Ehsani on Syria Comment over the Years

Ehsani has gathered together his commentary published on Syria Comment over the last five years. I asked him to do this because his articles constitute a valuable and trenchant critic and analysis of Syria’s economic problems and challenges. The link for each article is published below with a representative quote. [Joshua Landis]

Ehsani on Syria Comment

My first debate in the comment section was a debate with Idaf on February 18, 2006.

“Contrary to what you suggest, were the Baath to fall from power, the country will boom economically. The standards of living pale in comparison to others around, and certainly relative to where they should be. Market based economics is a prerequisite for economic prosperity. The Baath does not want to admit this, though they know it. They are hence incapable of unleashing the potential for this country.”

My first article was written on February 22, 2006. A comparison with Hugo Chavez was made in answer to an anonymous writer who argued that Syria does not need foreign investments.

“Foreign investors decide to invest when they sense that a country has a friendly business environment that will protect capital and offer higher rates of return than elsewhere. Capital is unlikely to head to countries that have a poor legal system, heavy-handed state intervention, corruption, and cronyism. Capital migrates to vibrant market based economies, where property is protected. We need to be part of the global economy. It is going to be hard because we are late. Our education system is woefully inadequate. Our infrastructure is not up to the task. Our labor force does not have the needed skills. But start we must. It is not too late. Syria is on the cusp of being next door to an EU country in the next ten years. This will present enormous opportunities for increased revenues from transit, trade, and tourism. But the competition for capital is going to be intense. If foreign investors agree to invest in Syria, we should thank and receive them with open arms. Chavez may ask them to “go to hell.” Hopefully, the Syrian people are too smart to emulate him.”

I challenged the US’s goal of spreading democracy on April 27, 2006.

“As transparent as the struggle to control these priceless resources, the West and the U.S. in particular, have been ambiguous and not forthright with its people or with the Arab world when it comes to its strategic interests in the region. The U.S. has an enormous thirst for energy. Its economy and society will be crippled were its energy supplies to suffer a major disruption. Any U.S. President that allows this to happen may very well get thrown from office and be impeached. Successive U.S. administrations have tried to rely on the so-called tyrants and kings to help them ensure that the above group of players or others does not succeed in making this happen.The other pillar of the U.S Middle East foreign policy of course concerns the state of Israel. As opaque as the U.S. has been when it comes to the issue of energy, its strategy when it comes to Israel has been extremely transparent.”

On May 26, 2006, I questioned the will and conviction of the Syrian leadership to reform.

“Syrian political reforms are unlikely to take place anytime soon. All calls for political reform is viewed with great suspicion. Pushing for such reforms is seen as a prelude to weakening the grip of regime, which will ultimately lead to its downfall. The regime is unlikely therefore to want to tinker with a survival formula that has served it very well over four decades.”

Mr. Dardari’s remarks on foreign policy and its impact on economic progress were addressed in a post on October 17, 2006.

“Unless the economy creates 480,000 new jobs every year, the ranks of the unemployed will continue to rise. Note that creating this many jobs will not help the already unemployed but only the new job seekers. This is a ticking time bomb that no one wants to confront or address. Most Syrians are apparently proud of their leader for standing up to the west and the great Satan in particular. They choose to ignore the country’s massive economic challenges ahead.”

On April 4, 2007, a warning about state revenues was raised.

“As you recall, I have long held the view that the Syrian economy’s prospects were in a much worse shape than was commonly believed.

On their part, most government officials had followed the unified and consistent theme that there was nothing wrong with the economy. Indeed, all we heard was that investments were soaring and that a 7-8% economic growth was in the offing.”

More on the plight of the Syrian economy also in April of 2007:

“In conclusion, without publishing the data to support their claim, it is very difficult to verify the numbers cited by the country’s economic policy makers. My comment above dealt with some of those potential difficulties. It is my impression that the country’s fiscal predicament is not healthy. It is clear that Dardari thinks that some of the subsidies will have to go. I think that this is inevitable. Politically, however, it is a very difficult thing to implement.”

Why don’t Arab dictators declare themselves kings was the title of another posting in the middle of April 2007

“Of the current 22 members of the Arab League, one can argue that the leaders of 14 have it harder than the other eight. I am referring of course to the form of government that these leaders inherited, usually from their colonial masters. The lucky eight inherited or built monarchies, either quasi-constitutional or absolute.
Life is not as simple for the Presidential Republics.”

On the cusp of President Assad’s second term in office, I reviewed his first 7 years in office.

“On Sunday May 27th, Syria’s young leader will win a new 7-year term as President of his country. The words “will win” are seldom used ahead of Presidential elections. But Syria, like most countries of the Arab World, does not resemble western nations. Presidential elections in the Middle East do not contain even a slight element of surprise. The results are known in advance. The procedures leading to the actual elections have become part of each country’s folklore.”

The next article dealt with the huge income disparity developing. Five undeniable facts were listed:

“Prada men’s shoes – SYP 27,500
Brioni mens pants – SYP 22,000
Iceberg t-shirt – SYP 13,800
Armani dress for ladies – SYP 248,500”

An Economic plan for Syria’s future was offered on June 1, 2008:

“Syria must privatize and start its stock market at the same time. The newly privatized companies will be the first candidates to list on the exchange and
will add much needed liquidity to the market. Money that is now pouring into largely unproductive real estate deals should be directed toward industry. If private capital is allowed to take over state industries, employment will rise and not fall. Profitability and accountability will be restored. Businesses that cannot compete will disappear; those that can will thrive. Resources will be more efficiently employed through the free working of the market place, rather than mis-allocated by the whims of clueless government planners.

Syria’s leadership must embrace a new economic course with urgency. The economic sanctions have not helped but neither have the government’s own policies.
The President himself must take ownership of this critical issue. He must explain to the nation his own economic vision and how he plans to execute it.”

More observations from a trip to Syria were made in August 2008.

“Some readers will take issue with my memo. Many will see it as “too dramatic” and “biased”. I had a lengthy telephone conversation with Dr. Landis before I wrote this note. He is privy to a lot more details than I have written here. My dear friends Ford Prefect and Observer have recently written their own observations of Syria after visiting the country. I realize that they offered a much rosier picture than the one I portray. I hope that I am wrong and that they are both right. My friend Idaf is also sure to take issue with many of my observations as we were both in Aleppo at the same time. Again, I hope that the future proves him correct.”

The issue of corruption was raised by focusing on the duty free business in September 2008.

“Imagine boarding a domestic flight from the city that you happen to live in, walking into the airport’s duty free store and walking out of the airport at your destination without any questions asked. Ramak is effectively competing with the Syrian government itself and wining hands down.”

Alarms on population increases were raised in the comments section and then in a main post in early 2009.

“In the meantime, the demographics in the region are frightening. Syria’s population doubles every 30 years. When 200,000 jobs need to be created a year today to absorb the growing labor force, think of what is come by 2030. This scenario is likely to play out in country after country in the region. Yemen, for example, will be home close to 100 million people over the next forty years based on current demographic trends. Such demographic trends need an urgent response. Regrettably, there is none coming.”

More was written on the Syrian population later in July 2009.

“The country would need to create 420,000 jobs today and 800,000 jobs in the year 2035. The only solution is for real economic growth to exceed 8-9% ASAP………

An article on the public sector that inspired OFF THE WALL to start his blog was written in August 2009.

“The Syrian economy and government services have real ailments that will get worse as the country liberalizes. Big medicine is needed.”

It’s the Economy stupid”

“The 51 point-criticism of Dardari and the so-called economic reform plan is extraordinary in both depth and scope. The reformers are being blamed for everything from high raw material prices to low investments, productivity and economic growth that have left 34% of Syrians  (6.8 Million) living below the poverty line, which is 2$ a day. No punches were spared. Even the country’s exchange and interest rates were deemed too high for both exports and investments.
The tone behind the scathing attack is one that identifies with the suffering of the working class — poor workers and farmers — who have seemingly suffered the brunt of the recent economic reforms that are underway.”

Pictures of garbage overwhelming cities like Aleppo.

“Syria’s big cities are facing an onslaught from the surrounding countryside. Their populations are growing even faster than the national rate as a result. Unless something is done, these amazingly historical cities face further decay if not ruin.”

I published an article on Syria’s low wages following a discussion of the high salaries offered to bankers on October of 2010.

“I am fully aware that my support for the reform process is not shared by a significant number of Syrians. This is not surprising. Change will produce new winners and losers. In this short essay, I will first list the winners and losers of the socialist era. I will then explain how the reform process has caught most Syrians off guard and unprepared for the changes that they must face. The failure of many Syrians to understand what needs to be fixed in order to assure the next generation a better life is causing many to blame the reform process and the private sector for the growing poverty and income disparity in our country. It has also brought growing anger at those leading and benefiting from the change.”

A plea to the leadership and the opposition to think about economics was discussed in July of 2012.

“The Syrian people deserve a vigorous debate over their future economic policy. As Egypt has found out, regime change does not automatically put food on the table, just as it does not magically create jobs or lift standards of living. Both the Syrian leadership and those in the opposition need to articulate a realistic, decisive and effective economic policy that inspires the 23 million Syrians who must dream of a brighter future for their kids. The time for a national dialogue on the economy is now. The leadership must lead the charge and offer the country a progressive, bold and inspiring new path forward.”

Comments (76)

ss said:

الموضوع ذات صله بمعهد ترايدنت :

تناقلت مواقع إخبارية ( صحيفة ‘الفجر’ القاهرية اليوم وموقع الشروق القطرية وغيرها من المواقع..) نبأ عن تعرض موكب أمير قطر الشيخ”حمد بن خليفه الثاني” لمحاولة اغتيال فى أعقاب المقابلة التي جمعت الأمير مع السفير الروسي فى مخيم أميرة في أطراف الدوحة ولدى تحرك الموكب تم اصطدام قوي يبدو مقصودا من طرف سيارة يقودها انتحاري وسمع على إثر ذلك دوي رصاص كثيف فى الموقع.

وقد صرح أحد المقربين لمكتب الشيخ خليفه ال ثانى الأمير السابق لقطر بأن الحادث نتج عنه إصابة أمير قطر فى فخذه ولا يعلم مدى تلك الاصابه.

