News Round Up (2 July 2012) - Syria Comment

News Round Up (2 July 2012)

When Bashar al-Assad goes, his regime, in all probability, will go with him. His remaining followers will run for the doors causing the Baathist edifice of the Syrian state to come crashing down like a house of cards. After all, it is built on loyalty to the man and family.

Many are looking for a way to broker a soft landing for the regime. Although noble, this undertaking may be a fool’s errand.

The next leaders of Syria will want to purge the Party and Assad loyalists from government. They will have to reward their own and build a new system staffed by those now sacrificing for the regime’s overthrow. This is what happened in Iraq, the other home of the other Baath Party. Can Syria really be different? P.M. Maliki is busy purging the Baghdad government of the last of the US’s “power sharing” elements in order to build loyalty and stability there. A hybrid regime is hard to imagine.

The Syrian army increased its shelling of the suburbs of Damascus, and the provinces of Homs, Daraa and Deir Azzour.

Revolutionaries captured two top-ranking regime officers; Brigadier General Munir Ahmad Shalabi of the General Intelligence Palestine Branch, and Major General Faraj Shihada Maqet.

From Syria Report

  • The Syrian President has issued three new decrees to enable his government to fight “terrorism,” including a law that will enable the dismissal of civil servants.
  • Syria’s consumer price index rose 32.51 percent in May on an annual basis, although on a monthly basis prices actually declined, the Central Bureau of Statistics said.
  • All stocks traded at the Damascus Securities Exchange fell again last week with the total value of shares falling more than 50 percent compared to the previous week.
  • A shipment of Iranian fuel reached the Syrian port of Banias at the end of last week, according to local media reports.
  • Tourist Arrivals Fell 79% in the Four Months Ending April
  • Hotels Statistics in Damascus
  • 2009 2010 2011
    Occupancy rates (%) 71 74 21
    Average Room rates (USD) 236 233 168
    REVPAR (USD) 168 172 35

Russians and Syrians, Allied by History and Related by Marriage
Olga Kravets for The New York Times

Roksana Dzhenid lives in Moscow with her Syrian husband, but many wives like her live in Syria.
By ELLEN BARRY, July 1, 2012

MOSCOW — On one jasmine-shaded block in the Syrian port city of Latakia, Natalya lives three doors away from Nina, two from Olga, across a narrow alley from Tatyana, and a short walk from Yelena, Faina and Nadezhda. They are all women from the former Soviet Union who married Syrian men. Pan out to the greater expanse of Syria and the number of Russian wives grows to 20,000, the human legacy of a cold war alliance that, starting in the 1960s, mingled its young elites in Soviet dormitories and classrooms….“They are wives of the elite, who can have some influence, but it’s a soft influence,” said Nina Sergeyeva, who until recently led an organization of Russian expatriates from her home in Latakia. “The elite of Syria, the men, are very oriented toward Russia.”…. “Based on the recent experience of evacuation from Lebanon and Palestine in recent years, problems always arise — though there we weren’t talking about thousands or tens of thousands of people, but several hundred,” said Yelena Suponina, a Moscow political analyst specializing in the Middle East. The task of evacuating Russians from Syria, she said, “would be 100 times worse.”….

Soviet women had their own reasons to pursue Syrians — nondrinkers who, thanks to the Baath Party’s ties to the Communists, traveled freely in and out of the Soviet Union. A new wave of marriages followed the Soviet collapse, as young women sought a way out of economic chaos.

“Let all the world hear this: Russian men, maybe not all of them, but more than half of them are gigolos,” said Roksana Dzhenid, who married Wa’el, a businessman, in 2000, and lives with him in Moscow. He benefited too, she noted, by escaping the intense family ties that come with a Syrian bride.

“If there is a quarrel, what will a Russian woman do? She will cry,” she said. “Maximum, she will go to her friend and say, ‘He is such and such.’ And what will an Arab woman do? She will gather a posse of all her relatives. She may run at night to her husband’s mother and sister and start yelling.”…

Svetlana N. Zaitseva, who spoke by telephone from her home in the Syrian port city of Tartus, was 19 when she met her husband, a linguistics student living in the same dormitory in what was then Leningrad.

She and her friends had only the dimmest idea of what life was like in other countries, she said. In the Soviet Union, “it was like the entire world was our friends, brothers and comrades.” Six months after the two met, she said, “I realized that we loved each other and could not live without one another.”

“From the height of my age, I must say that it’s of course better to marry someone from your own country,” she said.

But that decision is long past for Ms. Zaitseva, 62, a mother of three and grandmother of four. She is clinging to the hope that the conflict will end; but even if it escalates into war, she said, she would still choose to stay in Syria to the end.

“It cannot be otherwise,” she said. “We have become part of this place. Our children are here, who are citizens of Syria, and our grandchildren. Everything here is ours.”

Syria rebels to boycott Cairo opposition talks
AFP

Syria-based rebel fighters and activists said they would boycott an opposition meeting in Cairo on Monday, denouncing it as a “conspiracy” that served the policy goals of Damascus allies Moscow and Tehran.
The two-day meeting, to be attended by the main exiled opposition bloc, the Syrian National Council, and other smaller groups, is intended forge a common vision for a political transition in Syria after 16 months of bloodshed.

“We refuse all kinds of dialogue and negotiation with the killer gangs…and we will not allow anyone to impose on Syria and its people the Russian and Iranian agendas,” said a statement signed by the rebel Free Syrian Army and “independent” activists.

The boycotters said the talks follow the “dangerous decisions of the Geneva conference, which aim to safeguard the regime, to create a dialogue with it and to form a unity government with the assassins of our children.”
“The Cairo conference aims to give a new chance to (UN-Arab League) envoy Kofi Annan to try again to convince Assad to implement his six-point plan… while forgetting that thousands have been martyred since the plan came into force,” they said.

Aleppo in the Syrian Uprising | Near East Quarterly, www.neareastquarterly.com
By Harout Ekmanian

Harout Ekmanian is a freelance journalist and lawyer from Aleppo. The Second City Since the middle ages, Aleppo has been a major trade and commerce hub for the entire east Asia region. It was one of the three most important cities of the Ottoman Empire, […]

The Aleppo Chamber of Commerce stated in its meetings in May 20125 that the price of building materials has nearly doubled. The real estate rents have also doubled. According to data provided from the central bureau of statistics, the rise of inflation in only one month was six per cent in February 2012, whereas the rise of the prices in the first quarter of 2012 was 60 per cent.6 The rise of prices between January 2011 and January 2012 was recorded at 42 per cent.7

Compared to 2005, the prices of food, medicine, clothing, transportation have risen more than 72 per cent overall in Syria. In Aleppo only, that number reaches as high as 89 per cent.8

Economic sanctions imposed on Syria by EU, Arab countries and Turkey, have played a huge role in the economic meltdown of the country. The instability of the situation in Syria have also made a number of leading Syrian businessmen in different sectors resorting to take flight to Jordan, the UAE and Egypt.9…..

