Opposition Disunity Becomes the Problem as the West Gets its Ducks in a Row

Western diplomats have gotten their ducks in a row. They have fulfilled their goal of diplomatically isolating President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian regime. Sanctions have been tightened and plans drawn up for a total oil purchasing ban by the EU. The major European countries have now all reiterated Washington’s statement that Assad must go. They are committed to bringing down the Baath regime.

The Arab League has taken the initiative to ask for presidential elections in Syria and an end of repression. Russia and Iran, although presently sticking by Syria’s side, have openly criticized Assad for his repression. Russia’s delegation has just returned from Damascus. Western leaders have prepared the world to support the Syrian revolution. Some may even be contemplating an eventual military solution. Today arming Syrians is not being openly discussed, but many are coming to the conclusion that it may very well have to be somewhere down the road.

The stumbling block in the way of developing further momentum for the revolution is the Syrian opposition itself. Western capitals have been driving the momentum over the last weeks with condemnations, enhanced economic embargoes, and by herding Arab and Middle Eastern statesmen to make accusatory and condemning statements about the Syrian regime. If the opposition continues sniping among factions, momentum will be lost. To whom should aid be sent? To whom could arms be sent if a military option is to be opened? More importantly, whom should the Syrian people look to as an alternative to this government?

Burhan Ghalioun

The announcement of the formation of the Syrian National Council with Burhan Ghalioun, a sociology professor at the Sorbonne, as its president was immediately denounced by leaders of the opposition within Syria, who claimed it had no connection to activists within the country or control over events on the ground. Muhammad Rahhal, Chairman of the Syrian Revolutionary Council of the Coordination Committees, said:

“Those who formed the Syrian National Council are ghosts claiming to represent a large part of the Syrian people, while they have no relations whatsoever with the revolution. We are not part of the opposition abroad. The revolution has an internal body that decides its course.”

A full fledged food fight has broken out among opposition leaders over who should assume control over the revolution, whether it should take up arms, and what role foreign powers are playing. Underlying these overt clashes is the question of how much play should be given to Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood; Arabism versus Syrianism (the Kurds want recognition of their national and linguistic rights within a Syria that is not defined ethnically), and can ex-patriots lead or do they establish a “Chalabi effect?” Distrust of the West remains strong in Syria. Activists inside Syria don’t appreciate how Western governments must be brought along step by step. They cannot get out too far ahead of their people, who don’t want to spend money right now. Expats believe that Western governments are going to be crucial in bringing down the Assad regime and must be treated with respect and brought along. Some in Washington are already warning that the Syrian opposition will soon begin calling for external military intervention and that Washington should prepare itself and NATO to intervene.

[End of Landis commentary]

New Round Up

Formation of the Syrian National Council, August 29, 2011

A meeting of the Syrian opposition in Ankara, Turkey has formed the Syrian National Transitional Council, following in the Libyan opposition’s footsteps. It is to be headed by Dr Burhan Ghalioun, a prominent opposition figure.

He is a Syrian thinker, director of the Centre d’Etudes sur l’Orient Contemporain (Ceoc) in Paris, and a professor of political sociology at the Université de Paris III

They have chosen 94 members for the council, 42 of whom are inside Syria and the rest are in the Diaspora.

The press statement was delivered by a spokesman for the Youth of the Revolution, saying the choices of the head and members of the council were mad based on consultations and agreement with those in Syria.

Addendum: Majhool corrects in the comment section:

I just spoke to a Homsi Friend, he confirmed that Ghalioun Family is a small modest Sunni family.

Abughassan writes in the comment section:

It is premature to draw conclusions about the choice of Dr Galioun to be the president of the transitional council formed by the opposition. I am not even sure if this council will be THE council for the opposition. I certainly see it as a positive step that must be followed by the public release of a roadmap for change. The opposition needs to tell us where it is headed.

Contacts with moderate elements in the army and among community leaders seem to be a reasonable second step. The council will be DOA if it does not deliver a moderate and inclusive message that is peaceful at its core.

Galioun, as most of you know, is a secular Alawi who is a bitter opponent of the Baath Party. But he is also just as fiercely opposed to Islamist.  It remains to be seen how he will be received by conservative Muslims and how effective and influential he will be at his position. He is also an expat which will be used against him by both foes and friends.

Naming Galioun was a political move to assure some Alawis and deliver a message to islamists but it is obviously too early to say much about his appointment or election by the council.

Syrian uprising to get aggressive- Activist,
29/08/2011, By Paula Astatih

“Regarding the announcement of the establishment of the Syrian National Council, Rahhal told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Those who formed the council are ghosts claiming to represent a large part of the Syrian people, while they have no relations whatsoever with the revolution. We are not part of the opposition abroad. The revolution has an internal body that decides its course.”

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Muhammad Rahhal, Chairman of the Syrian Revolutionary Council of the Coordination Committees has announced that the council has adopted a resolution to soon move into the second stage of the revolution, which requires arming it, and moving towards an aggressive direction.

Rahhal told Asharq al-Awsat: “We have adopted the resolution to arm the revolution, which will take an aggressive direction very soon, because what we are facing today is an international conspiracy that cannot be confronted except by armed uprising.” Rahhal considers: “The circumstances no longer allow peaceful dealing with the criminality of the regime. Moreover, confronting the ghoul that seeks the protection of the world countries requires weapons, especially as it has become evident to all that the world has not supported the Syrian uprising except by words.”

“We will declare the revolution with what we have in our hands of weapons and stones, and we will respond to the calls of the masses for arming the uprising.” Rahhal added.

With regard to the sources of weapons, the Syrian activist told Asharq Al Awsat: “The Arab countries, which are supposed to help and support us, are cowards, and they refuse to act. Therefore, we will follow the Afghan example; when the Afghans were asked: Where will you get the weapons? They answered: As long as the United States is here, there will be weapons.”

Regarding the announcement of the establishment of the Syrian National Council, Rahhal told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Those who formed the council are ghosts claiming to represent a large part of the Syrian people, while they have no relations whatsoever with the revolution. We are not part of the opposition abroad. The revolution has an internal body that decides its course.”

Divisions in Syrian opposition over arming protesters
Aug 29, 2011, AFP

Cairo – The first signs of divisions among Syrian opposition groups emerged Monday over the contentious issue of arming the pro-democracy protesters.

The Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC) rejected calls by some opposition groups to arm the protesters, saying such a move would be ‘unacceptable politically, nationally, and ethically.’

The LCC, one of several online groups that have been organizing and documenting the protests, said arming the protesters would minimize popular support for and participation in the rallies.

The group said in a statement that it understood the motivation to take up arms, but rejected it. ‘The method by which the regime is overthrown is an indication of what Syria will be like post-regime,’ it said.

‘If an armed confrontation or international military intervention becomes a reality, it will be virtually impossible to establish a legitimate foundation for a proud future Syria,’ the statement said.

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad has cracked down on the pro-democracy protests that started mid-March, triggering international condemnation. The United Nations says more than 2,200 people have been killed.

Mohammad Rahhal of another group, Syrian Coordination Committees, supported the decision to arm the protesters.

‘We made our decision to arm the revolution which will turn violent very soon because what we are being subjected to today is a global conspiracy that can only be faced by an armed uprising,’ he told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper on Sunday.

In Turkey meanwhile, some opposition members announced the formation of a National Transitional Council to lead activists calling for al-Assad’s ouster.

While a council spokesman said the members were chosen after consultations with activists and protesters in Syria, according to Al Jazeera, some members told regional broadcasters that they were not notified about or consulted on their appointments.

The council is to comprise 94 members – 42 in Syria – and be led by Burhan Ghalioun, a sociologist at the Sorbonne in Paris. Hundreds of Syrian dissidents had gathered in Istanbul last month and agreed to form a council in order to unify the opposition. more…

Syrian opposition decides to take up arms against Assad regime, 28.08.11

Leader of Revolutionary Council tell London-based As-Sharq al-Awsat that the only solution to regime’s violence is armed uprising.

The leader of the Revolutionary Council of the Syrian Coordination Committees, Mohammad Rahhal, said in remarks published Sunday that the council took the decision to arm the Syrian revolution.

Since mid-March pro-democracy protests have engulfed most of Syria calling for political and economic reforms as well as for the ousting of Syrian president Bashar Assad.

“We made our decision to arm the revolution which will turn violent very soon because what we are being subjected to today is a global conspiracy that can only be faced by an armed uprising,” he told the London-based As-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Circumstances no longer allow dealing peacefully with the regime’s “crimes,” he added. “We will use whatever arms and rocks … We will respond to the people’s calls to arm the revolution,” he said.

“Confronting this monster (the Syrian regime) now requires arms, especially after it has become clear to everyone that the world only supports the Syrian uprising through speeches,” he added. Rahal lashed out some Arab regimes and described them as “cowards.”

Assad’s troops have harshly cracked down on protests against almost five decades of Baath Party rule, killing over 2,200 people and triggering a wide-scale international condemnation.

Sami Moubayed in Gulfnews

….The Syrian state, however, until this very day, does not feel weak or in danger. Wishful thinking is one thing, but hard reality is another. On the contrary, Syrian authorities are firmly convinced that the “crisis” is ending and the nation is still very much under control. Schools and universities are opening next September, infrastructure projects are still underway, employees are still showing up at ministries, and state salaries are still being paid. No serious defections have taken place in the army or the foreign ministry, and no critical mass has been recorded in the capital Damascus. Also, the state feels that the demonstrators are getting fatigued because of fear, death and so many arrests during the past two months.

For their part, the rioters are also now certain that the state is much stronger than they expected and unlikely to relinquish power as the case in Tunisia or Egypt, anytime soon. Given the current balance of power, the street will probably never take Damascus or Aleppo — the two largest cities in Syria — and nor will the protesters ever occupy a central part of the capital, as they did with Tahrir Square in Cairo.

That explains why there are certain voices in the Syrian underground now calling for taking up arms, claiming that a “peaceful revolt” will never achieve its objective…..

Syrian Attorney General Bakkour Kidnapped in Hama, Sana Says, 2011-08-29
By Vivian Salama

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) — A group of armed gunmen have reportedly kidnapped Syrian Attorney General Adnan Bakkour in the city of Hama while he was on his way to work today, state-run Sana news agency reported today, citing Hama police.

Everyone should buy this book of Ali Ferzat’s cartoons that Scott Davis published at Cune Press. It is excellent.

Some fear war, foreign intervention in Syria
By Phil Sand, Aug 30, 2011, the National

Damascus // With no sign that a political solution will be found to end a six-month-old uprising, Syria is sliding towards a full-blown war involving foreign forces, analysts and political figures in Damascus fear.

Pro-and anti-regime figures and independent analysts once spoke of civil war and international military intervention as remote possibilities. In the past 10 days, however, the already sombre mood in the Syrian capital has turned even darker and now there is a growing consensus that an escalation of armed conflict is likely, if not inevitable.

A turning point came on August 21, with the arrival of Libyan rebels in Tripoli. With the collapse of the Qaddafi regime, Mr Al Assad’s government saw its hope that Nato would be mired in another Afghanistan-style conflict melt away. Meanwhile, opposition activists and analysts took it as a signal that a once-distracted international community will now focus its attention – and perhaps military resources – on Damascus.

The fact that no state, including the Western nations most at odds with the Syrian regime, has proposed military intervention has done nothing to prevent grim speculation.

The gloom has been compounded by increasingly critical positions from the Arab League and from Turkey, whose president, Abdullah Gul, said Sunday that any reforms would now be “too little, too late.”

“Scenarios that lead to foreign military action in Syria grow more likely every day,” said one well-connected political analyst in Damascus, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He brushed aside Western and Arab League assurances that military action was not on the agenda, citing the rapid march to war in Libya as a precedent for how rapidly policies could change.

“The situation could start moving very quickly. If the [Syrian] regime keeps killing people in large numbers, we will enter a civil war, and if that happens Turkey, the West and the Arab states would decide to step in and finish it,” the analyst said. “That is exactly the direction we are now heading in.”…. “Every day we are coming up with political initiatives that we put to the authorities to avert the disaster of war and foreign military intervention but nothing is happening to change course,” said Mohammad Habash, a Syrian MP pushing for reforms. “Without real change, we go deeper and deeper into crisis. We are marching towards more bloodshed.”

Arab League proposes Syria peace plan, Telegraph
By Ben Farmer, 28 Aug 2011

The Arab League is sending its chief to Damascus with a peace plan to try and solve the bloody five-month-old Syrian crisis.

Nabil al-Arabi will visit the Syrian capital with “an initiative” to end the deadlock between the government and protesters, the league said in a statement demanding an end to the bloodshed.

The statement provoked an angry rejection from Syria though, which condemned it as “a clear violation … of the principles of the Arab League charter and of the foundations of joint Arab action.” Foreign ministers from the 22-member League met over the weekend in Cairo as an onslaught against anti-government protesters defied growing pressure from Damascus’s allies.

The United Nations has estimated more than 2,200 have been killed.

Months of international condemnation have failed to halt the bloodshed, which has seen the regime deploy tanks, snipers, and allegedly naval bombardment against street protesters.

In some of the weekend’s heaviest clashes, army defectors who had refused to fire on unarmed protesters reportedly fought loyalist troops in a northeast suburb of the capital.

Dozens of soldiers defected and fled into al-Ghouta, an area of orchards and farmland, after pro-Assad forces shot at a crowd of demonstrators near the Damascus suburb of Harasta to prevent them from marching on the capital, residents said.

Syrian authorities have denied any army defections, though protesters claim growing numbers of rank-and-file soldiers are mutinying against officers loyal to the Assad family.

One resident, who declined to be named, said: “The army has been firing heavy machineguns throughout the night at al-Ghouta and they were being met with response from smaller rifles.”

Security forces on Sunday shot dead two and wounded nine others in the northwestern province of Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Abdullah Gul, president of neighbouring Turkey, said he had lost confidence in Damascus’s promises to halt the crackdown and deliver reform.

“Today in the world there is no place for authoritarian administrations, one-party rule, closed regimes. Those either will be replaced by force, or the governors of states will take the initiative to administer,” Mr Gul warned.

Iran at the weekend warned Mr Assad to heed the “legitimate demands” of his people, but warned Nato would become bogged down in a quagmire if it interfered.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Tehran’s foreign minister, said: “Syria is the front-runner in Middle Eastern resistance (to Israel) and Nato cannot intimidate this country with an attack.

“If, God forbid, such a thing happened, Nato would drown in a quagmire from which it would never be able to escape …

“If the West should want to follow the same course as they have done in Iraq and Afghanistan they would not realise the desired result.”

William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, ruled out a Libya-style Nato military campaign in Syria.

He claimed the success of Libyan rebels in taking Tripoli “vindicated” Britain’s policy of military action, but said there was no consensus for action in Syria.

It was unclear when the Arab League delegation would reach Damascus and details of the peace plan were not disclosed.

Russian diplomats were also preparing to send their own delegation with a competing initiative, Moscow said.

Council seeks ‘resort to reason‘; Delegates also recognize Libyan rebels, ask UN to release frozen funds, assets
By SAMI ABOUDI, Reuters August 29, 2011

Arab foreign ministers told Syria on Sunday to work to end months of bloodshed, and decided to send Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby to Damascus to push for political and economic reforms.

But in a conciliatory message to Damascus, the ministers also said after an extraordinary meeting in Cairo that Syria’s stability was crucial for the Arab World and the whole region.

Assad receives a message on the Russian vision towards regional issues

DAMASCUS, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received Monday a message from his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev ….

SANA said Assad has expressed “appreciation of Russia’s balanced stance towards the developments in Syria.”

Assad said “each step Syria has taken towards issuing laws that lay foundations for a new political era was followed by an escalation of the regional and international campaign towards Syria’s Arab and regional role.”

Bogdanov voiced his country’s support to the process of reforms Syria has commenced in the economic and political fields, underlining the importance of continued coordination between the two countries in all fields.

The Russian envoy’s visit aims likely to feel out Syria’s position on the draft resolution and to what extent Damascus would commit itself to its provisions if Russia and China were able to pass it in the Security Council instead of the Europeans’ proposed one.

The Russian draft stresses that the only solution to the current crisis is “an inclusive and Syrian-led political process,” and urges the opposition to engage in political dialogue with the government.

US ‘encouraged’ by tougher Arab stand on Syria

WASHINGTON – The United States said Monday that it was “encouraged” and “heartened” by a tougher stand from Arab countries toward Syria’s deadly crackdown pro-democracy protesters.

“We are very much encouraged, heartened by the strong statements that we’ve seen over the weekend by the Arab League as well as by the Gulf Cooperation Council,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

These are “further signs that the international community… is repulsed by the brutal actions of the Syrian government and is standing with the Syrian people,” he added.

If the Arab Spring Turns Ugly
Published: August 27, 2011

Vali Nasr is professor at Tufts University, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of “The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future.”
Points of Confrontation

THE Arab Spring is a hopeful chapter in Middle Eastern politics, but the region’s history points to darker outcomes. There are no recent examples of extended power-sharing or peaceful transitions to democracy in the Arab world. When dictatorships crack, budding democracies are more than likely to be greeted by violence and paralysis. Sectarian divisions — the bane of many Middle Eastern societies — will then emerge, as competing groups settle old scores and vie for power. Syria today stands at the edge of such an upheaval. The brutality of Bashar al-Assad’s regime is opening a dangerous fissure between the Alawite minority, which rules the country, and the majority Sunni population. After Mr. Assad’s butchery in the largely Sunni city of Hama on July 31, on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan, the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni group, accused the regime of conducting “a war of sectarian cleansing.” It is now clear that Mr. Assad’s strategy is to divide the opposition by stoking sectarian conflict.

Sunni extremists have reacted by attacking Alawite families and businesses, especially in towns near the Iraq border. The potential for a broader clash between Alawites and Sunnis is clear, and it would probably not be confined to Syria. Instead, it would carry a risk of setting off a regional dynamic that could overwhelm the hopeful narrative of the Arab Spring itself, replacing it with a much aggravated power struggle along sectarian lines.

That is because throughout the Middle East there is a strong undercurrent of simmering sectarian tension between Sunnis and Shiites, of whom the Alawites are a subset. ….

Tehran presses ally Assad for reforms
Published: Aug 27, 2011 22:48 Updated: Aug 27, 2011 22:48

TEHRAN: The Syrian government should recognize the “legitimate demands” of its people, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, whose nation is the main ally of Damascus, was quoted as saying Saturday.

“The government should answer to the demands of its people, be it Syria, Yemen or other countries,” the ISNA news agency quoted him as saying. “The people of these nations have legitimate demands and the governments should respond to these demands as soon as possible,” Salehi added.

“We have the same stance toward popular developments in the Middle East and North Africa. We believe that the developments in the region emanate from discontent and dissatisfaction in these countries,” he said.

But he warned against toppling the Syrian regime. “A vacuum in the Syrian regime would have an unpredictable impact for the region and its neighbors,” Salehi said, referring to calls by the United States and European leaders for President Bashar Assad to step down.

Salehi’s comments came two days after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for dialogue between Damascus and the opposition to end months of deadly violence. “The people and government of Syria must come together to reach an understanding,” Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday.

Syria’s opposition has failed to offer a viable alternative, Aug 28, 2011. Russian News

Shortly after the execution of Saddam Hussein in December 2006, two stories began to circulate about his fate. One told of otherwise sane people reportedly seeing the face of the late Iraqi dictator on the moon on the night of his death. Another told a more believable tale: that the “real” Saddam was alive and well after a body double died on the gallows. It would only be a matter of time before he rose again.

These stories were, of course, nothing more than paranoid fiction. But they spoke to the psychological hold that Saddam maintained over much of the Iraqi public. People simply couldn’t believe his reign of terror was over. Indeed, some people didn’t want it to be.

A similar scenario is playing out in Syria today. Much like his father before him, Bashar Al Assad’s political decisions have rendered him illegitimate in the eyes of many. But fear of what could come next has kept his regime alive.

Mr Al Assad, like all totalitarian rulers, holds on to power in different ways: by force, by coercion, or by a combination of both. Decades of brutality have pushed some to accept tyranny.

But there are others who support the Assad regime for legitimate reasons. These Syrians, predominantly minorities, have profound concerns that must be duly addressed. And so far, the Syrian opposition has failed to reassure those sitting on the fence….

August 26, 2011
Iran Monitors Turkey’s Rising Regional Power
By Stratfor

A high ranking Iranian cleric used some tough language against Turkey on Wednesday. Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi – recently appointed to head the newly constituted Arbitration Council- accused Turkey of promoting a Westernized version of Islam to advance its interests in the region. Shahroudi, who is seen as a possible successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Turkey’s claims to be the “guardian of the resistance movement” are tarnished by Ankara’s relations with Israel and alliance with the United States. He said that Iran, despite its support of the Palestinians and efforts against the West, has been pushed to the margins.

Shahroudis comments come a day after another high-ranking cleric, Naser Makarrem-Shirazi (a grand ayatollah who is very close to the Iranian political establishment) criticized the Turkish government for turning against Syria, accusing Ankara of being at the complete disposal of the West. Earlier on Monday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sought Ankara’s help in protecting the Syrian regime from Western pressure during a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that lasted more than thirty minutes….

Turkey’s ‘house of glass’
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek has an explanation for the most recent escalation of violence in Turkey’s southeast: Foreign powers!

Mr. Çiçek’s reply to a reporter’s question as to who these foreign powers are may well earn him a nomination for the 2011 Speech Apraxia Award: “We know who they are… Those who know who they are know who they are… And they (the evil foreign powers) know it’s them.”

In the previous rise of armed conflict between the Turkish military and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, the Turkish government subtly accused Israel for playing the Kurdish card against Turkey – while not minding to play the Hamas card against the Jewish state. Today, it seems, “those who know it’s them” are either the Iranians or the Syrians, or both. But is it not bizarre to see Israel, Iran and Syria in the same camp? A very rare gathering, indeed…

Wikileaks has released a US embassy cable dated 2008 about the sale of commercial Airbus planes which has been blocked by the USA .

The blockage was already a well known fact. What was not known is : It also stressed that the airframer had “no intention of structuring the deal to attempt to circumvent [US government] sanctions” – ruling out lease and purchase agreements with private third parties.

Russia, China resist U.N. Syria sanctions push: envoys
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS | Fri Aug 26, 2011

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A U.S. and European push to impose U.N. Security Council sanctions on Syria for its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators is meeting fierce resistance from Russia and China, U.N. diplomats said.

The United States, Britain, France, Germany and Portugal have circulated a draft resolution that calls for sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, influential members of his family and close associates. They say they want to put it to a vote as soon as possible.

The measures are not as severe as U.S. sanctions in place and a proposed expansion of European Union steps against Damascus that would forbid the import of Syrian oil.

U.S., Israel Said to Monitor Suspected Syrian Weapons: WSJ 2011-08-27

WASHINGTON—The U.S. and Israel are closely monitoring Syria’s suspected cache of weapons of mass destruction, fearing that terror groups could take advantage of the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad to obtain blistering agents, nerve gas …

Nasrallah urges Arabs to end unrest in Syria
By Dana Khraiche

BEIRUT: Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah called Friday on Arab and friendly states to combine efforts to end the nearly six-month unrest in Syria, adding Syrian support for Hezbollah had been essential in the liberation of south Lebanon from Israeli occupation.

“Everyone who is a friend of Syria and seeks to preserve the country and its unity should combine efforts to help push them toward dialogue and peaceful resolution,” Nasrallah said during a ceremony for the occasion of Jerusalem International Day in Maroun al-Ras, a village on the Lebanese border with Israel.

Nasrallah praised Syria’s support for the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance, noting that if it wasn’t for the support of the Syrian leadership, Hezbollah would not have succeeded in liberating south Lebanon in 2000.

“This land here [south Lebanon] would not have been liberated it wasn’t for the resistance and the resistance would not have won if it wasn’t for the Syrian support,” Nasrallah said, adding that the Iran had also provided support, via Syria.

In 2000, Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in what has been described by Hezbollah as a victory for the party, as has the 2006 war between Lebanon and Israel.

Nasrallah also warned that any positive or negative developments in Syria would affect the entire region, including Lebanon, and would harm the chances of liberating Palestine, praising Syria’s role in supporting the Palestinian cause.

Syrian opposition tries to unite, Turkey pledges more support

Syria’s fragmented opposition is on the edge of forming their leadership, as the unrest in the country is about to enter its sixth month.

The Syrian opposition gathered in Istanbul earlier this week and established the National Council after three days of meetings. The 120 members will be determined in two weeks.

“Options for the Assad regime are growing narrower by the day while the opposition is becoming bolder and more conscious of the pressing need to demonstrate that they are able to address the question of what happens after the collapse of the Assad regime,” says Amr al-Azm, a Syrian-American history professor.

Meanwhile, al-Azm adds, the opposition is unable to unite around a single representative body “that would then be able to speak on its behalf and articulate these demands in a cohesive and comprehensive manner”.

This is not easy “due to the unsettled relations between the various opposition groups and tensions that exist between those on the inside and the diaspora”, he tells SETimes.

“It is this daunting challenge of attempting to help the Syrian opposition coalesce around a representative body or council that Turkey may find a role to play in the coming days and weeks,” he adds.

Edward Dark, an activist from Aleppo and editor of the website Syrialeaks, said… “We view Turkey as a big brother who should protect us in our time of trouble… maybe [our] expectations are too high and sometimes unrealistic,” he tells SETimes.

Turkey, however, finds itself in a difficult position on the Syrian issue, while it tries to juggle its relations with the regime and links to the people.

“Maintaining this balance is not possible anymore,” Dark says, “The activists demand that Turkey sever its ties with the regime and take a very tough line, with threats of military intervention, under the umbrella of the UN or NATO.”

But in Ankara, officials seem unsure about the next step in their strategy.

“Our diplomacy is the diplomacy of persuasion,” Canan Kalsin, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) vice-chairman for foreign affairs, tells SETimes, adding that Turkey will continue its efforts to bring the sides together for dialog.

“[Erdogan] warned last week that unrest in Syria is part of Turkey’s internal affairs. That means the strengthening of the PKK in Syria is very sensitive for us,” she adds.

Oytun Orhan, Syria analyst at the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies, an Ankara-based think tank, explains that some in Turkey blame the recent wave of PKK attacks on Syria, believing that the al-Assad regime is tacitly backing the rebels in response to AKP government turning against its former ally.

“The regional picture is more complicated,” he told SETimes. “Syria is a key ally of Iran, which has, in recent weeks, suddenly stepped up its own attacks on PJAK, the PKK’s Iranian wing. Apparently, Iran also influences Turkey in this matter.”

Syrian Opposition Leader Riad Seif Recounts His Experiences in Prison and Says: ‘Dialogue Cannot Take Place between a Hangman and His Victim’

German prize for Syrian poet Sunday, August 28, 2011, BERLIN – The Associated Press

Adonis received the prize for bringing modern European ideas and critical thinking into current Arab culture.

Kordahi; Arab Star’s TV show pulled for his pro-Syria views
(DP-News – AFP)28/08/2011

DUBAI- The influential Saudi media group MBC has blocked the transmission of a game show because of the overtly pro-Syrian regime views of its Lebanese star presenter, Georges Kordahi. The Arabic-language version of the US show “You Deserve It” was to have been broadcast from September 10, and episodes had already been recorded.

In a statement received by AFP on Sunday, the Dubai-based Middle East Broadcasting Corporation said it had “taken this decision through respect for the feelings of the Syrian people.”

The Internet site of the Al-Arabiya satellite channel, which belongs to the MBC group, said Kordahi had been targeted by social networks and in Arab media for his remarks on the pro-government Dunia channel and on pro-Syrian Lebanese stations.

Diary from Syria: Ramadan Kareem or Ramadan Massacre
August 28, 2011 | By Jasmine Roman

….It has been confirmed that in a very wealthy neighborhood in Damascus city, gunshots were fired by security and police men on August 5th, 2011. The area was raided by more than fifty thugs and security officers searching for one unarmed young protestor who hopelessly hid behind the garbage box in the school yard. He was caught and beat violently by all fifty men with their wooden rods and guns. They then broke into the school and threatened to wreck the whole neighborhood if any word, photo, or video is released. This happened in my own street and the whole incident was witnessed by my own eyes. I was almost dragged and imprisoned by the security men as I was standing in the balcony with my family…..

Syrian gov’t troops kill 2 armed near capital: witness

DAMASCUS, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) — Two armed men were killed in clashes with Syrian government forces in Harasta suburb of capital Damascus late Saturday, an eye witness told Xinhua Sunday.

The witness, who asked for anonymity, said intense shooting occurred Saturday in Harasta after Ramadan night prayers between the government forces and armed men, adding that a number of parked cars were smashed with bullets from both sides.

The gunmen were armed with M16 rifles and pistols, said the witness.

After the shooting the government forces sealed off entrances of Harasta and prevented people of entering it, the witness added.

The report couldn’t be independently verified as journalists are banned from going to restive areas.

Iraq-Kuwait Tensions Rise Over Rocket Strikes – August 28, 2011

Shi’ite Militia Accused of Firing Rockets Against Kuwaiti Project

The disputes between Iraq and neighboring Kuwait are long-standing and well documented. Tensions between the two nations seem to be on the rise again as Iraqis loudly oppose the Mubarak al-Kabir Port project.

The opposition to the port centers from concern that it will reduce the value Iraq’s own nearby port of Grand Faw. This led a number of Iraqis to rally against the Kuwaiti project, with the port being the latest in a long line of bones of contention between the two.

Now, it seems, matters have gone beyond simple protest, as a group inside Iraq has fired a number of rockets against Kuwait. So far the rockets fell short of Kuwaiti territory, but led to angry complaints from Kuwait and a rebuke from Iraqi MPs, who warned that the situation could escalate.

CFR.org: How Will Assad Fall?
2011-08-29 by Elliott Abrams

It is easy to say that with Qaddafi gone, the next vicious regime to fall is that of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. ‘Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished, but realists and pessimists have …

Amid Syrian Raids, Reports of Desertions, By NADA BAKRI in NYTimes

reports that dozens of soldiers, possibly encouraged by the rout in Libya of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, had deserted their positions in a village near Homs,…

Comments (249)

Haytham Khoury said:

@ Norman #97.

That is completely true. The Ba’ath arose as a Nationalistic party with Islamic soul.

Michel Aflak gave a lecture with title “The Arabic Prophet” to praise the Prophet Mohamed character (I think it was 1947).

The atheist (or rather anti religion nature of Ba’ath) started to emerge in the 60s, due to Salah Jedid (who adopted communist type ideology) influence. Thereafter, Hafez Assad used that in a selective way (whenever suited him he encouraged religiousness and in the remaining time he was anti religion).

August 29th, 2011, 11:34 pm


beaware said:

Russia opposes West-drafted UN resolution on Syria: diplomat
2011-08-29 23:11:52
MOSCOW, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) — Russia stands against a West-drafted UN resolution on Syria, said Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitali Churkin on Monday.

“The draft resolution on Syria is completely non-objective and it envisages pressure on the Syrian authorities only,” Churkin told the Russia Today television channel.

“We are afraid that the resolution could push the most radical Syrian opposition forces to more active operations to topple the government. Just because of that, we categorically do not accept the aims our Western colleagues try to attain with that resolution. We offer the alternative,” the Russian diplomat said.

He stressed that the draft resolution does not contain a single word about political dialogue between the Syrian opposition and the government.

“The UN Security Council should not stay aside but it must act in a positive way,” Churkin stressed.

Also on Monday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent a message to his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, via his envoy Mikhail Bogdanov, announced the Kremlin.

Medvedev urged Assad “to stop immediately and completely” any violence from either side.

The Kremlin also stressed that the opposition should not dodge participation in a dialogue proposed by the authorities, saying dialogue is the only way to the restoration of social order and a democratic transformation of Syria.

August 29th, 2011, 11:58 pm


Vedat The Turk said:


Bravo on your recent posts. They have all been very informative and insightful. I know that you have come under criticism lately by many (including at times from myself) for personal biases in your analysts. But truth be told, your blog is the single best source of information on what is happening in Syria! Your critics may not like it but your insights into what the elites in Damascus are thinking as well as ordinary Syrians is second second-to-none. Moreover your blog continues to be the first to report on important events that are only later picked up my main stream media (if at all).

For example, earlier this week you reported on the less than supportive comments that Iranian President Ahmedinejad made on Almanar TV about the Assad regime. As far as I could tell your blog was the first to break this story of all English press outlets! If they awarded Pulitzers for bloggers, yours would certainly be in the running.

On another subject: Everyone should note the distance that Iran is placing between itself and the Assad regime. This is a critical time for Tehran’s allies in Damascus. But instead of unwavering moral support and robust financial assistance, the Mullahs in Iran have begun to hedge there bets. This is shocking when one considers that for over 30 years Syria has stood by Irans side at great cost to itself. Syria has repeatedly felt the wrath of it’s Arab neighbors and the broader international community for the sake of its alliance with Iran. Indeed, the Assad clan has been so loyal that they have rejected every effort to flip it against the Iranians.

