed at least 587 civilians since the startof the uprisings in March. It also references the tortureof political prisoners and unarmed civilians, including the elderly and children.

Turkey deputy: weapons being smuggled to Syria
The National
Thomas Seibert Nov 11, 2011

ISTANBUL // Many firearms from Turkey have entered Syria, and the Turkish government has stopped alleged arms-smuggling activities at a border post between the two countries, a Turkish opposition deputy said yesterday.

“You see many Turkish-made firearms in Syria,” Mehmet Ali Ediboglu, a deputy from the province of Hatay, which borders Syria, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t know how they got into the country.”

A friend Writes: Friday, November 11, 2011

This is the most inept group of people to govern. The article talks about inability of anyone to pinpoint what the population figure is. One group thinks Syria’s population increases by 670,000 a year. Another thinks its 500,000 and a third believes its 440,000. As for unemployment, the government continues to think its 8% (joke?) while some think its 30%. How can you run a country with such variations? Bashar should have stopped everything in 2000 and did one thing. call the international organizations with expertise in this field and get help in finding out population levels and growth rates in every city and district and make sure each household has an income/asset bracket that qualifies it as poor/middle/wealthy. Only then, subsidies can go to who deserves it and policies can be implemented given actual population trends and where. Instead………………………enough to make want to cry http://www.syriasteps.com/?d=127&id=77652&in_main_page=1

Syria stopped paying oil companies
2011-11-11 15:28:06.43 GMT

LONDON, Nov. 11 (UPI) — Though oil production in Syria is ongoing, sources close to the government said Damascus stopped paying supermajors Royal Dutch Shell and Total. Sources familiar with the Syrian energy sector told the Financial Times that major energy companies working in Syria were getting paid by the government until a few weeks ago. Payments slowed and eventually stopped as European governments put more pressure on Damascus for its crackdown on opposition protesters. “Payments have been delayed and some are outstanding,” said one industry insider who spoke to the Financial Times on condition of anonymity. “My sense is the government has no cash.”

Syria Regime’s Likely Collapse Requires U.S. Planning: Analyst
2011-11-10, By Peter S. Green

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) — U.S. needs to plan for all contingencies, bring about demise of Assad regime, as long-lasting conflict will become bloodier, more sectarian, spread to neighboring countries, Andrew Tabler, fellow at Washington Institute for Near East Policy, says in testimony to Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Six-point plan needed:
* Form Syria contact group for coordinated pressure on Assad
* Peel away Assad supporters, especially Christians, Sunnis
* Aid opposition to develop peaceful strategy of strikes, boycotts
* Push for international human rights monitors to enter Syria
* Prepare for militarization of conflict – no-fly zone, buffer zones to keep protesters safe from Assad military
* Push for UN Security Council action on sanctions,
potential use of force

Comments (527)

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351. Mina said:

People are now waiting for the results of tomorrow’s big demo against the army in Cairo, and the 28th Nov parliamentary election.
If the MB make a landslide, I bet the West will have no choice than to stick to the Baathists, no matter what happens!

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November 17th, 2011, 2:59 pm




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November 17th, 2011, 3:17 pm


353. Dale Andersen said:

Memo To: MINA

RE: “…I bet the West will have no choice than to stick to the Baathists…”

The West won’t help, Meenie. They’re staying out of your train wreck. You’re on your own on this…


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November 17th, 2011, 3:34 pm


354. Khalid Tlass said:

Dr. Landis, this is probably my first comment addressed to you, in which I want to engage in a serious conversation,

I am curious about a few things and maybe you as an academician may help,

It is often repeated by some Syrians, including some on this blog, that a good part of Syria’s urban Sunnis, especially in larger cities in the weat and north-west, like Damascus, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Idlib and Latakia, are orginally of Turkish extraction, and are migrant traders and craftsmen from Anatolia who moved into the cities during the Ottoman regime, and gradually got “Arabized”. Therefore, the urban Syrian Sunnis are basically Turks, belonging to the Turkish DNA, while the Alawites and other minorities are the indigenous inhabitants ( i.e Phoenicians and Canaanites).

Another evidence used to back this up, is the different way some Arabic sounds are pronounced by urban Syrian Sunnis, which is not only different from Syrian minorities, but from standard Arabic in general – can this be used to prove that Syrian Sunnis are “recently Arabized” ( i.e after the Ottoman suzerainty over Syria starting from the 14th century)

I want to ask you , is this theory plausible ? Has there been any study or research on this subject, or do we have any historic source to confirm that a large part of Syria’s urban population, especially Sunnis, are descendants of Turkish settlers ? Your help in this regard would give us a valuable insight into our history.

And I would be grateful to Alex if he could bring this to Dr. Landis’ notice.

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November 17th, 2011, 3:51 pm


355. jad said:

ناطرينك بسام لا تتأخر

بسام يمثل الوطن السوري الجميل، ارفعوا أياديكم عنه، الحرية لبسام القاضي

اختفاء مشرف مرصد نساء سورية بسام القاضي Bassam Alkadi is missing
اكتشف اليوم الخميس17/11/2011 اختفاء بسام القاضي مشرف مرصد نساء سورية
وقد شوهد للمرة الأخيرة يوم الأربعاء16/11/2011 بعد مشاركته في اذاعة شام اف ام عن مشروع الرياض الدامجة الذي يعمل به .
هذا وقدوجدت زوجته منزله مقلوبا رأسا على عقي مع اختفاء حواسيبه و كاميراته الشخصية . وقد فشلت كل محاولات الاتصال به.
بسام القاضي اسس مرصد نساء سورية عام 2005
وهو يعمل الآن أيضا مسؤولا للعلاقات العامة والاعلام في مشروع الرياض الدامجة .
نطالب السلطات السورية بالكشف عن مصير بسام القاضي أيا كان المسؤول عن اختفاءه .