هذا وقد توفي على الفور ثمانية من المرافقين العسكريين وأحد المقربين من أمير قطر حمد أل ثاني وقد عرف هذا الحادث تعتيما إعلاميا ولم يعرف لحد الآن من يقف وراء هذا الحادث ودوافعه كما أن حادث وفاة الجنرال الامريكي هاورد فوتشر المرافق للأمير لم تتناوله كذلك وسائل الإعلام

ومن جهة أخرى, لم يصدر أي بيان صحفي أو معلومات تؤكد أو تنفي صحة نبأ محاولة الإغتيال. ولم تتبنى القنوات والوسائل الاعلام القطرية هذا الخبر فتحفظت عن الرد..

September 4th, 2011, 4:30 pm


Gadfly said:

Interesting website. SS, a question if I may.

I keep hearing that certain Syrians are forced to say that there is no God but Bashar in Syria. Is that true or is a rumour ?

September 4th, 2011, 4:34 pm


Norman said:

The corrupt Khaddam that was with President Hafiz Assad for 30 years and living in Paris from his salary for the last 5 years, what a jock, change the theives and everything will be OK.

Now he wants to return on a western, NATO tank,

September 4th, 2011, 4:37 pm


aron said:

Well done! Ehsani’s articles are always worth the read. Keep them coming!

September 4th, 2011, 4:40 pm



A worthy endeavor. Thanks to both Ehsani and To Joshua.

September 4th, 2011, 4:56 pm


Vexed Levantine said:

right, so Khaddam “the corruptor” was to blame for all the failures of Hafiz during his reign and his plot was foiled by the enlightened son. I see. that must’ve been some waswaseh . yekhreb betoh, eblees didn’t do such a good job.

September 4th, 2011, 5:01 pm


True said:

@ Tara

Tarwe2ha (manaeesh zaatar in Shaalan) Yeah sure my shout, you guys are all invited  (bloody Menhebeks stay away)

September 4th, 2011, 5:25 pm


Aboud said:

From Angry Arab

“Comrade Fawwaz in Jadaliyya

I think the Syrian regime knows this uprising is not a conspiracy and that foreign intervention is very limited. So, the regime is using the pretext that the unrest is being caused by armed groups in order to occupy towns and control the civilian population.

The idea is to frighten people by shooting at them and arresting them (an estimated twenty thousand political activists are in detention) to make sure that the peaceful, civilian part of the revolution, which is the most important, is frightened. That is the Syrian regime’s policy.

The regime’s crackdown began with a very haughty sense of Syrian exceptionalism — a feeling that they we’re not like the others and could successfully impose security by repression, while worrying about longer-term stability later. It was adamant about crushing any attempt at replicating the Egyptian model – Midan al-Tahrir – of protesters occupying large urban squares.

One of the first things the regime did was to massacre people in the main square in Homs called Midan al-Sa‘a (the Square of the Clock), after protesters had managed to control it. But I think the Syrian people have surprised everyone. Not only did they break their fear barrier, they even got more and more militant as the repression intensified.

In terms of concessions, all of the major reforms al-Assad has offered are pitiful. The law on media freedom aims to protect journalists from being arrested, except by a legal order. So they can still arrest them. The new electoral law is still based on the antiquated law that you have in Egypt, which allocates half of the parliamentary seats to workers and peasants, while the other half is reserved for independents.

Today, Syria’s richest man is Mr. Mohamed Hamsho (Maher al-Assad’s brother-in-law), an engineer and a billionaire businessman who has run in previous elections for a worker’s seat. That should tell you how it all works.”

September 4th, 2011, 6:20 pm



Since we are on the subject of economics it might be interesting to know what the former Minister for Economy and Trade thinks about the Syrian econOmy and private entreprise. Let me know if you want the rest.

The Role of Small and Medium Enterprises and
Entrepreneurship in Leveraging the economic efficiency and
sustainable development:

Case study and model proposed for Syria

Lamia Aasi

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) play an essential role in economic
development in most countries all over the world. Nowadays, no one can argue on the
importance of SMEs that role is noticed obviously through their contribution in GDP
and job creation in many countries; in addition to their potential of growth in both goods
production and services providing. For example, as of July 2006, in 130 countries, 65
percent of the total labor force was employed. In the Asia Pacific Region alone, SMEs
are contributing between 30-60% of GDP, and are the source of around 35% of the
region’s export.
The business climate of today, with increasing globalization, has resulted in structural
changes in the commercial and industrial sectors. As a result, many large companies
have moved their production abroad; therefore the smaller companies have become
increasingly important for growth and employment nationally. Small businesses are
significant contributor to the well-being of nations, and SMEs play an important role for
most of countries, both in terms of economic growth and employment.
Seven to Nine countries, developed and developing countries from around the world,
are selected in order to examine their strategies towards SMEs. Each of them will be
examined and analyzed separately, in order to explore the relation between fostering
SMEs and economic growth, and to determine all the factors contributing to their
respective performance. The analyses will focus on the following areas: business
environment, institutional and organizational structure to integrate SMEs in the
development activities, Vision and Strategy, Characteristics of each country, in addition
to the culture as main factor for the success of SMEs, furthermore examining for the
relation among factors of success.
The core of the research will be the proposed model for Syria, based on the findings of
the research, and the answers of the key questions raised as follows; what are the main

September 4th, 2011, 6:32 pm



it’s the beginning of an academic paper written by her – primary source evidence you might say 😉

September 4th, 2011, 6:54 pm


N.Z. said:

Is there a country in the whole world that has a family name attach to it?

Only in Syria!

September 4th, 2011, 7:29 pm


True said:

only Syria-Alassad & Saudi

two bloody barbarian regimes

yl3an ro7ak ya Hafiz

September 4th, 2011, 7:36 pm


ann said:

Worldview: Stop Syria? It’s not as easy as Libya – Sep. 4, 2011

Western intervention to halt the violence could make things worse.

Now that NATO has helped to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi, some pundits are calling for similar action against Syria.

So far the chorus is muted, composed mainly of op-eds by neoconservatives who promoted the Iraq war. Back then they were certain that regime change in Baghdad would undercut Iran and make the region Israel-friendly (the opposite happened). They now argue that regime change in Damascus – a close friend to Iran – would undercut Tehran and help Israel.

They want NATO to take on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad next.

On the surface, it’s easy to dismiss them. Neither the American public nor the White House is keen on more U.S. military interventions. Polls show only 12 percent of the public thinks the United States should get more involved in the Syrian crisis. And NATO members have ruled out for now any military move against the Syrian regime.

Yet, given today’s deranged political climate, the calls for intervention in Syria may grow louder. Republicans are eager to snipe at President Obama’s supposed foreign-policy weakness and Republican front-runner Rick Perry calls for the United States to “renew our commitment of taking the fight to the enemy.” Which enemy does he have in mind? Syria? Iran?

Moreover, those who believe in humanitarian intervention to prevent the slaughter of civilians may join the call for action on Syria. After all, the justification for NATO’s no-fly zone over Libya was to prevent mass slaughter in Benghazi; Syrian leader Assad continues to slaughter civilians who are peacefully calling for reforms in their country. Despite Assad’s ban on news coverage, shocking videos are leaking out of the carnage.

So, rather than dismiss comparisons between the Libyan and Syrian rebellions, we should focus on their differences lest we get sucked into another military intervention – one that we will regret.

Libya was a special case, dissimilar to other Arab revolutions. Indeed – heed this point closely – every Arab revolt has been unique, and needs to be dealt with on its own terms.

In the Libyan case, several unique factors made NATO intervention possible.

The bizarre Gadhafi was personally despised by almost every Arab leader, Sunni or Shiite, for crimes and assassinations he’d committed or attempted. This was the key reason the Arab League endorsed a no-fly zone over Libya. The Arab League endorsement persuaded the Russians and Chinese not to veto a U.N. Security Council vote for the no-fly zone.

Other key factors: Libya’s location, far from the Arab heartland, with a small Sunni Arab population, and lots of oil to buy off its people; this meant Libyan regime change was not seen as a threat by most Arab leaders. None of these special circumstances applies in the Syrian case.

Syria sits in the center of the Arab heartland. “Every country in the region has vital security interests in Syria,” says Vali Nasr, a Middle East expert at Tufts University.

Assad has a much stronger military machine than did Gadhafi, and is still supported by a sizable segment of the Syrian population that fears chaos. If he falls, a brutal sectarian civil war seems likely.

Syria straddles the Mideast’s Shia-Sunni fault line. The Assad regime is led by Alawites, a Shiite Muslim offshoot, while the bulk of the population is Sunni. Assad’s exit would touch off a round of Shiite-Sunni bloodletting that could spread to neighboring countries, including Lebanon and Iraq.

Given the uncertainties about what would follow Assad, Arab leaders are not certain they want him to fall. “No one [in the region] wants the current situation but no one is comfortable with what is coming,” says Nasr. “No one thinks there would be a soft landing” after Assad’s demise,” he adds.

In such circumstances, no Arab endorsement would be forthcoming for Western military intervention, nor is any Security Council resolution likely.

Moreover, as Nasr notes, no one should assume that the fall of the Assad regime will necessarily help Israel – or seriously harm Tehran.

The Syrian opposition is disorganized and weak, with liberals mostly in exile; the likely winners after a regime change would be Sunni Islamists, perhaps the Muslim Brotherhood.

A new regime led by Sunni Islamists might loosen Assad’s tight ties with Shiite Tehran, but that hardly means it would cut them. It might stop openly shipping weapons to Israel’s enemies, such as the Lebanese group Hezbollah, but that doesn’t mean it would be friendly to Jerusalem.

“A change of regime might mean the Syrian-Israeli border becomes hot again,” says Nasr, with new Syrian rulers pressing harder to regain the Golan Heights. Such a regime, he believes, would find much common cause with Hezbollah – and the Palestinian Hamas movement in Gaza.

This doesn’t mean the West shouldn’t look for nonmilitary ways to help the Syrian opposition, including tighter sanctions on Assad’s government. It does mean that Washington should have no illusions that Syrian regime change will realign the region in the West’s favor.