The Dilemma facing Aleppo’s Minorities

Christians in Syria have always enjoyed special advantages by undertaking a pseudo governmental role inside their communities. According to a report published on the Syria Comment blog, the number of Christians in Aleppo is already below 100,000. Many analysts predict harsher days for Christians in the future.12 ….

What comes next?

…..The people in Aleppo will also understand that history and memory are not exclusive for governments and its politicians, but it belongs to the whole population. Citizens will start to feel the importance of being a part of the process, rather than following the impromptu judgments of greedy businessmen and corrupt politicians.

With Aleppo beginning to revolt, it would appear naïve to implement the same kind of drastic government solutions that are being put into practice over a year ago in other Syrian cities and towns. That would only fasten a very ugly departure for the regime with the country falling into an undesirable chaos. The sooner they step back from the way to hell, the more helpful it would be for most of the parties inside Syria. In either case or the other, change is inevitable. It is simply a matter of time.

Christian Sci Mn: Russia’s outreach to Syria’s opposition hints at policy pivot
2012-07-02

Moscow Russian officials will hold talks in Moscow with two key Syrian opposition leaders and United Nations envoy Kofi Annan later this month, amid signs that the Kremlin is ready to throw its weight behind Mr. Annan’s revised plan for a …

Observer (GB): Syrian regime TV reporter defects
2012-07-02

Ghatan Sleiba, from the pro-Assad al-Dunya channel, says he has been providing intelligence to the rebels for months. A presenter from the Syrian regime’s main television channel has defected to the opposition and revealed he had secretly provided …

THE ARAB SPRING, ITS EFFECTS ON THE KURDS, AND THE APPROACHES OF TURKEY, IRAN, SYRIA, AND IRAQ ON THE KURDISH ISSUE
By Aylin Ünver Noi

This article addresses the approaches of Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq in dealing with the Kurdish issue, with a special focus on historical background. In addition, the article discusses how this issue affects relations among the aforementioned countries and whether cooperation on this issue is possible. The article also examines how the Arab Spring […]

…THE ARAB SPRING, SYRIA, AND THE KURDISH ISSUE

The wave of protests calling for greater freedoms, respect for human rights, and improving living conditions throughout the Arab world reached Syria. Operations such as massive naturalization of undocumented migrants have been organized by granting Syrian citizenship to more than 300,000 Kurds to ease the mass disturbances.[62] Besides this, Syrian Kurdish opposition leader Tammo, leader of the Future Movement, who openly called for the Asad’s overthrow, was assassinated by the Asad regime in October 2011. The day of the funeral, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Qamishli. It was the largest protest in the northeast since the beginning of the uprisings against the Asad regime.

Some Kurdish groups are wary of joining the Syrian National Council (SNC) due to the SNC’s lack of clear-cut policies regarding the status of the Kurds in a post-Asad era and disputes concerning the number of seats the Kurds would hold in the SNC.[64] For instance, the only Kurdish party that attended the Istanbul meeting of Syrian oppositionists, Tammo’s Future Movement, wanted the name of the country changed from the “Syrian Arab Republic” to the “Republic of Syria.” When the other delegates at the conference refused this request, these Kurds walked out in protest.[65] The Kurds’ concern is that the opposition against the Asad regime is dominated by Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and that they do not support Kurdish demands for local autonomy.[66] Turkey’s active role in Syria’s uprisings also raises concerns with the Kurds. Kurds believe that Turkey would not leave things to take their own course in Syrian Kurdistan if Asad’s regime in the country were to fall.

It has even been observed that some of the KDP and PKK are used by the regime as “al-Shabiha” (pro-Asad regime armed thugs and mobs). The PKK receives further support from the regime.[68] The Asad regime is using the PKK card as leverage against Turks. The PKK has done little to dispel such suspicions, and some statements made by Kurds seem to verify this argument. For instance, in an interview, Cemil Bayik, one of the group’s leaders, warned that if Turkey were to intervene against Assad, the PKK would fight on Syria’s side.[69] The PKK also serves as a means for the Asad regime to keep the Syrian Kurds in check. The PKK’s Syrian branch, the PYD, pulled out of the negotiations with other Kurdish parties. They do not support the protests. Some Kurds have accused the PKK of playing a role in Tammo’s assassination and claim that they warned not to work with the mainstream Arab opposition…..

According to one political analyst, Syria’s regime is not taking action against the PKK due to Turkey’s current anti-Asad position. Furthermore, the Asad regime uses the PKK to control Syria’s Kurds and prevent the Kurds in Syria from taking an active part in the Syrian uprisings. The SNC hopes to win over the Kurds against the Asad regime by changing its former stance on the Kurdish issue. To this end, former SNC President Burhan Ghalioun has promised a decentralized government, which would enable local authorities to take control of their affairs and would allow for national recognition of Kurdish identity in the post-Assad Syria.[79] Moreover, Abdulbaset Sieda, a secular Kurdish academic and politician, succeeded Ghalioun in June 2012 to reconcile rival factions within the SNC…..it thus seems impossible for these four states to maintain collaboration on the PKK issue. However, cooperation in preventing the establishment of an independent Kurdish state does seem feasible and likely to continue.

Tension Rises Along Turkey-Syria Border
By: Patrick J. McDonnell | Los Angeles Times
Turkey said Sunday that it had scrambled fighter jets along its increasingly tense border with Syria after Syrian helicopters were detected close to the two nations’ long frontier.

Authorities said no armed confrontation and no violation of Turkish territory took place, according to Turkish news reports. But the incidents on Saturday underscored how the more than 500-mile border has gone from being a hub of free-flowing commerce to a potential tinderbox for a regional military conflict….

Syria’s paramilitary gangs a law unto themselves

HOMS, Syria (Reuters) – When rifle-toting members of Syria’s shabbiha pro-government paramilitary gangs strut into a shop, cowed residents of Homs know to clear out of their way.

Accused of atrocities that include the massacre last month of scores of women and children – many of whose throats were slit and heads bashed in – the militiamen cut to the front of the queue as shoppers shrink back and staff rush to serve them.

In their informal uniform of camouflage trousers and white sneakers, the young recruits swan down the streets of the Alawite neighborhoods, set up checkpoints at a whim and stop traffic to question drivers.

“We don’t know when they’ll show up and when they’ll disappear,” whispered Abu Tamam, from the Alawite neighborhood of Zahra where hundreds of men have joined shabbiha gangs. “Some of their leaders are the biggest thugs in the neighborhood. Now they’re supposed to be our saviors.”

