Will Syria Remain Fragmented for Years?

Will Syria Remain Fragmented for Years?
by Joshua Landis – Syria Comment – July 30, 2012

Afriend flew into Aleppo’s airport 3 days ago from Germany where he had been on business. On his drive into the city, he was shocked to run into a FSA roadblock. The militiamen who greeted him were polite. After asking him where he had been and where he was going, they sent him on his way. A kilometer down the road, he passed through a government check point run by Air-force Intelligence.

Such reports remind me of Lebanon, where I lived for a few years during the civil war. A simple trip could send one through a series of roadblocks run by competing forces. As an American in Lebanon before the Israeli invasion of 1982, I was not a person of interest to any of the warring factions and thus could pass through them unmolested. My Lebanon memories make me wonder whether the expectation of an imminent victory in Syria by one side is realistic.

Militias may well impose control in their areas but find themselves unable to dislodge or overcome competing militias. Some may simply find it more convenient to make deals with rivals than to fight them. Syria could well become a “deeply penetrated society,” as political scientists named Lebanon: a society in which competing factions are largely dependent on external support.

We are all so accustomed to thinking of Syria as DAMASCUS. The capital has been favored by successive governments since independence that it is natural for Syrians to expect the capital to be the axis about which all Syria revolves. That expectation may be misleading. Whomever owns Damascus may no longer own Syria.  I have told many journalists that once Damascus falls to rebels, the Assad regime will be effectively dead. That may be true, but the remaining body of the Syrian Army, which is rapidly turning into an Alawite militia, could live on for some time. Various regions of Syria are re-establishing a degree of autonomy and self governance now that Syria is being overrun by militias of many different stripes.

Assad and his men will work for a fragmented Syria. It may be their only path to survival. If the Free Syrian Army can conquer all of Syria, most regime principals will be executed.

I don’t expect Syria to break up as some do, but it may be a long while before one militia or a unified political organization is able to impose its control over the country. Road-blocks were a common feature of Lebanon’s political landscape for fifteen long years.

News Round Up

Free Syrian Army issues military-led transition plan  – AFP:

Syria’s rebels distributed on Monday a “national salvation draft” proposal for a political transition in the country, bringing together military and civilian figures for a post-Bashar Al-Assad phase.

The draft by the joint command of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) proposes the establishment of a higher defence council charged with creating a presidential council, which in turn would bring together a total of six military and civilian figures to lead a future transition.

The proposal “meets all the revolution’s demands,” said the umbrella Military Council Joint Command, based in the central province of Homs.

When Syria’s uprising first turned into an armed insurgency, various factions of fighters generally had little or no coordination with each other as they separately battled President Assad’s forces.

This has changed with time, with the Joint Command, headed by Colonel Kassem Saadeddine, emerging as an increasingly representative coordination body for the FSA inside Syria.

Officially, the FSA is under the command of defected Colonel Riad al-Assaad, who is based in Turkey. However, FSA commanders inside Syria have frequently said they would not take orders from a leader based outside the strife-torn country.

The transition-phase higher defence council should include “all Military Council leaders in Syria’s cities and provinces, as well as all the high-profile defected officers and others who have contributed to the revolution,” the Joint Command statement said.

Among the proposed presidential council’s responsibilities would be “to put forward draft laws for referendum and (…) to restructure the security and military apparatus,” the statement said.

The FSA also envisaged “the development of solutions for civilians who took up arms during the revolution,” adding that they “could be incorporated in new security and military institutions.”

The transition would also feature the “establishment of a higher national council to protect the Syrian revolution,” whose role would be to “monitor the work of the executive.”

Alongside all major opposition forces — including activist networks the Syrian Revolution General Commission and the Local Coordination Committees — the FSA and the new national council should participate “in the creation of new institutions,” the statement said.

President in name only, Assad plays for time
By ceding large parts of Syria, the tyrant has effectively admitted that he cannot win
By David Blair – Telegraph

From street protests to insurgency to national insurrection. The remorseless escalation of Syria’s conflict since it first broke out 16 months ago is the most striking feature of the challenge to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

Repression has bred resistance, and vice versa, to the point where the country’s biggest cities are becoming battlefields. Aleppo is dominated by the magnificent gatehouse of its Citadel, providing visual proof that possession of this ancient city has decided the fate of kings for centuries. So it is with Mr Assad today: his actions betray a grim awareness that the struggle for Aleppo is central to his regime’s survival. He has been willing to strip neighbouring provinces of troops and tanks in order to mobilise forces for this battle, even though this effectively means turning over large areas of his country to de facto rebel control.

The outlines of Mr Assad’s new survival strategy are now emerging. He will do whatever it takes to hang on to Damascus and Aleppo and, so far as possible, the main north-south highway linking the two cities. This leaves him with little choice but to concede most of rural Syria to his enemies….

CFR and Foreign Policy

UN Says 200,000 Syrians Flee Battle in Aleppo

A massive counteroffensive by the Syrian government over the weekend has forced an estimated 200,000 people to flee Aleppo while the opposition continues what is effectively a guerilla war. Government troops pounded Syria’s largest city and commercial capital, claiming they have overtaken Salaheddine, the center of fighting in the southwestern region of the city. Opposition forces dispute the government’s statement, retorting they have retained control of the Salehedine quarter despite the bombardment of heavy artillery and helicopter gunships. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Syrian opposition has continued to appeal to the international community for arms. France said it would call for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said of the Syrian regime, “If they continue this kind of tragic attack on their own people in Aleppo, I think it ultimately will be a nail in Assad’s own coffin.”

The United Nations’ humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said that the International Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent have estimated that 200,000 people have fled the fighting in Aleppo over the past two days. She claimed others are trapped in the midst of the fighting or are taking refuge in schools or other public buildings. Iraq, concerned over domestic instability, has  resisted receiving Syrian refugees. The Iraqi border was closed until last week to those fleeing the conflict. Syrians who have crossed over are being imprisoned. According to the United Nations, Iraq has received 8,445 refugees while Turkey has registered 88,000. Jordan claims to have taken in 140,000 people.

Meanwhile, a Turkish official reported that the deputy police chief of the predominantly Alawite port city of Latakia defected overnight, along with 12 Syrian officers. Fighting between both sides continued today. At the same time, Jordan opened its first official refugee camp (VOA) for Syrians fleeing the sixteen-month-old conflict, having taken in 142,000 Syrians thus far.


“Governments in the West and in the Middle East fear the prospect of a power vacuum if Mr. Assad were to go soon. Opponents, including the Syrian National Council, a wobbly coalition of Mr. Assad’s foes, are trying to draw up a plan for a post-Assad Syria. But Western diplomats are taking the council less seriously, since it lacks credibility in Syria, and are shifting their focus to the FSA and internal groups,” says the Economist.

“But Assad has one card left to play: The Syrian regime has been setting the stage for a retreat to Syria’s coastal mountains, the traditional homeland of the Assads’ Alawite sect, for months now. It is now clear that this is where the Syrian conflict is headed. Sooner or later, Assad will abandon Damascus,” Tony Badran writes for ForeignPolicy.com.

“Western and Arab powers that have backed the rebellion are increasingly mindful of the dangers of Syria (and its Arab neighbors) breaking up into a bloody civil war if Assad’s regime is precipitously toppled, and of a protracted war that might see the leadership of the rebellion passed to more radical elements,” writes TIME‘s Tony Karon.

Iran Warns Arab States, Turkey Over Syria

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, meeting yesterday with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem in Tehran, warned Arab states and Turkey that their support for the Syrian opposition movement (WSJ) would have destabilizing consequences for each of their countries and the larger Middle East.