However after only 20 weeks of demonstration Iran is ready to dump the Assads! Dr Landis described it as Iran “not wanting to throw good money after bad”. This is even more shocking when one considers that after years of high oil prices Tehran is flush with cash. No matter, as the mullahs are only willing to think of themselves. This should be an important lesson for supporters of Hezbollah and Hamas who claim that Iran would never abandon them. If the mullahs in Tehran can shun there Syrian allies in there time of desperate need, they are capable of doing the same to Hezbollah, Hamas and whomever else is foolish enough to fall into an alliance with them.

August 30th, 2011, 12:29 am


Abughassan said:

For months I argued that foreign nations,including turkey and Iran ,can not be trusted to solve Syria’s crisis. These two nations,turkey and Iran, are competing over Syria and do not want to take the side of a losing horse. Both countries will reverse course if the regime emerges victorious out of this uprising. As for the west,the secret code is Iran and to a lesser degree israel.most western governments will swallow their harsh rhetoric and modify sanctions if the Syrian regime gives its back to Iran,hizbullah and Hamas.
This crisis is Syrian and only Syrians can solve it.outside intervention will make things worse,and arming the opposition is a mere plot to transform Syria into another Iraq,only idiots and collaborators will sign on this vicious idea. We do not need arms to change the regime,people waited 48 years on albaath, 30 years on Hafez and 11 years on Bashar but want to create a new country in 5 months !!

August 30th, 2011, 1:17 am


Majhool said:

Not that it matters, but i don’t believe the Burhan Ghalion is an Alawai. To my knowledge he is a sunni from a modest background.

Anyways, he is loved in Syria, and has the respect of most, even of the pro-assad people.

August 30th, 2011, 1:56 am


Majhool said:

I just spoke to a Homsi Friend, he confirmed that Ghalioun Family is a small modest sunni family.

August 30th, 2011, 2:11 am


NK said:

This is a very interesting article regarding this council, it’s in Arabic and sadly I don’t have time right now to translate it, if any of you guys want to do it for Prof. Landis, go for it. Otherwise I’ll try to get it done sometime tomorrow.

كيف ولد المجلس الانتقالي في أنقرة

هذا المقال تم تداوله على صفحات الفيس بوك من قبل المعارض خلف علي الخلف, النوت الأصلي على الرابط التالي


لأخذ العلم بما يجري في كواليس المؤتمرات,

نورده لكم كما وصل إلينا


في ظل حالة الانسداد التي وصلت لها المعارضة السورية كنت قرأت تعليقاً لحكم البابا يرد فيه على أحد منتقديه الذي كتب له على صفحته بأنه”لايعجبه العجب” وذكر في رده على منتقده أنمجلسا فيه فلان وفلان و… وذكر عددا من اسماء المعارضين السوريين الذين لا يختلف عليهم اثنان.

اتصلت بحكم وقلت له : اخي هي الاسماء التي ذكرتها في تعليقك هل تضمن موافقتها؛ فرد حكم اخي قبل أن تكمل فكرتك ما رأيك بأن نطلق مبادرة ونضعهم أمام مسؤولياتهم وتقرير ما يرونه مناسباً؛ قلت له أنا أتصل بك من أجل ذلك لكن عليك أن تضمن لنا موافقة الدكتور برهان غليون؛ والذي أعرف أن حكم على علاقة طيبة به فاتفقنا أن يكون اسم الهيئة المقترحة ” مجلس حكماء الثورة”

وبدأنا نصيغ نص المبادرة شفهيا وهو نص قصير يتحدث عن الوضع الحالي للمعارضة وعدم إثمار أيا من المؤتمرات التي عقدت عن نتيجة تكون رافعة للحراك السوري وليس عبئاً عليه، وقررنا أن يكون “مجلس الحكماء” من المعارضين السوريين الذين يشهد لهم تاريخهم السياسي و”النضالي” ويحظون بالقبول والاحترام من الناس، فتشاورنا في الاسماء واخترنا أولئك الأشخاص الذين عليهم شبه اجماع من السوريين، سجلنا أكثر من 30 اسماً وتوقفنا على أن نكمل لاحقاً؛ بعد التشاور مع أصدقاء آخرين من طرفي وطرف حكم وطرف أصدقاء آخرين حيث تم إضافة أسماء أخرى.

وكان المعيار الأساسي في اختيار الأسماء أن يكون تاربخ هؤلاء الاشخاص يؤهلهم لان يكونوا “شيوخ” أو “حكماء” أو ” مستشاري” الثورة إضافة إلى نشاطهم المستمر في مقارعة الاستبداد، أضافة للقبول العام

وقررنا أن نطلق هذه المبادرة دون مؤتمر ودون تكليف محدد للاسماء المختارة بل أن يقرروا هم ما يفعلون.. ويقرروا هم الصيغة التمثيلية للثورة ويقرروا هم ماذا يفعلون؛ على أن نحشد توقيعات لشخصيات ثقافية وسياسية فاعلة ولها احترامها على المبادرة قبل اطلاقها ونطرحها للتوقيع بعد اخذ رأي التنسيقيات في الداخل حول الامر

في اليوم نفسه كتبت الصيغة الأولية لنص المبادرة وأرسلته لحكم كي يضع ما يراه من تعديل عليه وكذلك مسودة قائمة الاسماء التي كتبناها..

اتصل بي مساء اليوم نفسه على السكايب العزيز كمال سنقر رجل الاعمال السوري المعروف والذي كان خلف مؤتمر أنطاليا وراعياً له.

وبدأت حديثي بعتاب يشرح أسباب فشل أنطاليا وأنه من وجهة نظري السبب كان الاسماء التي تم اختيارها في المكتب التنفيذي؛ بعد “مصيبة” اختيار الهيئة الاستشارية والتي كادت أن تفجر المؤتمر في حينها لولا رغبة الجميع بعدم السماح بالفشل كونه أول مؤتمر سوري …

إذ أنه كانت فكرتي أيام انعقاد مؤتمر انطاليا أن يكون المكتب التنفيذي من خارج الهيئة الاستشارية واختيار اسماء للمكتب من خارج مؤتمري أنطاليا تحظى بالقبول العام ويكون لها وزن وفاعلية على أن تكون الهيئة الاستشارية مفتوحة للإضافة؛ ولأسباب معروفة بالنسبة لي تم تجاهل هذا الأمر. وفيما بعد قدمت لبعض اعضاء الهيئة الاستشارية لأنطاليا مذكرة داخلية في حينها عن كيفية توسيع شرعية المؤتمر ولم أكن قد فقدت الأمل منه في ذلك الحين (والحديث عن أنطاليا يطول)… الخ

أكد لي “أبو ربيع” أن حكيي صحيح ومعي حق لكن هذا ما حدث.. فقلت له لكنكم ترتكبون نفس الاخطاء الآن مع “جماعة اسطنبول” وكانوا في حينها نشروا بيانا “أي جماعة أنطاليا” يعلنون فيه انسحابهم من المشاورات.. التي كانت تجري لتشكيل المجلس الوطني الذي أُعلن عنه

وفي سياق الحديث سألني أبو ربيع شو الحل أخي؟ لازم نعمل شي الناس عم تموت داخل سوريا.. فقلت له طول بالك شوي هناك مبادرة نعمل عليها أنا وحكم ومثقفين آخرين فحواها كذا… فقال لي خلص ونحن معكم بس ابعت لي الاسماء وأنا عندي توكيلات رسمية من بعض “التنسيقيات” والمجموعات الشبابية وسوف نكون معكم لكن أريد رؤية الأسماء أولاً… ولأن قصة الاسماء دائما هي مربط الفرس خفت تسربها وقلت له القائمة ما زالت أولية وما زلنا نعمل عليها، فأصر على إرسالها له؛ فقلت له سأرسلها لك لاحقا. إلا أنه ألح أن أرسلها له حالاً.. فقلت له أغلبها من القائمة التي وضعناها للاشخاص المدعوين لمؤتمر أنطاليا ( وكنا أنا وحكم وآخرين عملنا على قائمة الاشخاص الذين تم توجيه الدعوة لهم لحضور المؤتمر) لكني لم أرسلها

بعدها بقليل اتصل بي حكم فقلت له أن ” أبو ربيع ” كلمني وقال أنه يؤيد الفكرة وأن هناك مجموعات شبابية ستوقع على المبادرة قبل اطلاقها. فهب حكم كالملدوغ منزعجا من تسريبي للأمر قبل اكتماله وأن ذلك سيفشلها.. قال حينها حرفيا ما تستغرب بكرا أبو ربيع يعمل القصة بالطريقة نفسها تبع أنطاليا.. أبديت استبعادي لفكرة أن يقوم أبو ربيع بتنفيذ الفكرة فقال لي حكم أخي مشان الله ما تحكي لحدا إلا نخلص

بعدها سألته إن كان أخذ موافقة الدكتور غليون فقال لي أنه أطلعه عليها وأنه موافق على ذلك واقترح علينا تعديل اسم الهيئة من ” مجلس حكماء الثورة” الى الهيئة الاستشارية للثورة السورية على أن نستشير لاحقا بعض من وردت أسماؤهم في الهيئة

اتصل بي حكم اليوم صباحا وكنت ما ازال نائما و “ياغافل” لك الله فقال لي شو قصة هذا المجلس اللي اعلنوه في انقرة، قلت له وين ؟ فرد بيقولوا على الجزيرة . قلت له لا علم لي بشيء دعني أتصل وأرى… اتصلت ببعض ممن وردت أسماؤهم فنفوا علمهم بالقصة..

في هذا الوقت كانت الجزيرة أعادت فقرة من نص الاعلان عن المجلس وكان العزيز ضياء الدين دغمش يتلو ما أصبح معروفاً… اتصلت بحكم فقال لي: سنقر مو؟ قلت له نعم سنقر. قال: أخي إنت تتحمل كل المسؤلية على هي الطوشة اللي صارت اليوم…

لا اعتراض لي على الفكرة بالتأكيد لكن دائما مقتل المؤتمرات في هيئاتها وعدم مراعاة حساسيات الناس وعدم التدقيق في الاسماء التي يتم اختيارها … فكانت أسماء مجلس أنقرة ” شوربة” ومن الواضح أن من أعدها إما أنه لا يعرف الخريطة السياسية للمعارضة ولا للناشطين ولا للفاعلين أو أنه تعمد هذا الخلط بين أسماء من الواضح أن السوريين لا يختلفون عليها وبين أسماء أخرى عليها إشكالات كبيرة وأسماء أخرى لا يعرفها أحد…

بالنسبة لي الهدف من إعلان المجلس بهذه الطريقة وهذه السرعة كان واضحا وهو قطع الطريق على المبادرة التي تحدثنا عنها وكذلك قطع الطريق على “مجموعة اسطنبول” التي لم ترضخ “لشروط” إنطاليا في اختيار الأسماء، وكانت هذه الخلطة والطريقة هي إعادة تعويم مؤتمر أنطاليا ومكتبه بعد أن فشل فشلا ذريعاً، وبعد الاحساس المتراكم لدى “الأنطاليين” بأن مؤتمرهم لم يشكل حجر الأساس في أي مجلس محتمل. فكانت هذه القنبلة الصوتية

بكل الاحوال ما تزال المبادرة قائمة إلا إذا استجد شيء أكثر نفعا منها أما ماهو الخلاف بينها وبين المجلس المعلن فهو التالي:

1- آلية اختيار الاسماء واضحة ومحدد والنقطة الاساسية هي اجماع السوريين عليها
2- كل مشارك في هذه المبادرة ليس جزء منها بل سينتهي دورنا بعد إطلاقها
3- الهيئة ليست مجلسا انتقاليا بل هي مرجعية سياسة للثورة تقرر ما تراه مناسبا
4- ليس هناك برنامج أو ترتيب من طرفنا بل هم من يضع ذلك

August 30th, 2011, 2:17 am


CC said:

In checking back, I was unable to establish when and where this Revolutionary Council was formed. Also, what is the background/context for Muhammad Rahhal?

August 30th, 2011, 2:40 am


Said AL-TAYYAR said:

The conspiracy is going on. Now its Georges Qardahi’s turn and Syrian actors… why is this a two side thing? Ordinary people, ya3ne not only actors or known personalitys, in Syria are against the chaos being made in Syria by the protestors… they lock the country down. Lets give a chance to Bashar and we’ll see what he can do. They are with the people and say what they think, this is not ‘maslaha’ or something… this is what they think and this is what the Syrian people thinks (most of them). They did not say, we do not want a better live for the syrian people, they did not say NO to the reforms. They say we want the president to stay and to implement the reforms promised to the Syrian people.

These are our actors, they also suffer from the same problems we syrians suffer. But, just like the syrian people, they don’t force it, they don’t want the regime to fall so zionists like Tara and others will give chaos abig welcome.

I still think it’s wrong to say the majoryty is against Bashar, and what they say about people being scared to say that they’re agains him and the govt. No the large majority is WITH Bashar and the current govt.

I will fight against them no matter what the Saudi Arabia says or does to appease the Zionists and their 3abeed.

Syria forever and long live our president. 🙂 :):)

In your face TARA 🙂 and other zionists serving people. They are logged-on Syriacomment 24/h-7.. all what you see is their names.. and their probaganda

Ya Tara, if you want to fight bravely go to Syria and fight along your Muslim brotherhood friends and take arms (dont call for hate and arms, do it yourself). We will wait for you at the airport with flowers of welcome to the qutr.

Ahla w sahla ya3ne. bel mhalli ya rouhi


August 30th, 2011, 2:44 am



Stick – Stuck

The learned professor writes

Russia and Iran, although presently sticking by Syria’s side,

I propose an edit

Russia and Iran, although presently sticking by Syria’s Assad’s side,

The Assads are not Syria

August 30th, 2011, 4:15 am



A speech by an Iraqi scholar condeming the Syrian government’s crackdown and accusing the Syrian and Iranian governments of sending terrorist to Iraq to wreak havoc. This speech and others are thought to be the reason for the suicide bombing targeting the scholar few days ago. The scholar survived.

Read more: فيديو – خطبة الدكتور احمد عبد الغفور السامرائي عن سورية التي بسببها تم محاولة اغتياله | وطن


August 30th, 2011, 4:20 am



الكاتب وطن
الاثنين, 29 أغسطس 2011 20:49

لسنوات عديدة تم مطاردة صحيفة وطن الورقية الصادرة في امريكا من قبل شخص يدعى نهاد الغادري في المحاكم الأمريكية، وكان وقتذاك يعمل مستشارا لملك السعويدة (فهد بن عبد العزيز) ومنحته السلطات السعودية وعائلته الجنسية السعودية.
الغادري رفع قضية ضد صحيفتنا لأسباب يطول شرحها الآن
ولكننا سنعود إليها بالتفاصيل في أحد أهم فضائح المملكة التي تناولتها الصحف الأمريكية وقتذاك بالتفاصيل المملة عن دور نهاد الغادري وابنه فريد والأمير بندر بن سلطان سفير المملكة في واشنطن وقتذاك.
نهاد الغادري يستقر اليوم في بيروت ويصدر نشرة ورقية اسمها المحرر، فيما ابنه الذي وقع معه بنزاعات شديدة على الملايين التي تم قبضها من السعودية يعيش في واشنطن ويعلن نفسه معارضا سوريا وقد زار تل أبيب عدة مرات وخطب في الكنيست الاسرائيلي، وهو بالمناسبة كان يعرض نفسه قبل عشرين عاما انه معارض سعودي حتى قبض المعلوم وكف عن معارضته.
هؤلاء يتاجرون الآن بالدم السوري، ولا احد قادر على فضحهم غير (وطن) التي ستتصدى لكل آل الغادري.. بما لديها من معلومات جد خطيرة. سننشرها قريبا.
ما دعانا لفتح هذا الملف التصريح الأخير اذ قال فريد الغادري أنه في يوم ما سيرفع العلم (الاسرائيلي) في دمشق، لأن الشعب السوري مسالم وطيب ولا يستطيع أن يحمل الكراهية، ولكن فرض بشار الاسد على الشعب أن يكره ويقاتل ويعادي .

وشدد على أن حماس والقوى الفلسطينية ستطرد من بلاده بسبب استخدامها العنف والارهاب، مضيفاً:’ سأعمل على هذا الشيء بكل قوتي وقدرتي وعلى الفلسطينيين أن يقاتلوا (الاسرائيليين) من داخل غزة ‘.

وكشف الغادري الذي يقيم في العاصمة الاميركية واشنطن أن جزءاً من المخابرات اللبنانية تدعم التحركات المناهضة للنظام السوري لقناعتتها بأن رحيل الأسد يأتي في مصلحة بلادها، لكن الغادري لم يذكر إن كانت الأفراد الأمنية اللبنانية محسوبة على فريق يقف على خصومة ضد بشار الأسد أم لا.

وتابع :’ هناك لبنانيون كثيرون يعانوا أيضاً من النظام السوري ولدينا أناس داخل المخابرات اللبنانية تساعدنا في أعمالنا لماذا؟ لأنها تعتبر أن نظام بشار الاسد هو نظام ديكتاتوري ليس من مصلحة لبنان أن يكون النظام قائماً’.

وطالب المجتمع بالتدخل العسكري والوقوف مع الشعب السوري الذي يريد حريته، لافتاً الى أنه:’ عشرون صاروخا على عشرين مبنى مخابرات في سوريا سيسقط هذا النظام’ .

واعتبر إدارة الرئيس الأميركي باراك اوباما غير جادة في التغيير في سوريا ، مبيناً أن هناك فريقين داخل البيت الابيض فيما يتعلق بالوضع في بلاده الاول يرفض رحيل الأسد بحجة أمن اسرائيل والتخوف من الحركات السلفية، والثاني يؤيد إعطاء السوريين حريتهم.

وتوقع وقوع حرب أهلية بسبب تعمد قتل المدنيين، لكنه أكد أن الشعب السوري جاهز للدفاع عن نفسه. تجدر الاشارة أن الغادري زار اسرائيل العام 2007 وحل ضيفا على الكنيست وقام بالتجول بعدة مدن من بينها مدينة حيفا.

August 30th, 2011, 4:21 am


hsyrian said:

Dear Joshua

You said:

The Arab League has taken the initiative to ask for presidential elections in Syria and an end of repression

The article fronm AlJazeera said:
“It did not give details of the initiative, but Al Jazeera has learned that some of the suggestions would include the holding of presidential elections, withdrawal of the army from the cities, the release of political prisoners and those rounded up in the protests, and the formation of a national unity government that includes members from the opposition. ”

Furthermore the Lebanese Foreign minister said :

“Arab League did not agree to issue statement on Syria: Mansour
The statement issued by the secretariat was not discussed during the meeting and was not agreed upon”

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2011/Aug-29/Arab-League-did-not-agree-to-issue-statement-on-Syria-Mansour.ashx#ixzz1WV3N0U8A

You have to be more careful with sources from Al Jazeera

August 30th, 2011, 4:44 am


hsyrian said:

Dear Joshua,

You wrote :
“Arabism versus Syrianism (the Kurds want recognition of their national and linguistic rights within a Syria that is not defined ethnically)”

So I look for a country (state) which is defined ethnically
UK , England, Ireland ,Scotland , Wales
France, Germany , Italy , Spain ,
USA, Canada , Mexico
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh , ..
Saudi Arabia , Kuwait , Qatar , United Arab Emirates , Bahrain ,

Syria, Lebanon , Palestine , Turkey, Jordan , Irak , ..

Not even sure about Iceland

It is interesting to find that one Syrian CNT is composed in majority by people who had little interest in Syria for years and are holding foreign passport.

Still my little unanswered academic question :
” How many ( 5000 ? ) INNOCENT victims has been killed by the terrorists of the Muslim Brotherhood between 1976 and 1982 until the Syrian Army terminated the Islamist armed uprising in Hama and the Islamist terrorist actions stopped in Syria.”

Including the slaughter of ( > 83 ) cadets at the Aleppo Artillery School in 16 June 1979.
Including the murder of the rector of Damascus University, Dr. Muhammad al-Fadl, killed in February 1977
Including the murder of the doyen of Syrian dentists, Dr Ibrahim Na’ama, killed in March 1978
Including the murder of the neurologist Dr. Muhammad Shahada Khalil, who was killed in August 1979

August 30th, 2011, 5:24 am


MNA said:


I would like to raise my objection to your post Video showing the shelling of a minaret by Syrian army. I watched the video several times and failed every single time to confirm that the tanks or soldiers that were in the vicinity were actually shelling the minaret. This video would not stand in any court as it does not prove anything. I believe that we all have a responsibility in avoiding to criminalize the Syrian army, the best chance that Syria has in any future senario.

August 30th, 2011, 6:29 am


MNA said:

Yes Ghalioun is a Sunni from Homs.

August 30th, 2011, 6:37 am


Tara said:

Post 9

Your implicit threat to Tara at the end of the post does not scare me a bit. It is pitiful. It tells us what your regime is all about: killing it’s way through for 40 years.

August 30th, 2011, 7:09 am




Sunni, they said
some said Alawite
Don’t tell me if you know
For i care, not the slight

on the streets rages a flood
Of humanity
and of blood
and a dam made of tanks
of barbarians
and their flanks

do’t you think time has come
to feel the tears behind the sound
to see the hound
a top the mound
to see the ground
with blood abound

don’t think time has come
to call the duck a duck
to kick out
the lazy bum.

Sunni, they said
some said Alawite
don’t tell me if you know
for i care, not the slight


August 30th, 2011, 7:40 am




“The conspiracy is going on.”

Back to the old conspiracy theory I see. My god if you only realised how ridiculous that sounds, especially in the face of such large opposition protests. Were all those protests in Hama part of some big conspiracy?

“Lets give a chance to Bashar and we’ll see what he can do.”

Leaving to one side questions of legitimacy, the man has had ten years to implement reforms, the fact that so many people are out protesting suggests that very little has been achieved. But all this is besides the point, why should we give him any more time, who says he should be the president in the first place? The protests are about something far more fundamental than whether or not he has successfully carried out economic reform.

“don’t want the regime to fall so zionists like Tara and others will give chaos abig welcome”

Everyone knows that the fall of this current regime will impact negatively on Israel, if anything Israel wants Assad to remain in power. This is so obvious that even Rami Maklouf said as much.

“I will fight against them no matter what the Saudi Arabia says or does to appease the Zionists and their 3abeed.”

Then you too will eventually suffer the same fate that Gaddaffi’s supporters are now facing. You will become a stranger in your own country, everyone will know that you were one of those that prolonged the regime’s survival and the demonstartors’ suffering.

We both know that when it comes down to it, you will silently peel away from this regime, slip over to the side of the protesters and shout out their slogans as though you had always done so. Why? Because you don’t give a damn about the politics of this regime (whatever they are), your sole concern is for your future income.

August 30th, 2011, 8:12 am


majedkhaldoon said:

MNA said
This video would not stand in any court as it does not prove anything.
You are wrong,it stands in court,and it proves beyond any shaddow of doubt,that the troops around the mineret are the people who are shooting at the mineret.

Did Ibn Taymeyyeh issued Fatwa to kill Alawis, He was right in consider them Kuffar,but he has no right to issue fatwa of killing them, Freedom of religion is very clear in Islam,, but I am not sure he issued fatwa to kill them,only to say they are Kuffar.

August 30th, 2011, 8:29 am


Akbar Palace said:


I had no idea you were a Zionist. Welcome to the club. I’ll send you your free information packet in the mail. We’ve really been inundated recently now that the Saudi Arabians have joined as well as the Turks and the PA.

In addition, the telephones are ringing off the hook in our Hama office as we are taking application after application.

If you know any other potential Zionist, you know, anyone who isn’t fond of President X-box, please send them my way.

Shalom u’vrakha,


August 30th, 2011, 8:58 am


ann said:

Man delivering cash to families in Syria stopped at airport


A Syrian man allegedly carrying €60,000 in cash to help families suffering as a result of the uprising in his country was stopped at the Malta International Airport after he failed to declare them.
34-year-old Khalil Hamed, who is married to a Maltese woman and who lives in Santa Venera, was stopped at the airport yesterday afternoon, and found to be carrying cash above the €10,000 limit which would require no declaration.

Mr Hamed, who was arraigned today, said that members of the Syrian community nominated him to take the money to their relatives in Syria.

Defence counsel Joe Brincat asked for bail, noting that there was no risk of Mr Hamed fleeing the country since his family lived here and also since the money would remain confiscated until judgment is passed.

Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera duly granted bail against a €2,000 personal guarantee.

Inspector Maurice Curmi prosecuted.

August 30th, 2011, 9:05 am


Joshua said:

Thanks for kind words, I have published an addendum about Ghalioun being a Sunni. Thanks Majhool. I get most of my information, articles and frequently ideas from the comment section. So keep me honest, corrected, and smart. SC is a group effort. I frequently don’t give credit to the help provided by commenters. I should, but I am appreciative.

I will have to begin publishing much less on Syria Comment and will perhaps have to shut it down for some time, as I must complete a book.

Writing a blog, such as SC, does not fit well with the demands of academe. SC is not considered to be “research” or “intellectual work” by my bosses and colleagues. Rather, it falls under the category of “service”, which is only weighted as 10% of my annual evaluation. I have been writing SC daily since the spring of 2004, so it has become my major preoccupation other than my family. It is always my great joy to dive into my community here at the end of a day or first thing in the morning, even when I am taking a pounding for my biases and mistakes. It puts a little Sham in my prairie.

August 30th, 2011, 9:08 am


Revlon said:

Personal perspectives on today’s post
– Burhan Ghalyoon, to my knowledge is a Homsi sunni. I do hope that Joshua could further clarify this point.
– The so called “national transitional council” is no more than a virtual plan. It consists of a list of names that was compiled
o out side the framework of any of the opposition groups in Turkey, Brussels, or USA
o without prior consultation with selected members, and
o Without stipulating basis of selection

– As such, it would not be warmly received by excluded elements of aforementioned opposition bodies
– The original initiative that was apparently pre-empted by the “NTC” , as per its initiator Mr Khalaf,is still on the table. It calls for the formation of “the consultative assembly for the Syrian revolution الهيئة الاستشارية للثورة السورية”
– The positive in this flux of initiatives is the rising sense of urgency on the part of the various opposition groups to unite. The downside is that the selection process and its basis were not transparent and representation raised too many eyebrows.
– It is my personal belief that the NTC needs to be amended in order to achieve better representation and transparency in selection process and be re-named a “consultative body”.
– Putting emphasis on peaceful means for the revolution is fast becoming outdated, and divisive. This item must be left to ground activists and demonstrators who are best suited to assess their best interests.
– I am inclined to believe that coordination committees in areas of mounting casualties particularly Homs and country side, Dar3a and country side, Idlib and countryside, and probably Damascus country side as well, are the ones who more inclined to call for taking up arms.

I want to thank NK for his post number 7 where he provided the text and link to the “making of the NTC”. Here it is again:

August 30th, 2011, 9:12 am


Haytham Khoury said:

@ Syrian Hamster #18


August 30th, 2011, 9:12 am


Darryl said:

20. majedkhaldoon said:

“Did Ibn Taymeyyeh issued Fatwa to kill Alawis, He was right in consider them Kuffar,but he has no right to issue fatwa of killing them, Freedom of religion is very clear in Islam,, but I am not sure he issued fatwa to kill them,only to say they are Kuffar.”

If Muslims were a bit more reflective of what is contained in the Qur’an; you may have discovered Newton’s 3rd law before anyone else:

“For Every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”

The Qur’an seems to advocate one thing and somewhere else the exact opposite exists.

Freedom of religion is stated as a verse but it is not permitted in practice and under any circumsatnce. I once saw an interview with Sheikh Kaled Al Jundi ( I think that was his name, an Egyptian) and he was asked about this question. His response went as follows:

“Yes you can be killed as you become an apostate, hence it is better for you a muslim to PRETEND that you are a muslim and avoid being killed”

Natrually, I was very impressed with his answer. Lastly, being Kuffar will always attract the death penalty and will be carried out by some one who is a true believer wanting to earn browny points. The key is not to be placed in the Kuffar basket at all, and this requires a true spirit of what the Messinger said ” you have Your religion and I have Mine” and leave it to God to make a judgement.

How come this priciple is not followed, which could lead the ME to be a much more tolerant place and everyone leaves their religion at home instead of carrying it as a massive piece of luggage on their backs or a sinker around the neck?

August 30th, 2011, 9:19 am


ann said:

The Kurdish Problem

August 30, 2011


Whatever his impressive domestic achievements, Turkish prime minister Erdogan has done a lot of fancy footwork this year trying to repair a vigorous and much-advertised Middle East involvement. Once the avowed comrade of Qaddafi, Bashir, Assad and Ahmedinejad, he has now emerged as a rousing democrat, defender of the Arab revolts. He seems to have been successful in burying the past—at least in Turkey where public criticism is increasingly muted and he reigns supreme. In Syria, he has joined the West by distancing Turkey from Assad but not yet disowning him, incurring the wrath of both Syria and its staunchest ally, Iran, which has sent warnings to Ankara. In Libya, which once bestowed upon him the Qaddafi human-rights award, he is trying desperately to restore the huge Turkish economic stake by fervently and helpfully embracing the rebels. But for all his foreign-policy activism, he can no longer escape his biggest problem, an internal one: the growing difficulties with his own twelve million or so Kurds.

In the period between 2005–2009, Erdogan became the first Turkish leader to do much for the Kurds, bringing in significant investment and notably accepting the ‘Kurdish reality.” He implemented some modest reforms on expressions of Kurdish identity—whether he believed in them or did so to guarantee the vote in southeast Turkey and a route to a new presidency is not clear. But the basic issue has advanced little, and today intensified military activity on the part of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) has once again shattered a deceptive Turkish calm. Some forty Turkish soldiers have been killed and many wounded in the southeast over the past two months. In response, Erdogan has shifted gear and publicly declared his intent to finally destroy the PKK and, along the way, to undermine the major domestic Kurdish political party.

Erdogan has resorted to the usual military tactics—bombing the PKK in Northern Iraq and intensifying military activities in the southeast. He also seems intent on turning the ground war in Turkey over to special police units and the gendarmerie rather than to the army, which he distrusts and whose tactics he has publicly belittled. There are fears he might mount another large ground operation in Northern Iraq, but that is unlikely and certainly unwelcome to the Turkish military, which has been under great pressure from ongoing investigations and detentions. Politically, at least for the moment, he appears to have fallen back on traditional Turkish nationalism instead of the Islamic communalism he used to espouse to bind in the southeast. Peace with the PKK seems a long way off.

The next page-turner will be the promised new Turkish constitution sometime this autumn and what reforms he will secure in that document for the Kurds. Top AKP leadership rhetoric on the new constitution has been democratic and conciliatory, but with popular nationalist feeling running high and Kurds deeply skeptical, not much can be expected. Many fear violence will extend to Turkey’s major cities and to urbanized Kurdish youth. That has always been a concern that has not yet materialized, although small-scale clashes like car burnings, attacks on coffee shops and flash mobs are on the rise. With the schism with Iran the possibility of urban violence may have increased.

This time, however, Turkey’s internal Kurdish issue may turn international. Kurds in Iraq, Syria, Iran—Turkey’s next-door neighbors, are all agitating.

Turkish elites have always been haunted by the possible establishment of an independent or even autonomous Kurdish entity in Northern Iraq, which took place after the first defeat of Iraq and gained even greater credence with its enormous economic success after the second Iraq war. One might dispute this, but I believe the present, virtually independent and flourishing Kurdish entity has had a major psychological impact on the outlook of the Kurds next door in Turkey as they consider their own position. It has helped make it unclear what will now politically satisfy Turkey’s Kurds. Northern Iraq has been also the military home of the PKK, which is allowed to operate, with misgivings, by the Kurdish regional government and receives help from friendly Iraqi Kurds. Erdogan impressively changed Turkey’s long-standing isolation policy; rather he embraced Iraq’s Kurdish government and invested heavily in the region. The Iraqi Kurds are increasingly troubled by what is happening in Turkey and seemingly caught in the middle. Turkey has pushed the United States hard to help defeat the PKK in Iraq. They have gotten significant American intelligence support but no willingness to attack PKK forces or try to make the Iraqi Kurds do so.