Lawless groups of shabbiha now style themselves as above the control of the very security forces that created them to support the brutal crackdown on the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad that began in March 2011.

Homs is filled with men like short, fat, balding 40-year-old Louay. He hardly looks like a gang leader. But he is not afraid of force, and he claims he takes orders from no one – not even the government he is fighting to protect.

“If the government can’t end this farce, we will. I have boys who would eat rocks,” he growls. “Enough is enough. The army has been at it for a year and can’t put a stop to this.”

Your Syria Is My Bahrain
By: Mark N. Katz | The Moscow Times

Turkey weighs options for dealing with Syria

ISTANBUL — When Syrian forces shot down a Turkish reconnaissance jet last month, Turkey vowed to take “necessary steps” and its prime minister declared Syria a “clear and present danger.”

Video: Can foreign powers determine Syria’s future?
01 Jul 2012 al-Jazeera (thanks to War in Context)

U.S. must arm Syria rebels despite Islamists: opposition
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis, 01 Jul 2012

Reuters reports: Syria’s opposition says the United States must overcome its fear of Islamists among the rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, and start arming the resistance movement to show it wants the entire ruling elite removed. Islamists are among the most effective fighters against the Syrian leadership, some opposition figures said, and Washington […]

….Opposition campaigners and Free Syrian Army commanders said the rebels need weapons such as shoulder-fired missiles to destroy the tanks and bring down the helicopters that Assad is using against the uprising. Washington could anyway supply parts of the diverse rebel movement which are more to its liking.

“The U.S. has intelligence on the ground and by clever management it can channel weapons to the right people. First it has to give a clear signal that it really wants an end of the Alawite-dominated police state in Syria and not just the sidelining of Bashar,” said Tello, speaking from Istanbul.

World powers struck an agreement on Saturday that a transitional Syrian government should be set up to end the conflict in which more than 10,000 people have died, but they remained at odds over what part Assad might play.

So far the United States has supplied almost negligible amounts of “non-lethal” aid such as walkie-talkie radios trickling across the Lebanese border, opposition figures said. Officials have made clear Washington opposes arming the rebels because they lack a unified command and due to concerns that high-tech weapons may fall into the hands of Islamists.

Mohaimen al-Rumaid, a member of the Syrian Rebel Front, said Washington was failing to recognize that the country’s Islamist rebels were different from the Taliban fighting NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, and that they were not anti-American….

Hamwi said U.S. officials appeared to be collecting intelligence on the rebels without helping them.

“Activists meet with them hoping to get medical supplies and they start asking for information about the Free Syrian Army. The United States seems not to mind Assad inflicting so much bloodshed as he can so the people become utterly exhausted and accept whatever deal Washington wants,” Hamwi said….

Mustafa al-Sheikh, a general in the Free Syrian Army who heads an organization of senior officers who have defected, said Washington could channel weapons “to trusted rebels and help to ensure stability after Assad falls”.

….”The United States, Israel and other world powers have calculated their interest in the region the last five decades based on minority rule in Syria,” said Sheikh who is based at a camp set up by Turkey for defecting officers on the Syrian border.”Washington does not want to risk a Sunni ascendancy by supporting the Syrian revolution, even as Assad continues his bloodbath and gets more support from Iran,” said Sheikh.

Video: Alawite activists flee to Turkey
01 Jul 2012 , aL-Jazeera

Disorganized Like a Fox – Foreign Policy
Why it’s a great thing that the Syrian opposition is fragmented.
By Elizabeth O’Bagy, a research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War and author of the report “Syria’s Political Opposition.”

….By adopting a decentralized leadership system, the Syrian opposition has succeeded in creating the foundations for greater political pluralism. For almost half a century, Syria suffered under the de facto one-party rule of the Baath Party. Ultimately, these organizations may reverse that destructive legacy, becoming fully functional political movements capable of creating the type of multiparty system necessary for a successful democratic transition.

That, of course, is a long way off, and in the meantime the positive influence of these grassroots movements is increasingly under threat. As the uprising drags on, activists have become increasingly desperate to receive direct aid and support. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and global jihadi networks linked to al Qaeda are manipulating this growing desperation, providing material support to those groups that promise to support their foreign agendas

The proliferation of money and weapons may have accelerated the revolution, but it has not supported the development of political structures inside Syria. These foreign sponsors risk dividing and radicalizing the opposition. Rebel leaders have already reported that in some cases, receiving foreign aid comes with implicit conditions, forcing them to act in ways contrary to their desired direction. In a leaked email, rebel commander Abu Majd wrote, “The basis of the crisis in the city [Homs] today is groups receiving uneven amounts of money from direct sources in Saudi Arabia, some of whom are urging the targeting of loyalist neighborhoods and sectarian escalation.” Moreover, in areas where Assad’s crackdown has been harshest, including in the cities of Homs and Rastan, hard-line Salafi groups have gained a foothold within the opposition. In early April, following the regime’s offensive against Homs, for instance, accusations emerged that the rebels’ Farouq Battalion had begun collecting jizya, a tax on non-Muslims, in areas of Homs province.

To reverse this dangerous trend, the United States should take the lead in coordinating international support with the aim of reinforcing the grassroots political structures already operating inside Syria. U.S. intelligence officials have acknowledged that they are vetting the flow of weapons to Syrian rebels to ensure they do not fall into the hands of al Qaeda militants. This policy is a step forward, but it comes with risks. Facilitating weapon transfers to certain groups could empower militias at the expense of the grassroots political opposition. One key condition for future arms transfers should be that groups receiving weapons agree to submit to civilian command structures.

The Syrian grassroots opposition has protested and fought the Assad regime for more than a year now, largely without tangible support from abroad. In areas that have effectively fallen from Assad’s control, these local and provincial committees have already become the de facto government. These committee leaders could very well be Syria’s future power brokers, and U.S. officials must get to know them now. If U.S. officials do not, they may find this promising new generation of Syrian leaders destroyed by both the Assad regime and radical Islamist movements, who will only carry Syria into a bloody and catastrophic civil war.

Comments (62)


Uzair8 said:

– Slowly but surely justice is catching up with the criminals.

– Defections are coming thick and fast.

July 2nd, 2012, 4:41 pm

 

SANDRO LOEWE said:

The end of Assads may be nearer than we imagine. I can smell it at the other side of the border. Things rarely are what they seem. Assad is not strong anymore. Buildings like Assad Syria fall down in seconds when the collapse point arrives. The land under Assad State is full of running waters.

Good news like the capture of chief of intelligence palestine branch and the defection of 185 soldiers who left to Turkey today as well as the deployment of F-16 in the north border are beginning to pave the way for collapse.