ما يكتب عن بسام ألان على صفحته الخاصة

عصام السوري
بسام القاضي ؟؟
اسم لطالما أختلفت معه بالكثير
شخص لطالما أثار في الفضول لمناقشتة
سوري كان يفكر بسوريتة بشكل مختلف عن الكثيرين
أصدر بيان في بداية الأزمة وقعت علية وأتهمني البعض بالخيانة
عدت وسحبت توقيعي على البيان بعد نقاش بيني وبينه على خلفية البيان
الكثيريين منكم يعرفة وكان متابع له ( الكلام موجة لأصدقاء أحبهم جداً لكني مختلف معهم في طريقة حب الوطن )
أجتمعت به في عدة لقاءات وعدة جلسات تناقشنا في الأزمة وناقشنا الكثيرين في الأزمة
اجزم أني أحترمتة كثيراً
أقسم أنه يحب وطنة
ربما قام بالأونة الأخيرة بتصريحات ( أنا شخصياً أرفضها )
لكن أظنة دفع من قبل ثمن مالم أدفعة من مواقف
والأن يدفع ثمن مالم يدفعة الكثيرين منكم
أحترموا غيابة
أدعو لك بالعودة لعائلتك وأصدقائك ووطنك بالخير والسلامة
أنتظرك ياصديقي
مازال هناك الكثير الكثير لنقدمة

آخر ماقاله لي بسام القاضي البارحة:
أن تكون انت كما أنت هذا مايجعلك تكون وحيدا….
بسام كلنا معك ومارح تكون وحيد أبدا

بسام القاضي..
بعرف أنك أكبر من الخوف لأنك حامل سوريا بقلبك
مابعرف وين انت وكيف حالك..بعرف انو كل أصدقائك اليوم عم يبكوا غيابك
وبعرف صوتك بيوصل من بعيد وعم يقول..لا تضعفوا احملوا سوريا بقلبكم ولا تحزنوا
بس أنا مقهورة كتير يا بسام..وناطرينك …

أنا المواطن :حسن علي يونس اطالب السلطات المعنية بالكشف عن مصير الصديق والأخ بسام القاضي بالسرعة القصوى والعمل على إعادته لزوجنه وأطفاله ولأصدقائه وللوطن أولا
وهو الإنسان الوطني الصادق والشريف
أكرر أن من قام بهذا العمل الإجرامي هو خائن للوطن والشعب ويجب أن يحاسب

الحرية لك صديقي الجميل والطيب

استاذ بسام اين أنت …. اشتقنا لك كثيرا ً
نريدك أن تعود لنا بالسلامة
نحن ننتظرك ..
سوريا تنتظرك ..
كلنا بانتظارك .

كنّا نتوقع ذلك يا بسّام
بيد أن السوريّ أقوى
واثقون بعودتك باسماً

عد بسرعة ف سوريا تحتاج أمثالك من يحبون سوريا ويعملون بجد ل تصبح سوريا الدولة الأقوى والأجمل بالعالم بشعبها ومن يحبها بصدق ..

بسام….. انت كلمة صدق في زمن الدجالين …….
أحبتك سوريا بقدر ما أحببتها …….. عد لها سالما

أوعى يصرلك شي
أتفقنا تغليلي قهوة ما بتنشرب
بسام …. حتبقى عم تدفع التمن يا غالي
كون بخير

بسام القاضي..كنت أول من قرأت له طوال هذه الأزمة… كلنا بانتظارك لتقود جمعة فدائيو سوريا…

هل تدفع اليوم ثمن ما كتبت مؤخرا
بسام القاضي
يسقط كل تدخل خارجي أيا كان، سورية للسورييين.. والعار للخونة..

كلنا عم ندعي لترجع بالسلامة يلي ضحكتك ما كانت تفرق عنك يلي بكلماتك غيرت العالم مارح نسكت عن الحق لان صوت الحق ما لازم يوقف هيك انت قلت ونحن هيك رح نضل نقول

الله يرجعك بالسلامة
المشكلة التحطط عليه من الطرفين فلا داعي للتبادل الأتهامي
و غداً”جمعة سوريا”

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November 17th, 2011, 4:18 pm


356. مندس said:

Will Sanctions Bring Down the Syrian Regime?

No, this will

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November 17th, 2011, 4:21 pm


357. Juergen said:

News:Bassam Alkadi is missing in Damascus since yesterday. His wife found the apartment searched and all the computer devices were taken. He was last seen working on a radio program for Sham Fm in Damascus yesterday. We do not know where he is or who has taken him.
Please if you have any information or want to support the search for him please visit the Facebook page:


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November 17th, 2011, 4:25 pm


358. Shami said:

Juergen from where you came with such a beautiful nickname ?is he your friend or what?
For what reason the regime would target an assadian tool?it could be a way to give him some prestige among the regime made opposition.
Anyway we should wait a little in order to get an accurate version of this fact.

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November 17th, 2011, 4:38 pm


359. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

Observations about Homs by the Governor of Homs province, Ghassan Abdel-Al, in Arabic at http://tishreen.info/_default.asp?FileName=24209607620111115050934 dated 15 Nov 2011:

Rebels armed with guns in Homs have been targeting street cleaners and garbage truck drivers. One of the jobs of those workers has been to remove rubble and other objects put onto the streets by the rebels to block the traffic. Because street cleaning workers have been targeted for assassinations, they have sometimes had to be kept at base and not dispatched to do their normal work in some neighborhoods, according to the Governor of Homs Ghassan Abdel-Al. Rebels in Homs have also been trying to prevent schools from functioning, by firing guns at the schools to terrorize teachers and pupils. They have also been shooting at city ambulences. As reported by the Governor of Homs, hospital statistics show that 3230 people were wounded or killed in Homs province between 25 Mar 2011 and 1 Nov 2011. The Governor added that as part of the management of the danger and the fear, his office has held numerous meetings with all kinds of groups in society, including neighborhood committees, tribal chiefs, commercial and industrial groups, and so on, in order to inform them of the knowledge the government has and to learn from them the problems that they are having, and if it weren’t for these meetings things would be worse than they are. The Governor of Homs also said that the vicious rebels were “riding the wave of justified demands”, using the justified demands as a mask for an attempted coup, but the people of Homs are now fully aware of the nature of the plot. More observations about Homs by the Governor are at the above tishreen.info page in Arabic. I got linked to that from http://newsfromsyria.blogspot.com/

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November 17th, 2011, 4:41 pm


360. majedkhaldoun said:

Bassam Al Kadi disappear
the apartment searched and all the computer devices were taken.
It looks it is something the regime will do.,some thing is strange, the last article I read for him , he was calling to kill the protesters.

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November 17th, 2011, 4:41 pm


361. Khalid Tlass said:

It is a drama enacted by the regme to show the SNC in a poor light in front of AL observers.

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November 17th, 2011, 4:42 pm


362. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

Via http://newsfromsyria.blogspot.com/

On 13 Nov 2011, Faruk Loğoğlu, a deputy chairman of Turkey’s largest opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said: “Turkey must stop being a country that is constantly threatening Syria. Turkey must stop taking sides in Syria’s internal unrest.” In addition he said: “If you follow Europe and the United States in making Assad’s removal a policy by itself, then you are dooming Syria to internal conflict. You are telling the people of Syria to solve the issue through violence and bloodshed.” http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=8216turkey-must-put-an-end-to-syria-threats8217-2011-11-14

I fully agree with the above.

