Syria’s Next Leader: Will He Come from the SNC or the Militias?

The Assads did an exemplary job of ensuring that a new generation of leaders was unable to emerge in Syria. It will take years to develop leaders who have national reputations and deep institutional roots in Syrian society. In all likelihood, they will have to fight their way to the top in the nasty Darwinian process now unfolding in Syria. Just as Assad emerged out of the dark inner-sanctums of military cliques and conspiratorial confabs, Syria’s new leader will probably emerge from one of the  militias now taking the fight to the Syrian army on the streets of Homs, Idlib, or another provincial city of Syria. These militias are not united today, but they will become so over time – at least that is the hope. To defeat the Syrian army and Assad regime, they will have to produce a united leadership – one that can coordinate nation-wide military efforts through a centralized command structure. It is logical to assume that Syria’s new leaders will ultimately emerge from the new military leadership which will be responsible for destroying the Assad-built military. Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud, Reza Pahlavi, and Ataturk are three of the greatest leaders the Middle East has produced. Each commanded a local militia, which he eventually turned into a national army. Will such be the case in tomorrow’s Syria?

Can the Syrian National Council ride the revolutionary tiger to the finish line, establishing itself as Syria’s future government? Will its well-heeled civilian leaders be able to take control of the military effort now being waged in the cities and towns of Syria? Will they be able to deliver the quantities of money and arms that will help cement their relationship and leadership among the fighters on the ground? Only time will tell. I have published a new poll in the upper left corner of Syria Comment asking this question. Weigh in.

This question is all  important today. Western statesmen and Middle Eastern leaders alike are trying to decide whether to supply arms and money to the opposition. This forces them to choose winners. Should they give their aid to the SNC and let this fractious body decide how to distribute it? (It is worth noting that the SNC executive committee just voted Burhan Ghalioun to a further two month leadership term.) Should they turn to Colonel Asaad, the putative leader of the Free Syrian Army, who only a week ago called the SNC leaders “‘traitors?” Should they try to deliver aid directly to the militia leaders within Syria, who seemingly do not take orders from either the SNC or the FSA? Will Saudi Arabia and the US agree on which leaders to back? Or will their differences over secularism versus Islamism prove too hard to overcome?

These are some of the questions that are now bedeviling world leaders in their continuing effort to bring down the Assad regime.

News Round Up follows

Q&A: Nir Rosen on Syria’s armed opposition
Nir Rosen, al-Jazeera, 13 Feb 2012- This is an invaluable article. Read it all.

Journalist who recently spent time with fighters says there is no central leadership to the armed resistance.

This is an invaluable article. Read it all.

The fighters usually belong to small cadres, such as “Abu Muhamad’s Group”, where Abu Muhamad may have access to some money with which he supports his band of fighters. Some groups give their “companies” or “brigades” names – often after “martyrs” or those with “heroic” religious connotations. This creates the false impression in much of the foreign media that there is some national leader, a chain of command, a structure or order of battle and divisions.

The fighters arm themselves and fund themselves as individuals or small groups, not as the “Free Syrian Army”. Nor are they funded directly by any state actor or intelligence agency. Indirectly, however, some Syrian exile religious movements or opposition political figures might be channelling funding from various countries to groups inside Syria…..

….The issue of defectors is a distraction. Armed resistance began long before defections started. While fighters are often portrayed in the media as defectors from the Syrian military, the majority are civilians who have taken up arms. The opposition believes it will have more legitimacy if fighters are dubbed “defectors”, and described collectively as the Free Syrian Army. They are also not armed gangs, as the regime and its supporters describe them. They are much more akin to a popular armed struggle or an insurgency. In fact, many Syrian revolutionaries use the term muqawama, [“resistance”] to describe themselves…..

The Syrian insurgency is not well-armed or well-funded. Fighters purchase their weapons locally on the black market, from arms dealers and smugglers who are profiting from the violence in Syria. I have been with insurgents purchasing weapons and seen how they arrange to do so via smugglers from Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey….

Sunni members of the army are coming under increasing suspicion by the security agencies, and there have been cases of security men killing soldiers for refusing to obey orders to shoot. Hundreds of soldiers and officers have also been arrested. …

On the ground it was clear that by the end of Ramadan (late August), that there was a growing consensus on the part of opposition supporters that only an armed struggle could overthrow the regime…

The regime and its supporters describe the opposition, especially the armed opposition, as Salafis, Jihadists, Muslim Brotherhood supporters, al-Qaeda and terrorists. This is not true, but it’s worth noting that all the fighters I met – in the provinces of Homs, Idlib, Hama, Deraa and the Damascus suburbs – were Sunni Muslims, and most were pious.

They fight for a multitude of reasons: for their friends, for their neighbourhoods, for their villages, for their province, for revenge, for self-defence, for dignity, for their brethren in other parts of the country who are also fighting. They do not read religious literature or listen to sermons. Their views on Islam are consistent with the general attitudes of Syrian Sunni society, which is conservative and religious.

While the resistance is becoming increasingly well-armed, some groups complain they don’t have enough weapons

Because there are many small groups in the armed opposition it is difficult to describe their ideology in general terms. The Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood ideologies are not important in Syria and do not play a significant role in the revolution. But most Syrian Sunnis taking part in the uprising are themselves devout. Many fighters were not religious before the uprising, but now pray and are inspired by Islam, which gives them a creed and a discourse. Many believe they will be martyred and go to paradise if they die. They are not fighting for Islam but they are inspired by it. Some drink alcohol, which is forbidden in Islam, and do not pray. And their brothers in arms do not force them to pray….

Much of northern Syria in ‘open revolt’ CNN

….”What is astounding here is that the countryside in northern Syria, much of it is in open revolt. This is a rebellion of farmers, of carpenters and of high school teachers,” said CNN correspondent Ivan Watson, reporting from the region.

“It does appear that villages and towns in northern Syria have been, basically, out of government control for several months now — except when government forces have tried to conduct deadly incursions into these towns that are temporary at best.”

In southwestern Syria, al-Assad’s forces reportedly stormed the village of Sahm al-Golan searching for military defectors who have joined the rebel army or local militias, according to a member of the opposition in the town who asked to be identified only as Abu Issam out of fear of government reprisal. Syrian forces shelled the town and used tanks when it began its assault Wednesday, forcing many residents to flee toward the Jordanian border, Abu Issam said early Thursday.

The Syrian army reportedly took control of Zabadani, in the Damascus countryside, where soldiers and tanks made a show of force along the streets, according to Mohamed Ali, a member of the opposition Syrian Revolution Coordination Committee…..

Juan Cole writes:

Meanwhile, Turkey and some Gulf Arab states are considering recognizing the Syrian National Council as the legitimate government of Syria. They had been cautious about taking this step in part because the SNC is a deeply divided, ad hoc body. But many feel that, given the Russian and Chinese vetos of a strong UN Security Council resolution, this step is the only unilateral one available to individual nations.

The speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Usamah Nujayfi of Mosul, warned a visiting delegation from the Organization of the Islamic Conference that foreign military intervention in Syria could easily split up the country. When a major Iraqi politician warns you about a civil war, I’d say it you should do yourself a favor and pay attention to him.

SNC Re-Elects Burhan Ghalioun as President
Press Release by the SNC

The Executive Committee of the Syrian National Council (SNC) met in Doha and discussed the latest developments, achievements, obstacles, and challenges facing the SNC. In accordance with its bylaws, the SNC Executive Committee re-elected Burhan Ghalioun as president until April 15, 2012.

The voting process of the SNC Executive Committee demonstrate a commitment to maintaining democratic principles and transparency, and to fulfilling its responsibilities to the very people who have put their trust in the SNC to lead the phase up to the brutal Assad regime’s ouster. This democratic process sends a clear message to the Syrian people that the SNC is honoring his most fundamental commitment.

… The SNC’s president will have a dedicated professional team to facilitate communications between the SNC’s Committees, Bureaus, activists on the ground, relief workers, and support for the Free Syrian Army.

Assassinat d’un “cheikh du pouvoir” à Damas
16 Février 2012 Par Thomas Pierret

Si rares sont les oulémas de Damas qui ont osé critiquer ouvertement la répression menée par le régime baasiste depuis mars 2011 (1), rares sont également ceux qui ont accepté de se prêter au jeu de la propagande officielle en dénonçant le soulèvement comme le fruit d’un complot étranger. Ces “oulémas du pouvoir” sont désormais encore moins nombreux après l’assassinat hier à Damas du cheikh Ahmad Sadiq, prêcheur de la mosquée Anas bin Malik. Sadiq est la seconde personnalité religieuse proche du régime à être assassinée depuis le début de la révolution, le Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun ayant déjà perdu son fils Sariya dans des circonstances similaires en octobre dernier. ….