Syrian-Turkish relations have long been troubled. Syria once housed PKK leader and Kurdish idol Abdullah Ocalan until the Turkish government scared the Syrians into expelling him; the Americans found him and turned him over to Ankara. Erdogan embraced Assad, thinking he had the influence to change the Syrian president and ultimately change Syrian-Israeli relations. He either did not or could not because of his own increasing frictions with Israel after the 2008-09 attack on Gaza, and now relations with Syria are in shambles. He remains fearful of what might follow Assad’s demise and worried about Syria cooperating with Iran to undermine Turkey on the Kurdish issue. Some two million Kurds live in Syria, so far very meekly, although there are some indications of ferment. Attacks on them and a much greater flow of Kurdish refugees into Turkey could traumatize even today’s much-stronger Ankara. Interestingly, President Obama has apparently relied heavily on Erdogan’s views on Syria in managing American policy toward Damascus.

The Turkish-Iranian honeymoon has come to an end over Assad. Iran helps to keep Assad going. While Iran has been tough on its own Kurds (and although right now an Iranian counterpart of the PKK operating from Northern Iraq is doing battle with Iran), relations with Turkey have become increasingly testy. An unspoken Turkish-Iranian military coordination against the PKK appears to continue for now, and while one cannot preclude its deepening, there has been increasing concern that Iran is sending signals to Turkey that it could reverse that policy if it so chose. Tehran could also use its assets in Ankara to help generate PKK violence in the cities. Turkey is not without means to counter Iran. This is an important, evolving, highly volatile tale with repercussions for other Turkish-Iranian issues.

So the Kurdish issue now has a bigger canvas. Turkey must see it in a broad, long-term perspective. Right now Turkey’s domestic prospects for resolving the Kurdish issue look bad, and one cannot be optimistic that we will not see a lot more violence. Ocalan still remains the leader of most of Turkey’s Kurds, although some are skeptical his control of the PKK is what it used to be. Many Kurds are not happy with the growing violence. Whether Erdogan can produce a domestic political solution that satisfies both nationalists and Kurds is increasingly in doubt, particularly if PKK violence continues. The United States and the European Union might help on the regional aspects, but Turks have long had deep suspicions about Western interest in Kurds. Erdogan alone is in the hot seat.

August 30th, 2011, 9:27 am


beaware said:

Turkey suspends dialogue with Syria- sources
Monday 29 August 2011
By Tha’ir Abbas

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Turkish diplomatic sources have told Asharq Al-Awsat that Ankara has suspended all forms of dialogue with Damascus, while it waits for the Syrian regime to fulfill promises made to Turkish officials, including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. An official Turkish source said that his country “is losing hope from the regime. The situation is now in the hands of the Syrian people who should decide their future alone”.
Meanwhile, speculation is growing in Turkish political circles that it may have reached the point of no return in its relations with the Syrian regime. Such speculation is rife after Turkey’s initiatives toward the Syrian regime reached “promises without results”, according to Turkish officials.
Turkish political analyst Ilham Tenir says that Turkey cannot ask Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave because “it would then be embroiling itself in a situation that would make it unable to talk to the regime”. Tenir adds that if the Syrian regime does not respond, Turkey may lose its “diplomatic intervention” card and Ankara does not seem prepared to do that, particularly since it is not happy with the situation of the Syrian opposition and it has “certain observations” about the growing internal agitation in Syria. The Syrian opposition is not united and is still unable to provide a convincing alternative to the regime. Tenir added that Turkey has indeed passed the point of no return in its relationship with the Syrian regime. It has realized that it cannot continue to tell the regime “stop the killing” because it may retort “mind your own business”. Tenir points out that “There is no alternative. The Syrian opposition should work to fill the streets with people that would lead to more international support and more rifts within the regime”. Ersat Hurmuzlu, the Turkish president’s senior adviser, asserts: “The people, regime, and opposition in Syria should understand that Ankara does not have any hidden agendas on Syria. My country supports the Syrian people in all its demands. Some statements being made by Syrian or non-Syrian observers of Syrian affairs do not reflect Turkey’s true position”. Hormuzlu goes on to say: “I wish the Syrian nationalist forces (the opposition) would unify its ranks and stand firm before the world and before Syrian public opinion. The future is up to the Syrian people. They should unite their national forces because the current situation of the opposition harms it and benefits the regime”. The source said that the situation in Syria is “critical and dangerous. There are many scenarios and we are taking into account the best and worst scenarios”.
A Turkish foreign ministry official told Asharq Al-Awsat that Turkey “is very concerned about the developments in Syria”. The official who declined to be identified called on the Syrian authorities “to deal with the popular protests softly and to stop the bloodshed”. He urged the Syrian authorities “to carry out the reforms they had promised. These reforms are for their own people and not for any other country. We waited for what they had promised after they told us that the reforms would take place within a few days. However, these reforms were not made or were made too late. There will be no dialogue with the Syrian authorities unless they carry out their promises within an acceptable and reasonable period”. When asked about the timeframe that Turkey considers appropriate for the reforms to be carried out, the source said: “Yesterday and even long before yesterday. However, it is always better late than never”. On alternatives if the Syrian regime “hastens its oppression and is slow in bringing reforms,” he said: “I believe that the international community will proceed wit h its steps that may take us to a situation that none of us wants”. In the same context, another official Turkish source said: “There is no point in continuing the dialogue. The time for words is over; it is now the time for actions”.

August 30th, 2011, 9:28 am


beaware said:

Looking for the Damascene Abdul Jalil
By Ali Ibrahim
Ali Ibrahim is Asharq Al-Awsat’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief, based in London
The Libyan and Syrian revolutions are relatively close in age, with a time difference between them of less than a month (17th of February [Libya] and the 15th of March [Syria]). The revolutions share roughly the same grievances and likewise demands for freedom and justice, with differences in the details, the nature of the two societies, and the method of totalitarian rule. The first [revolution] has almost succeeded, whilst the second continues to resist through various bloody methods of repression.

In Libya, Gaddafi resorted to repression immediately, without any attempt to wrap it up in political initiatives. Instead, he asked his famous question to the demonstrators: “Who are you?” He described them as rats to the very end, and the rebels responded with arms until they surrounded Gaddafi in Tripoli, and forced him out.

In Syria, the regime resorted to armed force wrapped up in a political and media discourse talking about insurgents and terrorists, and promises of political reform. However, the people did not buy this, because they did not see anything on the ground except bullets, and their trust began to wane. Despite this, the Syrian revolution has remained entirely peaceful, with demonstrators insisting on the peaceful nature of their protests.

The biggest difference between the two cases is that in Libya, protestors found that figures within the regime were angered by Gaddafi’s method of responding to the demands of the people. They broke away from him and tendered their resignations, declaring their affiliation to the rebels, led by Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the former Minister of Justice in Gaddafi’s government who became leader of the Transitional Council. The Council’s leadership based itself in Benghazi, becoming a symbol of the revolution and a wise voice in difficult circumstances. Abdul Jalil was not alone; there was an army of officials, diplomats and military leaders, including Abdul Fatah Younis, defecting and joining the revolution. They provided it with momentum, supplying it with men experienced in government, and with knowledge of its inner corridors. The Syrian revolutionaries are less fortunate than their Libyan counterparts; for a Syrian or Damascene Abdul Jalil has not shown up so far. No government official or member of the senior leadership in the country has resigned expressing outrage about what is happening, or concern for the path taken by the country. Six months of uprisings, demonstrations, and more than two thousand people killed, alongside those injured and detained, and there has not been a single voice of opposition from within the regime, which is puzzling. It is as if everyone has agreed to drown together on the sinking ship. Is this out of fear, or is anyone waiting for the right moment?

By questioning the whereabouts of the Syrian or Damascene Abdul Jalil, this does not mean I wish the Syrian revolution to take the armed path of the Libyan revolution. The conditions of each society are different to the other, and the rebels in Libya had no other option, faced with extermination from all types of weapons. NATO had to undertake air cover to protect them; otherwise they would have been bombarded by Gaddafi’s warplanes.

However, there is no guarantee that Syria won’t follow the same path if the stalemate continues. Protestors and whole cities are rising up, finding nothing in front of them except tanks, the Shabiha, and a regime whose friends and allies such as Iran have begun to distance themselves, and call on the regime to respond to the legitimate demands of its people. Turkey declared that it has lost confidence in the regime, and now stands with the people. Meanwhile, the Arab states have finally tried to intervene but it is too late, the door is locked and no-one wants to hear from them.

If there are those [inside the Syrian government] waiting, then this is the right moment to put pressure on the regime from within. Or, if the regime wants to save itself and its country, then it must take serious steps to convince the people that the path is clear for change. This could include the appointment of an opposition or independent figure, respected by the people, to head the interim government with full powers to implement accountability, change, and supervise the transition to a democratic system, as demanded by the people.

August 30th, 2011, 9:32 am


Tara said:

I don’t like that Josh may need to shut SC down.

August 30th, 2011, 9:37 am


Revlon said:

A car carrying Sahbeeha passengers was ambushed and blown up by another shabbeha unit!
Is this an example on infighting amognst the shabbeha mobs?

أموي مباشر #syria ◄ حماه : عاااااااجل وبشرى ::::::::::: المدخل الغربي لحماة : منذ حوالي ساعتين عبرت سيارة خاصة قادمة من قرية الربيعة و تم إستهدافها من قبل عناصر الامن و الشبيحة بالأسلحة الخفيفة و الثقلية , مما أدى إلى انفجار السيارة و من بداخلها . و عند قيام الجيش بسحب الجثث من داخلها , تبين انهم خمسة شبيحة من قرية الربية يتوجهون إلى عملهم اليومي المعتاد , و بهذا يكون قد قُتِلَ القاتِلُ بيد أهلة

August 30th, 2011, 9:40 am


beaware said:

‘More UN sanctions petrify Syrian opposition’
Published: 30 August, 2011, 00:26
The US and EU have suggested freezing more Syrian assets in response to continuing violence in the country. But journalist Simon Assaf says further UN sanctions would suit neither Assad nor the protesters.

The UN Security Council has also received a counter-resolution drafted by Russia and China. This one, instead of talking of travel bans and freezing assets, urges the conflicting parties in Syria to stop the bloodshed and start negotiations.

Simon Assaf, an investigative journalist with the Socialist Worker newspaper, believes most Syrians would welcome a dialogue between the current regime and demonstrators. With the protests affecting the country since March, the danger is high that the situation will spin out of control.

“Syria is in a Libyan situation, in which foreign powers found ways for intervening,” Assaf told RT. “Judging from the Syrians I have spoken to, there is a big argument between those who think there should be an armed insurrection and those who think it is a very dangerous path to take.”

Still, the Syrian opposition is not able to present a completely united front, continues the journalist. President Assad should step down but beyond that the dissidents have not worked out any further agreement. The opposition is growing more diverse every day, but still seemingly fails to represent the Syrian majority.

“There is a common silent majority: those who are unsure of the opposition but are still unhappy with the regime,” says Assaf. He believes the reforms announced by President Assad are aimed at these people rather than the demonstrators. Nevertheless, once the government starts to implement the reforms, some steam will be taken from the opposition.

The journalist believes that if the UN Security Council imposes more sanctions against Syria, it will be totally counter-productive.

“The opposition is petrified with what sanctions will do. They would make everyone’s life harder and make everyone think what they are going to eat next day, whether they will have a job and so on rather than punish the regime,” observes Assaf.

Simon Assaf doubts President Assad’s capability for holding a dialogue, but a dialogue is something most Syrians would still prefer, he concludes.

­However, according to political scientist Nada Hashwi, Syrian reforms cannot come overnight. She told RT that the West should give President Assad time to implement changes.

“Changes in a country do not happen overnight. It needs some time and they are not giving him time,” she said. “President Assad will never step down. If that happens we are going to see turmoil, not only in Syria but in all the surrounding countries – Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, all the Gulf area – everything is going to turn upside down.”

August 30th, 2011, 9:42 am


beaware said:

Russia suggests settlement plan for Syria
Alexander Vatutin
Aug 30, 2011 15:19 Moscow Time
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov has visited Baghdad to hand over a message from President Dmitry Medvedev to Syrian head of state Bashar al-Assad. According to the Kremlin press service, the Russian side places major emphasis on the necessity of an immediate and complete end to violence from whatever side.

The Russian president’s envoy urged the Syrian government to start taking specific steps and implementing the declared reforms. It was stressed at the same time that the opposition should not deviate from taking part in the dialogue with the government. This is the only way to restore civil peace and consent, the Kremlin believes. Moscow voiced support of Syria’s course for political and economic change.

Following negotiations with Mikhail Bogdanov, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad referred to Russia’s stand as balanced, unlike that of the West which only envisages pressure on the Syrian authorities. Dmitry Medvedev’s message provided the basis for Russia’s own version of a draft resolution of the UN Security Council. It has already evoked a positive response from Russian BRICS partners – Brazil, China, India and South Africa. Moscow’s diplomatic initiative became an alternative to the resolution presented by the US and EU member states, which, according to Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, is “totally non-objective and one-sided”. Adopting such a document may encourage the Syrian opposition’s radical groups to intensify efforts in their desire to oust the government, the Russian diplomat said. “We agree that the Security Council must not remain aloof, but we believe that it is necessary to act in a positive way,” Churkin said, ruling out the possibility of developing a single text based on the two draft resolutions. The diplomat compared this to intercrossing creatures from different planets. The resolution must stimulate dialogue and political compromise instead of using the language of sanctions and aggravating the country’s inner conflict. However, the UN ambassador said, if the West has some constructive ideas, Russia is ready to include them in the text of its resolution.

The stand taken by Moscow is aimed at a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis and urges active discussions. The international community should have an accurate position to avert the repetition of the Libyan scenario in Syria. It is also necessary to consider the situation around Syria itself, according to Orientalist expert at the Institute of Strategic Assessment and Analysis Sergey Demidenko:

\”There is a very dangerous point in the entire Syrian game, namely the security of Israel. If Assad’s rule collapses, the security of its northern territories will become a matter of dispute. Serious consultations are therefore under way to decide on further actions, because the main thing is not to make the cup run over. Unlike Libya, the Syrian situation requires careful actions in order to prevent Islamists from assuming power,” Sergey Demidenko said.

It is therefore impossible to speak the language of ultimatums when dealing with Damascus, even though EU countries are already going to take a step to that effect and declare an embargo on Syrian oil supplies in the next few days, which looks like nothing but blackmail. Syria’s incumbent leaders should not be taken as incapable of conducting a dialogue. The only civil war panacea is inner dialogue and the end of violence.

August 30th, 2011, 9:46 am


Akbar Palace said:

Rather, it falls under the category of “service”, which is only weighted as 10% of my annual evaluation.

Professor Josh,

Greetings. Just curious, what is the other 90% based on?

Let me guess. Is it based on article-after-article explaining why the Assad regime is best for Syria?

It is always my great joy to dive into my community here at the end of a day or first thing in the morning, even when I am taking a pounding for my biases and mistakes. It puts a little Sham in my prairie.

No hard feelings. We’re all biased one way or another!

August 30th, 2011, 9:55 am


Some guy in damascus said:

Do you know how much time I’ve put into finding out whether ghalioun is Sunni or alawi???? Zero, nada, zilch….NOTHING!!!! I don’t care if the next 1000 leaders of Syria are Alawis. What matters is their first priority: the WHOLE nation or just a select few??

August 30th, 2011, 10:30 am


ann said:

Russia warns not to meddle in Syria internal affairs – Aug 30, 2011


Russia warns against meddling in Syria’s domestic affairs and urges Syrian authorities to push for political and socio-economic reforms, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in Damascus on Tuesday.

Bogdanov stressed the necessity of halting hostilities and holding talks between the authorities and the opposition in Syria, still hit by anti-government protests.

Scores of people have reportedly died there in armed clashes between protesters and security forces.

August 30th, 2011, 10:51 am


ann said:

U.S. ambassador to Syria attacked – 8/30/11 9:03 AM EDT


The U.S. Ambassador to Syria – who has repeatedly demonstrated his support for anti-government protestors – was attacked in Damascus last week by a supporter of President Bashal al-Assad, a new video shows.

A video broadcast by Syrian television pictures pro-Assad protestors following Ambassador Robert Ford and chanting slogans. One protestor then approaches Ford from behind and tries to wrap him in a poster featuring a picture of the Syrian president.

Ford’s security team, which was already rushing him to a waiting car, pushed the Ambassador into the vehicle.

Tensions have been heating up between the Syria and the United States over the last several months.

“We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led,” Obama said in a statement released two weeks ago. “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

Ford has also raised the ire of Syrian authorities.

The harassment outlined in the video happened just before he took an surprise trip to the city of Jassem last Tuesday. The trip raised eyebrows with Syrian authorities, as the town has been a flashpoint for anti-government protests.

Ford had traveled to the city without the permission of Syrian authorities, arguing that Syrian officials had already refused his previous requests to travel to several cities in the country.

Last week the Syrian government delivered a diplomatic note of protest to the United States, arguing that Ford’s had not followed proper procedures.

This was not the first time that Ford had made an unsanctioned visit to a Syrian town known for anti-government sentiment. Nearly two months ago Ford had travelled to another focal point for dissent against Assad’s government, the city of Hama. The Syrian government had condemned the trip as an attempt to incite protests.

After Ford’s trip to Hama, the Assad regime encouraged supporters to throw rocks and eggs at the U.S. embassy.

August 30th, 2011, 10:55 am


beaware said:

Prominent Syrian poet Adonis urges Assad to step down
AFP, Friday 5 Aug 2011
The prominent Syrian poet Adonis urges Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to leave power calling the opposition to adopt strict secular ideology

Prominent Syrian liberal poet and writer Adonis urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, but called on the opposition to adopt a strict secular ideology, in comments published Friday.

“President Assad should do something. If I were in his place, I would leave the presidency,” Adonis said in an interview with Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper.

“The least he can do is to resign from his post,” the Beirut-based secular intellectual said.

Adonis, whose given name is Ali Ahmed Said, is a member of Assad’s Alawite minority. The poet has been criticised by Syrian and Arab writers for not taking a clear position on the bloody crackdown on Syrian protesters.

However, he criticised the opposition for being fragmented and dominated by religious groups, adding the appropriate solution for Syria is to establish a civil state where religion and politics are separated.


August 30th, 2011, 11:14 am


ann said:

Turks reject bid to postpone flotilla report – 30.08.2011


In the past few days the Turkish government has rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to postpone the publication of the Palmer Commission report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla by another six months. The report is now expected to be published this Friday.

Haaretz has learned that Netanyahu made his suggestion to both Turkey and the United Nations secretary general, but the idea was dismissed by the Turks. The Palmer Commission report – probing the events surrounding the 2010 Gaza flotilla in which nine Turkish activists died onboard the Mavi Marmara after an IDF operation – has been postponed three times. In each case the postponement took place following the consent of Turkey and Israel, and as a result of their joint request to the UN secretary general.

The Turks saw the new move as an attempt by Netanyahu to avoid a decision on the reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey, and to buy time. The Turks made it clear that, although they consider the report very problematic, they prefer it be published on September 2 rather than postponing it for months, at the end of which time it still won’t be clear whether Netanyahu will agree to apologize.

The outline of the reconciliation agreement has already been approved by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and includes a softened Israeli apology for the flotilla episode, in exchange for normalization of relations with Turkey and a Turkish assurance not to submit indictments against Israeli soldiers and officers.

Turkey has made it clear that if Israel does not apologize, it will conduct a legal and diplomatic battle against Israel.

Netanyahu has refrained for months from making a decision on the matter. In conversations with senior American officials, he initially claimed that although he was interested in accepting the outlines of the agreement and apologizing to Turkey, he was afraid that this would lead to the resignation of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman from the coalition.

After Lieberman declared that he would not resign from the government even if there was such a decision, Netanyahu changed his excuse and told the Americans that he couldn’t apologize because he was under political pressure due to the social protests.

About a week ago, Netanyahu called U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and informed her that Israel would not adopt the outline for ending the crisis with Turkey and would not apologize. Nevertheless, after that conversation he agreed once again to postpone the report to September 2 and subsequently asked for another six month postponement.

The Prime Minister’s Office refused to discuss the issue, claiming that it is a sensitive subject.

August 30th, 2011, 11:17 am


ann said:

What’s REALLY Happening in the Middle East Today


A few hours ago I wrote that the Egyptian military government reportedly told Israel that a major Israeli offensive into the Gaza Strip might create an out-of-control situation in Egypt. The Egyptian generals weren’t being threatening or hostile, they were saying that they could either not control a wave of violence that would result or perhaps be unable to resist demands for strong action. For this and other reasons, Israel has not retaliated.

One reason for the generals’ lack of desire to confront Israel now–aside from knowing they would be defeated and lose U.S. aid–is that they may be aware of three things. First, the Egyptian government has acknowledged that three Egyptian citizens participated in the terror attack on Israel. The story is covered here.

Second, as was made clear by his comrades at the funeral, Egyptian soldiers killed an Israeli soldier in an unprovoked shooting as the Israelis were packing up to leave the border area.

Third, the Egyptian government knows that three Egyptian soldiers were not killed by Israel on purpose but were spotted by an Israeli helicopter hunting the terrorists, who were wearing Egyptian army uniforms, and fired two missiles and machine guns at them.

Remember, by the way, that the Mubarak-era commanders are still in control of the army. Within a year, these people will be gone, possibly to be replaced by hotter-headed subordinates appointed by a radical nationalist president presiding over a largely Islamist-radical left parliament.

But as i have written since January, Hamas well understands this situation and apparently wants to provoke a confrontation. The pattern is clear: a ceasefire is announced by Hamas, the world media reports a ceasefire is in place, and then more rockets rain down on Israel fired by Islamic Jihad, Hamas’s ally, obviously with Hamas’s permission.

Before the terror attack, there were serious negotiations about a prisoner exchange to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who is 25 years old today. While they probably would not have succeeded, people familiar with the situation thought they came closer than many previous tries.

But back to the strategic situation. A lot of rockets are being fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel to provoke an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in order to set off a massive crisis. On Wednesday, August 24, alone more than 20 rockets were fired into Israel. What should Israel do? There is no easy answer. Israel is targeting specific rocket and terrorist sites in the Gaza Strip, especially those of Islamic Jihad, a Hamas ally, but refrained from a bigger attack.

If you don’t think this strategy works for the terrorists, read for example the Washington Post, which reports that Israel broke the ceasefire by attacking Gaza, not mentioning that rockets had been continually fired from the Gaza Strip against Israel. In other words, terrorist groups know how to play the Western media like a fiddle. Readers of the Washington Post, and no doubt other newspapers, are being told that those nice Hamas people wanted a ceasefire but Israel acted as the aggressor, a wonderful case study of how media coverage helps recruit sympathy for terrorists. Here’s an ongoing count of rocket attacks on Israel.

And where are all the weapons coming from for terrorists in Sinai and Gaza? From Libya. Amid the celebrations of the apparent downfall of the dictatorship, a lot of money is being made by selling and smuggling arms to terrorists. And the Palestinian Authority, always described in the Western media as “moderate” endorsed the cross-border attack from Egypt.

Meanwhile, every day the Turkish regime is arresting officers and dissidents on the most ridiculous charges of conspiring to murder people and overthrow the regime. The Western media largely ignores these stories and even continues to praise the regime. In fact, this very Islamist regime is being used by the Obama Administration to mediate the future of Syria!

Finally, the allegedly moderate Muslim Brotherhood is gaining confidence and increasing its demands. Media Line reports that the Brotherhood’s political party is now demanding the Ministry of Tourism institute a dress code for tourists and starting to push for the ban of alcohol sales in Egypt.

Here’s the quote of the day, from Professor Hani Henry of the American University in Cairo,:

“This is how things began in Iran. The moderate youth wanted to implement changes, but the mullahs hijacked the revolution. The same thing is now happening here in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood. It makes me sick to my stomach.”

Me, too. Here’s a sensible analysis from a former British ambassador to Syria of prospects for Syria and Libya.

And speaking of acid reflux, consider this from the great Media Sampler (featured daily here)

David Bernstein at the Volokh Conspiracy writes about a video of Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch discussing the Arab world in 2009.’ He singles out the following part of her talk:

“The weirdest moment in the talk, though, is when Whitson points out that no Arab country allows freedom of speech, the cornerstone of a free society. What one example, of all possible examples, does she use to illustrate the lack of freedom of speech? That Arab governments tried to prevent their populations from protesting Israel’s actions in Gaza in the war against Hamas in late 2008/early 2009. Just, WOW!”

In other words, the key leader of one of the world’s main “human rights” groups–a woman who previously was trying to fundraise for Human Rights Watch in Saudi Arabia by bragging about how they bashed Israel–argues that the most important use of freedom of speech is to attack Israel. Yes (sarcasm used), that’s been the main right Arabs have been denied for decades. Of course, the Islamists, radical nationalists, and many of the “moderates” agree with her. No doubt, the number-two item is attacking the United States.

August 30th, 2011, 11:24 am


Haytham Khoury said:

More U.S. Muslims feel targeted by gov’t


Any islamophobic label does not hurt only Muslims, but it hurts all Arabs and all citizens of the Middle East (no matter whether they are Muslims or not).

I remember in 1995 (during that time France was subject to terrorist attacks), I was coming from England back to France. I was the only one to be stopped for more that 30 minutes by the border protection agent. It was so humiliating; all people were looking at me strangely.

Till now and despite having two western passports, every time I cross the US border it is a big hustle.

For this reason, nobody really benefits from the islamophobic labeling.

August 30th, 2011, 11:24 am


ann said:

Can blossom come from the Arab Spring?

Those hoping for a transformation in Libya and Syria are in for a rude awakening.


Are we being thoroughly naive about the Arab Spring? The term itself is deeply misleading, with its connotations of Prague and peaceful progress towards democracy. Recent events have been more like a series of earthquakes than the green shoots of spring. Regimes have been destroyed; most have been shaken to their foundations. Populations don’t know how to put their shattered lives back together. Is it progress?

You might think I am being a little too pessimistic. But let’s consider Libya. Like many other countries in the region, it has been ruled by a ruthless dictator, expert in wielding raw power. The secret police were the key to this. We in the West can hardly imagine living in constant fear of a dawn commotion at our front door, being wrenched from our homes and families to be thrown into jail with the prospect of torture and indefinite detention in the harshest of conditions. One in four of your neighbours is likely to be an informer – perhaps even a member of your family. This iron hand is accompanied by skilful footwork as the ruler holds the ring between competing groups and distributes money, jobs and influence between them.

It is this structure that has been so badly shaken in the past months. The desire for more freedom, dignity and decent employment had been growing steadily in the region, but was suppressed by fear. That fear has now gone up in smoke. It was partly the arrival of Twitter, which swept through and had the astonishing effect of neutralising the secret police and transforming the balance of power in society. All well and good. But what will replace dictatorship?

Let us not expect a blossoming of democracy in the wake of Gaddafi. These are revenge cultures and there are a great many people who have every reason to seek it, just as there are plenty of secret policemen who can feel the ground shaking beneath them.

Existing power relationships have been shredded and in Libya there is no mechanism for resolving the remaining tensions. Even in such a small, relatively wealthy country, there is a serious risk of chaos.
Related Articles


Syrian cartoonist has hands broken
26 Aug 2011

Rebels put £1m bounty on Col Gaddafi – dead or alive
24 Aug 2011

Looted Libyan weapons could fall into hands of terrorists
24 Aug 2011

Rebels celebrate in Col Gaddafi’s compound
24 Aug 2011

Gaddafi pleads for support in new broadcast
24 Aug 2011

Gaddafi vows ‘martyrdom or victory’ in fight against ‘aggression’
24 Aug 2011

And that chaos may spread further. How will Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad react to developments in Libya? He will certainly not take Hillary Clinton’s advice and meekly hand over power to “democratic forces”. Syria, like most other countries in the region, is an extremely complex society. Myriad regional, ethnic and religious communities have been held together by the Alawite Assad dynasty – using the traditional methods, of course.

The Alawites, a mountain community with a faith distantly related to Shia Islam, joined the armed forces in droves in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Sunni majority were busy politicking and making money. They achieved dominant positions in the military to such a degree that Hafiz

al-Assad, father of the current president, was able to seize power, ruthlessly eliminate any opposition and rule unchallenged for 30 years. These are the shock troops on which Bashar is now relying to put down the demonstrators with whatever force necessary. Raw power is still being wielded here.

And so far he has succeeded. There is a reason for that. Many Syrians are deeply fearful of what might happen if the regime were to fall. It could be a bloodbath for the Alawites, leading to wider ethnic conflict. They have watched the ghastly events in Iraq in recent years and even give shelter to nearly a million Iraqi refugees. They also remember the events in their sister country, Lebanon, in the 1970s, when rival checkpoints were set up and anyone of the wrong religion was simply murdered.

Bashar is well aware of all this and so is not in the least interested in Western advice. He will cling to power by force while introducing some concessions in the hope of drawing the opposition’s teeth.

Meanwhile, Western criticism could well strengthen him at home. Syrians hate to be pushed around. And Syria’s key position in the politics, history and geography of the Arab world means that there will be no serious regional pressure. The Saudis will be very cautious, as always, and the Turks have little clout in domestic Syrian politics. Egypt is, to put it mildly, preoccupied, while Iran is a strong supporter of its only ally in the Arab world.

Internally, there are two dangers. One is that parts of al-Assad’s army will eventually refuse orders to fire on civilians. The other is that the opposition will progressively take up arms. Assad claims that there are already “armed gangs” at work. He means the Muslim Brotherhood who, in a long struggle, might well come to be the prime opposition to his regime, an unwelcome eventuality at a time when their rise is already causing alarm in the West. So much for the effortless blossoming of democracy. Whatever the outcome, the struggle will be long and deadly – and certainly no spring.

Sir Andrew Green is former British ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia

August 30th, 2011, 11:28 am


ann said:

What Middle East Pundits Get Wrong – August 29, 2011


A British writer named David Hearst has suggested in the Guardian that Israel will disappear because Arabs and Muslims continue to “resist” its existence. This is a fascinating example of the many things wrong with political analysis, media, intellectual debate, and the understanding of the Middle East today. Here’s a list:

1. The confusion between wishful thinking and analysis. Every day I am forced by reality to say things I don’t want to say. But people who no longer understand scholarly, scientific and intellectual values assume I only say it because of some political agenda. And that belief derives from the cynical, neo-Marxist, post-modernist concept that everyone merely represents a specific political interest. That concept kills democratic discussion.

An example: I would love Egypt to be a stable democratic state. That isn’t, however, what I see based on evidence. Yet if I say so, the response is likely to be insults or name calling. For instance, I only say it because Israel or America wants to discredit the Egyptian revolution. Yet understanding and policy can only be made on the basis of honest assessment. Otherwise, they will fail or make things worse.

Of course, the British writer is echoing what he hears in Arab discussions. They want Israel to collapse, hence they predict it. But basing their lives and policy, spending their blood and money, on this effort will lead Arabs to disaster – as it has already done for 60 years – and postpone progress for themselves.

2. The lack of real historical perspective. This article in question could have been written in 1948 or in any year since. If people continually predict something and it doesn’t happen, might that not indicate a need to change their view? Indeed, evidence shows that Israel has become more successful while Arab states – as recent months unfortunately prove – have become mired in internal conflict and retrograde Islamism.

3. One of many ironies about “multiculturalism” is its egocentrism. “Other” peoples are reduced to political symbols, something like an old Communist poster of heroic workers and equally heroic peasants.

Their views are only taken into account if they are led by the “proper” leaders. A Muslim leader who denounces the West and makes demands on it for accommodation is “legitimate,” but an immigrant who wants to integrate fully into Western civilization, or a leader who wishes to be an ally of the United States – they are sell-outs not worthy of respect. Moderate Muslims or democratic oppositions in Iran, Lebanon, and Turkey are put into that category. That’s why there are no campus or other demonstrations on their behalf.

In addition, true inquiry into other countries and groups is discouraged because it might lead to “unacceptable” conclusions. It’s amazing how little we know – especially from academic research or journalistic investigation –about Muslim communities in the West. There is hardly any real work on, say, Palestinian politics, political groups in Egypt, the Syrian opposition or the nature of Turkey’s ruling party.

4. Policies and behavior so intent on injuring one’s enemy that they end up injuring yourself.

Since ideology and “political correctness” trump factual correctness and enemies are demonized, the goal is to hurt opponents even if that means doing disastrous things. There is no better example than the Arab-Israeli conflict, in which an attempt to destroy Israel has come close to destroying the Arabic-speaking world. And just when we thought that it might pull itself out of the swamp in the 1990s they jumped back in.

One of the reasons that Israel is so criticized, attacked and misunderstand is that Westerners who dwell in the lands of pragmatism simply cannot believe that anyone else would act so differently. Consider the gap between a yuppie and a suicide bomber.

5. There is an ideology collapsing today in the Middle East, but it isn’t Zionism. It’s pan-Arab nationalism, which will be replaced either by Islamism, nation-state nationalism (the “normal” kind), or a moderate and pro-democratic philosophy. If someone doesn’t realize that this is the great battle going on now, they can probably understand nothing about the world.

