Is Syria Like Iraq? - Syria Comment

Is Syria Like Iraq?

Is Syria Like Iraq?
By Joshua Landis, May 1, 2012, Syria Comment

In my recent discussion with Murhaf Jouejati on PBS Newshour, I argued that the reason the US should avoid taking the lead in Syria is that the conflict is sectarian and resembles that of Iraq, where the US had little success.

Murhaf took issue with my analysis arguing that Syria is not like Iraq. He said that Iraq was invaded and Syria was not. He also argued that violence in Syria stems from a popular uprising not civil war.

I disagree. Syria is like Iraq. It presents a potential quagmire for the US should Washington intervene under the assumption that the killing will stop once the Assad regime is destroyed. A humanitarian intervention will become a nation-building project, as was the case in Iraq.

Syria is much like Iraq in that minorities (20%) have for 40 years held their foot on the neck of the majority, which is now fighting a war to take control of the country. In both countries, the political struggle falls largely along religious and ethnic lines, although, both class and regional differences are also important.

Syria’s revolt started as a peaceful struggle, but took on a sectarian character as the government used violence. Sectarianism has long been a seminal part of politics in Syria. The regime has protected itself by using sectarian strategies and has mobilized and exploited historic Alawite fear of Sunni discrimination and mistreatment.

Like its neighbors, Syria suffers from sectarian divisions. The most recent PEW poll demonstrates that 91% of Lebanese Shia have a favorable view of Assad while 92% of Lebanese Sunnis have an unfavorable view of him. These Lebanese percentages probably reflect the Syrian sectarian divide as well.

In Iraq, the Sunni minority of 20% dominated the Shiite majority of 60% through the Baath Party. In Syria, the Shiite minority, supported by other religious minorities, making up 20% of the population have dominated the Sunni Arab majority of 70% through the Baath Party. In both countries the security state was controlled by the religious minority. Both countries also share a significant Kurdish minority which wants its national rights recognized and resents historic domination and discrimination by Arabs.

Of course there are differences between Syria and Iraq, but the fact remains that both have descended into sectarian and ethnic violence. Syria’s violence will not end when the state or brutal regime is destroyed. In Iraq, sectarian and ethnic violence exploded, as did general chaos and criminality, following the destruction of Saddam’s brutal state. In Syria, something similar has already begun to happen. The liberated regions are beset by chaos and criminality. Warlordism is taking root. Foreign intervention cannot solve this problem. The Syrian opposition has had over two years to unify, but has not. Fragmentation is rife, and militias abound.

Syria has not developed a national identity that can bind its people together around a common idea or ideology. This is why the US cannot nation-build. To the extent that the opposition militias have found an ideology to mobilize the Sunni Arab population, it is political Islam, not secular nationalism. If the US takes the lead in Syria, it will insist on promoting secularism and going to war against many of the Salafist groups which inspire great devotion from their followers and supply the revolution with its best fighting forces. Syrian moderates should not want the US pushing them into war against fundamentalist Sunnis. Syrians need to find a solution to their own ideological struggles, which is not violent or driven by foreign interests. The US does not understand Muslim or Syrian sensibilities. The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups will play a big role in Syria’s future. Having the US try to push them aside in favor of the small group of secular “moderates” is bad politics that will prolong instability in Syria, not shorten it.

Considering that the US engagement in Iraq cost well over 1 trillion dollars and political violence remains high, the US intervention was not a success. Washington solved little. 400 Iraqis were killed in bombings and attacks this April alone. The US did not bring power-sharing, justice, or an end to political killing in Iraq, thus failing in its mission. Iraqi Arabs do not like us today. Both on a humanitarian level and in terms of national interest, the intervention failed. The Iraqi government is working against US interests on almost every front. How will the US be more successful in Syria, where the problems are so similar?

The US should not lead the way in Syria. Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have a much greater stake in Syria and should lead the way. Their interest will be sustained. They have the money, advanced weapons, and strong religious motivation to help the rebels and defeat Iranian and Shiite influence in Syria. The US should not be taking sides in the larger regional contest pitting Shiites against Sunnis.

I am sure the US can help, but to take the lead as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan would be the height of folly. The US should definitely spend much more money to aid Syrians, but others should take the lead in using military force and in helping Syria build a new state and common sense of national identity.

News Round Up

Why the US Should Not Intervene in Syria
Published on Thursday, May 2, 2013 by Informed Comment
by Juan Cole

After President Obama’s remarks about chemical weapons use in Syria, many newspaper articles appeared suggesting that he was rethinking his opposition to US involvement there. They were wrong, and weren’t listening. Obama said we don’t know who used the chemical weapons or to what extent. That isn’t building a case for intervention, it is knocking it down.

Olivier Knox gets this story right, in part because he asked experienced Washington, D.C. insiders.

Obama learned from Iraq and Afghanistan that US military intervention in the Middle East doesn’t actually work very well. Iraq is still a security basket case, with over 400 dead in bombings and attacks in April (nowhere near the high of 3000 a month in 2006 when the US was in charge of security, or even as much as contemporary Mexico, where over 1,000 a month have been dying in the drug war — but still no paradise). It has been 11 years and we are still stuck in Afghanistan, nor have we “stood up” a credible Afghan government.

Why people think a US intervention in Syria would go better, I don’t know. They always forget that generals are about winning quickly, even at the cost of civilian lives, and that a lot of carpetbaggers always show up in any war to find ways of profiting from it. Billions were looted from Iraq by American bureaucrat-criminals.

Sen. John McCain argues for an aerial intervention, which more or less worked in Libya. But Syria is not like Libya in any way.

Syria’s weapons depots, tanks and artillery are not out in some desert where they can be bombed with few casualties. They are in the cities. Bombing them would kill a lot of innocent civilians. Even just trying to take out the large number of anti-aircraft batteries (the essential first step of any aerial intervention) would be very costly in lives.

Everyone always forgets that if foreigners bomb a hated regime’s installations and accidentally thereby kill large numbers of innocent civilians, the dead civilians show up on the front page and everyone turns against the foreign air force. NATO only avoided this outcome in Libya by staying mostly away from the cities (it did not actually intervene in the Misrata siege). The few bombing raids on Gaddafi’s HQ, the Bab al-Aziziyah, did give the regime some propaganda points, since you can’t bomb downtown Tripoli without casualties.

So an air intervention is impractical in Syria, because its geography and the distribution of weapons are just different from those in Libya. And, any air intervention could well become unpopular both in Syria and the world, really, really fast.

A limited and very careful air intervention could possibly do some good, but in my experience military enterprises cannot be conducted in a ‘limited’ or ‘careful’ way.

If the concern is chemical weapons, those cannot be dealt with (must not be dealt with) by bombing them. That step would just release them into the air and kill people. Since McCain and other interventionists are not proposing US troops on the ground, it is unclear how he thinks the chemical weapons can be secured.

Moreover, the simple fact is that the US does not have good intel on where the chemical weapons are stockpiled. In the absence of really good such information, aerial bombardment of military bases risks accidentally hitting the canisters and releasing clouds of toxic gases onto civilian populations.

If an aerial intervention is not practicable, what about arming the rebels? The latter are already armed, so what this proposal really entails is giving them medium and heavy weaponry. But there is no way to keep such weapons out of the hands of radicals within the rebel camp. Moreover, having a lot of medium to heavy weaponry flood into a country can destabilize it for decades. If the Syrian rebels got shoulder-held heat-seeking missiles, would the Israeli civilian airlines, El Al, ever be safe again, in the aftermath?

I was in Pakistan in the early 1980s when security was relatively good. Then the CIA flooded in weapons to help the Mujahidin fight the Soviet-backed leftist government in Afghanistan. These weapons got sold on a Pakistani black market and started showing up in the bazaar. I had been in Lebanon’s civil war before going to Pakistan, and knew what it means when civilians can buy automatic guns at will. Pakistan’s security has spiraled down ever since and it is unclear when the world’s sixth-largest country will recover from the plague of weapons that has afflicted it.

So sending a lot of weapons into Syria might end the war sooner (or might not; the regime has heavier weapons); but it could also prolong the violence and insecurity in the aftermath.

People talk about arming groups loyal to the West, but that was how al-Qaeda got started in the first place. They don’t necessarily maintain an alliance of convenience with the foreigners.

All this is not to reckon with Russian and Chinese opposition to NATO intervention, and the consequent lack of a security council resolution. For the US to act in the teeth of international law would just be one more nail in its coffin. Sometimes if you aren’t careful, you undermine the very framework you are trying to uphold.

Finding ways to help the refugees and displaced, and to get food to half-starving neighborhoods in places like Homs, are about the best the US could do. I think we’re on the verge of having a plausible humanitarian corridor in the north, and Jordan is considering a buffer zone in the south.