Syrians I talk to inside Syria are clearly giving the message that Syria is not possible with Assad anymore. This feeling is very sensitive since Assad State power was base on two ideas:

– Fear
– Syria is Assad

Come syrians inside the syrian prison, stand for some months more and our dream will come true. Future is there available for all. Stand, victory is near.

July 2nd, 2012, 4:43 pm

 

Juergen said:

Turkey’s state-run news agency says nearly 300 Syrians have defected to Turkey, including 85 soldiers.

The Anadolu Agency says this happened Monday and that the 293 Syrians included a general and several other officers.

The report says it was one of the largest groups of Syrian army defectors to cross into Turkey at one time since the unrest began in Syria. Turkey is now home to more than 35,000 Syrian refugees.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/report-85-syrian-soldiers-defect-turkey-16698682

July 2nd, 2012, 4:46 pm

 

majedkhaldoun said:

The meeting in Cairo is nonsense,the fate of Assad will be determined by FSA
Long live those Angels, The heros of Syria,The FSA.

July 2nd, 2012, 5:48 pm

 

Tara said:

“If there is a quarrel, what will a Russian woman do? She will cry,” she said. “Maximum, she will go to her friend and say, ‘He is such and such.’ And what will an Arab woman do? She will gather a posse of all her relatives. She may run at night to her husband’s mother and sister and start yelling.”…

None sense! Syrian women do not run to husban’s mother and sister and start yelling. They do not need to do that. They have their own ways to get what they want while giving the husband the impression that it is all his idea.

With all due respect, and I am not generalizing, the last failed Russian-Syrian marriage I heard about before moving to the US, the wife, a gorgeous woman, after she left the husband, she landed a job in a night club and never returned to Russia. While of course, not all Russian woman have similar jobs, you just do not adversely judge Syrian women living in their country. It is detasteful.

July 2nd, 2012, 6:33 pm

 

Uzair8 said:

Ramadan a couple of weeks away (~20th July).

Tired regime forces will face a years workload in just one month.

Opposition forces spirit will be strengthened by x10{+).

July 2nd, 2012, 6:35 pm

 

Tara said:

Watching the Al Jazeera clip of the Alawi who defected, you feel bad for him. Damn you do, damn you don’t. He will not be trusted among the revolutionaries lest he is an infiltrator…What an Alawi to do in a case like that?

July 2nd, 2012, 7:20 pm

 

Shami said:

The brotherly stance of the Iraqi Kurds towards the syrian people should be saluted !Turkey and Iraq ,you are the sons of Nuraldin Zanki and Salahadin ,we have more than thousand years history in common, that’s what will prevail.Shabiha are an accident of history.
Also ,welcome back Egypt ,the eternal great sister of Syria.

July 2nd, 2012, 7:38 pm

 

sam said:

It’s funny how many times I keep reading, that fall of the regime is closer. Make no mistake people, an.Assad will be in charge for atleast another 10 years. If not bashar, baby bro will take the reigns.

July 2nd, 2012, 8:42 pm

 

mjabali said:

The Alawis should think and plan with the other minorities and not trust the SNC and co.

They also should find a way to have their independent voices heard without anyone’s supervision.

July 2nd, 2012, 8:51 pm

 

mjabali said:

Where is my comment?

July 2nd, 2012, 8:53 pm

 

Shami said:

An Aleppine in Deir eZor among his people.

July 2nd, 2012, 9:06 pm

 

Shami said:

SAM ,this is what all supporters of the previous dictators in history believed.
Someone should change the bad habits one day ,it’s a natural law in history.
For those who tied their fate to that of makhlouf,assad,shaleeh ,they can not accept it.They will be taken by surprise.
Majbali ,the sectarian alawites should better late than ever ,accept that assad is not eternal ,not khalid nor ila al abad.
For the non sectarian alawites ,they are among their people.

July 2nd, 2012, 9:31 pm

 

ann said:

Syrian crisis becomes increasingly militarized, Assad endorses anti-terrorism law – 2012-07-03

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-07/03/c_131690583.htm

DAMASCUS, July 2 (Xinhua) — As the Syrian crisis has grown more militarized with armed opposition fighters attacking, kidnapping and ambushing government troops, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seems to have become more decisive regarding what his administration regards as “terrorism” and endorsed Monday an anti-terrorism legislation in a bid to legally back the ongoing pursuit of armed opposition.

The Syrian forces and the armed opposition on ground have been at each other’s throats recently with armed fighters undertaking guerrilla-style attacks on army and security bases, while the Syrian administration has decided to flush the existence of those armed elements once and for all and unleashed a large-scale military “cleansing” campaign in the rebellious areas.

The military operation started 10 days ago in the restive suburbs of the Syrian capital of Damascus. Sounds of shelling and gunshots have become daily occurrences, particularly in the early morning and at night.

The latest operation was in the restive suburb of Douma, a scene of armed insurgency, in which the military troops have succeeded over the past hours in dislodging the armed rebels. An official source at the Syrian Red Crescent told Xinhua Monday that large swathes of sprawling Douma have been cleaned. He said humanitarian assessment missions have succeeded in entering the area and evacuated 26 restive people.

Syria defends its crackdown, saying that foreign-backed extremists are fighting on its soil. The government has provided names of foreign fighters that have recently been arrested, mainly Tunisians with affiliations to al-Qaida.

On Monday morning, an al-Qaida-inspired group claimed responsibility for the recent attack on the headquarters of the pro-government al-Ekhbaria TV station that killed seven people, according to state-run SANA news agency.

Meanwhile, Assad ratified Monday a law to combat terrorism, which includes imprisonment for people committing, participating or financing terrorist acts in the country.

The law gives definitions for terrorist acts, terrorist organizations and the financing of terrorism, in addition to penalties for people committing those acts or promoting them.

The law was endorsed by the Syrian parliament on June 28.

Whoever has organized or administrated a terrorist group would receive a jail term at hard labor ranging between 10 and 20 years, the law said, adding that the penalty would be more severe if the objective behind establishing a terrorist group was a regime change.

The law also stipulates that whoever has financed a terrorist act would be jailed for 15 to 20 years at hard labor; Those who train people to use explosives or weapons, smuggle or manufacture weapons would receive jail terms ranging between 10 and 25 years at hard labor.

If the terrorist act results in the killing of one person, the penalty would be death, the law said, and if an accomplice in any of those crimes informs the authorities before the crimes are committed, he would be exonerated.

According to the law, a terrorist act is an action that aims to spread panic among people or causes damages to the country’s infrastructure; A terrorist organization is a group of three or more people who plan to commit a terrorist act.

Kidnapping a person in order to demand ransom would be punishable for a jail sentence ranging between 10 and 20 years at hard labor, and the sentence will get stiffer if the kidnapped is less than 18 years old.