“Syria Blocks Text Messages of Protesters With Dublin-Made Technology”

The Syrian Conundrum
Expert Comment, Claire Spencer, Head, Middle East and North Africa Programme

As violence in Syria escalates following the failure of UN diplomacy, Dr Claire Spencer explores the dynamics of current international efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis.”The failure of UN diplomacy and the upsurge in violence in the Syrian city of Homs show just how different the dynamics of current international efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis are from the Libyan context of early 2011,” Dr Spencer writes.

The mass atrocities being committed daily in Syria will not cease without outside intervention. In comparison to the uprisings that have taken place elsewhere throughout the region, the revolution in Syria has been extraordinarily bloody. Meanwhile, a country that occupies a strategic crossroads in the Middle East could release an explosion that reverberates well beyond its borders. Assad’s brutal assault on civilians in Homs and elsewhere has galvanized those dedicated to ousting the regime, inflaming the conflict toward a critical juncture. The revolutions that brought a collective voice to the people of Tunisia and Libya must not be denied to the Syrian people. The international community must intervene in Syria not only to stop the bloodshed, but also because Assad’s continued rule could sway regional dynamics in a disastrous direction….

An old truism used to dominate U.S. policy in the Middle East: either serve U.S. interests by supporting corrupt leaders amenable to U.S. whims, or stay true to the ideals of supporting freedom and democracy for all peoples. The Arab Spring has made this binary irrelevant, and nowhere is this newfound compatibility of ideals and interests more evident than in Syria….

now is the time for the U.S. to help form a coalition of “friends of Syria,” whose support could come from members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, some Arab countries, Turkey, the European Union, the United Nation, and the United States. Such a coalition could lead the way to achieving the following goals: First, this international coalition must call on Assad to step down, while organizing the provision of humanitarian aid to besieged areas. As was done in Kosovo, safe zones liberated by the Free Syrian Army should be designated with proper enforcement. An additional option is to refer Assad to the International Criminal Court. Lastly, this coalition should recognize the Syrian National Council (SNC) as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. With a leadership that includes members of every ethnic and religious group in Syria, the SNC has emphasized transitional justice in a post-Assad Syria, ensuring that Alawites need not fear retribution….

Syrian Refugees Get Help Across the Border
Der Spiegel

Thousands of Syrians are fleeing across the border into Turkey from the intensifying violence in their own country. There, they fill refugee camps and hospitals while worrying about those left behind — and wondering if leaders in Ankara will take their support to the next level.

China Sending Envoy to Syria as It Steps up Diplomatic Effort
By: Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina | Reuters

China does not approve of armed intervention or regime change in Syria, a senior official said on Thursday before embarking on a trip to Syria as China’s first envoy there since it blocked a U.N. resolution calling for Syria’s president to step down….

Zhai, who will travel to Syria on Friday and Saturday, said China believed that “sanctions or the threat of sanctions are not conducive to the appropriate resolution of this issue”.

The Foreign Ministry did not give details of Zhai’s agenda or who he would meet. Last week, Zhai met a Syrian opposition delegation in Beijing.

The trip, a step up in China’s efforts to mediate the crisis, comes days after it warned that Western powers should tread carefully at the United Nations in dealing with Syria, or risk worsening violence…

The People’s Daily said the United States wanted to establish a friendly government in Syria to counter the influence of its “old enemy” in the region, Iran.

“Once Syria sets up a pro-Western regime, Iran will loose important backing,” it said.

Syrians Feel Caught in an External Power Struggle, Less Willing to Confront Their Own
By: Anonymous Contributor | The Christian Science Monitor

….Almost a year into the national rebellion, one that has turned increasingly bloody in most major Syrian communities, activism in Aleppo remains in a nascent stage. Government opponents have yet to win over much of the population, which includes an affluent business community that greatly values the stability that, in the last few years, had been a hallmark of Assad’s rule.

A pair of deadly car bombings here last week, which the government blamed on terrorists, unnerved many and reinforced Assad’s unvarying message: The opposition will plunge Syria into chaos, bloodshed and Iraq-style sectarian slaughter. ….

Syrian opposition struggles to gain traction in Aleppo

Foes of President Bashar Assad have yet to win over much of the population, which includes an affluent business community that puts a high value on stability…Almost a year into the national rebellion, one that has turned increasingly bloody in most major Syrian communities, activism in Aleppo remains in a nascent stage. Government opponents have yet to win over much of the population, which includes an affluent business community that greatly values the stability that, in the last few years, had been a hallmark of Assad’s rule.

A pair of deadly car bombings here last week, which the government blamed on terrorists, unnerved many and reinforced Assad’s unvarying message: The opposition will plunge Syria into chaos, bloodshed and Iraq-style sectarian slaughter.

Tribes and the monarchy in Jordan  – Hassan A. Barari – Bitterlemons
Tribal politics is on the rise and the regime has lost the initiative.

… Due to the lack of credible political parties that can mobilize the public, protest movements are organized in Jordan along tribal lines, thereby further deepening tribalism as a feature of political behavior in the country. Now that tribes are alienated from the state, they feel more secure in displaying their tribal identity and affiliation. Paradoxically, identification with tribes is a weapon that has recently been deployed by all, and pays off. Even people accused of corruption have been resorting to their tribes for protection from the law. By and large, tribes protect individuals and the state backs down.

If anything, this outcome is the direct consequence of the state’s failure to reinforce national identity. The rise of tribalism in Jordan recently has been triggered by the weakness of the state. Unfortunately, successive governments have been incapable of imposing the rule of law because many people no longer trust state institutions. In all surveys that have been conducted by the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan, the trust gap between the state and society is widening alarmingly. This is a dangerous trend, particularly against the backdrop of the “Arab spring” that has brought down four regimes so far.

Comments (100)

Shabbi7 said:

I see Joshua Landis decided to keep his ridiculous claim that the 50% laborer + peasant quota was “added” in a “deal” with the Ba`th part to remove article 8. It’s really not hard to confirm that the quota has been in existence for decades and that this claim is completely baseless and misleading.

Syria Comment is going down the drain in such a tragic manner…

February 16th, 2012, 12:20 pm


Joshua said:

Please correct me. I am happy to be proven wrong. How did this emerge as the new baseline for who gets to represent Syria? Any history you can add will be appreciated. Help rest Syria Comments credibility, please.

February 16th, 2012, 12:37 pm


ann said:

China opposes armed intervention in Syria – 2012-02-16

BEIJING, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — China does not approve of armed intervention or forcing a so-called “regime change” in Syria, Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said here on Thursday.

“We condemn all acts of violence against innocent civilians and urge the government and all political factions of Syria to immediately and fully end all violence, and quickly restore stability and the normal social order,” he said in an interview here.

“We call on the government of Syria to seriously heed the people’s legitimate desire for reform and development, and call on the various political factions to express their political aspirations non-violently under the rule of law,” Zhai said.

“We hope the Syrian issue will be resolved within the framework of the AL through political and peaceful means,” Zhai said.

“We don’t believe that sanctions or the threat of sanctions is helpful to achieving an appropriate solution,” Zhai said, adding that actions of the international community and the United Nations on the issue of Syria should be helpful to easing tensions, facilitating political dialogue and resolving differences instead of complicating the issue.


February 16th, 2012, 12:51 pm


ann said:

Russia calls on all Syrians to respect constitutional referendum – 2012-02-16

MOSCOW, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — Russia hoped all Syrian political groups would create favorable conditions for an upcoming constitutional referendum in the country, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

“Moscow regards this move as evidence, despite the complicated security situation, that the Syrian leadership is fulfilling its promises to carry out profound political and socio-economic reforms in line with the transitional schedule announced on Jan. 10,” the ministry said in a statement.


February 16th, 2012, 12:55 pm


Mina said:

There was a long speech by Mahmud Abbas on Sunday 12th at the Arab league meeting in Cairo. I watched it on RT but cannot find the text or video on the AL website or anywhere through Google news.
Same for the Moscow press conference given by the Russian and Emirati foreign ministers and which shows that the Emiratis have a position that differs from Qatar’s and the Saudis. Any thread?

February 16th, 2012, 1:02 pm


ann said:

Syrian government, opposition must listen to people’s demands: ambassador Imad Moustapha – 2012-02-16

“This is the only way for Syria to end this crisis. The Syrian government and Syrian opposition must listen to the people’s demands,” he said, noting “The situation in Syria has not worsened; the majority of the Syrian people strongly support the Syrian government. ”

“The government of Syria is deeply committed to a political solution. Neither the United States, nor Saudi Arabia and Qatar can dictate to the Syrian people what they want. Even the Syrian government is not trying to tell the Syrian people to do what it wants. The Syrian people will decide what they want for Syria through a referendum on the constitution, and the ballot box in the forthcoming elections”

“We have completed drafting a new constitution; it will be one of the most democratic constitutions in the world,” he said, stressing “this can only take place through free elections, only when the Syrian people say their word, then we can move forward, not by listening to opposition groups who carry western passports.”

“The direction of the Syrian government is to conduct free elections, allow total freedom of press, total freedom of political parties, and give women their total rights,” he said, challenging “Saudi Arabia and Qatar to go in this direction.”