“We have to put pressure on Assad but not charge ahead,” says Nasr. “One thing we should have learned from Iraq is that the choices are not between black and white but between shades of gray.”

And each Arab revolution is a different shade of gray.

September 4th, 2011, 7:45 pm


Husam said:

@ Aboud:

You said: “I think the Syrian regime knows this uprising is not a conspiracy and that foreign intervention is very limited.

Can you please explain how you arrive at this deduction? We all know how this uprising started and there are legitimate demands, state failure, cold blood killings and abuse etc… but don’t outsiders all want a piece of Syria? How can you rule out there is no (or a bigger) conspiracy by Sheikdoms and NATO, not just on Syria, but on the whole region?

September 4th, 2011, 8:29 pm


Abughassan said:

The fifth undeniable fact,not found in the introduction,was that an average salary in Syria can not buy an Italian shoe ..
Poverty is the mother of all evil,and in its economic form,it can be a powerful drive for people to revolt.,add oppression to that and you will get a lethal combo..

September 4th, 2011, 8:42 pm


N.Z. said:

The stalemate is over. Change is closer than ever!!!

September 4th, 2011, 8:46 pm


ann said:

Will NATO Bomb Syria and Usher in Transition?

Shall the UN Security Council –acting once more as a World Military Junta decreeing wars and bombings– dispatch the NATO also to Syria? Will French president Nicolas Sarkozy extend the Élysée red carpet for the Syrian NTC so as to add Syria to his list of “liberated” countries, after Sierra Leone and Libya? After all, Syria was under French mandate and control since 1920 until its independence in 1946.


September 4th, 2011, 8:55 pm


ann said:

Life after Assad looks ominous for Syria’s Christian minority

Not everyone is supporting the uprising against the country’s brutal regime. Khalid Ali reports from Damascus

Monday, 5 September 2011

In the gift shop of Damascus’ Chapel of Ananias, a middle-aged Christian man called Sari explained who he thought was to blame for the stories of government brutality emerging from his country.

“All the international media are liars,” he said. “Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN – they are all lying. There is no trouble here in Damascus.”

Syria’s more than 2 million Christians account for around 10 per cent of the total population and are just one minority in patchwork of different creeds. But in interviews this week, some of them said many in their community were uneasy about the anti-government protests convulsing their country.

According to one activist called Yusef, who used to be an organiser for his local church in Damascus, many Christians have no great love for the Assad regime. Yet large numbers are worried about what will happen if he falls.

“Many of them are not getting any benefits from this government,” said Yusef in his central Damascus living room. “On the other hand, they are not getting damaged. Some people are thinking, ‘in the future, maybe I won’t have the benefits but I will also be damaged as well’.”

The reasons for their opposition to the protest movement are manifold, said Yusef. Some have lucrative jobs as a result of government connections, while others “simply believe what they watch on state TV”.

There is also, he admits, a fear that Islam might usurp the secular – albeit repressive – brand of Baathist socialist rule in Syria.

“Right now Christians can celebrate Easter. They can wear whatever they want. They can go to the church in safety and they can drink if they want to.

“They are afraid they will lose all this if the regime falls down.”

The Christians of Damascus are not alone in their anxiety about what a post-Assad state might look like. Many others living in and outside the capital – particularly the business elite whose fortunes are tied to the regime – have their own vested interest in protecting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

And according to one activist who spoke to The Independent, a Sunni Muslim called Houssam, the sentiments of Christians in places like the southern city of Deraa are markedly different to those living in Damascus.

“I have friends living there who are so angry about what has happened in their town,” he explained.

Another Christian, a student in her twenties called Dima, dismissed the fears held by some of her friends about the threat of militant Islamism.

There is also a danger, she said, in trying to pigeonhole Syria’s many different ethnicities and creeds.

One Alawite woman in Damascus, an artist in her thirties, explained why she was behind the uprising despite belonging to the same Shia sect as the Syrian President.

“The reason that so many people in my sect support him is because his father, the previous president Hafez al-Assad, exploited the Alawite people,” she said.

“He made a huge point of saying the Muslim Brotherhood would kill every Alawite person. He put this in their heads forever.”

Yet there is no denying that many in Syria’s Christian community do not share the enthusiasm of the protest movement.

“One of my friend’s brothers was saying how he beat up somebody who supported the demonstrations,” said Dima. “Most of the people I know are not in favour of the uprising. They are very worried.”

September 4th, 2011, 9:07 pm


Fawaz H. Alfawaz said:

The loss of legitmecy is real and lasting , hence, Syria reached the tipping point , but it is also true that a foreign hand is present in the uprising and it is also due to the unholy support the Syrian regime garner from Iran .Iranian national narrative is very different from the Syrian -cum Arabic one .Partly because of the Weakness of Bashar , Syria found it’s self in the Iranian orbit of not a rotten apple that fallen into it’s hand .
Yet, Iran os perplexed now , the Syrian wekneses and demands For money is likely to be endless , and the political capital Iran tries to cultivate in the region is eroding fast .The combination of security and sectarian nature of the regime , it is unlikey that the regime will be dislodged without foreign support .
The strategic imperative would argue for a leading Turkish role with the Westren powers and some indespensible Arab support once the Arab league score public relations points against the dysfunctional Syrian media . Neither the west appetite for showy approach nor the financial burden would argue for only westren role .The Libyan case is so far positive inspire of the early hiccups .
It os also instructive that the westren powers have stated long ago that the west would deal with thses countries in case by case basis rather than one size fits all .In my view the Syrian case must include some internal military /security role against the politically depilated regime .

September 4th, 2011, 9:16 pm


ann said:

BRICS opposed to Syria meddling – Lavrov – Sep 4, 2011 18:24

Russia and its partners on the BRICS group that brings it together with India, China, South Africa and Brazil are determined to avert a Libya-style scenario for Syria. They believe the UN Security Council must condemn violence in that Arab country and urge the conflicting sides there to respect rights and start up a dialogue.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was speaking about this in Moscow on Sunday after emerging from talks with his Brazilian counterpart Antonio Patriota.

He also said the Syrian President Bashar Assad must be given time to draft a new constitution and implement promised pro-democracy reforms.

The reported deaths in the Syrian conflict are at about 2 thousand, including some 500 police and security personnel.

September 4th, 2011, 9:28 pm


ann said:

As EU bans Syrian oil, China, India likely to fill void!

Oil-hungry China and India could undermine efforts by the European Union to punish Syria for its deadly response to activists trying to overthrow the government.

The EU on Friday banned oil imports from Syria, shutting down the vast majority of that country’s export market. The taps won’t be turned off, however, until the middle of November. Even if this market closes, Syria will have other options that could leave the repressive government relatively unscathed.

China, as well as India, could absorb the roughly 150,000 barrels of oil a day that Syria currently directs toward the EU. Oil exports make up about 25 per cent of Syria’s revenue, and at today’s oil prices, the shipments are worth about $4-billion a year, according to Ayham Kamel, an expert on the Middle East at Eurasia Group, a global research firm.

“Financially, it won’t have a big impact [on Syria],” he said of the sanctions. “They can sell the oil elsewhere.”

China and India are two countries likely to fill the void, Mr. Kamel said. Roughly three-quarters of Syria’s oil exports are heavy, limiting the number of refineries that can process it into useable products such as gasoline and jet fuel. However, China and India in particular, have been building facilities that can deal with thicker crude as they desperately try to meet growing demand.

While Syria, which produces about 400,000 barrels of oil a day, may have to accept a lower price for the exported crude, these prospective buyers could put a serious dent in the effectiveness of the EU’s ban.

The sanctions, which were encouraged by the United States, a country that does not import Syrian oil, come after more than five months of violence in Syria. Protesters want to remove Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and his government, and the clashes have turned deadly. The United Nations estimates that about 2,200 people have been killed since March. The regime is in no imminent danger of collapse, but the protesters are determined, leading to concerns violence could escalate.

On Sunday, a state-run newspaper in Syria criticized Europe’s move.

“Instead of playing an effective and positive political role, Europe shows its pent-up desire to evoke the colonial past,” Al-Thawra newspaper said.

Emadeddin al Rashid, of Syria’s opposition National Salvation Congress, believes the EU’s ban will hit Syria’s ruling family, but that it does not mean the Assads will lose control over the country.

“The sanctions will gain popular approval because the revenues from oil do not go to the state coffers but are at the disposal of the Assad family,” he said, according to Reuters. “It will no doubt hurt, and is direct pressure on the regime, as it affects their personal finances.

“It will however be an excuse to supply Syria with Iraqi and Iranian oil as a form of economic aid to prop up the regime. Oil sanctions are among several issues that put pressure on the regime . . . but alone it will not tip the balance against the regime as Syria has had long experience in dealing with sanctions.”

Without revenue from exporting crude to the EU’s 27 states, Syria will likely burn through foreign reserves far more quickly. It had $17-billion in reserves at the start of the uprising. Still, some analysts believe Syria is getting financial assistance from Iran, which would cushion the EU blow.

September 4th, 2011, 9:40 pm


Norman said:

وكشف مصدر مسؤول في دمشق لـ’القدس العربي’ عن تغيير حكومي كبير خلال اسبوعين، سيكون الاول من نوعه في تاريخ حزب البعث الحاكم، ومن المنتظر ان يشرك اسلاميين ومستقلين، للمرة الاولى في الحكومة السورية.
وقال المصدر ان هذا التغيير سيكون اول خطوة للرئيس السوري لبدء برنامج الاصلاح والتغيير الذي وعد به في اكثر من مناسبة – دون بدء تنفيذه- تحت ضغط الثورة التي تشهدها سورية منذ 15 من اذار (مارس)، وبعد مطالبة تركيا وروسيا والصين بشكل خاص والمجتمع الدولي بشكل عام بسرعة تنفيذ هذا الاصلاح، قبل ان تدول القضية السورية في المحافل الدولية.

September 4th, 2011, 10:16 pm


some guy in damascus said:

“a reminder: X marks are on homes of some alawis in Damascus,”
I’ve never heard of such incidents, or anything close to that.
can you elaborate on it?