What the kind of article I’m discussing in the Guardian does is to incite decades more of wasteful, deadly and useless struggle. What, resistance will destroy Israel? Then why should Palestinians negotiate a compromise deal for a state or Arabs make peace? Just hold out, fight on, and they’ll win! And that indeed is the philosophy of a long list of people, groups and governments.

The outcome is the mass production of socially approved Middle Eastern equivalents of Anders Breiviks who, once dead or imprisoned, become heroes whose faces look down from posters; are taught as role models in schools; and have youth camps, sporting events and public squares named after them. US taxpayer funds sent to the Palestinian Authority are then used to pay them salaries and to support their families.

That’s a good way to understand the contemporary Arabic-speaking world: a place where the Breviks are the heroes and the moderates are the villains.

August 30th, 2011, 11:37 am


N.Z. said:

There is a vacancy that needs to be filled in Syria. The endless incursions on everything Syrian by Assad security forces needs to be addressed, specially when reporters are denied access.

It is precisely why the American ambassador, Mr. Ford, has stepped forward, and rightly so. I cannot but admire his bravery, knowing the savagery of Syria’s non-cringing, sycophant mafia, Assad’s men. The Shabiha. This word will no doubt make it to the English vocabulary. They are a distinct bred of being.

I have never thought that this day will come, when I will thank an American official for taking such an honourable stance.

Mr. Ford, my heartfelt thank you, for standing with Syrians, by doing whatever you can to stop the bloodshed. I know many will join me in thanking you. My blessings for your safety, to you and yours,

August 30th, 2011, 11:38 am


ann said:

Jihad el-Khazen: Reasons for hating Israel are completely justified

Tue Aug 30, 2011


There is the story about the psychiatrist who is unsuccessful in treating a patient with an inferiority complex. The doctor tells the patient, “Maybe you don’t have a complex. Maybe you’re really inferior.”

Israel is the one with the inferiority complex, and like the patient, is actually inferior. No one likes it, and it responds with what makes people hate it even more.

I put together translations of the Israeli press from the weekend, and found an item in Maariv, saying that Israel decided to start a fight with Qatar because of its growing anti-Israeli activity in the world. The item focused on the huge legal and political support offered by Qatar, as the chair of the Arab Follow-up Committee with the Palestinians, to demand recognition of an independent Palestinian state in the General Assembly of the United Nations next month.

Thus, the leaders of the Foreign Ministry, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, and with the knowledge of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, decided that “Qatar is leading anti-Israel activity on the international stage and we cannot continue to act as if the relationship is normal.”

The relationship was never normal. When Qatar accepted to open a trade office for Israel in Doha as part of the peace process, the goal was to encourage Israel to take part in this process. However, Israel today is ruled by an extremist, right-wing mafia that is racist and fascist; Qatar expelled Israel’s representative in 2009 after the attack on Gaza. Two employees remained, but Israel closed the office in March, so that Qatar would not use it as a means of pressure against it.

The Israeli news item quoted a secret Foreign Ministry document saying that it would halt all of Qatar’s activities in Palestinian territories (all of it is Palestine), such as building the Doha stadium in Sakhnin, and other projects, including the Fakhoura project in Gaza to help students calling for lifting the siege (this is only a crime in Israel), helping Hamas-affiliated charities from receiving around 100 million euros from Qatar every year, and the funding of legal cases against Israel for attacking the Turkish peace flotilla.

Israel objects to Al-Jazeera because it broadcasts harsh statements against Israel and criticizes the country, and because it hosted a conference on religion, sponsored by the Emir, in which Israel was criticized. Thus, Israel decided to halt Al-Jazeera’s activities in Israel and ban its correspondents, just as it banned all activity by the Qatar Foundation, which is sponsored by Emir Hamad bin Khalifa, from providing social and educational assistance.

I once wrote a column about Israel’s prime ministers from Ben Gurion to Netanyahu and explained that they all, without exception, changed their family names because they were of “no origin,” as we say. Today, the war criminals Netanyahu and Lieberman, the Moldavian bouncer, confronting Emir Hamad bin Khalifa and Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr. The Israelis are immigrants to Palestine, descended from murderers and thieves, while the Qataris are sheikhs from a family that has ruled its country for hundreds of years.

The Israeli inferiority complex is justified. No one likes Israel, and the reasons for this are as clear as day. However, people like Lieberman have the nerve to believe that an Arab country wants to have positive ties with Israel, as it occupies, kills and displaces people; they do not see that this country tried to push Israel toward peace. Qatar is not alone. Without going back too far, I can say that the campaign against Qatar coincided with a campaign against Egypt. The Israeli press says that Egypt warned Israel over a new war against Gaza, after the recent armed confrontations in the Strip. Egypt said that if Israel did such a thing, the Egyptian government might not be able to halt the popular response against Israel.
This was translated as meaning the great majority of Egyptians want to end the peace treaty with Israel. At the same time, an Israeli diplomat who once worked in Turkey said “They (the Turks) hate us a lot.”

Moving from countries to individuals, I read an attack on two friends. The first is Professor Jack Shaheen, who I have met between Beirut and the United States. He has done the best job in cataloguing the attacks against Palestinians in Hollywood films. The second is the British-Egyptian novelist, Ahdaf Soueif, whose “Map of Love” sold a million copies; she was attacked for sympathizing with the Palestinians and criticizing Israel. Once again, what could the position of a professor of Lebanese origin, and writer of Egyptian origin, be, other than opposing Israel’s crimes and those who cover them up?

I am not a psychiatrist and I do not have an inferiority complex. Speaking plainly, I can say that the reasons for hating Israel are completely justifiable.

(The writer is a former editor of Asharq Al Awsat newspaper. This article first appeared in the Dar Al Hayat newspaper on Aug. 29, 2011)

August 30th, 2011, 11:54 am


Mango said:

قال مسؤولون في “اتحادات الطلبة” الاسرائيلية، إن ما يجري في لندن والحرائق المشتعلة هناك تشكل تحذيرا وضوءا احمر لنتنياهو في الكيان الاسرائيلي. ونقل موقع “يديعوت احرانوت”، عن مسؤولين في الاتحادات قولهم “ما يجري في لندن يجب ان يشعل ضوءا احمر امام نتنياهو ليرى ما يمكن ان تتطور اليه الامور في حال اكتشف الجمهور عدم جدية المفاوضات، ما يعني تفاقم الغضب داخله”.
ومن ناحيته، قال رئيس اتحادات الطلبة “ايتسيط شمولي”، “إن الطلبة يسعون للحوار مع الحكومة لكنهم يطلبون التوصل الى عملية سوية وحقيقية من شانها ايجاد حلول حقيقية وتغيير سلم الافضليات والطلبة بقيادتي لن يلجأوا مطلقا للعنف ضد الحكومة”.
وفي السياق ذاته، هدد محتجون إسرائيليون في “مدينة حولون” جنوب “تل أبيب” بالقيام باضطرابات على غرار تلك المندلعة في العاصمة البريطانية لندن، بعد أن طالب مفتشو “البلدية” المحتجين بتفكيك “أكشاك خشبية” أقاموها في معسكر خيام الاحتجاج في حي “جيسي كوهين” بالمدينة، فيما انطلقت مسيرات احتجاجية في العديد من “المدن” الإسرائيلية مساء الأربعاء.
وذكرت وسائل إعلام صهيونية أن مفتشي “البلدية” حضروا إلى معسكر “جيسي كوهين” مساء الاربعاء وطالبوا المحتجين، وغالبيتهم يفتقرون لمأوى، بتفكيك أكشاك خشبية أقاموها في المكان خلال 24 ساعة. ورفض المحتجون استلام الإخطارات واندلعت مشادة في المكان فيما أشعل قسم من المحتجين الإطارات المطاطية وأرائك وسط شارع رئيسي في “حولون” ما أدى إلى ازدحامات مرورية وقد أغلقت الشرطة الشارع.

August 30th, 2011, 11:55 am


N.Z. said:

الناشط البارز نجاتي طيارة خرج من السجن إلى أقبية المخابرات الجوية

– 2011/08/30نشر فى: أخبار محلية
مراسل المحليات : كلنا شركاء
خلافاً لكافة القوانين النافذة عطلت المخابرات الجوية بحمص إخلاء سبيل الناشط البارز نجاتي طيارة .. وقامت باعتقاله من جديد فور خروجه من سجن حمص المركزي يوم أمس الاثنين بعد أن قررت محكمة الجنايات بحمص إخلاء سبيله بكفالة مالية وقدرها خمسة آلاف ليرة سورية ظهر يوم أمس..
وقد علم مراسلنا في مدينة حمص أن دورية من المخابرات الجوية اقتادت طيارة مكبل اليدين من السجن إلى فرع المخابرات الجوية بحمص. ليس من أجل جريمة ارتكبها، بل ربما من أجل إعطائه دروساً مكثفة في الوطنية على اعتبار أن الشعور الوطني لدى نجاتي طيارة قد اضمحل وأصابه الضعف والوهن خلال فترة اعتقاله التي دامت أكثر من ثلاثة اشهر. تماماً كما حصل مع باقي المعتقلين الذين تم الإفراج عنهم وفي مقدمهم المحامي أنور البني وميشال كيلو وفايز سارة ومعتقلي تجمع إعلان دمشق.. وهذا يؤكد تماماً أن القرار القضائي لا قيمة له أمام سلطة الأجهزة الأمنية ولا حتى القانون ليس له أية قيمة تذكر أمام القرار الأمني.
ويذكر أن الناشط نجاتي طيارة كان قد اعتقل من قبل المخابرات الجوية التي يرأسها اللواء جميل حسن يوم الخميس في 12/5/2011 على خلفية نشاطه الكبير في فضح الحملة العسكرية التي تعرضت لها مدينة حمص . وطيارة معتقل سياسي سابق ولعب دورا بارزا في الحركة المطالبة بالحريات السياسية المعروفة باسم ربيع دمشق التي سحقت عام 2001 بعد عام من تولي بشار الأسد الرئاسة خلفا لوالده الراحل حافظ الأسد”.

August 30th, 2011, 11:59 am


abughassan said:

I have not met Dr Galioun but I read some of his work and listened to him few times. A number of media outlets called him “an alawi opposition leader” but they may be wrong,and I certainly do not see his religious affiliation as a plus or a minus but that will matter to some. Shutting down SC will be an unfortunate decision now because it provides useful info to a lot of people about Syria and allows people from different backgrounds to exchange opinions(and insults). For the sake of “ventilation” I have to confess that I am less likely to read posts on SC than before after realizing how shallow and hateful some posts are,this includes posts written by people who claim they are religious or highly educated,but good luck finding any trace of that in their posts.

August 30th, 2011, 12:02 pm


Revlon said:

The organising Committee of the Istanbul Consultative Meeting have issued a statement distancing themselves from the “The National Transitional Council” broadcasted by AlJazeera.

They stated that they continue their efforts to form a council, within 15 days.

بيان هام جدا يوضح تشكيلة المجلس الوطني السوري


بيان المجلس الوطني السوري

توضيح هام : تعلن اللجنة
التحضيرية المنبثقة عن اجتماع اسطنبول
التشاوري من أجل تأسيس المجلس الوطني السوري أنه
لاعلاقة لها بما أذيع على قناة الجزيرة من أنقره بتركيا حول تشكيلة ما سمي بمجلس وطني انتقالي لا من قريب ولا من بعيد.

ومن جهتنا فإننا نود أن نعلن مايلي:

إن اللجنة التحضيرية تتابع أعمالها في استكمال التشاورات مع القوى والشخصيات الوطنية في الداخل والخارج بقصد الوصول
إلى تشكيل المجلس خلال 15 يوما،ً ويتم حالي ا اًلتشاور مع ممثلي شباب الثورة وكذلك مع التجمعات السياسية المعارضة
بالداخل، وهناك تقدم طيب في كلا الاتجاهين لتأسيس المجلس وإعلانه في الموعد المحدد.

ونتوجه هنا للشعب السوري العظيم و قواه السياسية ببيان ما تم القيام به خلال الفترة التشاورية الاولى . لقد بات من القضايا
المعروفة محاولات نظام العصابات السوري والمحسوبين عليه التشويش على الاجتماع التشاوري الذي انعقد في اسطنبول بين
23 آب بغرضإفشاله، واشتدت المحاولات بعد أن خرجت المبادرة إلى العلن في المؤتمر الصحفي بتاريخ 23 – 20
آب/أغسطس 2011
في هذا السياق وإزالة للالتباس وتبديدا للتشويش المغرضنوضح لشعبنا السوري الأبي ما يلي:

المجلس الوطني السوري هو هيئة , وطنية مؤقتة، تعمل لتمثيل الثورة ولا تدعي التمثيل الشعبي إطلاقا، ولا تعكس على نحو
مطلق جميع القوى السياسية، لكنها تعكس قدرا لًا بأس به من التوافق يمكّنها من أن تكون ذراع ا سًياسية للثورة السورية، وأن
تخدم سياسيا الحراك الوطني في الداخل والخارج، وتقوم بمساعدة الثورة لتحقيق الاهداف المرجوة في إسقاط النظام وتنظيم
عملية تسليم الحكم الى مجلس انتقالي سوف يتكون بعد رحيل النظام كي لا ينشأ فراغ سياسي أو سواه.

من هنا، نعيد التأكيد بأن المجلس الوطني ليس مجلسا انتقاليا لإدارة الانتقال إلى سورية الجديدة، كما أنه ليس حكومة انتقالية أو
حكومة منفى… إن العمل على إنشاء مؤسسة المجلس الوطني جاء على
خلفية الإحباطات المتتالية التي منيت بها محاولات
المعارضة في التوافق، مما انعكس إحباطا للًشعب السوري وشباب الثورة.

ومع تزايد الحاجه الماسة إلى وجود أداة سياسية موحدة وفاعلة تخدم الحراك الوطني سياسيا وتحقيقا لهذا الهدف اجتمع عدد من
المستقلين سياسيا ممن توفرت فيهم الخبرة بالعمل السياسي والأكاديمي لبلورة خارطة طريق لوجود تلك الأداة. وبناء على ذلك
تم تكوين فريق تكنوقراط مؤلف من 26 شخصا لرسم التصور والآليات لتشكيل مشروع المجلس الوطني السوري بعيدا عن
الأضواء الإعلامية.

أعد الفريق خلال العمل خارطة دقيقة للقوى السياسية التقليدية والحديثة في الداخل والخارج لينتج عنها قوائم تضم مئات
الأسماء من المعارضين و المستقلين ونشطاء بارزين في الحراك الشبابي في الداخل والخارج أيض ا.ً تقاطعت جهود مجموعة
العمل هذه مع جهود مجموعة عمل أخرى كانت عاكفة أيض ا عًلى فكرة شبيهة جدا. تلاقي الفريقان فشكلا لجنة متابعة وشرعا
في تحضير مشروع المجلس الوطني ووضعت مجموعة من المعايير الموضوعية منها الكفاءة العلمية والكفاءة السياسية و
النشاط في الشأن العام و القدرة على العمل الجماعي والأهلية القانونية المعروفة وغيرها من المعايير لتحديد المرشحين
لعضوية المجلس. وتم انتخاب لجنة مؤلفة من 7 أشخاصللمتابعة والاتصال بالشخصيات الوطنية وفق جدول زمني.
ثم انطلقت المشاروات من خلال الاتصال بالمرشحين والقوى السياسية في مختلف البلدان وفي اجتماعات مكثفة دعيت إليها
أطراف عديدة للتباحث في إنشاء المجلس وتطوير فكرته وعمله، دون أن يكون لتلك الاطراف أي صفة رسمية.

ولابد من التأكيد هنا على مجموعة من الحقائق تتعلق بالمشروع. فالفريق الذي قام بتصميم الفكرة ورسم خارطتها متنوع يمثل
كل الأطياف الفكرية. كما أننا نؤكد بوضوح عدم وقوف أي طرف سياسي دولي خلف المشروع.

أما فكرة المجلس فتقوم على
أساس أنه هيئة سياسية واحدة للداخل والخارج معا،ً بحيث يكونغالبية أعضائه من الداخل بما فيه أعضاء ممثلين من القوى
الشبابية والثورية الجديدة.

و في هذا السياق لا بد من التأكيد على أن المجلس الوطني بصيغته المطروحة هو أداة سياسية لخدمة الثورة وبالتالي تمثيل
وضع الحراك الشعبي، وهو يلعب دور المؤسسة الجامعة التي يتفق و يختلف داخلها السوريون في خدمة بلدهم و ثورتهم. كما
أن مهمته الأساسية محددة وتتمثل في إسقاط النظام و ليس الانتقال الى الحكم

لمزيد من المعلومات يرجى الاتصال :
أ.خالد الحاج صالح: هولندا
د. بسمة القضماني : باريس
أ.عبيدة النحاس: بريطانيا
00 (44) 7775 845959
اديس طسابلادبع.دديوسلا : 0046731520541 abdulbaset.sieda@yahoo.se
د.وائل مرزا: الإمارات
00(971) 503404619
00 (966) 503019591
د.نجيب الغضبان: أمريكا
00 (479) 283-4833

August 30th, 2011, 12:09 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Mainstream Hate: From “Monkeys and Pigs” to “Murderers and Thieves”

Jihad el-Khazen: Reasons for hating Israel are completely justified


Thanks for that informative article. This will fit nicely in the MEMRI archives.

I especially liked the statement:

The Israelis are immigrants to Palestine, descended from murderers and thieves…

August 30th, 2011, 12:10 pm


ann said:

Syrian priest talks about the bloodshed in his homeland

30 August 2011


August 30th, 2011, 12:11 pm


Husam said:

Revlon @ 110 in previous post.

Thank you for clarifying the Alawi/Sunni issue of deprivation.


August 30th, 2011, 12:18 pm


Revlon said:

A high source: The higher Security Committee has issued a statement on impending psychological media warfare on Syria.

اللجنة الامنية العليا تعمم بيانا كالحاً كوجوه اصحابها

هــــــــــــــــام من مصدر مطلع رفيع المستوى :

” يوم غد هو أولى ايام الحرب الأعلاميه الكبيره على سوريا ”

وخطة الخونه اعداء الله على النحو التالي
1 : محاولة التشويش الكامل على جميع القنوات السورية التي تبث الاخبار
2 : تعطيل شبكة الاتصالات السورية وارسال رسائل كاذبه على ان النظام السوري قد سقط !!!
3 : ظهور أفلام صورت في قطر على ان هنالك انشقاقات كبيره في الجيش السوري تحصل
4 : أتصالات سوف تتم على ان هناك مسؤولين كبار اعلنوا الانشقاق !!!
5 : الدور الخليجي ” القذر ” سوف يطالب بتدخل دولي لضرب سوريا عسكرياً !!

نرجو من جميع زملائنا من مدراء الصفحات الوطنية الشريفه تعميم هذا الامر ونشره على نطاق واسع

المعلومات من مصدرمطلع رفيع المستوى طلب منا نشر هذه الامور التي هي بداية الحرب ” الاعلامية الكبرى ” على سوريا

اللهم عليك بهم …فهم لا يعجزونك

صفحة بشار اسد فيس بوك

August 30th, 2011, 12:29 pm


R said:

53 Dear Husam, you are welcome.
Sorry R was for Revlon. That was an inadvertant, autocomplete glitch!

August 30th, 2011, 12:30 pm


hsyrian said:

Dear Joshua
You said:
” I will have to begin publishing much less on Syria Comment and will perhaps have to shut it down for some time, as I must complete a book”

I do understand your personal decision and I do fully support your shutdown of the Comment section.

Regarding your book , maybe you will have a chapter to answer my little academic question
( unless you plan to make a fortune with a comics cartoon caricature book after a& well planned media blitz):

” How many ( 5000 ? ) INNOCENT victims has been killed by the terrorists of the Muslim Brotherhood between 1976 and 1982 until the Syrian Army terminated the Islamist armed uprising in Hama and the Islamist terrorist actions stopped in Syria.”

Including the slaughter of ( > 83 ) cadets at the Aleppo Artillery School in 16 June 1979.
Including the murder of the rector of Damascus University, Dr. Muhammad al-Fadl, killed in February 1977
Including the murder of the doyen of Syrian dentists, Dr Ibrahim Na’ama, killed in March 1978
Including the murder of the neurologist Dr. Muhammad Shahada Khalil, who was killed in August 1979
Including the murder of the commander of the Hama garrison, Colonel Ali Haydar, killed in October 1976

List to be continued …

August 30th, 2011, 1:07 pm


N.Z. said:

Khudr Wadi, a 12 year old boy was shot and killed in Syria, on the first day of Eid, by no other than Assad junior and Co.

That brings the total of children killed by this mafia to 121 innocent lives shattered by Bashar Assad, a father of three lovely children.

August 30th, 2011, 1:16 pm


N.Z. said:

Dear Dr. Landis,

I wish you and your family, as well your “community” a peaceful Eid. I am hoping you will not shut your informative Syria comment any time soon. Your blog is as much informative to us, Syrians, as well as non-Syrians.

“It is always my great joy to dive into my community here at the end of a day or first thing in the morning,” Your blog and the commentators have become part of my daily family discussion.

Whatever your decision, I sincerely thank you. Personally I am hoping you will keep going.

August 30th, 2011, 1:39 pm


Dale Andersen said:

Memo To: N.Z.

RE: “…Bashar Assad, father of three lovely children…”

Trust me on this, they aren’t lovely. They’re spoiled little brats who will grow up to be pale shadows of Uncle Maher and Auntie Bushra. Oh, they will be three beauties and bad to the bone. I pity anyone who gets too friendly with any of them.


August 30th, 2011, 1:41 pm


N.Z. said:

Dear Dale Andersen, guilt by association is not a Syrian trait.

August 30th, 2011, 1:51 pm


Dale Andersen said:


RE: Ann

Have you noticed how Annie’s posts are all news articles from obscure, crypto-nazi publications? And they’re all written by holocaust deniers and members of the SSNP? (deleted for personal attack and inappropriate content)


August 30th, 2011, 1:51 pm


William Scott Scherk said:

Commenter HSyrian, at comment #14, seems to be listing countries/states “which is defined ethnically.”

In this list, sandwiched between the USA and Mexico, is Canada.

I wonder what information HSyrian has about my country to let him conclude that Canada is defined ethnically. As far as I can tell, my country is defined in constitutional documents as a melding of ‘founding peoples,’ first nations (aboriginals), and subject to comprehensive codes that recognize and promote multiculturalism.

If I am wrong about this, I would like HSyrian to let me know which ethnicity is implied by the name of my country.

To the spirited Homs personality, Aboud, good news if true: twitter reports coming in this hour say that Najati Tayara has been freed from detention.

(It seems, from Post #48, that he has been swiftly readmitted to the dungeons)

August 30th, 2011, 1:53 pm


Haytham Khoury said:

بيان حول الاعلان عن المجلس الوطني الانتقالي
by Burhan Ghalioun on Tuesday, August 30, 2011

فوجئت كما فوجيء الكثيرون بالإعلان يوم 29 آب على قناة الجزيرة القطرية بتعييني رئيسا للمجلس الوطني الإنتقالي المزمع تشكيله. ولا يستعني إلا أن أشكر شباب الثورة على هذه الثقة الكبيرة التي أولوني اياها. وهي ستبقى مصدر اعتزاز لي.

إن هذا الإعلان يعكس الشعور العميق لشباب الثورة بالمسؤولية، كما يعبر عن الحاجة الماسة التي يشعر بها الشباب الذين يواجهون الرصاص كل يوم بصدروهم العارية لإطار سياسي يواكب ثورتهم المجيدة ويرد على التحديات التي تواجهها في الداخل والخارج.

وهو يشكل رسالة موجهة إلى جميع قوى المعارضة لتجاوز انقساماتها والارتفاع إلى مستوى التحديات والمهمات التاريخية التي تطرحها ثورة الكرامة والحرية في سورية. وبالنسبة لي يشكل هذا الإعلان تكليفا معنويا بمهمة لا يمكن الهرب منها أو التنكر لها، أعني بذل كل ما بوسعي لتوحيد جميع المبادرات والبناء على المنجزات الكثيرة، المنهجية والسياسية، التي تحققت على يد كفاءات سورية كبيرة، من أجل تشكيل هيئة وطنية جامعة تمثل جميع أطياف الحراك السياسي والشعبي، تكون غايتها تمثيل الثورة السورية المجيدة وتنسيق علاقاتها الوطنية والدولية. ونحن اليوم، بفضل جهود شباب الثورة ودفعهم، أقرب من أي وقت سابق للوصول إلى هذا الهدف الكبير المنشود

August 30th, 2011, 1:53 pm


ss said:

majedkhaldoon said:
“When they say (La ilaha ila Bashar) this is Kufr”
“When they shell Minerets.that is Kufr.
When They shoot live bullets on people while they are praying,this is Kufr.
When they force people to prstrate to Bashar picture,this is Kufr.
When they claim that they are God,this is Kufr.I met two of them while I was in Alawite mountain both claimed they are God.
When they worship sun this is Kufr.
When some worship the moon, this is Kufr.
When they practice sicrificial ritual this is kufr.
when they say women have no soul,this is Kufr.
when they say they are closer to christians than Islam,this is Kufr,
When they consider Ali Divine, and say they have the right to kill anyone who disagree,this is Kufr”.

Your post is full of anger and hatered towards Alawi. This writing reflects that you are full of radical islam idiology. You are a surgeon and living in the states, it seems that al these years in the states did not even smooth your soul to respect other sectors. Ar3oor fell behind your writings. If a physician, who is trained, and who is practicing in the US is writing such comments, what do you expect from the lay people.

Why you do not keep going and show us your hatered to other religions.
What do you think about Hindu who pray for Buddha?????Kufr???
What do you say about shia whom their mistake is the love of Al albiet??is this kufr??
Why do you say that Alawi kills people if you do not believe in Ali????Where did you get that from???Arent they beheaded during Safar Barlek Dr. Khaldoon
In the US people accept each other regardless of religion and ethnicity. Havent you learned all these years??
When Alawi ever said women have no soul????The women in the Alawi religion is very much respected and she is not tied in a black bags. She does not have to be burred in clothes head to toes. The women in the Alawi religion is equal to men in ever apect of social life.

If you were one of these Ara3eer I would have not even wasted a line on you, but you are a practicing physician who holds an american board, and who is shopping right now and living in the US and despite all these years your heart is full of hatered and sectarian

August 30th, 2011, 2:06 pm


Akbar Palace said:

descended from mindless mouse clickers

Dale Andersen,


I love Italy. My wife and I want to make Aliyah there;)

Have you noticed how Annie’s posts are all news articles from obscure, crypto-nazi publications? And they’re all written by holocaust deniers and members of the SSNP? She must live a life of quiet desperation. Or maybe she’s just not getting any…

Dale Andersen,

Yes, I have noticed, and as you saw, at least one qualified for the “MEMRI Hall of Shame”.:)

I’m formulating some nicknames for Ann, and here they are to date:

– “Annie Get Your Mouse”

– “Spammy Annie”

– “Spann”

– “C & P Ann”

– “Conspiracy Ann”

– “Pain in the Ann”

Let me know which one is best, or maybe you have a better one…

August 30th, 2011, 2:14 pm


Haytham Khoury said:

Dear Dale @59:

I agree with N.Z @60. Those kids are not guilty just because their father is committing atrocities. We do not know how they are raised. We do not know what is their state of mind.

In a previous article I wrote

“Bashar lacks the social intelligence and the shrewdness; in other words, he does not understand the signs of the times. Therefore, he interprets wrongly the meaning of the explicit and implicit messages that he receive and the significance of historical events that he experiences, making him, unlike his father, completely deficient of the survival instinct and leading him to utter political and personal failures, thus putting in danger not only his presidency but also his life as a free man and the future of his kids, who do not merit to be named the children of a criminal.”


August 30th, 2011, 2:23 pm


Tara said:

Post #3, Vedat,

“However after only 20 weeks of demonstration Iran is ready to dump the Assads!”

I wish I was as optimistic as you are. I think Ayatollahs (I still don’t know how many of them exist) are very loyal to Bashar and they will continue to extend him unwavering support regardless of the little change in tone we have heard. This changes in tone could just have been an attempt to appease their public opinion.

August 30th, 2011, 2:26 pm


abughassan said:

SS,this following comment is not directed against any particular poster,It it is a general observation:
The hard work required to obtain a medical degree and to succeed in a foreign country as a physician is not a passport to success in other venues like moral leadership,business,personal life,politics,etc. I tend to think that doctors are actually less capable than other people outside their areas of expertise.
Bashar himself is a physician but he proved to be a poor leader,at least in my opinion. Ayman Alzawahiri is a physician too. Some of the most corrupt politicians we have in the US are doctors,this profession has some of the most admirable individuals and some of the least inspiring too.
however,I agree that corruption of the best proves to be the worst !!

August 30th, 2011, 2:28 pm


abughassan said:

Dr Landis,
Thanks for this forum,I understand why you may have to shut it down.
Please be kind enough,and that is also for other readers,to suggest other blogs and forums that Syrians can use to engage in a useful dialogue.You may also be able to find somebody you trust who does not mind taking over this blog and keep the ball rolling.
Good luck..

August 30th, 2011, 2:37 pm


Ales said:

Re: 61.
If anyone in mainstream media (Time, New York Times, Guardian, Washington Post, …, ) raised questions how much truth there is in reporting about Syria, or wrote Pro Assad article, they would not be writing articles for long. It’s a normal result of situation these papers operate in, very similar in every state in the world. News are mostly sticking to government lines, their owners lines (with known political orientation) and, in particular, mass consumption needed to survive. In middle east cases, there’s additional influence of origins of authors, many authors publishing on Syria are Jews (not normally writing on Syria, but now they do) or Syrian diaspora (especially in France, UK and USA. And Australia is known Murdoch country and most loyal of all USA followers).
There are some issues these papers rise, mostly on domestic level (if not, who would read them?), but foreign policy wise it’s mostly cosmetics. Eventually, they will always end up supporting any war or intervention in middle east their governments are pushing for. Reading them, you will soon (and you are already) find armed rebellion an idea worth to support in Syria. When arms are there, more blood is spilled and protesters are not strong enough, additional steps are needed to (win at all cost, avoid humiliation of politicians or NATO, not look weak, get oil, defeat enemy by proxy, …choose one or many or all, some reason will certainly apply).

It’s a circle no one can break except time…a country going against such media machine can survive only with sufficient internal cohesion, army (to prevent easy invasions like Libya), and some allies to avoid total isolation…and keep doing these for years.
We will see how it goes for Syria.

August 30th, 2011, 2:46 pm


Malaouna said:

Dale posted: “She must live a life of (edited for inappropriate content)

Dale and Akbar should stick with arguments rather than bashing Annie for simply being a woman. Personally, I would demand a comment like that be removed from the blog!

After all, when it comes to Middle East politics, we have enough sexism and misogyny to go around already. Oh, and by the way, who is Annie? Do you mean Anne? Is this a means of infantilizing her?

August 30th, 2011, 2:52 pm



بشار الأسد مقاوم بالثرثرة للشاعر أحمد مطر

August 30th, 2011, 2:57 pm


Dale Andersen said:

Memo To: ALES

RE: “…If anyone in mainstream media [in the USA] raised questions how much truth there is in reporting about Syria, or wrote a Pro Assad article, they would not be writing articles for long…”

You poor little man. You don’t really get it, do you?

The difference between people like us and people like you is quite simple: we believe what we choose to believe and as for you, you don’t get to make choices. We can tell the the President to go to hell and some of our media entities can write pieces telling him to go there. As for you, unless you want to spend years in a dark, dank jail, you’re forced to toe the party line and vote the Bashar ticket all the way.

The sad thing is, you think the rest of the world is like yours. You think the world is made up of states, corporations and other vast conspiracies controlling what is reported and how it’s reported.

And that’s why you have Jews on the brain.

You poor, poor little man.

August 30th, 2011, 3:07 pm


beaware said:

Four military options in Syria
By Michael O’Hanlon – Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Michael O’Hanlon specializes in national security and defense policy and is senior author of the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan Index projects.

With the continued willingness and ability of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to brutally crush his country’s opposition, the question about what options we might have to stop the slaughter grows increasingly haunting. I am not currently advocating military intervention, but it is worth surveying the tools at our disposal to contemplate what might come next – if not immediately, then perhaps down the road.

1. Invasion to carry out regime change

Let’s start with the extreme option and then work down the list, so to speak. Invasion to carry out regime change, even if done with complete political correctness, a UN mandate, and strong Arab and other Muslim participation, is very unappealing. Syria is not dissimilar from Iraq in size, and as such one would have to think in terms of 100,000 to 150,000 troops for several years of post-invasion stabilization. Casualties to foreign forces alone could number well into the hundreds or low thousands, even if Assad did not use chemical weapons in response.