“We challenge the United States of America to pressure her allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to do the same. We challenge the United States of America as well to pressure Israel to give the Palestinians their human rights. This is the real problem Syria is facing,” he said.

Syria and China are friendly countries, the ambassor said, as the Chinese people are deeply concerned about the situation in Syria. “I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to thank the Chinese people for their concern; however, there is no reason to be worried. Concerning the situation in Syria, it is completely different from the way it is presented in the Western media. ”

“The two major cities in Syria, Damascus and Aleppo, which house almost half of the Syria population, lead a very normal life. People go to their work, universities, theaters, music concerts, restaurants and cafes; the same applies to other major Syria cities,” he noted, “However, in one Syrian city, namely Homs, armed terrorist groups are committing atrocious acts of violence. They follow an extreme Islamist ideology, and they are determined to fight against the secular government of Syria.”

On western media’s failure to paint a correct picutre of Syria, he said, “If you listen to the Western media, you will hear that the government forces are killing pro democracy activists.” But he added, “after the arrival of the Arab League observers, they visited every Syrian city, and wrote their reports. The observers are all experts, and do not carry a Syrian nationality. They confirmed that the opposition groups, not the government, perpetrate most of the violence. This is written in their final report and it is published. This is the true situation in Syria as described by a third party witness. Western media never reported the findings of the Arab League observers.”

Talking of the role of the Arab League, he said it “did not play a constructive role in this situation. The influential and big Arab countries, like Egypt and Iraq are not playing any role at all. On the other hand, a very small Arab country, Qatar, with a population of 200.000 people, is attempting to become the leader of the Arab world.”


February 16th, 2012, 1:03 pm


Jasmine said:

Syria’s Next Leader: Will He Come from the SNC or the Militias?
Neither of these two.
Syria has to produce (Mandela and Toutou)like, once the revolution is serious and mature enough politically to lead the country.
At the time being,all what I can see is an act of grief,revenge,self assurance of different sects and religion.
The art of negotiation is missing,the dialogue is a concept unheard of so far.
The National identity has been challenged for the last few decades and restoring it needs time and trust.
Reconciliation and Forgiveness is the essence of any future steps towards creating a good future leader.

February 16th, 2012, 1:06 pm


ann said:

Allies help Syria withstand economic hardship – 2012-02-16

The firmness of the Syrian economy, which is groaning under the weight of the sanctions, has surprised and confused most of Syria’ s foes and inspired admiration among others.

Recently leaked document said Iran has allocated 1 billion U.S. dollars to import Syrian commodities to help Syria to overcome oil and banking penalties. Iran also offered to export all equipment and raw materials the Syrian market might need.

The U.S. Finance Department said recently that it has reliable information that Iran is buying Syrian oil and then export it through its ports to world market, as part of its endeavors to break the oil embargo imposed on Syria’s oil sales.

It said Iran was able to move 91 tons of oil, equivalent to 650, 000 barrels, of the Syrian port of Banias to the Iranian port of Dilem from Nov. 28 until the end of December 2011.

Following the collapse of the former Iraqi regime, Syria’s ties with its eastern neighbor have remarkably improved. Iraq ranked number one among Arab countries that import Syrian goods.

Lebanon, a close ally of Syria, has also rejected the Arab League’s (AL) calls to impose sanctions on Syria and said overtly it won’t abide by them as the two countries’ relations are intricately integrated.

Jordanian officials have also voiced rejection to abide by the AL’s sanctions, contending that the sanctions would backfire on the Jordanian people rather than the Syrians as Syria is a conduit for Jordanian goods destined for Gulf and European countries.


February 16th, 2012, 1:13 pm


Syrian Nationalist Party said:

Syrian Nationalist Party
Metaz K M Aldendeshe
Chief Strategist

…..To defeat the [Baath] Syrian army and Assad [Mafia[ regime, they will have to produce a united leadership – one that can coordinate nation-wide military efforts through a centralized command structure……

SNP already have that, why duplicate structure so that a counter measure will assuredly will be taken.

…..It is logical to assume that Syria’s new leaders will ultimately emerge from the new military leadership which will be responsible for destroying the Assad-built military……

Not possible.

……Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud, Reza Pahlavi, and Ataturk are three of the greatest leaders the Middle East has produced. Each commanded a local militia, which he eventually turned into a national army…..

For sure they are the one and only, not just acted as leaders, they gone on building a respectable State.

…..Will such be the case in tomorrow’s Syria?….

NO, it will take someone who is Western oriented and have study and work experience in America or a lesser valuable experience in Western Europe.

……Can the Syrian National Council ride the revolutionary tiger to the finish line, establishing itself as Syria’s future government?…..

NO, not under the current make up and policies. They may make it hitching a ride on top of some foreign army tank. But once election kicks in, they will be booted out as traitors.

……..Should they turn to Colonel Asaad, the putative leader of the Free Syrian Army, who only a week ago called the SNC leaders “‘traitors?” Should they try to deliver aid directly to the militia leaders within Syria, who seemingly do not take orders from either the SNC or the FSA?….

No, they should turn to the Syrian Nationalist Party. It is the only way to secure permanent rule in Syria after the Baathists Mafiossi are convicted and vanished from history.

…….Will Saudi Arabia and the US agree on which leaders to back? Or will their differences over secularism versus Islamism prove too hard to overcome?…..

NO. They will never Agree, nut the U.S. is much more powerful than Saudi Arabia so it may impose its will. Either one is not capable of making the right choices. So it is up to the Syrians to do so.

February 16th, 2012, 1:17 pm


Mina said:

The Saudis have drafted the resolution which is submitted today to the UN General assembly and calls Syria to move forward democracy… but they still do not recognize women as human beings and have no olympic team.

February 16th, 2012, 1:22 pm


ann said:

5. Mina said:

Ann, Any thread?

Sorry Mina, I can’t find any. Maybe they were deleted by the forces of censorship 😉

February 16th, 2012, 1:24 pm


Revlon said:

درعا-عملية نوعية لكتيبة العمري: اسر ضابط
An officer from Assad forces from Rastan fell in the hands of FSA
He and a fellow captured soldier confess to killing two children in Busr Al-Harir the day before they were captured.

FSA unit demand the release of Busr Al-Harir revolution prisoners and two bodies of their comrades in return for the release of the captives.
Uploaded by MrAA991 on Feb 14, 2012

February 16th, 2012, 1:25 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

Dear Revlon
You know that I strongly believe that Islam introduced the best democratic system,and that is the Shourah system, but you say there is no conditions added by Islam, this I just want to remind you my good friend with the verse in Al Umran Sourah, verse 104, it says very clear, ( Wal takun Minkum Ummatun yad3oona ila al khire ,wa Ya2muroona bil ma3roof,wa yanhoona 3ane almunkar,wa ula2eka humo al muflioon),this to me declare that a council of wise and intelligent people has to be there added to the democratic council.
You see Democracy in the west has deficient side, in Islam it protected democracy by this added condition.
Thanks for your good patience.

February 16th, 2012, 1:29 pm


Mina said:

It is not censorship that is at stake here, it is the low-tech mediocrity of the AL (as for the “Palestinian authority”, cannot even find a website…). I guess a search in Russian would get the Moscow conference. I didn’t try the RT channel in Arabic on Youtube yet.
Thanks for searching!

February 16th, 2012, 1:42 pm


Mina said:

Between two preaches on democracy, would you have time to comment on Germany pressuring Greece not to hold elections in April because it wants Greece’s current government to keep applying financial austerity measures according to the EU diktats?

February 16th, 2012, 1:49 pm


Aldendeshe said:

@13 MAJD

This Islamic system you are talking about is the main reason Islamic Iran is in such a mess. A great leader, Ahmadinejad, a well able adminstrator is cut down by the “council of wise and intelligent people” whose main interest is safeguarding the hordes they robbed from the shah and stached in European banks, that, and Muttaa Marriages. The two chambers assembly worked well in U.S. it should work well in Syria.

February 16th, 2012, 1:49 pm


ghufran said:

the militias have few genuine people who want to defend their families and towns against what they see as an aggressive and brutal regime,but those militias also have many common thugs and hired guns,Syrians will never accept a militia dude as their next president.The SNC,on the other hand, has many political rookies and a number of sudden politicians,I yet have to see a moderate state man-like figure that I can vote for. My best guess is that Syria will be headed by a strong man with a military background unless the violence magically is controlled, then the possibility of a civil society leader accepted by the industry and business establishment will be higher. My own desire is to see a strong leader who can rule Syria from the middle and work with the army and not against the army.

February 16th, 2012, 2:07 pm


Equus said:

The goal of “activist training” by U.S. NGOs is to destabilize America’s political enemies in the name of freedom.
U.S. Government provides “activist training” to foreign nationals to destabilize their country of origin. I wonder who are these people in Syria??

February 16th, 2012, 2:25 pm


Revlon said:

Todys’s massacre of Shl Arrouj of Idlib Governorate.