Also on 13 Nov 2011, Mehmet Günal, who is a member of Turkey’s second-largest opposition party, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and who is a member of the Turkish parliament representing a district in Antalya, said that the Turkish government has not satisfactorily explained why it has “a position of interfering in Syria’s domestic affairs”. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=8216turkey-must-put-an-end-to-syria-threats8217-2011-11-14

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November 17th, 2011, 4:50 pm


363. Will Syria heed the Arab League’s 3-day ultimatum? (The Week) | Cirklenews.com said:

[…] government cutbacks that come with sanctions don’t “usually bring regime-change,” says Joshua Landis at Syria Comment. They certainly never worked in Iran, Iraq, Libya, or Sudan, nor do they seem to be having much […]

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November 17th, 2011, 4:51 pm


364. Ya Mara Ghalba said:

Half of Syria’s exports to Arabic-speaking countries go to just two countries, Iraq and Lebanon. The governments of Iraq and Lebanon are saying they won’t impose trade sanctions against Syria no matter if other Arab League countries decide to do so. The position of the foreign minstry of Algeria is riddled with contradictions, but it appears to be still saying it will not impose trade sanctions on Syria. The value of Syria’s exports to Algeria is equal to the combined value of Syria’s exports to Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, UAEmirates, Qatar, and Bahrain. If most of the Arab League countries were to decide in favour of very comprehensive trade sanctions against Syria’s exports, it would cause some significant short-term disruption in Syria, but the adverse effect would heal up with time. The bite of such sanctions would cause some pain but the bite cannot go deep. Arab League trade sanctions aimed at Syria’s imports would be far less disruptive to Syria than sanctions aimed at Syria’s exports. Some related data: SYRIA’S EXPORTS & IMPORTS BY COUNTRY IN YEAR 2008.

In short, Syria shouldn’t be afraid of trade sanctions by Arab League countries. I do not want Syria to sign another “memorandum of understanding” with the Arab League unless there’s an explicit agreement that the Syrian government has a natural duty to enforce law and order, security, and general stability in Syria. The “memorandum of understanding” dated 2 November was not a memorandum of understanding.

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November 17th, 2011, 4:54 pm


365. son of damascus said:

@ khaled Tlass

Syria is a country with a rich history, especially the two largest cities (Aleppo, Damascus). Historically the trade routes from Asia went through these two cities to Europe (The Silk Road, The Spice Road), with that brought merchants from all over the known world at the time, that settled in these two great cities. Many people from the country side moved to the cities in times of war, and hardships (just as they do today). Plus if you add all the empires that have conquered Syria (Levant Region) through out history you end up with a melting pot full of different ethnics, religions, creed, traditions and so on.

If you look at the family names in the two largest cities you will notice that many of them are of geographical locations i.e. Daghestani, Tikriti, Cheechani, Maghrebi, Entabi, Hindi, …

Think of our merchant cities as New York City (but much older), you have all colours and creeds, different neighbourhoods (China town, Little Italy, Little Jamaica, ….) Now look at Damascus (Old) (Haret El- Yahood, Bab Touma, …).

What I’m trying to say is that Syria has not one rightful owner, but many which is its people, wether Christian, Sunni, Shiite, Druze, Kurd,Turk, Jew, Allawi, or whatever else our rich country has to offer.

As for the accents your argument makes no sense at all, the vernacular changes geographically all over the world even in the New World. i.e. Canadian VS American, or southern accent vs Northerner, even closer Boston and New York.

Don’t be offended if either Alex, or Dr. Landis don’t read your comment. I highly doubt that either one of them goes through all the comments, if you want to bring something to their attention they have their respective emails posted up top.

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November 17th, 2011, 4:59 pm


366. mjabali said:

An important Article by Burhan Ghaliyoun dated 11/17/2011 that should be shared on this great blog ….

كتب برهان غليون تحت عنوان

نداء من ثورة الحرية والكرامة والمؤاخاة.

أيها الثوار الأحرار يا أبناء سورية العظيمة

انطلقت ثورتنا المجيدة من رفض الظلم والتمييز والقهر الذي عانيتهم منه لعقود طوال. وكانت ثقافة الكرامة وحب الحرية وتأكيد الأخوة الوطنية ووحدة الشعب والوطن قلبها ومحركها. بثقافة المحبة والاتحاد هذه حقق الشعب الانتصارات وزعزع أركان الطغيان. وبها تعززت هويتنا القومية وزالت خلافاتنا وتوحدت صفوفنا وذهبت مشاعر الحقد والضغينة والانتقام من قلوبنا، وفيها ولدت سورية الجديدة، سورية المستقبل التي ننشدها لنا ولأبنائنا، سورية المساواة التي تحتضن جميع أبنائها دون تمييز قومي أو مذهبي أو سياسي.

وفيها أيضا تعرفنا على أنفسنا شعبا واحدا، وازدهرت روح الأخوة الوطنية تضامنا وتساميا في كل فرد منا. فصار كل واحد منا يفتدي الآخر بدمه وحياته، وأصبحت كل مدينة او محافظة تهتف باسم المدينة ألاخرى وتدافع عنها حتى الموت. هكذا استمرت الثورة ونجحت في مواجهة سياسات القتل والارهاب والترويع. وكعادتها عبر تاريخ سورية تحملت مدينة حمص مسؤولية جمة في استمرار النضال السلمي ضد الاستبداد. حتى أجمع الثائرون على تسميتها ” عاصمة الثورة” لما عانته من قهر ودمار وتهجير.

لكن أشهرا طويلة من القتل المنهجي المنظم وإذكاء النظام الاجرامي الفتنة الطائفية بين أبناء شعبنا وشحن فئة من المجتمع ضد فئة أخرى قد أضعفت دفاعات بعضنا في مواجهة مخاطر الانقسام والتصادم الطائفي. وأصبحنا نشهد منذ أسابيع عمليات خطف واغتيال وتصفية حسابات بين أبناء الشعب الواحد، بل بين أبناء الثورة أنفسهم. وهو ما يشكل تهديدا خطيرا لمكاسب الثورة ويقدم خدمة كبرى لنظام القتل والاستبداد الذي يترصد بنا ويؤخر الانتصار.

باسمي وباسم المجلس الوطني وجميع ابناء الشعب الحريصين على انتصار الثورة وقطع الطريق على مناورات السلطة الغاشمة ومؤامراتها، أدعو جميع أبناء الشعب السوري إلى التوقف القطعي عن هذه الاعمال المدمرة ونبذ روح الفرقة والانقسام، والعودة إلى روح الأخوة والوطنية الحقة التي أشعلت الثورة وكانت السبب الأكبر لاستمرارها وتقدمها.