It is not as if the world is stepping up on humanitarian aid in the first place; why would anybody think they will risk even more with a military role? Lets see billions in humanitarian aid flow to the Syrian people– that might sustain them for their fight against tyranny. But even that is not being done.

It is a horrible situation. It breaks our hearts every day. But here as in medicine, the first rule has to be to do no harm, to avoid making things worse. It would be very, very easy to make things worse.

Obama is a smart man who knows all the above. That is why he is reluctant to get involved in that civil war, unless it spills over onto a US ally in the region in a highly destabilizing way.

Brzezinski’s view on Syria. Video “The US should not be a protagonist…. This is a sectarian war.”

Jon Stewart on Syria and GOP Hawks

Daniel C. Kurtzer, in NYTimes – a former United States ambassador to Egypt and to Israel

Constructing an international coalition of willing states — especially Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — is the only strategically wise option for the United States. Without such a coalition, intervention won’t work. And without such a coalition, America must reject unilateral military intervention in Syria.

Town of Masreb

In the previous post – Oil Wars, – We posted video and explained how Jabhat al Nusra took revenge regime-style on the town of Masreb near Deir ez-Zor after the men of the town commandeered an oil truck that Jabhat al-Nusra claimed was theirs. Many leaders of the town were executed and some 14 houses were blown up.  New video shows the return of the men to Masreb. This video  shows the town with the buildings destroyed. (Thanks to A.N.)

FSA Militias

Fractured Syrian rebels scour for cash as funders dry up
By Abigail Fielding-Smith in Gaziantep

When the Syrian uprising was in its early stages in 2011, one businessman decided to do what he could to help. Banding together with other wealthy individuals from his town, some of them based overseas, he helped a group of local fighters buy light weapons “to continue the revolution”.

After burning through tens of thousands of dollars of his own money, he was eventually forced to give up sponsoring the group towards the end of last year. His own finances were being exhausted, while the needs of his recipients had grown. “When we began there were 50-60 people, now there are 5,000 fighters,” he says. “What can we do?”

Financing from networks of well-off individuals like him, once the lifeblood of the Syrian rebellion, is starting to dry up as the conflict escalates, increasing its dependency on state-sponsored support networks. Driven into an increasingly frantic search for support, some smaller groups have formed alliances and affiliations – often short lived – with those with more secure funding.

When the revolt against Bashar al-Assad took on an armed dimension in the second half of 2011, it was a highly localised affair involving small units defending their communities with light weapons. The fact that each aspiring commander could turn to networks of expatriate businessmen for funding helped create a rebellion fractured in to little fiefdoms.

“The way the rebellion started contained the ingredients for fragmentation, and financing was a key factor,” says Emile Hokayem of the International Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank.

Syria uprising

The brutal response by the regime of Bashar al-Assad to the popular revolt is exposing failures in international policy

But by late last year the rebels’ needs had changed. They had progressed from smaller operations that required light weapons and instead were launching offensive assaults on helicopter bases. Qatar and Saudi Arabia had meanwhile started to supply weapons. Supporting the Syrian rebellion became a big players’ game.

“It’s very expensive,” explains another individual donor, who says he too has had to cut off support for the rebels, even though he believes it is a “duty”.

Chuck Hagel, US defence secretary, said on Thursday that the US was considering providing weapons to rebel groups fighting the regime. However, he said that President Barack Obama had not yet made a decision.

Financial exhaustion is not the only reason support from individual donors has fallen. A fighter from the northern province of Idlib dates the decline in his group’s support from individual sponsors in the Gulf and elsewhere to the US’s designation in December of the extremist rebel group Jabhat al Nusra as a terrorist organisation. The idea of even accidentally helping fighters affiliated with the group was too risky for some businessmen.

Smaller groups feel the reduced contributions from individual businessmen most. The mounting pressure on them can be seen in the funding and logistics hubs of southern Turkey, where the word da’ameen – support – peppers every conversation. “They’re always telling us to wait,” grumbles one middle-aged fighter after getting off the phone from a potential supporter.

In theory, this should result in greater consolidation of rebel groups as smaller units cluster around those who have access to resources, either from captured booty, still active fundraising networks, or through the Saudi and Qatari-backed supreme military council.

The trend since the second half of last year has been towards the formation of larger alliances, said Aron Lund, a Swedish researcher.

“Right now they are with one brigade, next another. They are following the money”

But alliances and affiliations are often tenuous. Support to the rebellion is still given on a less than systematic basis. For smaller groups, the possibility of a new source of sponsorship is always just around the corner, mitigating against cohesion.

“A few battalions have several names – they have promised this or that funder they’ll be loyal to him, and then get money from somewhere else,” says Emile Hokayem.

The supreme military council itself does not seem to be getting enough support to bind people to it. In a recent interview with the Financial Times, the body’s leader, General Selim Idriss, estimated that he was receiving just one-tenth of the rebellion’s needs, citing lack of ammunition as the reason for recent defeat in the siege of the Wadi Deif military base in Idlib.

“We are with them, but not with them,” says one fighter from a small unit in Latakia describing his group’s relationship with the supreme military council. “We take from here and there.”

The businessman certainly doesn’t see any evidence of commitment among his former beneficiaries. “Right now they are with one brigade, next another,” he says. “They are following the money.”

For Some Syrian Rebels, It’s a Battle of the Brands –  WSJ

Syrian Rebels Accused Of Terrorizing Population As Kidnappings, Torture Are Rampant, Huffington Post  |  By Michel Stors

“The Free Syrian Army has fallen prey to gangsters & fanatic thugs!” – Spectator

“… On my last trip into Syria, I met Ayat, a female activist who had worked in a Damascus bank before she turned to running guns for the revolution. In tight black jeans and sneakers, she still looked like the girl-about-town she had once been. She refused to cover up in a hijab and would not leave the room when the men arrived, however much the fighters hissed at her and told her (literally) to get back to the kitchen. Ayat was in despair about the FSA’s inability to take the capital. ‘Each group is just sitting on its weapons trying to grab what they can for themselves,’ she said. Things are getting so bad, there are even reports of rebel fighters defecting back to the government side, disgusted with the way the armed uprising has betrayed its ideals…”

Regime Brutality

Sky News (GB): ‘Massacre By Syrian Forces Kills At Least 50’
2013-05-02

Forces loyal to Syria’s leader have stormed a village in a “massacre” that has left at least 50 people dead, reports say. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said President Bashar al Assad’s troops and militias raided the coastal village of al-Baida, Syrian opposition activists say…

Obama Policy

Obama moving toward sending lethal arms to Syrian rebels, officials say
By Karen DeYoung, Published: April 30

President Obama is preparing to send lethal weaponry to the Syrian opposition and has taken steps to assert more aggressive U.S. leadership among allies and partners seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, according to senior administration officials.

The officials said they are moving toward the shipment of arms but emphasized that they are still pursuing political negotiation. To that end, the administration has launched an effort to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin that the probable use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government — and the more direct outside intervention that could provoke — should lead him to reconsider his support of Assad….

GOP Rep Justifies U.S. Military Intervention In Syria: ‘So Much Of Christianity Is There
By Ben Armbruster on May 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Darrell Issa (Credit: Bloomberg)
A Republican congressman said last week that any potential U.S. military intervention in the Syrian civil war would be justified, in part, to protect Syria’s Christian population and preserve the region’s Christian roots.

According to Defense News, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) told reporters after a classified briefing on Syria that he favors military intervention in Syria “to preserve the region that was home to Christianity’s genesis”: “

“There’s a huge US interest in the region. Our commitment to the Levante is long-standing, partially because of our relationship with Israel and with Lebanon,” Issa told a handful of reporters after leaving a classified briefing on the Syria intel assessment and possible US options.

“Partially, if you will, because of this being an area of the Holy Land,” Issa added. “The oldest churches. So much of Christianity is there.”

Economy

Syrian Pound has fallen to 150 to the dollar from its starting point of 47 in 2011.

Syrian investors flock to Damascus bourse to protect savings.
May 1 2013 (CPI Financial) —

Syrian investor Khaleel Tohmeh is on a buying spree in the Damascus stock market, pinning his hopes on a long-term recovery of a bourse that has seen about two-thirds of its capitalisation wiped out by the two-year-old civil war.

“I am finding shares very attractive at these levels and cannot find another place to put my money, even if it will be two years before I can benefit,” said Tohmeh, speaking by telephone from his Damascus office. “Whatever the timing, the market will rise much faster than it fell.”

For the last few weeks, the stock market, with a capitalisation of about $1 billion at the Syrian pound’s beaten-down exchange rate, has boomed.