ادلب سهل الروج توثيق اسماء شهداء المجزرة 16-2-2012
The bodies and names of 16 able men and seniors of Al Mearri family, probably brothers, cousins, and fathers who were executed by Assad forces today.
The life of their surviving wives and scores of their children have been shattered.

ادلب سهل الروج توثيق اسماء شهداء المجزرة 16-2-2012ج3
Bodies of three adult, able members of Al hallaj with their mourning families More
ادلب سهل الروج توثيق اسماء شهداء المجزرة 16 2 2012

Talking about new constitution is not laughable; It is absurdly surreal!

February 16th, 2012, 2:29 pm


Halabi said:

Dear Majed Khaldoun,

Your views are very popular in Syria and when Assad falls they will have to be discussed. Many people, including those who have died for the revolution and are supporting it today, don’t want a more Islamic country – the demand is for a democratic government that upholds the rule of law and protects the rights of all its citizens.

I’m sure most people will agree to some concessions – menhebaks have backed and continue to support a racist religious test for president. But a more nuanced argument should take place in a free parliament.

Maybe religious institutions will be independent from government oversight, but won’t be free to preach violence from the pulpit like Hassoun and the Al Qaeda clerics.

Newspapers and television shows should remain respectful of religious symbols like Mohammad, Jesus and Moses. That’s a huge concession for me, because this restriction has a chilling effect on free speech.

But Shoura councils and philosopher kings? No thank you. Who will appoint them and hold them accountable? The most respected clerics in Syria have talked about Muslims suffering in Bosnia, Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya, over the years, but none mentioned the oppression outside their comfortable homes. These “scholars” don’t have credibility. The young imams who stood with the people are commendable, but that doesn’t give them the right to take over Syria.

Anyways, once we are done with Bashar and his criminal regime, there will be many more battles over Syria. The hope is that it can be done in a civil manner through elections. I don’t think the Muslim Brotherhood and the more liberal Muslims want radical change, but I am worried that fringe groups will become stronger as the killing goes.

In the long run the radicals will lose, because for all the romance behind الامر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر we know that it doesn’t create jobs and it limits our freedom.

On another note, try using this website to type in Arabic with an English keyboard.

February 16th, 2012, 2:30 pm


Tara said:

I am “patiently” waiting for the GA’s vote of humiliation and stripping of legitimacy of Bashar al Assad and his thugs in the eyes of the international world. Aside from Russia, China, Iran, and the Syrian slaves in Lebanon, I expect that some misguided south American countries with inferiority complex be siding with the butcher.

February 16th, 2012, 2:47 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

If the shabbiha is complaining, it means that SC is on the right track.

February 16th, 2012, 2:51 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:


When is the GA going to vote on Syria?

February 16th, 2012, 2:53 pm


Pirouz said:

Rosen’s observations confirm what I’ve been pointing out for some time now.

A few months ago I pointed out to an Austrian-based military observer that these FSyA “battalion” designations were a farce, to which he disagreed. It’s no apparent he is wrong.

Unfortunately, this armed struggle is going to go on for some time, as the external Syrian political players (of which there are many) refuse any form of accommodation with the regime. I suspect this is so in part because they would lose their place in the audience before Western powers, who are dead set on regime change for their own geopolitical agenda.

February 16th, 2012, 2:55 pm


Tara said:


I believe in few hours.

February 16th, 2012, 2:55 pm


Pirouz said:

Rosen’s observations confirm what I’ve been pointing out for some time now. (Rosen has an interesting family background with a Jewish-Iranian father.)

A few months ago I pointed out to an Austrian-based military observer that these FSyA “battalion” designations were a farce, to which he disagreed. It’s now apparent he is wrong.

Unfortunately, this armed struggle is going to go on for some time, as the external Syrian political players (of which there are many) refuse any form of accommodation with the regime. I suspect this is so in part because they would lose their place in the audience before Western powers, who are dead set on regime change for their own geopolitical agenda.

February 16th, 2012, 2:56 pm


Syrialover said:

Your opening post is a powerful and beautifully expressed statement. Thank you once again Dr Landis.

And the first two sentences should be a mantra for all those who are struggling to comprehend a future for Syria.

However, I think it is open to debate whether in the world of the 21st century men who commanded militias and then armies can go on to be part of a new future. Your examples remind us that it is part of an old paradigm that is now threadbare and torn in the Arab world.

It is also being well documented and demonstrated in Eritrea for example that heroic revolutionary fighters are essential for change, but they are the wrong people to run a country. Disastrously, terribly wrong.

And, er, let’s not get started on that biggest example of all, Iran.

February 16th, 2012, 3:20 pm



In a respectous move towards syrian people asporations and showing their profound democratic roots President Bashar Al-Assad confirms Maher milicias will stop bombing Homs, Hama and Dara for 12 hours on the New Constitution Voting Day so their populations can attend the voting process democratically. They will be able to vote if they wanna die under the new constitution or under the old one.

February 16th, 2012, 3:30 pm


ann said:

Russian embassy in Syria denies covert cooperation between Moscow, Damascus – 2012-02-17

DAMASCUS, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — The Russian embassy in Damascus dismissed Thursday media reports circulated recently about some covert Syrian-Russian military cooperation, regarding such reports as “propaganda and incompatible with the truth.”

The reports, claiming that Russia is sending special groups and weapons aboard ships to Syria as well as renewing the work of a radar atop of the Qassioun Mountain in Damascus and installing a similar one along the Syrian-Turkish borders, are “baseless,” the embassy said in a statement carried by Syrian state-run SANA news agency.

“Some misleading media outlets had even gone to the extent of claiming that the Russian delegation, which had visited Syria recently, brought photos about the sites of armed opposition in some Syrian areas,” it said, adding that these are no more than ” rumors that have nothing to do with reality.”

It said Russia is seeking ways to end the internal crisis “by the endeavors of the Syrians themselves and without any foreign intervention, adding that Russia believes that its basic mission is to prevent civil war in Syria, work to take the country to a new political phase and preserve the stability and peace of the Syrian people and the entire Middle East.


February 16th, 2012, 3:57 pm


Syrialover said:

Continuing from previous threads, Rifaat Assad must finally be made publicly, internationally accountable for the Hama massacre.

He and his Seif Gaddafi-like son Ribal should be hounded out of civilized society, their massive stolen assets in the west seized and used to aid the Syrian people, and they should face crippling legal complications and disgrace for the rest of their lives. At the very minimum.

February 16th, 2012, 4:01 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Great news for Syria. The ambassador of North Korea just announced that he will oppose the resolution.

Yes 137 No 12 Abstain 17

February 16th, 2012, 4:18 pm


Syrialover said:

More about the Hama massacre.

Hama happened in a different time and different world from today. They managed to keep it almost invisible to the outside world and it was a topic that was not open to discussion in Syria unless you wanted to end up in Tadmor prison. Syria’s controlled information channels and regime propaganda machine also scrubbed and faded it from public consciousness. Syrians aged 30 and younger (ie most of the population) were not even born when it happened.*

Also, people in Damascus and Aleppo were genuinely terrified by the bombings, assassinations of non-political people and other tactics of the MB at the time. Even those who desperately hate the Baathists will tell you that. Which would be why the intellectually and morally handicapped tacticians of the current regime eagerly use the foreign terrorist and Al Qaeda excuse for their current killing sprees, encirclements and bombardments of towns.

But NOW things are different. Hama happened and can be related to the present. And the world is now learning about it in daily news stories.

*This also applies to the massacre of 1,200 prisoners in Tadmor two years earlier in retaliation for an assassination attempt on Hafez Assad.

February 16th, 2012, 4:20 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

137 yes
12 No
17 abstain
congratulation to the opposition

February 16th, 2012, 4:26 pm


ann said:

U.S. ties al-Qaeda to Syrian bombings – Feb. 16, 2012|newswell|text|News|p

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said bombings against security and intelligence targets in Damascus and Aleppo bear “all the earmarks of an al-Qaida-like attack”, leading the U.S. intelligence community to believe the Iraqi militant branch is extending its reach into Syria. Al-Qaida of Iraq is one of al-Qaida’s largest regional affiliates.

He added that Syrian opposition groups may have been infiltrated by al-Qaida, likely without their knowledge. Clapper said the lack of a unified opposition group could leave a power vacuum that extremists could fill if the Syrian government falls, a potential development he called “troubling,” because Syria has an extensive network of chemical weapons sites.

Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess added that it appears “the al-Qaida like attacks” were likely caused by elements already inside the country, and that the U.S. intelligence community had not yet detected “a clarion call to outsiders” to join the cause.

He made no mention of the video released by core al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri over the weekend, calling on Muslims to support Syrian rebels.


February 16th, 2012, 4:33 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

Dear Halabi
I appreciate your comment, you asked very important question, who will appoint this council?
I suggest that neither the president representing the Executive branch,nor the legislative members should have any right in appointing such council, I think a panel of elected judges will be the best side to elect such council provided the people approve or disapprove all members.
Further, this is not religious council, it should include all sects and religion

February 16th, 2012, 4:40 pm


Mawal95 said:

Video of a big array of Syrian army soliders dressed in combat gear. More than a thousand soldiers are visible. They are under command and coordination from officers on a raised platform. The date is said to be 11 Feb 2012. They chant “Unity with Bashar”. And “Syria Syria Syria”. And “God, Syria, Bashar, and it’s as simple as that”.