Lebanon (from POMED)

Syria Conflict Continues Spread to Lebanon: Lebanon appealed to the international community for aid in the face of rapidly growing number of Syrian refugees in the country. Those fleeing to Lebanon have begun to include well-off and middle-class Syrians. Lebanese President Michel Sleimansent a letter of protest to Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim, accusing Syria of repeated violations of the Lebanese border. The protest came after a house in the Lebanese border town of Mashariaa al-Qaa was bombed, while shells were fired into several other villages along the border. There has been an increase of cross-border clashes recently as Syrian opposition groups have taken advantage of the porous border.
High-Level Defections Continue: Syria’s ambassador to the U.A.E. Abdelatif al-Dabbagh has defected to Qatar, following his wife’s earlier defection. Syrian lawmaker and Baath party member Ikhlas Badawi defected to Turkey. A U.N. spokesperson announced that Turkey is closing its border to Syria for all commercial traffic in both directions, with only three border posts remaining open. U.N. Observer Mission members said 150 observers permanently left the country after an internal decision to halve the staff.
Tom Friedman argued that the prospects for a positive outcome in Syria are low, pointing to Syria’s similarities to Iraq. Glenn Greenwald blasted Friedman’s analysis arguing that the American presence in Iraq led to the sectarian civil war and was ill equipped to “manage” the conflict.

Joe Holliday on Aleppo – he sends this in an email – (thanks to Joel Rayburn)

Even if the regime wins their Aleppo offensive, I predict a Pyrrhic victory, because the rebels in Idlib are pushing hard to cut off the regime’s lines of supply. The security forces committed virtually all of their Idlib-based available combat power to the Aleppo fight, leaving behind a skeleton crew of isolated outposts that the rebels are overrunning one by one. The current fight for Maarat al Numan is just as important as Aleppo in some ways, as the rebels are on the verge of isolating a full 20% of the regime’s remaining combat power.Ws just published a new report the Idlib opposition here:

Its a much shorter, more focused look at the leading rebel groups in Idlib’s Jebal al-Zawiya region. I think it’s an important case study, because the region has been an incubator for the insurgency’s increasing organizational scale, ability to conduct sustained offensives, and willingness to travel considerable distances to mount these attacks. It’s also an important study because it deals with that murky issue of popular and effective Islamist rebel groups that should probably not be classified as extremists. My research assistant Asher did a great job writing this report.

Stratfor Saudi Arabia Maneuvers Amid Syrian Turmoil

The Saudis want to do everything they can to limit the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and are supporting the hard-line Salafists, who compete with the Muslim Brotherhood for Sunni votes, as a containment tool. In the longer term, Turkey will become Saudi Arabia’s main competition for influence in the Sunni world. While not an Arab state, Turkey has a more diverse economy and a foreign policy approach that more closely conforms to international expectations. It can also work with Libya, which has a historically difficult relationship with Saudi Arabia….
Iran would prefer to participate in shaping any post-al Assad government in order to secure its interests. But if the Iranians see that the Saudis — and other actors like Turkey or the United States — are trying to keep Iran completely out of the Syrian transition, they may try to create a protracted insurgency. Tehran knows that if the Saudis and Sunnis get a foothold in Syria, the Iranian position in Iraq becomes vulnerable.

Doha and Riyadh have worked together to back the rebels in Syria, but that cooperation will have its limits.

Many Arab and Islamic countries also resent Saudi Arabia for its wealth and for the high-handed attitude its leadership assumes when dealing with poorer states. Riyadh has found it difficult to assert leadership even over the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council — especially Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Furthermore, it is far from guaranteed that a transition in Syria will result in a government antagonistic to Iran, or that Iran will not succeed in fomenting an insurgency that creates enough chaos to prevent a Saudi-aligned Sunni government from taking power. Hezbollah may be feeling vulnerable for now, but it remains aligned with Tehran and will not want to see its patron excluded from a post-al Assad Syria…..

Captiain Firas al-Safi Assassinated on his way from Damascus Airport to his Home in Damascus

The sins of the father caught up with Firas al-Safi, a civilian pilot with SyrianAir. Ibrahim al-Safi, the military ruler of Lebanon for a number of years, paid for his position and loyalty to the Assads with the death of his son. …

Rebels control a strategic land corridor in northern Syria

The Guardian’s Luke Harding, in Syria, has details of the bounty rebel fighters claim to have seized when they took over a checkpoint north-west of Aleppo today.

Speaking to the Guardian, the commander in charge of the Aleppo battle confirmed that his troops had seized a key checkpoint north-west of the city early today. Col Abdel Naser said Free Syrian Army fighters had overwhelmed the Hryatan army base, 5km from the city and next to the Andadan checkpoint, at around 5am this morning.

“It was a successful operation. We took eight tanks and 10 armoured vehicles, as well as mortars and lots of weapons. We also took prisoners. One of our fighters was killed,” he said. He added: “Two tanks and one armoured vehicle managed to escape.”

Col Naser said the Syrian army had responded to the defeat with “light shelling”, on the town of Hryatan and neighbouring Anadan, the FSA’s previous forward position. “We expect more shelling tonight,” he said.

The capture of the Anadan checkpoint is a major boost for the rebels, who now control a strategic land corridor in northern Syria from Turkey all the way to Aleppo’s outskirts. Another FSA officer said theroute would be useful for resupplying FSA fighters inside the city – and as a haven for refugees seeking to flee. Tens of thousands have already left for safer areas.

As Syrian War Drags On, Jihadists Take Bigger Role

A gunman who said he was a member of a jihadist group near the Bab al-Hawa border crossing in Syria. The signs read “The solution is Islam,” left, and “There is no god but God.”
By and HWAIDA SAAD,  July 29, 2012

BEIRUT, Lebanon — As the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s government grinds on with no resolution in sight, Syrians involved in the armed struggle say it is becoming more radicalized: homegrown Muslim jihadists, as well as small groups of fighters from Al Qaeda, are taking a more prominent role and demanding a say in running the resistance.

The past few months have witnessed the emergence of larger, more organized and better armed Syrian militant organizations pushing an agenda based on jihad, the concept that they have a divine mandate to fight. Even less-zealous resistance groups are adopting a pronounced Islamic aura because it attracts more financing….

Idlib Province, the northern Syrian region where resistance fighters control the most territory, is the prime example. In one case there, after jihadists fighting under the black banner of the Prophet Muhammad staged significant attacks against Syrian government targets, the commander of one local rebel military council recently invited them to join. “They are everywhere in Idlib,” said a lean and sunburned commander with the Free Syrian Army council in Saraqib, a strategic town on the main highway southwest from Aleppo. “They are becoming stronger, so we didn’t want any hostility or tension in our area.”

Tension came anyway. The groups demanded to raise the prophet’s banner — solid black with “There is no god but God” written in flowing white Arabic calligraphy — during the weekly Friday demonstration. Saraqib prides itself in its newly democratic ways, electing a new town council roughly every two months, and residents put it to a vote — the answer was no. The jihadi fighters raised the flag anyway, until a formal compromise allowed for a 20-minute display.

In one sense, the changes on the ground have actually brought closer to reality the Syrian government’s early, and easily dismissible, claim that the opposition was being driven by foreign-financed jihadists.

A central reason cited by the Obama administration for limiting support to the resistance to things like communications equipment is that it did not want arms flowing to Islamic radicals. But the flip side is that Salafist groups, or Muslim puritans, now receive most foreign financing.

“A lot of the jihadi discourse has to do with funding,” noted Peter Harling, the Syria analyst with the International Crisis Group, adding that it was troubling all the same. “You have secular people and very moderate Islamists who join Salafi groups because they have the weapons and the money. There tends to be more Salafi guys in the way the groups portray themselves than in the groups on the ground.”

But jihad has become a distinctive rallying cry. The commander of the newly unified brigades of the Free Syrian Army fighting in Aleppo was shown in a YouTube video on Sunday exhorting men joining the rebellion there by telling them: “Those whose intentions are not for God, they had better stay home, whereas if your intention is for God, then you go for jihad and you gain an afterlife and heaven.”…

Libyans in Idlib
MARY FITZGERALD, Foreign Affairs Correspondent, in Northern Syria, Irish Times

THE END of Friday prayers brings hundreds of men spilling onto a square in this town in Idlib province, filling the humid air with chants of freedom, justice, and war.

Some 70km to the north lies Syria’s most populous city, Aleppo, now cowering ahead of what many here believe will be a decisive battle in the 16-month uprising against president Bashar al-Assad. Aleppo is on everyone’s mind in this dusty, predominantly Sunni hamlet where residents say more than 180 homes have been burned by regime forces in recent months.