September 4th, 2011, 10:21 pm


Free Markets Rule! said:

If only Syria had allowed America to run the country in the ground like Haiti under the auspices of ‘free market’, everything would be fine!

Cuz we all know how much America and France care about the common man!

September 4th, 2011, 10:27 pm


Aboud said:

Husam, what I posted was quoted from Angry Arab (

September 4th, 2011, 10:30 pm


beaware said:

Root of Syrian unrest: Politics or religion?
Published: 02 September, 2011, 09:59

Britain, the US and France are pushing for harsher sanctions against Syria’s President al-Assad, who is believed to have ordered the torture and death of protesters. But on the streets there seems to be no real evidence of anti-government sentiment.

­Even the poorest areas of the Syrian city of Homs – which, as a gathering place for people heading into the city center on demonstrations, saw major unrest – now seems quiet and secure.

People on the streets told RT that most of the disturbances in the city are based on religious differences, not politics. People say they are not against the government, neither are they in pursuit of any political ends.

Most of the controversy in Homs arises from differences between the Alawi and Sunni Muslims.

The army maintains a presence to keep the area under control and prevent clashes between religious groups. But, as RT’s Irina Galushko reports, there are no tanks or any other heavy military equipment to be seen.

In Syria, the period of noon prayers has become something of a traditional time for violence to break out as people pour out of mosques and into the streets.

But life in Homs seems to be running quietly, the only stir being created by television crews filming in the middle of the day.

September 4th, 2011, 11:19 pm


Abughasaan said:

Every time anybody speaks about the role of poverty and unemployment in the Syrian crisis, the champions of freedom and dignity start getting angry as if poverty and unemployment are not the enemies of freedom and dignity.
People of the gulf do not enjoy political freedom but you do not see them,except in Bahrain,in the streets asking for a regime change. How do you think the Saudi regime will respond if protests similar to the ones in Syria take place?
This uprising was triggered by oppression and brutality but that was not the only fuel that inflamed the streets .

September 5th, 2011, 1:10 am


annie said:

Morning and mourning
A sickening recap of some the regime crimes; how can there be remaining loyalists ?

September 5th, 2011, 1:29 am


sf94123 said:


Well, he is absolutely right. Below is a “THREAT” by Abu Umar and Husam on Sep 3rd as they were responding to my post # 164 dated September 3rd. And yes, They want 20 millions Syrians to believe that the future of Syria is safe in their hands!

To 164. SF4123 said:
Don’t worry Menhebek thug, you will never return to Syria and you posted an article by a Jewish Neocon hypocrite to further your pathetic cause. So much for “mumaana”. My fake condolences(which the Asad mafia specialises in) on the coming demise of the regie

To SF4123:
@ no vacancy! You are full of Sh*t. I see you dropped one number from your zip code, what are you afraid of… seriously…hehe!? Shubak
Khieeef Amo?

P.S “Shubak Khieeef Amo” means “what is up, are you afraid boy!

September 5th, 2011, 1:35 am


SyrIa no kandahar said:

الراي الاخر اصبح جريمة عند الثورجيين
الوطن وطنهم فقط
وكل من لايوافقهم مجرم
او شبيح
او مخابراتي
او منحبكجي
الثورجيون في أعين انفسهم هم الكمال
لا عيب فيهم
وهم الحسن
وهم الجمال
الوطن اصبح صكا باسمهم
لاشريك لهم فيه
تركيا امهم
امريكا ولية أمرهم
فرنسا وإنكلترا روح ثورتهم
وكل ثورجي يريد عضة اكبر
من كعكة السلطه
أفواههم مفتوحه
واسنناننهم تنتظر الكعكه بفارغ الصبر
الوطن عندهم كعكه
مسكين أيها السوري الطيب
قررت ان تثور
حالما بالحريه
فسرق ثورتك
زباينة الثورات
وباعوها بأبخس الأثمان
لتجار الامم
وضاع دمك
وضاع حلمك
وضاعت الكعكه
وضاع الوطن

September 5th, 2011, 2:11 am


ann said:


40 Israelis detained, questioned in Istanbul airport

Travelers on flight from Tel Aviv to Turkey detained for more than an hour upon landing in Istanbul; Foreign Ministry in contact with Turkish authorities, investigating reason for incident.

09/05/2011 11:25

Forty Israelis passengers were detained for questioning by Turkish police in Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport on Monday morning.

The Israelis had their passports confiscated after landing on a Turkish Airlines flight from Tel Aviv on Monday morning. They were questioned for more than an hour and subsequently released.

The Foreign Ministry was investigating the incident and has been in contact with Turkey to find out if it came about as the result of a new directive or if it was a local initiative by airport authorities, a spokesman stated.

The spokesman added that an incident of this nature has never previously been known to occur to Israeli travelers in Turkey.

The Foreign Ministry was also in contact with the Israelis who were detained, in attempts to find out exactly what they were asked by Turkish authorities at the airport.

Israel planned to keep a close eye on additional flights from Israel to Turkey throughout the day to determine if anything out of the ordinary occurs.

September 5th, 2011, 5:24 am


ann said:

40 Israelis held in Istanbul airport

Passengers arriving in Turkey detained by local police after their passports taken away from them; passenger: Everyone was in shock

09.05.2011, 09:58,7340,L-4117910,00.html

Israeli passengers on board a Turkish Airlines flight that landed in Istanbul on Monday morning were held for several hours by local police after their passports had been taken away from them. The passengers said that the Turkish police officers were disrespectful, claiming that such an incident was unprecedented.

Flight 793 departed from Ben Gurion International Airport as planned at 5 a.m. and landed two hours later in Istanbul. Turkish Airlines said it was checking into the report.

“They asked us why we came here, opened our bags, checked how much money we have and what we have on our laptops,” one of the passengers told Ynet.

“I think that the police officers didn’t even know what they were looking for,” he added. “They apparently got an order to detain us, one by one. Everyone was in shock; we didn’t know what they were going to do to us. Obviously this was done intentionally, in order to create an unpleasant feeling.”

Authorities in Jerusalem estimate that the detention of the Israeli passengers came in response to a recent incident during which Turkish citizens were detained for questioning by border police at Ben Gurion Airport.

Foreign Ministry officials said that no directive was issued regarding a change in the policy that concerns the reception of Israelis, and that there was no intention to single out Israelis that arrive in Turkey. “It was a mid-rank initiative that apparently came in response to the incident at Ben Gurion Airport,” they said.

‘Point of no return’

R’ and D’, businessmen who were on the flight said the attitude of the police officers at the airport was estranged. “We have been doing business in Turkey for 13 years. They held all Israelis. Whoever doesn’t have to work here shouldn’t come. They spoke rudely and acted improperly. People missed their connections but they didn’t care,” he said.

According to the two, “As soon as they saw an Israeli, they told him to move on to questioning. All the Israelis were together and they accumulated the passports in one pile. I have never seen such a thing. I have also never seen them behaving in such disrespect. I don’t know what will be the atmosphere on the street. I don’t know what to expect. The papers from yesterday are filled with incitement.

“They asked us how long we are planning to stay, gesturing with their hands to stay put. No explanations were given. They gave back our passports after almost two hours,” the two added.

The passengers on board described a sense of anxiety and a desire to return home. “This feels like the point of no return. Whatever we have felt until now, it will not be the same anymore.”

Similar treatment at Ben Gurion Airport?

Meanwhile, the Turkish news agency “Anatolya” reported that Turkish tourists had encountered similar treatment at Ben-Gurion Airport. One of them said, “When we reached the airport in Tel Aviv on our way back to Turkey, security personnel took me and my friends aside and we waited there for a long time.

“They asked about our personal information, including email addresses, phone numbers, our family status and even the number of children we had. They checked our luggage multiple times after which they conducted a physical search,” he added.

According to the passenger, “They asked us to remove all clothing. They checked a Turkish woman in one of the rooms. They only examined Turkish passengers and the search was very hostile. When we reached Antalya, the plane was forced to perform an emergency landing after one of the passengers felt ill following the way we had been treated in Israel.”

The group’s tour guide Ansar Ogur added, “The treatment for Turks was different. They went through our luggage many times. Because of their search of the cargo, our flight was delayed. Some of the Turkish passengers boarded at the last minute.”

The incident is the latest deterioration in the relations between Israel and Turkey, which culminated on Friday after Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador following Israel’s refusal to apologize over the takeover of a Gaza-bound Turkish vessel in 2010 and the publication of the UN’s Palmer Report.

On Sunday, it was reported that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is slated to visit Egypt and Gaza soon to sign strategic cooperation agreements with Cairo.

September 5th, 2011, 5:35 am


ann said:

Turkey crisis is just start of Israel’s diplomatic tsunami – 05.09.2011

The crisis in relations with Turkey is a red alert of the attacks we’re in for on the diplomatic, security and economic fronts, affecting the lives of 450,000 protesters, demanding social justice.

What’s the connection between the masses demanding social justice Saturday night and the worsening relations with Turkey and the expected recognition in the United Nations of a Palestinian state? What does Tel Aviv’s Kikar Hamedina have to do with Istanbul’s Taksim Square and Ramallah’s Manara Square? What does the debate between supporters and opponents of shattering the budgetary framework have to do with the Palestinians’ budget deficit or the downgrading of relations with Ankara? The return of the ambassador and his deputy to Israel will save the state two fine salaries and make a little more money available for free education for toddlers.

With all due respect to Turkey (we haven’t shown any; remember the low-chair affair ), the Israeli people will survive even without an ambassador and deputy ambassador in Ankara. No disaster will happen if the United Nations we so disparage throws the Palestinians a bone and a few young men march toward the settlements. Our highly trained soldiers will charge, the settlers’ dogs will jump them and all will be well.

Right? Wrong. The crisis in relations with Turkey is a red alert of the attacks we’re in for on the diplomatic, security and economic fronts. It will affect the lives of 450,000 protesters and many more people who demanded social justice from their living room couches.