It is noteworthy that the soldiers cheer for not only law and order but for Bashar. In any country in similar circumstances the soldiers would generally not take a political position like that under officer command, because political positions can be potentially divisive within the ranks. Every soldier wants to be a force for law and order, but not every soldier wants to be a force for the Assad regime as such. The fact that these soldiers are cheering for Bashar indicates to me that cheering for Bashar is not divisive within the ranks. Thus, the fact that these soldiers are cheering for Bashar indicates that support for the Assad regime as such is broad and deep.

I hope the video’s reported date is correct at 11 Feb 2012.

February 16th, 2012, 4:56 pm


Tara said:


Humiliating results at the GA! Isn’t it.

You convinced now that the blue-eyed doctor has no legitimacy and not accepted, not only in the eyes of the Syrian people but in the eyes of the world?

February 16th, 2012, 5:09 pm


Aldendeshe said:

Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud, Reza Pahlavi, and Ataturk are three of the greatest leaders the Middle East has produced…..

I would add Ben Gorion to the list. In fact he should be first on top of it, considering what he started with, he can only be matched by Chiang Kai-Shek.

February 16th, 2012, 6:00 pm


Mawal95 said:

Joshua says above “Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud, Reza Pahlavi, and Ataturk are three of the greatest leaders the Middle East has produced.” On 9 Aug 2011 Joshua said: “The three greatest national leaders of the Middle East — Ataturk, Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, and David Ben-Gurion — emerged as successful leaders because they won their struggle on the battlefield and did so alone, without the help of an imperial power.” — . I blythely hope in another 14 years time the likes of Joshua if he’s still alive will be saying: “The greatest national leader of the Middle East — Bashar Assad — emerged as successful leader because he [__to__come__] and did so without the help of an imperial power.”

February 16th, 2012, 6:27 pm


Son of Damascus said:


“The worst national leader of the Middle East – Bashar Assad – emerged as a failure of a leader because he [not only inherited his rule, and payed no attention to the wants and needs of “his people” but he killed, tortured, and imprisoned anyone that dared to ask for dignity while blaming foreign conspiracies] and did so with the help of Russian Imperialism”


February 16th, 2012, 6:47 pm


Mawal95 said:

The text of the UN General Assembly resolution that was passed against Syria today is at

Anti-regimers please notice what the text says: “The General Assembly… reaffirming further that all States Members of the United Nations should refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State…. The General Assembly reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic, and stresses the need to resolve the current political crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic peacefully.”

137 nations voted in favour of that text. What that text says is that the UN General Assembly has reaffirmed that Syria’s internal conflict shall be resolved by the people of Syria, and not by outsiders.

February 16th, 2012, 6:54 pm


Tara said:

Russia and China were left isolated tonight after voting against a United Nations resolution calling for an end to the violence in Syria.

The measure was passed at the UN General Assembly by 137 votes to 12, leaving Russia and China lined up with such pariah states as North Korea and Venezuela, as well as Syria itself. Another 17 countries abstained.
The negative votes by two permanent members of the UN Security Council cast doubt however on claims by France earlier in the day that Russia was prepared to sign up to a fresh international drive to solve the crisis.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, stressed the urgency of the crisis, warning that crimes against humanity were taking place in Syria while diplomats continued to “debate”.
Calling on the Assad regime to stop the slaughter, he said: “We see neighbourhoods shelled indiscriminately, hospitals used as torture centres, children as young as 10 years old killed and abused. We see almost certainly crimes against humanity.”
“Lack of agreement in the Security Council does not give the government licence to continue its assault on its own people. The longer we debate the more people will die.”

February 16th, 2012, 6:55 pm



It seems after 1-1 in the first two sets, this third set has begun with a game (1-0) to Syrian Opposition. It may be a long set but Assad is showing signs of being exhausted as well as some signs of irritation. Assad is using russian made rackets chinese made shoes that seem not to work as well as expected.
We could say that Syrian Opposition is psichologically winning the match but it must be played till the end before anyone gets the prize. David vs Goliath legend is once again repeting in history. Even the more optimistic could not imagine that after 11 months of match the Syrian People had chances to defeat the Assad Mafia.

February 16th, 2012, 6:59 pm


Tara said:

70 were killed by the regime today.

A high ranking defector confirmed that the occupying Syrian army used poisonous gas to kill people in Rastan on a limited scale.

February 16th, 2012, 7:07 pm



So it seems that the so-called ¨jewish-american conspiration¨ has taken effect from Argentina to Canada, from South-Afrika to Tunis, from Australia to Pakistan, and from Malta to Sweden. Of course it has taken effect also inside the syrian panarabist socialist nation, from AlbuKamal to AlQamishli, from Daraa to Jisr Shougour, from Lattakia to Deir al Zawr, from Duma to Daraya, from Zabadani to Hajar al Aswad…
Dear Bashar, even in the case it was a consipration you have to accept it is a very successfull one and you are a loser by now.

February 16th, 2012, 7:07 pm


majedkhaldoun said:

The vote today in the UN is a slap to Russia and China,Ja3fari may not sleep tonight
This vote contradicts the facebook poll,

February 16th, 2012, 7:10 pm


Tara said:

Turkey, France attempt to form Syria aid corridor

Turkey and the Arab League work on an action plan which includes forming a humanitarian corridor into Syria, Davutoğlu says as his French counterpart urges the corridor should be discussed at the UN Security Council

Turkey and the Arab League work on an action plan which includes forming a humanitarian corridor into Syria, Davutoğlu says as his French counterpart urges the corridor should be discussed at the UN Security Council

 French FM Juppe (L) and Turkish FM Davutoğlu shake hands in this file photo. Juppe says ‘the humanitarian corridors should be discussed at the Security Council.’ AP photo
Turkey, in collaboration with the Arab League, is working on an action plan on Syria, including the Tunisia conference and the establishment of a U.N. humanitarian corridor into Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said. 

Following the international conference in Tunisia the humanitarian issue will be taken to the United Nations, Davutoğlu said yesterday in a joint press appearance in Ankara with Bakir Izetbegovic, a Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I believe the Tunisia meeting will produce a very strong message which will express solidarity with Syrian people and also a warning for the Syrian regime,” Davutoğlu said.

The Syrian issue would continue to be debated at the U.N. after the Tunisia Friends of Syria meeting, which will take place Feb. 24. The meeting’s aim is to gather together countries seeking a joint position to end violence in Syria. “The U.N. should take action to help with the Syria issue not only in political aspect but also in humanitarian aspect,” the minister said. 

February 16th, 2012, 7:18 pm


Tara said:

The world is with you!

“Today the UN General Assembly sent a clear message to the people of Syria – the world is with you,” US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said in a statement.

“An overwhelming majority of UN member states have backed the plan put forward by the Arab League to end the suffering of Syrians. Bashar al-Assad has never been more isolated.”

Following the vote, British foreign secretary, William Hague said the resolution “sent a clear signal of the international community’s condemnation of the Syrian regime’s actions and intention to hold to account those responsible for the ongoing atrocities.”

He added: “The message is unambiguous. The violence must stop immediately. President Assad and the Syrian regime must heed the call of the international community and allow a peaceful political transition to resolve the crisis.”


February 16th, 2012, 7:30 pm


Ghufran said:

Which countries abstained from voting? That helps understand the vote a little bit better.
This is a symbolic political defeat for Assad.history,however,clearly shows how insignificant non binding resolutions are. Israel,a brotherly country now ,has defied 2 dozen UNSC resolutions since 1967 with the help of one veto: USA
The buttom line is this: Assad has lost the support of many Syrians and is now being looked at as fighting for his political survival instead of the interest of the country he is heading,however,attempts to remove him by force and relying on armed rebels to do the dirty work on behalf of Iran’s enemies is not in Syria’s best interest,this military approach is actually helping the regime and alienating Russia and China,not to mention other countries that are still undecided.

February 16th, 2012, 7:32 pm


bronco said:

#36 Tara

Sorry, not convinced at all, it was expected with all the lobbying that France, UK, US and the Qatar propaganda machine did and the daily “horrors reports” of Youtube and Al Jazeera to sensitize the international community. At least now they have a good conscience but they’ll do nothing more.
The resolution has been wrapped with nice glossy paper ( Qatar hired an expensive PR) to get a vote but it is still a very vague resolution, full of contradictions and will have absolutely no effect except to calm the bilious HBJ and gives him some relief before he leaves the leadership of the AL.

In my view, it will probably rally even more Syrians around their government and will have the exact opposite result of what it was intended.

All analysts are unanimous to say that this resolution is symbolic and what counts is what happening on the ground.
That, we will know it during the next few days that lead us to the referendum.