One can hope otherwise, but we have been down that unhappy road of optimistic invasions and so-called cakewalks before. There would be potential benefits to this kind of operation, to be sure, but America is simply too tired, its finances too broke and its Army and Marine Corps too overused of late for this to make sense unless things get far far worse. No other country is capable of spearheading the effort or providing most of the troops either.

2. No-fly and no-go zone

Assad should not, however, take complete solace in such analysis because the international community’s options do not end there. If and when the Syrian opposition ever requested it, and key Arab states supported it, another option would be a form of a no-fly and no-go zone. It would be similar in ways to what the outside world did in Iraq in the 1990s to help protect the Kurds. One or two major parts of Syria might be protected in this way, at least reasonably well, by a combination of outside airpower and perhaps a limited number of boots on the ground.

This option is not ripe at the moment, however. Syria’s opposition is too fractured, and the Arab world, while far more critical of Assad than a couple of months ago, is hardly ready to go to this extreme. Neither, of course, is Russia. And it would hardly be easy; it could for example set the international community up for a multi-year operation that effectively partitioned Syria and required a couple of divisions of outside forces to police. Assad should know it is there, if things get a lot worse, but at the moment even Syrian dissidents do not appear to favor such an idea.

3. A maritime operation to enforce strong sanctions

A third option is a maritime operation to enforce strong sanctions on Syria. This approach would not close off all Syrian trade. But especially if Turkey – and perhaps even Iraq and Jordan – cooperated at their land crossings, we could not only impose prohibitions on certain kinds of trade with Assad’s Syria, but enforce those prohibitions through a naval quarantine. As in Iraq in the 1990s, perhaps we would focus on the oil trade and various high-technology sectors with such sanctions. The naval assets required would be easily within the capacity of NATO’s fleets, ideally operating in conjunction with Arab partners. This option would not of course guarantee that Assad would change course, but it could allow us to seize control of much of his economy – and again, floating the idea may serve as a partial deterrent, since he should be made to realize that we do in fact have ways to escalate well short of outright invasion.

4. An air campaign

Finally, an air campaign inspired by the Kosovo model could be used to punish the regime and its cronies. It could go after command and control assets and places like banks, electricity grids, and Baathist party facilities. It would not be able to protect civilians throughout the country, of course. That is why Kosovo is the better analogy rather than Libya, where the geography and demographics lent themselves to the protection of Benghazi-based rebels as well as their sympathetic populations with limited amounts of airpower. But a punitive air campaign, perhaps combined with the naval quarantine discussed just above, could magnify severalfold the consequences for the Assad regime and inner circle of their terrible repression of their own people. That in turn could increase the odds that the regime would relent, or that a dissident group would carry out a coup to remove the president.

There is no guarantee such options would work, and that is part of why I do not favor them now. But it may well be time to starting talking and thinking about them.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Michael O’Hanlo

August 30th, 2011, 3:20 pm


beaware said:

Meet the likely chairman of the Syrian National Council: a secular French sociologist
By Michael Weiss Politics Last updated: August 30th, 2011

From the start of the Syrian uprising, the opposition has maintained that while there were indeed Islamists in its ranks, this quotient was less than a third of the total, the Muslim Brotherhood having been effectively wiped out by Hafez al-Assad in the 80’s. And what Islamist representation there was, it wasn’t powerful or well organised enough to flout the overarching ambition of the rest of the opposition, which was and is to replace the Assad regime with a pluralist democracy that enshrines freedom of speech and freedom of religion in a new constitution.

From Dr Radwan Ziadeh’s National Initiative for Change, a umbrella movement founded in late April and built around a manifesto of the same name, to the Local Coordination Committees, which released their statement of principles after the Good Friday massacre, the demands of most opposition groups within and without Syria have been remarkably consistent. All affirm the “mosaic” of Syrian society as one made up of many tribes, ethnicities and religions. Unlike the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, none had made any hubristic claim about apportioning political power along sectarian lines.

If this was some kind of clever taqqiya manoeuvre to trick a complacent West into supporting the Syrian people, then all credit to these Machiavellian revolutionaries who found the time to collectively dissemble as they and their families were being shot, electrocuted, tear gased, dismembered, disappeared, raped and pounded with tank artillery shells.

Well, now a consortium of Syrian political parties has met in Istanbul and founded a National Council, a body fairly claiming to represent the alternative to Ba’athism and dynastic rule. It just proposed as Dr Burhan Ghalioun, the director of the Centre d’Etudes sur l’Orient Contemporain (Ceoc) in Paris, and a professor of political sociology at the Sorbonne. What are Ghalioun’s politics?

Here he is (see video above) in 2007 telling Al-Jazeera that the two biggest problems facing the contemporary Arab world were dictatorship and clerical control of the media:

These clerics have no true knowledge of society or politics. Whoever turns on Al-Jazeera or any other channel sees that the clerics control everything. It is not true that they are a minority. Today, the intellectuals and politicians have no role. Arab societies are held hostage by two authorities: The authority of political dictatorship — arrogant dictators, who are inhuman in their oppression of liberties, and in their crushing and humiliation of the individual. The other authority is that of the clerics — even those opposing these regimes — who tyrannize Arab public opinion nowadays. Arab public opinion is held hostage by the clerics of all types. Muslim clerics and Islamists from all groups. There is a kind of undeclared, practical alliance between the political dictatorship and the dictatorship of religious authority from all groups, who do the impossible in order to remove all the people who hold different views — politicians, thinkers, and intellectuals — whether by accusing them of secularism, which means heresy, or by accusing them of modernism, of having ties with the West, or of collaborating with colonialism. In their conduct, they do not really differ from the Arab dictatorial regimes. The leaders of the Islamic movements are, without a doubt, the ones winning the war. Whoever watches Arab media realizes that they have won the war of culture. The slogan “Islam is the solution” — in my opinion, 90% of Arab public opinion believes nothing else.

That doesn’t sound like an Islamist to me.

August 30th, 2011, 3:22 pm



To Ales 70 and all other ASSadian conspiracy-revealers on this blog:

If jews really controll all the world (except Great ASSadian Syria and Great Ayatollah-run Iran… OOPS! I nearly forgot Democratic Kingdom of North Korea) they must be INCREDIBLE smart and handworking people.
But don’t you think Syrian arabs must have the same potential (as they DO have similar gen-pole and religion)?

Maybe you should stop complaining about the jewish conspiracy against the great ASSadian Syria and work harder TO GET CONTROLL OVER THE (FOR THE MOMENT) JEWISH-RUN MEDIA.

(When this happen the world media will be as free and objective as SANA…)


(BY THE WAY: I hope that the ayatollahs of Iran and the confused secular-islamist brothers in Damascus soon will join the anti-imperialist hero Ghazzafi in the underground, because they will have no place to flee… OOPS! I nearly forgot comrade in democracy the great Kim Jong Il!)

August 30th, 2011, 3:35 pm


Akbar Palace said:

“We Have Enough” NewZ

After all, when it comes to Middle East politics, we have enough sexism and misogyny to go around already. Oh, and by the way, who is Annie? Do you mean Anne? Is this a means of infantilizing her?


Yes you’re right, and when it comes to ME politics, we can NEVER have enough demonization of Israel and Jews. This is where Ann’s spamming skills become so vital.

Who is Ann? I don’t know, she doesn’t dialogue.

August 30th, 2011, 3:35 pm


Khalid Tlass said:

Tara, if you want to learn more abt the Ayatollahs, go to http://www.ShiaChat.com. You will know the currents of public opinion among Iranians and Lebanese, regarding the Syrian crisis.

Aboud, you might go there as well. That site is crawling with Iranian and Lebanese Menhebaks.

August 30th, 2011, 3:40 pm



You seem live in your own sectarian brain.
Most (at least those in the west) Iranians don’t care about this Sunni-Shia thing at all. They dislike ISLAM IN GENERAL because of what the ayatollahs did to the contry (I don’t say that is correct as I try to be more objective about the different shades of the religion, but that’s indeed what they DO)

Have you really met any Iranian in exile?

August 30th, 2011, 3:51 pm


Afram said:

@ Akbar Palace:
MY advise to you is Dante,s motto:

“Segui il tuo corso, e lascia dir le genti”
“follow your own road, and let the people talk”

or Clark Gable famous Gone with the Wind line:
“Frankly,my dear ANNIE,I don’t give a damn”
Ani haver Akbar/lo O,hav araveem,koulam..mamzehreem gam moushaga,eem…hasbee halilah mi hem
ani gar b,arsowt h,abreet
she_yelkhoo kol araveem le,azazeh,ivanta…ani lo Ohev araveem bi,khlal
A rev tov…toda

August 30th, 2011, 4:17 pm


Tara said:

Half Iranian

That is exactly my impression about Iranians in exile. They do not care about Sunni- shiaa issue and they dislike all their ayatollahs.

August 30th, 2011, 4:17 pm


Khalid Tlass said:

LOL you obviously haven’t visited http://www.ShiaChat.com. Its full of Iranians and Lebanese, NONE of them live in the Middle East, ALL of them live in English-speaking countries like USA, UK, Australia and Canada, and all are cheering Besho to kill more people.

Also, I believe a former commenter on SC, one SyrianCommando, is registered user on ShiaChat, he goes by the name of “Schrodingger”. In the forums related to Syria, he is openly bragging that Homs will be levelled by Artillery.

So, Tara , what do you know abt this guy SyrianCommando ? Looks like one nasty menhebak. I suspect he has connections to the Mukhabarat and the Army. He’s one nasty son of a bitch.

August 30th, 2011, 4:42 pm


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Akbar P,

Hu lo ohav aravim bikhlal! Ata hevan’ta et ze ? 🙂


What can you expect from someone who’s name is Jihad? To like Jews?


Are you an Arab? Syrian?

August 30th, 2011, 4:54 pm


Khalid Tlass said:


Are you an Israeli Arab Jew, or are you of European descent ?

Btw, why are Israelis friendlier with Jordanians than they are with Palestinians ?

Also, what do Israelis think about Hassan Nasrallah ?

August 30th, 2011, 5:12 pm


Mr.President said:

Allah this and Allah that. Allah on my side and Allah told me that.Allah is against Iranians/jews/Alawis/christians/menhibeks/Basho-Bisho-hehehe-rabbit-… Allah Allah Allah
I agree (Allah) that (Allah) it (Allah) is (Allah) time (Allah) to (Allah) shut (Allah) down (Allah) this (Allah) comment (Allah) section.
the good old days of great and useful SC discussions are gone. The radicals have taken over using their verbal threats, verbal guns & bullets.

August 30th, 2011, 5:20 pm


half-iranian human said:

Well, “Mr. President” the current dictator who is the son of another dictator of Syria speak about Allah and Mohammad all the time (especially recently for some reason). He tries very hard to behave like a good “mohammedan” (as he says).

What do you think about that?
But when his opponents speaks about religion it’s not OK for you?

He is probably just using religion as a tool. Islamists on this blog are at least honest about their belief, so I think they deserve at least a little more respect. Don’t you think so?

August 30th, 2011, 6:20 pm


sheila said:

To #26. Darryl,
I totally agree with your post and assessment. It is always the case that believers in one religion call believers in another “kuffar”: Jews call Christians “kuffar”, Christians call Muslims “kuffar” and all sects from all religions call other sects “kuffar”.
I am a Sunni Moslem and I think calling Alawiis, Shia, Ismailis or anyone else for that matter, kuffar is absolutely ridiculous. Who are we to know? What and who gave us the right? If we are true Muslims we should believe that every person is responsible for his or her acts, thus it is really none of anybody’s business to declare someone else a kafer. Religion is a personal matter that should be kept between a person and whatever he or she believes in. Public display of religion, in my view, is very distasteful. Running with canes after people to go to prayer is beyond idiotic. Are you really still in good standing with God if you are forced to pray? Or are you, as an enforcer of religion, gaining favor with God by forcing others to pray? Really???
I think our interpretation of Islam is a direct result of our poor educational system and culture that discourage critical thinking. We are deprived of asking why by everybody: our government, our teachers, our parents, our priests, our sheikhs …etc. A mind that is incapable of thinking independently is a dangerous mind. This contributes to our lack of understanding of Islam. We end up looking at every matter with a very shallow approach. Islam to us becomes praying, fasting and covering women’s heads and we completely ignore the essentials of Islam: morals, education and work ethics.

August 30th, 2011, 6:24 pm


Darryl said:

68. ABUGHASSAN said:

Dearest Abu GHassan, a physician in the US at least was expected to take the oath of Hippocrates and not be aligned to any religious ideology or smoke and mirrors. This requires that a graduating doctor be a humanist first and what ever other beliefs are held should be of the highest ethics and religion is a personal belief.

My observation over the years seems to indicate that Islamists, whatever level of education they receive, are against everything the western system has evolved to give them such as freedom of worship, freedom of press, liberty, dignity, equality and opportunity for everyone. Yet these are the ideals they do not believe in and do not wish them to anyone else, and they live in the west. It is so IRONIC!

August 30th, 2011, 6:33 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Yoter tov im anakhnu medaber anglit. Ani mitztaher, aval ani Lo soneh et habnei dodim shelanu. Kama mehem nekhmadim, kama tipshim.


A few participants here would like to know your ancestry. Well? The “Amirs” I’ve known have been mizrakhi.

August 30th, 2011, 6:54 pm


uzair8 said:

Pro-Assad militia threatens to go on strike



August 30th, 2011, 6:55 pm


Humanist said:

Of course, Sunni muslims are allowed to call adherents to other sects and religions (and what about atheists??) kuffar/infidels/crusaders/cow-worshippers/communists etc. Who cares, it’s just their opinion.

Alawites/Ismailis/Druzes/whatever should not be respected because you happen to think they are “real muslims” or disrespected because you happen to think they are “not real muslims”, they should just be respected AS HUMANS.

(also I don’t understand the thing about certain sects so much wanting to be “real” muslims in sunni eyes, I think they should learn from the alevis in Turkey instead who are very proud of their pre-islamic influences/origin and are very open-minded people)

August 30th, 2011, 6:55 pm


Darryl said:

Dear Sheila, many thanks and I believe the original message of Islam, as I believe the Messenger himself would have wanted is to have people be more open minded and less dogmatic. The Qur’an actually talks about this quite a lot when discussing Jews and Christians. Yet Muslims have become much more dogmatic than Jews and Christians combined. Their is a fatwa for everything real or imaginary.

There was a thread a few days ago about someone being threatened by Surat Al-Fatiha. Surat Al-Fatiha is a beautifully put prayer that some how people read into it too much . Any religious person can use, all it says, God thank you and lead me to the right path, there is nothing there to curse anyone. Where do people get this idea that it is cursing anyone?

August 30th, 2011, 7:01 pm


Chris W said:

In fairness to Akbar Palace and Dale Anderson, their posts tend to be ignorant, argumentative and basically trolling to disrupt discussion; but at least they make no real attempt to disguise who they are, unlike a number of the commentors here, who appear to be posing as Syrians but one gets the impression at least some of them are Israelis or Americans.

The criticism of Anne is obviously unjustified. She posts many interesting links-and-content posts from a great range of sources – Israeli sources included. I notice she even used one from Pajamas Media: that site is more Jewish that Wall Street and more Right Wing than Fox News! A fair-minded Israel supporter could hardly complain of bias.

August 30th, 2011, 7:01 pm


Half-Iranian said:

Chris W:

Why would someone posing here as a Syrian if he’s not syrian? Is it part of the “conspiracy” Assad talks about?
Do you really think we commentators on this blog has such great power to bring down (IF so I would be very happy of course) the great Syrian “Resistance” Regime?

As you can see I’m not a Syrian, neither I’m Israeli. I just have some middle eastern blood and I’m interested to know more about this -for now- bloody part of the world (which hopefully will become a better place to live in, not at least for expats as yourself!)

August 30th, 2011, 7:28 pm


True said:

102. True said:


Eyid Mubarak,
What’s the update on your medical expedition to Syria?

August 30th, 2011, 7:37 pm


Darryl said:

I have been pondering a few questions for someone who is perhaps tuned to the Syrian economy if a change of government to occur:

1. If the economy goes capitalist, all of a sudden there is the possibility that hundreds of thousands of workers will have to be let go as many industries are government owned and under managed and very inefficient.

2. Syria has about half a million new people seeking work per year.

3. The Military may need to be scaled back and many personnel must be released from service.

4. There seems to be a population explosion.

5. Syria’s biggest potential (I think) is in agriculture, food industries, tourism and perhaps energy, these are not sexy careers for the new generation of graduates. What other industry segments can be developed?

If you were the president of new Syria how will you manage this new state, what will you do in the first 100 days in office and what is the new 5 year plan to deal with these issues

August 30th, 2011, 7:44 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Ignorant and Argumentative NewZ

I notice she even used one from Pajamas Media: that site is more Jewish that Wall Street and more Right Wing than Fox News!

Chris W.,

Thanks for another interesting topic. Your topic comes close to the one Ann linked to earlier today about Israelis being “descended from murderers and thieves”. I am not surprised you would find that to be an “interesting link”.

Anyway, since you seem to be an expert, what percentage of Wall Street is Jewish? Maybe there should there be a limit?

August 30th, 2011, 7:59 pm


ziadsoury said:


The high-tech and manufacturing industries can be developed really fast these days. There is a technology called 3D printing that is going to revolutionize the manufacturing industry.

I have over 20 years of exp in software product development and corporate turnaround and I can tell you, Syria as a country can be turned around and flourish in 5 to 7 years period. None can happen under the current systems and the thugs running the country.

August 30th, 2011, 8:04 pm


jna said:

Ann is clearly focused on supporting Palestinians in their effort to free themselves from Israel’s repression. However, in this area the partisans of giving Israel a free hand for whatever will always see an ‘anti-semite’ hiding behind every tree.

August 30th, 2011, 8:19 pm



Now that’s the spirit. A go getter.

We have something in common, we both want a free Syria.

August 30th, 2011, 8:20 pm



Ann is no different. She also sees a Zionist or a Yankee behind every tree. Both fail to see other dangers lurking in the woods such as occupation, despotism and stagnation, to be polite.

August 30th, 2011, 8:32 pm


abughassan said:

we are getting ready and checking with authorities in both countries,the trip is not likely to start until October.
When the time comes,Syrians who want to donate will be able to do so by sending supplies or money to a number of organizations that want to participate in the mission.

August 30th, 2011, 9:01 pm


Husam said:


“We have something in common, we both want a free Syria.”

add…with equal representation, protecting individual’s right much like the [original] Bill of Rights and Constitution of the US.

Bear in mind, everyone wants a piece fo Syria (Turkey, Iran, the west…). Something tells me it is going to be a long and painful struggle. Whatever help we get, to free Syria from outside will cost us dearly in the long run.

I think you would agree that:

1) There is no concensus among Syrians (will there ever be?)
2) With all the interest, the faith, the brains, in and out of Syria…I don’t see a formidable white paper that has been accepted as a primary roadmap
3) Bashar is not leaving; men on high golden chairs never do
4) Syria is not Libya (in more than a dozen ways)
5) Syria will continue to bleed until…I hate to say it, an armed struggle will become the only choice.

I know this is not what you wanted to hear. But after reading 100 articles, 1000 videos, 10,000 comments, would you expect any less than a gloom and doom feeling from me?

OTW, I have been robbed of my Syrian identity. Gladly, I still have spiritual identity that no one can take away from me. This, was not by birth certificate or citizenship but by my conviction.

August 30th, 2011, 9:03 pm


Darryl said:


It is highly unlikely that Syrians like you will leave their comfort zone and jump on a flight to go to Syria even if the country became Utopian overnight.

Syria cannot compete with other countries to attract high technology investment any time soon and there could be many more revolutions in between if the daily bread is stopped. So in the short to medium term, I think high technology is not an option for jobs growth.

August 30th, 2011, 9:03 pm


beaware said:

Turkey, Syria Approaching Diplomatic Rift
Source: VOA
Turkey’s prime minister and its president have announced they have lost confidence in the Syrian leadership, while the foreign minister warned that Ankara will side with the Syrian protesters against Damascus if forced to choose. The statements are seen as a possible final diplomatic breaking point between the former close allies.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul, in an interview over the weekend, described the government gestures in Syria as too little, too late as the Syrian crackdown against opposition continues. That message was followed up by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a TV address to the nation Sunday in which he strongly attacked Damascus.

He said a government cannot survive by force or brutality or by shooting and killing unarmed people taking to the streets. He said the only solution is to silence arms immediately and listen to the demands of the people. Mr. Erdogan said the world saw the end of those who did not choose this way in Tunisia and in Egypt, and now observes with sorrow what is being lived in Libya.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a TV interview last week said Turkey would always side with the people against the Syrian government, if it came down to a choice. The sustained verbal attack comes weeks after an ultimatum by Mr. Davutoglu calling for an immediate cessation of violence by the Syrian security forces.

Despite the continuation of the crackdown, however, Ankara appeared to have done little, drawing criticism from both the opposition and the media. But a Turkish diplomatic source says diplomacy works to a different calendar than 24-hour journalism, and repercussions are occurring. He said earlier this month, the Turkish foreign minister for the first time met with Syrian opposition leaders.

Diplomatic Columnist Semih Idiz said Ankara may have been “too reluctant to meet with the opposition.”

“But there was no reluctance in allowing the opposition to meet in Turkey. So this is the next step. We are now at the stage [where] there is nothing left to be said to Syria. So at this point, given that nothing Turkey has recommended has been followed through by Syria and the violence is continuing,” said Idiz. “So under these circumstances, Turkey sees little option but courting the opposition a little.”

Syrian opposition leaders had criticized Ankara for failing to reach out to them. But Istanbul has become a regular venue for their meetings.

Last week, some opposition groups announced the formation of a Syrian transitional council, along the lines of what the rebels have done in Libya. International relations expert Soli Ozel says Turkey’s ruling AK party with its Islamic roots will find it easy to develop ties with the Syrian opposition.

“Ideologically they have far more sympathy for the [Muslim] brotherhood, which is probably the backbone of the opposition,” said Ozel.
But Ankara still resists calls from its Western allies to support Syrian sanctions, claiming it hurts the people more than the government. It also has stopped short of calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stand down, or to follow the stance of Saudi Arabia and Tunisia in recalling their ambassadors earlier this month.

Political scientist Nuray Mert says even with the hardening of Ankara’s stance towards its neighbor, it still has to tread carefully.

“Our relations [are] very complicated in many ways, including the Kurdish dimension. But it’s also related [to] the problem concerning Iran. If there is going to be a regime change in Syria, the whole power balance will change,” said Mert. “Because if Iran loses Syria, they will lose an important base of power in the Middle East, in the region. So it will be a major defeat for Iran and within this framework if Turkey sides with the dissidents and supports some sort of regime change. Iran will take it directly against itself.”

Earlier this month, Mr. Assad reached out to his Kurdish minority, offering them nationality. Observers say with Syrian Kurds making up a large part of the Kurdish rebel group, the PKK, which is fighting the Turkish state, Ankara is increasingly concerned Damascus could be tempted to play the Kurdish card against it, as it did in the 1990s.

Turkey’s ruling AK party also has developed unprecedented political and economic ties with Tehran. According to the media, last week, Mr. Erdogan spoke for nearly an hour on the phone in Istanbul with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about Syria. As the violence continues in Syria, observers warn Turkey’s regional balancing act can only become more difficult.

August 30th, 2011, 9:07 pm


ziadsoury said:


You will be surprised how many people want to help.

As far as I am concerned, I will donate a year of my time (as long basic expenses are paid for) to help. I am very serious about this.
I am also willing to organize a highly professional volunteer force to make things happen.

You got to understand there is a lot of money to be made

in the long term.

August 30th, 2011, 9:34 pm


True said:

@ abughassan

Can you please be more explicit and tell me what authorities are you referring to?
Do you suppose Besho’s regime will grant you a permit?
Will you be operating on ground next to wounded protesters or just doctoring the regime’s thugs in public hospitals?

I’m afraid not much Syrians will be left by October.

August 30th, 2011, 9:43 pm


majedkhaldoon said:

There are many type of industry that can start and encouraged in Syria,Teck,indoor and outdoor supply,infrastructure industry,fishing inustry, farm equipments,planes,,i am not aware that we have amusement park,or Zoo,we do not have medical supply industry, last time I checked if we have a factory that produce Catheters,there was none, sterile solution bags are not manufactured in Syria with good quality, all the pharmaceutical industry needs to be overhauled,and subject to inspections and studies and research,this is only to name few.
We need to free the hands of enterpreneures, a friend wanted to build factory for nails he was told an Alawi must be his partner, they suggested the name of Maher Assad.he left the country.
We can save a lot of money if we cut down on security employee.
Probably the best thing would be, to create enviroment where Iraqi feel they are really our brother, where a feeling of the need for unity will be encouraged,since we will have no dictator it is possible we can unite.

I wonder if Ehsani can manage this forum,while Joshua is writing his books,that if Ehsani agrees,there are a lot of news coming in the next year, it is the wrong time to close such good forum.

August 30th, 2011, 9:48 pm


ziadsoury said:


Who is willing to donate their time to make Syria better?


I would love to get that assignment. There is so much oppressed talent in Syria. People are hungry to achieve and be recognized. Additionally, the fighting and never die spirit we see in these demonstration tells me the people of Syria are about to explode on the scene if guided properly.

But first we must have an end master basher and his thugs. Then we must have anti-revenge and ant-discrimination laws. I believe the minute you provide education and the opportunity to anyone to make an honorable decent living and the chance to succeed based on merits, people will not forget and forgive.

August 30th, 2011, 9:49 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Spann’s Repression Update

101. jna said:

Ann is clearly focused on supporting Palestinians in their effort to free themselves from Israel’s repression.


Perhaps you can ask Spann if she is also focused on supporting Syrians in their effort to free themselves from Syria’s repression.

Or at least promote their right to vote and speak their minds.

August 30th, 2011, 10:08 pm


ann said:

At UN on Syria, UK Says Its Email Trumps Russia’s Oral Request, P5 Blues


UNITED NATIONS, August 30 — Amid a Security Council split between dueling Syria resolutions introduced by Russia supported by China, versus the Council’s four European members and the US, a side fight about which draft first went “into blue,” and thus could be called for a vote first, has been joined.

Inner City Press asked August’s Council president, Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri on August 30, “Which went into blue first?” He replied that it remains to be seen.

Puri’s India mission, in asking to hear both sides’ arguments, summarized that on August 26 the Russian text was distributed to the Council members in Consultations and Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin asked for it to be put in blue at 12:50 pm.

An e-mail from the UK delegation, on this issue, was received in the UN Secretariat at 12:59 pm. It stated

“Please put attached Syria text in blue now. Needless to say if you have not received text from another delegation, the UK text is in blue first.”

The Indian summary said that the drafts will only be numbered sequentially after the Security Council takes a final decision on the sequence of the submissions of the requests by Russia and UK.

The UK Mission to the UN sent out its response after 10 pm on August 26, explicitly on behalf of itself France, Germany, Portugal and US:

We circulated our draft resolution via the Secretariat during consultations in the Security Council Consultations Room on Tuesday 23 August. It was then the subject of negotiations at expert and PR level. On 26 August at 1259, we sent a written request to the Secretariat asking for the text to be put into blue. At this point, Russia had, neither in writing nor orally, submitted a request to put the text into blue.

You state that the “Russian text was distributed to the Council members in Consultations today, and the Russian PR asked for it to be put in blue at 12:50 hours.” In fact, the Russian Permanent Representative did not ask for the Russian draft resolution to be put into blue. He told Council colleagues that he had instructions to put the draft resolution into blue. This did not constitute a request to put the resolution into blue. Rather, it constituted a statement of intention to put the resolution into blue. In short, the Russian Permanent Representative during the informal consultations did not ask the Secretariat that the draft resolution be put into blue.

By contrast, and in accordance with usual practice, the UK did ask that the UK/France/US/Portugal/Germany resolution be put into blue, by sending a formal email to the Secretariat asking that it be put into blue.

Rule 32 of the Provisional Rules of Procedure provides: “Principal motions and draft resolutions shall have precedence in the order of their submission.” Because our draft resolution was formally submitted first, it clearly has precedence over the Russian draft resolution.

The key point now, however, is that the vast majority of the Council agrees that a resolution on Syria is necessary. We should work rapidly on the basis of our text to come up with effective collective action to tackle the deteriorating crisis in Syria. We have arranged negotiations at PR level on Monday 29 August at 1545 for that purpose.

After that meeting, on Tuesday morning UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant told the Press on his way into the Security Council that the UK was first into blue.

Later on Tuesday, when asked whose was first into blue, Russia’s Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin said, “ours.” And President Hardeep Singh Puri said it is still not decided.

On the substance, a Chinese diplomat told Inner City Press on Tuesday that, not surprisingly, China supports the Russian draft. With two Permanent Five members, and IBSA too, what could go wrong? Watch this site.

August 30th, 2011, 10:18 pm


Norman said:

What Syria needs to do is,

1) Tort law,
2) contract law
3) flat tax of about 15 %
4) real estate tax ( Modest) that will that will make it expensive to park money in real estate , having taxes will make owners rent their houses or sell these houses, so people who are graduating universities and want to get married and having families can do that without staying with their parents,
5) building infrastructure , roads with tolls to support maintaining these roads , airports , seaports, building the infrastructure will employ many laborers and with the low wages that are offered, the country can be built without significant debt,
5) encourage small business by offering government guaranteed small and medium size loans , small business after all is what produce jobs,
6) the price control on health care should be lifted for foreign users, Syria has very good doctors with good expertise and can set medical center where other Arabs , even foreigners from the West can get affordable excellent care provided by western educated doctors , that can only be done if they lift the price control on health care and mandate 10% of the care to be provided for free for well documented Syrian poor, the rich paying the market prices will be subsidizing the care for Syrians at discounted prices and some Syrians with free care ( Charity care),
7) provide health insurance , start with the teachers union with contribution from the members and concentrate on early detection and well care , preventive care ,
8) finally and best of all , get the government out of the way and simplify the way to do business and be happy by being a partner by taxation instead of middling in the real business,

August 30th, 2011, 10:27 pm


Abughassan said:

There is no shortage of doctors in Syria when the issue is basic medical care and routine surgeries. I will deliver supplies and money on a case by case basis. The government is not part of this project but I still need permission to bring supplies and provide certain services. US authorities are also part of the approval process. In my case ,I will not join any organization with ties to government agencies but I will help a variety of charity organizations including those that are listed on SAMS web site but I am not a member of SAMS or NAAMA. SAMS,to my knowledge,has not yet stated a date for its trip.
Exact details of my trip will not be released except links to charity organizations that I support. you will receive a full report when I come back,assuming that this forum will still be operative then.those of you who think they can do a better job or move faster on this issue are welcome to jump in,I am sure you love Syria as much as I do.
Thanks for the interest…

August 30th, 2011, 10:30 pm


ann said:

Neighbors / Turkey’s Kurdish conundrum – 31.08.2011

Ankara censures Israel for its attacks on Gaza, but does not hesitate to bomb the Kurdish PKK movement in much the same manner. Perhaps some UAVs will help them warm up to Jerusalem

By Zvi Bar’el


Turkey’s patience in the face of frequent attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK ) ended last week, when it began a war targeted at areas with high concentrations of members of the movement, which is defined as a terrorist organization. On Thursday the Turkish army announced that it had killed 100 PKK members in areas along the Iraqi border and inside Iraq as well, a week after the PKK killed eight Turkish soldiers.

Turkey censured Israel for its activities in Gaza, but operates in a similar manner against the PKK: It penetrates Iraq’s air space and bombs villages or sites suspected of housing PKK members, causing the deaths of innocent people, including women and children. And like Israeli diplomats, Turkey’s ambassador was summoned to a reprimand: the Iraqi foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, demanded of the ambassador that his country cease its military activities on Iraqi soil immediately. Members of the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament added the demand for an apology for Turkey’s attacks in its country to this reprimand.

It appears that Ankara, which brought the term “apology” to the forefront of the new diplomatic discourse, will have to deal with this itself now.

According to Turkish sources, in this campaign the Turkish army is using unmanned aerial vehicles acquired from Israel, to which Turkish-made cameras are attached. It turns out that the amount of UAV’s in Turkey’s hands is insufficient, and it is seeking to purchase more, along with other military equipment, for immediate delivery. Turkey’s policy until now has been to acquire Turkish-made equipment or that produced in cooperation with other countries; however, in light of the increasing attacks of the Kurdish movement and the decision to focus a military effort on it, Turkey has decided to make immediate purchases.

Rehabilitating factor

A senior Turkish source told Haaretz that it is possible that “the war against the PKK may actually be the factor that rehabilitates relations between Turkey and Israel. Turkey needs the UAV’s and Israel is likely to be a good source, especially when the fact that Turkey already has a service platform for Israeli UAV’s is taken into account.”

