“Talking about a Revolution: An Interview with Camille Otrakji” by Qifa Nabki

Qifa Nabki has a long and probing interview with Camille Otrakiji (Alex) on his site.

Talking about a Revolution: An Interview with Camille Otrakji

Comments (58)

ziadsoury said:

What has changed?

May 2nd, 2011, 6:35 pm


Akbar Palace said:

The Assad who cried “Wolf”

For your reading enjoyment, Daniel Pipes understood the “Syrian Two Step” back in the 1990s. Nothing has changed:


May 2nd, 2011, 7:18 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

You will see more and more of those videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Eh8ccheiBc
Ba’athists, who understand nothing about human nature, think that Syrian soldiers are some sort of regime property / bots, with no feelings, no political orientation, no opinions, no community links, and no emotions.

Instead of preserving the army, in order for it to be able to facilitate a change, they are destroying it, and by this making the likelihood of a civil war, stronger.

May 2nd, 2011, 8:29 pm


majedkhaldoon said:

Assad regime must understand that Turkey and France are sending severe warning ,not to oppress the syrian peope,I am looking for a day Assad responds to these warnings,or he will disappoint all those who applaud him,if and when he will be arrested.

May 2nd, 2011, 9:01 pm


S.A. said:

Thank you for posting this excellent interview. This is the best and the most accurate analysis that I have ever read on Syria. It actually corresponds very much to my analysis of the situation.
Than you for this interview, I will recommend it to all my friends who keep asking questions about the situation.

May 2nd, 2011, 11:22 pm


anon said:

dumb moves like these make one wonder what kind of people guna be running the show if bashar falls

May 3rd, 2011, 12:50 am


jad said:

To be honest, I don’t understand why people are so afraid of an MB government, and why minorities should be so scared of it, the local media are trying their best to show that MB as the ultimate evil which I disagree, there are huge differences between MB and radicals.
Syrian MB members as Syrian citizens must have the same rights as any Baathi, Socialist, Communist or Nationalist citizen and the same duties to, and to make real democracy every political party should be given the chance to be part of the system. If 50 or 20 or even 5% of our society believe that the MB can achieve something, why not to let them be involve and let them introduce their base instead of shutting them up all the time? Our country through it’s history tried every political direction that exist and they all failed to build anything other than a small village called a country with no real improvement of our human element and I think it’s time for those in power who failed us in many ways and failed to deliver their promises to either share the governing of our country or be an opposition or totally out, but changes must happen and no need for any blood to be spelled, nothing in this whole world deserve to spell one drop of blood for.
Every segment of our society deserve to try to govern, our golden ages where under the Islamic rules and the best of it was in Alandalus because they knew how to cultivate a diverse society and not because they killed people.
Sorry for mumbling but it become a bit weird to keep reading that the MB equal the unknown evil while in reality they are nothing but another segment of our society that we all need to deal with as our partners.

May 3rd, 2011, 1:03 am


jad said:

I respect this man, Mr. Bassam Alquadi, very much:

حوار مع بسام القاضي، مدير مرصد نساء سورية، حول الوضع الحالي في سورية، دور الإعلام، وما يجب فعله.. عبر الفضائية السورية، برنامج “جيلنا”، حوار وتقديم: أمجد طعمة.
أجري التسجيل يوم الخميس: 28/4/2011، وبثت يوم الأحد: 1/5/2011


يفك الحصار عن درعا، لتخرج الكاميرات من علبها، وليحاسب المسؤولون علنا!

May 3rd, 2011, 1:28 am


Mina said:

If the “opposition” is serious, why doesn’t it go the legal way? There are tools for that, including the Wikileaks. Or is the case too weak? As a matter of fact, the harshness of the Egyptian police is very well documented in the cables from the Cairo embassy, while there is not so much to say there about the Syrian “torture chambers” on which the journalists are fantasizing these days (not to say they didn’t exist under Hafez al Assad).
And, since all the journalists are now in Lebanon, why don’t they have anything to say on the influence of the current events in Syria on the discussions between the political parties in Lebanon, who are supposedly trying to form a new government? Or is Hezbollah not allowed to win a “democratic” election? Is the West replacing Bin Laden by Qaddafi and the Hamas deadlock in Gaza by a Lebanese/Syrian deadlock?


May 3rd, 2011, 4:07 am



تطور في الإنتفاضة السورية:لوائح بعملاء الأجهزة في القرى والمدن

الثلاثاء, 03 مايو 2011 06:52

بدأ الثوار السوريون بنشر لوائح بأسماء السوريين الذين يعملون لمصلحة الأجهزة الأمنية السورية.
وصدرت لوائح عدة، تحذر السوريين من أي تعاون مع هؤلاء.