Are the 29 countries that either voted against or abstain have become now “pariah’ states according to the Telegraph you posted?

Enjoy a day or two of the hope that ‘humiliated’ Bashar will step down. Most analysts say he won’t step down, and the only way is a coup. The CIA was good in that in the 50’s ( Mosadegh), now they can’t anymore.
In my view resorting to a symbolic non-binding GA resolution is an admittance of political impotence covered by big words and empty threats.

February 16th, 2012, 7:34 pm


Ghufran said:

This is the true face of Syrian regime:
بيروت (لبنان) – ا ف ب: اعتقلت قوات الامن السورية ظهر الخميس مجموعة كبيرة من الصحافيين السوريين خلال تواجدهم في مقر المركز السوري للاعلام وحرية التعبير في دمشق وكان بينهم مازن درويش مؤسس المركز ويارا بدر مديرة المركز، اضافة الى كل من رزان غزاوي، حسين غرير، هاني زيتاني، ثناء زيتاني، ريتا ديوب، جوان فرسو، هنادي زحلوط، بسام الاحمد، ميادة خليل ومها السبلاتي، وعبد الرحمن حمادة حسب ما ذكر ناشط حقوقي.
This is the link:

February 16th, 2012, 7:43 pm


Majed97 said:

Today’s AL-sponsored UN assembly MOTION should bring to an end the AL’s political role in the Syrian affair. Their final ploy, “the friends of Syrian people”, will have little traction, if any; thanks to the Russian/Chinese/Iranian firm stand; and the fragmentation and disarrayed Syrian oppositions.

The western media’s unwillingness to tell the real story about what’s going on in Syria is a well coordinated plan to bring down the last line of defense against Israel. Does anyone on this board seriously believes the U.S-controlled UN, or the freedom- loving GCC countires who control the AL care the least about democracy and freedom for Syrian or anyone else?

check out this report from one respected reporter on the ground in Syria.

Lies and truths about Syria

by Thierry Meyssan

For eight months, Western leaders and some public media have been agitating for a war in Syria. The extremely serious accusations leveled against Assad intimidate those who question the justification for a new military intervention. But not everyone, because – on the initiative of Voltaire Network – some came to Syria to investigate for themselves and were able to measure the extent of NATO’s propaganda. Thierry Meyssan reports on the state of the media war.

February 16th, 2012, 7:44 pm


Mawal95 said:

Joshua at #2 says regarding the workers and peasants clause in the Constitution: “How did this emerge as the new baseline for who gets to represent Syria? Any history you can add will be appreciated.” Joshua is acquainted with Patrick Seale’s 1988 history book “Asad of Syria”. That book says: “In elections to Local Councils in each of Syria’s fourteen governorates on 3 March 1972, by statute, 51 percent of the council members had to be peasants or workers, and the balance merchants, members of the professions or intellectuals. At the March elections independents won a majority in both Damascus and Homs.” Page 176 at

It was subsequently incorporated into the Constitution that was ratified in 1973 in the form “at least half have to be peasants or workers”. Was it new on 3 March 1972? I’d say the nutty professor can answer that himself.

[NOTE — deleted language is unacceptable at Syria Comment]

February 16th, 2012, 7:45 pm


Tara said:


Symbolic or not, it reflects the world’s opinion. Bashar is not going to step down, he is going to be removed by force. Just let’s hope that he does not end up with Qaddafi’s fate.

I sense a spirit of disappointment and perhaps defeat in your post. Can I do anything to comfort you?

February 16th, 2012, 7:47 pm


Tara said:

US officials tie terror group to Syrian bombings
By KIMBERLY DOZIER, AP Intelligence Writer – 1 hour ago

Clapper said bombings against Syrian security and intelligence targets in Damascus in December, and two more recent bombings in the nation’s largest city, Aleppo, bear “all the earmarks of an al-Qaida-like attack,” leading the U.S. intelligence to believe the Iraqi militant branch is extending its reach into Syria.
He added the mixture of Syrian opposition groups may have been infiltrated by such militants, probably without their knowledge.
“We’ve seen evidence of Sunni extremists,” he said. “Can’t label them specifically as al-Qaida, but similar ilk who are infiltrating the oppositionist groups.”


February 16th, 2012, 8:14 pm


Ghufran said:

The US did refute claims that the regime bombed its own people,claims that I never believed if any of you care to remember. Islamist terrorists will not stop at bombing regime targets,they will try to kill anybody who dares to disagree with their god-given wisdom.
Here is the list of countries that voted no or abstained:

Bolivia Belarus Cuba China
Ecuador Iran Nicaragua
North Korea Russia
Syria Venezuela Zimbabwe

It’s striking to note that aside from Syria and Iran, no other Middle East country voted no. Two, however, did abstain: Lebanon and Algeria. The other 15 countries that abstained:
Angola Armenia Fiji
Cameroon Comoros Myanmar
Namibia Nepal Sri Lanka
St. Vincent Suriname Tanzania
Tuvalu Uganda. Vietnam

February 16th, 2012, 8:26 pm


Tara said:

‘Shoot, or they shoot you’: Former member of Assad’s military tells of horrific choices that forced his defection to the rebels

For much of last year, Fouad, a member of Bashar al-Assad’s military intelligence unit, faced a brutish choice.

“Imagine if you were a Christian manning a checkpoint and there was a Christian in front of you. Behind you was a Muslim who gave you a choice to shoot them or he would shoot you. What would you do?
“This was exactly what happened to me, except with Sunni Muslim people standing in front of me.”

But Fouad is happier here than he was in his seven years’ service in the Mukhabarat, an organisation whose name is a byword for fear in many Arab countries. Most particularly, as the protests against President Assad’s rule were met with violence and finally war, he became alarmed at the growing psychopathy of those around him, including his friends, as they carried out their ordered acts of terror and improvised their own.

February 16th, 2012, 8:31 pm


Mawal95 said:

Here’s a good video in the genre of programs debunking the lies in the foreign TV news outlets. An anonymous liar on CNN TV representing himself as a student at Damascus University says security forces arrested and beat 200 students, shut down the electric power, blah, blah, we want democracy, blah, blah. While the liar is speaking, CNN shows footage of anti-regime activists running down the street in Damascus’s Barzeh neighborhood, which is miles away from where the liar is talking about, and then shows scenes of rebelious chaos from Homs and Jableh. CNN has no footage of anti-regime student activity at Damascus University. The students at Damascus University are overwhelmingly pro-regime and you can’t find footage of even a minority of them demonstrating against the regime. While the liar is continuing to tell his tale, CNN continues with footage of large crowds demonstrating and in these demonstrations the crowds carry the pro-regime flag — the American mass audience is without the knowledge to see that subtlety but surely the responsible CNN editors could. The informative part of this video starts when it stops the CNN rubbish at time 2:50 and for the next two minutes shows footage of the real students at Damascus University demonstrating their support for the regime, as broadcast by Syrian State TV. This footage shows students with tremendous passion for the regime.

February 16th, 2012, 8:58 pm


Syrialover said:

#1 and #53 weaken and discredit their comments by tone and bad manners. If you have facts and data, then there is a normal and effective way of presenting them to those who are interested as Joshua Landis has publicly stated he is.

Dr Landis’ intellectual openness, civility, willingness to be corrected and lack of aggression towards others should be the standard and model for comment on this forum. And until this last year, it generally was.

Certain newcomers make themselves and the rest of this forum poorer by ratcheting these standards down.

February 16th, 2012, 8:59 pm


Syrialover said:

Evidence is mounting that Rifaat Assad must have buddies and admirers following this forum. Any comment about his history gets a predictable number of thumbs down.

Why don’t they write something explaining their support of him? I’m willing to hear it.

February 16th, 2012, 9:05 pm


Ghufran said:

جورج صبره
George according to the const. draft is not good enough to run for president:
هل هذه هي الطريقة التي توضع فيها الدساتير؟ مَن خوّل لجنة أن تضع دستوراً وتفرضه على الشعب السوري الذي هو خبير في الدساتير وفي كيفية وضعها؟ الدستور الصحيح يوضع من قبل جمعية تأسيسية منتخبة بشكل ديمقراطي وحر ونزيه، ثم يجري المصادقة عليه باستفتاءٍ شعبي حر، وليس تحت المدافع والنار وأعمال القتل اليومية.
Here is the link:

February 16th, 2012, 9:07 pm


Syrialover said:

#61. I hope you read #60.

Whatever your agenda, you are badly undermining it by your aggressive tone and words. It’s a pity.

February 16th, 2012, 9:13 pm


William Scott Scherk said:

Ghufran, you asked for the noes and abstentions at the GA. I found this so far:

The Inner City Press folks name Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela as no voters, and note abstentions from Myanmar, Armenia. Serbia a yes.

The Los Angeles Times promises a full count of all votes, including all abstentions (but the link is not working for me at the moment). Their record of NO votes was: Belarus, Bolivia, China, Cuba, North Korea, Ecuador, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

(I expect their must be abstentions from some of these countries — Morocco, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon Indonesia, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, India. I will keep checking Inner City and the LAT for a full list and post it when I find it).