The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports that the army intends to buy combat helicopters “off the shelf,” in addition to those ordered from the Italian AgustaWestland firm, which were co-produced with Turkish Aerospace Industries.

The war against the PKK has been going on for a long time. Since 1984, more than 40,000 people have been killed. During the last two years, the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried to reach agreements with the leader of the group, to offer reconciliation, and even announced an effort to rebuild Kurdish areas of Turkey. Alongside these efforts, however, Ankara acted against the Kurdish activists who ran for parliament and some of them were arrested, which led to violent confrontations between Turkish Kurds and the police force.

Military fatigues

The campaign against the PKK has also stirred up Turkish politics: This week a recording was leaked to the media in which the previous army chief of staff, Isik Kosaner, is apparently heard saying that the Turkish army is losing its fight against the Kurds due to failures in organization and coordination. Kosaner resigned his post in July, together with the heads of other army branches, in protest following the arrest of senior officers in the “Ergenekon Affair,” in which they and other public figures were accused of instigating a military coup. In the recording, a person who appears to be Kosaner says that soldiers abandoned their weapons and deserted during the fighting. In the wake of the publicity that followed, families of soldiers who were killed are demanding compensation from the government for the death of their loved ones due to army negligence.

And this is not the only scandal. In the recording, Kosaner also warns senior commanders about the new law passed by the Turkish parliament which states that the army’s civilian business will be under civilian control. “Be careful, financial matters will be much more serious from now on,” he says.

The Turkish army, through its soldiers’ aid center, owns many civilian factories, including the car assembly firm Renault Fluence, cement factories, hotels and residences that are intended to house soldiers but are sold on the free market. These businesses, worth billions of dollars, have enjoyed complete freedom until now, without any government oversight. The army pension fund will also be under government control now, and according to Kosaner, will be reduced by 15 percent following the introduction of new taxes.

While the Turkish army is beginning to feel government pressure on its pockets, the Turkish government intends to adopt a new fighting strategy against the PKK: Special police and gendarmerie forces will be put in charge, while the Turkish army will concentrate on defending borders. In this way Erdogan’s government is in effect declaring that it no longer trusts the army’s ability to conduct an effective war against Kurdish terror and plans to become directly involved in the operative side, which until now was free of oversight.

The war against the PKK is the pillar of the policy on which Turkey conditioned its diplomatic cooperation with Syria and Iran. But this policy is changing. Turkey is becoming Syria’s biggest critic, while Iran attacks Turkey’s policies toward Syria and even threatens to act against Turkey. The concern in Ankara is whether Iran will operate terror organizations in its territory, and also encourage the PKK to widen its attacks, if Turkey continues with its present approach toward Syria.

August 30th, 2011, 10:30 pm


True said:

@ abughassan

Oh relax mate I was not questioning you not at all, I just wanted to have an insight of how the regime handles such campaigns.

It’s a matter of concern for me because I have been informed of how shabiha were stealing supplies and donations offered to people of Ramil in Lattakia during Besho’s invasion on the refugees camp.

On another story how the security forces (hypothetically calling them security) and Besho’s thugs broke into donation boxes of (Zakat) in Alrifa3i mosque on the night of decree, that’s in Kafersousa neighbourhood.

August 30th, 2011, 10:59 pm


Dale Andersen said:

Memo To: JNA

RE: “…Ann is clearly focused on supporting Palestinians…”

And how does that help Syria? It doesn’t. In fact, it hurts Syria.

For 40 years, the Assad Mafia has pretended it’s leading the struggle to defeat Israel. And every time a Syrian asked for his freedom, the Assads would say, “Not now. We are fighting the Jews in solidarity with the Palestinians. Your freedom will have to wait.”

Of course it was all bullshit. The Assads had no intention of fighting Israel. Just as they had no intention of giving anyone in Syria (except for a favored few) freedom.

In my opinion, any thinking Syrian has three tasks for the “New Syria:”

1. Kill the Assads

2. Fix the economy

3. Have zero problems with bordering countries.

The first is very possible. Not easy, but possible. And, mind you, they must be killed. If they escape to a foreign country, they will cause all kinds of trouble for Syria for years.

The second is going to be a herculean effort. Five years won’t be enough. Some time ago, Bashar told an American diplomat, “Half my people are under 25. Where am I going to find jobs for them?” The leaders of the New Syria will have to find those jobs.

And that takes us to the third item. It’s time to let the Palestinians and the Iranians and the Lebanese handle their own affairs in their own way. Bashar Assad’s sending his Hizbollah button men to whack Rafic Hariri is the kind of thing that will be remembered for a long time. It’s the kind of thing mafias and criminal organizations do. Syrians don’t need any more of that crap.

Capish, baby?

August 30th, 2011, 11:04 pm


ann said:

Sinking the Mavi Marmara – 30 Aug 2011

Israel will neither apologise nor take responsibility for its commandos killing unarmed activists.


Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says the Israeli murder of nine activists aboard the Mavi Marmara was in accordance with international law

The release of the findings of the UN panel of inquiry into the May 2010 Israeli attack on the Turkish Mavi Marmara, part of the Freedom Flotilla endeavoring to deliver aid to besieged Gaza, was recently delayed for the fourth time since the originally scheduled release date over three months ago.

Israel initially claimed the delay occurred at the behest of Turkey; Turkey claimed it happened at the behest of Israel. The latter version of events would seem to be validated by a Sunday report on Israel’s Channel 2, according to which Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has asked the US to delay the release another six months. According to Haaretz, the UN panel’s findings will nonetheless be published this Friday.

Either way, the latest delay follows Netanyahu’s unsurprising affirmation that Israel will not apologise for the deaths of eight Turkish activists and one 19-year-old Turkish-American activist shot – most of them execution-style – by Israeli commandos (IDF) who intercepted the ship.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned of a Turkish “Plan B” in the event that an Israeli apology does not indeed materialise.

Inverting cause and effect

From the point of view of the Israeli regime, an apology is not required given that the IDF commandos, and not the slaughtered activists, were the victims of the encounter at sea.

This innovative approach to logic was presented by IDF spokeswoman Avital Liebovitch at a post-attack press briefing, during which she announced that the passengers of the Mavi Marmara had engaged in “severe violence against our soldiers”. Liebovitch’s alarming summary of premeditated passenger violence involving weapons “grabbed” from commandos did not address the issue of why the IDF had not thus thrown a wrench in the works by simply refraining from raiding the ship.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed the violent intentions of the seafarers by adding the category, “Weapons found on Mavi Marmara” to its Flickr photostream and uploading images of marbles, kitchen knives, keffiyehs, and a metal pail. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s detection of ties between the Gaza flotilla and global Jihad was additionally upheld by a Flickr photograph featuring a slingshot colourfully decorated with stars and the label “Hezbollah”.

The Foreign Ministry has yet to explain whether Hezbollah always labels its Gaza-bound slingshots in English, or why the photograph is specified as having been taken on February 7, 2006, i.e., over four years prior to the flotilla attack.

As for the Israeli proclivity for inverting cause-and-effect relationships – such that commandos who shoot guns while descending from helicopters onto boats become the victims of the unarmed humanitarian activists onto whom they are descending – an application of this formula to other phenomena in the physical world results in the unexpected discovery that slabs of meat impale themselves on butcher knives and that armadillos attack the wheels of cars.

‘Delegitimising’ Israel

Quite fortunately for Israel, its acrobatics in defiance of truth are sanctioned by regrettably influential media figures like New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman, who obediently assigned quotation marks to the “flotilla of ‘humanitarian’ activists” in his analysis of the maritime confrontation.

Along with his decree that “[t]here is no question that this flotilla was a setup”, Friedman’s reference to the “violent confrontation that the blockade-busters wanted” echoed the assessment by Israeli government spokesman extraordinaire Mark Regev that the flotilla passengers were intent on accruing “headlines for their cause” by “initiat[ing] violence”.

Resurrecting his Operation Cast Lead-era philosophy that persons wanting to critique Israel’s actions in Gaza should recall that Islamist suicide bombers were also blowing up people in Iraq, Friedman updated the prerequisites for post-flotilla criticism of Israel to include more examples of unsavory behavior by regional Arabs and Muslims, such as that Syria was a suspect in the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He subsequently warned of a “trend, both deliberate and inadvertent, to delegitimise Israel”, resulting in a situation in which, “[i]f you just landed from Mars, you might think that Israel is the only country that has killed civilians in war”.

Leaving aside the minor detail that Israel was not at war with the Mavi Marmara, hypothetical Martian visitors might also be confused by other formulaic discrepancies such as the complete lack of suicide terrorism in Iraq prior to the US invasion and the fact that Islamist suicide bombers are not the primary recipients of military aid from the global superpower. Some Martians might even be inclined to assign blame for encouraging “violent confrontation” not to humanitarian aid flotillas but rather to foreign affairs columnists for the US newspaper of record who champion the mass killing of civilians in Gaza and Lebanon and advocate for civil war in Iraq.

As for the project to delegitimise Israel, I was able to witness this firsthand last year when I attended the funeral ceremony at Istanbul’s Beyazit mosque for Cevdet Kiliclar, one of Friedman’s “‘humanitarian’ activists”.

For non-Martians trained in the strategic proliferation of quotation marks, the scene might have been described as consisting of thousands of “mourners”, including “women”, “children”, and “students”, who had gathered to celebrate the “killing” of their “compatriot” and the opportunities it provided to sell headbands declaring “Hepimiz Filistinliyiz – We are all Palestinian”.

From Colombia to Gaza

Other popular Turkish slogans from this time period emerged from Erdogan’s post-massacre assessment that Israel had committed “inhumane state terrorism”.

Accurate as this depiction may be, it would have carried more ethical weight had, say, the Turkish military not proceeded with its acquisition of Israeli-manufactured Heron drones to aid in domestic “counterterrorism efforts” against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

As for state terrorism on other continents, the appointment last year of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to the post of vice-chairman of the four-person UN panel of inquiry into the Mavi Marmara incident was curious, given the intimate association of his name with the military and paramilitary practice of killing civilians. To his credit, however, Uribe has never argued that Colombian soldiers who – in potentially thousands of instances – murdered civilians and dressed the corpses in guerrilla attire in order to receive bonus pay and extra vacation time, were in fact the victims of said corpses.

Despite the repeated delay of the release of the UN panel’s findings – referred to as the “Palmer report” in honour of its chairman, former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer – Haaretz journalist Barak Ravid cites “a political source in Jerusalem” as revealing that:

“According to the final draft of the probe, Israel is not asked to apologise to Turkey, but the report does recommend it expresses regret over the casualties. The Palmer Report also doesn’t ask Israel to pay compensation, but proposes Israel transfer money to a specially-created humanitarian fund.”

The source also reports the panel’s conclusion that “the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza is legal and is in accordance with international law”, in which case the UN panel would be contradicting the UN on the issue of the legality of the Gaza siege.

As for the “Plan B” that Erdogan has threatened to pursue if Israel fails to issue an apology, compensate fatalities, and cease blockading Gaza, the Turkish newspaper HaberTurk lists the components of this plan, which are said to include a visit to Gaza next month by Erdogan, a suit against the Israeli government and relevant soldiers, and a reduction in defense cooperation and economic ties.

Turkey will additionally refrain from reinstalling an ambassador in Tel Aviv, a post that has been vacant since the Mavi Marmara incident, and will refuse to accept a replacement Israeli ambassador to Turkey when the current one terminates his stint in September.

Diplomatic antagonisms

The position of the Turkish ambassador to Israel is one that has been traditionally characterised by ups and downs, both figurative and literal. At a January 2010 meeting in Jerusalem, for example, then-ambassador Oguz Celikkol was deliberately seated at a lower altitude than his Israeli interlocutors, who were displeased with the portrayal of Mossad in the popular Turkish television series Kurtlar Vadisi or Valley of the Wolves.

The Israeli government eventually apologised for the treatment of Celikkol, setting the dangerous precedent that is perhaps to thank for Erdogan’s current conviction that Israel can indeed be made to apologise for things.

Given that the Mavi Marmara attack was made the focus of the plot of the 2011 film “Valley of the Wolves: Palestine”, based on the TV series, it is possible that any renewed Turkish ambassadorial presence in Israel will be greeted with seating arrangements even more proximate to the floor.

For more information on other sorts of diplomatic posts, one may meanwhile refer to a website devoted to cultivating “Novice Ambassadors” for Israel. Established by the Israeli Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, the site purports to “make it possible for each one of us to arm ourselves with information and pride in Israel’s global contributions and history and to present a more realistic image of Israel to the world”.

Rather than focus on realistic Israeli global historical contributions such as the elimination of approximately 1,400 persons, primarily civilians, in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, prospective ambassadors are instead called upon to dispel such alleged myths as that camels are the primary mode of transport in Israel and that cooking methods are primitive.

An arsenal of rotating factoids is provided on the right side of the screen for use in countering “barbs of criticism” leveled against the Jewish state. Bits of trivia include that “An Israeli invention for an electric hair removal device makes women happy all over the world” and that “Each month Israelis consume close to 15m bags of [the snack food] Bamba; every fourth snack sold in Israel is Bamba, and 1,000 bags of Bamba are manufactured every month”.

As for the utility of Bamba snacks and global-female-happiness-inducing razor components in obscuring the significance of human principles and human suffering, this may only be further reinforced by a gradual sinking of the Mavi Marmara beneath an eternal debate over whether Israel is sorry for killing civilians or whether it merely regrets that they caused their own deaths.

August 30th, 2011, 11:12 pm


873 said:

The real reason for the war on Libya, and as ever cui bono? War on Syria? Ditto.

Libyan rebels may recognize Israel
Posted: August 27, 2011 WND.com (partial)

WASHINGTON – The rebels of Libya’s National Transitional Council are prepared to recognize Israel diplomatically, and Israeli businessmen already are arriving in Libya to establish future business activities with the “new government,” informed sources have told Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

“This area may just become Israel’s new best friend in the Middle East,” the source said.

The development would represent a major shift in Libya’s foreign policy toward Israel and would provide the Jewish state with a sorely needed strategic friend among the Arab countries, since the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in January placed Israeli-Egyptian relations on hold.

The influx of Israeli businessmen into Libya also reinforces earlier comments made by the French philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Levy, who claims that weeks ago he had passed a message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a 90-minute meeting that the NTC was prepared to recognize Israel diplomatically.

Netanyahu’s office confirms that the prime minister met with Levy but wouldn’t comment on their discussion.

The NTC, however, issued a statement following Levy’s comments saying that the French philosopher was received “as a special envoy from the president of France and relations with Israel was (sic) never discussed.”

However, the NTC did not deny Levy’s assertion that it would grant diplomatic recognition to Israel once in full control of Libya.

“The NTC has long believed Levy is an official French envoy,” said Barak Barfi of the Washington-based New America Foundation.

“Even in its press release denying the existence of a message (to Israel), it called him ‘a special envoy from the president of France,'” Barfi said. “The NTC knows Levy. They think he is an important figure fueling France’s stance on Libya.”

Barfi similarly expressed surprise that the NTC had given Levy the assurance that it would grant Israel diplomatic recognition.

Read more: Libyan rebels may recognize Israel http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=338157#ixzz1WZasSbwX

August 30th, 2011, 11:24 pm


beaware said:

Russia-introduced draft resolution
UN August 26, 2011
The Security Council,

Recalling its Presidential Statement of 3 August 2011,

Deeply concerned by the continuing violence in Syria and the potential for its further escalation,

Calling for an immediate end to all violence and urging all sides to act with utmost restraint, and to refrain from reprisals, including attacks on state institutions,

Expressing profound regret at the death of many hundreds of people,

Stressing that the only solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process,

Recalling the Syrian authorities’ responsibility to comply with their obligations under applicable international law and to bring to account those responsible for the violence,

Noting the announced commitments by the Syrian authorities to reform, and regretting insufficient progress in their implementation,

Calling on the Syrian authorities to alleviate the humanitarian situation in crisis areas, to allow expeditious and unhindered access to international humanitarian agencies and workers, and to cooperate fully with the Office fo the High Commissioner for Human Rights,

Mindful of the role which Syria plans in the maintenance of peace and stability in the region,

Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, in dependence and territorial integrity of Syria,

1. Calls upon the Syrian government to expedite the implementation of the announced reforms in order to effectively address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria’s people.

2. Urges the Syrian opposition to engage in political dialogyue with the Syrian authorities with a view to holding a substantial and in-depth discussion on the ways of reforming Syrian society.


August 30th, 2011, 11:26 pm


ann said:

Turkey Announces Return of Confiscated Properties to Non-Muslim Minorities

August 30, 2011


Turkey has announced the return of hundreds of properties seized by the state from Christians and Jews over the past seven decades. The move is being described as a landmark decision for the country’s non-Muslim minorities and a major boost to the country’s much-troubled bid to join the European Union.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the decision to return hundreds of properties to non-Muslim communities is about righting a wrong made against them. He spoke Sunday at a dinner attended by the leaders of Turkey’s Christian and Jewish faiths.

He said the times when a Turkish citizen was oppressed due to his religion, ethnic origin or different way of life are over. He said this is not about doing a favor, but about rectifying an injustice.

The hundreds of properties to be returned include churches, cemeteries and synagogues, as well as schools. If the proprieties were sold to a third party, then their current value will be paid by the state to the original owners. Many of the properties were seized in decisions dating back to 1936, when restrictions over ownership of property by non-Muslims were first introduced. Istanbul’s head rabbi, Ishak Haleva, welcomed the return of the properties.

Erdogan said this is a historical day, and he expressed thanks to God.

Decades of discrimination have seen Turkey’s non-Muslim minorities collapse, from populations numbering in the millions to only a few hundred thousand. Their presence dates back thousands of years. Once Constantinople – now Istanbul – was the center of Christianity. Today the city still remains home to the spiritual leadership of the Orthodox church, which since the early years of the Turkish Republic, has faced discrimination.

According to political scientist Cengiz Aktar, the return of the properties, the seizure of which continued up until the 1990s, is of crucial importance.

“It’s a landmark. It [is a] very important move by the government. Symbolically [it] is very important. It’s a decision which is catch-up with the lack of justice of 75 years, so this is a total reversal of this attitude whereby non-Muslims were considered, sometimes openly, as foreigners,” said Aktar.

In the Kumkapi district of Istanbul, historical home to many of the city’s Christians, the decision is widely welcomed. This man’s view is typical. He said they are happy with this move, which is a very positive step. He says this is a decision that will eventually make the non-muslims feel they are citizens of this country, that will make them feel equal.

The decision will help to ease Turkey’s much strained relations with Europe. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly ruled against Turkey on the property issue, and hundreds of other cases are still pending. The return of the properties has been a key demand of the European Union, which Turkey is seeking to join. The country’s treatment of its non-Muslim minorities remains a key concern. Despite the decision, political scientist Aktar warns there is still much to be done.

“This is just the beginning of the matter. There are thousands of other problems. Not least all the problems, the non-Muslims are facing, for instance to become a public official, to become civil servants. The reopening of the Halki seminary, the top orthodox seminary, is another issue,” said Aktar.

Both the E.U. and the U.S. are calling on the government to reopen Istanbul’s Halki seminary, which belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church. The seminary has been closed since 1974, and the church says it is important to the training of its clergy. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised the issue again last month during her visit to Turkey.

“I hope sometime soon we will see the opening of the Halki seminary that highlights Turkey’s strength of democracy and leadership in a changing region,” said Clinton.

But the Turkish government still refuses, saying Greece has to make reciprocal concessions in its treatment of its Turkish minority. Claims of discrimination in state employment of non-Muslims also remains a common complaint in Turkey. But observers say the return of the properties is still seen as a powerful gesture of reconciliation.

August 30th, 2011, 11:29 pm


True said:


Any signs of Eyid cheerful spirit in Homs?


Any signs of Eyid cheerful spirit in Damascus?

yl3an ro7ak ya Hafiz, hopefully we’ll be able to sacrifice both Besho and Maher before Eyid Adha

August 30th, 2011, 11:33 pm


ann said:

How come we only see all covered up Islamic religious women protesting?!

Why are modern and liberated Syrian women refusing to participate?

See picture:


August 31st, 2011, 12:12 am


Abughassan said:

True,most of the support we received so far came from non Syrians . Many expats talk the talk but do not want to walk the walk. This mission will be completed with or without the financial support of Syrians. For those who wonder how,if there is a will,there is a way..

August 31st, 2011, 12:15 am


873 said:


Maybe some are covert ops disguised as Arab females? VERY common IDF/SAS intel technique used in W Bank/Gaza. Does seem very fishy, you’re right.

August 31st, 2011, 12:50 am


N.Z. said:

This article is worth reading.

الربيع العربي لحظة حساب لإسرائيل

مزاج جديد يسود الشعوب العربية

كيف يرى الإسرائيليون وقادتهم الربيع العربي. لا يأتي تخوّفهم فقط من الاعتراف الدولي بالدولة الفلسطينية، بل لأنّ هذا الربيع يخلق مزاجاً ثوريّاً جديداً لدى الفلسطينيين والشعوب العربية المجاورة الواثقة بقدراتها يلغي شعور الإسرائيليين بأنّهم في حصنٍ يهودي آمن. وهذا المزاج يشكّل تهديداً بقدر السلاح النووي الإيراني، حتّى لو لم يكبس أحد على زرّ.

ماذا يعني الربيع العربي لإسرائيل؟ هذا هو السؤال الذي يجعل وزير الدفاع الاسرائيلي شاؤول موفاز والمؤسسات الاستخبارية والأمنية تتعرّض لضغوطات هائلة للردّ عليه بسرعة.

التكهّنات المبكرة، إذا شكّلت التصريحات الأخيرة للساسة الاسرائيليين مؤشراً مفيداً، تبدو قاتمة. إذ حذّر ايهود باراك وزير الدفاع الاسرائيلي المتشدّد، أنّ الفلسطينيين يركبون “تسونامي دبلوماسي”، أطلقها الربيع العربي، ستؤدّي حتماً إلى اعترافٍ دوليّ متزايد بالدولة الفلسطينية، وإلى عزلة لإسرائيل أكثر من أيّ وقتٍ مضى. في حين أظهر بنيامين نتنياهو، رئيس الوزراء اليميني والمؤيد العنيد لإسرائيل الكبرى، أولى العلامات تخبّط. حيث صدم حزب الليكود الذي ينتمي إليه في أواخر يونيو حزيران/يونيو حين أعلن تحوّله المفاجئ بقبوله الانفصال عن الفلسطينيين – وهي سياسة يتبعها تقليدياً اليسار الصهيوني – لضمان “أغلبية يهودية قويّة” داخل حدود “محدّدة”.

في الوقت نفسه، خلص شمعون بيريز، وهو رئيس البلاد ، ومؤشّر المزاج الوطني، إلى أن مستقبل إسرائيل كدولة يهودية في خطر وشيك، ما لم يكن هناك اتفاق سلام مع الفلسطينيين، إذ قال: “نحن على وشك الاصطدام في الحائط. نحن نركض بأقصى سرعة نحو الحالة التي ستزول فيها إسرائيل من الوجود كدولة يهودية” [1].
كشف الربيع العربي تواطؤ الحكام العرب مع إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة

القلق العام في إسرائيل ليس في غير محلّه. فالربيع العربي يهدّد بإطلاق موجةٍ قوية من التيارات السياسية والشعبية -وهي مزيج غريب من التيارات الإسلامية والديمقراطية – كانت قد بقيت ممسوكة منذ فترة طويلة من قبل الديكتاتوريات العربية المدعومة من الغرب. إذ كشفت براعم الربيع العربي للمرّة الأولى بشكل صارخ تماماً كيف إن الكثير من المستبدّين العرب، حتّى أولئك الذين يوصفون بأنّهم معادون للغرب، قد تواطؤوا فاضحاً مع سياسات إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة لترك الفلسطينيين مشتّتين ومجزئين وضعفاء.

هكذا أبرزت عمليتا الاقتحام الأخيرتان – في مناسبتين منفصلتين – من قبل لاجئين فلسطينيين للسياج “الحدودي” الذي أقامته إسرائيل لإبقاء مرتفعات الجولان السورية خاضعة لسيطرتها غير المشروعة أن مثل هذا الحدث لم يكن وارداً قبل اهتزاز نظام الرئيس بشار الأسد نتيجة الاضطرابات الراهنة. إذ لم يعد الأسد يستطيع تحمّل تأجيج المزيد من المعارضة من خلال تضييق الخناق على المظالم المشروعة للاجئين الذين يؤكّدون على حقّهم في العودة إلى وطنهم.

وعلى نحو مماثل، فإن الحكّام المؤقّتين الجدد في القاهرة – مهما صبغوا بالتواطؤ سابقاً مع الطاغية الرئيس المصري حسني مبارك – لا يمكنهم تجاهل المطالب الشعبية لفتح الحدود مع قطاع غزة وتخفيف معاناة الفلسطينيين تحت الحصار الإسرائيلي. أو بالأحرى، ليس من المرجح لأيّ نظام مصري قادم- ديمقراطي أو غير ذلك – مواصلة سياسات مبارك إذا كان يريد تجنّب نفس مصير الرئيس المخلوع.

السلطة الفلسطينية أيضاً، تدرك أن دورها الحالي – سواء كمقاول ثانوي لأمن الاحتلال الإسرائيلي، أو كديكتاتورية عربية قيد الإنشاء لصالح الولايات المتحدة وأوروبا – لا يمكن الاستمرار به في ظلّ المناخ السياسي الجديد. وما عصيانها مؤخّراً لأسيادها المموّلين الغربيين، وما جهودها الرامية إلى التوحيد مع حماس، سوى إشارات إلى استقتال القيادة الفلسطينية اليائسة من أجل البقاء.

لهذه الأسباب، يستشعر الفلسطينيون العاديون، وللمرّة الأولى، أن السلاسل التي تكبّلهم – من قبل إسرائيل والسلطة الفلسطينية والأنظمة العربية المجاورة – قد بدأت تتراخى. ولم تعد الحدود كما الجدران ونقاط التفتيش وحظر التجول الذين تفرضهم إسرائيل، عقبات منيعة أمام التحرّر الوطني كما كانت كلّها تبدو ذات يوم. بهذا المعنى، فإن محاولة القيادة الفلسطينية لإعادة صياغة مستقبلها من خلال إعلان الدولة في الأمم المتحدة في أيلول/سبتمبر القادم معرضة فعليّاً لخطر أن يحلّ محلها المزاج الثوري الجديد.

من وجهة نظر إسرائيل، يشكّل الربيع العربي تهديداً على مستويين. الأول هو إنّه يلهب طموحات الفلسطينيين العاديين، ليس فقط لإنهاء الاحتلال بل أساساً لاستعادة حقوقهم وكرامتهم كشعبٍ، بعد عقودٍ من الحرمان والإذلال. هذه هي الآلية التي سيكون من الصعب أن تتوقّف، ناهيك عن إحباطها. المستوى الثاني هو أنّه هناك وعي لدى النخب إلاسرائيلية بأنّ التكلفة الحقيقية لبقائهم “فيلاّ في الغابة” – وهي العبارة المشهورة التي أطلقها باراك ذات مرّة عن وضع اسرائيل – سيتمّ الشعور بها في المستقبل أكثر من أي وقت مضى. فقد ولّدت اتفاقات السلام مع مصر والأردن، والحرب الباردة مع سوريا، هدوءاً اصطناعياً في السنوات الاخيرة، أفسح المجال للجيش الإسرائيلي كي يركّز طاقاته على عدوّه حزب الله اللبناني ولاحتواء أي مقاومة فلسطينية في الأراضي المحتلة.

ولكن، لن يتمكّن جنرالات إسرائيل بعد اليوم من الاعتماد على مستقبل يشنّون فيه الحروب التي يختارونها هم. وكما اكتشفوا في العام 2006 في حربهم مع حزب الله، سوف لن يكونوا قادرين على نقل المعركة إلى أرض العدو. إذ أنّ جبهة إسرائيل الداخلية – وهي “عقب أخيلها ” – معرّضة بالفعل بشكل خطير للصواريخ والقذائف.

وفوق ذلك كلّه، فإنّ القنبلة النووية الإيرانية التي تخشاها كثيراً تل أبيب – إذا تمّ صنعها – ستغيّر جذرياً ميزان القوى الاستراتيجي الإقليمي. إذ ستصبح طهران لاعباً رئيسياً في الشرق الأوسط، وواحدة من القوى التي على واشنطن أن تستوعبها بليونة لم تستخدمها حتّى الآن سوى مع إسرائيل. وما لم تعيد اسرائيل النظر في استراتيجية “بلطجي الحي”، فلا بدّ لها أن تبدأ بالاستثمار بشكلٍ أكبر من السابق في جيشها – فعديده يبقى محدوداً من حيث عدد سكان هذا البلد الصغير – الذي سيكون عليه أن يقاتل على عدّة جبهات، ليكون مجهّزاً على حدٍّ السواء لحروب تقليدية ولنوعٍ جديد من المعارك يتقنها كلٌّ من حزب الله وحماس. هذا لن يأتي رخيصاً، في وقتٍ تعاني فيه الولايات المتحدة أكثر من أيّ وقتٍ مضى من نقص في الموارد المالية المتاحة.

بالطبع، لن تقف إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة مكتوفتي الأيدي في مواجهة هذه التطوّرات. هكذا تحاول إسرائيل استعادة تحالفاتها الإقليمية الهامّة، خاصّة مع تركيا. في حين يدفع خطر سقوط النظام السوري، ومعه ترجيح إعادة إحياء حركة التمرّد الكردية، أنقرة الى العودة إلى أحضان إسرائيل. فكلاهما بحاجة إلى بعضهم البعض للتحصّن بوجه الربيع العربي. على نحو مماثل، تشهر الولايات المتحدة أقوى سلاح لديها – وهو المال – لاستعادة نفوذها مع الأنظمة الحديثة “المحرّرة”، وبخاصّة مصر. وسوف تستخدم المساعدات الموجّهة بعناية لاستيعاب هذه الأنظمة وضمان احتواء القوى الديمقراطية الوليدة أو تجاوزها. وبالفعل، أعلنت واشنطن أنّ القاهرة ستتلقى مساعدات جديدة بقيمة 2 مليار دولار.

الوف بن، المعلّق في صحيفة هآرتس الاسرائيلية، يشير إلى أنّه، في خضم فوضى الربيع العربي، تستطيع إسرائيل أن تقدّم نفسها الآن على أنها… واحة استقرار [2]. على ضوء ذلك، قد ترى واشنطن في إسرائيل حليفاً إقليمياً لا غنى عنه، كما فعلت ذلك خلال الحرب الباردة. وعليه، سوف يكون للولايات المتحدة مصلحة ملحّة لتقوية اسرائيل وتعزيز صمودها في وجه ضغوط الداخل والخارج. بالتأكيد، قد تكون إسرائيل قادرة على المدى القصير على احتواء القوى التي تعمل ضدّها. فبعض الأنظمة العربية في مرحلة ما بعد الثورة قد تتحوّل لفترة ما أكثر قمعاً، وأخرى قد تشتريها واشنطن. لكن زخم التغيير قد بدأ، وبالتالي لا يمكن وقفه بسهولة. إذ أدرك الرأي العام العربي أن إمساك الحكام بالسلطة قد أصبح هشاً، وأن راعي هؤلاء الحكام، أي الولايات المتحدة، منهك.
الربيع العربي مثل السلاح النووي الإيراني

في لحظة من الصراحة النادرة، اعترف الزعماء الإسرائيليون حتّى قبل الربيع العربي، أن التهديد الحقيقي لبقاء الدولة اليهودية يكمن ليس أقلّه في هزيمة عسكرية، بل في التآكل التدريجي الديموغرافي، نتيجة إثارة الخوف من هزيمة من هذا القبيل. واعتبر منطقهم الأساسي أنّ الدولة اليهودية تتطلب أغلبية يهوديّة، لا يمكن أن تكون مستدامة ما لم ينظر إلى اسرائيل على أنّها ملاذ آمن موثوق بها.

وحتّى الصحوة الديمقراطية في المنطقة، كان قلق إسرائيل الرئيس هو القنبلة النووية الإيرانية. ففي أواخر عام 2006 أوضح الجنرال افرايم سنيه، الذي كان لفترة طويلة نائب وزير الدفاع، رأي المؤسسة العسكرية في “التهديد الوجودي” الذي تشكّله إيران. فإذا ما طوّرت طهران سلاحاً نووياً، قال: “سيفضّل معظم الإسرائيليين عدم العيش هنا؛ وسيفضل معظم اليهود عدم المجيء إلى هنا مع عائلاتهم؛ والإسرائيليون الذين يستطيعون العيش في الخارج سيفعلون ذلك… أخشى أن يتمكّن (الرئيس الإيراني محمود) أحمدي نجاد من قتل الحلم الصهيوني دون أن يكبس على زرّ. لهذا السبب، يجب علينا منع هذا النظام من الحصول على قدراتٍ نووية مهما كان الثمن” [3].

