Posted by Joshua on Monday, July 30th, 2012
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
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 SyriaIranian 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.
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…..
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. …
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.
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR 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.
“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
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 …
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.”
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.
Kurdistan conclude additional agreementKURDWATCH, 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.
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.”….