(added) — thanks for digging up all the noes and abstentions, Ghufran|

February 16th, 2012, 9:15 pm


Ghufran said:

Thanks, WSS, I posted the list in Arabic a while ago.

India and Brasil voted for the resolution, that is symbolic but it means something.

Israel may have lost an ex Mossad chief:

The British Broadcasting Corporation was cited by Arab media, Thursday, as saying that Hizbullah and Iran managed to eliminate a former deputy chief of the Mossad intelligence agency. They identified the man as Zvi Ashkalov, adding that an explosive was attached to his vehicle while he drove in Spain.

(source: BBC and Israel national news)
Israel denied the report.

February 16th, 2012, 9:25 pm


Halabi said:

Thanks for the list Ghufran. It’s clear today who Assad’s friends are.

The South American countries, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua have very little influence and common bonds with the Syrian people. Cuba is a basket case.

Belarus? I think it just lined up with Russia, which wasn’t a country to aspire to under communism and isn’t a great example now under KGB/mafia rule.

China’s position is interesting because most thought it would be more pragmatic. It doesn’t really matter, because China isn’t a good leader at anything other than using its labor surplus in the economic race to the bottom.

North Korea of course inspired Hafez to implement the Baath youth movement and later to bequeath a republic to his son. Zimbabwe, awesome place. I highly recommend it as a vacation spot for all high ranking government officials.

Last, and definitely least, Iran, a repressive Islamic theocracy.

The English speaking world is against him. The Arabic speaking world is against him.

Menhebaks now have so much more in common with Israelis. They both support governments that are condemned by the General Assembly, protected by vetoes in the Security Council, and that vigilantly secure the Israeli border. The difference is that Israelis kill and oppress Palestinians while Assad’s forces kills their fellow citizens.

February 16th, 2012, 9:29 pm


Ghufran said:

واحد من ثلاث ليبيين يحنون للعهد السابق، ففي دراسة اعدها معهد علوم الانسان في المعهد الدولي في اوكسفورد، اظهرت ان نسبة الثلث من سكان ليبيا يفضلون عودة حكم رجل قوي، ونسبة اقل من الثلث ترحب بالعهد الديمقراطي على الرغم من الالاف القتلى في الثورة وفي اثناء حكم الزعيم الليبي معمر القذافي.
This is the link. I am done for today

February 16th, 2012, 9:32 pm


Norman said:


The United State is not socialist, People in the US get what they deserve not what they need, but people can be anything they want if they work hard and play by the rule, education is a plus but not needed as it was with Steve Job and Bill Gate, that is what Syria and other countries lac the chance to be what you can be,

The inequality that you talk about is there but still the US has the widest middle class,

February 16th, 2012, 9:34 pm


Mawal95 said:

Joshua’s stance on the workers and peasants clause of the Constitution is nutty.

When challenged to defend or explain it, he just throws the ball back saying “if you want to take your time to demonstrate in full detail why I’m wrong, I’ll welcome being corrected, but I’m not going to take a scintilla of my time defend or explain myself”. It’s not just nutty, it’s rude.

[NOTE — Please quote accurately. Joshua asked for corrections earlier in the thread, in the second comment::

Please correct me. I am happy to be proven wrong. How did this emerge as the new baseline for who gets to represent Syria? Any history you can add will be appreciated. Help rest [sic] Syria Comments credibility, please.

Context implies he meant test, not rest.

Please do not make personal attacks]

February 16th, 2012, 9:37 pm


Norman said:


The 12 contries that voted with Syria represent more than 60% of the world population, so it is not a total loss for Syria,

February 16th, 2012, 9:42 pm


Norman said:


I agree with you i was old enough in the early seventies when president Hafiz Assad took power, the rule was to have seats for the farmers and workers, I do not know if it was in the constitution, i still believe that set aside and qoutas will only alienate people with a feel of discrimination that will produce anger and will lead to the next revolution,

February 16th, 2012, 9:51 pm


anton said:

dear Norman,

I just want to say it @ 70 , Adding the abstained total will be almost 30 countries with more than 60% of world population , 2 supper powers, and other emerging ,

important that those countries are solid friends which Syria can count on

God bless Syria the Syrian people and the Syrian army

February 16th, 2012, 10:01 pm


Jerusalem said:

To: 59. Mawal95

CNN position is rather annoying. I keep bombarding them with comment to abstain. (Of course they don’t lesson…:)).
The anti-Iran hysteria is coming primarily from CNN.
Malcom Hoenlein the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, threw cold water on CNN’s fear mongering when he told the network “there is no call for panic.”AND the Department of Homeland Security has admitted there is no specific threat facing the country. Yet, they keep at it.

Arwa Damon is known for promoting war, especially the war on Iraq.

What’s odd, her mom is Syrian and supports Assad transitional change. Why doesn’t she interview her mom???
Anderson Cooper is CIA social face…I seriously don’t understand what’s in it for CNN?? There is hardly any mention of Bahrain or Libya on their site and keep interviewing same guy Fouad Ajami and his opinion about war.

February 16th, 2012, 10:19 pm


Syrialover said:

#70 Norman

“The 12 contries that voted with Syria represent more than 60% of the world population, so it is not a total loss for Syria”

A depressing reminder of how much of the world’s population is living in places nobody would choose to if they had the option.

All those countries supporting the status quo in Syria have one or more of the following features: human rights issues, state terrorism, economic mismanagement, corruption, recent civil war, ethnic divisons, dictatorship, communism, extreme poverty, political instability, volatile relationships with neighbouring countries. …. Just to start the list rolling.

All reasons why their representatives would be happy for the Syrian people to continue suffering and Assad to survive.

It’s hard not to believe that 1.if the citizens of these countries had media that carried information about the issue and 2. they were allowed to have a say, then the vote would come out very differently.

February 16th, 2012, 10:26 pm


Norman said:


lick your wonds and be a sport,

February 16th, 2012, 10:52 pm


Syrialover said:

No doubt there will be the usual ideologues and anti-westerners here who will disagree, but NY Times journalist Anthony Shadid’s death at 43 from asthma in Syria is a terrible, tragic loss.

He was a reporter who was making an unsurpassed contribution to world knowledge and awareness of the Middle East.

The fact it seems he had life threatening asthma but was still prepared to do the tough trips and face danger and difficulties to investigate and experience what was needed says a lot.

A brave, determined, gifted man who was applying those qualities to something that mattered.

February 16th, 2012, 10:56 pm


Syrialover said:

# 77. Norman

I just gave you a green thumbs up for wit.

(And because I am a sport).

February 16th, 2012, 11:15 pm


bronco said:


“Can I do anything to comfort you?”

I am finding extremely boring and childish what Qatar, France, Turkey and company are doing. Jumping from meetings to meetings like excited kids who want to win a soccer game and coming out with another boring, unimaginative and useless ‘plan, resolution, initiative’ while people are killing each other in Syria.
I am just sadly yawning…

February 16th, 2012, 11:15 pm


Son of Damascus said:


That is very sad and terrible news indeed, may he rest in peace.

February 16th, 2012, 11:16 pm


bronco said:

I am very sad about Anthony Shadid’s sudden death. He was an excellent reporter who really tried as much as possible to be impartial, non sectarian and objective quite the opposite of Khaled Oweiss and Zeina Karam from AFP and Reuters.
I offer my condoleances to his family. He will be missed a lot.

February 16th, 2012, 11:22 pm


bronco said:

#76 JNA

Thanks for pointing us to that letter. I found it extremely sad and desperate and expressing heartbreaking emotions about the tragic vicious spiral Syria fell into and the wounds all Syrians will carry in their lives.

February 16th, 2012, 11:34 pm


Hans said:

It is quiet on this front here, there is not much activities on the blog here today, I guess the only front where it is blowing hot is the CNN.
When i watch the CNN, I see all the fabrication by Anderson Coopers and the other reporters, Especially when they add the reports can’t be independently verified by the CNN.
It is clear that they are very biased and many of the video, don’t show a clear evidence that the syrian army is the cause of the shelling if there is shelling to begin with.
they show people who look very comfortable meanwhile they claim they are being attacked and bombed, i noticed more than once where the video clip doesn’t show any clear evidence of stress.
after almost a year and there is no evidence that the support for Assad has weaken which tell lots about the situation in syria where the foreigners want to topple Assad without major support of the Syrians it is strange to be in such situation.

February 16th, 2012, 11:35 pm


irritated said:

#86 Hans

The hysteria of CNN is that the US, Western countries and their Arab puppets have not been able to corner Bashar Al Assad after a year. They feel the same frustration and rage that they have against Iran.
Nothing is affecting Syria’s army, nothing is affecting the wide support of the regime from minorities and a sizeable share of the majority, nothing is affecting the two largest cities in Syria.

CNN errands is only a reflection of that deep rage that the big powers are now powerless in front of a small country that dares defy them.