Government spokesmen went from TV studio to TV studio over the weekend to explain that the avalanche between Ankara and Jerusalem has nothing at all to do with the apology affair, but rather with the type of regime Turkey has. That could be. But if the Netanyahu government had thawed the negotiations on the end of the occupation and prevented the crisis that led the Palestinians to the United Nations, Turkey might not have had to make such a major issue out of the flotilla.

When Turkey called its ambassador home, it showed the way for the ambassadors of Egypt and Jordan in Israel, and that’s just the beginning. After the United Nations fulfills the Palestinians’ request for a state, the Palestinians won’t be able to consider themselves a temporary entity called the “Palestinian Authority.” How will the French react to Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to return from an official visit to Paris with a passport from independent Palestine?

Abbas is 76 yeas old. His close associates are certain that since the United Nations will show Israel the way out of the occupation, Abbas will find his way out of the Muqata. The veteran Fatah activist Jibril Rajoub recently told a group of Israelis visiting Abbas’ office that sitting in front of them was the last partner to a two-state solution. Indeed, it’s hard to find a Palestinian leader who is prepared to state publicly that his presence in Ramallah is also an expression of the fulfillment of the right of return. (Hamas websites have excoriated Abbas for saying this. )

The young people from Rothschild Boulevard should keep their tents handy. They will need them soon, when they’re sent to guard their brethren, the settlers. Those who don’t want to deal with the occupation today will be dealt with by the occupation tomorrow. And if protesters don’t have the time to address marginal issues like universal justice, they should ask their economists how much the looming international crisis will cost us.

Turkey’s threat to confiscate Israeli goods is only the first step. In the first quarter of the year Turkey imported around half a billion dollars in goods from Israel – only two other countries import more.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz might remember the anti-Semitic statement by Gen. Evelyn Barker, the commander of the British Mandate forces in Palestine, that the way to punish the Jews was by striking at their pockets. Steinitz is threatening to freeze the Palestinians’ tax money as punishment for their move in the United Nations. Last week he threw the Palestinians down the stairs, and after them the American ambassador, along with their request to expedite the transfer of their money – yes, theirs – so they can pay their salaries early because of the holiday. That’s what is done to bad children.

Not even a doctor of philosophy can answer the question of who will pay the salaries of the Palestinian teachers, police and doctors after the PA announces it is disbanding and the donor countries turn off the faucet ($1.5 billion a year ). Will Steinitz send tax clerks to collect money from the merchants of Hebron to cover the Palestinian deficit (about half a billion dollars )? From what budget provision do the social protesters propose funding the damage from the diplomatic and security tsunami?

September 5th, 2011, 5:44 am


Haytham Khoury said:

@ Ann #19.

This a good assessment. However, the main origin of fear is the presence of more than 700,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria. What happened after the American invasion (Ethnic and religious cleansing of the Christians, made the Christians (particularly the leadership suspicious and may be afraid of any change toward “Democracy” that may result in Chaos.

September 5th, 2011, 8:35 am


Revlon said:

Hi Joshua,
SC interface looks funny now!
I am wondering whether SC or my PC are bugged!
Or is this supposed to be the new SC look?

September 5th, 2011, 9:13 am


Tara said:


I have a different format too and I hate it. It is a difficult read esp on ipad.

September 5th, 2011, 9:23 am


Revlon said:

34. Dear Haytham Khoury@ Ann #19.

“This a good assessment. However, the main origin of fear is the presence of more than 700,000 Iraqi refugees in Syria. What happened after the American invasion (Ethnic and religious cleansing of the Christians, made the Christians (particularly the leadership suspicious and may be afraid of any change toward “Democracy” that may result in Chaos”

To my knowledge, those that fled Iraq after the fall of the Saddam and his Baathist regime were of all ethnicities, including Shiaa and even Kurds.

I would expect the most common single motive for their departure to be the intorduction of “the non-ethnic doctrine” of De-Baathification and the fear of reprisal in case of participation and or benefit from decades of oppressive Saddam Baathist regime.
Another expected factor would be the fear for life and property due to the state of anarchy that ensued.

Therefore, unless supported by data based on field survey and supporting documents, dubbing this mass exodus of Iraqis to Syria as ethnic cleansing could be considered misinformation.

I would appreciate it if you could provide your data in support of the above made claim.

September 5th, 2011, 9:36 am


beaware said:

Pro-Gaddafi channel broadcasting from van
By Ma’ad Fayad

London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Mishan al-Juburi is an Iraqi businessman living in Damascus and owner of ” Al-Rai” television station, which has broadcasted the speeches of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and his son Saif-al-Islam. He revealed to Asharq al-Awsat that the channel “Al-Muqawamah”, which recently broadcast Gaddafi’s speech, is a mobile station located in an “OB [outside broadcast] van”. The vehicle moves from one place to another “so that no one can seize it”, and al-Juburi pointed out that “we in (Al-Rai) channel trained the cadres operating this service.”

Al-Juburi told Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone from Damascus yesterday that “(Al-Muqawamah) channel is based in a vehicle fitted with satellite transmission equipment, called an OB van, and is transmitting at present from Tripoli. However, it might move on to other Libyan cities.” He added: “We trained the Libyan youths working in it and I was the one who proposed to them to buy this vehicle from Lebanon, benefiting from our expertise with (Al-Zawra) channel, which the Iraqi resistance used to broadcast its satellite statements and programs, and which made it impossible for the American forces to discover it. It broadcasted in Iraq despite the satellites and sophisticated intelligence equipment there.” He added that it was stopped only by a political decision from former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who ordered the cessation of satellite transmission on (Nilesat).

Al-Juburi commented on the contents of a document issued from the relations office (embassy) of Libya in Damascus, which said that “the amount of $60,000 was spent on employees of (Al-Rai) satellite channel as salaries for two months.” The document also pointed to the “arrival in Syria of Brother Ali al-Kilani, the secretary general of the general authority of the Great Jamahiriyah radio stations”, adding that “this issue was discussed with him. He promised to channel the employees’ salaries and the channel’s expenditures through students’ salaries, or in some other way.” Al-Juburi responded in comment: “It is naïve to think that the expenditures of a satellite channel like Al-Rai comes to $30,000 a month. We are paying more $100,000 for the satellite transmission, and the same figure in salaries.” But he added: “We trained Libyan youths here at Al-Rai channel in Damascus to use the broadcast vehicle. I also met here with Brother Ali al-Kilani and proposed to him to buy the (OB van) from Lebanon. He bought it less than two months ago.” He pointed out that the “issue of salaries to which the document refers is probably, and most likely, the salaries of the Libyan youths trained in our channel.”

Al-Juburi went on to assert that “brother Gaddafi’s speech was broadcast recently from Libya directly on the (Al-Muqawamah) channel. The transmission technology in this vehicle does not need a studio or sophisticated equipment. The recording is transmitted immediately as soon as it is received, or via telephone contact. This channel will broadcast all the Libyan resistance’s speeches and programs.” He pointed out that “Al-Muqawamah channel transmits on (Nilesat), and I do not know if the transmission is carried out from a house, a tent, a desert, or the centre of Tripoli, but I know that it is difficult to detect.”

Commenting on claims that he had received $10 million from Saif-al-Islam Gaddafi in return for media services he rendered to his family, Al-Juburi said: “I am much honoured that Saif-al-Islam has been my friend since 2006. I have met him several times. Today I am proud of him as a resistance fighter and not a Libyan official. I have not received any money from him or from the Libyan Embassy in Damascus, whose address I do not know.” He revealed that “Gaddafi supported the Iraqi resistance financially since 2006 and until very recently. I was the one who assessed the resistance factions that deserved support, but I did not handle any funds even though he (Gaddafi) has asked me to do this.”

It is noteworthy that al-Juburi recently disclosed to Asharq al-Awsat the intention to launch “Al-Muqawamah” channel.

September 5th, 2011, 9:46 am


beaware said:

Number of Syrians seeking shelter in Turkey drops by 60 pct
ANKARA, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) — The number of Syrian citizens taking shelter in Turkey has dropped by over 60 percent to 6,774, an official Turkish statement showed Monday.

The statement, released by the Turkish Prime Ministry Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate, said that among a total of 17,132 Syrians who had crossed the border into Turkey so far, 10, 358 of them, or about 60.4 percent, later returned to their homeland.

Turkey has spent nearly 12.75 million Turkish liras (about 7.29 million U.S. dollars) to provide shelter, food and medical care to these Syrians, the statement said.

The Syrian shelter-seekers are mainly staying in the six temporary tent sites built by the Turkish Red Crescent in southern Turkish province of Hatay.

The Syrians were fleeing their homeland due to the turmoil in their country since January.

September 5th, 2011, 9:50 am


Aboud said:

Website seems to have lost all its formating. Someone misplace the CSS files?

“It is a difficult read esp on ipad.”

So jealous 🙂

September 5th, 2011, 10:13 am


Akbar Palace said:

The professor of propaganda

Why is the world’s most-quoted Syria expert a flack for Bashar al-Assad?

James Kirchick, September 3, 2011

In February, Vogue magazine published one of the most notorious profiles in the history of recent American journalism. In six, full-color pages, the world-famous fashion title featured Asma al-Assad, the “glamorous, young, and very chic,” wife of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who, over the past six months, has killed upwards of 2,000 fellow Syrians protesting his authoritarian rule. Media critics and Vogue readers alike pilloried the magazine, and its editors eventually took the article down from their website and erased it from their online archives.

But if Vogue was too embarrassed to stand by the piece, there was one figure willing to defend it: Professor Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Writing on his blog, “Syria Comment,” Landis tore into the Atlantic’s Max Fisher and Jeffrey Goldberg, both of whom had criticized the profile, labeling them “big supporters of Israel.” “Doubtlessly,” Landis asserted, “they would be gratified to see a positive report of Israel’s first lady even though Israel has killed, wounded, and imprisoned without trial many more of its subjects in the last 10 years than Syria has.”

As with nearly everything he writes, Landis was parroting the Syrian regime, in this case, its attempts to rouse populist anger against Israel as a means of distracting attention from its own failings. Landis’ attempts at whitewashing the Assad dictatorship would be inconsequential were he some obscure figure in the world of Middle East studies. But Landis is perhaps the most oft-cited expert on Syrian politics, who, largely through his blog, has created a perch for himself in the minds of many as a dispassionate observer of events on the ground.