Polls about Public Opinion and Syria

No Love for Assad, Yet No Support for Arming the Rebels
Pew Research

 Iran Counters Saudi Diplomacy In Lebanon –  Jean Aziz for Al-Monitor Lebanon Pulse

Al-Hayat (Pan Arab) – Opposition Leader Describes Obstacles to US-Russia Deal on Syria

Is Egypt Moving Closer To Iran on Syria? – AlMonitor

Mohamed Said Idris, a former parliamentarian and an expert on Iranian affairs, said that it is clear that Egypt is moving to adopt a different position from those of Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia on how to resolve the Syrian crisis. He added, “Egypt’s vision is based on the rejection of any foreign military action to oust the regime in Damascus.”..

It should be noted that Salafists held a demonstration and surrounded the headquarters of the Iranian diplomatic mission in Cairo to reject the arrival of Iranian tourists under the pretext of preventing the “spread of Shiism” in Egypt. According to the Egyptian Tourism Ministry, the demonstration caused the “temporary” suspension of flights between the two countries.

Nafi’a said, “Egypt should prepare itself to stand up to the US, Israel and the GCC as it re-establishes its relations with Iran. … This requires a wide-ranging vision for Egypt’s regional role and its relations around the world. But that vision, unfortunately, does not exist.”

A number of diplomats are worried about Egypt’s relations with the Gulf states. Egyptian diplomatic sources said, “We have millions of Egyptians working in the Gulf countries. They represent a fourth of our budget revenues. Will Iran compensate us, at least partially, if that revenue is lost?”….

Petition

A group of Syrian, Arab, and international activists launched “The Campaign of Global Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution” at the World Social Forum in Tunis last month. Sign it.

Comments (75)


Dawoud said:

http://www.aljazeera.net/news/pages/7906aeda-9c4e-4f86-a44f-b20dbbbda352

قصف لمطار دمشق ومذبحة بالبيضا

قال المركز الإعلامي السوري إن عدة انفجارات وقعت في مطار دمشق الدولي فجر اليوم الجمعة أعقبها حريق كبير واشتباكات عنيفة في محيطه.
من جانب آخر ، ذكرت شبكة شام أن الجيش الحر استهدف بقذائف الهاون مستودعات الذخيرة وخزانات الوقود في المطار..
يأتي ذلك فيما قالت الشبكة السورية لحقوق الإنسان إن 121 قتلوا في سوريا أمس الخميس، بينهم 24 في إعدامات ميدانية نفذتها قوات النظام في قرية البيضا قرب مدينة بانياس بريف محافظة طرطوس وفقا لما قالته الهيئة العامة للثورة السورية.

وقال الناطق باسم المجلس العسكري في بانياس محمد البانياسي إن قوات النظام “قصفت قرية البيضا بالمدفعية ثم اقتحمتها بمعاونة الشبيحة، وقامت بذبح أكثر من 150 شخصا بالسكاكين، بينهم أعداد من الشيوخ والنساء والأطفال”.

وأضاف البانياسي في حديث للجزيرة إن القوات النظامية والشبيحة أحرقوا الجثث بعد ذبحها، كما أشعلوا النيران في منازل القرية بالكامل.

قصف صاروخي
وفي مدينة حمص وسط البلاد، قالت الهيئة العامة للثورة إن عناصر من حزب الله وقوات النظام تحاول اقتحام قرية جوسية في القصير بعد قصفها براجمات الصواريخ.

وقال المرصد السوري لحقوق الإنسان إن “القوات النظامية السورية مدعمة بعناصر مما يسمى قوات الدفاع الوطني وإدارة إيرانية وحزب الله اللبناني، سيطرت على أجزاء كبيرة من حي وادي السايح”.

وقال إن السيطرة على وادي السايح تسمح للجيش النظامي “بعزل أحياء حمص القديمة المحاصرة عن حي الخالدية المحاصر”.

وأوضح مدير المرصد رامي عبد الرحمن أن ضباطا إيرانيين ومن حزب الله يشرفون على عمليات الجيش في المدينة، وخصوصا معارك الشوارع.

محاولات لإجلاء المصابين في الرقة (الجزيرة)براميل متفجرة
وفي الرقة (وسط سوريا) قتل أكثر من عشرة أشخاص على الأقل وأصيب أكثر من ثلاثين، في قصف شنته طائرات النظام السوري على المدينة. وأفاد مركز صدى الإعلامي بأن طائرات النظام ألقت براميل متفجرة على مجمع الأماسي وسط الرقة.
وعبّرت الهيئة العامة للثورة عن خشيتها من ارتفاع أعداد القتلى بسبب وجود ضحايا تحت أنقاض مجمع الأماسي.

وفي ريف حماة، قالت الهيئة إن الطيران الحربي ألقى براميل متفجرة فوق مدينة كفر نبودة، دون ذكر تفاصيل عن حجم الأضرار والضحايا، في حين أشارت شبكة شام إلى سقوط براميل متفجرة في بل
[…]

May 3rd, 2013, 12:40 am

 

Dawoud said:

Majed, the video is again here. Hasan Nasra$s will face trial in a free Damascus for his war crimes!

Free Syria, Free Palestine!

May 3rd, 2013, 12:44 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Dawoud
That was good
Hassan Nasrallah would not interfere if the Assad Army was capable to fight alone, Assad is no longer trusting the troops,where the majority are against Assad.

Mr. Landis, There are huge differences between Iraq and Syria, but you are right that there is a sectarian fight is evolving ,Consider Iran role, KSA role, Turkey role, and oil in Iraq, the new rulers came on American tanks, in Syria FSA is from inside, In Iraq there was a preceding war with Iran, none in Syria, and the israeli factor in Syria.The length of war, and the severity of the destruction in Syria, that did not exist in Iraq

May 3rd, 2013, 1:00 am

 

Sami said:

Dr Landis,

Did you intentionally leave the Libya or Bosnia scenarios out of the equation when making your analysis?

Is Ribal Al-Assad really relevant to anyone but his own demented ego?

May 3rd, 2013, 1:34 am

 

MarigoldRan said:

Wrong. Syria will become the battleground of the 30 years war of the Middle East.

The country’s going to be split regardless of what happens from now on. The Alawites are trying to hold Damascus and Homs as part of the split. They’ve already ceded Deir El Ezzor, Raqqa, Daraa, Hasaka, the Golan, and most of Aleppo and Idlib.

Regardless of what happens, the Assadists and the Alawites are now locked in a permanent state of war for the next 30 years.

May 3rd, 2013, 2:26 am

 

MarigoldRan said:

The fighting is spreading deeper into Lattakia. Most of the worst massacres of this war will happen in that province. Too many Alawite and Sunni communities in that area.

Still, this means another front for the Assadists to fight.

May 3rd, 2013, 2:39 am

 

Citizen said:

/The U.S. is considering arming the Syrian rebels as part of a range of options for ousting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and installing a democratic government, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday./
Mr. Hagel do not lie! You for advance planning want to extend the life of this war !
The rebels arming, and call the fighters from other countries and trained in the camps to do all acts of sabotage -it is a power (capacity) for the undeclared LOW INTENSITY WAR, which seeks to mass destruction to all Syrian ingredients! This is an aggressive step against the Syrian people including the Syrian opposition and for each Syrian!

Hagel: Arming Syrian Rebels Among US Options
http://www.military.com/daily-news/2013/05/02/hagel-us-rethinking-possibly-arming-rebels.html?comp=7000023317828&rank=1

May 3rd, 2013, 3:08 am

 

Hanzala said:

I agree with most of what you have said Prof. Landis, the US has no business getting involved. Let’s hope it does not, although it looks like the US is already getting involved, training “FSA” in Jordan, and Jordan opening its skies to Israeli drones.

They say that they are training them to fight Assad, but this is just a guise, the reality is that the West and Israel fear an Islamic State in Syria. The drones, the traitors these are all to fight the Jihadists and not Assad.

May 3rd, 2013, 3:40 am

 

Ameera said:

يومية صبح بكير
امي هاكلة همي كتير
بدا تطعميني بالزور
بدا ياني صير دكتور
بئله مو جاي على بالي
انا جاي على بالي همسة
همسة حليب صافي مركز

May 3rd, 2013, 4:34 am

 

Altair said:

The analysis is facile and not totally correct with the facts.

Syria has a unique set of circumstances and is not like Iraq (before Saddam’s overthrow) except in that it has a minority ruling the majority. But even here Prof. Landis got the figures wrong and the names inaccurate. The Alawis (inaccurately called Shiites) do not make up 20%. They make up 10-12%. Maybe after all the massacres and the refugees become permanent they will be more, but such is not the case yet.

