Posted by Joshua on Friday, September 9th, 2011
Will Assad go peacefully? (Or at all?)
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Welcome to the first edition of a new Foreign Policy partnership with Bloggingheads.tv.
See the complete discussion here
Can Syria’s opposition unite? (03:43)
Testing the limits of non-violent resistance (03:50)
Joshua vs. Ausama on the effectiveness of sanctions (05:25)
Is Syria’s history of internal division insurmountable? (08:50)
The next steps for the uprising (02:16)
EU just announced that they are about to start a new round of sanctions in Syria. The new sanctions “will very likely include energy investments.” They are likely to “add a number of new entities”. The sanctioning of the energy investments will place considerably greater pressure on Syria than simply embargoing energy exports and imports. The new sanctions will force major foreign firms to stop pumping oil in Syria. This may well hobble oil production until new investors are found. Also, the EU will try to block Syria’s access to bank notes, which are traditionally printed in Austria.
Syrian papers are announcing that the Syrian Constitution will be redrafted, including the key “article Eight,” which defines the Baath Party as the leader of Syrian politics and society.
News of possible postponement of the starting date of school year, according to All4Syria. Hundreds of female teachers lodged requests to be allowed to return to their home towns in the costal areas. 2011/09/07
Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi said, “The Arab League has no mandate to bring about change by force in a member state.”
Syria has enough strategic commodities to sustain its population for five years, Mohammad Jleilati, Syrian Minister of Finance, has told Gulf News. Jleilati said Syria had reserves of wheat, and sugar for five years and that sanctions and embargoes on trade would not harm the country.
President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia may back a “variety of approaches” on Syria as long as the measures target both sides of the conflict, which includes “extremists” and “terrorists” among protesters.
Fawaz Gerges says, “the Syrian protesters know very well they must take ownership of their revolution. It will take time, it will be prolonged, it will be bloody, it will be costly and it will take, in fact, years as opposed to months. But the reality is there is no other way for them, given the complexity and the difficulty of the Syrian case.”
How did Syria’s top businessmen respond to the Sanctions imposed on them?
- Fares Chehabi announced that sanctions were a badge of honor that he would wear on his chest. “قال الشهابي في تصريح لصحيفة الوطن: هذه العقوبات تعتبر بمثابة وسام شرف لي أضعه على صدري These are the same words Rami Makhlouf used when he was sanctioned. Chehabi was the only major businessman to be willing to remain on the board of Cham Holding in its recent election. Chehabi also says that he was among the first people to criticize the Baath’s monopoly on politics. وأضاف الشهابي قائلاً: “لقد كنت من أول الناس في سورية الذين انتقدوا احتكار البعث للسلطة وانتقدت استخدام اللجان الشعبية ومن الذين دعوا إلى الإصلاح السلمي وحماية المتظاهرين
- Anbouba seems to have been surprised and admitted that his business will be impacted لقد فوجئت بذلك ومن المحتم أن يتأثر عملي كثيراً بهذه العقوبات، وقبل الخوض في آثارها على عملي ونشاطي الاقتصادي
- Ghrewaiti and Akhras have been smart to stay silent.
I just finished talking to my brother. He left Aleppo yesterday, he is now in Europe. He is telling me the following:
- Aleppo’s Mufti was not killed by the regime. He was under so much pressure from both sides. Apparently, that was too much for a 77 year old man to bare. He was trying to be conciliatory, but the regime is not taking any dissent.
- Halab today is not what it was 2 months ago. People are fed up and very angry with the regime. Every crook and thug in Halab has been hired by the regime to fill in as a Shabbih. These people are wreaking havoc on the city.
- Halab is a virtual prison. No one can leave without considerable risk.
- In Syria overall, it is complete chaos. People are getting kidnapped or assassinated and cars are getting shot at indiscriminately.
- There is an increase in armed resistance all over and particularly in Jabal Alzawieh, which my brother is calling a literal war zone. His friend told him there was more than 70 killed there only yesterday (no actual proof).
- By some estimates there is anywhere between 20,000 and 40,000 military defections. They are concentrated in Jabal Alzawieh.
- It is clear to most that the regime is not interested in anything but subjugating the people by force and the people will not take this anymore.
- The majority of the acting Shabiha in Aleppo are members of two clans: the Barri and the Baggara. These are known thugs and smugglers that were armed by the government and paid money to do their dirty work. They are Sunni Muslim clans.
- There is no “mazot” in Aleppo.
I have also spoken to a friend from Jisr Ash-shughour and asked him about what happened there a couple of months ago. He was not there when the army entered the city. He is basing this story on what he heard from his family and friends and he has many back there. Here is his version of what happened there:There were daily demonstration in Jisr. All peaceful, until the regime killed a young man in one of them. His last name was Masri. The next day and during his funeral, somebody from the regime started shooting indiscriminately at the funeral procession killing at least 18. During this shoot out, some from the army started fighting with the shooter and the people from the procession stormed into the police station next to them, took over the place, pulled out the weapons and joined the army defectors. It was a big battle that resulted in the death of approximately 120 from the regime side. The regime brought in the reinforcements. Meanwhile the town of 50 to 60 thousand people emptied out completely. People went to Idleb, Aleppo, the nearby villages and to Turkey as refugees. He said that the people of Jisr still remember what happened in the early 80s and would not take any chances. The army entered a completely deserted town. Now almost everyone is back. Many complain that their houses were ransacked and their jewelery was stolen.