May 3rd, 2011, 4:22 am


Mina said:

The ‘liberal revolutionaries’ or the people within the regime who want an orderly transition and posted these online

(the titles are not exactly describing the contents, but we have been used to these funny hi-tech revolutionaries who no one can trust from day one)

May 3rd, 2011, 4:59 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Ya Tribal JAD,

I agree with you (#6). I’m now reading an essay about Mr. Isam al Attar, who was the leader of the Syrian MB during the ’60, and who lives today in exile, in Aachen Germany. Must be a very old man today.

His doctrine was quite a moderate one. his views on the relation state and religion, were something I could live with. If the MB respect democracy, and promise to integrate, but no to take over like Hamas did in Gaza, then they should be respected as a part of the Arab – Syrian society / political party. The MB is not monolithic. This could be seen by what is happening these days with the Egyptian MB. Those MB who want to conquer and oppress, should be rejected and confronted. But those who can respect the will of the people, and to play by the democratic rules, should be respected and probably integrated. With precautions of course, like a military which protects a democratic constitution.

May 3rd, 2011, 6:47 am


Revlon said:

The republican Guard Defector: In a nutshell, the Guy, virtually stripped naked and with head shaven, with the said name and army post, was denied neither be the video link nor by a spokesman of his employer to be on the Republican Guard payroll.

Neither the linked video clip, nor any government spokesman have said that Mr Walid Al Qash3ami was not a soldier in the republican guard, deployed at Qasiyoon command center, post 227.

“Here is a video explaining why the supposed defector is wearing the wrong uniform, wrong badges, wrong hair, wrong rings, and wrong Syrian identity card and could not be a Republican Guard”

Dear Joshua: The video clip, prepared by government sponsored Blog, cites inconsistencies of uniform, ID, metal plate, and hair cut with expected. They fail to disprove the identity of the subject and his affiliation with post 227, Qasiyoon command center unit, of the Republican Guards.
The following are the provided arguments, and my counterarguments:

First argument: The ID could easily be produced by Photoshop software
Counterargument: One cannot claim that an ID is fake just because it can be made by photoshop! It has to be professionally examined. It has not, has it?

Second Argument: Soldier photo not clear with inappropriate background
Counter argument: The clip was captured by cell phone. It has no close up lens function. Therefore, details can not be seen. Shown comparators were captured with high resolution camera / scanner.

Third argument: ID had bad lamination
Counterargument: the soldier probably re-laminated his ID for extra-protection. Upon scrutiny, I could see the rim of a second underlying lamination. It is a common practice in Syria!

Fourth argument: His metal plate is fake because it had sharp instead of rounded corners, and the engraved name is not apparent.
– No evidence was provided for the uniformity of the shape and method of engraving of metal plates in the various brigades of the Syrian army.
Beside, discipline and uniformity are not valued commodities in the Baathist regime’s army. Maher Al Asad could easily have ordered Haifa Wehbe’s figure be engraved on plates of his brigade, without anyone objecting.
– Again, the clip was captured with a camera without close-up lens.

Fifth argument: His uniform and associated tags inappropriate for republican guards compared to those shown on the counter-clip.
Counterargument: variations on uniforms exist in all armies.

Haircut: not typical! The army, particularly the republican guards have been on the highest state of alert for nearly 2 months! They would not have had a chance to have a hair cut ever since. The soldier’s cut fits this realistic scenario.

Al Bayda video clip has proven the regime to be habitual liars and their supporters and sympathisers to be naive belivers.

Their mental capacity to learn from own mistakes have been disabled, either by denial, or blind loyalty.
They stand to eat their words again,

May 3rd, 2011, 7:07 am


NB said:

The amount of conspirazoid crap circulated on this blog by regime loyalists is simply amazing. If anything, any regime that denies access to the media should be automatically denied the benefit of doubt until it opens the country for reporters. This is a matter of pure decency.

May 3rd, 2011, 7:07 am


Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

People in Syria generally feel that the worst part of the ‘revolution’ is behind them. People are now worried about the economy. We need to read about Syria’s economy and how it has been affected.

Qatar has cancelled power projects in Syria:


Is this going to be a general trend for the Gulf states? How about Turkish investments?

Did the UN really freeze its aid to Syria? What about European aid?

There is still talking about lowering the prices of heating oil. This will be another hit for the finances of the country.

The Syrian economy looks like a mess to me now and I can’t tell anything from it. Will the economy still grow by 5% this year? What about tourism? How it will be affected?

What about the 5-year-plan that Dardari made??

May 3rd, 2011, 7:42 am


Alex said:

Luckily, so-called “syrian revolution” is over and peace is back to country. Its bad that so many people of army, security forces and simple civilians died, but its good that traitors showed up their faces. Now we know who is with Syria, and who is against it.
الحمد للله، ما يسمّى “بالثورة السورية” إنتهى وسلام يعود إلى بلاد. ناسه السيئون ذلك العديد من الجيش، قوّات أمن ومدنيون بسطاء ماتا، لكن خونته الجيدين ذلك أظهروا وجوههم. الآن نعرف الذين مع سوريا، والذي ضدّه.