Calling the Alawis Shiites does a disservice too. It promotes and furthers the idea, intentionally or not, that there is a Sunni-Shii divide in Syria and all over the region. That may be happening elsewhere, which is very unfortunate, but that is not the case in Syria, and there is no reason to put more fuel to the sectarian fire just to make a point about how Syria is “like Iraq”.

Ismailis, for example, who are far more Shiite than Alawis (many will argue that Alawis are not Shiite at all, in that they supposedly deify Ali), do not support the regime by and large. Many Alawis also do not support the regime, but have been cornered into doing so for fear of the backlash should the regime fall.

Also, as I argued in an earlier post, Iraq was invaded not because there was a popular uprising. There was none. When there was one in 1991, the US sat on its hands like now.

Furthermore, the goals of the Bush/Cheney invasion were no less than sinister, not some nonsense about imposing democracy by crushing and starving a country. Sinister goes a long way in making your side unpopular, and US unpopularity increased all over the world, not just in Iraq (thank you Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz).

This would not be the case in Syria IF, and this is a big if, the US made it clear that it had no interest other than toppling the regime and leaving.

Would it result in chaos and disorder? Probably. But Syria is heading in that direction anyway. Iraq was not. Iraq was stable when it was invaded. Twice not once, both in 1991 and 2003! It was destabilized precisely by those invasions and the crippling sanctions.

How could that be any more different? The ONLY thing these 2 countries have in common in this argument is that they were ruled by tyrants and families who were from a minority sect, and who used a phoney Baath ideology to promote that family rule. That’s it.

I’m not arguing for direct US intervention. To be honest, I’m just not sure. As I argued before, the US is not an honest broker and is too much in bed with Israel to be one. But something needs to be done, and the neighbors are too weak to do it. A balanced international coalition perhaps (including Russia and Iran), or is that but a dream? To do nothing is a crime no better than a bystander who is implicated in witnessing a murder and does nothing.

The fact is, this regime is totally capable of genocide.* It is just too determined to stay in power, and will use all, and I mean ALL means at its disposal to stay there. Do we really need to see a Rwanda-style genocide to do anything about it?

SAVE SYRIA!

*One of the Syrian president’s associates purportedly said he was willing to kill a million Syrians and go to The Hague to stand trial to save his regime. I would be grateful if anyone can post that quote or reference.

May 3rd, 2013, 4:48 am

 

Badr said:

“Zoo” wrote: “The reason Obama would arm the rebels is simply because the rebels are about to be crushed by the heroic Syrian Army and Obama prefers that the war to continue until Syria is totally devastated and Al Qaeda eliminated…”

If Obama decides to arm some rebels, it is because he believes then that this would be the best chance for a political transition.

May 3rd, 2013, 5:36 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

I finally agree with Professor Josh, Juan Cole and Daniel Pipes: stay out of Syria.

The US could have conducted regime chage using drones on the Assad family w/o sacrificing American soldiers. The US seems happy to see the ME embroiled in civil war. Let the Arab League solve this.

May 3rd, 2013, 6:12 am

 

Tara said:

Joshua,

To do nothing is a crime. Thank you Altair.

And it becomes an evil crime when one is capable of stopping it but chose not to do so because of utter indifference. Is this the message the US should convey?

Is this the legacy you want to have? One of deliberate indifference to oppression, brutality, and war crimes?

May 3rd, 2013, 6:49 am

 

Dawoud said:

Yes, Mr. Landis, Syria is now similar to Iraq because both Bashar al-Assad and Nuri al-Maliki are currently Iran’s puppets-who are so dependent on Iranian plots and advice.

A video of the interview with Lebanese Shia or Shiit religous authority, al-Amin, in which he criticizes Hizbas$ and Shia support for the murderous Bashar al-Assad:

May 3rd, 2013, 7:17 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

The changing of Akbar Palace
You used to call for democracy, and support the syrian people,Now you call for not interference in Syria, you know that HA is supporting Assad sending 10,000 soldier, you know that Iran is supporting Assad by money and weapons and expert military advisor, that Russia is supporting Assad.
Akbar you know that this war will last for long time without Ameican support, in calling for US not to interfere,you are calling for continuation of this massacre by Assad, your true colr is showing now.
Akbar you know that Assad used chemical weapons, and your response to my question, May be.
No bad deed will go unpunished,there will be time when we will get even.
The Syrian revolution will continue, and there is no going back.
Daniel Pipes is an evil man

May 3rd, 2013, 7:28 am

 

mjabali said:

The only solution the Americans should help with is the POLITICAL one.

For the sake of sanity and safety in this world America, and the rest, should help quell this sectarian fire in Syria.

By the rest I do not mean the sectarian lunatics of Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the rest of the kooks. The world should not let people like the king of Saudia Arabia and the Qatari dude dictate the future of the area. It will be a mess.

Sectarianism is taking over the whole region and this is not good for anyone. This Shia vs Sunnis is going to be a long nasty war unless some smart group could, or willing to work on stopping this.

May 3rd, 2013, 7:44 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Mjabali
I agree with you, but please tell us how to do it with Assad is clinging to power and refusing true democracy?

May 3rd, 2013, 7:53 am

 

Dolly Buster said:

16. mjabali said: Sectarianism is taking over the whole region and this is not good for anyone.

 
Well take it up with Iran, Hezbosatan, Nouri Maliki, who all took sides based exclusively on sectarianism.

All of them are Shia. What a coinkydink !

May 3rd, 2013, 8:13 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

The changing of Akbar Palace

Maybe.

You used to call for democracy, and support the syrian people

I still do. That will never change.

Now you call for not interference in Syria

Majedkhaldoun,

The US spent the live of close to 5000 american soldiers and 1 trillion dollars (as stated by Professor Josh above) in Iraq and we haven’t made one friend or received one thank you. Tell me how Syria will be different.

you know that HA is supporting Assad sending 10,000 soldier, you know that Iran is supporting Assad by money and weapons and expert military advisor, that Russia is supporting Assad.

And does Russia gets blamed for anything in the ME? No, just the US and Israel.

Akbar you know that this war will last for long time without Ameican support, in calling for US not to interfere,you are calling for continuation of this massacre by Assad, your true colr is showing now.

I am not willing to risk the lives of american soldiers and another 1 trillion dollar just because you and Tara think the US should intervene. There has to be a LOT more people who concur with you.

Akbar you know that Assad used chemical weapons, and your response to my question, May be.

It looks like he did. I am not sure what the extent was.

No bad deed will go unpunished,there will be time when we will get even.

If the US helps the opposition, the regime idiots and the rest of the ME will continue to hate the US. If the US stays out the other half of the ME will hate the US. It is a LOSE/LOSE situation for the US. No matter what the US does, we will be hated. Am I right?

The Syrian revolution will continue, and there is no going back.
Daniel Pipes is an evil man

Why is it only Daniel Pipes is an “evil man”? He agrees with Professor Josh and Juan Cole about the US firmly staying OUT of Syria.

So you see, I am very confused at this moment. I want to help get rid of Assad, and I think the US can do it using air power (like in Libya). I am strongly for such a situation, but I cannot allow american soldiers roam the streets of Syria like in Iraq.

Respectfully,

AP

May 3rd, 2013, 8:14 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

Akbar
“Tell me how Syria will be different”
Syria after Assad will never be friend with Russia, who do you think Syria will ally itself with? certainly the USA.
“I am not willing to risk the lives of american soldiers and another 1 trillion dollar”
No one is calling for US to send soldiers,or risk trillion dollar, your point has no basis.
As for chemical weapons, you know very well that the regime has them the rebels don’t.US said chemical weapos were used,to deny its use while the evidence is strong is very evil.
Daniel pipe wrote an article saying US should aways help the weak side,so the war continues, this is very evil.

May 3rd, 2013, 8:29 am

 

Observer said:

My question remains to JL. If the US is not to intervene which is your position. What is your position on the intervention by Iran and HA on the side of the regime?

It is clear now that this is a sectarian civil war that the regime wanted to have from the very beginning to hold the minorities fate hostage to its political and physical fate. You seem to have fallen into this trap as well for a variety of reasons.

The US intervention can be very easy without a quagmire and without boots on the ground and without significant cost.

One cruise missile is 1 million dollars. Qatar and KSA can easily pay for 200 of these that would get the entire air force of Syria scrap metal.

This will level the playing field and then we can see how much of this so called SAA can hold to its position of continued fighting.

It is also clear today that the massacre in Banias province is another nail in the coffin of Syria as we know it. Ethnic cleansing is on the move now.

Now the important news though are that the seesaw of rebels vs regime gaining is the actual real and important news that JL seems to have missed.

Every time the rebels make gains, the ammunition slows and likewise every time the regime makes gains the ammunition flows again.