To read Landis’ commentary about Syria over the past half year is to track the development of Baath propaganda. When protests broke out in March, he was quick to predict that they would never reach the scale of those in other Arab countries. “Western accounts of the protest movement in Syria have been exaggerated,” he wrote for Foreign Policy magazine on April 5. As the demonstrations grew in size and intensity across the country, however, Landis shifted the focus of his analysis to a defense of the regime and an attack on its opponents.

When evidence of Syrian atrocities became impossible to deny, Landis asserted that Assad could not be held responsible for the actions of his military. In an article for Time published March 25, Landis wrote, “Even President Bashar al-Assad himself seems to have been shocked by the level of violence used by Syria’s security forces to suppress demonstrations that began a week ago,” implying that the leader of the Syrian police state was unaware of what his security forces, headed by his own brother, were doing.

Landis has persisted in his denial of the claim, in the face of mounting evidence compiled over a series of months, that the Syrian regime has carried out a policy of killing soldiers who refuse to fire on unarmed civilians. In July, a series of defectors from the Syrian military confirmed to international media outlets and independent human rights organizations what others had been saying for months: They had been ordered to kill fellow soldiers who refused to fire on unarmed protestors. Human Rights Watch interviewed a group of defectors who, rather than carry out illegal orders, fled the country. Yet Landis continues to deny the overwhelming proof. “So far, no evidence has surfaced to demonstrate that Syrian military have shot their fellow soldiers for refusing to carry out orders,” he wrote as late as August 3. “Most evidence supports government statements that armed opposition elements have been shooting security personnel.”

And then there’s the case of Hamza al-Khateeb, whose fate, recorded in a grisly video broadcast on the Internet, inspired massive outpourings into the streets. The regime is reported to have apprehended the 13-year-old boy, castrated him, burned him alive while torturing him to death, and then dumped his mutilated corpse on his family’s doorstep. But while posting voluminous defenses of the Syrian regime, Landis saw fit to mention this catalytic incident only twice. The first time was to cite an item from Syrian state television reporting that the dead boy’s family, after meeting with Assad, said that the president “engulfed us with his kindness and graciousness” and that “the president considered Hamza his own son and was deeply affected.” The second was a mere paragraph arguing that the Syrian regime would resist calls for an international inquiry into the murder because to do so would bring “the country down the slippery slope of foreign investigative teams for every conflagration.”

As for what the outside world should do about Syria, Landis’ mantra has always been precisely that of the regime: Don’t put pressure on Damascus. Last month, as pressure for European Union oil sanctions began to build, Landis cited highly misleading information about the effect of United Nations sanctions on Iraq to make the case that “Syria’s poorest and most vulnerable will likely be the first to feel privation as the wealthy and powerful kick down the pain,” as if the negative effects of sanctions are the fault of the international community, and not Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad or the other tyrants whose brutality stirs the world to action. Landis considers mere symbolic gestures of support with peaceful demonstrators being mowed down by machine gun fire too provocative. In July, after US Ambassador Robert Ford visited Hama and was greeted by cheering crowds bearing olive branches, Landis derided the ambassador’s “antics.”

Landis is too sophisticated to serve as an uncritical mouthpiece of the regime. He occasionally posts messages from the Syrian opposition on his blog, and he readily acknowledges that Syria needs to “reform.” But an incident from 2007 demonstrates how Landis, while speaking obliquely about the need for more democracy in Syria, has ulterior motives. That year, in an article in the Washington Quarterly about the Syrian opposition, he claimed that prominent opposition figure Michel Kilo had made “a clandestine trip to Morocco” in 2005 to meet with an exiled former leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. The allegation, incredibly dangerous given the Brotherhood’s illegal status in Syria, was footnoted to a report, however, that made no such claim. At the time that Landis’s article appeared, Kilo was already in custody for his opposition activities. Several months later he was sentenced to three years in jail.

The crux of Landis’ defense of the Syrian status quo is that the country is highly “sectarian” and, thus, most Syrians prefer the “order” provided by Assad to the “democracy” they see in Lebanon and Iraq. “There isn’t self-confidence on the part of the Syrian people, if you will, that they can manage their affairs,” he said recently on France 24. “And this is when the government steps forward and says I’m not going to bring you democracy, but I’m going to bring you order, and there are still many people who cling to that because of the fear.” But the real purpose of the four-decade-long Assad rule has been to maintain the privileged power of an Alawite clique that rules over a country that is 74 percent Sunni. If there are fears of sectarian violence, it is mostly because Assad, on the ropes, is attempting to foment it.

Syria is a closed society, and the Assad regime has little interaction with the West. Landis has been able to broker his rare access (the extent to which is unknown, though he is married to the daughter of a retired admiral in Assad’s navy) into a position of authority in the broader debate over American foreign policy toward Syria.

Newspapers need quotes, and cable news needs talking heads. However, as the Syrian regime murders more of its own citizens with each passing day, Landis’s message that it is Assad—and only Assad—who can manage a transition to democracy has gone from analytically inaccurate to morally perverse. In 2006, Landis dismissed the idea that the United States should “tighten the screws on Damascus to the point that the regime collapses or internal rebellion is sparked,” as “We have learned that using violence as a policy tool can backfire.” He should tell that to the Syrian regime.

September 5th, 2011, 10:18 am


Revlon said:

A brief report on the security system of the Syrian Regime.
العربية | تقرير عمار الهندي عن الفروع الأمنية 4\9\2011

September 5th, 2011, 10:32 am


Ghat Al Bird said:

Professor Landis obviously sticks in AP’s craw.
Good for Professor Landis.

September 5th, 2011, 10:43 am


Haytham Khoury said:

Dear Revlon @37:

They were particularly in the Kurdish area in the north. The Kurds are practicing an ethnic/religious cleansing in the North. All that is happening long after the Americans invaded Iraq. It is happening on the watch of the Americans

September 5th, 2011, 11:23 am


sheila said:

Dear Ihsani,
I have skimmed through your previous comments, but read your observations from your 2008 visit carefully. I was in Aleppo in 2008 and my observations were almost identical to yours. I was continuously rebuffed by my family and friends in Syria and the US for my views. It is amazing to see how people’s perception of advancement and progress is so shallow in Syria. Progress to most seems to be directly attached to new malls, cafes and restaurants, while ignoring obvious signs like the transformation of one of the most venerable book stores in Aleppo into a pastry shop. Shocking. I know that you concentrated more on your field, but I am sure you have also noticed the deterioration in education. Unfortunately,(or maybe fortunately) you missed the lines of people trying to use the vouchers that the government decided to bestow on them as heating oil subsidies (I was there in December). I was mortified to see the incredibly long lines of people and the humiliation they were subjected to verbally and physically (many were beaten by police to keep the line).
I don’t know what to say. It is very upsetting to watch your country deteriorate in such a way and be one of the few who can actually see it.
I always look forward to reading your comments. They are very insightful. I would love to one day meet you and talk to you in person at length.

September 5th, 2011, 11:42 am


EHSANI2 said:

Dear Sheila,

Thank you for the kind remarks. Please email josh for my own private email address.

September 5th, 2011, 11:49 am


sheila said:

Dear Abughassan,
You are absolutely right. If you read Ihsani’s comments, you will see that the main theme is actually poverty. He talks about the price of luxury goods compared to the average Syrian salary. He talks about corruption and its direct connection to poverty and low salaries. He talks about the rapid increase in the population and the inability to provide jobs for the masses.
No one is denying your claim. Poverty had a major role in the uprising.

September 5th, 2011, 11:56 am


Abu Umar said:

29. sf94123 said:

You had no problem with the slaughter, jailing and torture of tens of thousands by your despicable regime or the menhebek lunatics on this blog calling for razing whole cities like SyrianCommando or Souri666 among others so don’t be surprised when you get a taste of your own medicine and as we say in Arabic, kama tudeen, tudaan. Why did you post an article by a Jewish Neocon hypocrite to further your pathetic cause?

September 5th, 2011, 12:00 pm


Husam said:

@ 29 SF (Frisco):

Ouuu, go run and cry to Papa Josh Landis. You live in Amereeeca and you feel safe yet you chicken shit in your pants because we figured out your address. No one is threatening you. We are just trying to make you understand how many innocent Syrians feel inside Syria when they are just plucked out, killed or tortured.

I worry for Alawis reprisal after Assads because some are innocent. Why can’t you worry for other innocent people (all Syrians) who are taking a beating and being abused? You are racist when you are indifferent and praise the killings. Who are you really and how can you be so cold?

September 5th, 2011, 12:26 pm


ann said:

Assad underscores importance of knowing truth in Syria


DAMASCUS, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underscored Monday the importance of a “direct access” to what is really happening in Syria in light of the ongoing “media distortion,” according to the official SANA news agency.

Al-Assad made his remarks during a meeting held Monday with Jacob Kellenberger, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), who is on a two-day visit to Syria for talks on issues including caring for the sick and wounded in the alleged government’s crackdown on protesters.

Al-Assad welcomed the assessment mission of the ICRC “as long as it is independent and works objectively away from politicization.”

For his side, Kellenberger commended the “huge facilitation” introduced to the ICRC delegation by Syrian government, which has allowed the delegation to have access to several areas and cities in Syria, including detention centers.

Kellenberger, who arrived in the capital of Damascus on Saturday, met also with Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Sunday, during which Moallem briefed him on the current situation in Syria and “the armed groups’ practices of destruction, sabotage, killing and intimidation of the citizens,” according to SANA.

He expressed relief over the measures taken by the Syrian leadership to shoulder its responsibilities in defending the lives of citizens.

Kellenberger also voiced his appreciation of the humanitarian activities of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Organization which has played an effective role in providing the humanitarian needs for the citizens during the crisis, stressing the importance of the volunteers in making the organization’s work successful.

Syria has been in unrest since mid-March when anti-government protests broke out in the southern province of Daraa and spread to other cities.

The Syrian authorities have been blaming the unrest on “armed groups and foreign conspiracy,” and stressed that it would track down gunmen who have intimidated the people and damaged public and private properties.