A government servant would be laid off if it is proven that he has committed any terrorist act, whether he is the perpetrator, the instigator, an accomplice, or has submitted any kind of support to terrorist group, and he would be deprived of all his rights.

[…]

July 2nd, 2012, 9:52 pm

 

Norman said:

With what happened in Iraq to the Baath party and the army, I believe that the Baath party of Syria and the Syrian Arab army are fighting for their lives, they understand that their exclusion is in the work if defeated, so i think they will fight for the last man and the 2 to 3 million Baath party members will be mobilized, It is a war for the finish no half solutions are in the work for both sides, the loyalist for the president will even seek separation if it was felt that they are losing and Syria will be divided.

July 2nd, 2012, 10:09 pm

 

Syrialover said:

Here’s a reminder of what a dangerous idiot Bashar Assad has been for Syria:

“The younger Assad has over-reached before, notably in Lebanon and Iraq: the assassination of former premier Rafiq Hariri forced his troops to withdraw from Lebanon in 2005; later that year, funnelling of jihadis into the Iraq conflict came close to provoking a US military response.”

And this sounds right too:

“While its willingness to kill appears limitless, the regime’s options look limited. For it has never been clearer that its strike forces – essentially the Fourth Armoured Division and Republican Guard, drawn mainly from the Assads’ minority Alawite community and under Bashar’s younger brother Maher al-Assad – are insufficient to regain control of the country. To recapture countryside in northern, eastern and central Syria would be to risk redeploying loyalist forces beyond the cities, just as fighting is closing in on the capital Damascus and defections are rising particularly among officers from the Sunni majority.

After repeatedly promising to impose a military solution, just as his father crushed Islamist insurgents in the early 1980s, President Assad’s options are narrowing. “Inside the Alawite community there is now real fear”, says a Lebanese politician who closely monitors Syria. “At the beginning everyone was convinced Bashar could solve the problem militarily, the way his father did. Now they have seen that he can’t, and he’s lost credibility.” The risk now, he said, was that the regime would lash out recklessly.”

From Financial Times article:

“Syria regime tactics open door to cross-border escalation”

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fbbc54f8-c132-11e1-8179-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz1zWaR0300

July 2nd, 2012, 11:09 pm

 

Halabi said:

Two to three million Baath party members fighting to the death for the party? Absolutely delusional. There are maybe 100 Baathists who believe in the party and they are all certifiably crazy, the rest are part of a political machine, a useless entity that probably still lists me among its ranks.

This party that three million people are willing to die for gave me an advanced title that requires more than ten years as a full member when I was 16 years old. Why? Because the party leader at my school hooked me up for a few thousand lira.
البعثي حقو فرنجين بسوق الغلا

Sana’s coverage of the opposition’s meeting in Cairo today is Baathi delusional journalism at its best.

تداعت أدوات الخارج التي نسبت لنفسها لقب معارضة سورية إلى القاهرة حيث مقر جامعة لم يبق من عروبتها إلا الاسم فقط بهدف البحث في وحدة إعلامية صورية مطلوبة على عجل من الممولين والمشغلين الاستعماريين الغربيين والعثمانيين الجدد والرجعيين العرب.

http://www.sana.sy/ara/3/2012/07/03/429042.htm

July 2nd, 2012, 11:21 pm

 

bronco said:

Norman
I agree. Bashar al Assad has declared the country at war and that nothing will be spared to reach a victory.
In his eyes, victory means the end of the armed terrorists and the exile to Turkey for the survivors.

It is clear that no country will send boots to help the armed rebels. All is now played in the ground in a collision of armed forces.

July 2nd, 2012, 11:26 pm

 

Syrialover said:

Norman #15 said:

“I believe that the Baath party of Syria and the Syrian Arab army are fighting for their lives….I think they will fight for the last man and the 2 to 3 million Baath party members will be mobilized, It is a war for the finish ”

No Norman, they are fighting for the Assad circle’s lives. Big difference. They don’t HAVE to go down with the frontline killers.

There are alternatives to self-destructing for the Assad cause and I am sure many are already looking and planning for this.

It’s likely these people will try requesting an amnesty card before it’s too late. That is, if they are like everyone else who has ever landed in their position.

And if they start scuttling across to join the other side, what is Assad going to do? Kill them all?

July 2nd, 2012, 11:34 pm

 

ann said:

Feltman Thanks Ban But Should Thank Obama, Knows Maged, Eliasson Redux

By Matthew Russell Lee

http://www.innercitypress.com/unban1felteli070212.html

UNITED NATIONS, July 2 –On Monday morning Jeffrey Feltman, until recently the top US official on the Middle East, was sworn in by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as the head of Ban’s Department of Political Affairs. Inner City Press photo here, YouTube channel video here and below.

Back on March 28, Inner City Press exclusively and accurately reported that Feltman would get the job because the Obama administration through its State Department choose him.

Ban had little choice in the matter, just as Ban had no choice in France putting Herve Ladsous atop UN Peacekeeping, the fourth Frenchman in a row in that post.

Ladsous was at Monday’s swearing in of Feltman and Jan Eliasson as Ban’s new Deputy Secretary General, replacing Tanzania’s Asha Rose Migiro. (As if it made up for this diss of Africa, Ban last week gave Migiro another UN job, envoy to Africa on HIV / AIDS.)

Both men swore allegiance to the UN and its Charter’s Article 100, to not accept instructions from any country. But since particular countries control the highest posts — France with Peacekeeping, the US with DPA, for example — how can this oath be taken seriously?

Feltman in brief remarks after the swearing in thanked Ban for “selecting me for this position,” and recounted spending Sunday reading the UN charter. Better late than never, said one wag. Reading it is one thing; abiding by it is another.

[…]

Feltman did not know many of the USGs, the exception being Maged Abdelaziz, the Mubarak era Egyptian Ambassador to the UN who Ban gave his “Special Adviser on Africa” job over the objection of major sub Saharan African countries. “We know each other,” Feltman told Ban, of Maged. You don’t say. Inner City Press photo of the Feltman – Maged greeting is here.

[…]

July 2nd, 2012, 11:53 pm

 

Karabennemsi said:

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/03/syria-torture-centers-revealed

(New York) – Former detainees and defectors have identified the locations, agencies responsible, torture methods used, and, in many cases, the commanders in charge of 27 detention facilities run by Syrian intelligence agencies, Human Rights Watch said in a multimedia report released today. The systematic patterns of ill-treatment and torture that Human Rights Watch documented clearly point to a state policy of torture and ill-treatment and therefore constitute a crime against humanity.
(…)

July 3rd, 2012, 1:37 am

 

Juergen said:

Halabi

I think you are damn right, this baath membership comes with being born in Assad Syria, i had to search good to find an true baathist activist who knew nothing more of the world of what has been written in Tishren.