This is the best scenario for those wishing to exhaust Iran in the region and for those wishing to strip HA of its popular edge and for those that wish to keep the conflict going.

I do sense significant fear now from the regime side and for those apologists that are still thinking that the regime is capable of presiding over any meaningful transition as they posited from the very beginning.

The arguments from secularism to the fractured opposition to the interference of regional players to the arrival of jihad elements is now clearly not sufficient to sway the other side into believing that the regime is capable of making its own “repentance” and “reform”.

I also sense that some important people contributing to this blog news sections are quite concerned about the fate of the regime and that the desire to keep the US out of Syria is not for the US’s interests but for ulterior motives perhaps related to the insider news and the sectarian feelings that are coming to the fore.

I would really like to know what people are going to say about the massacre in Banias province now.

Fire at the airport was extinguished but all is clear in the province.

Oil production is down to 70 000 barrels per day.

Lebanon is going to join the fray.

Satellite images can easily show what happened.

Somaria Alathad indeed.

May 3rd, 2013, 8:34 am

 

Visitor said:

I find myself stangely in agreement with Joshua about America staying out of Syria. But my reasons are completely different from Joshua’s. in fact Joshua doesn’t have real reasons. Joshua is twisting and fabricating for a reaon that has become well known. Joshua wants to please in-laws at any cost.

First of all Syria is by no means similar to Iraq or Lebanon for that matter. Both Iraq and Lebanon will be impacted by the glorious revolution of the Syrian people, however. Iraq will benefit because it will roll back the disastrous and evil designs of the US admin(s) as well as the evil incursion of mullah stooges. The Iraqis will have the rare opportunity of joining again their Syrian brothers in the homeland of Syria which will comprise the historic fertile crescent. Similarly, Lebanon will get rid of Mullah-stan and become once again the historical western Syrian province.

The US must not intervene in Syria because the US admin is evil and manipulative, not because, as Joshua wrongly postulates, Syria is similar to Iraq. In addition, because the US admin is evil, it will only produce evil regimes if it intervenes as we see currently in Iraq. The US admin has made it clear since day one of our great revolution that it is opposed to the people of Syria and their aspirations. The US admin’s policy towards Syria is subservient to so-called Israeli security. That has never changed and will never change. In fact, the US admin is an outright liar when it propagates in the media that it is reconsidering arming the revolution. It is even a greater liar when it makes such vague and meaningless statements such as all opyions are on the table. I believe we all heard this phrase used repeatedly in more than one occasion to no results in sight. The US admin objective from such pronouncements is merely propaganda for the purpose of absorbing pressures from certain quarters because of some developments pertaining to the use of chemical weapons.

Syrians must rely on their own resources as well as the help of our Saudi, Qatari and Turkish brothers. Above all, the defectors must go throigh extensive rehabilitation and training process by the Nusra Front and associates in order to prepare adequately for this war. The efficiency and effectiveness exhibite by he holy warriors during this war is more than enough to offset any mirage help an evil US admin will or will not provide.

May 3rd, 2013, 8:38 am

 

Syrialover said:

Sick, spiteful, stupidity.

The regime destroys Deir Ezzor’s beautiful suspension bridge

May 3rd, 2013, 8:49 am

 

mjabali said:

Majedkhaldoun:

You have to sit with al-Assad to achieve any political solution. This is the simplest answer that could really lead to the end of this mess in Syria.

May 3rd, 2013, 9:11 am

 

Majed97 said:

Mr. Landis,
Why should any foreign country interfere in the affairs of a sovereign country that is a member of the UN?!? Specifically, Which international law gives any country the right to justify such intervention?!?

Please help me see the objectivity in your following statements:

“Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have a much greater stake in Syria and should lead the way. They also have a strong religious motivation to help the rebels and defeat Iranian and Shiite influence in Syria. The US should not be taking sides in the larger regional contest pitting Shiites against Sunnis.”

“The US should definitely spend much more money to aid Syrians, but others should take the lead in using military force and in helping Syria build a new state.”

May 3rd, 2013, 9:16 am

 

Citizen said:

It’s a disgusting thing when commentators turn to personifying the threads! Something nasty!

May 3rd, 2013, 9:16 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

The US intervention can be very easy without a quagmire and without boots on the ground and without significant cost.

One cruise missile is 1 million dollars. Qatar and KSA can easily pay for 200 of these that would get the entire air force of Syria scrap metal.

Observer,

I liked your post and I agree about getting Assad out of the picture.

But let’s be honest, once Assad is gone, like Saddam, Syria will still be a battlefield between Sunni-Shia and KSA-Iran, respectively. Iraq and Syria will continue to bleed.

Everyone here wants to the US to do something, stay out or get in, but no one wants to address the main issue: the Sunni-Shia war. And it is this issue that is going to continue to ruin the ME.

May 3rd, 2013, 9:20 am

 

revenire said:

“Mr. Landis,
Why should any foreign country interfere in the affairs of a sovereign country that is a member of the UN?!? Specifically, Which international law gives any country the right to justify such intervention?!?”

I doubt you will get an answer.

Obviously intervention is against the UN charter and international law. That doesn’t matter to the US though. They break the law daily.

May 3rd, 2013, 9:26 am

 

revenire said:

“23. SYRIALOVER said:
Sick, spiteful, stupidity.
The regime destroys Deir Ezzor’s beautiful suspension bridge’

Your Nusra friends did that SL.

May 3rd, 2013, 9:28 am

 

Syrialover said:

SAMI #4

Ribal Assad is far more sinister and sleazy than you realise. Read on.

Ribal Assad and his war criminal father Rifaat Assad (of Hama massacre fame) live a luxury life in Europe with stolen Syrian funds.

The creepy Ribal runs fake “democracy” organizations. It’s part of a strategy to polish his father’s image, and enable Rifaat Assad to stay safely in his 10 million pound Mayfair mansion.

Chris Doyle, the Director of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), has exposed Ribal Assad’s extravagant lobbying activities and entourage of paid thugs.

In response, Ribal conducted a furious campaign of defamation and intimidation against him:

http://www.english.globalarabnetwork.com/2011090411860/Opinion/syria-lies-and-slurs-for-those-who-dare-to-challenge-ribal-and-rifat-assad.html

Joshua Landis knows all about this because he highlighted the story a while ago.

So why the hell would Landis feature an article above with Ribal Assad’s name, a shallow say-nothing piece which would have been written by a PR firm.

Ribal’s expensive PR strategists have also got him doing various shallow stunts like publicly criticizing his cousin Bashar.

The sickest joke is Ribal and his daddy are also doing all this in the hope of grabbing some of the action in Syria after Bashar is gone.

Instead, Rifaat Assad should be looking forward to featuring in a war crimes trial and the family’s stolen fortune getting soaked up by legal fees.

May 3rd, 2013, 9:31 am

 

annie said:

Second run : those who oppose arming the Syrian Revolution are rooting for Assad to erase the opposition and restore his brand of law and order while giving us some whiffs of hot air and phoney “compassion”. They do not give a heck about the thousands of martyred Syrians. They want Assad to win.

Here is a video of “ungrateful” Palestinian three times refugees

May 3rd, 2013, 9:32 am

 

Citizen said:

/The US intervention can be very easy without a quagmire and without boots on the ground and without significant cost./
said – The high Commissioner of the United States and countries of the Arab camels
tat tat tat tat teet teet teet !!!!!

May 3rd, 2013, 9:35 am

 

revenire said:

“I would really like to know what people are going to say about the massacre in Banias province now.” – Observer

Look for more such “massacres” Observer – the army is going to hunt down, and kill, every rat in Syria.

May 3rd, 2013, 9:35 am

 

majedkhaldoun said:

الدولار يسجل ارتفاعا كبيرا ويتجاوز 140 ليرة بالسوق السوداء .. والحركة شبه متوقفة

Mjabali
You know and everyone knows this meeting will be futile, Assad has killed 150,000, and continue to kill more,Assad refused Moaz Khatib initiative.
But we are willing to sit with Alawis who has no blood on their hands.

Visitor
The whole world is conspiring agains the Syrian people, Assad has used his strong army,using airforce missiles and now is using chemical weapons,
Iran Russia are helping Assad, and US in standing on the side watching a massacre after a massacre ,and watching Assad use chemical weapons, prove your point that there is evil in US intention, We always were lied to when we hear US stands for high morality,and for human rights, and for democracy, we were lied to when Obama said chemical weapon usage is red line.
The syrian revolution will win as it spread to Iraq, Mursi in Egypt is making big mistake.
I honestly believe Turkey is better than Egypt position as far as our revolution.
Sooner or later US will interfere as Iraq will get more involved,Iraq has oil,and as Jordan get in more trouble from the refugee problem, and as islamists score more victories.
Syrian revolution is all Arab and Moslem revolution

May 3rd, 2013, 9:45 am

 

Citizen said:

http://i2.wp.com/www.redressonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Jewish-settler-racist-graffiti.jpg?fit=300%2C225

Israel’s ethnocentric experiment
By Jamal Kanj
Israeli leaders are masters at muddling the international community with trivial issues while turning peace negotiations into a process to end all peace.