1- Life is normal in many parts of Syria. What we read online/offline is greatly exaggerated and in many cases illusory
2- Many cities and regions are autonomous
3- People still believe the government will get them out of this crisis
4- Foreign military interference is not possible particularly due to the BRICS firm stand against it. Russia in particular!
5- Sanction(s) will weaken the economy but will never accomplish its intended purpose
6- Bashar is not going to resign or leave under duress
7- The oppositions are deeply divided and unable to reconcile their differences.
8- Demonstrations can not continue indefinitely (did not gain traction)
9- Democracy can not be implemented from the outside. The Syrian people must decide how and when.
Good-faith Dialogue is the only way to move forward and who knows we could have an election before 2014.
NEWS ROUND UP
Syrian Cleric at the Heart of the Uprising Dr. Ismail Ray
Why have Damascus and Aleppo not revolted against the Assad regime? Most analysts share one theory: the influence of Muslim scholars in these two cities. In the last few Fridays, we have witnessed a huge increase in the size and number of demonstrations. Those interviewed on the streets say it is the religious leaders who have encouraged them, and specifically, Shaykh Muhammad al-‐Yaqoubi. So who is this man?
Syrian activists appeal for international help
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
8 September 2011
AMMAN, Sept (Reuters) – – Syria’s underground opposition appealed to the international community on Thursday to send in human rights monitors to help deter military attacks on civilians in an increasingly bloody crackdown on popular unrest.
In a first direct call by the opposition for foreign intervention, the Syrian Revolution General Commission umbrella bloc of grassroots activists said a rise in the number of protesters killed during the almost six-month-old revolt had won over many reluctant Syrians to the need for outside help.
“Calling for outside intervention is a sensitive issue that could be used by the regime to label its opponents as traitors. We are calling for international observers as a first step,” spokesman Ahmad al-Khatib told Reuters….
WSJ [Reg]: Turkey Takes a Harder Line Abroad
ISTANBUL—Turkey is showing signs of trading its vaunted “zero problems with neighbors” foreign policy for a more muscular approach to its bid to become the leading power in the Middle East and North Africa. The shift, analysts and diplomats say, …
Revolution no boon to the Copts
Monday, Sep. 5, 2011
By DOUG BANDOW
WASHINGTON — Ugly reality has dashed the high hopes of the “Arab Spring.” In Egypt the fall of Hosni Mubarak has encouraged religious intolerance and persecution, especially against the Coptic Christian community.
Mubarak ruled for three decades. Among his victims were Coptic Christians, who make up around 10 percent of the population. They predate Islam, but today are a disadvantaged and increasingly threatened minority.
While the “government does not actively persecute or repress Christians, a prejudicial legal framework has created a permissive environment that allows Egyptian officials and private individuals to discriminate against Christians freely and with impunity,” noted Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Fear still reigns in Iraq, even after Saddam
BAGHDAD (AP) — As a Shiite Muslim who was interrogated by Iraq’s secret police and lost her job because she would not join the regime’s Baath Party, Fawzia al-Attia should feel safer now that Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. She does not.
Death threats and Baghdad’s daily bombings have made al-Attia more afraid than she was during Saddam’s reign of terror, she says.
“Before, I couldn’t say anything in my own home,” said al-Attia. “But at least I was safe. I was only afraid of Saddam. It is not like now. Now, you open the door to your home and you could get killed.”
Syrian Revolution Facebook group calls for “international observers”
By Paula Astatih
Kuwait May Host US Iraq Backup Force
By ROBERT BURNS and REBECCA SANTANA
Washington (AP) — The Obama administration is considering staging American troops in Kuwait next year as a backup or rotational training force for Iraq, after the Pentagon completes the scheduled withdrawal of its current 45,000-strong force from Iraq in December, U.S. officials said.
Activists: 3 Syrian army defectors killed
8 September 2011, CNN
(CNN) — Syrian government forces killed three army defectors in a raid early Thursday in the country’s northwest, an activist group said. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security and military forces conducted the action in the village of Jabal al-Zawiyah in Idlib province. Heavy gunfire was heard as forces stormed the village. At least two people were arrested in the raid. Analysts have raised the specter of army defections as the tensions and killings persist. A report last month by the Washington Institute of Near East Policy said, “The challenging and dynamic environment that the Syrian army is caught up in has begun to produce serious signs of strain in its capacity, loyalty, and cohesion.” One military defector, who asked not to be named, told CNN there have been thousands of defections and they have been large enough to affect the unity of the army. He said the defectors need to unite “under one hand to protect this country.”
ASAD’S IRAQI LIFELINE: NAMING, SHAMING, AND MAIMING IT
By David Pollock and Ahmed Ali
Remarkably, as Syria’s increasingly isolated President Asad continues his bloody crackdown on a popular uprising, Iraq is throwing him a lifeline.
There Will Be No Civil War in Syria, by Hussain Abdul-Hussain
Israel Foreign Minister Floats Punishment for Turkey – SEPTEMBER 9, 2011
Mr. Lieberman, in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, said he planned to arrange meetings with representatives of the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, in Europe in order to “cooperate with them and to see that they are strengthened in every conceivable realm.”
Mr. Lieberman, however, said in his interview that the foreign ministry was preparing a “tool box” of retaliatory measures. “We will exact a price from Erdogan, a price that will prove to him that it doesn’t pay to start with Israel,” Mr. Lieberman told the newspaper.
Other retaliatory measures Mr. Lieberman envisaged included a warning to Israelis against traveling to Turkey; a diplomatic assault to highlight allegations of human-rights violations on minority groups in Turkey; and cooperation with Armenians in Washington to secure formal recognition of the 1915 Ottoman slaughter of ethnic Armenians as genocide.