July 3rd, 2012, 2:08 am

 

Juergen said:

Syria: Torture Centers Revealed
For 27 Detention Sites: Locations, Commanders’ Names, Torture Methods

Former detainees and defectors have identified the locations, agencies responsible, torture methods used, and, in many cases, the commanders in charge of 27 detention facilities run by Syrian intelligence agencies, Human Rights Watch said in a multimedia report released today. The systematic patterns of ill-treatment and torture that Human Rights Watch documented clearly point to a state policy of torture and ill-treatment and therefore constitute a crime against humanity.

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/03/syria-torture-centers-revealed

video:

DER SPIEGEL on the same report:

Where Assad agents torture

http://translate.google.de/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.spiegel.de%2Fpolitik%2Fausland%2Ffolter-in-syrien-human-rights-watch-veroeffentlicht-neuen-bericht-a-842125.html

July 3rd, 2012, 2:12 am

 
 
 

Badr said:

Kofi Annan can’t make peace in Syria

By Gwynne Dyer, July 2, 2012

Kofi Annan does the best he can. At least he’s back in harness, doing what he does best: trying to make peace where there is no hope of peace. The rest of them do the best they can, too, give or take the odd Russian. Well, not exactly the best they can, but at least they do enough to make it look like they’re trying. And you can’t really blame them for faking it, because they all know it that it can’t work.

It bears repeating that this is not how the Arab Spring ended up. It’s just how Syria has ended up, after eight months of non-violent demonstrations in the face of extreme regime violence gave way to armed resistance. The other Arab revolutions have not been drowned in blood (with the exception of Bahrain), and some of them, like Tunisia’s and Egypt’s, have already wrought huge changes.

Two things make Syria different. One is its extreme religious and ethnic complexity, which makes it hard for protesters to maintain a united front against a regime that is adept at playing on inter-group fears and resentments. The other is that Assad heads the Syrian Baath Party, an utterly ruthless machine for seizing and holding power that copied much of its organisation and discipline from the Communists.

How long will the killing in Syria last? Until the rebels win, or until they are crushed. Are they going to win? Nobody knows. Will the neighbouring countries get dragged into the fighting? Probably not, although Lebanon is seriously at risk. Can Kofi Annan, the United Nations or the great powers do anything about this? Not a thing.

July 3rd, 2012, 4:56 am

 
 

Amjad said:

The article about the Homs shabihas will make uncomfortable reading for the pro-regimists on this website;

“In their informal uniform of camouflage trousers and white sneakers”

The ridiculous and absurd pro-regimist whining about white sneakers comes to mind.

“But he is not afraid of force, and he claims he takes orders from no one – not even the government he is fighting to protect.”

“My guys and I work for ourselves, without orders from anybody.”

A law unto themselves….how can baby Bashar be expected to reimpose his rule on the country when he can’t even bring to heel his own thugs?

“Shabbiha leaders now have a constant supply of income from raiding and looting rebellious areas and can easily buy more weapons and ammunition.”

Yeah, because even with a regime eager to fill government jobs with fellow Qurdahans, these thugs were unemployable.

“In Hom’s Zahra neighborhood, Murad holds court with his group of 30 men cradling rifles. A hulking former prison inmate, he says he now works closely with the security forces and has spies planted among the rebels.”

A former prison inmate…such are the ranks of the shabihas pro-regimists are eager to praise and adore and defend. Disgusting.

July 3rd, 2012, 6:38 am

 

Tara said:

The coward regretting shooting down the Turkish plane 100%.  How much does he regret killing children?  Less than 1%.  Would he regret more when someone kill his own children?  And if they get tortured like Hamza, would the regret double?  what if they were raped, would that reach 100%?

Assad said in an interview published by Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper on Tuesday that he regretted the incident “100 percent”.

http://news.yahoo.com/assad-regrets-syrian-downing-turkish-plane-062632910.html

July 3rd, 2012, 7:15 am

 

Observer said:

Fredo regrets the incident with turkey and wants to decrease tension. Where are those Fredo supporters who have been touting his ability to fight the Turks and mobilize the PKK now?

He is afraid and he does not have plan B. He chose one plan and it is failing. He cannot hope to turn the clock back.

Read Juan Cole today at Informed Comment.

There is for all practical purposes a protected zone for the FSA to work from along the entire Turkish border now.

This is how stupid he is. When will the ridiculous we love crowd are going to realize that he is a goner and abandon him?

Norman, you watch too many movies to think that 2 million Baath party members are going to fight for Fredo, if they did, we would not have had 16 months of turmoil.

Wake up and drink the coffee.

July 3rd, 2012, 7:54 am

 

Jim Reilly said:

Because the army is a conscript army, and because membership in the Baath Party is mostly a matter of careerism or conformity, not conviction, can we really say that “the army and the Party” are going to fight to the death for the regime? The loyalist core, maybe, but not the army or the (nominal) party as a whole.

July 3rd, 2012, 8:07 am

 
 

ann said:

Russia to abstain from Friends of Syria meeting – 2012-07-03

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-07/03/c_131693058.htm

MOSCOW, July 3 (Xinhua) — Russia would not attend a Friends of Syria meeting to be held in Paris this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday.

\”After the start of the Geneva process on June 30, there is no need for any other forums like that, where nearly 150 countries will participate,\” Lavrov said, adding the Friends of Syria group had from the start only sought to back the \”external\” Syrian opposition.

\”We cannot share the aims (of that group) because they are directed at raising confrontation, not at creating an environment for the all-Syrian dialogue without outside intervention,\” Lavrov told reporters.

The senior diplomat also accused the West of distorting the accord reached in Geneva. \”Some representatives of the Syrian opposition started to say the Geneva decisions have been unacceptable for them. Meanwhile, some Western participants started to publicly distort the agreements reached,\” Lavrov said.

\”(The agreements) need not be interpreted. They mean what the communique said. Our position in this regard is honest,\” he said.

Lavrov called on the international community to jointly urge all sides in the Syrian conflict to end violence and start negotiations.

[…]

July 3rd, 2012, 9:55 am

 

annie said:

Malek Jandali Freedom Qashoush Symphony مالك جندلي حرية سيمفونية القاشوش


This is more than a clip; his parents were beaten up and Qashoush had his vocal cords ripped out.

July 3rd, 2012, 10:26 am

 

Antoine said:

” the 2 to 3 million Baath party members will be mobilized,”

_____________________________________________________________

Half of whom are already fighting for the FSA.

July 3rd, 2012, 10:30 am

 

Antoine said:

If anyone has cared to look closely, it is apparent that little Syrian children are the biggest fans of the FSA. Everywhere it is the little children who are always cheering FSA the most…this has been corraborated by many Western reporters in Syria as well, that children really love the FSA….