May 3rd, 2011, 7:48 am


souri-Amreki said:

You are living in your own enclosed palace like your dictator Bashar! Killing his own people proves that he lost it! Sooner or later he will bag his luggage and leave or he will be brought to justice!

Al-Asad and Makhloof families will be brought to justice. Bashar should learn from Mubarak. Look what happened to his kids!

The Syrian people want freedom and end of corruption! Probably Bashar should read his WSJ article!

May 3rd, 2011, 8:06 am


Revlon said:

Mr Mohammad Khalaf AlM7ameed was executed by the illegitimate System
Qasem Mohammad Khalaf AlM7ameed has been arrested
about an hour ago
Youth Syria For Freedom

AlFati7a upon his soul,
May God bless his family with solace and empower his family with
patienceحركة سوريا شباب من أجل الحرية

كلنا شهداء حوران || إعدام محمد خلف المحاميد ….. نحسبه عند الله شهيدا

واعتقال قاسم محمد مفلح المحاميد

May 3rd, 2011, 8:11 am


Revlon said:

( Erdogan does not want “7ama massacre” to happen again. He demands that the government litens to the demands of the Syrian people) .
To the dismay of the System, Erdogan, like the rest of the free world leaders, does not buy what happened in 7ama as a bright example of success in the war on terror, as Jr ususally boasts!

قال رئيس الوزراء التركي رجب طيب أردوغان إنه لا يريد أن يرى مذبحة حماة -التي وقعت عام 1982 وخلفت آلاف القتلى- تحدث مرة أخرى في سوريا، على حد قوله. وحذر من أن حدوث مثل هذه الأمور سيجبر المجتمع الدولي على اتخاذ موقف من سوريا، مؤكدا أن بلاده ستتخذ الموقف نفسه في هذه الحالة.

وحذر أردوغان الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد -في مقابلة تلفزيونية مع شبكة تركية- من عواقب الاستمرار في قتل المدنيين. كما حذر من أن سوريا لن تنهض مرة أخرى إن وقعت فيها مثل هذه المذابح.

وطالب رئيس الوزراء التركي الأسد بالإصغاء إلى مطالب الشعب السوري الطامح إلى الحرية، مشيرا إلى أن الأسد أعلن أنه سيتم إلغاء العمل بقانون الطوارئ، لكنه لم

May 3rd, 2011, 8:19 am


NB said:

*** >SOURI333 (FORMERLY SOURI) said:

Did the UN really freeze its aid to Syria? What about European aid?

There is still talking about lowering the prices of heating oil. This will be another hit for the finances of the country.

The Syrian economy looks like a mess to me now and I can’t tell anything from it. Will the economy still grow by 5% this year? What about tourism? How it will be affected?

What about the 5-year-plan that Dardari made?? ***

Obviously, any economy which is betting on tourism and foreign investments is ill prepared to handle such an amount of unrest. But, boy, this is nothing. Wait for the protesters to turn to arms. Or maybe you hoped that you can lock your impoverished and struggling periphery in ghettos so that these people stop bothering you while you are spending another couple of decades waiting for your closet reformer to reveal himself? Then I would advise you to watch the “faked” videos again because the anger overload is just too palpable.

May 3rd, 2011, 8:23 am


Revlon said:

Memoires of Khaled Al 7amoui of 7ama Massacre; He was 6 years old then!
One of the slogans that the detained ladies and children were forced to chant: You God Go, 7afez will sit in your place!


May 3rd, 2011, 8:38 am


why-discuss said:

As I mentioned before, Bashar Al Assad has only one thing to do and the blames about the violence will be forgotten and the money will pour into the country: Make a serious move for a peace deal with Israel. Now that things are calming down and he now knows who are his ‘real friends’, I guess he will move very soon.


The MB are adamantly opposed to peace with Israel. Unfortunately, because of their authoritarian ideology, their history of violence and their close relationship with Saudi Arabia, few trust the MB. They talk moderate but when they get the power, you never know what they’ll do (Gaza). In any case the Syrian constitution, like the Egyptian one, should forbid political party to be based on a religion.
This is why Egypt is a good test to see if what they say is what they mean. Let’s see before making a final judgement.

In Israel they also have a minority religious extremist Jews in the parlement and we can see how they are influencing the settlers and often resorting to violence, even within a democracy.

May 3rd, 2011, 8:55 am


why-discuss said:


You better read what Erdogan said exactly instead of the biased interpretation of Al Jazeera.

Turkish Premier Says Turkey does not Want Separation of Syria

May 3rd, 2011, 9:02 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Alex you shock me.
The uprising (“revolution” isn’t the right word to describe what’s going on in Syria) is in it’s early stage. This regime is over. No way this regime survives after all this.

May 3rd, 2011, 9:12 am


Revlon said:

#22 Dear WHY-DISCUSS” Thank you for the link.

Erdogan used the word Massacre to describe 7ama plight,
The rest, as per the paragraph below, is a diplomatic warning of the consequence should he repeat it!