Assured by subservient US backing, and for more than 15 years prior to the current pointless and interminable process, Israel rejected peace overtures from the Palestinians by insisting on impossible and ever-changing terms to be fulfilled even before agreeing to talk with Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Israeli preconditions, Palestinian concessions

The first precondition – which later became a US law – was to renounce “terrorism” and recognize Israel without reciprocity. The PLO gave in to the American demand in order to start the current peace marathon in 1988.

After the signing of the Oslo accord between the PLO and the Labour party government of Yitzhak Rabin, right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected the Palestinian recognition as incomplete, insisting that the PLO annul its charter, specifically sections calling for establishing a bi-national non-sectarian democratic state on all of historical Palestine.

Again the PLO acquiesced and invited then President Bill Clinton in December 1998 to christen a meeting of the Palestine National Council annulling the provisions demanded by the new Israeli government.

There have been at least five internationally-supervised peace milestones and countless schemes negotiated directly between the two parties in the last 20 years. Sequentially, they were: the Oslo accord, the Wye River agreement, the Road Map, the Annapolis conference and the Quartet Peace Plan.

All were initiated at the behest of various American administrations to allay succeeding Israeli governments’ “conditional approval” of the preceding understanding. In fact, US Secretary of State John Kerry is leading fresh efforts to customize the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative to suit Israel’s reservations.

Recognizing Israel as ethnocentric state

Out of Israel’s magic tricks to throw off the international community, the current Israeli prime minister conjured a new condition: demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel as an ethnocentric Jewish state.

This is despite the fact that Israel does not have a constitution defining its character or even official demarcated national borders.

To ascribe national identity for a country is an internal matter. But to mandate of the Palestinians to recognize the ethnocentric character of Israel is akin to asking the African National Congress to recognize South Africa as a white nation during apartheid.

Ethnocentrism was defined in 1906 by William Graham Summer, an American professor of Sociology at Yale University, “as having a view of things in which one’s own group is the centre of everything and the feeling that one’s own culture is better than all others”.

Building on Summer’s earlier studies, psychologist Donald Campbell and his associates described ethnocentrism in the late 1960s and mid-1970s “as a psychological construct” whereby the individual propensity is “to identify strongly with her own in-group and culture, the tendency to reject out-groups or the tendency to view any economic, political or social event only from the point of the in-group”.

Ethnocentrism is typified by the proclivity of an in-group to uphold its own values as being superior and the values of other cultures as inferior. This develops into groupthink collective behaviour by members of the in-group, rationalizing the deionization and rejection of the out-groups.

Spectre of ethnic cleansing

Israel is a classic ethnocentric example of the in-group versus the out-groups. In a 2012 survey, it was found that 59 per cent of the Jewish in-group believed that Jews should be given preference over non-Jewish natives in admission to jobs in government ministries, and 49 per cent wanted the state to treat Jews better than Palestinians.

In contract to Israel’s Machiavellian leaders, the late Knesset member Rabbi Meir Kahane was more candid in articulating the ethnocentric state’s vision in his 1981 book, They Must Go. He wrote that in a “Jewish state” Arabs will suffer from discrimination. In such case they will become alienated and antagonistic; therefore the only sensible solution is to “get rid of them”.

“Get rid” of the out-group was an expensive European experiment not taken seriously until it was too late.

May 3rd, 2013, 9:46 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Back to the Blame America First Rule

Obviously intervention is against the UN charter and international law. That doesn’t matter to the US though. They break the law daily.

Reverse,

The US has no troops in Syria. But the Hezbos and Iran do. Are THEY breaking “international law” or do they get the “Arab/Muslim Stay Out of Jail Free Card”?

Citizen,

Why don’t you add this link to your previous post, since I know you’re an objective poster….

http://www.memritv.org/subject/en/332.htm

Obama’s Red Line:

http://townhall.com/political-cartoons/michaelramirez/2013/05/02/109020

May 3rd, 2013, 9:48 am

 

Dolly Buster said:

There is a principle: it’s always better to open up borders and become cosmopolitan, instead of closing down into a small tribe and being xenophobic.

The Syrian government is promoting the ideology of closing down into staleness and being fearful of the other.
They would like to spend their time talking about how awesome and special Syria is.
Guess what: other nations also believe they are special (Borat Sagdiyev, Kazakhstan). Guess what: all of them are wrong. Syria is mediocre, and so are the others.

The negative impact of isolationism holds true even for larger-scale communities like USA and EU. If they choose to shut off from the wider global community, they become inferior.

Sovereignty is unnecessary, because it promotes this provincialism. We actually need rampant interventionism and global police action.

May 3rd, 2013, 9:52 am

 

revenire said:

Akbar if I am president of Syria and I invite allies to help save Syria that is legal. If I am a terrorist and invite friends to help destroy Syria that is illegal.

Do you even know what the UN charter is? International law?

I can’t believe you’re that stupid. You’re kidding right?

May 3rd, 2013, 10:00 am

 

Mina said:

Welcome to free Egypt
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/70623/Egypt/Politics-/New-mob-killing-in-Egypts-Sharqiya-Son-of-Brotherh.aspx
Scores of residents beat to death the son of a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm Friday in Zagazig city in Egypt’s Nile Delta Sharqiya governorate, which has seen a significant number of mob killings recently.

Security sources told Ahram Online that hundreds of El-Qataweya village residents ransacked the house of Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) leader, Rabie Lasheen, in the early hours of Friday, setting his furniture and three cars on fire apart from killing his son. Revenge was their motive.

Lasheen’s son, Youssef, was accused of shooting a 28-year-old man merely for insulting his father in a Facebook post for his affiliation with the FJP. An auto rickshaw (tok tok) driver in his 40s was accidentally gunned down too.

The revengeful mob, including members of both men’s families, dragged Lasheen’s son to the street and used bladed weapons while assaulted him, according to Al-Ahram’s daily correspondent. The assistants then left him for dead in the street. (…)

For the earlier mob lynching of 2 kids who were trying to find some gas in a village nearby
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/0/67185/Egypt/0/Angry-mobs-attempt-rd-public-lynching-in-Egypts-Gh.aspx

May 3rd, 2013, 10:07 am

 

revenire said:

Akbar if you want to do away with international law say so. The US backing of the terrorists in Syria is a violation of international law.

Charter of the UN

If you don’t stand by this say so. Say it loud and proud. If you do stand by it Obama is violating it – if you don’t stand for it Assad and Syria can do whatever they want so shut up about it and try to fix your own mess in the US (and it is a mess).

You can’t have it both ways.

The US is in violation of the rules it agreed to, as is Israel.

If you don’t want the UN and the Security Council say it Akbar. Don’t be shy.

You’re a hypocrite and can’t make a cogent argument to save your life.

May 3rd, 2013, 10:09 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Reverse’s International Law Review

Do you even know what the UN charter is? International law?

Yes, it is a worthless pile of crap. Because, people like you apply it randomly. If Assad is tried under international law, he would be in jail for a long time.

BTW – If the UNSC ever comes around (Russia and China), forces could legally enter Syria to kick some Assad butt.

http://www.voanews.com/content/human-rights-watch-syria-report/1638871.html

May 3rd, 2013, 10:13 am

 

Visitor said:

“34. majedkhaldoun said:

……………….

Visitor
………….
Sooner or later US will interfere as Iraq will get more involved,Iraq has oil,and as Jordan get in more trouble from the refugee problem, and as islamists score more victories.

Majed,

As you well know, I maintained the same position ever since I started commenting on this blog and even before I started doing that.

I have no trust in any US administration. Furthermore, Obama DOES NOT want to get involved in any wars. He made it his legacy to do away with the Bush era. Not that Bush was any good either. Bush II is perhaps the worst and most evil president ever. He was incompetent evil person and a liar.

The Syrian and Iraqi revolutions must unite in order to do away with the left over legacy of the evil intervention of Bush in Iraq, and also the resulting incursion of evil mullahs into our region through the Iraqi gate. Shiism must be destroyed once and for all and must become illegal in our Arab World.

Historically, the Shiites cooperated with outsiders against the majority Sunnis. Al-3Alqami is the well known Shiite collaborators who led the Mongols into Baghdad. Today’s Maliki and other collaborators have done the same with the new American Mongols of Bush.