A skinny young man dressed in jeans and T-shirt stands on a platform and yells “Where is our flag of independence? Where is the flag of our revolution?” The three-starred green, white and black standard adopted by Syria’s opposition flutters in the wind before him. The speaker’s voice grows hoarse as he dares the Syrian army to come to his town again. “We need to keep our strength and unity as revolutionaries,” he urges. “Ya Allah [O God] we have no one but you. Help us to stand on the head of Bashar.” The gathered men pump their fists in the air, roaring “Allahu Akbar” in response.

Maher Dugaib, an engineer and father of three, looked on. “Everyone is thinking of Aleppo now because the city is very important,” he said. “What happens in Aleppo will decide much about the future of Bashar and the future of our country.”

Another local man, who gives his name as Abu Mahmoud, is part of a brigade established about three months ago and led by a Libyan-born naturalised Irish citizen Mehdi al-Harati.

“Our town was one of the first to come out and protest against Bashar last year,” says Abu Mahmoud. “We are willing to go to help our brothers in Aleppo at any stage.”

Of the town’s 18,000 residents, 30 have died so far in the uprising – most during helicopter attacks by regime forces – and more than 1,000 men of fighting age have joined the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the loosely organised grouping of military defectors and civilian volunteers.

Mehdi al-Harati’s brigade, known as Liwa al-Umma (Banner of the Nation), is separate to the FSA and its units are scattered throughout the country.

According to Harati, who first came to Syria some 10 months ago for what he says was initially humanitarian work, the brigade emerged after Syrians approached him due to his experience as commander of the Tripoli Brigade in Libya last year. The Tripoli Brigade was one of the first rebel units into the Libyan capital last August.

Liwa al-Umma is made up of more than 6,000 men, 90 per cent of whom are Syrian. The rest are mostly Libyans and other Arabs, including several who live in Ireland. “We couldn’t stand by in the face of such horror,” said one 21-year-old from Dublin, explaining why he decided to come and fight.

During yesterday’s demonstration, another Irish citizen, Hossam al-Najjar, joined the Syrian speaker on stage. Draped in the flags of both the Syrian and Libyan revolutions, the two men chanted slogans against Assad. Najjar, who is Harati’s Irish-born brother-in-law, was also a leading member of the Tripoli Brigade.

“We’re here to facilitate and train civilian rebels in Syria – many of whom are doctors, engineers and teachers – using our experience during the Libyan revolution,” Harati told The Irish Times. “We are a group of civilians brought together for a cause. Asked why he decided to join Harati’s brigade instead of the FSA, Abdel Fatouh Dughaim, a local trader, replied: “Liwa al-Umma is fighting for truth and justice with an Islamic background.” Another younger man said he was drawn to Liwa al-Umma because it was well-organised and disciplined.

Yesterday morning, activists used loudspeakers at the town’s mosques to issue urgent requests for doctors and nurses to come treat fighters wounded during clashes between government troops and rebel forces less than 10km away. According to Harati, a recent four-hour battle involving Liwa al-Umma fighters and regime forces at the same location resulted in the deaths of 63 Syrian soldiers and three rebels.

Syria’s opposition forces remain poorly equipped compared to Assad’s formidable army but Harati said recent developments, including the rebels’ takeover of several border posts, meant that “new and improved” weapons were now more easily available.

Syria: foreign jihadists could join battle for Aleppo – Martin Chulov in Beirut, Guardian

Jihadists, many with al-Qaida sympathies, are said to be planning to join a decisive battle against regime troops

Amid the ruins in Aleppo, Syrian rebels say victory is near
By Erika Solomon, ALEPPO | Mon Jul 30, 2012

(Reuters) – The rebel banner of independence waves over the scorched streets and gutted cars that litter the urban battlegrounds of Aleppo, scars of a struggle in Syria’s second largest city that fighters believe they are destined to win within weeks.

The scruffy, rifle-wielding youths are undeterred by the fate of equally bold, but ultimately crushed campaigns by rebels in the capital Damascus or in Homs, the bloody epicenter of the 16-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

Careening through streets ripped up by army tanks on their motorbikes and flatbed trucks, young rebels with camouflage pants and Kalashnikovs patrol their newly acquired territory, which stretches from the outskirts of Aleppo in the northeast and sweeps around the city down to the southwestern corner.

“We always knew the regime’s grave would be Aleppo. Damascus is the capital, but here we have a fourth of the country’s population and the entire force of its economy. Bashar’s forces will be buried here,” said Mohammed, a young fighter, fingering the bullets in his tattered brown ammunition vest….

“We have made a semicircle around the city, and we can push in to the centre. Up in the north, the Kurdish groups are running two neighborhoods in the northern central part of the city. We don’t work together, but we don’t fight,” said a fighter called Bara.

“I really believe that within ten days or more, we have a chance to take the city.”

But across town, the smoking wreckage of the Salaheddine district in the south tells a different story. Bodies lay in the streets on Sunday as the army pounded fighters with artillery and mortars and helicopter gunships fired from above.

“We don’t know if they are going to try to finish the area off or if they are distracting us, and then come shell us again here in the east of town,” said Ahmed, a chain smoking activist, cigarettes as he debated with fighters insisting victory was near.

Salaheddine is the main artery out of the city and onto the highway that leads south to Damascus. State troops seem to have concentrated all their forces on wresting it from the rebels.

If the army, which retains overwhelming military superiority with helicopter gunships, rockets, artillery and tanks, cannot secure Salaheddine enough to get tanks on the ground, it would have to bring tanks into the city by going all the way around the province and entering from the other side, because minor roads on the city outskirts are mined by the rebels.

Both sides are trying to avoid using manpower. The army bombards from afar with its tanks or its helicopters hovering overhead. Rebels set up homemade bombs to blow up the tanks when they try to roll in.

Syria: Guests of the Warlord‘ (Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker)
“Abu Ibrahim is a big bear of a man in his early forties. He wears flip-flops and a T-shirt and tracksuit pants, and shuffles because of a sniper bullet in his left leg, fired by Syrian government forces; another bullet went through his right foot not long ago, and his face is scarred from an explosion caused when an assailant tried to kill him with a grenade. He keeps a pistol tucked into the waistband of his tracksuit pants. His men are loyal and watchful and one of them never leaves his side. He told me that he used to be a “fruit merchant.” Now, Abu Ibrahim is one of the chieftains of the war in Syria’s strategic northern Aleppo province, where a decisive military confrontation seems to be beginning.”…

Foreign ‘jihadi’ fighters reported in Syria: al-Jazeera Video footage suggests the involvement in Syria conflict of foreign fighters with sympathies or links to al-Qaeda. http://aje.me/OwOXXN


 FCO (GB): Syrian Chargé D’Affaires in London resigns

Syrian Chargé D’Affaires in London resigns 30 July 2012 The Syrian Chargé d’Affaires, Mr Khaled al-Ayoubi, has informed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office today that he has left his post in the Syrian Embassy in London. A Foreign Office …


Syria Conflict Continues Spread to Lebanon: Lebanon appealed to the international community for aid in the face of rapidly growing number of Syrian refugees in the country. Those fleeing to Lebanon have begun to include well-off and middle-class Syrians. Lebanese President Michel Sleiman sent a letter of protest to Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim, accusing Syria of repeated violations of the Lebanese border. The protest came after a house in the Lebanese border town of Mashariaa al-Qaa was bombed, while shells were fired into several other villages along the border. There has been an increase of cross-border clashes recently as Syrian opposition groups have taken advantage of the porous border.

Iran Seethes With Discontent During Ramadan
By: Ramin Mostaghim and Alexandra Sandels | Los Angeles Times

Jobs and wages have been cut and prices have shot up. People are especially angry about the skyrocketing cost of chicken.

Russia’s Medvedev Plays Down Split With West on Syria, Agence France-Presse

Russia’s differences with the West on Syria are not as great as they appear, as both agree on the need to prevent civil war, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview published Monday.