“Syria should not face another massacre like the one in Hama in 1982. I urged President al-Assad to be extremely sensitive about it. If such a massacre is carried out once again, Syria cannot deal with its consequences. Because, the international community will display a harsh reaction. And, Turkey will have to fulfil our responsibilities in such a situation,” he added

The fact that Al Jazeera and your link converge as well as diverge is due to the fact that both are taking excerpts. Neither represent thye whole statement.

May 3rd, 2011, 9:16 am


محمود said:

مهما قيل و مهما تم فعله النتيجة كالشمس الساطعة سورية ستبقى منيعة و بعيدة عن النتيجة المرجوة من قبل صانعي مسرح العرائس ! بل على العكس هده هي الضارة النافعة ! ستأخد سورية دورا اقليميا فاعلا في المرحلة القادمة و سيقدمون اليها كدولة لديها مفاتيح و حلول ! أخطأت الدول المجاورة لسورية ! و العربية الخليجية ! سورية ليست مجرد رئيس ! انها كيان متحضر ! الرئيس فيها يعكس ارادة أغلبية شعبه ! الله معنا و بلدنا مبارك فيها!

May 3rd, 2011, 9:16 am


why-discuss said:

Salafists and Lebanese Hariri’s movement are good guys, Syria is the bad one: Al Jazeera


Another view:
Securing Lebanon from the Threat of Salafist Jihadism

The specter of Salafi radicalism

May 3rd, 2011, 9:17 am


norman said:

The new Egypt, Democratic and open,

مصر تمنع القبلات والمشاهد الخارجة من الأفلام السينمائية

May 3rd, 2011, 9:20 am


Akbar Palace said:

Who is against Syria: The Abridged Version

Now we know who is with Syria, and who is against it.


Your opinion piece was more balanced than your posts. Thanks. I attribute this to your ability to organize your thoughts than simply lash out in anger.

In any case, now that you “know”, can you at least explain to me “who is against” Syria? Are the demonstrators against Syria? I would be most grateful if you could explain this to someone like me who doesn’t have a “trained eye”.

May 3rd, 2011, 9:24 am


Mawal95 said:

In Camille Otrakji’s interview, he chooses to ramble far afield from the internal Syrian politics questions and he has nothing to say to visitors to “Syria Comment” that they haven’t heard already about current Syria.

This is a longer version of a comment I made on the qifanabki.com site explaining why I actively disliked the interview.

Camille Otrakji spends about half of his time talking about politics outside Syria. That half is irrelevant and worthless. As I’ve been reading material about the Syrian situation over the past weeks, there’s nothing less interesting to me than the question of what USA policy should be on the matter. I get pissed off when journalists convert the interesting Syrian politics question into the uninteresting Western reaction question. Question: What’s the best case scenario for Syria, in your opinion? Camille Otrakji’s answer: “I can’t discuss Syria without also discussing the Middle East….” and he turns the question into a pretext for glib chatter about international relations, and does not talk about Syria’s internal situation at all. Bad move. Here’s a choice example of his vapid ramblings about the Middle East: “If President Obama is serious about progress in the Middle East, he has to personally take charge of relations with Syria.” Major change is afoot in Syria! This is not the time or place to be talking about USA!

Camille Otrakji says: “Certain groups decided to try and capitalize on this act of protest in Dar’aa and turn it into a nationwide revolt.” Question: Which groups? Camille proceeds to speak at length exclusively about meddling by foreigner groups. That’s absurd. Question: So this is all the work of these outside groups? Answer: “No, of course not….” and he proceeds give us just one lousy platitudinous sentence about dissent in Syria, namely “many Syrians are dissatisfied with many aspects of the current regime”. We need more information about the spirit of dissent than that! And Camille Otrakji doesn’t have it. If he had it, he’d deliver it.

Next, he’s asked a question about “the country’s economic woes”. If you scan his reply for content, you’ll see it goes off on three tangents and never tackles the question. Once again, if he’d had something substantive to say about the country’s economy he’d have said it, and the fact that he said nothing should be taken to mean he’s got nothing to say.

Question: What is the likelihood, in your opinion, that the regime can be toppled by the current opposition…? Camille Otrakji’s answer: “The problem with this question is that it fundamentally misunderstands the whole idea of “the Syrian regime”.” I swear to God that that’s his entire answer to that question. He proceeds to chatter about Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and not about Syria; and not about the given question whatsoever.

Camille Otrakji says: “about 150,000 Syrians have joined the protests”. On the basis of my own information and belief, that estimate is about right, I say. But if you challenged me to support that with substantive facts and data, I’d have to admit that I don’t have them; my 150,000 estimate is impressionistic. If Camille Otrakji has got an analytic method and substantive facts and data to support his 150,000 estimate, he should’ve delivered them, to get his estimate established. Likewise, in the first half of the article he makes a number of other claims which are very correct in my view, but which he fails to adequately support, and which therefore will fail to convince people who are predisposed to taking a different view.