وأتوجه بشكل خاص إلى أحرار حمص وثوارها الأبطال من كل الفئات والمذاهب، وادعوهم إلى تغليب حسهم الوطني، ووقف الاعتداءات وعمليات الخطف والانتقام والترفع عن الاحقاد والالتفاف حول ثورتهم الجامعة وأحثهم على ضبط النفس ورفض الانجرار وراء ممارسات بغيضة تزكي الحقد بدل المودة والألفة وتكرس الانقسام بدل الوحدة

أيها الاخوة الاحرار

نحن على مفترق طرق. احد هذه الطرق يؤدي بنا الى الحرية والكرامة واخر

يؤدي بنا الى الهاوية والانجراف نحو حرب اهلية لم يكف النظام عن محاولة اشعالها ليجهض ثورتنا المباركة منذ أشهر. واجبنا في هذه اللحظات الحساسة ان لا ننجرف وراء مشاعر سلبية بغيضة لن تجلب لنا الا

الهزيمة والدمار.

أدعو جميع الثوار إلى نبذ تلك الممارسات المدمرة للشعب والثورة وإدانتها وتحريمها والعمل معا على إطلاق سراح كل المختطفين وتكوين اللجان المحلية للتعاون من أجل منع تكرارها.

لا تدعو الاحقاد الصغيرة تهدد ثورتكم العظيمة، ولا تقعوا في فخ النظام، وأنتم على ابواب انتصارات اكيدة على قاب قوسين أو أدنى من تحقيق اهداف ثورتكم المجيدة، ثورة الكرامة والحرية والإخا.

عاشت سورية حرة أبية وعاش شعب سورية حرا عزيزا واحد موحدا

I. Mjabali Say please stop all types of violence, the only way to bring change should be through peaceful means and eventually by VOTING. Election is the ONLY way to bring change the right way. Violence is bringing violence and the worst form of sectarianism.

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November 17th, 2011, 5:05 pm


367. Tara said:


You are right. Double talk.

Canada hosting Syria government websites

OTTAWA (AFP) – Canada is hosting websites of the Syrian government in a possible breach of sanctions over a deadly crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, Canadian researchers said Thursday.

An investigation by a University of Toronto group that last year uncovered a China-based online spy network found that the websites of Syria’s ministries of culture, transport and others, as well as Syrian television Addounia TV are being hosted on Canada-based web servers.

All of them are subject to Canadian sanctions, but a Canadian government official was not immediately available to comment on the revelations.

“Our findings peel back the layers of a complex, highly nuanced, and often seamy world of web hosting,” said Ron Deibert, director of the university’s Citizen Lab.

“That Syrian government websites, including a Syrian state-backed television station known to be inciting violence, are hosted in Canada, is at minimum in contradiction to Canada’s stated foreign policy and possibly material support to a regime that is now globally condemned for its repression and violence.”

Addounia TV is sanctioned by Canada and the European Union for inciting violence against Syrian citizens.

It and several Syrian ministries have been using intermediary companies such as Platinum Incorporated, which have servers in Canada, seemingly to get around the sanctions, the Citizen Lab said in a statement.

The Citizen Lab in 2010 uncovered a China-based network which had stolen Indian military secrets, hacked the Dalai Lama’s office and computers around the world in an elaborate cyber espionage scheme.

It has now also disclosed evidence that the website of the media arm of Hezbollah — which is banned in Canada as a terrorist group — is also hosted on Canadian and US-based web servers and uses Canadian servers to stream its television broadcasts globally.

Al-Manar satellite broadcasts have been banned by the United States, France, Spain, and Germany as well as the European Union.

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November 17th, 2011, 5:09 pm


368. Dale Andersen said:

From the EU/CIA/JewJEW/Saudi/Salafi/Hariri Press:

“…a draft resolution backed by Arab and European countries and the United States was submitted Thursday to the United Nations General Assembly, seeking to condemn human rights violations by the regime in Syria.

Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were among Arab states that joined Germany, Britain, and France to sponsor the draft submitted to the Assembly. In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the USA would sign on as a co-sponsor…”


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November 17th, 2011, 5:12 pm


369. Tara said:

Syria a sinking ship

The escalating crisis in Syria and the Arab League decision to suspend Damascus’s membership unless Bashar Al-Assad halts his bloody crackdown on protesters was the focus of pundits this week.

In the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper Ghassan Charbel wrote in his article ‘The excessive use of force and the excessive alliance’ that the Syrian regime has paid the price for the excessive use of force against protesters. The Syrian regime, adds Charbel, is also paying the price “for its adherence to the excessive alliance with Iran.”

Charbel contends that the widespread Arab rejection of the official Syrian account of the events on the ground weakens Damascus’s position in this new chapter of the crisis.

However, he wrote, the angry Syrian response to the rejection of its side of the story does not help in finding a way out of the crisis, but rather exacerbates it.

“Angry responses mean sliding into a major confrontation over the future in Syria and the balance of power in the region. Time is short. Avoiding a major battle requires quick, bold and painful Syrian decisions that address the excessive use of force and the excessive alliance with Iran,” Charbel wrote.

Also in Al-Hayat, Jihad Al-Khazen wrote that he no longer knows “whether President Al-Assad is aware of the magnitude of his losses in only eight months, whether he can perform a miracle to save his people and his regime, or if Syria will take the road of blood and tears towards the unknown.”

Al-Khazen noted that the Arab League does not enjoy the mechanisms to carry out its decisions — as is the case with the United Nations and its organisations — which is why it is always accused of impotence during critical and historic times.

However, Al-Khazen explains, the League’s decision last Saturday features a moral value and important meanings, while its repercussions will definitely lead the Syrian crisis towards a new phase in which the noose will be tightened around the regime’s neck.

“It marked a clear stand against this regime and an undeniable stand in favour of its opponents,” Al-Khazen wrote.

Al-Khazen added that the League’s call on the opposition factions to meet and agree over a unified vision for the next transitional phase not only unifies this opposition but also responds to Western questions surrounding the possible alternative for the existing regime, its political identity and positions towards the numerous files linked to the Syrian crisis domestically and abroad.

“This ought to reassure the international community with regard to the future and direction of the desired change,” wrote Al-Khazen.

In the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, Tariq Al-Homayed pointed out three important Arab positions adopted at the Arab League meeting on Syria — Iraq’s decision not to vote on the resolution, and both Lebanon and Yemen voting against it.

Al-Homayed believes the Yemeni position is clear because the regime itself is in the eye of a storm, having been rejected by its people and the international community.