Now if the FSA were really such a gang of out-of-control armed criminals, would parents let their children be around FSA fighters ?

What a cute little Syrian child , cheering the FSA, it melts your heart ( another video proving the FSA has an organic relationship with the civilan population) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3oCZPNcmI0

Btw, how many pro-regime parents in Zahra , Homs, will trust their kids to be around Shabbiha gangsters.

July 3rd, 2012, 10:36 am

 

Antoine said:

“If the government can’t end this farce, we will. I have boys who would eat rocks,” he growls. “Enough is enough. The army has been at it for a year and can’t put a stop to this.”

_________________________________________________________________

Fortunately, one 20 yr old FSA marksman is enough to “put a stop” to “men like short, fat, balding 40-year-old Louay.”

July 3rd, 2012, 10:43 am

 

omen said:

25. Juergen said: interview with father paolo on cnn

“thousands of armed un peacekeepers” to keep factions apart.

of course. so commonsensical. yet startling to hear because such a solution is never given validity.

why haven’t kofi annan, et al. proposed the same?

it must serve somebody’s interests for the world to allow the regime slaughter machine to continue killing thousands.

July 3rd, 2012, 10:51 am

 

omen said:

a voice of the establishment, zbigniew brzezinski, earlier advised not to get “emotional” about syria.

but he’s also previously said this:

in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.

July 3rd, 2012, 10:59 am

 

irritated said:

#30 Observer

Bashar al Assad message is not to decrease tension, it is smart move to assure the average Turk of Syria’s non-aggressive policy toward Turkey and to pinpoint that Erdogan’s attitude toward Syria is the aggressive one.. By doing so, he is giving more ammunition to the Turkish opposition who has been vocal against Erdogan’s policy in Syria.

While Erdogan is trying to manipulate the Turks by playing on ‘honor’ and ‘nationalism’ to justify his calls for retaliation on Syria’s shooting of an ‘innocent’ plane, the Turkish opposition is increasingly doubtful and critical of his argumentation.
The large majority of Turks do not want a war with Syria.
Erdogan, the democratic leader, is trapped by his own constituency.

July 3rd, 2012, 11:18 am

 

Aldendeshe said:

35. Antoine said:
” the 2 to 3 million Baath party members will be mobilized,”
_____________________________________________________________

Half of whom are already fighting for the FSA.

So it is just an internal Baathist mafia fight all along….Fighting for higher percentage of drug traficking, weapon sale commissions and payola for favors. Can Syrians have better future or that is it.

July 3rd, 2012, 11:51 am

 

Antoine said:

FSA finally managed to get / capture some Mortars :

July 3rd, 2012, 12:46 pm

 

Antoine said:

Assad 3rd Division’s Artillery Brigade units caught red-handed close-up on camera shelling Douma with 125 mm Artillery from a main street.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFFupmLA-Yo&feature=player_embedded#!

( Many people forget to mention that the 3rd Division is also a loyal unit other than the 4th )

July 3rd, 2012, 1:00 pm

 

Shami said:

Some shabiha !

July 3rd, 2012, 2:00 pm

 

ann said:

Russia May Sell S-300s to Iran If Syrian Government Falls – July 03, 2012

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-03/russia-may-sell-s-300s-to-iran-if-syrian-government-falls

Russia may scrap its ban on S-300 anti-aircraft missile sales to Iran if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is replaced, said Ruslan Pukhov, who heads a Russian defense think tank.

[…]

“The S-300 ban was a political decision and these systems are not actually subject to sanctions,” Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, said in an interview today. “If the Syrian regime is changed by force or if Russia doesn’t like the outcome” of a peaceful transition to a new government, “it most likely will respond by selling S-300s to Iran.”

[…]

“The fall of the Syrian government would significantly increase the chances of a strike on Iran,” said Pukhov, who also sits on a Defense Ministry advisory board. “Resuming S-300 shipments to Iran may be a very timely decision.”

[…]

July 3rd, 2012, 2:18 pm

 

ann said:

Turkish F-4 Incident, a Puzzle Only for Some – July 3, 2012

http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=522513&Itemid=1

The New York Times reported that ” a small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, citing American officials and Arab intelligence officers.”

According to the daily, the CIA is considering providing “satellite imagery and other detailed intelligence on Syrian troop locations and movements” and “whether to help the opposition to set up a rudimentary intelligence service.”

At the same time, NATO has established a command and control center in Iskenderun, Turkey, near the Syrian border, that is training and organizing the insurgent Free Syrian Army. And from there it surely has a sophisticated setup for tapping into Syrian government electronic transmissions and of course, radar networks.

If NATO eventually decides to directly intervene in Syria, the alliance will need those accurate electronic maps to carryout their military operations like they did recently in Libya, writes the Wall St. Journal.

But now Ankara said that one of its F-4 war planes strayed into Syrian airspace, but quickly left and was over international waters when it was attacked.

Some eyewitnesses told Turkish television that in fact there were two aircraft. According to the Financial Times, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, told the newspaper “the jet was on a test and training mission focused on Turkey’s radar defense, rather than those of Syria.”

[…]

July 3rd, 2012, 2:31 pm

 

AIG said:

Just amazing the video Antoine links in #43. Indiscriminate shelling with no feedback. These idiots don’t even know what they are hitting. How stupid can Assad be, shelling his own cities? And how long before the opposition gets similar weapons and the neighborhoods of his supporters will be shelled?

July 3rd, 2012, 2:44 pm

 

irritated said:

#43 Antoine

Assad 3rd Division’s Artillery Brigade units caught red-handed close-up on camera shelling Douma with 125 mm Artillery from a main street

Were you expecting the army will send flowers on the terrorists hiding behind the civilians in Douma?

July 3rd, 2012, 3:37 pm

 

sam said:

Shami….I’m not pro-regime, or pro-opposition. My family is from wadi nassara, I’m Christian. If the opposition can 100% guarantee it will not be an Islamist state, and give us our rights , that they are preaching. They will win our support. We just want to live in peace, not caring who provides it. I’m also being pragmatic, I know dictators are fitted for cementboots the day they take power. But this regime still commands the reality on the ground. There will not be any military intervention, the Assads are still going to be around for a while. 7-10 years minimum….

July 3rd, 2012, 4:55 pm

 

ANWAR said:

Sam #48
7- 10 years ? Do you mean months ? who the hell is force feeding you those lies. Syria will be hell on earth if Assad survives another year. It will be much worse than North Korea.
As a christian abroad, I am trying to relate to what Christian living in Syria might be feeling. But I just can’t understand how can they remain neutral towards a murderous regime. Why can’t we show some passion and follow the lead of father Paolo ?

July 3rd, 2012, 6:28 pm

 

Osama said:

Yeah Sam,

Just follow the lead of father paolo….trust us… Why would we lie to you?