مثل السلاح النووي الإيراني، يقضي الربيع العربي على أسطورة إسرائيل أنّها ملاذ آمن. فهو يذكّر الإسرائيليين أن الدولة اليهودية – كحصنٍ عرقيّ مزروع في منطقة الشرق الأوسط لتجريد سكّان البلاد الأصليين من حقوقهم ولمنح امتيازات لسكان المستوطنات – لا يمكن أبداً أن تكون مقبولة كذلك من قبل جيرانها. ولا تستطيع إسرائيل البقاء طالما أنها ترفض قبول اندماجها في شرق أوسط جديد. والربيع العربي يدفع تلك الحقيقة القاسية بقوّة إلى صدارة الوعي العام لدى الإسرائيليين.

والإسرائيليون الأقلّ قدرة على التكيّف مع هذا الواقع الجديد – أي نخب اليهود الاشكناز الذين أداروا البلاد تقليدياً لصالحهم – يقودون الهجرة. أطفالهم يفرّون بالفعل: فلطالما تتحوّل رحلات الدراسة إلى الولايات المتحدة إلى إقامة دائمة في الخارج. وقد وجد رئيس الوزراء السابق إيهود اولمرت، على سبيل المثال، نفسه يتعرّض لهجومٍ لاذع في انتخابات عام 2006 بعد أن تمّ نشر أن عدداً من أولاده الخمسة يعيشون في الخارج. وعلى الرغم من تحفّظ إسرائيل عن الكشف عن معدلات الهجرة إلى الخارج، فلقد بات معروفاً أنّها مرتفعة. هكذا تحتسب تقديرات وزارة الاستيعاب أن هناك 750 ألفاً من الإسرائيليين يعيشون في الخارج، والبعض الآخر وضع هذا الرقم أقرب إلى مليون نسمة.

بالإضافة إلى ذلك، تظهر الأرقام الرسمية إن عدد سكان إسرائيل من اليهود، الذي يقدّر بنحو ستة ملايين، عندهم رغبة نهمة للاستحواذ على جوازٍ سفر ثاني. أو كما لاحظ المعلّق الإسرائيلي المخضرم جدعون ليفي في أعقاب الربيع العربي: “إن جواز السفر الأجنبي قد أصبح بوليصة تأمين ضد يومٍ ممطر. ويتضح أن هناك المزيد والمزيد من الإسرائيليين الذين يفكّرون في أن ذلك اليوم قد يأتي في نهاية المطاف” [4]. وقد أصدرت الولايات المتحدة نصف مليون جواز سفر لإسرائيليين في السنوات الأخيرة، مع تعليق البت بطلبات ربع مليون جوازٍ سفرٍ آخر. وأصدرت أوروبا بقيادة ألمانيا، مئات آلاف أخرى من الجوازات. وأظهر استطلاع للرأي، أجري قبل الربيع العربي، أن ثلث الإسرائيليين قد تقدّموا للحصول على جواز سفرٍ ثان أو كانوا يخطّطون لذلك.

يفهم نتنياهو وغيره من السياسيين أن ما هو على المحك ليس بقاء إسرائيل المادّي، بل قدرتها على تحصين “يهوديتها” في مواجهة القوى الإقليمية لهذه الصحوة الديمقراطية. وهذا هو جزء من الأسباب التي دفعته للمطالبة بأن يعترف الفلسطينيون بإسرائيل “كدولةٍ يهودية”، مدركاً تماماً أن أيّ فلسطيني لا يمكنه أن يقبل مثل هذا الشرط، إلا إذا كان مستعداً للخضوع الكامل.

لقد كانت إسرائيل تعيش على الوقت الضائع، والمال المستعار؛ وكان جيشها واحتلالها الطويل يتلقيان على حد سواء دعماً كبيراً من قبل الغرب. وقد برهم الربيع العربي أنّه لحظة الحساب لإسرائيل.

August 31st, 2011, 12:50 am



So ANN, how come These brave women deserve your support, but these un-liberated women get your scorn and active participation in denying them freedom.

August 31st, 2011, 2:54 am



Brilliant piece by Yasin Haj-Salih

في شأن النظام السوري وشركائه الأيديولوجيين

الثلاثاء, 30 أغسطس 2011
ياسين الحاج صالح *

خلافاً لأنظمة عربية أخرى، استفاد النظام السوري من خدمات نوعين من الأيديولوجيين غير التابعين له مباشرة: أيديولوجيي الحداثية وأيديولوجيي الممانعة.

ينشغل أيديولوجيو الحداثية بمواجهة الإسلاميين سياسياً وثقافياً، أو «القدامة» كذهنية و «الأصولية» كتفكير وسياسة، بينما يشغل الغرب عموماً، والمحور الأميركي الإسرائيلي بخاصة، مركزَ تفكير الممانعين. و «يؤصل» عموم هؤلاء موقفَهم العدائي سياسياً للغرب بتشكك عميق في الغرب الثقافي.

يبدو النظام السوري جامعاً لمَجْدَي الممانعة والحداثة معاً، فهو في موقع الخصومة لأميركا وإسرائيل، الأمر الذي جعل منه الإقليمَ القاعدة للممانعة وقِبلة مناضليها الموزعين بين البلاد العربية والغرب، وهو في الوقت نفسه خصم للإسلاميين المحليين، وراعٍ لضرب من حداثة مادية واجتماعية تجعله قريباً من قلوب حداثيين سوريين وعرب وغربيين. أما علاقته الطيبة مع الإسلاميين العرب، اللبنانيين والفلسطينيين والعراقيين… فتُدْرَج ضمن إشكالية الممانعة والمصانعة لا إشكالية الحداثة والقدامة.

لم يتح مثل ذلك لأنظمة عربية أخرى. استفاد النظام التونسي من أيديولوجيي الحداثة لكنه كان فاشلاً في امتحان الممانعة بالطبع، أما نظام مبارك، فنال دعماً أقل من الحداثيين، وأسوأ الدرجات عند الممانعين. وإذا استعرضنا البلدان العربية واحداً واحداً، فإن أياً منها لم يفز ببركات الممانعين والحداثيين معاً غير النظام السوري. ولذلك حظي بصيت إيجابي، شعبي ونخبوي، في العالم العربي لم يحظَ بمثله غيرُه.

ولقد وضع هذا معارضي النظام السوريين، الذين يولون أهمية أولى لنمط ممارسة السلطة ومستوى الحريات العامة، في وضع بالغ السوء، فعموم الممانعين ضدهم، لأنهم (المعارضين الديموقراطيين) أخصام لقاعدة الممانعة، ولأن الديموقراطية التي ينادون بها بكل سذاجة لا تعدو كونها إضعافاً للبلاد ومدخلاً لهيمنة القوى الغربية على مقدراتها، وعموم الحداثيين ضدهم أيضاً، لأنهم أخصام لنظام حداثي، ولأن دعوتهم الديموقراطية الساذجة أيضاً ليست أكثر من حصان طروادة سيقفز منه الإسلاميون إلى حكم البلاد، ومجرد مدخل إلى «طغيان الأكثرية» الإسلامية. وهكذا، فهم خطأ في الحالتين.

وبالفعل، شهدت السنوات الأخيرة تخويناً واسعاً للمعارضين السوريين على أرضية الممانعة، والتحريض عليهم والتشهير بهم، بل وإظهار الشماتة باعتقال من قد يُعتقل منهم. هناك وقائع وأسماء معروفة في هذا الشأن، كان اللافت أن رؤوس حربتها مقيمون في الولايات المتحدة. وقد تزامن التخوين مع تسفيه لهم لا يقل شأناً، على يد أيديولوجيي الحداثة، الذين وجدوا أن واجبهم يملي عليهم نقد معارضي النظام على سذاجتهم و «ديموقراطويتهم»، وعلى أنهم لا يعادون الإسلاميين بالقدر المطلوب، ولا يرون أن السياسة جزء من الثقافة… إلخ. وإن لم يعبر هؤلاء عن موقف صريح إلى جانب النظام، فإنهم لا يجدون ما يقال عنه غير عموميات عن الاستبداد، كانوا يسارعون إلى العثور على ما يشابهها عند معارضيه بالقدر نفسه أو أكثر.

لقد مضت أوقات طويلة كان من الصعوبة بمكان أن يكون المرء فيها معارضاً سورياً.

الانتفاضة أربكت الطرفين، فلم يستطع الحداثيون، وهم قوم مشتغلون بالثقافة، المثابرةَ على الصمت، واضطروا لقول أشياء ناقدة للنظام، لكن بدا الأمر قياماً بواجب ثقيل، وليس تفاعلاً إيجابياً مع واقع مستجد لا يحدث مثله كل عقد، ولا حتى كل جيل، ولم يُظهر أحد منهم ما يشير إلى تعارض الثورة السورية، بل والثورات العربية عموماً، مع مخططاته الإدراكية القارة، أو استعداداً لمراجعة تلك المخططات وتعديلها بحيث تتفاعل بمرونة أكبر مع المتغيرات الجديدة. في المحصلة، قال الحداثيون الأشياء وضدها، إنهم ضد استبداد النظام وعنفه، لكنهم أضافوا من الاستدراكات ما يفرّغ هذه المواقف من محتواها، هذا مع مثابرة على التشاؤم، ومع انفصال نفسي عن كل ما يجري.

الممانعون، وهم قوم نضال لا ثقافة، قالوا أشياء كثيرة يلغي بعضها بعضاً. إنهم لا يرضون طبعا أن يُقتَل السوريون، لكن بدا أن السوريين المقتولين مغرَّرٌ بهم، لا يفهمون السياسات الدولية، ولا يتبينون المخططات الغربية المتربصة ببلدهم، ولا يرون أن «المقاومة» (= حزب الله) مستهدفة، فإذا أحرق منتفضون سوريون أعلاماً لحزب الله، بعد أن اصطف الأخير بصورة حاسمة إلى جانب النظام، كان هذا دليلاً على أن الانتفاضة السورية مؤامرة دولية. وسيمضي بعضهم إلى حد نفي أي تماثل بين الانتفاضة السورية والثورتين التونسية والمصرية، وتفسير الأخيرتين بتبعية نظامي حكمهما للغرب، وليس بأوضاع اجتماعية وسياسية واقتصادية يتساوى معهما على أرضيتها النظامُ السوري. ولم يكد يطرح جدياً سؤال عن نصيب النظام السوري من الحداثة المنتِجة، أو عن جدية اعتراضه على الهيمنة الأميركية الإسرائيلية في الإقليم.

تعاني الحداثية العربية من تثبّت فكري على شكل قديم للرجعية الاجتماعية والثقافية والسياسية، ذاك المرتبط بالبيئات الإسلامية التقليدية، لكنها لا تتبين شكلاً حديثاً للرجعية حداثياً وفاشياً، هو الذي يفتك بالمجتمع السوري اليوم، ولا يميزون من جهة أخرى ضمن الشكل القديم للرجعية، بين نزعة محافظة تدافع عن درجات أعلى من الاستقلال الاجتماعي، وإنْ ليس بالضرورة من الحرية الفردية، وبين صيغة رجعية مقاتلة تتمثل في السلفية الجهادية. لا مجال للمقارنة بين المحافظ الاجتماعي وبين الرجعي الحداثي، فهذا يدافع بضراوة عن أوضاع امتيازية تقارب العبودية، ويُظهر استعداداً طيباً للقتل الجماعي الواسع النطاق، وهو -بالمناسبة- ليس اكتشافاً حديثاً، فنحن نعرفه في سورية منذ أكثر من جيل، وهو يتجسد مؤسسياً في أجهزة الأمن وميلشيات الشبيحة المرتبطة بها. لكن الحداثيين لم يأخذوا علماً به، وليس مؤكداً أنهم سيأخذون اليوم علماً به، بل هناك من الشواهد المتواترة على ضرب من القرابة بين الداعية الحداثي وجنرالات المخابرات، الأصل فيها على الأرجح هو العدو المشترك، أي الإسلامية. أما المحافظ التقليدي، فهو يجمع اليوم بين التدين والدفاع عن الحرية، وإن تكن الحرية التي يعنيها أقرب إلى الاستقلال الاجتماعي، كما قلنا. هناك رجعيون دينيون متطرفون، سلفيون جهاديون وما شابه، لكنهم أقرب إلى الرجعية الحديثة، وإلى أساليبها الفاشية منهم إلى المحافظة التقليدية، وأصول هؤلاء حداثية، وإن تكن شرعيتهم دينية. وبين التنويعتين، المحافظة الاجتماعية والسلفية الجهادية، ثمة التنويعة الإخوانية، وهي تترجح بين المحافظة الاجتماعية والثقافية وبين الرجعية المقاتلة.

وبدورها تعاني الممانعة من تثبّت مشابه على السيطرة الأجنبية التقليدية اللاغية للاستقلال الوطني أو المقيِّدة له، ولا تتبين أشكالاً من السيطرة السياسية لا تقف عند إلغاء الاستقلال الاجتماعي واستقلال الأفراد، بل تسحق الجميع وتتعامل مع المحكومين كأنهم عبيد. ليس لهياكل السيطرة هذه قضية تتجاوز خلودها الذاتي، وهي لا تصلح بحال أساساً لمقاومة أي سيطرة أجنبية، فإذا كان المراد بلورة سياسة ناجعة حيال السيطرة الأميركية الإسرائيلية، فلا مناص من تفكيك الطغيان الحديث، هياكلَ حكمٍ وأيديولوجياتٍ ونُظُمَ مصالح. ولا بد أيضاً من التخلص من ازدواج المعايير السياسية والأخلاقية الواسم لعقيدة الممانعة: نصرة الممانعين، ظالمين أو مظلومين، وعلو النبرة ضد غيرهم. ولقد ظهر هذا الضرب من النفاق بوضوح حيال الانتفاضة السورية.

تشترك الأيديولوجيتان في الانحياز للسلطة (متقدمةً مَرة، وصامدة مرة) ضد المجتمع (متخلفاً مرة، وغير مؤتمن على القضية مرة)، وفي منزع لاإنساني عميق. الحداثية السورية (والعربية) متمركزة حول الأشياء والواجهات لا حول الإنسان وحقوقه وحرياته وإبداعه، والممانعة حول القضية و «الوطن» لا حول سكان البلد. لا وجود للمجتمع، ويقع خارج نطاق التفكير كيف ينتج وكيف ينتظم وكيف يفكر وكيف يتعاون، ومم يشكو وماذا يأمل.

لكن ها هو يدخل بصخب إلى المشهد.

ختاماً، الحداثية والممانعة سندان أيديولوجيان للنظام الذي يستعبد السوريين. من شأن نقدهما أن يكون مساهمة في الانتفاضة التحررية للشعب السوري. هذه المقالة مجرد طرح أولي للقضية.

* كاتب سوري

August 31st, 2011, 3:11 am


Shami said:

The russians are aware that the future of Russia is with the Syrian people the only thing that last in a nation are the people and freedom is the natural aim of a people.

Eid Prayer in Moscow 2011:

Maher,Bashar,Rami will be put on public trial ,this is the likely end for such gang.
Where are going to be the ila al abad qaradeeh ?

August 31st, 2011, 3:59 am


Muhammad said:

@ ann 126

The majority of women in Syria cover their hair. Some cover their face and some don’t cover their hair. I know at least of one person who would normally not cover her hair who participate in demos and cover her face in demos to conceal her identity (security forces and all that).

Note the small women group at the end of the demo in Edleb yesterday.


I take big issue with your indication that liberty = less cloth on. This is an impression fed by the media. In the 60’s an image of a smoking and “willing” woman was considered as the ultimate liberation.

August 31st, 2011, 5:13 am


Shami said:

Didnt you remember the protest of women insulted and beaten in Damascus by the shabiha?

August 31st, 2011, 5:20 am


Muhammad said:

and the demo by Mai Skaff (an actress) and friends ? They were even arrested !

August 31st, 2011, 5:42 am


Shami said:

The syrian women are not absent ,they are the leaders of the revolution.

Muhamad ,Mai is a woman and a christian ,and there are many other feminine names.

The regime tried hard to portray this revolution as an Islamic uprising since the begining.

Weynak ya Souri333?

August 31st, 2011, 5:47 am


hsyrian said:

Dear William Scott Scherk

Usually I don’t comment comments
about my comments to Joshua
about Joshua’s comments
“Arabism versus Syrianism (the Kurds want recognition of their national and linguistic rights within a Syria that is not defined ethnically)”

It seems that YOU seemed to have understood that I seemed to say but still managed to post a comment to prove the point that I intended to make.


I was wondering about the correct one
“country that” versus
“country which”
The territory of a nation ; land
versus the people of a nation state

August 31st, 2011, 6:54 am


Syrialover said:

Very interesting expose in the Wall Street Journal on how Libyan security tracked its citizens, the type and sources of technology used.

Does anyone know if Syria is using the same technology?

From The Wall Street Journal, August 30, 2011

Libya sought advanced tools to control the encrypted online-phone service Skype, censor YouTube videos and block Libyans from disguising their online activities by using “proxy” servers, according to documents reviewed by the Journal and people familiar with the matter…

Libya is one of several Middle Eastern and North African states to use sophisticated technologies acquired abroad to crack down on dissidents. Tech firms from the U.S., Canada, Europe, China and elsewhere have, in the pursuit of profits, helped regimes block websites, intercept emails and eavesdrop on conversations.

For full story: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904199404576538721260166388.html

A PLEA to those who dump endless long articles in the comments section. Please make the effort to instead provide a summary and link like above.

August 31st, 2011, 7:20 am


annie said:


This is unbearable; scum of the earth, you do not even deserve a trial.
Listen to the brother of Dr Sakher Hallak


August 31st, 2011, 7:30 am


Annie said:

Please y’ll don’t mistake Ann for Annie.

I am the one and only Annie here even if I am not speaking much.

August 31st, 2011, 7:37 am


Amir in Tel Aviv said:

When SGID and Aboud are not posting for more than 12 hours, I start to worry.
Hope it’s just because of Eid.

August 31st, 2011, 8:09 am


Some guy in damascus said:

@Amir, all is well thanks for your concern. I wish i could say the same for Aboud though .

August 31st, 2011, 8:30 am


Akbar Palace said:

I am the one and only Annie here even if I am not speaking much.


That’s more than Spann.


Boker Tov! Nu, ma’tai ti’saper lanu al ha’reyka shelkha?

August 31st, 2011, 8:33 am


Aboud said:

Hi all, I’m fine thanks. But it’s Eid, visiting family and stuff 🙂

August 31st, 2011, 9:48 am


beaware said:

The Kurdish Problem
Morton Abramowitz
August 30, 2011


Whatever his impressive domestic achievements, Turkish prime minister Erdogan has done a lot of fancy footwork this year trying to repair a vigorous and much-advertised Middle East involvement. Once the avowed comrade of Qaddafi, Bashir, Assad and Ahmedinejad, he has now emerged as a rousing democrat, defender of the Arab revolts. He seems to have been successful in burying the past—at least in Turkey where public criticism is increasingly muted and he reigns supreme. In Syria, he has joined the West by distancing Turkey from Assad but not yet disowning him, incurring the wrath of both Syria and its staunchest ally, Iran, which has sent warnings to Ankara. In Libya, which once bestowed upon him the Qaddafi human-rights award, he is trying desperately to restore the huge Turkish economic stake by fervently and helpfully embracing the rebels. But for all his foreign-policy activism, he can no longer escape his biggest problem, an internal one: the growing difficulties with his own twelve million or so Kurds.


August 31st, 2011, 10:33 am


beaware said:

Syrian Activists: Tanks, Troops Raid Hama, Make Arrests
3 August 2011

Syrian rights activists and residents say government tanks and troops have entered the central city of Hama, making arrests in a renewed crackdown on the hotbed of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

The activists and residents say gunfire was heard in Hama on Wednesday, as tanks and military vehicles drove into the city. They say hundreds of Syrian security forces also emerged from buses parked on the city’s outskirts and entered on foot, searching for activists involved in a five-month pro-democracy uprising.

Syrian security forces withdrew from Hama earlier this month following a weeklong siege of the city, which has seen some of the country’s biggest protests demanding an end to Assad’s 11-year autocratic rule.

more ….

August 31st, 2011, 10:36 am


Walid said:

Walid Moallem and Bouthaina Shaaban have just been sanctioned by the Obama administration. They are the latest Assad regime members added to the Specially Designated Nationals list. As a result, they are banned from doing business in the U.S., with any U.S. person, with any U.S. corporation, and having access to any U.S. linked financial institution.


August 31st, 2011, 10:38 am


beaware said:

Report: Shell won’t stop oil production in Syria unless EU mandates a boycott
By Associated Press, Published: August 30
AMSTERDAM — Royal Dutch Shell PLC will not stop producing oil in Syria unless it is directed to do so by the European Union, media in the Netherlands report.

National broadcaster NOS news cites Dick Benschop, head of the company’s Dutch arm, as saying Shell thinks halting its operations there would hurt the Syrian people more than its government.

Benschop’s remarks came after a behind-closed-doors meeting Tuesday with members of Dutch parliament who have called for a boycott to protest the Syrian government crackdown on an uprising the U.N. says has left 2,200 dead since it began in March.

Shell is the second-largest foreign oil producer in Syria after France’s Total SA, producing 7.3 million barrels of oil in 2010.

August 31st, 2011, 10:42 am


beaware said:

The new face of political Islam
Kudashkina Ekaterina
Aug 31, 2011 17:46 Moscow Time
Interview with Dr. Bassma Kodmani, Director of the Arab Reform Initiative.

What does political Islam mean?

Political Islam is an expression that began to be used in the late 70s and early 80s. These are groups that basically use religion or base their political claims on Islam. They develop a political strategy, sometimes a violent strategy which was the case for the extremist groups, but basically political Islam is that you advocate for a government or a policy based on the principles of religion, religious law and religious values of Islam.

So, what are the roots of this philosophy?

In fact, they go back to the late 20s when the first movement of political Islam was formed which is the movement of the Muslim Brothers and it was constituted in Egypt by its leader Hassan al-Banna who remains the father of all the Muslim Brotherhood movement which has branches across all the Arab and Islamic world: you will find them across the Middle East, you will find them in North Africa and in Indonesia, Malaysia – it has ramifications across the Muslim world, so it is a powerful network of groups.


Many scholars say that the violent policy is actually part of what they call “Islamic resistance”. Resistance to what?

In this jargon or the vocabulary they use it is resistance to unfaithful governments, the regimes that outside Islamic legitimacy; this is basically to resist a regime which is not legitimate but that legitimacy, as they define it, is the rule of Islam; they do not implement the rule of Islam and therefore they are illegitimate. So, a society by the rules of Islam is entitled to a developed legitimate resistance to an illegitimate regime.

But does their understanding coincide with classical Islamic teaching?

No, the problem here is what you interpret in terms of Islam. There are basic values in Islam that say that an illegitimate ruler is the one who is unjust towards his people. It does not talk so much about freedoms but it talks about justice; the notion of justice in Islam is higher than any other.

Is Iranian revolution part of political Islam?

Iranian revolution is definitely a matter of political Islam. Yes, this is a very particular interpretation of Islam. Islam came about 1400 years ago and over the last one thousand years we had all sort of religious leaders who had different interpretations of Islam. So, when you say “Shariah law” or “the principles of Islam”, you can interpret those in a way you like.


If we look at the political Islam which dates back to the mid 20th century, I have noticed that many Western scholars have been expressing their concern about the future of their own civilization. How justified do you think this concern is? I mean, they were expressing their concern, they believe that political Islam poses threat to their own civilizations. Is that correct?

Again I think we have seen enormous alarm across the West about the values of Islam as they were advocated and formulated by Islamic movements across the Middle East and the Muslim world, mainly the Arab world. I think there was a good reason to fear a discourse which treats as infidel and outside of religion anyone who does not live by the laws of Islam. This is obviously a very intolerant interpretation. What really trigger the fear across the West and this became even more important with the developing of the most extremist brands of Islam and interpreted by Osama bin Laden and these groups are the jihadi groups which generated terrorism.

So, do I get it right that the Arab Spring revolutions are actually opening a window of opportunity for moderate groups in political Islam?

It is a very important opportunity for them. It is an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity is that once there is an open political space in a series of countries that have not had an open political space, they have a comparative advantage that is very strong because under authoritarian rule they were able to continue to organize themselves, to cultivate their own constituency, to build their popularity through mosques and religious networks, whereas non-religious political movements were really suffocating in the lack of space for them to organize.

But we already have several examples when Islamist organizations have been elected to the power structures like Hamas, like Hezbollah, and there have been several years to their activity not in the opposition. How would you assess their progress?

This is what I meant by saying they are not as successful when they come to government. In fact, Hamas has not developed an interesting alternative strategy to the one of the Fatah movement. Of course, the most of the blame is on Israel, but they have not been very successful in convincing the society that they can develop more effective government system irrespectively to the occupation, in managing society they have not been more successful and the population is not happy.
So, my last question based on what you have been telling me right now. Do I get it right that Islam does not recognize the so-called religions of the Book which are Christianity and Judaism as infidels? Is my understanding correct?

Islam, in fact, recognizes what is called the people of the Book and the Book being any holy book of monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But this was valued 200 years ago when Islam indeed had a very tolerant policy towards all non-Muslim minorities and by the standards of 200 years ago – yes, Islamic society was probably more tolerant than the European society towards their religious minorities.


August 31st, 2011, 10:51 am


abughassan said:

There was a couple of incidents when women who are not covered protested against the regime,but most protesters in Syria are men,and most women protesters were covered. even when the opposition held conferences abroad,most women attendees were covered and took back seats. There is no sense denying the fact that Syrian women today are more likely to wear alhijaab compared to ten or twenty years ago,and I do not believe that interfering in a woman’s decision about dress code is a function of the state,I am more focused on giving women their rightful place at schools and at the workplace and that the Syrian law provides women the protection they deserve. Syrian women will be a test tube for any future regime since it seems likely that Islamists will have more votes in the parliament and the government. The way women are treated is one of the most reliable indicators of how free a society is,and the world is watching !!

August 31st, 2011, 10:54 am


Akbar Palace said:

Syrian Secret Weapon Exposed

I don’t know about you, but if Syrian women can bite live snakes to death, they can do anything!

August 31st, 2011, 11:04 am


Revlon said:

139. Dear annie: thank you for providing the link to report on Dr Sakhr AlHallak’s torture and murder.
You said:
“This is unbearable; scum of the earth, you do not even deserve a trial. Listen to the brother of Dr Sakher Hallak”

I say:
On the contrary, evey scum of them must go through trial for every soul they abused, tortured and killed.

They should sit in trials for as long as it takes and listen to testimonies of their victims and victims’ families and endure the scorn of the millions of onlookers.

THUG ONE should be made to watch all of his mob’s trial proceedings, sentencing and execution before he is brought to the MOTHER OF TRIALS; the worst shall be saved for last.

August 31st, 2011, 11:17 am


Revlon said:

Bashar AlAsad is a criminal
Report of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

بشار الأسد : مجرم ضد الإنسانية

في تقريرها ” بشار الأسد : مجرم ضد الإنسانية” الذي نشر اليوم باللغة العربية، الفدرالية الدولية لحقوق الإنسان على أساس المعلومات التي قدمها كلاً من مركز دمشق لدراسات حقوق الإنسان وائتلاف من 7 منظمات سورية لحقوق الإنسان، قد وثقت ارتكاب جرائم ضد الإنسانية ضد المدنيين من قبل النظام السوري. قد وثقت ارتكاب جرائم ضد الإنسانية

يبحث التقرير عن التوجهات وراء الجرائم الكبرى وواسعة النطاق وانتهاكات حقوق الإنسان التي أعلن عنها في سوريا بين 15 مارس و 15 يوليو 2011 ، بما في ذلك : القتل خارج نطاق القضاء والمنهجي على نحو متزايد من استخدام العنف من جانب القوات الحكومية والاعتقالات الجماعية والاختطاف والاختفاء القسري والاعتقال للمدنيين وأعمال التعذيب والممارسات اللاإنسانية أو المهينة وقمع حرية التجمع وانتهاكات لحرية المعلومات ووسائل الإعلام وخاصة التي تستهدف المدافعين عن حقوق الإنسان والعمليات العسكرية والإجراءات المتعهدة بمحاصرة.

Check out the 112 page full report; URL provided above.

August 31st, 2011, 11:40 am


Mango said:

lesten please to Mr. Paul Craig Roberts

August 31st, 2011, 11:47 am


Revlon said:

A video clip recorded by Attorney General of Hama City, prior to his death shows him reading his resignation in protest of government brutal atrocities against Hamwi civilians.
حماة_استقالة المحامي الاول عدنان محمد البكور

I am Lawyer Adnan Bakkour
I hereby announce my resignation as General Attorney of Hama, in protest of:

1. Executing 72 detained demonstrators and activists in Central prison of Hama on Sunday, 31/07/2011; they were later buried in a mass grave in Khalidya village, close to the Military security compound.
2. Burrying over 400 bodies of civilians executed by Regime shabbeeha in mass graves in parks across the city, and then asking me to issue a report implicating “Armed Gangs” in their murder.
3. Random arrest of up to 10,000 unarmed demonstrators!
4. Death of 320 detainees under torture and their burial in mass graves. I was coerced to sign an order to transfer 17 of those bodies to the regular “Green Grave Yard” in the town of Sraiheen.
5. Bringing down homes over its inhabitants in the neighbourhoods of Hameediyeh and Qusoor. Corpses decayed in the debris for days before it was possible to retrieve them.
6. I have a bagful of testimonies and evidence which I shall reveal later.
7. I hereby present some names of those involved in the criminal acts in Hama
a. Muhammad Sha3ar, Minister of Interior. He personally orchestrated the military campaign on Hama city.
b. Colonel Muhammad Mufleh: Chief of Military Security Branch
c. Colonel AbdelHameed Idrees
d. Colonel Naji AlSabbagh: Chief of Air Force Security Branch
e. Officer Jihad Hasan: Chief of State Security Branch
f. Colonel Imad Luqa: Chief of Political Security branch
g. Colonel Ibraheem Khaleefeh: Assistant Chief of City of Police
h. Colonel Muhammad Ahmad Malhees
i. Officer Watheq Kanjo
j. Officers Shadi Hnaidi and Sleiman Jum3a: Supervisors of Torture in the Central Municipal Prison
k. Corporal Ramez Ali
l. Colonel Suhail Sleiman
m. Corporal Anwar AlHasan
It is worth mentioning the following related post, in the earlier edition of SC

“29. hsyriansaid:
Peaceful protesters in Syria
An armed group on Monday kidnapped Attorney General Adnan Bakkour in Hama while he was heading to his work on Kfarnbouda-Karnaz road, along with his driver Bahaa al-Yousef and bodyguard Mohammad Sadrawi

The Syrian TV earlier this day broadcast scenes of this brutal crime which stresses that the armed terrorist groups carry out acts of killings, mutilating the bodies and sabotaging private and public properties.
You did not answer my little academic question :
” How many ( 5000 ? ) INNOCENT victims has been killed by the terrorists of the Muslim Brotherhood between 1976 and 1982 until the Syrian Army terminated the Islamist armed uprising in Hama and the Islamist terrorist actions stopped in Syria.”

SANA description of the murderers as “Armed Terrorists” was right.
However, Mr Adnan Bakkour has practically testified that THUG ONE and his mob were the armed terrorists behind his murder!

So, Dear hsyrian! How many INNOCENT victims have been killed by MB terrorists between 1976 and 1982 and between March 15 and August 31 2011?
Judging by THUG ONE credibility, it was and stilll is probably closer to 0.

August 31st, 2011, 12:58 pm


Dale Andersen said:

One of the few times you will see Besho on his knees…


Newsclip text…Bashar Al-Assad attended Eid al-Fitr morning prayers in the capital, where the grand mufti of Damascus gave a political sermon denouncing the “enemies of Syria, who started to hatch unjust plots, seditions, lies and fabrications” etc, etc, etc…

August 31st, 2011, 1:11 pm


norman said:

Print | Close Syria’s Digital Counter-Revolutionaries
By Max Fisher and Jared Keller
Operating with at least tacit support from the regime, the Syrian Electronic Army uses DDoS attacks, phishing scams, and other tricks to fight opposition activists where they’re strongest — online

A Syrian Internet user checks Facebook / AP

As President Bashar al-Assad dispatches tanks against peaceful protesters across Syria, pro-regime forces are launching a parallel effort against the uprising on a very different front: the Internet. A collective of pro-Assad hackers and online activists, calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army, appears to be targeting dissidents within Syria as well as sympathizers without. Though the nature of the group’s connection to the regime remains unclear, their tactics — the most sophisticated response to online activism of the Arab Spring — reveal the skill of Assad’s forces and their determination to defeat the protest movement that toppled fellow dictators in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia.