“Therefore, it is natural that it should stand in line with Al-Assad in a battle to stay in power,” Al-Homayed wrote.

As for the Lebanese, Al-Homayed added, the issue is more about “subordination to Iran and its agents, whether Hizbullah or the Al-Assad regime, and it is well known that the current Lebanese government is a trinity made up of Iran, Syria and Hizbullah,” Al-Homayed wrote.

Al-Homayed, however, notes that the Iraqi position is something of a development.

“Indeed a positive development, for which we should thank and praise the Kurds. The Kurdish stance prevented the Al-Maliki government from voting against the Arab resolution, and so it abstained instead,” wrote Al-Homayed.

In his article ‘When Bashar Al-Assad blinked first’ Hussein Shobokshi wrote that “the Syrian regime has turned into a frantic monster that behaves without logic, awareness or perception, and has lost all the requirements of human sense.”

In Asharq Al-Awsat Shobokshi added that the Syrian regime’s sole objective now is to “save the ruling family, not even the regime or the Baath Party, and so, all its means and capabilities will serve this goal.”

Shobokshi added that it is clear that the Syrian regime is under severe pressure, regionally and internationally, and all that remains is a handful of weak allies alongside Iran, which is another state that has begun to lodge veiled criticism.

Of course, Shobokshi explains, the regime is also under intense pressure internally, “for there must be groups or individuals within the regime or its institutions who believe that the current leadership is steering the whole ship towards a collision with the rocks, whereby all will drown unless they start to jump ship now.”

“When this happens, and perhaps soon, there will be some who think that the door is about to close, and that the regime has lost its last chance, and that even if it remains in power it will become like the regime of Saddam Hussein in its final year,” Shobokshi concluded.

In the daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Abdel-Bari Atwan focused on the weakening of Syrian opposition by infighting.

Atwan wrote that Syrian opposition factions and groups are mistaken if they are relying on the Arab League and its foreign ministers to help them in their effort to topple the Syrian regime and replace it with a modern, democratic state. Atwan explains that this is not because these ministers are unwilling, but because they are unable to help.

Atwan pointed out that the most serious problem facing the Syrian opposition was the worsening divisions among its factions and the unseemly, even abusive language employed among its spokesmen at the height of their disagreements over who is representing the Syrian revolution.

“If they are unable to co-exist peacefully when they number only in the dozens, how will they rule or live together with the millions who might disagree with them inside Syria?” Atwan asked.

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November 17th, 2011, 5:16 pm


370. irritated said:

#360 Majedalkhaldoon

Bassem al Kadi kidnap.

“It looks it is something the regime will do”

Why not the opposition thugs to silence him? Oh no! I forgot, they are angels..

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November 17th, 2011, 5:20 pm


371. majedkhaldoun said:

Arab dictators are liers,Saleh of Yemen is the worst, Bashar is similar, Mubarak also was a lier he promised many things and did not do any, Bin Ali was a lier too, Gaddafi told the truth but he was illusional,Saddam was not a lier as much as the rest, Nasser was similar to Saddam .

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November 17th, 2011, 5:33 pm


372. Bronco said:

Tara #368

“Asharq al-Awsat or Al-Hayat, are owned by members of the Saudi royal family.”

It is a mouthpiece for the Saudis. To take with a big spoon of sugar because it is always hateful and bitter for anything not Sunni.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi is populist and pro-palestinian.

“Marc Lynch of Foreign Policy called Al-Quds Al-Arabi “the most populist / ‘rejection camp’ of the major Arab papers.”[9] It is often paired with Asharq Al-Awsat to represent the polar extremes in the pan-Arab press.”

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November 17th, 2011, 5:36 pm


373. irritated said:

#370. majedkhaldoun

Bush, Chirac, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Berlusconi etc.. lied, so what?

Obama promised … and did not deliver, so what?

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November 17th, 2011, 5:39 pm


374. jad said:

It seems that tomorrow will be another ugly day, ‘a street against a street’ strategy will be tested for the first time:

غدا جمعة سوريا لنا سنملأ الشوارع في كل سوريا واماكن التجمع هي
دمشق السبع بحرات
حلب ساحة سعد الله الجابري
اللاذقية دوار هارون
حمص شارع الحضارة
حماة ساحة العاصي
طرطوس الكورنيش البحري
السويداء ساحة سلطان باشا
ادلب ساحة هنانو
القامشلي ساحة السيد الرئيس
البوكمال ساحة الروضة
جبلة دوار العمارة
الرقة ساحة السيد الرئيس
دير الزور السبع بحرات
درعا ساحة السيد الرئيس
لكي لايقولوا ان النظام يخرجنا في ايام الدوام غدا موعدنا يرجى النشر بالسرعة القصوى
هذا الخبر منقول عن اغلب الصفحات الوطنية

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November 17th, 2011, 5:42 pm


375. bronco said:

365. mjabali

Ghalioun is living in a country where people think with their mind and give no importance to religion. His speeches may resonate with these people.
But he is giving that speech to people who think with their emotions and give a great importance to religion.

It can’t resonate, it is just noise.

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November 17th, 2011, 5:48 pm


376. zoo said:

The Muslim Brotherhood use the slogan “Islam is the Solution”
for Egypt 28th November parlementary elections

Is Egypt on the road to true democracy?
By Raghda El Halawany Published: 00:00 November 18, 2011

The elections are expected to take five months, with a total of six rounds of voting.


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November 17th, 2011, 6:08 pm


377. Tara said:


Agree that all Middle Easterners think with their emotion first no matter what their education level is. It is a genetic heritage. I believe Persians too. At least from my experience with Persian men who work in my field. Can you explain why you think that Ghalioun’s speech would not appeal to Syrian youth? Because it did not reference God? Do you really think God plays that much role in the life of Syrian youth?

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November 17th, 2011, 6:37 pm


378. Tara said:


Could the solution for political Islam be to get Islamic parties to power in a country where there is no multiple religions or sects like Libya or Tunisia through democratic election? They may either fail miserably and that would mean their end OR evolve into something more moderate and that would also mean their end too.