The following is another example of Camille’s mere attitudinizing, his empty handwaving mentality. Averroes over at that site in comment #40 says: “I worry about one thing, and that is if the regime does not end up offering meaningful and genuine reforms (as defined and accepted by most Syrians living in the country).” Camille’s entire reply, comment #46: “Reforms will come soon, I am convinced.”

The mere fact that Camille personally is convinced should be of no value to you or to Averroes. Rather, what should be of value is the basis on which anyone such as Camille and Averroes is convinced. The right way for Camille to have replied to Averroes would be: “Reforms will come soon, because….” But actually the Syrian prime minister has said within the last few days that reforms are coming. And Bashar recently told Erdogan the same thing, as reported by Erdogan on Turkish TV yesterday. And Averroes knows that. So the right way for Camille to have replied, if he had information that Averroes doesn’t have, would’ve been: “Meaningful and genuine reforms, as defined and accepted by most Syrians living in the country, will come soon, because….” And the fact that Camille didn’t deliver that information (originally or later) means it’s a good bet that Camille doesn’t have that information.

Considering that nobody was expecting the “Arabic spring” five months ago, and considering that Camille lives in Canada without privileged information, I can’t knock him for having nothing to say. What pisses me off is that he chooses to change the subject to the staid old foreign affairs of Syria, when today’s dynamic internal affairs are of hugely greater importance.

May 3rd, 2011, 9:25 am


why-discuss said:

Amir in Tel Aviv

Protests organizers have asked demonstrations in Banyas for today 3 May.
Al Jazeera reports on demonstrations in Syria: none

How do you interpret that?

May 3rd, 2011, 9:28 am


why-discuss said:


I guess you live in Syria and thus you grasp better the overall situation. Please share your insights and your forecasts with us.

May 3rd, 2011, 9:32 am


majedkhaldoon said:

Calling Syrian Musslems Wahhabi,or Salafi Jihadist, is the same as calling syrian christians Crusaders,they both are wrong.
Why discuss is a crusader in his comments, he hate musslems, his thinking is distorted.this revolution is not about Islam ideology, it is about freedom and dignity.

May 3rd, 2011, 9:47 am


jad said:

بيع النفط الإيراني بالليرة السورية

(دي برس)
تناقلت مصادر إعلامية خبراً مفاده أن إيران قررت بيع نفطها المصدر بالليرة السورية وذلك في خطوة منها لدعم العملة الوطنية السورية التي كثر الحديث عليها خلال الأسابيع الماضية بأنها تأثرت بالأحداث الأخيرة في البلاد.
ووصف المحلل الاقتصادي زياد عربش حسب صحيفة الوطن السورية هذا الإجراء الإيراني بالدعم المعنوي والرمزي وإشارة إلى وقوف إيران إلى جانب سورية أكثر منه اقتصادياً.

وأشار عربش إلى أن الليرة السورية أثبتت مؤخراً أنها قوية رغم الأحداث التي طالت البلاد خلال أسابيع عديدة ماضية.
وحول الآثار المباشرة لهذه الخطوة أكد عربش أن من شأنه تعزيز وجود الليرة في الأسواق المجاورة وزيادة للتبادل التجاري بين البلدين أكثر من المعتاد وأيضاً سيؤدي إلى تعزيز سعر صرف عملتنا أمام الدولار بمقدار بسيط.

وأكد عربش أن لا علاقة بين القرار الإيراني وكميات النفط التي يقوم هذا البلد بتصديرها إذ إن القرار يشمل كميات محددة من النفط الإيراني. يشار إلى أن سعر الدولار في السوق السورية بناء على نشرة المصرف المركزي كان أمس 47٫02 شراء و 47٫50 مبيع.


May 3rd, 2011, 10:00 am


Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:


How do you think Assad can reach a peace deal with Israel? It looks impossible to me.

The US and Israel refuse to return the Golan, and even when they showed some resilience they never accepted to withdraw to the 1967 line. This is a serious problem. How do you think Assad can sign peace with Israel when Israel insists on annexing Syrian territory that it conquered in 1967? Territorial annexation by force is not allowed under the UN charter. Nobody in Syria will accept to cede land or water to Israel. This is an impossible thing to ask from Assad.

If Assad signs a peace treaty with Israel and the US, he will lose much of the aid he gets from Iran. Also, Syria will lose much of its regional standing. Will the US compensate Syria for all those losses? The answer is no.

Basically, a peace treaty with Israel as presented by the US is a surrender treaty. They want us to cede land, water, money, and regional influence. This is similar to being defeated in a war. How can you expect Assad to lose a war without even fighting it? Assad said in his last speech that the US wants to impose a “virtual defeat” on him. He will not accept to be defeated without having a real fight.

May 3rd, 2011, 10:20 am


Mina said:

“Saudi Arabia in principle ought to be celebrating that its Palestinian brothers are forging unity at a historic moment, but are instead stunned into silence. President Obama quickly postponed his ”historic” Middle East policy speech, originally scheduled for this week, in order to read the tea leaves.”