Spinmeister Ammar al-Wawi Peddles Upbeat Message of Syrian Rebellion
by Mike Giglio Jul 30, 2012

As the Assad regime bombards Aleppo, the rebels are desperate not only to repel the military, but to shore up morale and build outside support. Ammar al-Wawi, the Free Syrian Army’s leading spin doctor, tells Mike Giglio the government is “like the walking dead.”

 Syrian Refugees Are Stung by a Hostile Reception in Iraq – NYTimes

Alone among Syria’s Muslim neighbors, Iraq is resisting receiving refugees from the conflict, and is making those who do arrive anything but comfortable. Baghdad is worried about the fighters of a newly resurgent Al Qaedaflowing both ways across the border, and about the Sunni opponents of the two governments making common cause….

Though Syrians have been fleeing the unrest in their country for months, Iraq did not open its borders to refugees until last week, after protests from the Sunni tribes in Anbar Province. The Bukamal border crossing, near this city, is the most problematic one for Iraq, with the Syrian side now under the control of opposition forces.

The restrictions Baghdad has imposed on refugees proved so severe that on Friday, representatives of the Anbar tribes and hundreds of followers took to the streets in the 125-degree midday heat to protest the treatment of the newly arriving Syrians, many of whom have family and tribal connections with Iraqis here.

Kurd: See KurdWatch

Kurdistan conclude additional agreement
KURDWATCH, July 28, 2012—On July 1, 2012, representatives of the Kurdish National Council and the People’s Council of West Kurdistan signed an agreement in Salahuddin (Kurdistan/Iraq) intended to supplement the agreement signed on June 11, 2012 in Erbil [download document]. The first point of the document recognizes the Erbil agreement and pronounces its implementation. The second point resolves that a joint caucus will be formed with the task of establishing general political principles and leading the Kurdish movement. Members of both councils are to be equally represented in the caucus and in all committees, and decisions are to be made by consensus.
Point three provides for the establishment of various committees of experts. Point four calls for the cessation of media attacks. Point five forbids the use of force as well as any activities likely to lead to tensions in the Kurdish regions. Point six adopts the bylaws appended to the Erbil agreement, and point seven resolves that committees will be formed within two weeks of the signing of the agreement. The Kurdish National Council and the People’s Council of West Kurdistan adopted the agreement on July 9 and 10, respectively….
Al-Qamishli: Future Movement splits

KURDWATCH, July 22, 2012—The Kurdish Future Movement in Syria has split.

ʿAfrin: Father and two sons kidnapped and murdered by the PYD

KURDWATCH, July 21, 2012—On June 29, 2012, supporters of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) attacked a dissident demonstration in front of the Dirsim Hospital in ʿAfrin [further information on the case]. The demonstrator ʿAbdurrahman Hasan Bakr defended himself against the attacks, and a PYD activist known as Chakdar was injured in the face in the process. The PYD retaliated in an unprecedented way: In the night from July 4 to July 5, armed PYD fighters attacked the home of Hanan Hasan Bakr in ʿAfrin. Those who were attacked defended themselves and a shootout lasting several hours ensued, in which the PYD activist Chakdar was killed and other attackers were injured. PYD members then kidnapped Hanan Hasan Bakr and at least ten of his relatives. They also set four homes and several cars belonging to the kidnapped victims on fire.

Kurdish worries drag Turkey deeper into Syria war, Reuters

The Associated Press reports: Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday

that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the Palestinians,… “As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality,” the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who ate breakfast at the luxurious King David Hotel.

Romney said some economic histories have theorized that “culture makes all the difference.”….

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301. zoo said:

The Syrian Kurds wild card threatens Turkey

Turkey Military Drill on Syria Border Eyes Kurds
ANKARA, Turkey August 1, 2012 (AP)


Turkey launched a military drill Wednesday just across the border from a Syrian town it claims is controlled by Kurdish rebels — a show of muscle aimed at Kurdish separatists pushing for autonomy within Turkey’s borders.

The Turkish government last week said Turkish Kurdish rebels have seized control of five towns along the border in collaboration with Syria’s Democratic Union Party, or PYD— an ethnic Kurdish grouping. Turkey alleges that many of the rebels migrated to civil-war engulfed Syria from bases in northern Iraq.

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August 1st, 2012, 9:24 am


302. zoo said:

Christians in Egypt fear the worst


Among the biggest losers from the current Arab political upheavals are the Christian minorities of the Middle East.

Long before the Arab Spring, Iraq’s historic Christian community had shrunk dramatically, as tens of thousands fled threats and bomb attacks by Islamist militias. The flood of refugees pouring out of Syria includes many of that country’s Christian minority, who fear a radical Islamist takeover if President Bashar Assad falls.

Meantime, most of Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of the population, are deeply worried by the election of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi as president. “There is a feeling that democracy has been a disaster for us,” says Samia Sidhom, managing editor of Watani, a newspaper that serves the Coptic community. (The Coptic church dates back 19 centuries and is based on the teachings of St. Mark, who took Christianity to Egypt.)

What Morsi does, or doesn’t do, to reassure Copts will reveal whether Christians can enjoy equal rights in an Islamist-led Egypt — and will hint at their likely fate in Syria as well.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/31/2923709/christians-in-egypt-fear-the-worst.html#storylink=cpy

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August 1st, 2012, 9:26 am


303. zoo said:

We will pay a high price if we do not arm Syria’s rebels

By Anne-Marie Slaughter
July 31, 2012 7:39 pm

“When we control Syria, we won’t forget that you forgot about us.” That is how the sister of a dead Free Syrian Army soldier responded when a US journalist told her family that Americans were afraid of getting mired in another Iraq or Afghanistan. She and millions of her fellow Syrians cannot understand why with all the US talk of freedom and democracy, and its air cover for Libyan rebels, it will not send the arms necessary to help the opposition defend itself against Bashir al-Assad’s regime.


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August 1st, 2012, 9:29 am


304. zoo said:

France plans new Syria push at UN Security Council


France has said it will call for an emergency meeting on Syria as soon as it takes over the presidency of the UN Security Council in August, but many wonder what the gathering can accomplish.

According to the Middle East scholar, one of the best ways of accelerating Assad’s departure would be for foreign powers to recognise an exiled Syrian government, in a move reminiscent of the Libyan civil war last year.

In June 2011, France under former president Nicolas Sarkozy recognised the opposition Libyan National Council as the legitimate representatives of the Libyan people. That decision precipitated a NATO-led military intervention that helped topple Colonel Muammar Gaddafi a few months later.

However, according to Majid, the same scenario is difficult to repeat in Syria, where the main opposition group – the Syrian National Council – has limited credibility among ordinary Syrians and has repeatedly displayed internal divisions.

“The Syrian National Council has had no consistency in its message with big differences between its members, who are mostly outside the country, and local forces fighting Assad,” Majid noted, “They are unfortunately too divided to be recognised as an exiled government.”
Some members of the battle-weary opposition also looked ready to accept a less-than-perfect transitional arrangement that would exclude Assad but include some figures of the current regime.

So while France continues to blast Assad and draw attention to Russia at the UN, its critical role may be persuading Syria’s opposition to also move closer to a compromise position.

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August 1st, 2012, 9:36 am


305. ann said:

299. zoo said:

We will pay a high price if we do not arm Syria’s rebels
By Anne-Marie Slaughter

Zoo, anne marie slaughter is a staunch supporter of israel. she’s been whining about invading [no fly zone] Syria for the last year and a half now.

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August 1st, 2012, 9:59 am


306. ann said:

UN observers confirm rebels in possession of tanks in Syria ‘s largest city – 2012-08-01


DAMASCUS, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) — The UN Supervision Mission in Syria said it’s deeply concerned about the situation in Aleppo city, confirming that the armed rebels, for the first time, are in possession of heavy weapons including tanks.

In briefing Wednesday, Sausan Ghosheh told reporters that the UN mission in Syria has confirmation that “the opposition is in possession of heavy weapons including tanks.”

The recent reports by the NBC about the fighting in Aleppo, which has started a week ago, indicate that the rebels have acquired surface-to-air missiles from Turkey, whose prime minister has recently said that ” Syrians… will soon be freed from the regime with blood on its hands.”