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November 17th, 2011, 7:02 pm


379. The Syria Game of Thrones: Turkey vs. Iran vs. the Saudis in Battle to Shape a Rebellion’s Outcome Read more: http://globalspin.blogs.time.com/2011/11/16/the-syria-game-of-thrones-turkey-vs-iran-vs-the-saudis-in-battle-to-shape-a-rebellions-outcome said:

[…] To the extent that Assad’s repression has pushed the opposition towards an increasingly militarized response, that actually reinforces the regime’s narrative that Syria is in the throes of a sectarian civil war, with Assad casting himself as the protector of Allawites and Christians. On that basis, the regime also appears to have divided the region, with Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen — countries with significant Shi’ite populations, and in the case of Iraq, substantial Iranian influence — having declined  to back the original Arab League suspension of Syria. Also, many key leaders of Christian communities in other Arab countries appear to have come out in support of Assad. […]

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November 17th, 2011, 7:03 pm


380. Tara said:

Tomorrow will be calledجمعة طرد السفراء

20 including 2 girls were killed by the security forces in Syria on Thursday.  Thursday is the first day of the 3 days new deadline given to Bashar by the AL to stop the violence.  The regime so far failed miserably.  2 more days to go.     

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November 17th, 2011, 7:18 pm


381. zoo said:

#377 Tara

Iran has been under a religious Islamic government since 1976 (35 years) and has not been economically successful.

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November 17th, 2011, 7:45 pm


382. irritated said:

378. Tara said:

“Tomorrow will be calledجمعة طرد السفراء

Just as the US ambassador Ford is on his way back?

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November 17th, 2011, 7:48 pm


383. Tara said:


Not following. Can you elaborate. Iran is more advanced than any Arab country and they were not involved in Bin Laden- terrorism style and I heard their applications of Shariaa law is somewhat flexible and progressive. So they are not comparable with traditional political Islam. No?

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November 17th, 2011, 7:57 pm


384. zoo said:

“After some debate, it appears Turkey is no longer considering the creation of a humanitarian buffer zone in Syrian territory either”

“Condemnations will continue but the tipping point could be months away

Turkey Anxiously Weighs Cost of Escalation with Syria
November 17, 2011 03:15 PM Age: 5 hrs
By: Matthew Reed

Turkey’s Syria policy, however, remains tempered by apprehension – the country’s inaction certainly proves this. Erdogan’s populist streak guarantees he will condemn Assad’s brutality, but, after revealing the presence of Syrian rebels in Turkey, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has curbed its bravado. Regardless of threats made months ago, Turkey still has not sanctioned Syria, most likely because Turkey’s business elite stands to lose too. Perhaps most conspicuous of all, Erdogan never fulfilled his promise to visit the refugee camps. Indeed, action remains elusive as officials calculate the cost of escalation. Should Turkey encourage regime change, officials know Syria and Iran – Assad’s only ally – could strike back by supporting the PKK.

Military confrontation remains unlikely although relations are reaching new lows. Striking the PKK would require action in Iraq rather than Syria; and attacking Assad for his encouragement of Kurdish terrorists would risk an all-out war, for which there is no popular support in Turkey. After some debate, it appears Turkey is no longer considering the creation of a humanitarian buffer zone in Syrian territory either. Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, admitted last month that military options were on the table but invasion was not an option (Hurriyet, October 7). Erdogan and the military are also sending different signals. In August, Erdogan referred to Syria as Turkey’s “internal problem” (Milliyet, October 31). Last month, however, Turkey’s Chief of Staff, General Necdet Ozel, disagreed during a television interview, arguing that Syrian unrest was “primarily the internal problem of that country” (Milliyet, October 31).

The prospect of terrorism, the complicated nature of military solutions, and unrealized threats combine to suggest the cost of escalation is still too high for Turkey’s leaders. Condemnations will continue but the tipping point could be months away. The problem for Turkey is that it remains the only neighbor with any leverage; the country enjoys economic ties with Syria, which it could sever, and previous good relations, which it could revive. Other countries will consequently push Turkey towards decisive action, but with military operations being the least likely outcome for now.

Matthew M. Reed is a Middle East specialist at Foreign Reports, Inc., a consulting firm in Washington, DC. More of his commentary can be found at Al Ajnabee, where he writes about the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy. He completed his M.A. coursework at George Washington University in May 2011. The views expressed here are solely his.


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November 17th, 2011, 8:09 pm


385. zoo said:

#381 Tara

Iran, more than Saudi Arabia, follows political Islam, but it is Shia Islam that has religious and spiritual leaders. Shias also use ‘logic’ to interpret and apply the Sharia. Nevertheless it is a country ruled by Islam, politically, socially and culturally. Check Wikipedia.

It would too long to develop the comparison with other Islamic systems.

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November 17th, 2011, 8:11 pm


386. jad said:

Arab League and Syria: Motives
By As’ad AbuKhalil

There should be some work in categorizing what can only be described as dumb analysis of the Middle East in the West or the East.

In the West, there are indications that some are clearly buying the notion that the Arab League is responding to the people’s aspirations in the region by acting on the Syrian front. In the East, dumb analysis fills the airwaves of the media of the Syrian regime and their affiliates and allies. They are now subscribing to the view that the US has indeed designed and engineered the “Arab Spring” and some, like Rafiq Nasrallah (a Lebanese fixture in Syrian media) are coming out clearly in favor of all current regimes because he worries about the alternatives. In the West, the tendency to praise the Arab League is now fashionable.

The League was never seriously taken. It has been seen rightly either as a tool of the British government or as a useless arena of inter-Arab conflicts. Yet the role of the body has changed since the end of the Cold War. It has become a tool of US foreign policy. The Saudi “peace” initiative was a US plan and the text was most likely conceived in the original English. There were rivalries within the League: the clients of the US always wanted to push the it further in serving US interest, while some other regimes were more cautious, perhaps fearing their own populations. But Saudi Arabia has managed to put the League under its control: with the overthrow of Mubarak, the League is now an extension of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Governments are not in a position to stand up to the GCC: they either need financial help or they need Western cooperation. The Sudan vote in the latest decision on Syria was the most interesting: we no more hear about the arrest warrant for the Sudanese dictator. Clearly, there was a secret deal between the US and the dictator who has several war crimes on his resume. Since he allowed the partition of Sudan (and the creation of a pro-Israeli entity), the Sudanese dictator is now respected.

Yet, the dumb analysis in many Western media is that the Arab League voted to suspend Syria out of respect for democracy and for the peoples of the region. It is not explained in those analyses as to why the people of Syria are being respected and defended when the Yemeni dictator has used tanks and helicopter gunships against the Yemeni peoples and the Arab League has been silent about his crimes. As long as the dictator enjoys GCC cover and sponsorship, killing will be tolerated especially because the dictator is an obedient servant of the US.

The Arab League acted only because the US failed to obtain a vote in the Security Council. The League is now a useful tool for US foreign policies and wars. The irony is that the League (under the former clownish direction of Amr Mousa) gave legitimacy to NATO bombing of a member state and has now gotten in the business of surrendering the “joint defense” of the Arabs to an outside force. Arab countries in the League are all committed to the “Joint Defense Pact” which has been ignored in numerous inter-Arab wars and in foreign invasions against one Arab state, with the support of some Arab states.