😉

July 4th, 2012, 12:33 am

 
 

Juergen said:

Syria
How the news gets out

NEWS reports on Syria come with a routine disclaimer: “This cannot be independently verified”. Over the 16 months since the uprising against president Bashar Assad began, the press has been largely restricted from getting into or around Syria, now dubbed the most dangerous country in the world for journalists by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. Yet though the war has forced many journalists who used to work in Syria to leave, we can still get a good idea of what is going on.

Much information relied on by the media comes from citizen journalists and activists inside Syria. Working out which ones are credible sources can be tricky because many use pseudonyms. Some are known personally to your correspondent (unfortunately they go missing at a rapid rate—fleeing the country, arrested or, worse, killed). Making contact can be hard too. Phone lines can be monitored so many use Skype, which can be intermittent thanks to power cuts and communication blackouts in areas undergoing military operations. Many activists are armed with satellite phones. Wherever possible we try to corroborate information with longstanding Syrian contacts on the ground.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/newsbook/2012/07/syria

July 4th, 2012, 2:14 am

 

Juergen said:

opinion editorial from DER TAGESSPIEGEL Berlin

“Who holds on to Assad fails to recognize the reality
It is assumed that the erosion of central government control, and ultimately the collapse of the regime, the situation for the population will continue to deteriorate. At this time the opposition is unable to take effective control. That it succeeds in meeting the various opposition forces on 2/3 July in Cairo under the auspices of the Arab League to overcome the disunity of the opposition is extremely unlikely. The rebels of the so-called free Syrian army (FSA) for example, boycotted the meeting. The FSA has also still not central command structure or a civilian leadership. Many rebel groups are only nominally to the FSA, their loyalty, ideological orientation and methods are highly questionable. In recent months, retribution and brutal attacks on state institutions increased by the rebels. Above all, the regime has left its rearguard actions scorched earth and not even spared massive human rights violations.”

http://translate.google.at/translate?sl=de&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=de&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tagesspiegel.de%2Fmeinung%2Fsyrien-konflikt-verhandlungen-mit-assad-werden-scheitern%2F6829508.html

Is the US restraining Turkey from military action in Syria?

What’s going on between Turkey and the United States with respect to Syria? In the last fortnight:
• An unarmed Vietnam-era Turkish reconnaissance plane performing a military exercise was shot out of the sky by Syrian air defences. Turkey insisted that the plane, after having briefly and accidentally dipped into Syrian airspace, was downed in international skies, about 13 nautical miles off the Syrian coast, by an anti-aircraft missile. Damascus said the plane was in Syrian airspace and gunned down by machine-gun fire which can only reach a shore-hugging 1.5 miles. The rescue plane sent to look for the two missing F-4 pilots was also allegedly fired upon.
• Turkey invoked Article IV of the Nato charter and turned up at the resulting meeting a few days later asking the alliance to draw up no-fly zone contingency plans, a request which surprised other Nato members. Nato condemned Syria but took no further action and, for the umpteenth time in the last year and a half, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen disavowed any desire for military intervention in Syria, while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey praised Turkey’s “measured” response to the incident.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/michaelweiss/100168621/is-the-us-restraining-turkey-from-military-action-in-syria/

July 4th, 2012, 2:51 am

 

Juergen said:

Watching Syria’s War Videos and images of the continuing conflict in Syria
The New York Times is tracking the human toll of the conflict in this feature. The primary source is the online video that has allowed a widening war to be documented like no other, and posts try to put the video into context. Edited by J. DAVID GOODMAN

http://projects.nytimes.com/watching-syrias-war?smid=fb-nytimes

July 4th, 2012, 3:00 am

 

Juergen said:

Suha Arafat claims that Arafat was indeed poisend in 2004. She has sent clothes of Arafat to an lab in Lausanne and they have found extremly high charges of Polonium 210. With this radioactive element Alexander Litwinenko was killed in London in 2006. Doctors gave a statement saying that the doctors report on the illness of Arafat dont show clear signs for an poisening with polonium 210. Suha is determined to exhumate her husband for further investigations.
An israeli spokesperson to the ministry of foreign affairs commented on the issue: “If ridiculous statements could kill, then this report would be the prime suspect.”

July 4th, 2012, 5:10 am

 

Osama said:

here’s what Angry Arab had to say about the Cairo “unity” meeting:

Syrian Opposition Unity in Cairo

There was unity in Cairo. There was yet another conference to REALLY unite all Syrian opposition factions and personalities. But it went well. No, it really did, if you exclude the following: 1) The General Committee of the Syrian Revolution withdrew. 2) Kurdish representatives withdrew. 3) more than 70% of factions represented were from exile opposition groups. 4) Haytham Manna` referred to the attendees as “Televisionists”; 5) the Free Syrian Army referred to the conference itself as a conspiracy. Other than that, it went well, really.

PS Oh, since I posted this I learned something more: that during the warm unity meeting, some people got into fist fights.

http://angryarab.net/2012/07/03/syrian-opposition-unity-in-cairo/

July 4th, 2012, 5:21 am

 

Shami said:

Sam ,is not my fault if your villages in wadi al nassara are becoming empty since the 70’s.And thus you were not created by Assad and your fate is not tied to them.
We as syrian muslims have nothing to proof ,we elected a christian prime minister twice who had also to manage the islamic cult and this happened when the muslim brotherhood were allowed to compete in the democratic arena ,they never attacked christians and never the christians attacked them.
You are victim of Assadist islamophoba ,you should believe in your people because they are your nation,a minority brutal regime can not be a nation.

July 4th, 2012, 8:20 am

 

habib said:

The idea that Bashar’s fall would make any difference is mistaken. Other Alawites will take his place, he’s merely a front.

July 4th, 2012, 3:19 pm

 

omen said:

56. JUERGEN said: Suha Arafat claims that Arafat was indeed poisend in 2004.

i don’t understand this woman. she claims she didn’t think to order an autopsy after her husband died, despite rumors being rife even then that arafat had been poisoned. even during the onslaught of his illness while he was still alive.

July 4th, 2012, 5:35 pm

 

omen said:

59. HABIB said: The idea that Bashar’s fall would make any difference is mistaken. Other Alawites will take his place, he’s merely a front.

i look forward to your processing the 5 stages of grief, grappling with the toppling of this regime.

July 4th, 2012, 5:38 pm

 

habib said:

61. omen

As I said, toppling the regime is not the issue. The Alawites will never surrender to Sunni hegemony, worst case scenario is a separate state along the coast, not the ouster of the Alawites.

They’ve got the weapons and they’ve always been good fighters. You’ll need every damn Jihadist in the world being flown in by NATOto completely defeat them.

July 4th, 2012, 9:23 pm

 

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