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August 1st, 2012, 10:05 am


307. SANDRO LOEWE said:

Mr Assad where have you been investing the 50 to 70 % of the national budget dedicated to Army during last 30-40 years? What kind of training, tanks and planes have you been paying for as to be unable to win a war against a gang of terrorists?

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August 1st, 2012, 10:19 am


308. ann said:

U.S.-Israel security ties “stronger, tighter than ever”: defense minister – 2012-08-01


Tuesday evening, Netanyahu said he is still deliberating whether or not to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, and downplayed report that the military echelon is not in favor of attacking Iran.

According to a report by Israeli Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper earlier Tuesday, officials in Washington recently named Israel’s top security echelon as opponents of a military operation that would exclude the United States.

The unnamed U.S. sources said Israeli army chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, military intelligence chief Aviv Kocahvi, Air Force commander Amir Eshel, Mossad chief Tamir Pardo and Shin Bet director Yoram Cohen objected to a solo Israeli military strike on Iran.

Other former senior security chiefs have come under fire for publicly criticizing the government’s statements on Iran.

Former Mossad director Meir Dagan and former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin have both previously warned that a strike without U.S. backing would only set back Iran’s nuclear program by a few years and ignite a regional conflict with disastrous consequences for Israel.


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August 1st, 2012, 10:31 am


309. bronco said:

In view of the disaster of the military approach, and the FSA failure both militarily and psychologically to win the hearts and minds of the Syrians and the West, the new buzz word is now an urgent “transitional government”
Yet the options for any ‘urgent’ action are limited.

– The ‘government in exile” option: The SNC is unanimously recognized as a failure, with no legitimacy and unable to get the status of “a government in exile”. Any attempts by other opposition group to cater for a new leader (Haytham al Maleh) are boycotted by the SNC. Dead end.

– The ‘military transitional’ government seems impossible to create.
The Syrian Army is still cohesive, there are no massive defections which reflects the hesitant mood of the common Syrians. The FSA is daily discrediting itself with its methods and association to Islamist extremists. Result: Syrians and the West don’t trust the FSA’s ability and legitimacy to take over the country. Dead end.

– The “mixed-mode transitional government” including regime figures and opposition figures. In order to reach that, a ceasefire and a dialog are necessary between the two factions. The opposition refuses to talk to the regime, unless it stops the attacks. The regime will not talk to the opposition until it lays down its arms. Even if Bashar al Assad decided to leave to allow that a dialog materializes, the opposition and the regime figures need a long time to be able to deal with each other. Dead end

The only breakthrough could emerge from the outcome of the Aleppo battle.
If the Syrian army is able to control Aleppo, the military arm of the opposition will be weakened to such a point that they will either accept a ceasefire or be totally annihilated. That would trigger the political opposition to rush to an unconditional dialog with the regime. Under Russian and Chinese pressures, the regime will work to share power with the opposition

If the rebels continue to harass the Syrian army without seriously weakening it, the guerilla war will continue and Syria will become like Iraq with different factions killing each others and the country gradually dividing . In these circumstances, the regime will not negotiate with the opposition and will keep the power.

The question of Bashar Al Assad leaving or not is irrelevant as the regime will stay in power until a suitable transition gets implemented.

What is left now is to wait for the battlefield outcome.

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August 1st, 2012, 10:33 am


310. zoo said:

301. ann

I know, Ann. It just shows the state of mind on the neo-cons and how ‘humane’ they are.

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August 1st, 2012, 10:41 am


311. irritated said:

251. VISITOR in Hatay

Thank God that the Syrian soil has gotten rid of other abominations who prefers to hide in Turkey’s arms.

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August 1st, 2012, 10:43 am


312. irritated said:

#239 Norman

Please note that you have become ‘some Norman’ in the comment from that arrogant parasite “visiting” this site after his brainwashing session in Islamist camps in Turkey

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August 1st, 2012, 10:53 am


313. Ghufran said:

هاجمت مجموعة من مسلحي عائلة بري اليوم الأربعاء تجمعات للجيش الحر في بعض أحياء حلب بينها مدرسة “عبد الكريم نجار” التي أعدم فيها زينو بري أمس.
مسلحي آل بري قاموا بمهاجمة بعض أماكن تمركز الجيش الحر في أحياء الشعار والميسر والجزماتي.المسلحين استخدموا القذائف الصاروخية في استهداف المدرسة التي تم فيها إعدام زينو بري في حلب.

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August 1st, 2012, 11:01 am


314. zoo said:

Some Syrian Sunni tribes fights along the Syrian Army

The murder of the Berri tribe leader has triggered an escalation among the sunni tribes.

It is reported that the tribes affiliated to the clan Berri yesterday launched an appeal for the mobilization of military members in combat situation, following the kidnapping of “Zeno” Berri.
The tribes that signed the declaration are: Baqarah, Berri, al-Sakhanah, al-Batouchi, and al-Assasnah Bary.

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August 1st, 2012, 11:03 am


315. zoo said:

The relationship between Israel and the new government in Egypt starts on the ridiculous side with “fake” official letters exchanges.

Egypt official: leader’s letter to Israel is fake

JERUSALEM (AP) — A letter to Israel from Egypt’s new president hoping for regional peace kicked up a stir Tuesday when the Egyptian leader’s Islamist movement denied he sent it. Israel insisted the letter was genuine.

The spat underlined the touchy nature of Egyptian-Israeli relations, always frosty but now especially sensitive in the wake of Muslim Brotherhood victories in Egyptian elections.

It also appeared to show some disarray in the fractured Egyptian government.

The letter, ostensibly sent by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, was a response to a message from Israeli President Shimon Peres, conveying Israel’s good wishes for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The return letter, released by the Israeli president’s office, was on the stationery of the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv.

In it, Morsi appeared to write in English, “I am looking forward to exerting our best efforts to get the Middle east Peace Process back to its right track in order to achieve security and stability for all peoples of the region, including that Israeli people.” The Israeli president’s name was spelled “Perez.”

Then a spokesman for Morsi, Yasser Ali, said in Cairo that Morsi had not written a letter to the Israeli president at all.

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August 1st, 2012, 11:38 am


316. zoo said:


We are very glad to announce that an Iranian so-called diplomat has just been eliminated in Damascus.

“Iran has strongly dismissed media reports claiming that an Iranian diplomat has been assassinated in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

“All Iranian diplomats in Syria are safe and sound, and are doing their routine tasks,” Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular and Iranians Affairs Hassan Qashqavi said on Wednesday.

He added, “Certain Arabic-language television networks like Al-Arabiya have launched psychological warfare in Syria under the pretext of establishing a bloody democracy in order to bolster the position of terrorist gangs.”


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August 1st, 2012, 11:58 am


317. ghufran said:

وصف قائد “الجيش السوري الحر” رياض الأسعد يوم الأربعاء، تشكيل الائتلاف السياسي الجديد “مجلس الأمناء الثوري السوري” خارج سوريا والتخطيط لإقامة حكومة انتقالية، بأنه سعي لتقسيم المعارضة والاستفادة من المكاسب التي حققها مقاتلوها بهدف إرضاء الخارج وضرب الداخل بعضهم ببعض وتفكيك يد الشعب الضاربة والمتمثلة في “الجيش الحر”.
وقال الأسعد في تسجيل مصور بثته قنوات فضائية، ونقلته وكالة (رويترز) للأنباء إن “السياسيين الذين شكلوا الائتلاف الجديد أصابهم حمى التسلق على الفرص واغتنام المناصب الذي دعاهم أن يعلنوا إنشاء وتأسيس حكومة انتقالية في محاولة صريحة وواضحة لركوب ثورتنا والاتجار بدماء شهدائنا”.