May 3rd, 2011, 10:24 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:


1) This is a popular and a spontaneous uprise. Not an organized revolution. That is why “the organizers” asking the people not to protest, is valueless. There are no such organizers. Let’s wait, Friday is nearing.
It might take longer than Tunisia and Egypt, but the outcome is inevitable.

2) You are daydreaming if you think that Israel is going to salvage this regime, by making peace with it.

May 3rd, 2011, 10:25 am


ATASSI said:

Reform !! what reform!! ===============
Killers !!Killers !!
Killers !!
Killers !!
Killers !!
Killers !!
Killers !!Killers !!
Killers !!
Killers !!

ICRC urges Syria to lift block on access to Daraa casualties
3 May 2011
Agence France Presse
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011 All reproduction and presentation rights reserved.

The international Red Cross on Tuesday urged Syria to immediately lift restrictions on access to casualties in the southern city of Daraa, the epicentre of the crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

“The violence has resulted in a large number of casualties and we fear that if the situation worsens more lives will be lost,” said Marianne Gasser, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Damascus.

“It is urgent that emergency medical services, first aid workers and others performing life saving tasks swiftly reach those in need,” she added in a statement.

ICRC spokesman Hisham Hassan said the doctors and staff from the agency Syrian Red Crescent and other medical workers needed “immediate access to the injured.”

“So far we have had restricted access to certain areas, however today we need to have more larger access especially in the south, and here I talk about Daraa,” he told journalists.

“We are in touch with Syrian authorities on a daily basis but so far what we have been able to get is access probably tomorrow or the day after to certain hospitals in rural Damascus, but so far no news about Daraa in the south,” Hassan added.

The ICRC also called on authorities as well as demonstrators to respect human life and dignity, as well as protection for ambulances and medical workers.

Hassan said the ICRC was also offering to visit detainees held following the unrest to check on their conditions and treatment. The agency has been inside the country since the 1967 Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, largely to help Syrian civilians in the area.

May 3rd, 2011, 10:25 am


Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

The regional tide is clearly moving against the US. It is not wise to sign peace with Israel now. Even Egypt and Turkey who already have peace with Israel are moving away from it. Signing peace with Israel now will be like throwing a lifeline for the US. Even if we consider doing it, the price must be very high. The US is not offering us any sensible price.

Assad’s policy is the best for Syria. We must stick to Iran, Turkey, and Russia. The US’s boat in this region is a sinking boat. They only have Israel and Saudi Arabia left for them. Both of these regimes are very unstable and they won’t last long.

May 3rd, 2011, 10:26 am


Atassi said:

Sanctions Pressure Increases on Syria
Sanctions Pressure Increases on Syria
Sanctions Pressure Increases on Syria
Sanctions Pressure Increases on Syria
Sanctions Pressure Increases on Syria
Sanctions Pressure Increases on Syria
Catherine Hunter
3 May 2011
IHS Global Insight Daily Analysis
Copyright 2011, IHS Global Insight Limited. All Rights Reserved.

IHS World Markets Energy Perspective


The United States and EU are increasing sanctions against Syria because of its repressive crackdown on popular protests, so far looking at restrictions on individuals and specific goods, but with measures against the country’s energy sector mooted as a potential next step.


Syria is already struggling to capture necessary investment for growth, in the energy sector and outside, with further financial or trade restrictions and even indirect measures on individuals likely to compound these issues, should the current regime withstand the mounting opposition.


Constraints on international oil availability make outright restrictions on Syrian oil exports or imports unlikely at this stage, although action that penalises energy investors or restricts funds is more likely if the Syrian regime persists with its current course.

With some 500 people now reported killed as a result of violence in Syria, the European Union (EU) and the United States are both stepping up unilateral sanctions against the regime in the absence of consensus at the United Nations, where China, Russia and Lebanon have opposed Security Council action.

The US has stepped up its existing sanctions, imposed in 2004, with an asset freeze on three individuals associated with the crackdown on protestors. Meanwhile, the EU agreed last week that it will also impose sanctions, with a list of targeted individuals to be drawn up for approval by foreign ministers on 12 May. It will stop arms shipments and direct payments to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad from a EUR40-million/year aid programme. No agreement has yet been reached within the EU on the proposed suspension of EUR1.3-billion-worth of investment by the European Investment Bank (EIB), however, which includes funding for power plants and other infrastructure. Nevertheless, discussions continue over this and other punitive economic measures, included in which is action against the country’s oil exports, which are small in terms of an international contribution but significant in terms of government revenues. Figures from the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) show that total oil consumption stood at 297,900 b/d in 2009, down from 344,200 b/d in 2008 as a result of the removal of subsidies, with oil production of around 380,000 b/d, enabling some exports of products and crude.