September 5th, 2011, 12:26 pm


Husam said:

OTW, Abu Umar SGID, True, Tara, Revlon, Aboud, and all other Syrian Beings:

Where do you guys read the latest news on Syria other than SC?

It is getting very dry and boring here…

September 5th, 2011, 12:32 pm


Revlon said:

44. Dear Haytham Khoury,
Thank you for your reply and the hyperlinks.

The first link was to an Assyrian website.
A quick look at the menu finds entries like: Plight of Christians in Muslim Countries, Bombed Churches, Assyrian customs…. There was not a single positive entry about their living in Iraq!
The places claimed to had been exposed to ethnic cleansing were in certain Kurdish areas.
I must say here that ethnic cleansing happened not because they were Christians but because they were not Kurds. Arabs and Turkmen, whether Christians or Muslems were also the subject of ethnic cleansing in those territories.
There is no neutral and reliable investigation on the issue of bombing of churches.
The whole thing could have been made up, like the famous case of reporting of Bab Toumah Church strafing on SC and /or could have been staged for other, non-religious purposes.
Mubarak staged a bombing of Church in cairo as recently as few month ago!

The second link provides brief testimonies of two witnesses on verbal threats by Mehdi Militias and reported statements by AlQaeda!
The interview took place in a Church in Jordan. There is usually a great incentive to such refugees to either exaggerate or invent such serious threats to life ijnn order to support their quest for immigration to North America or Europe.
It is worth mentioning that those people did not seek the protection of the US forces in their own territories. They just wanted to immigrate!

The third link is a PDF from the Assyrian International News Agency. It is titled: Incipient Genocide
The Ethnic Cleansing of the Assyrians of Iraq.

Some Christian Iraqis, whether Assyrians, Armenians, or Arabs did participate in or benefit from associating with Saddam’s regime.
The death of a dozen or more of Christians in Iraq can hardly be described as genocide or incipient genocide.
The targeted killing of collaborators with past regime, even if they were Church authorities, seems to me a more plausible explanation.

September 5th, 2011, 12:39 pm


Haytham Khoury said:


When I talk about the ethnic cleansing In Iraq, I talk about a reality that exists. I am not trying to make anybody feel guilty for that. The only one to blame for that is the US, who divided Iraq and dissolved the army. I am trying to say that one of the reasons why some Christians are not very keen about the change. It is the feeling of uncertainty that arose from what happened in Iraq. I am not saying that would happen in Syria. Consequently, I am not saying that they are right. There is big difference between explanation and justification. Further, I say that from the point of an objective observer.

September 5th, 2011, 12:42 pm


ann said:

Rai: What’s happening in Syria is not democracy but ‘genocide’

September 5, 2011

Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai told France 24 television on Monday that what is happening in Syria is not democracy or reform but “genocide.”

“We call on the international community to not rush into making decisions that change regimes. They called for democracy in Iraq, and this democracy harvested [many] souls. Arab countries are all in labor. Where will we get to? Where will Syria get to?”

France and the international community must think where Arab countries are heading toward, Rai added.

“Are [they heading toward] extremist and violent regimes? Or toward breaking up the Arab world? [Both ways,] this does not serve people in general, and does not serve minorities or the Christians.”

Asked if the fall of the Syrian regime will affect Christian minorities, he said: “The church wants political regimes that protect citizens’ rights. We are not saying ‘we support this regime,’ but [we are saying] we support a regime [based on its positive] results.”

“We are not with any regime, but we bless the regime that respects peace, justice and people’s rights and dignity. The church supports any regime that serves its country and citizens well.”

The patriarch also said that it is unacceptable to “play with people’s fates,” and that it is not enough to call for reform and to give people their rights “through war and violence.”

“Countries can lay conditions for democracy not wage war…We must seriously think. Are we heading toward a civil war between Sunnis and Alawites in Syria?”

There is “genocide” in Syria and not democracy or reform, he added.

“Are we heading toward dividing Syria into sectarian states? The international community must follow up with issues until the end. It is not enough to bless wars, but we must realize where we are getting to.”

September 5th, 2011, 12:55 pm


Revlon said:

56. ann, thank you for the post!
I could not agree more with Father Rai

“What’s happening in Syria is not democracy but ‘genocide’”

A 3alawi lead regime is massacring Sunnis!
– over 3000 documented martyrs, and probably severalfold of unaccounted for yet
– Mass graves
– Death under torture

I can not see it any other way, can you?!

September 5th, 2011, 1:09 pm


Husam said:

Thanks so much Revlon, much appreciated. However I read Arabic like a 4th grader (I left young and never got a chance to polish my reading skills…shame on me). Do you have English ones, for faster reading.


September 5th, 2011, 1:14 pm


Tara said:


Hi, do you live in North America or in Europe? What about your children, dothey speak and read Arabic?

September 5th, 2011, 1:17 pm


Revlon said:

59 Dear Husam, for timely access to news on the ground, arabic news sites are usually better.

I sometimes check on AlJazeera in English.
I notice that other guys provide links to other really good stuff in other languages. I am sure they will share their links once they read your post.

September 5th, 2011, 1:19 pm


Revlon said:

Syriatel guide security forces to specific areas experiencing unusual rise in use of cell phones, as potential spots for impending demonstrations.
كيف تشارك سيرياتل بقمع التظاهرات
2011/09/05 نشر فى: أخبار محلية
فيس بوك
مصدر إداري من شركة سيرياتل للاتحاد: هناك استراتيجية متبعة من قبل النظام لتتبع ال…مظاهرات في مدينة حلب خاصةً، حيث تم تشكيل مكتب سري في شركة سيرياتل مهمته معرفة أماكن المظاهرات قبل بدئها.
فعلى سبيل المثال: عندما تتوجه إحدى التنسيقيات إلى منطقةٍ ما، وتجتمع حشود في مسجد معين أو مكان معين؛ فتكثر فيه الشرائح الخليوية وتزداد كثافتها عن المعدل الطبيعي؛ يقوم هذا المكتب بالاتصال بأفرع الأمن والإبلاغ عن حركة غير طبيعية في تلك المنطقة، فيقوم فرع الأمن بإرسال قطعان الشبيحة و المخابرات إلى ذلك المكان، وبهذه الطريقة يتم إحباط تحركات حلب.
ملاحظة: تم إحباط أكثر من 110 مظاهرة في أيام رمضان في قلب مدينة حلب وحدها.
( هكذا تُقمع مظاهرات حلب؛ قبل أن تبدأ حتى )

September 5th, 2011, 1:20 pm


N.Z. said:

Dear Annie#29, Sheila#49,

Seems that some commentators forgot what “dignity” means!!!!.

After watching the link in your morning post, I felt sick to my stomach. How can I not support Syria’s young men, as well ignore a population that can no longer tolerate to live without dignity under the brutal and watchful eyes of a mafia for over 40 years.

Who in his right mindset can defend a criminal, any criminal, a loyalist?

To Syrians, I’ll say, I will be standing up for “your” dignity – and the dignity of us all. And we won’t give up until all of us …the least we can do, is moral support.

This comment comes from a doctor who lives in the States:
“Every time anybody speaks about the role of poverty and unemployment in the Syrian crisis, the champions of freedom and dignity start getting angry as if poverty and unemployment are not the enemies of freedom and dignity.”

Many filthy rich do not know the meanings of dignity or happiness or freedom.

“How do you think the Saudi regime will respond if protests similar to the ones in Syria take place?” These questions do not concern a freedom seeker!

Yet to have a balance comment he inserts, “This uprising was triggered by oppression and brutality but that was not the only fuel that inflamed the streets .”

It is denying one’s “DIGNITY” what fuelled all the revolutions in the Arab world.

Libyans are well fed, well housed but kept under the surveillance of qaddafi and sons. Another commentator is looking how this freed nation will cope in the future.

I will not say loyalists vs. revolutionists. Change, yes! How? we differ.

Assad’s regime, a cesspool of filth and stagnation have been stirred, with the uttermost dignified of my countrymen.

September 5th, 2011, 1:27 pm



Last week I was in Syria once again. During last 6 months I have been visiting Syria and my parents on a regular basis. I can have
an idea of what is going on through friends and colleagues who explain their experiences and positions.

In Damascus city (bussiness center) many medium to high class people keeps on defending the idea that this regime never will fall and that they are fighting the West and their armed gangs in Syria. But at the same time there is an increasing feeling that bussiness is going to a cathastrophic situation if things do not improve. Anyhow from last 6 months I keep on hearing the same (yet old) story; that last days things are more under control and that in 15 days crisis could be over.

At Damascus suburbs and some in city center medium and low class people I know attack the regime and ask for inmediate change and even death penalty to regime capos.

Outside Damascus, Rif, Homs and Idlib the situation is dramatically going to worse every day. People is absolutely crazy about destroying every single sings and detritus of this regime.
But the feeling is generated by killings more than by political ideas in itself.
Even towns that had never seen problems are beginning to dare to express against the regime. There are many many stories about innocent people who refused to cooperate in any way with Security Services men and were arrested sine die. This are 2 last stories I saw and I can personally confirm:

1- My friend’s brother was asked by security services to drive its van to transport security services to arrest activists.
He denied and told the services that if he was seen cooperating with them he would get killed. Following day he disappeared. Two months later their family received news from the services in Damascus that he was in prison. Notice that this person had no idea nor previous political contacts. He is still in prison.

2- While in a restaurant in Amman a person began shotuing like a possesed in the kitchen. When I asked some one I know in the restaurant he told me he is a syrian guy who received the information that his brother died one month ago in Idlib. He was serving in the army and their family informed him that security services killed him. Last thing I heard was:


September 5th, 2011, 1:43 pm


Haytham Khoury said:

Dear Revlon @54:

Please find below some independent references regarding the violence targeting Christian’s in Iraq. I am not saying that because I am Christian, but because it is a real humanitarian crisis. This humanitarian crisis happened, because the American did a big mess.,1518,587345,00.html,8599,2030747,00.html

September 5th, 2011, 2:06 pm


sf94123 said:

“don’t be surprised when you get a taste of your own medicine and as we say in Arabic, kama tudeen, tudaan”

51. Husam said “You are racist when you are indifferent and praise the killings. Who are you really and how can you be so cold?