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August 1st, 2012, 12:10 pm


318. ghufran said:

شهدت دمشق فجر الاربعاء لاول مرة اشتباكات في محيط حيي باب توما وباب شرقي المسيحيين بين مقاتلين معارضين والقوات النظامية، بحسب المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان.
ولفت المرصد في بيان الى ان “المعلومات الاولية تشير الى سقوط قتيل على الاقل في صفوف القوات النظامية” نتيجة هذه الاشتباكات.
واوضح مدير المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان رامي عبد الرحمن لوكالة فرانس برس ان هذه الاشتباكات “وقعت في مناطق كانت لا تزال بعيدة عن متناول المقاتلين المعارضين”. واضاف ان الاشتباكات بدات قرابة الساعة الثانية من فجر الاربعاء، مشيرا الى ان “اطلاق النار الكثيف خلال الاشتباكات يدل على اشتراك اعداد كبيرة من المقاتلين من الجهتين في المعارك”.
وافاد شاهد في المنطقة فرانس برس ان “مسلحين مجهولين هاجموا مركزا للجيش النظامي مقابل باب شرقي”، مشيرا الى ان “الاشتباكات استمرت زهاء ربع ساعة”.
The idea is to spread the pain and inflame as many spots as possible,if the rebels succeed in Aleppo,they will turn their attention to areas that witnessed little violence including the coastal cities.

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August 1st, 2012, 12:15 pm


319. Syrialover said:

It’s quite impressive to read Bronco(#309).

He appears to have inside information.

He must have moles under the table at both the regime’s strategy meetings (where else the delusionary assertions)and scattered across the Syrian opposition, the inner sanctums of western policy makers and, not least, the Syrian people across Syria, to know what they will and won’t accept.

The concept of a legitimate government (opposition) sharing power with the illegitimate Syrian-people-hating Assad team is going to be amazing to witness.

After all that has happened and is happening now,the opposititon will finally decide to meekly lay down their arms and trust the Assadists to hold a “dialogue”.

Or as Bronco describes it, “….. would trigger the political opposition to rush to an unconditional dialog with the regime. Under Russian and Chinese pressures, the regime will work to share power with the opposition”. (What, no Iranians involved?)

The Assadists will be somehow allowed to operate proudly on their record of mass homicide, genocide and urbicide, and everyone who has been opposing the regime will concede they we were wrongheaded and stubborn to disrespect the Assadists and imagine Syria could operate without them.

Meanwhile, Bronco suggests the failure to defect by more people inside the army and in key positions represents a firm moral stance and belief in the cause, and also indicates the opinion of most Syrians.

It’s got nothing to do with fear of consequences from the regime, or anxiety about their fate by those closely involved with the regime? Or even just normal human desire to crouch down and stay somehow safe until the nightmare is over?

Tragically for Syria, the key “strategy” of the vicious idiot Assad and his Iranian puppetmasters is that any potential bridges were long ago illogically and irreparably burned.

Burned on the bonfire the regime started, then diligently stoked by them into a raging inferno that’s devouring Syria.

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August 1st, 2012, 12:39 pm


320. Syrialover said:

With regard to reports of an Iranian diplomat being assassinated in Damascus: “All Iranian diplomats in Syria are safe and sound, and are doing their routine tasks,” Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular and Iranians Affairs Hassan Qashqavi said on Wednesday
(news item #316).

Doing their routine tasks? Their “diplomatic tasks”?

It would be horror-fascinating – and infuriating – to read their job descriptions!

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August 1st, 2012, 12:52 pm


321. Aldendeshe said:

307. SANDRO LOEWEsaid:

Mr Assad where have you been investing the 50 to 70 % of the national budget dedicated to Army during last 30-40 years? What kind of training, tanks and planes have you been paying for as to be unable to win a war against a gang of terrorists?

Rarely I use it, and I always notify the recepient, left you a negative on that comment.

It is a valid question ,but you should direct it to the Tlasses who managed for decades Syria’s armament purchases. Now you know how poor Tlass walked in to the army on LS 300 lira job, and walked out with 100’s of millions out.

I have no respect to the Assad’s and neither the hired help. It is a Mafia that robbed Syrians and drove them to impovrishment. Bring the Khaddam, Riffat, Tlass, Shahabi to trials, cease all the illicit wealth they stole.

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August 1st, 2012, 12:58 pm


322. Syrialover said:

Oh no, more comments swallowed by the SC filter. This time it’s my response to Bronco.

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August 1st, 2012, 1:16 pm


323. Tara said:

When Asma married Besho, lots of people I know also wondered why anyone would marry a man whose father slaughtered 20,000 people in three weeks.

How Syria’s ‘desert rose’ became ‘the first lady of hell’
But Styleite writer, Hilary George-Parkin, is not impressed with Buck’s mea culpa. She writes:

“It is not hard to imagine this kind charade fooling a rookie journalist. But, of course, that is hardly what Buck was at the time. She goes on, however, to reveal further manipulation by those surrounding the Assads, including a hacked computer, carefully-monitored cell phone given to her at the start of her trip, and leaked emails between PR reps discussing the need to conceal any potentially damaging information. None of these points were mentioned in the profile… raving about Asma al-Assad’s elegant wardrobe, posh stature, and democratic parenting style.”

And Homa Khaleeli, writing in a Guardian blog, was also contemptuous of Buck’s attempt at exculpation: “The mea culpa is almost as disastrous as the initial interview”, she writes.

“It’s hard to tell if Buck asked Asma – or Bashar whom she also met – any real questions at all. Certainly not why anyone would marry a man whose father slaughtered 20,000 people in three weeks… She did not ask why her phone and computer were bugged, or even why she had spotted something that looks like a mobile prison in the souk.”

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August 1st, 2012, 1:58 pm


324. Tara said:


This is the moral difference between us and Assad’s supporters.  Next time you witness a massacre of civilians, I invite you to condemn it even if you consider these civilians to be  your enemy based on their sect affiliation.   
It has taken several hours, but the opposition Syrian National Council has now condemned the executions by rebels in Aleppo.

Khalid Saleh, a member of the group’s executive committee, said:”The persons executed were well known to be responsible for many deaths on Aleppo. Nonetheless, we firmly believe everyone deserves a just trial even in the case of field trials.”

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August 1st, 2012, 2:10 pm


325. Ghufran said:

I thought you guys need to know that the expat community in the US is not sitting idle while the country is burning, some chose to send money to the rebels to buy weapons ( not good), some are sending money to help the needy ( barakallah),few volunteered to take care of the refugees (jazakum Allah khairan),etc,but my focus for this post is the behind the scenes effort by a number of cool headed Syrians who are lobbying the US government and the media to help formulate a more realistic approach to the Syrian crisis, these lobbying efforts are met with condemnation by hardcore anti regime Islamists and ridiculed by some who believe that the US can not influence the outcome of syria’s conflict. We are receiving help from Americans who have connections in the congress and a number of scholars and previous officials who are not in the Neocon camp.
The fruits of this campaign are yet to be harvested but I am encouraged by the cautious approach this administration has and pleased with Panetta’s reference to the importance of keeping a cohesive security and army structure after the fall of Assad.
If you love Syria,you should help the country to pass this difficult period by ensuring that chaos,lawlessness and total collapse of the state do not happen after the inevitable fall of Assad,those who work in the opposite direction and can only talk about death and revenge are either traitors or agents for a foreign country,start training your brain to think about the day after not at how you can kill as many opponents as possible.

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August 1st, 2012, 2:13 pm


326. AIG said:


What would you like to see the Americans do?

If you believe that Assad’s fall is inevitable, to best way to contain future chaos is to make sure Assad goes as quickly as possible. The longer Assad stays, the more people die and the more Syria’s infrastructure gets wrecked and the larger the chance that chaos will follow. Thinking about the day after does not make sense if the day after is 5 years from today. By then, nothing that anyone does could help.

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August 1st, 2012, 2:21 pm


327. freealepian said:

Guys, yesterday 3 police stations were overrun by FSA, are the police insider who were killed from aleppo or foreigners ?

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August 1st, 2012, 2:28 pm


328. Expatriate said:

Syria Spin Machine: UK mainstream lies exposed
While Syria’s still locked in bloody confrontation on the ground, another war is also being waged – the media one. And as RT has discovered, even the world’s most respected media outlets who have huge influence in shaping public opinion, resort to distorting facts.