The increased international action reflects further crackdowns by the regime in the face of popular protests, which started in the southern city of Dar’a, but have since spread to a number of other centres, including refinery town Banias, the regime’s stronghold, Latakia, Hama, Homs and the capital, Damascus. Some protests were also reported in Qamashli in the north-eastern region of the country, where most of the country’s current 380,000 boe/d of oil production and associated gas production is located.

International oil companies have so far said that operations remain unaffected by the protests and crackdowns. They include Shell, Total, CNPC and Gulfsands, alongside Suncor, who participate in oil and gas production through production sharing agreements with the state-owned Syrian Petroleum Company. Shell, through its 65% stake in Syria Shell Petroleum Development (SSPD), has said that it has offered to relocate dependents, but that offices remain open. Total too has said that it was “vigilant”, in comments reported by Platts. Nonetheless, growing international isolation and restrictions on trade are likely to have repercussions down the line if the regime survives the current unrest, with previous rounds of sanctions tending to deter investment in the country’s energy sector, even if the terms did not explicitly include this.Syrian Petroleum Company

Outlook and Implications

As stated previously, Syria shares a number of the characteristics with regimes in the region that have been the subject of targeted unrest and regime change, included in which is the fading influence of a socialist ideology and dirigiste mentality, which has still to give way to a more pluralistic alternative, both economically and politically. Indeed, Syria has a proven record in taking whatever measures necessary to quash dissent, a record it has proven ready to repeat amid current protests as the regime digs its heels in. Some concessions have been made—including the end of emergency laws, a change in the cabinet, and some easing in taxes and price increases—but the essentials are more or less as before.

As yet the prospects for the al-Assad regime are hard to call, with protests clearly gaining steam, but still well off the levels reached in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen or Libya, where more sweeping political changes are in play. The coming weeks will show whether the Syrian regime has the strength to adapt sufficiently to the unprecedented unrest, or whether an alternative is possible. In both scenarios, energy investors are likely to be affected, the first through the likely increasing difficulty of doing business in the country, the latter in the possible regulatory and operational flux that would inevitably accompany any transition in power. For most of the key players, Syria remains a marginal element in a global production portfolio, although for some smaller actors, Gulfsands included, Syrian prospects are very much integral to their future course.

May 3rd, 2011, 10:35 am


aboali said:

The Syrian regime has a clear strategy now: promises of superficial reforms, brutal violence against protesters and mass arrest of activists.
Only in Syria: emergency law is lifted = 100s of arbitrary arrests. law for protests introduced = people who apply for a permit arrested!

There is simply too much momentum, international pressure, and chilling eyewitness accounts of executions and mass murders for this regime to weather the “summer clouds” as they like to call this uprising. This regime is finished, it’s simply a question of how much time and at what cost. All the loyalists, including Sunni business men, a sizable number of Christians and other religious minorities, and finally Alawis will switch allegiances very soon when they realize that their future and interests lie in a post-Assad Syria ruled by popular consent and not brutal suppression.

May 3rd, 2011, 10:42 am


why-discuss said:


I only dislike extremists whatever religion they are… You seem to have sympathy for them I don’t.

May 3rd, 2011, 10:53 am


why-discuss said:


I agree with the principles and it all depends on how Syria’s economy will do with the loss of investments coming from the Gulf countries and the dwindling tourism.
The only possibility of new investments is from China (and Russia) as they have taken side with Syria during this crisis.
If the country can sustain this situation for a while without social unrests (that would immediately be hijacked), then Bashr Al Assad should stick to his present policy.
If Egypt, now a fledging democracy, intends to keep israeli embassy in Cairo, I don’t see why Syria , with the help of Turkey, should not make overtures for a peace deal, as it has aleady started negotiations before.

May 3rd, 2011, 11:02 am


Souri333 (formerly Souri) said:

Turkey wants badly that Assad allows the MB back in Syria (this is part of their neo-Ottoman strategy). The fact that Turkey is angry with Assad means that he has refused that demand. Even if he wanted to do it initially, he must have gotten scared by the way Turkey has been pushing for the MB to be given a share in the government. His decision is wise, not just because the MB is an anti-nationalist movement but also because it is not wise to allow a Turkish Trojan horse in your government when it is obvious that Turkey has an expansionist appetite in our region.

The US and its allies are angry at Assad simply because they could not get anything from him. It appears that Assad refused to give any concessions to the US and its allies.

I still hope that Assad will license some secular parties with Islamic background. We need such parties in Syria to reduce Islamic extremism. I think Assad is opposing Turkey’s demand not because he does want it, but because he is right now scared from Turkey (and the US).

How will Assad manage to continue his secularization efforts when he is pressed to allow more public political participation and when Turkey and the US are pressing to replace him with the MB? This is a really difficult situation.

Assad will allow new parties to participate in the government, but he will not dismantle the security apparatus. He needs this apparatus to keep off the Islamists from taking over the state like they are trying to do now. This will leave him vulnerable to Turkish and Western pressure. The next stage is not going to be easy. Assad will be more dependent on Iran and Russia, but I don’t think he will fall, simply because he still enjoys the support of the majority of his people. There is no public anger at Assad in Syria like the US and its allies are trying to draw. People are angry at the protesters and the US, not at Assad.