As usual both of you rush to judgment! When someone disagrees with the way you conduct business, it does not mean that he or she supports the other side , slathers and killings of people. I am a staunch advocate of peace and nonviolence solution to crisis through constructive dialogue and compromise. I feel sick to my stomach about what is happening in Syria and I regret the lost of life. So please spare me the bullshit!
We all need to direct our focus toward a political solution in Syria. We don’t need another war in the middle east.

September 5th, 2011, 2:16 pm


norman said:


Malls, restaurants produce service kind jobs which are needed in Syria as Syria is tourist attraction, these service jobs what restarted the American economy and brought it out of the recession in the Eighties,
Anything that brings more jobs to Syria is progress, don’t you think? ,

September 5th, 2011, 2:34 pm


sf94123 said:

Events in Syria could lead to genocide: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai
(Be careful Patriarch Rai, soon you will be called “Menhebek”)

Reed more:

September 5th, 2011, 3:07 pm


Husam said:


I am a staunch advocate of peace and nonviolence solution to crisis through constructive dialogue and compromise.

Really? I don’t believe you as every single post of yours demonstrated the contrary. Are you saying you have woken up and looked in the mirror to realize all Syrian blood is the same? Are you saying that you support justice for all the dead no matter who pulled the trigger and tortured people?

The other issue how do you have constructive dialogue when there is a bomb strapped under to your chair? And, why now?

Lots of questions… dare answer just one.

September 5th, 2011, 4:17 pm


Husam said:

@ Revlon, thanks bro. I check Aljazeera from time to time, but I agree with you – the Arabic News being more up to the minute.

@ Tara, Canada, Twin Girls. They speak Gerbish now (which is a mixture of Arabic, English, Russian). So far they comprehend Arabic the most. Of course, I will strive that they be better than I in every aspect inshallah (I really suck at writing and reading).

@ Hytham, Re: Christians were targeted, very true. However, was there a race, a creed, or any sect that was not targeted in Iraq?

September 5th, 2011, 4:26 pm


ann said:

Syria witnesses new protests amid mounting int’l pressure


DAMASCUS, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) — Hundreds of Syrians took to the streets in a new weekly episode of protests titled “death rather than humiliation” as the European Union approved Friday an embargo on oil imports from Syria as part of sweeping new economic sanctions against the Syrian leadership.

Syria’s state TV said armed groups attacked Friday a law- enforcement checkpoint in the town of Talbiseh near central Homs province, injuring a number of its members. It said around 50 people in al-Hasan mosque in al-Midan neighborhood in the capital of Damascus, tried to ignite protests but dispersed quickly because their attempt wasn’t heeded by the worshipers.

The private Sham FM radio station said limited gatherings were seen in the northern province of Idlib and dispersed peacefully.

Meanwhile, the Doha-based al-Jazeera TV, airing live footage of what it claimed as large protests in several Syrian cities calling for the downfall of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, citing activists as saying six people were killed in several areas, including eastern Deir al-Zour province, the Damascus suburb of Arbeen and Hammorieh.

The video picturing large crowds chanting a rhyming phrase ” death rather than humiliation.”

The contents of al-Jazeera videos or the activists’ accounts couldn’t be verified as journalists are banned from heading to the restive areas.

Syria accuses al-Jazeera and other media of ignoring the facts on the ground as well as incitement and fabricating events in their coverage of the protests.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers meeting in Poland on Friday approved an embargo on oil imports from Syria.

Syria’s oil exports are among the main earners of foreign currency for the government as it is a key source of income for the Syrian economy. Europe consumes 95 percent of Syrian exported oil.

On the sidelines of a Paris summit on Libya, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday urged the world community to target Syrian oil and gas exports and again repeated U.S. calls for Assad to step aside.

“Syria must be allowed to move forward, those who have joined us in this call must now translate our rhetoric into concrete actions to escalate the pressure on Assad and those around him, including strong new sanctions targeting Syria’s energy sector to deny the regime the revenues that fund its campaign of violence,” Clinton said.

The latest remarks came after the Obama administration on Tuesday added three senior Syrian officials to its sanctions list including Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, Bouthaina Shaaban, Syria’s presidential political and media advisor and Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali.

The Treasury Department’s action prohibits Americans from doing business with them and freezes any assets the sanctioned officials may have within the U.S. jurisdiction. The U.S. had already slammed sanctions on about 30 Syrian officials, including President Assad, and banned U.S. imports of Syrian oil or petroleum products.

In their ongoing attempts to further isolate the Syrian leadership, EU and the U.S. have drafted a UN resolution condemning Syria, but the draft resolution circulated at UN headquarters in New York faced opposition from veto-powered members such as Russia and China.

Russian ambassador to the UN Vitali Churkin said on Monday that Russia stands against a West-drafted UN resolution on Syria, adding “the draft resolution on Syria is completely non-objective and it envisages pressure on the Syrian authorities only,” Churkin told the Russia Today television channel.

Activists and human rights groups say more than 2,200 civilians have been killed in the alleged government crackdown on the protest movement that broke out in mid-March, while the Amnesty International said it believed that at least 88 people, 10 of them children, have died in detention in Syria during the past five months.

The government disputes the toll, blaming the more than five months of unrest on armed groups backed by foreign conspiracy with the aim of unseating Assad.

In his latest televised appearance, President Assad unveiled that Syria is constantly receiving threats “to the degree that some military maps have been sent to us pinpointing the targets that would be bombarded in Syria.”

Assad said Syria’s relation with the West is “a relation of conflict on sovereignty, whose main target is to rid all countries, including Syria, of their sovereignties, and we are adhering fast to our sovereignty without hesitation.”

September 5th, 2011, 4:30 pm


ann said:

Turkish opposition in Syria: We are not here to decry Syrian regime

05 September 2011

Deputy chairman Faruk Loğoğlu, who is heading a committee of deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has said the opposition is not in Syria to decry the Syrian regime but to investigate matters closely.

Stressing the brotherhood between Turkey and Syria, Loğoğlu said they traveled several regions in Syria accompanied by local administrators and officials, and that they will present their findings as a report to CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Loğoğlu also noted that the committee met with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and Parliament speaker Mahmoud Al Abrash in Damascus.

Before going to Mediterreanian city of Latakia, five CHP deputies visited the Yayladağı district of the southern province of Hatay in Turkey along the Syrian border on Sunday to meet with Syrian refugees who had fled the violence in their country. Hatay deputy governor Akgün Corav and Yayladağı district governor Tolga Polat briefed the investigative team on the situation in the refugee tent camp.

Loğoğlu then told reporters at the camp that they came to Yayladağı to help prepare them for their visit to Syria. “We want to witness events in Syria on the ground,” he said.

In Damascus, Abrash and Loğoğlu reviewed in the meeting the current events in Syria, the foreign interference, incitement campaigns to undermine Syria’s role and destabilize its security, Syria’s state-run Sana news agency, which often distorts facts related to the incidents in the country, reported on Monday.

According to Sana, Abrash stressed that the reform process will continue in order to build a strong Syria, adding that the awareness of the Syrian people will foil all attempts of weakening their national unity.

Loğoğlu said the CHP considers Syria’s stability and security to be important to Turkey and that Syria’s freedom, independence, sovereignty and unity are essential to CHP’s principles.

CHP’s deputy chairman reportedly stressed the CHP’s rejection of any interference in Syria’s internal affairs, adding that the Syrians are able to solve this problem.

The report also said that Loğoğlu visited Homs and Hama and briefed by local officials.

Loğoğlu reportedly stressed his support to Syria and the reform steps taken by the Syrian leadership, Sana alleged.

Homs governor, the report says, pointed out to the relationship between Syria and Turkey, adding that the foreign conspiracy has transformed the situation in Syria from legitimate grievances to acts of violence and sabotage.

Loğoğlu told reporters in Hama that the delegation noticed the security the city and its suburbs enjoy and inspected the casualties caused by what Sana said “saboteurs.”

“He added that the delegation will deliver a message to the Turkish people showing that Syria can solve its problems without any foreign intervention,” the report claimed.

September 5th, 2011, 4:56 pm


annie said:

57. REVLON thank you for your list of sites; I also suggest

dealing exclusively with clips

September 5th, 2011, 5:21 pm


Revlon said:

65. Dear Haytham Khoury,
Thank you for the additional references.
The realities of mass displacement of and murders of Irqi cistizens of Christian and other faiths is not the subject of debate, but the reported scale, the context and the characterisation.

From the references you kindly provided I have learned the following:
1. PM Maliki was keen, and promised Chancellor Merkle to send forces to the North to further protect Minorities from attacks by illegal militias.
2. Interviewed Muslem Imams were in quandry in trying to explain why such minorities would be targeted. They reasoned that it was probably planned by AlQaeda to instigate the west against Islam in order to create a political polarisation in the region.
Both Imams urged the Christian minorities to stay and offered words of Sympathy.
Father Kana, a member with other 10 Christians in the Iraqi parilament was defiant and urged Christians to stay rooted in their country.
3. Of the 220000 refugees registered UNHCR in Syria, only 15,0000 (15%) were from Nainawa, where Christians reside!

I would like to assume that all of the 220,000 refugees, irrespective of faith, were fleeing for their life and seeking an alternative, peaceful and decent living for themselves and a brighter future for their children.
With that caveat, I leave it up to you Haitham to decide who would be welcomed and helped by charity organisations to become a humanitarian refugee in a Western country, the fleeing 195000 Muslems or the 15000 Christians!

September 5th, 2011, 10:13 pm


Revlon said:

73. Thanks annie, this site makes search for video clips much much easier!

September 5th, 2011, 10:25 pm


Syria Comment » Archives » New Era for Syria Comment – Ehsani and Camille Otrakji take the Helm said:

[…] a Syrian-American banker, has been writing economic analysis for Syria Comment since 2006. He will compile the “News Roundups”. He can be reached at […]

September 19th, 2011, 11:23 pm


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