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August 1st, 2012, 2:35 pm


329. Expatriate said:


Turkey’s Hatay Province, Mossad, CIA spy hub: Turkish MP

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August 1st, 2012, 2:43 pm


330. Tara said:

Batta the coward! He had SANA published a speech to the army and dared not bless us with public appearance. Is he planning to hide until the end? What about the kids? Are they going to be home schooled? Is he going to trust sending them to their Montessori school this September? My advise is to send Asma and the children to Iran from now. He should not be that selfish. His end is uncontrollable and the children should be away in a safe place. How come nobody can instill some sense in him?

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August 1st, 2012, 2:43 pm


331. ghufran said:

رفضت كل من روسيا والبرازيل والهند والصين وجنوب افريقيا مشروع القرار السعودي المعروض على الجمعية العامة للمم المتحدة حول سوريا، بحسب قناة “الميادين”.
population of those countries: close to 3 billion people
Qatar population : less than 2 million,80% of which are not even Qataris
you do not need to be a political sciences expert to conclude that there is no consensus about how to approach Syria’s crisis,that is why we have not had a solution after 20,000 victims.
pride prevents super powers from admitting that their medicine made the disease worse,arrogant western politicians played God from day one thinking that sanctions and press conferences can topple a regime that was built over 40 years and has a declining but still sizable support inside and outside Syria. Instead of helping Syrians to talk it out,foreigners have mostly encouraged Syrians to fight it out,why not if the goal is to destroy Syria, after all it is Syrians ,not EU or GCC citizens,who are dying everyday.

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August 1st, 2012, 2:50 pm


332. Uzair8 said:

#Syria n state TV says that (Terrorist militants) assassinated the #Iranian embassy military counselor in #Damascus Ali Husien Zadah #FSA


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August 1st, 2012, 3:01 pm


333. Expatriate said:

Iran warns Turkey against military intervention in Syria: Al-Watan newspaper
Turkey received ‘very strong warnings’ in the past few hours from Syrian ally Iran in case Ankara launched a military strike against Damascus, a report revealed
AFP , Monday 30 Jul 2012
Syrian ally Iran has warned their common neighbour Turkey that it will meet a harsh response should Ankara carry out any strikes inside Syrian territory, a pro-Damascus daily reported on Monday.
“Any attack on Syrian territory will meet with a harsh response, and the Iranian-Syrian mutual defence agreement will be activated,” the Al-Watan newspaper said.

“Turkey has received very strong warnings in the past few hours and the following message — beware changing the rules of the game,” the paper added.

Iran is the closest regional ally of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but has also striven to keep good relations with Turkey even as the standoff over its controversial nuclear programme has deepened with other NATO member states.

Tehran has enjoyed close ties with Damascus since 1980 when the Syrian government took its side in its devastating eight-year war with now executed dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad, and has signed a series of defence pacts, including in 2006 and 2008.

But Ankara has been a leading champion of the more than 16-month uprising against the Assad regime and has given refuge to large numbers of army defectors, who have formed the kernel of a rebel army, as well as tens of thousands of civilian refugees.

Al-Watan cited an “Arab diplomat” as accusing Turkey of seeking to use its fears about the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which already enjoys rear-bases in the far north of Iraq, as a pretext to intervene in Syria.

“Ankara is preparing an agreement with Washington to intervene militarily in the Syrian (crisis), using the Kurdish card as an excuse,” the paper said.

“Turkey has agreed with the United States on a military intervention limited to the north of Syria, specifically the northern province of Aleppo, to pave the way for the creation of a safe haven guarded by the armed gangs.”

Turkish newspapers have reported that some Kurdish-majority regions of northern Syria have been flying the flag of Syria’s PKK ally, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), in what they have said is a deal with the Assad family’s government, which was a longtime backer of the Kurdish rebel group’s insurgency in Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that it is a “given” that Turkish troops would pursue fleeing PKK militants inside Syria, warning that Ankara would not hesitate to strike “terrorists.”

Turkey has sent a convoy of tanks, ground-to-air missile batteries and other weapons to the border with Syria to further bolster its forces, the Anatolia news agency reported on Monday.

Turkey has repeatedly carried out air and ground operations against suspected PKK rear-bases in northern Iraq. Iran has also done so against suspected hideouts in the same area of PKK ally the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK).

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August 1st, 2012, 3:02 pm


334. Michal said:


I’ve noticed regime supporters have yesterday derided westerners supporting the uprising for having no “stake” and being non-Arab. I wonder if Habib is an Arab, because obviously what he wrote about Libyan uprising is a really small piece of the uprising that’s the most visible to westerners usually. It makes me launch into a rant, because it’s so simplistic, I hope you don’t mind if I go ahead:

Sharia has been in place in Libya since 1973 when colonel Gaddafi introduced a new heavily oppressive law code. Alcohol and pork has been banned, amputations for theft introduced, bank interest has been made illegal (though still practiced through ‘administrative fees’), as late as of 2010 the Amnesty International has verified that women were being lashed for adultery and homosexuals were heavily persecuted until around 2006 when Libya made minor concessions to get friendly with George Bush.

So the fighters weren’t fighting for sharia. It’s been already in place, and in a very harsh way, although it is true specifically polygamy was made legal following the revolution by the decision of NTC. Mind you, NTC decisions can be overturned at any time by the democratically elected government.

It is also worth pointing out, all of this has roots in conservative Libyan society.

What the fighters fought for and gained was their freedom. Freedom of assembly, now widely practiced, freedom of speech documented by hundreds of newspapers, dozen satellite channels, radios, all of which comes even in Berber language that has been previously forbidden. The universities have emancipated themselves and can now teach things like history freely. The businesses are no longer plagued by demands to pay tribute to the Gaddafi family. People elected their own governmental representatives that work for the people and may be removed if they don’t. There’s thousands of non-governmental organizations that can now work freely without being subdued by the government.

There’s so much freedom that I’m not sure what else I forgot or should mention. Even the sports clubs can now play without being worried Saadi Gaddafi is going to start shooting the audience and bulldoze the club offices.

There’s also no government that would be killing hundreds of unarmed protesters. Prisoners have been released. Exiles can return.

Libya is a very free country now, and the changes it has endured are so profound, that I hope you now see they can’t be just summed up to “fighters fought for sharia and polygamy”. There’s much more to that.

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August 1st, 2012, 3:04 pm


336. Uzair8 said:

Apparently it was about this time last year that defectors organised the Free Syrian Army. They named the first battalion after Hamza al-Khatib.

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August 1st, 2012, 3:08 pm


337. William Scott Scherk said:

Ghufran, could you please take the couple of extra seconds it may take to provide links to the material you post here?

I take the time to search the internet for your excerpted texts, to (machine) translate them and to read the entire articles at the original sources, in context.

Without each of us separately and independently tracking down your sources, we have no idea who wrote what you excerpt and no idea where it appeared or the context of the remarks. This is discourteous to readers and to our host, and unfair — thumbing a nose both to the fair-use rules of the site and to those who consistently include links in their posts. Why?

When I earlier asked that you provide links, you responded that “I will add the links anyway.” Yet in the last three days you have posted twenty-five additional excerpts without attribution.

I value your contributions highly. With very very rare exceptions, you give honest and even-handed impressions from a long-time resident of the USA with no intention of returning to Syria.


For those who have not watched Joshua Landis’s excellent speech at the Wilson Center cited by Ghufran above, the center has provided a full transcript:


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August 1st, 2012, 3:14 pm


338. Expatriate said:

Turkey plays US dangerous game on Syria: Tarpley
For more than a year, the deadly unrest in Syria has brought about more questions than answers but what’s definitely clear is that civilians have been the main victims of what the armed opposition says is a government crackdown and the government says is a foreign-backed attempt to destroy the country.

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August 1st, 2012, 3:18 pm


339. Uzair8 said:

Patrick Seale the apologist
01 August 2012

British journalist Patrick Seale, an expert on Syria and the rule of the al-Assad family, wrote last Friday in London-based newspaper al-Hayat about challenges facing the warring factions in Syria. He criticizes President Bashar al-Assad for being slow to reform and for solely using security clampdowns. But the Syrian revolution went beyond this option a long time ago — those who call for reforms are no longer critics of the Syrian regime. When he calls for reform, Seale imagines he is neutral, however he is like many leftists and Arab nationalists. They are embarrassed by Assad’s brutality; yet do not want him to leave or the revolution to triumph, so take undefined stances.