May 3rd, 2011, 11:21 am


aboali said:

here’s an interesting answer to Otrakhi’s nonsense:


May 3rd, 2011, 11:28 am


majedkhaldoon said:

Why discuss
Your comments clearly indicate you are extremist,and you are oriented as crusader,now you are advocating pro Israel steps.
Most christians in Syria are good christians, they like to live peacefully with the majority Muslems as brothers and good neibours.

You said
” Turkey and the US are pressing to replace him with the MB ”
This is nonsense,USA is not working to replace Assad with MB

May 3rd, 2011, 11:44 am


jad said:

Isn’t it better to have MB representatives under the Syrian parliament that they can be partners in defending the country and get ride of radical element in the society than leaving people in the street being used by the radicals and wasting Syrian lives when we can save those lives and maintain the dialog clean and under control.
MB are not necessary Salafis, and through political and public dialogs many things can be change and if they have something to say, then we need to listen, there shouldn’t be any violence if the language have no violence but if they do the public through the parliament and legal manners can through them out.

May 3rd, 2011, 11:58 am


Alex said:

Dear Joshua,

Can you please ask this new “Alex” to choose another name. It is a cheap old tactic (by whoever) to create this online character who takes on my name and posts extremist statements. No wonder people think I am an Islam hater or an absolute regime supporter who calls the opposition “the traitors”

I have been trying for the longest time to not write much because there is no clear right or wrong and there are emotional sensitivities that I respect for all sides.

May 3rd, 2011, 12:38 pm


norman said:

Hi Alex,
That is what happens when you are famous, not like us peons,

I think that DR Landis should have a registration form and a name is chosen and denied if one taken by somebody else first.What do you think? by the way the other Alex has a different web page.

May 3rd, 2011, 1:03 pm


jad said:

Dear Alex,
That is the most cheap try I read so far on SC. You have my support.
Why would someone do that, and how come someone can easily use other people exact same name without Dr. Landis noticing? That is unaccepted at all and it actually make us question the security of this website.
I demand that you and Dr. Landis expose who did it through their IP address and make it a norm for whoever dare to do such unethical fraud to be exposed.

May 3rd, 2011, 1:08 pm


Mina said:

Just to say, some people are better organized than others:

May 3rd, 2011, 2:06 pm


Alex said:

Dear Norman, Jad

There is a chance “Alex” is a real person who did not know there was another Alex here, so it is not fair to expose his IP or ban him. But I will see what we can do to change his name.

If Alex provided us a real email address I will write to him to ask him to pick another name.

I just want everyone here to know that I have been mostly silent the past few weeks.

May 3rd, 2011, 2:48 pm


Solitarius said:

About the ALEX shabeeh thing.. well it was obvious from the Arabic.. someone just copy pasted that in some translator. But yeah there should be a way to protect the usernames of regular posters.

May 3rd, 2011, 2:50 pm


Gus said:

The majority of the syrian people chose not to join protest till now, and it seems that 1 or 2 % want to dictate the future of the country .
The opposition seems to be very angry and disappointed and hoping that outside pressure is going to change the equation.
I hope they will fail

May 3rd, 2011, 4:14 pm


qunfuz said:


a very clear-sighted piece which should be read and carefully considered by those justifying regime atrocities.

May 3rd, 2011, 9:15 pm


Solitarius said:


I’m sorry to tell you that this article you posted in worth nothing. She is barely touching on the surface like a little kid barely reaching the water of a bathtub.

She did not discuss in her article any of the sectarian crimes that already happened in the country during this wave of protests neither does she discuss the history of the nation with regards to sectarianism and violence. Even before this revolution sectarianism is visible and alive.. just roasting slowly under the ashes.

If anything she should have qouted and dissected the numbers of military and pro-gov security/people who have been killed, where and by whom.. but what does she know or what do the readers know or care.. she is just writing some cliche article that feeds the Western stereotype

Do you know Qunfuz that once, a few years ago, the brave revolutionary people of Bab el Sbaa’ باب السباع , those who know are on the frontlines of the Syrian democracy movement, chopped up an Alawi police officer and placed his chopped up corpse in a bad and let it hang in their mosque? Apparently he was too rude or insensitive to their feelings. And by God isn’t it easy these days to hurt the feelings of the zealous Muslims. He also happened to be Alawi so it was easier and more fun to stab him. Sectarianism is deep in Syrian society especially in the cities that have population mixing and migrations.

Plz Don’t insult our intelligence and the sad troubling complexity of our society by saying that such superficial article even begins to tackle the tip of the question of whether or not there is regime-back plot to scare the people of sectarianism. The regime might indeed play some role, but this particular issue is definitely beyond its control.

May 4th, 2011, 6:05 am


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