We must go back to the roots of Islam and allow Nusra and similar groups to lead this war. They are the most qualified to do so. The defectors suffer from too much corruption because of the 50 years rule of evil Baath.

May 3rd, 2013, 10:16 am

 

revenire said:

Article 2.4

Please pay particular attention to Article 2.4. Clearly it is the US that is the international gangster here. Syria has threatened no one.

If you don’t like the UN then stop trying to get the Security Council to give legal right to an attack on a sovereign nation. They never will and such an attack would violate the UN Charter. It would be illegal. All action arming the so-called rebels is illegal under the charter. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the UK, France, etc. are all international gangsters per the UN Charter.

You don’t have a leg to stand on in an argument Akbar (not that you ever did).

If you’re an engineer I would not be hiring you for any projects. You have a very weak mind.

Charter of the United Nations, Article 2

The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.

1. The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.

2. All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.

3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

5. All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.

6. The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.

7. Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.

http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter1.shtml

May 3rd, 2013, 10:21 am

 

revenire said:

And Akbar, HRW acts at the service of those gangsters when attacking Syria in the partisan fashion it does but I will note HRW also claims Israel and the US violates human rights.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned the Israeli regime for violating the laws of war during its eight-day assault on the Gaza Strip in 2012.

“Israeli forces too often conducted airstrikes that killed Palestinian civilians and destroyed homes in Gaza without apparent legal justification,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at the HRW.

Maybe someone should invade those two rogue regimes? Instead of the rule of law we can have the law of the jungle.

LOL

Game. Set. Match.

May 3rd, 2013, 10:28 am

 
 

zoo said:

Syria is like Iraq

Obama, Syria and the Arrogance of Imperialism
by RON JACOBS

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/05/03/obama-syria-and-the-arrogance-of-imperialism/

While there are particular differences between that nation and the Assad’s rule of Syria, I believe the similarities are enough to make a justifiable comparison. If one adds the influence of the neoliberal economy of the last several decades, the similarity between the two nations’ histories supersedes any particular differences.

Like much of the Middle East, The growth of neoliberalism in Syria created a situation that saw the selling off of state-owned industry to private corporations, the reduction in services and basic subsidies and a drastic decrease in income for many of its people. Of course, that income decrease is directly related to the neoliberal economic model that insures the gross accumulation of wealth in northern banking centers with a similar reduction in individual buying power for most of the world’s population. Just like in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt (among other nations around the world), the indigenous individuals and groups that tend to profit from the neoliberal privatization and loan scheme are those already part of the authoritarian regimes in power.

The transfer of industry and services from state to private hands usually results in the powerful adding profit to the power they already maintain. In other words, the centralization of state power morphs into a centralization of political power and private wealth, usually at a greater rate than before. The complement to this transformation is the further impoverishment of the working class and peasantry along with a growing impoverishment of the non-politically connected middle classes. It is this economic factor which has pushed every population responsible for the “Arab Spring” to rebellion. When combined with the long-running desire for political freedoms, the result has been, to say the least, incendiary and world-changing.

That is how Syria’s civil war began—as a massive protest for political freedoms and against neoliberalism. It seems to have morphed into something quite different over the past several months. As various Islamist factions of varying tendencies have taken up arms against Assad and his allies, the nature of the conflict has become incredibly violent and looks more and more like the sectarian civil war that ripped apart occupied Iraq in the middle year of that last decade. If one looks at that period in Iraq for instruction, there is plenty to fear. As antiwar journalists and activists made clear then, the United States was actively involved in arming various factions in this civil war and was also training death squads whose role was to kill potential threats to US designs. In addition, various regional governments had their own forces operating in the country.

A similar scenario is playing out in Syria, albeit with the players assuming slightly different roles. One can assume, however, that the intent is the same: a desire to determine the future according to their wishes.

It is this desire which is being cited by Washington for its growing intervention. Despite whatever the politicians and generals might be saying, let me be clear. Washington is an imperial nation. It does not have the best intentions of the Syrian people at heart. Indeed, when it comes to policy, it could care less about the Syrian people, just like it cared less about the Iraqis. If it cared, the support it has shown for the Assads over the years would have been much more conditioned on respecting the civil and human rights of the Syrian people. Instead, Washington’s real regard for those rights can best be summed up with the observation that until the Arab Spring began, Syria’s torture chambers were a favorite of the US rendition program.

May 3rd, 2013, 10:38 am

 

Hopeful said:

Did you guys see the numbers above from Lebanon? 80% of Lebanese do NOT want the US and the west to arm the rebels,including 66% of Sunnis. Are they just afraid of the war escalating? Do they like Assad? Hate the west? A mix of all the above?

Akbar Palace – You make good points. The US is in a lose-lose situation, and yes everyone is either being blind or conveniently ignoring the big elephant in the room: the Sunni-Shiia conflict that is dangerously escalating.

Although I am a liberal from Califrnia, I find myself agreeing on almost everything you say AP. It is good that we do not dicuss US internal politics on this forum 🙂

May 3rd, 2013, 10:39 am

 

revenire said:

Another non-Syrian sticking his nose into Syria’s business.

Fix California – God knows after that bastard Arnold’s Nazi-style attack and loony Brown it is a hell hole.

May 3rd, 2013, 10:44 am

 

zoo said:

Observer

“I would really like to know what people are going to say about the massacre in Banias province now.”

Killing armed rebels is not a massacre, especially when they use civilians as human shields and cause civilian to die.
Anyway no one pays attention to ‘massacres’ anymore, the media has seen enough of that, now they look for more ‘dramatic and photogenic’ stories to titillate their readers.

The drama twist is Hamlobama: To arm or not to arm?

May 3rd, 2013, 11:01 am

 

Hopeful said:

Rev,

I am Syrian, and I am American. Proud and fortunate to be both. I see no contradiction and I will not allow anyone to try to fit me in a single box.

Yes California needs fixing, but people are working on that instead of killing each other. And guess what, Arnold is back at his home and we have a new governor. It is called democracy.

May 3rd, 2013, 11:04 am

 

revenire said:

Spare me your smarmy chit chat. You live under a Wall St. dictatorship that invades and attacks other nations.

You are an American. You talk like one. You think like one. You’re no Syrian. No Syrian would betray their country.

May 3rd, 2013, 11:11 am

 

Hopeful said:

The sad reality is that if the US does not intervene, the Syrian civil war will drag on for years. If it does intervene, it will spark a regional war which might drag on for years.

Nice job Assad. You proved to be more competent than I gave you credit for. You are burning Syria and the region.

May 3rd, 2013, 11:12 am

 

zoo said:

#47 Hopeful

You seem surprised by the Lebanese Sunnis reaction.
The USA foreign policy in the ME has only brought war, death, misery and destruction in addition to dividing people and pitting them against each other.
Obviously in CA, you don’t realize that because the US media keep hammering that the poison is Iran and Hezbollah and naive Americans buy it..

No wonder sensible people, other than the looser FSA general Selim Idriss and the Qatari mafia of the polluted NC, refuse to have more of the USA poison in the region.
It’s enough to have Israel.

May 3rd, 2013, 11:13 am

 

zoo said:

Hopeful

“Nice job Assad. You proved to be more competent than I gave you credit for.

I would add that the opposition have proven to be more incompetent than anyone could have imagined, despite the billions of dollar and the support of the GCC, France, the UK and the USA. After two years, they are more divided than before. That’s an achievement!.

Pumped by the petro dollars, they thought themselves strong and united, so they kept rejecting any chance for a compromise. They contributed to destroying the country as well as dividing and destroying the fragile social, religious and ethnical fabric that the regime has tried, awkwardly, to consolidate for decades.
That’s what their so-called “revolution” has achieved, a national disaster.

May 3rd, 2013, 11:23 am

 

revenire said:

The US is intervening Hopeful. You have it backwards. The US has given MILLIONS for arms to kill Syrians. Without the US there would be no revolution and no fighting.

I always have to laugh at anyone who claims the US isn’t intervening. They want them to do more I suppose or are really brainwashed.

May 3rd, 2013, 11:24 am

 

Hopeful said:

#53 Zoo

You made two wrong assumptions: that I now live in California and that I watch/listen to US media.

But alas, yes, I am surprised by the results. I tend to agree with you that US’s direct involvement in the Middle East was not helping, but for different reasons than you do.

May 3rd, 2013, 11:28 am

 

Hopeful said:

#54 Zoo

The opposition is very incompetent. I never really expected otherwise, again for different reasons than you probably do.