February 16th, 2012, 11:48 pm


Syria no Kandahar said:

What a bright future is awaiting Syrians:kids declaring defections from schools and joining FSA.

February 16th, 2012, 11:49 pm


Syria no Kandahar said:

Are you still حردان
طنش ولو

February 16th, 2012, 11:52 pm


Shami said:

Norman:The 12 contries that voted with Syria represent more than 60% of the world population, so it is not a total loss for Syria,

you surpassed addunia [ Edited for personal attack 2012/02/16 at 11:56 pm ]

February 16th, 2012, 11:59 pm


Syria no Kandahar said:

137 countries are supporting these:

February 17th, 2012, 12:10 am


Leo Syriacus said:


In post #70 you made the “accurate” statement that the 12 countries that voted with Syria’s presidents were 60% of the world

Congratulations!! Bashar has just appointed you director of Aldounia and Minister of Misinformation:
The combined population of the 12 countries is 1.7 Billion people (out of which 1.35 is of China alone, and the Chinese are just waiting for the right price to sell your Bashar)
The world total population is 7 Billions

The “real” percentage of your president’s supporters 24.3% less than half the 60% your Aldounia friends are crying.

In keeping with the “cosmic plot conspiracy” spirit I used the very accurate CIA World Fact Book and here are the numbers of your club :
China 1.35 Billion people, Russia 138 Millions, Iran 78, Venezuela 28, North Korea 25, Syria 23, Ecuador 15.2, Zimbabwe 12, Cuba 11, Bolivia 10, Belarus 9.5 and Nicaragua 5.8
The 18 abstaining countries include 14 who could not pay their UN dues and were ineligible to vote…( like they hold any weight in World Affairs!!)
Please check your facts..Syria Comment is not Aldounia and you are not Buthaina Shabaan

February 17th, 2012, 12:37 am


Shabbi7 said:

Joshua Landis, in response to

Considering that you are the one who made the ridiculous claim, it is you who needs to show some kind of proof or support that this quota is a Baathist “deal” for article 8, which was CLEARLY going to be removed regardless. As a “Syria expert” you should know that the People’s Assembly has long had a requirement of at least 50% laborers and peasants. There were even quite a few Syria Comment readers that were complaining about this fact back in April-July.

A simple Google search further proves my claim. Here is an English translation of the current Syrian constitution, adopted March 13, 1973:

Chapter 2

Part 1 Legislative Power

Article 53 [Membership]
The law defines the electoral districts and the number of the members of the People’s Assembly, provided that at least half their number are workers and peasants. The law defines the terms: worker and peasant.

In conclusion, this article was not “added” to the proposed constitution, but rather maintained from the current constitution, and therefore, could not have been, as you hastily claimed, “added in a deal with the Baath Party leadership in order to get article 8 removed.”

What bothers me the most is that, through your claim, you implied that this is a malicious article, when in fact, laborers and peasants are the ones who built up the Syria we love with their blood, sweat, and tears.

February 17th, 2012, 12:53 am


William Scott Scherk said:

I wonder if Prof Josh was looking for some other details. Maybe he there was a deal with Baathi forces that they would lose Article 8 but only over-my-dead-body-and-perks-and-salary would they give up their Peasant and Worker seats.

Feast your eyes on all the worthies of parliament. See each one who claims a Worker and Peasant seat in the Baathi-led coalition:

I could see a demand by regimist holdouts in the structure of the Regional Command that did not want to give up these ‘winner’ seats. Similarly did the power structure in Egypt resist giving up the same synecures and pay-off candidacy shoo-ins as under Mubarak/Sadat ‘workers and peasants’ exclusions. I think some of the liberal secularists running for the Egyptian assembly were able to sell themselves as workers or peasants (see the declaration: )

That part of both constitutions — especially when you look at the actual roster of professionals squatting some of those seats has been used for crony seat-stuffing of only-in-the-broadest-terms “Peasant: seats. Add to the fact that a pitiful four new parties have been registered (no Freedom and Justice Party charade for Syria; no party at all! No ‘religious’ party like the Ikwan-affiliated FJP in Egypt because it is religious. No ‘ethnic’ or regional, so no parties for Kurdish interests. No parties for even a social group (so, no Rich Folk or Poor Folk parties). But still this ‘worker and peasant’ 1952 socialist wonderland language. So them that are in a certain security-approved list will be allowed on the ballot and back they will go to their comfy seats. Who is left out of this kind of parliament?

Even poor Haytham and poor Michel, they cannot have a party because they last full civil rights on their convictions of state crimes. I doubt they now have the right to run as independents for parliamentary seats, I doubt they have been explicitly pardoned and returned their full Syrian rights. No wonder both are now out of country, no matter how patriotic and peaceable.

An executive that is responsible to Parliament is one aspect of the French-ish strong president system chosen by Assad and the Baath that went missing in 1973. The current President (and establishment candidate in yon 2104 election) remains in control over everything, like a Super De Gaulle , the agenda, the ministers, the confidence votes, dissolution, decrees … all the refuse of the authoritarian constitution of 1973. I think most SC commentators and readers would agree that this a feeble mess, and not a solution to present problems.

I say again that some aspects of the Syrian ‘reform’ seem like charades, or worse, cruel frauds. Certainly the Syrian official everything may announce a majority Yes and figures will be oddly presented at SANA and Xinhua, but will all the details by district be published? Will voting precinct totals, once certified, become public record? Will whatever next parliament act as a new constitutional convention/interim assembly? Will their be a single reformer or passionate orator in the new parliament when the president orders it to convene? Will its debates be recorded and/or broadcast (see the sidebar poll at the Syrian Parliaments own site. Coverage of parliament was red thumb downed by some 70% in their site poll).

There are questionable articles still left in the constitution, and a questionable opaque process that led to its up/down vote on the 26th. This is not clear reform. I fear it may fail.

I fear for Syria and Syrians inside and out. I empathize with anyone’s grief, pain, and horror. Whether the present-day Baath lobbied against removing the 1953-style exclusion in basic law, I do not know. Maybe removing it was off the table for multiple reasons. It is another old-style facet of Syrian political/security life that has not yet been ‘reformed’ by the Assads.

February 17th, 2012, 2:54 am


zoo said:

Israel’s worries grow with the “democratization” of Arab countries.

Egyptian Party Threatens to Review Treaty With Israel
Published: February 16, 2012
CAIRO — The Islamist party that leads the new Egyptian Parliament is threatening to review the 1979 peace treaty with Israel if the United States cuts off aid to the country over a crackdown on American-backed nonprofit groups here.

February 17th, 2012, 8:49 am


zoo said:

From Bad to Worse in Egypt
FEBRUARY 17, 2012

The repression of civil society is far worse than anything seen under Hosni Mubarak.

February 17th, 2012, 8:52 am


zoo said:

The Islamist Plot: The Untold Story of the Libyan Rebellion

A British terror trial sheds new light on the origins of the February 17 anti-Qaddafi uprising.

By John Rosenthal

February 17th, 2012, 8:55 am


Leo Syriacus said:

Comment # 70
Norman states that the 12 countries that voted for Syria s president are 60% of the world
This is not correct, the combined total of their population is 1.7 Billion people ( out of which 1.35 Billions in China alone) this is only 24% of the world population of 7 Billion people.
Source The CIA World Fact Book ( in keeping with the spirit of cosmic conspiracy!!)
Please keep Syria Comment accurate this is not Aldounia TV, The Syrian Ministry of Information, or a Baath Party Confrence

February 17th, 2012, 10:59 am


Leo Syriacus said:

Syria’s new president can come from any group or faction as long as he/(she one day?) is democratically elected by Syrians and will work to achieve their aspirations in democracy,progress, and human rights
I certainly will not elect a president from a militia background, nor from a mullah background, nor a former Baathist, nor a puppet imposed by foreign powers ( Karazi by the US, Bashar by Iran )..Syrians’ options are limited for now and the transition in the post-Assad days will be painful and long..but for all the people whining about the troubles in post-revolution Arab countries ( and possibly in Syria very soon) I say read the history of the French and American revolutions it took years before these revolutions transformed America and France to the great democracies they are..nothing happens overnight except a coup d’etat

February 17th, 2012, 11:50 am


Leo Syriacus said:

When will we have instutitions and parties that govern versus individuals and dictators?
The president as one man should not matter much if the real power is for his part members versus a one-man show
George W Bush ruled America for two terms..most people who voted for him agreed that he was anything from a barbarian to a simpleton..they elected the Republican Party and not W

February 17th, 2012, 11:59 am


Antoine said:

37. ALDENDESHE said :

“I would add Ben Gorion to the list. In fact he should be first on top of it, considering what he started with, he can only be matched by Chiang Kai-Shek.”

Chiang ka-shek ? C’mon man, how come ? I would rather add Mao Zedong, he too started from scratch and remember his “long march” in 1933 ? He too built a superpower out of nothing. And what has Taiwan become ?

February 19th, 2012, 7:09 am


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