Let us remember that the Syrian regime has no credibility in this matter at all, as it joined the US coalition in 1990-91 to attack Iraq and its army. The same game that the Syrian government is complaining about, was perfected by the Saudi, Egyptian, and Syrian regimes in 1990.

The Arab League’s motives are not related to the plight of the Arab uprisings. They are part of US regional orders. They are also part of the rising ambition of the emirate of Qatar (more on this factor in the next article): it now wants to prove to the US that it can be as subservient and loyal to US imperial interests as Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Qatar, in other words, is proving its usefulness to the US (and Israel). The Arab League has proven that it can only be allowed to be relevant to the extent to which it can strictly follows US dictates. That is why it is preferable that the Arab League remain irrelevant.


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November 17th, 2011, 8:15 pm


387. Tara said:


Why not.? If Syrian Ambassadors got expelled, the regime should reciprocate if the government has some self-respect.

Zoo @ 383

Don’t you worry about it. Please feel free to continue to post links to articles discussing non-Syrian affair like the one in 375 that I responded to. I find them interesting.

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November 17th, 2011, 8:24 pm


388. jad said:

What a ‘humanist’ Sultan, promoting his ‘humanist’ war with the help of the usual barking choir:

أردوغان يدعو العالم إلى إجراءات فورية لوقف سفك الدماء في سورية

أعلن رجب طيب أردوغان رئيس الحكومة التركية أن “أنقرة تعتبر مصلحة سورية وهدوئها من مصلحة تركيا وهدوئها”، مضيفا أن “استقرار سورية هو استقرار للمنطقة”.

وقال أردوغان في افتتاح منتدى البحر الأسود للطاقة والاقتصاد يوم الخميس 17 نوفمبر/تشرين الثاني أن “بلاده بذلت جهودا كبيرة للمساعدة على إحلال الهدوء والاستقرار في سورية”، بحسب وكالة أنباء “الأناضول” التركية.

ورأى رئيس الوزراء التركي أنه “بالرغم من تحذيرات أنقرة وكثير من الدول والجامعة العربية، فإن سفك الدماء يتواصل في سورية، ونحن كتركيا نواصل التحذيرات من أجل حل سلمي في سورية”، داعيا “الدول الإقليمية إلى إبداء الاهتمام باستقرار بالوضع في دمشق”.

وإذ اعتبر أردوغان أن “المشاكل في سورية والشرق الأوسط ليست إقليمية بل عالمية”، دعا إلى “إجراءات فورية لوقف سفك الدماء من أجل السلام والتضامن العالمي” ولفت إلى أن “الحوادث المؤلمة في ليبيا شكلت دروسا مهمة”، مضيفا أنه “للأسف فبعض الدول ترى فقط آبار النفط في ليبيا، وتتجاهل عامل البشر”، مشيرا إلى أنه “على العالم أن يفهم أن النظام الذي يتجاهل عامل البشر لا يمكن أن يواصل وجوده”.

واعتبر أن “الاقتصاد العالمي لا يمكن أن يصل للازدهار، وأن أمن إمدادات الطاقة لا يمكن أن يتوفر والسلام العالمي لا يمكن أن يتحقق من دون إعطاء قيمة للبشر”.

وأضاف أن “سورية قد لا يتم متابعتها بشكل حساس في العالم كونها ليست غنية بما يكفي من ناحية موارد الطاقة، لكن الشعب الذي يقتل هناك هو بشر أيضا”.

الإخوان المسلمون في سورية مع تدخل تركي في سورية لحماية المدنيين

من جهة أخرى أكد رياض الشقفة المراقب العام لجماعة الإخوان المسلمين في سورية في اسطنبول أن السوريين مستعدون لقبول تدخل تركي في سورية لحماية المدنيين من أعمال العنف التي يرتكبها نظام دمشق.

وقال الشقفة في مؤتمر صحفي إن “الشعب السوري سيقبل بتدخل في سورية من تركيا أكثر من الغرب إذا كان الأمر يتعلق بحماية المدنيين”.

وأضاف “قد نحتاج لطلب المزيد من تركيا لأنها جارة”، بدون أن يوضح طبيعة التدخل الذي تأمل الجماعة فيه.

وقال القيادي للإخوان المسلمين السوريين “لو قام النظام الدولي بعزل النظام السوري من خلال طرد سفراء سورية وسحب سفرائه في دمشق سيتكفل الشعب السوري بإسقاط النظام لأنه سيتفكك ويسقط بسرعة”.

وذكرت صحيفة “صباح” القريبة من الحكومة التركية يوم الخميس أن المجلس الوطني السوري، الذي يضم عددا من أطياف المعارضة السورية بمن فيهم الإخوان المسلمون، طلب من تركيا منطقة حظر جوي على طول حدوده في الجانب السوري، لحماية المدنيين السوريين.

المصدر: وكالات

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November 17th, 2011, 8:25 pm


389. majedkhaldoun said:

You said that Mr. Ford is on his way to Syria, How long his trip will take? would he be there before or after the end of Bashar?

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November 17th, 2011, 8:52 pm


390. irritated said:

Tara #385

The call for western countries to expel the Syrian ambassadors will be as successful as the numerous call for “General strikes” , ” WE WANT NATO” and “NO FLY ZONE” etc…
Dead ear…

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November 17th, 2011, 8:52 pm


391. Norman said:

377. Tarasaid:


Could the solution for political Islam be to get Islamic parties to power in a country where there is no multiple religions or sects like Libya or Tunisia through democratic election? They may either fail miserably and that would mean their end OR evolve into something more moderate and that would also mean their end too.


The problem is not that they might get to power, the problem that they will do what the Baath party did in Syria it felt that they are the only ones that can protect Syria so they decided that they should stay forever and we see where we are, the Islamic parties will do the same thing and think that they are God’s gift to the people and are entitled to stay in power and that is why i want a strong army that can push away the party that loses power.

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November 17th, 2011, 8:55 pm


392. irritated said:

Majedalkhaldoon #387

Thanksgiving is on the 25th November 2011. Ford promised he’ll return and bring his turkey to share with his staff in Damascus.
Maybe he is a liar too?

I guess Bashar would still be here next week and many months after.

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November 17th, 2011, 8:58 pm


393. Tara said:


I don’t want them to get to power in Syria either. Syria will only thrive with a secular government. I was hoping they get to power in another homogeneous country where they either fail or evolve , a phase I find important for political Islam to go through enlightenment then cease to exist.