Read more:


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August 1st, 2012, 3:25 pm


340. ghufran said:

which article or post you are referring to?
I read tons of news and articles every day to the point that
I can have my own blog if I choose to except that I prefer to be free and at times disorganized,sorry if I wasted your time trying to chase my sources, some of what I write is based on my private interactions with Syrians,I can not reference everything I post, readers have the right to read my comments or ignore them.
Another issue that made few a little unhappy is my refusal to have a conversation with israelis and foreigners who display hatred or disrespect for Syria as a country or any particular religious or ethnic group,this refusal is the least I can do when many Arabs are choosing to be political prostitutes.
on a personal note,I appreciate your contribution and your mild manner, I hope you can tell me a little about your background without exposing your identity,having an opinion in Syria today can be lethal,do not expect the new jihadists to be more tolerant than the baathists.

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August 1st, 2012, 3:43 pm


341. Mina said:

Poor Ghufran… threatened for not putting links all the time. Does he get a salary to do the job of think tank trainees and other civil servants?
Ghufran: I enjoy reading you, even without a link!

It’s trending even in Libya:
“Libya’s military intelligence building in eastern Benghazi destroyed by what appeared to be an improvised explosive devise”

And Atimes Pepe Escobar believes in the death of Mr Beetroot

In Egypt, “democracy” has finally delivered a government headed by the MB (it took all this time for the president to nominate a prime minister and a few more days for the latter to announce his cabinet).
And the winner is……….
“Head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) Hussein Tantawi is also to keep his post of minister of defence in the new cabinet. He has served as defence minister since 1991, under seven different governments.”

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August 1st, 2012, 3:47 pm


342. habib said:

324. Tara

Quit the empty rhetoric, I condemn any massacre. The real difference lies in the fact that opposition supporters usually blame the killers for being Shabiha, or the killed for being Shabiha, all depending on what circumstances suits them.

I and others remain sceptical of accusations that the government commits massacres of civilians, which only benefit the armed opposition.

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August 1st, 2012, 3:48 pm


343. omen said:

8. ALDENDESHE said: I can render an advise to all, and help in solution, but I will not. Keep them making awful mistakes and fighting for fifteen years. Assad army can keep Syria relatively in one part for a decade, so why worry. Back to the beach.

it’s okay to admit you don’t have the answers.

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August 1st, 2012, 6:58 pm


344. William Scott Scherk said:

Ghufran, I am British-Columbian born and raised. I gave my personal background (my ‘what I am’ / ‘who I am`’) in several posts, including this one from early 2011: http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=9621&cp=all#comment-249580

My most profound personal connection to the tragedy of Syria was making the acquaintance in Vancouver of a man sheltered in our refugee system, in 2011. He was in a wheelchair, the result of his spell in Syrian detention. It moved me deeply to see his pain and the horror of a mad paranoid system that could so easily crush the bodies of those who dissent.

I won’t harry you now for links, but I will continue to track down the context of the Arabic-language excerpts you post (you may recall that I consistently appended URLs for your sources during my time as Syria Comment moderator. To my eyes it is simple: when we quote (or excerpt) someone else’s reports, statements or opinions, it is basic to provide a reference).


It is thoroughly understandable to me that Syrians at home and abroad will be concerned that their personal information be accessed — whatever their stripe — because of the dire consequences that are possible, especially for putative critics or foes of the regime. The regime has no scruples in bugging, hounding, threatening, jailing or extorting obeisance from individuals, family or associates in Syria, and in exile/expat communities (as the criminal trials in USA and Germany highlight). Considering the outrageous sectarian lunacy and war-vocabulary that partisans often use, with vague threats of reprisal (I am speaking of vile speech acts against Alawites as a class**), I also understand why Syrian regime supporters are careful to never reveal anything that could expose them or their families to any kind of danger or risk of harassment.

That said, I have stated before that a person can reveal ‘What’ they are without revealing ‘Who’ they are, without personally-identifying information that might possibly be used against them by maniacs from any quarter. There is no need, nor am I interested to know ‘Who’ someone is — but I am suspicious of those who cannot even declare their interests frankly while delineating the interests of others. For a number of mysterious entities who post here are quick to name and shame interlocutors, to use the most corrupt language to demonize ‘The Other.’

For example, the mysterious entity who goes by the moniker Irritated. In this thread he (or she) has labeled Visitor as Visitor from Hatay. This type of casual slur is especially contemptible from those who refuse to declare their own loyalties or citizenship(s). Irritated will not even indicate if she is tied in any way to Syria, yet takes pleasure in nominating others as agents or examplars of his flabby hypotheses. Similarly with Mina. What is she (besides an old Maoist, as declared perhaps in jest)? Similar to Bronco: What is he/she? A Westerner? A Syrian? An American? A Canadian? Never has Bronco let slip anything to allow us to know if she is an Armenian national selling pizza in Bremen or a work-release parolee in Mississipi. Nothing. No indication. This at the same time as he or she peers deeply into the souls of other folks (and nations), while he or she utters racialist imprecations against named people, and presumes to know the day-to-day psychology of all national actors.

Similarly, those who use comtemptuous expressions against Gulf dogs, benighted Egyptians, fools and clowns of present-day Libya, and so on — how can we discount these biases or give them a prominent place at the table when they so completely veil their circumstances in the world?

For all we know Bronco could simply be a concerned citizen of Australia, with no connection to Syria whatsoever. It doesn’t matter the personal details, but I think it matters when nothing is revealed at all, when all inquiries are batted away or ignored. Consider the sleaze visited upon Juergen, attempts to smear him with presumed crimes of the German nation, by anonymous mysteries …

Thanks for your questions, Ghufran. Syria is in torment, and there seems little we can do here in comments to influence events, let alone intransigent nutcases in full froth. The most mysterious entities seem inclined only to inflame discussion, indulge in petty personal asides, dirty the water, spout hateful cliches — entirely tharting understanding among peers. It is Syrians who must reconcile once the brutal violence is stilled — I hope that the mysterious hecklers and reprisal-rejoicers will shut the f**k up with their nattering and posturing when it comes to that stage.

I think the governing bodies in Syria (not the President, who does nothing) are unable to turn off the Baath machine and face reality. As with GCC autocracies and the decrepit kingdoms and personal fiefs of the Arab and Islamic world, the end of unrepresentative governance is in the cards for Syria.

We can loathe the shameful bondage of the Arabian peoples to the House of Saud. We can loathe and despise the hypocrisy and empty rhetoric of the last few American administrations, the cynical dodges about freedom and democracy. We can decry and grieve the destruction of the Bush wars in Afghanistand and Irag. We can sneer at the backpedalling and shameless maneuvering of US State in the wake of the overthrow of its client Mubarak. We can hiss at the shameful push-me/pull-you tapdance on the future of prison-camp-nationals in Palestine and assorted no-hope allotments.

We can do all this and still hope that Assadism and the torturous Baath regime comes to its rightful end. And I think we can do it without being self-deluding or demanding either total agreement or destruction.

This blessed, cursed, beautiful, historic centre of earthly civilizations, this ancient crucible of humanity, this land, these peoples — Syria deserves better than masked spectators, hecklers and hateful minions of totalitarian ideology.

** the summary executions of presumed Shabiha in Aleppo are to my eyes unjustifiable and must be condemned as war crimes. Although it is argued in some quarters that such lawless retribution is an understandable reaction to regime brutality, does it need to be stressed how far this action is from justice?

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August 1st, 2012, 8:47 pm


345. omen said:

253. JUERGEN said: I just learned that a young medicine student whom i met on demonstrations against Assad here in Berlin, has died in the battle for Aleppo.

such a loss of potential.

my condolences to you, juergen. it’s a shock to the system to realize someone you knew has been killed.

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August 1st, 2012, 9:01 pm


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