But again, the opposition does not lead Syria. Assad does. The opposition did not create or start the revolution (nor did the US). 50 years of humiliation, corruption and suppression did. Once it started, everyone got involved, for one reason or another. Assad was the president of Syria when it all started- many genuine patriot Syrians gave him a lot of good advice on how he should manage it. He ignored all of them. He made a blunder after a blunder. Syria is where it is today because of his actions. I have no idea why we, in the Arab world, we tend to give so much slack to our corrupt incompetent leaders just because they shout hatred towards Israel and the US.

May 3rd, 2013, 11:38 am

 
 

majedkhaldoun said:

Zoo said
It’s enough to have Israel.

We have more than Israel, we have Iran,we have Hassan nasrallah

Hopefull
Once Assad is gone,,Syria will be free and united, This is not a war between Shiaa and Sunni, large number of Alawis are supporting the revolution, it is Assad who is making it Shiaa against Sunni.
Assad is in Damascus, once he leaves Damascus, the fight against Hassan is easy one, Hassan stands no chance of surviving,

May 3rd, 2013, 11:42 am

 

Tara said:

#49

Go ahead.  Deny a massacre has happened or cheer the perpetrators.  You are good at it!

• Government forces and militia loyal to President Bashar al-Assad may have killed up to 100 people in the coastal village of Baida, activists have claimed. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 50 people were killed, including women and children, by summary execution, according to testimonies. Some were stabbed and some were burned, according to the reports. which the Observatory said it could not verify because the village has been locked down by regime troops.

Zoo said:
“Killing armed rebels is not a massacre, especially when they use civilians as human shields and cause civilian to die.” 

May 3rd, 2013, 12:23 pm

 

zoo said:

#56 Hopeful

The fact that you are surprised shows well that you know little about the views on the USA bye the Arab man in the street.

Apart for some of the westernized businessmen close to Qatar and KSA, most people in the ME hate the USA’s foreign policy and blame it, rightly or wrongly for all the ailments of the region.
The USA showed for decades its hypocrisy in supporting dictatorships that were pro-USA and fighting dictatorships that were anti_USA. When the USA realizes that they went too far and that the people resent them, then they abruptly dump their allies, i.e, Shah of Iran, Mobarak,
The USA has followed a very short term strategy in the region therefore they are not perceived as a loyal and reliable partner, quite the contrary.
Selim Idriss begging the USA and CIA to help is probably considered a gesture of weakness and treason by many Syrians.
It will certainly not improve the credibility of the opposition.
Citizens worldwide despise their leaders if they beg.

May 3rd, 2013, 12:27 pm

 

zoo said:

Tara

“Observatory said it could not verify because the village has been locked down by regime troops.”

You blindly trust the activists reports, I don’t. Give me verified and independent reports then you can argue.

May 3rd, 2013, 12:31 pm

 

zoo said:

#59 Majed

To my knowledge, the faithful allies of the USA in the region are Israel Jordan and the GCC.
Iran and Hezbollah are the proud enemies of the USA.

May 3rd, 2013, 12:35 pm

 

Tara said:

Zoo,

Name a “verified and independent” agency that you’d believe and we could argue.

And please do not try SANS, press TV or Ahl albait.,,

May 3rd, 2013, 12:37 pm

 

revenire said:

Tara can’t provide any proof of a massacre. She screams like a banshee for the blood of soldiers but cries like a baby when her rats are eliminated.

The rat nest in Baida has been purged of the cancer that took root. Bravo SAA!

We’re all sick of the whining of the rats. You wanted war. You get war.

Kill them all Dr. Assad. Do it with the precision of a surgeon.

May 3rd, 2013, 12:55 pm

 

zoo said:

#57 Hopeful

I wonder why you swiftly excuse the opposition’s incompetence when they are the leaders and the ideologies that you and others hope to take over the country.

Do you think this bunch of confused expats will do better? I have serious doubts.
They have failed to rally the mass of opponents to the regime when it should have been a piece of cake according to your evaluation of the wide dissatisfaction in the country. They got billions of dollar, a huge propaganda of demonization, powerful allies and after two years, they have learned nothing except begging.

They have no clue whatsoever of the complexity of the Syrian foreign policy in the region and they naively think that the USA and Qatar are their saviors.

Maybe Bashar al Assad failed to his people by not recognizing the need to crack on corruption and by moving too fast toward a neo-liberal economy that harmed the poor, but his foreign policy was excellent and reflected what all the Arabs wanted. No wonder he was praised in the Arab world for his courageous stand against western imperialism.

Do you expect the opposition with such a pathetic credentials in the last two years, to do better?
The alternative they offer have convinced no one, neither in Syria not abroad. They made easy for Bashar al Assad to remain the less bad choice. They should blame themselves.

May 3rd, 2013, 1:04 pm

 

revenire said:

Maybe after “Mr Government in Exile” Hitto is further humiliated Hopeful can be the new leader of liberated Syria. He can command the FSA Air Force and find Capt. “Lost” Omen.

May 3rd, 2013, 1:08 pm

 

zoo said:

Tara

Any media articles that doesn’t say : “According to activists” or “According to the Observatory” would do.

May 3rd, 2013, 1:10 pm

 
 

zoo said:

The Free Syrian Army is being taken over by groups of jihadist thugs

The Free Syrian Army has fallen prey to gangsters and fanatics
Paul Wood BBC 4 May 2013

http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8900491/a-corrupted-revolution/
On my last trip into Syria, I met Ayat, a female activist who had worked in a Damascus bank before she turned to running guns for the revolution.
In tight black jeans and sneakers, she still looked like the girl-about-town she had once been. She refused to cover up in a hijab and would not leave the room when the men arrived, however much the fighters hissed at her and told her (literally) to get back to the kitchen.
Ayat was in despair about the FSA’s inability to take the capital. ‘Each group is just sitting on its weapons trying to grab what they can for themselves,’ she said. Things are getting so bad, there are even reports of rebel fighters defecting back to the government side, disgusted with the way the armed uprising has betrayed its ideals.

Ayat’s husband, a law student before the uprising, commands an FSA unit generally regarded as honest, so there do still exist rebels untainted by corruption. But they are few and far between, and identifying them becomes harder all the time.

May 3rd, 2013, 1:32 pm

 

zoo said:

Former Bush official: Syria chemical weapons could be ‘Israeli false flag operation’

By David Edwards
Friday, May 3, 2013 10:17 EDT

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell under President George W. Bush, on Thursday warned that the chemical weapons that were reportedly used in Syria could be a “Israeli false flag operation” because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was running an “inept regime.”

During an interview with Current TV’s Cenk Uygur, Wilkerson explained that he had been told by his sources in the intelligence community that evidence that Syria had used chemical weapons was “really flaky” and that President Barack Obama should think twice before intervening.

“This could have been an Israeli false flag operation,” he said. “You’ve got basically a geo-strategically, geo-political — if you will — inept regime in Tel Aviv right now.”

Wilkerson pointed to the fact that Obama had to tell Netanyahu to “pick up the phone, you idiot,” and call Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to apologize for a Israeli raid that killed killed eight Turkish civilians aboard a Gaza-bound flotilla in 2010.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/03/former-bush-official-syria-chemical-weapons-could-be-israeli-false-flag-operation/

May 3rd, 2013, 1:37 pm

 

Tara said:

Zoo@ 70

And tou think Ayat from above link also harbor “personal” hatred to Batta and family? Any soap oprah scenario for her? Tight black jeans and sneaker. Can’t be an Islamist? Under what category do you fit her?

May 3rd, 2013, 1:55 pm

 

Hopeful said:

# Zoo 61 & 66

I posted my reply on the new blog post. See there! Cheers.

May 3rd, 2013, 2:33 pm

 

'Sauce, Goose, Gander': Political vs Family Ties in Political Debate | MEP, Middle East Perspectives from Dubai to Rabat said:

[…] an opponent of intervention in Syria, Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma–who argues that Syria would be another Iraq– and promptly brought up Landis’s marriage to a woman from a prominent Alawite family, […]

May 4th, 2013, 4:34 am

 

Heller ikke Israels angreb er et argument for intervention i Syrien said:

[…] Ifølge denne fatale anbefaling skal USA altså glemme erfaringen fra Irak, involvere sig militært i Syrien for at redde menneskeliv, og ikke mindst for at signalere evnen til at gennemtvinge erklærede målsætninger over for helt tredje fjender! Det er igen myten om det såkaldte »Vietnam-syndrom«, der angiveligt forhindrede USA i at udfolde dyder med militære midler efter den Kolde Krig, der kolporteres om igen. Hvad eksperterne imidlertid har at sige om lighederne til Irak er lærerige. Syrien-ekspert Joshua Landis har bl.a. skrevet: […]

July 18th, 2013, 6:30 pm

 

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