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November 17th, 2011, 9:13 pm


394. Norman said:


Gullion warned recently about civil war, at least he seems to acknowledge that, he even said that people in the opposition are killing each other, can you believe what will happen if the Syrian government collapses, Lebanon and Iraq would look like heaven in comparison, we have to remember that the Syrian army stopped the Lebanese war and the American army was in Iraq to stop that war, Syria will have nobody of power if the Syrian army and government are absent,

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November 17th, 2011, 9:20 pm


395. Revlon said:

((وأتوجه بشكل خاص إلى أحرار حمص وثوارها الأبطال من كل الفئات والمذاهب، وادعوهم إلى تغليب حسهم الوطني، ووقف الاعتداءات وعمليات الخطف والانتقام والترفع عن الاحقاد والالتفاف حول ثورتهم الجامعة وأحثهم على ضبط النفس ورفض الانجرار وراء ممارسات بغيضة تزكي الحقد بدل المودة والألفة وتكرس الانقسام بدل الوحدة))

This has been another of Mr Ghalioun’s, unfortunate statements.

National sentiment is a luxury he and his SNC members can afford to brag about. Thousands of activists are rotting in jail because they breached Jr’s version of the same National Sentiment.

The struggling demonstrators and their families have no time for such crap! They need to defend their own and their families lives and living.
They are not fighting for a higher national purpose. They are fighting to earn back their God given right to be free.

Mr. Ghalioun has misrepresented his constituency; The revolution.

He mischaracterized certain, unspecified actions on the ground as acts of aggression!

Armed responses in Homs, and elsewhere in Syria, have been strictly carried out by units of the FSA, not civilian demonstrators.
Such actions should be regarded by the FSA, as they are regarded by revolution’s ground forces, defensive and aim at saving lives, deterring the occupying mob forces, and ridding their living from tyranny.

While certain FSA operations might seem offensive, they always come with the goal of saving or freeing of civilians that were kidnapped and became at risk of being killed by Asad’s mob.

A clarification and apology ought to be issued to repair the damage.

Any communiqué issued by the SNC, including the president, must be congruent with, and reflective of the views from the trenches.

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November 17th, 2011, 9:29 pm


396. Norman said:

256. louaisaid:

Norman was it you who wrote this article?

من منا لم يقرأ أو يبحث أو يناقش مفهوم القومية العربية ؟ هل القومية العربية سراباً لا يمكن تحقيقه ؟ أم أنها الطريق الاسلم للنهوض بالوطن العربي ككل ؟
لا اريد البحث أو الاقناع ، وإنما أريد تسليط بعض الضوء على هذا التعبير خاصةً بعد التخبط الذي نعيشه في وطننا الكبير، أريد فقط اجراء تشريح بسيط لهذا المفهوم لعلي استطيع محاكاة العقول بعيداً عن العاطفة .


2 2


How did you find out?

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November 17th, 2011, 9:32 pm


397. zoo said:

Iraq’s Sadr supports Syrian president

Senior Iraqi cleric and prominent political figure, Muqtada al-Sadr, expresses strong support for Syrian president amid Damascus’ efforts to curb the deadly domestic unrest it is facing.

There is “a big difference” between what is happening in Syria and the revolutions in “Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen,” Sadr said in a statement, AFP reported on Thursday.

“One of the reasons behind this difference is that [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad is against the American and Israeli presence and his attitudes are clear, not like those who collapsed before him, or will collapse,” the statement read.


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November 17th, 2011, 9:34 pm


398. Tara said:


Yes I now believe that civil war appears inevitable if Assad remains in power if it has not already started. What supporters are failing to understand is that the opposition welcomed the dialogue with the “regime” as long as Bashar is toppled. It really is boiling down to one thing and one thing only: BASHAR. Hundreds of thousand might be killed because of this one person. The solution is for him to step down, the opposition will then enter in a dialogue with the “regime” to a goal of peaceful transition. This will avert the civil war and the foreign intervention.

Intelligent people are those who can assess the situation and cut their losses. The demonstrators have nothing to lose. They are already dead or content with the possibilities of dying anytime going out to demonstrate. If civil war to occurs, others will die too in massive number for many years.

Bashar should be removed from the equation for the Syria to resurrect itself otherwise, it does appear very grim.

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November 17th, 2011, 9:43 pm


399. irritated said:


Turkey will pacify Syria and probably annex it…

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November 17th, 2011, 9:46 pm


400. Tara said:

Action possible in Syria: US adviser


Thursday, November 17, 2011
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

An international intervention in Syria is likely, if the crackdown continues
in the country, according to Obama’s intelligence adviser who claims President al-Assad would be toppled in the end because his people hate him

If things continue as they are in Syria, an international intervention like in Libya may be possible, according to Chuck Hagel, co-chairman of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board and chairman of the Atlantic Council.

“If things continue to go as they are in Syria, more innocent Syrian civilians are killed and Assad remains in power, then you may well see some international intervention,” Hagel told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

Hagel, who participated in the Black Sea Energy & Economic Forum organized by the Atlantic Council in Istanbul, spoke to the Daily News on the sidelines of the conference. Hagel said he believed the Assad government would be toppled in the end. “He cannot maintain his ability to govern his country with the sanctions and no friends and no allies, in a country that is erupting. His people hate him and eventually he will go, that cannot be sustained.”

Hagel said the original point of international intervention in Libya was a human rights issue to protect innocent civilians with the authority of the United Nations, and a similar path followed in Libya could also be possible for Syria.

“It also depends on how long this goes on. The processes that have been used in Syria were mainly trying to peacefully influence the outcome of the sanctions, using all diplomatic, economic and trade influences, powers and authorities that Arab League countries have. Especially the Arab League’s and Turkey’s positions now with Syria are quite significant. Assad now finds himself essentially isolated in the world. Assad has no support anywhere in the world,” Hagel said.

Hagel said he was in favor of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s stance toward Syria. “I admire Prime Minister Erdoğan’s courage and directness on the position he is taking against Assad. The reality is that what comes after Assad and – that is just a matter of time- that new government might need the Turkish relationship. That relationship with Turkey will be very important for the future of Syria,” Hagel said.

Hagel also said the U.S.’s and Turkey’s policies match pretty well in the Arab Spring process. “Turkey and the U.S. have been together on supporting the same policies and in their strategic interests. I know President Obama and Prime Minister Erdoğan talk very often. They talk about Syria, possible strategies; they talk about how best to handle this. Of course that is what allies do. In the end Turkey will take its positions based on its own reasons,” Hagel said.

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November 17th, 2011, 9:49 pm


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