The Syrian Electronic Army has aggressively engaged in a wide range of online activities to punish perceived opponents and to force the online narrative in favor of the Assad regime. Over the past few months, their primary means of attack has been to overload the social networking profiles of government institutions and Western media outlets, flooding the Facebook pages of ABC News, the Telegraph, Oprah Winfrey, and the U.S. Department of Treasury with pro-Assad messages. Their primary method is distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks: by jamming an online portal with messages, the group keeps regular visitors out and forces institutions to remove content unfavorable to the Syrian regime. This screenshot shows a “virtual demonstration” on President Barack Obama’s Facebook page:

Apart from regular Facebook spamming, the Syrian Electronic Army has engaged in several highly organized denial of service attacks on the main websites of major media organizations. While the Syrian Electronic Army reportedly emerged in April 2011 after anti-regime demonstrations began to increase, the group claimed on May 17 to have attacked over 50 websites in coordination with Arab and Syrian hackers; their past targets include the websites of Al Jazeera, BBC News, and Syrian satellite broadcaster Orient TV.

The Syrian Electronic Army coordinates hacking attempts from their own Facebook page, and has defaced or disabled a number of websites with remarkable speed. The group’s Facebook page even provides a how-to diagram on leaving pro-Assad comments, complete with ready-made English phrases accusing opposition activists of terrorism and warning the West that it’s involvement will create chaos. According to research by the Information Warfare Monitor, a separate Facebook page promotes the DDoS tactics, recruits members, and provides links to resources for learning how to compromise vulnerable websites. Although Facebook has removed a number of the Syrian Electronic Army’s pages, Jillian York reported in August that a quick search of the site brings up numerous new ones.

On Monday, The Atlantic’s own Facebook page became a target after posting the story of Yusef, a Palestinian activist in Syria tortured by regime soldiers in Damascus. The post and those surrounding it were flooded with hundreds of formulaic comments. Below, the translated call to arms from the Syrian Electronic Army’s Facebook page

The Atlantic, the first issue of this magazine was published in the 80’s of the 19th century. This magazine has an independent policy, away from any partisan or religious affiliation, i.e. it delivers the voice of public opinion to decision-makers. In the second post of this magazine, there is a letter from a person who calls himself a Syrian opposition member who claims that he was arrested during a peaceful protest. Since it is our first visit to this magazine, it is our duty to explain to them the truth of these peaceful protests.

The Army’s most recent attack was on the official Facebook page of Columbia University. The Washington Post suggests that the university was targeted after a Columbia professor “was quoted speaking negatively about the country’s relationship with Iran in a Wall Street Journal story Tuesday.”

The group has been particularly aggressive in waging war against Anonymous, the faceless hacker collective that has engaged in it’s own brand of cyber warfare during each successive revolution of the Arab Spring. Anonymous took down Tunisian government sites, caused pandemonium in Egyptian administration offices during the January 25th uprising with a flood of faxes, and attacked Libyan state websites, before turning their attention to Nicaraguan and Venezuelan targets after those states’ leaders expressed solidarity with Muammar Qaddafi. While the Tunisian and Egyptian governments were primarily on the defensive regarding the sudden wave of cyber attacks, the Syrian Electronic Army struck back against the collective after they hacked a Syrian defense ministry webpage, disabling AnonPlus, Anonymous’ own nascent social network.

More recently, the group has engaged in phishing attacks in addition to their regular spamming and hacking activities. The Information Warfare Monitor uncovered an attempt by Syrian hackers to coax pro-revolution Syrian Facebook users into giving up their login info with a phony URL and login page. According to the Monitor, the malicious link — which describes the content as a “fascinating video clip showing an attack on Syrian regime” — has been distributed throughout Syrian Twitter communities from several automated accounts. The system resembles the Koobface botnet researched and documented by the Monitor in November 2010. While the scam isn’t obviously affiliated with the Syrian Electronic Army, the phishing attack fits with the group’s past activities.

It’s unclear whether or not the Syrian Electronic Army has a direct affiliation with Syrian security forces. The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that, in a June 20th speech, Assad made a direct reference to the pro-government hacking group:

The army consists of the brothers of every Syrian citizen, and the army always stands for honour and dignity. Young people have an important role to play at this stage, because they have proven themselves to be an active power. There is the electronic army which has been a real army in virtual reality. There were those who took part in the blood donation campaign, and other initiatives. I met a number of youth delegations from different sections of society and found that Syrian youth enjoy a high sense of patriotism, and this is self-evident because they belong to this country.

On Twitter, the group thanked Assad for the mention, but reiterated on its website that the group was not affiliated with any government agency. However, research by Helmi Noman at the Monitor found that the domain name for the Army’s website (syrian-es.com) was registered on May 5, 2011 by the Syrian Computer Society (SCS), an organization that was headed by the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 1995 before he assumed the Presidency. Still, it’s not obvious as to whether the members of the cabal are employed by the Syrian government, contracted or co-opted by security forces, or simply a band of pro-Assad hackers engaging in some highly aggressive cyber-vigilantism.

Whoever they are, they’ve led by far the most sophisticated and highly visible online pro-regime effort of the 2011 Arab uprisings. Both Egypt and Libya tried shutting down Internet access outright, extreme steps that slowed communication but failed to stop the more tech-savvy activists from using proxies and special dial-ups to communicate (the blackout also had the unintended effect of angering otherwise uninvolved bystanders). The Syrian Electronic Army shows a surprising ability to move within the same online spaces typically dominated by young activists. Though Tunisians and Egyptians were able to outmaneuver their governments in large part using social media, Syrian activists have not enjoyed the same monopoly over the Web. Syria’s government, by treating the Internet as another battleground in the fight for control rather than simply as a set of tools and websites to disabled, may be the first in the Arab world to understand the potential utility of counter-revolutionary organizing online.

The Syrian Electronic Army is notable for its targets, which are Syrian and non-Syrian alike. Their campaign does not seem to much distinguish between opposition organizers within Syria and sympathetic groups or media outlets outside of it. The digital war isn’t just against fellow Syrians, and it doesn’t respect national borders. Whether the tools it uses are misdirection, annoyance, or outright attack, it has not hesitated in expanding its focus outside of Syria.

Perhaps most revealingly, the Syrian Electronic Army appears to consist of a number of normal civilians, rather than merely professional hackers or robots made to mimic real people. (There may well be professionals in the group’s ranks, however, especially given the effectiveness of some DDoS attacks.) A random selection of the group’s Facebook activists appeared to all have real accounts, and hundreds of pro-regime comments showed enough variation that they are unlikely to have been manufactured en masse, although the group’s Facebook page does present several boilerplate messages as examples. Each comment, it appears, was individually crafted by someone who wanted to demonstrate their passionate support of Assad and condemnation of protesters. But even if the sentiment is authentic, the specific allegations are unlikely to be sincere. The regime’s use of torture is widely known, for example; spreading fear is precisely the reason one runs a torture program in the first place.

Despite the skill of the Syrian Electronic Army, it is the group’s mass of apparent volunteers that reveals the most about Syria’s ongoing conflict. Reliable opinion polling is difficult, but some reporting from the country suggests that a significant minority of Syrians strongly support Assad; some of them, particularly young, tech-savvy men and women, would be in a position to help their government against online opposition activists. This gives Assad something that his counterparts in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya mostly lacked: a savvy, aggressive presence online. Such supporters are probably largely comprised of the Alawite sect of which Assad is a member, many of whom fear of reprisals should the regime collapse. But whoever they are and whatever their motivation, the Syrian Electronic Army can challenge activists online, one of the few remaining safe spaces for the country’s besieged opposition movement.
This article available online at:

Copyright © 2011 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved.

August 31st, 2011, 1:29 pm


Dale Andersen said:

About that Atlantic article on the Syrian hackers, I dunno, Norman. I think their effect is overstated and overrated. I don’t see much of them on the Huffington Post, which is pretty critical of Besho. Or on the New York Times.

Have you seen them on SC? There was one attempt at Denial of Service back in June and it was pretty weak.

August 31st, 2011, 1:48 pm


atassi said:

Sectarian talk\ by a pro-sectarian regime

Politics – Wahhab threatens of weapons if redlines crossed in Syria
31 August 2011
National News Agency Lebanon
© 2011 NNA Lebanon. All Rights Reserved. Provided by Syndigate.info, an Albawaba.com company

NNA – 31/8/2011 – Head of Arab Tawhid party, Wiam Wahhab, said on Wednesday “we all possess arms and we are ready for confrontation if redlines (in Syria) were crossed.” Speaking from Suweida’ in Syria, where he had been for an honorary ceremony, Jahliyyeh’s main Druze figure reassured “Syria is fine,” albeit media growing concerted campaigns against this neighboring nation.

“Syria is neither Libya nor Tunisia; it is the hearth of this (Arab) nation and the axis of resistance,” he said.

“Any country to arm sabotage thugs in Syria will be considered as enemy,” he struck.

Wahhab, who made it clear that he is not a mediator between the people and the state in Syria, rekindled confidence in the Arab Syrian Army “to protect Syria today just like it protected (…) Lebanon’s unity.” “Our arms are the Syrian State and its President Bashar Assad; but I shall not fail to be the first to carry weapons to defend the (Druze) Mount if ever jeopardized,” he said.

In Syria, most Druze live in the Jebel al-Druze, a rugged and mountainous region in the southwest of the country, which is more than 90 percent Druze inhabited; some 120 villages are exclusively so.

August 31st, 2011, 2:23 pm


Humanist said:

I think Syria is heading the same way as Iraq after the Kuwait war.
The regime will not fall for a long time, but because of isolation the country will become poorer as well as more “islamic”(also as a result of the opportunist/populist tendences of the Baath party in this question).

That’s what I think, but not what I hope. Real secularism can only come trough democracy,
If you can’t question your leader you can NO WAY question the existance of God…
I don’t say you must become athiest, but religious belief should NEVER excuse opression of women and minorities.

There are both good and bad parts in Islam as in all religions, but the problem is muslims can’t be objective about the verses in the Quran as they think they are the “perfekt” words of God (unlike what most western Christians think about the bible)

And I think Hijab is NOT just a harmless symbol of faith, it means that the women is “owned” by her “master” (i.e husband or father). Otherwise men would have to cover their body to…

August 31st, 2011, 2:27 pm


Aboud said:

People whose hacking skills are limited to DOS attacks are known as script monkeys. It takes zero technical skills to carry out a DOS attack, all you need is enough people with enough spare time on their hands to click on a script, or infect enough computers with a virus that launches a DOS attack at a certain date.

As for “hacking” the Anonymous social network site, the guy who put it together wasn’t even a hacker, he was a kid who was a fan of Anonymous.

Now, enjoy these Besho cartoons





August 31st, 2011, 2:33 pm



Story Behind the Cartoons

The story behind the cartoons Aboud linked to

Also Check this compilation There are about 5 pages so keep clicking the CLICK TO SEE THE NEXT CARTOON

Here is Another one showing the solidarity of paint brush jesters with their fellow cartoonist.

Note that these are syndicated cartoonists. Enjoy

August 31st, 2011, 2:42 pm



Sarcasm سخرية

Fit تناسب

Besho بيشو

August 31st, 2011, 2:52 pm


Abu Umar said:

“163. atassi said: ”

This menhebek thug, Wi’am Wahhab, should also be expelled to Iran. His fellow Druze in Palestine openly serve in the Zionist army, with nary a word from the fake mumaani’, Wahhab, in addition to the Iranians and Iraqis who collaborated with the American invasions and occupations.

August 31st, 2011, 3:03 pm


Abu Umar said:

” 83. Khalid Tlass said:

LOL you obviously haven’t visited http://www.ShiaChat.com. Its full of Iranians and Lebanese, NONE of them live in the Middle East, ALL of them live in English-speaking countries like USA, UK, Australia and Canada, and all are cheering Besho to kill more people.

Also, I believe a former commenter on SC, one SyrianCommando, is registered user on ShiaChat, he goes by the name of “Schrodingger”. In the forums related to Syria, he is openly bragging that Homs will be levelled by Artillery.”

Yes, Syrian Haywano is Schrodinger, and he claimed to be Sunni on this blog.

August 31st, 2011, 3:18 pm


sheila said:

To #133. Muhammad:
I totally agree with your assessment. I also take big issue with the indication that liberty = less cloth on, but I am equally insulted with the assertion that wearing “hijab” = decency and piety. As much as I believe in personal freedom and the right of women to cover their heads if they want to, I feel very insulted with the claim that “hijab” is part of Islam. There is this indoctrination and brain washing that has been going on in the Islamic world for a very long time convincing women that they can do everything right, but still go to “hell” and not make it to heaven just because they are not covering their heads. Let’s put the record straight:
We all know that Islam started in Saudi Arabia, where everybody, men and women, always covered their heads because of the heat. Why would God tell women to cover their heads when they already do?
We all know that women back then were very promiscuous and displayed their bodies freely to attract suitors.
We all know that all women all over the world back then covered their heads, Christians, Jews and Pagans.
Doesn’t it make sense then that the two verses in the Koran that tackle “hijab” are more concerned with modesty than with covering the head?

So what is the ultimate goal of “hijab”?:
Spare men from constant seduction by women. I find it fascinating to watch ladies with covered heads and their display of beauty in every way possible. Some of them, no doubt, attract far more attention than many modest, uncovered women. I would also like to contend that some women, even without trying, look far more attractive with “hijab” than without. So, “hijab” does not help men in this area.
Providing women with the feeling of security because they no longer attract attention: Please read number 1. This is also not happening because of “hijab”.
Women will make it to heaven by wearing “hijab”: no one can prove or disprove this one.

I just want people to think for themselves and not accept anything and everything they are told by their elders or teachers. They can be wrong. The lack of critical thinking and asking why is the main reason for how backwards we are.

August 31st, 2011, 3:22 pm


annie said:

Revlon 152 : you are right; I got carried away by my anger

August 31st, 2011, 3:26 pm


Humanist said:

No Sheila, women DID NOT cover their heads in “Saudi” Arabia prior to Islam. It was originally a (pre-islamic) Persian tradition which Arabs took after because it fitted with the “morals” of their new religion.
The story about women being more oppressed in pagan Arabia is an islamic myth!

August 31st, 2011, 3:32 pm


Akbar Palace said:


On the issue of head coverings, I never understood why some religious jewish women (mostly ashkenasi) wear wigs. Some of these wigs are more attractive than their own hair.


August 31st, 2011, 3:33 pm


Syrialover said:

Hey Norman #161. You are a poster I respect and always read, and have kept and circulated some of what you’ve written.

So I’m assuming you skipped my post #138. Pity. The article referred to in that post revealed a lot about about likely electronic surveillance tactics by the regime.

I also pleaded for other posters to use their thinking powers and just give us a summary and a link. Instead of doing what you’ve just done in #161, dumping 18 rambling paragraphs from elsewhere that read like a lot of supposition about a minor sideline compared with the activities referred to in #138.

I’d rather read a thoughtful comment from you and have the choice on whether I want to click on a link and read something published elsewhere.

SO PLEASE let’s keep the comments section for commenting and bringing things to others attention by a short summary and link.

Incidentally, it was great to see Syrian Hamster behaving itself with a worthwhile post #166, but tragic to see it lose control and go back to being Syrian Spamster in #167.

August 31st, 2011, 3:50 pm


ann said:

Muslims, police scuffle at Rye Playland over amusement park’s head scarf ban; 15 arrests made


Rye Playland was shut down Tuesday after cops scuffled with Muslims upset that women wearing head scarves were barred from the rides, witnesses said.

Fifteen people, including three women, were charged with disorderly conduct and assault in the chaos, authorities said.

The Westchester County park was packed with Muslims celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr – the holiday marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

One woman, Entisai Ali, began arguing with cops over the amusement park’s head scarf, or hijab, rule, said Dena Meawad, 18, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The ban, which is not Muslim specific, was imposed about 3 years ago mostly to prevent hats from falling onto the tracks of roller coasters and other rides, park officials said.

“The cops started getting loud with her and she started getting loud, too. They pushed her on the ground and arrested her,” Meawad said.

Her cousin, Kareem Meawad, 17, went to try to protect the woman and was beaten by cops and also arrested, she added. Her brother, Issam Meawad, 20, was pushed to the ground and taken into custody when he tried to help his cousin, she said.

“She just wanted to get on a ride. That was it,” Dena Meawad said of the initial confrontation. “It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim.”

John Hodges, chief inspector of Westchester County Public Safety, insisted that police did not use excessive force.

He said up to 100 cops from surrounding departments converged on the park.

Two park rangers were injured in the melee, prompting felony assault charges against two people arrested, officials said.

The ugly incident happened just after 1 p.m. The event was organized by the Muslim American Society of New York, and attracted 3,000 Muslims from Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County.

Ali’s sister, Ayman Alrabah, 24, of Brooklyn said her husband, brother and father were all tackled by cops and put into handcuffs when they tried to help her sister.

Alrabah said she was unaware of the head-scarf rule until she and her sister tried to get on the park’s Dragon Coasters.

“We requested a refund and all of a sudden an argument became a riot,” Alrabah said. “Cops came. They were hitting my brother, my dad. My husband was on the floor and they were handcuffing him.

She said her 4-year-old son was “traumatized” by seeing his father arrested.

“They treated us like animals, like we were nothing,” Alrabah said. “They came with their dogs and sticks. We came to have fun.”

‘It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim,’ says Dena Meawad. (Norman Y. Lono for NY Daily News)

The park was closed for about two hours because of the fracas. It reopened at about 6 p.m.

Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of Westchester County Parks, said the Muslim American Society of New York was warned in advance of the rule barring head scarves on rides for safety reasons.

“Part of our rules and regulations, which we painstakingly told them over and over again, is that certain rides you cannot wear any sort of headgear,” Tartaglia said. “It’s a safety issue for us on rides, it could become a projectile.”

Many Muslims were given refunds as they left the park disappointed.

“In this heightened state of Islamaphobia, a woman wearing a hajib is an easy target these days,” said Zead Ramadan, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – New York. “Unfortunately, this turned ugly due to a lot of miscommunication.”

August 31st, 2011, 3:55 pm


True said:

Does anyone know what’s actually the Alwai belief? What do they worship? How do they practice? Is it true women are neglected and not allowed to carry the belief? Is it true their beigest pilgrimage is to kill a Sunni?

Please back up you answers with reference and links


August 31st, 2011, 4:00 pm


Khalid Tlass said:

I don’t care about Alawi beliefs or their practices, what I care about is the amount of Mustard Gas or Sarin required in gas canisters that can be dropped from a Mig-23 over Qurdaha.

August 31st, 2011, 4:28 pm


sheila said:

Dear #173. Humanist,
“No Sheila, women DID NOT cover their heads in “Saudi” Arabia prior to Islam. It was originally a (pre-islamic) Persian tradition which Arabs took after because it fitted with the “morals” of their new religion.
The story about women being more oppressed in pagan Arabia is an islamic myth!”

Sorry Humanist, all women covered their heads prior to Islam. Not in the same way that we do today, but they all did. I think it is because they looked better with the head cover. This might sound silly, but can you imagine what women looked like without hair stylists, hair dryers, rollers or hair products?.

I do not think that anyone believes that women were oppressed in pagan Arabia. I said women were more promiscuous (which means they slept around). We also know that many women did not know who the father of their child was, so the child was named after their mother. We have a few examples of famous Arabs like “Amr Ibn Hind”.

August 31st, 2011, 4:29 pm


Dale Andersen said:


RE: “…The story about women being more oppressed in pagan Arabia is an islamic myth…”

You’re half right, Dude. The oppression of women in pre-Muslim Arabia was the SAME as after.

August 31st, 2011, 4:34 pm


Khalid Tlass said:

Abu Umar, what do you think about SyrianCommando a.k.a Schrodinger on ShiaChat ? Even in http://www.ShiaChat.com, this guy Schrodinger has repeatedly claimed that he is a Sunni from Damascus. He is misleading all the naive Shias there by saying that Syria is infact ruled by Damascus and Aleppo Sunni merchants ROFL. He is a big-time fitnah monger. Somebody please hack his accounts and teach him a lesson, he also has a YouTube account by the name of Souri Comrade.

Please, does anyone know anything else abt this Syrian Commando ? What are the type of views he has ? I suspect that he has links with Al mukhabarat al Jawiyah, becoz he always gets to know of the regime’s plans and actions BEFOREHAND. He knew about the Hama Operation on July 28 itself, and now on http://www.ShiaChat.com, he is claiming that Homs will be targetted by Artillery once the Eid holidays get over, maybe this Friday itself. So, Aboudm be alert and spread the news, it pays to follow what guys like Syrian Commando are saying, he’s a nasty dangerous guys, unlike the stupid Menhebaks on SC.

August 31st, 2011, 4:34 pm


sheila said:

To dear #178. Khalid Tlass,
Oh my God! How can you say that. It is horrible. This is exactly what Hafez Alassad did. He killed people in Hama indiscriminately and you want to do the same: kill people indiscriminately. I know it is very upsetting to watch what is happening in Syria, but this does not give you the right to do the same.

I don’t care about Alawi beliefs or their practices either, because I feel that religion is a private matter between a person and his or her God. It is not for anyone to decide who is “good” and who is “bad”. God is the ultimate decider.

August 31st, 2011, 4:41 pm


Khalid Tlass said:

Sheila, it is precisely becoz Hafez alAssad did that to Hama that I want to do that to Qurdaha. Revenge is sweet and is a noble thing, without the concept of revenge, payback, punishment and deterrence – civilization itself will perish. You gotta realize that the only way to tackle these lunatics is to give them a taste of their own medicine.

Also, Hijab is wajib, it is the view of ALL Muslim scholars of all sects. The Ummahaatul-Mu’mineen used to practise Hijab, and there are several Ahadith from the Sahihain which prove that the Prophet (saw) prescribed Hijab for the believing women.

August 31st, 2011, 4:58 pm


annie said:

answer to 177. True said:

Does anyone know what’s actually the Alwai belief? What do they worship? How do they practice?

Try and find Hanna Batatu’s Syria’s Peasantry etc. published by Princeton. There was a long passage about the topic.
I believe Josh has studied the matter too and might help you.
If I can find said passage, I’ll scan it. It is a secretive religion.
The above book is extremely interesting; it details the whole history of the Baath party and the Hafez period.

August 31st, 2011, 5:03 pm


True said:

The Alawite-Shi’a nepotism is purely Mutʿah relation “temporary marriage for pleasure” based on no trust whatsoever and merely serves one purpose of taking control of Sunnis lands. Alawite throughout the history received NO luck in obtaining an identity of a fatwa from Shi’ite clerics in Iran that entitles them to be considered as orthodox, albeit Shi’a, Muslims. Alwaite were aiming to gain a cover-up that would allow them to present themselves as real Muslims, rather than heretical syncretists.

In 1973, and in order to defeat Sunnis in Lebanon, Mūsá aṣ-Ṣadr made the famous controversial, recognition of the Alawite as Shi‘a coreligionists when he and the Alawite religious leadership successfully appointed an Alawi as an official mufti to the Twelver community (please review Syria’s Alawis and Shiism, by Martin Kramer)

Although this strategic Alawite-Shi’a relation (engineered by Mūsá aṣ-Ṣadr & Hafiz Assad) Alwaites are still considered heretics and not welcomed in Iran. A friend of mine who has studied in isfahan in Iran has mentioned once that in any application in Iran you need to tick a box of four options Shi’a, Sunni, Alawite or others, choosing the Alawi option will be received with an immediate negative treatment and maybe harassment.

It’s easy for Iran to end up this Mutʿah relation at anytime for the right price (i.e. saving Hizballah), what has been started as a fatwa could easily be wiped off by another fatwa.

August 31st, 2011, 5:05 pm


Husam said:


@ 171 “I feel very insulted with the claim that “hijab” is part of Islam….I find it fascinating to watch ladies with covered heads and their display of beauty in every way possible.”

@ 178 “I don’t care about Alawi beliefs or their practices either, because I feel that religion is a private matter between a person and his or her God. It is not for anyone to decide who is “good” and who is “bad”.”

Those 2 statements are Hypocracy to the MAX! You don’t care about Alawi beliefs, but you have the audacity to criticize what half of 1.5 Billion people believe! It is not for you to Judge, so why are you judging?

The proper Hijab is worn by a minority today, it is not the glitzy ones or the niqab either. You should never be insulted with Islam, Judaism, Athiest…as long as it doesn’t infringe on your rights. Are you equally insulted when you see a women half your age with cleavage while your mate is snaring at her?

If women have the right to bare all, they should have the right to bare none. That is freedom. Live and let live dear Shiela.

August 31st, 2011, 5:06 pm


True said:

@ 184. annie, wicked!! Please do.

@ Josh, can you give a hand please?

August 31st, 2011, 5:06 pm


True said:

Hey Menehbeks flick an E to Betho© and his horn Walid al Muallem telling them it’s Qurdaha not Europe will be wiped off the map!!

August 31st, 2011, 5:19 pm


annie said:

188. TRUE I am still looking in Batatu but I googled this


In Batatu it is on pp 17-22

August 31st, 2011, 5:27 pm


Khalid Tlass said:

Moussa Sadr was a criminal terrorist, his only aim was to provode “oxygen” to his co-religionsist in Lebanon and to the Assads. He was a staunch enemy of the PLO.

I wish after we level Qurdaha we can throw out all these Nasrallah and Iran-worshipping scum into the Meditaerranean Sea and let the Palestinian refugees, Maronite Phalangists and Druze PSP lose on them !!

August 31st, 2011, 5:27 pm


hsyrian said:

Instigative Channels exploit abduction of Attorney General in Hama to broadcast false news

Aug 31, 2011

DAMASCUS, (SANA)-A number of instigative TV channels continued broadcasting false and fabricated news about the events in Syria.

The TV channels broadcast on Wednesday a video taken from some websites about the Attorney General in Hama Adnan Bakour, who was kidnapped by an armed terrorist group before two days, as he announcing his resignation.

The provocative media channels ignored and forgot the news of abducting Lawyer Bakour, broadcast on August 29th to add a new proof on their profession failure.

“The Attorney General has been forced by his kidnappers to give false information in the framework of the media camping goals, this indicates that those channels became partners in the crimes perpetrated by the armed terrorist groups against innocents in Syria,” Hama Governor Anas al-Naem said in a statement to SANA.

On August 29th, an armed terrorist group kidnapped the attorney general while he was going to his work. The armed group intercepted his car and took him to unknown place.


Furthermore , one commentator Revlon @159 here added :

“A video clip recorded by Attorney General of Hama City, prior to his death”

He implies that the armed terrorists MURDERED the Attorney General after they recorded their video.

August 31st, 2011, 5:36 pm


True said:

@ 190. Khalid Tlass

Oh yeah treat me more with these words, best melody in my ears 🙂

Yeah mate just let the Palestinians to sort out their BIG bill of Tel al-Zaatar massacre with Nabih Berri, Michel Aoun, Farhan Abu Al-Hayja “As-Sa’iqa” (Palestinian Baathist militant faction created and controlled by Hafiz) and their thugs.

August 31st, 2011, 5:42 pm


annie said:

TRUE If you google kitab al-majmu, you’ll find plenty of info on the Alawi beliefs

August 31st, 2011, 5:53 pm


annie said:

The Attorney General of Hama resigns Chapeau ! Hats off !


August 31st, 2011, 5:59 pm


True said:

@ 193. annie

U rock 🙂

I wonder why do Alwite keep it secretive if they have nothing to hide?

August 31st, 2011, 6:00 pm


Abu Umar said:

185. True said:

I remember reading that Musa as-Sadr, privately conceded that this fatwa was for political expediency?

August 31st, 2011, 6:01 pm


hsyrian said:

The former chief of the terrorist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), Abdelhakim Belhadj, who led the “rebel” onslaught on Tripoli and on Muammar Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziyah compound, is now leader of the newly established Tripoli Military Council.



Another example of freedom lover “unarmed protesters”

August 31st, 2011, 6:03 pm


Humanist said:

Well according to this GREAT Syrian blogger today alawism is a DEAD religion (just one of many “secular” victories under the Eternal Assad I:s rule):


(the “offended” commentaries below seem to confirm what he wrote)

August 31st, 2011, 6:04 pm


hsyrian said:

The Attorney General of Hama has been abducted , forced to read a statement in front of the camera and then MURDERED by the too well known terrorists from the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama.

August 31st, 2011, 6:08 pm


Abu Umar said:

” 181. Khalid Tlass said:

Abu Umar, what do you think about SyrianCommando a.k.a Schrodinger on ShiaChat ? Even in http://www.ShiaChat.com, this guy Schrodinger has repeatedly claimed that he is a Sunni from Damascus. He is misleading all the naive Shias there by saying that Syria is infact ruled by Damascus and Aleppo Sunni merchants ROFL. He is a big-time fitnah monger. Somebody please hack his accounts and teach him a lesson, he also has a YouTube account by the name of Souri Comrade.”

Khalid, he may well be a “Sunni”. Saddam had many Shi’ites who were loyal to him, though they all eventually turned against him, and the same can be said about the pro-regime Syrian Sunnis, most of them will turn against Fashar and his gang. These events in Syrian shatter the myth that Shi”ites oppose tyrants. They have no problem with tyrants who sing to their tune, just like they openly collaborated with the Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq, which was handed over to them on a silver platter by the Jewish Neocons, with nary a word from Nasrallah. It’s alright for them to attack Sunnis who collaborate with the West, but when they do it, it’s A-ok.

August 31st, 2011, 6:11 pm


beaware said:

Syria unrest: Hama legal chief ‘resigns over killings’
31 August 11 18:17 ET’
A man purporting to be Adnan Bakkour speaks in a video statement (31 August 2011)

A man claiming to be the top legal official in the central Syrian city of Hama has announced that he has resigned in protest at the crimes against humanity committed by security forces.

In a video statement, Hama governorate attorney-general Adnan Bakkour said he had evidence of more than 70 executions and hundreds of cases of torture.

It is not clear when he was filmed.

On Monday, the Syrian state news agency said Mr Bakkour had been kidnapped by gunmen while on his way to work.

It quoted the Hama Police Command as saying the attorney-general, his driver and a bodyguard had been abducted in the village of Karnaz.

There had been no other reports about Mr Bakkour since then.

In his statement, which was posted online on Wednesday, he said he was resigning because of the “al-Assad regime and his gangs”.

Mr Bakkour gave the reasons for his decision as:

* The killing of 72 prisoners in Hama’s central prison on 31 July 2011, including peaceful protesters and political activists
* The burying of more than 420 victims in mass graves in public parks by security forces personnel and the pro-regime shabiha militia; he said he was told to report that the victims were killed by armed gangs
* The arbitrary arrests of peaceful protesters; he said there were approximately 10,000 prisoners in total
* The torture of prisoners at branches of the security services; he said approximately 320 people had died under torture
* The demolition by the army of homes with people still inside in his district of Hama, al-Hadima

Mr Bakkour said he would make documents supporting his allegations available later, but in the meantime would name “criminals” who he said had massacred unarmed protesters.

They included the local heads of the interior ministry, police, military intelligence, air force intelligence, and the General Security Directorate. He also accused several named officers of torture.

The publication of the video came as troops backed by tanks raided houses in Hama searching for activists behind the protests calling for the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad, residents said.


August 31st, 2011, 6:22 pm


hsyrian said:

An Indian diplomat understands Syria

If the likeness between ravaging regime change scenarios in Iraq and Libya is any indication, the future of Bashar al-Assad’s sovereignty in Syria might be hanging by a thin thread. The heart of the matter – underscores this analyst – is that regime change in Syria is absolutely central to US designs on the Middle East. The stakes are so intertwined that a host of stragetic gains could be achieved in one fell swoop, not least shaving Russia’s and China’s clout in the region. This is not an opportunity that Washington would want to miss.

However, the western mind is famous for its innovative capacity. Without doubt, Syria occupies the heart of the Middle East and conflict breaking out there will most certainly engulf the entire region – including Israel and, possibly, Iran and Turkey. On the other hand, the calibrated western moves in the recent weeks, racheting up sanctions, are strikingly similar to those taken in the prelude to the Libyan intervention. Sustained efforts are afoot to bring about a unified Syrian opposition. Last weekend’s conclave held in Turkey – third in a row – finally elected a ‘council’ ostensibly representing the voice of the Syrian people. Evidently, a focal point is being carefully crafted, which could be co-opted at a convenient point as the West’s democratic interlocutor representing Syria. The fig-leaf of Arab League support is also available. The ‘pro-West’ Arab regimes, which are autocratic themselves, have reappeared in the forefront of the western campaign as the flag carriers of representative rule in Syria.

Conceivably, the main hurdle would be to get a United Nations mandate for the western intervention in Syria. But the Libyan experience shows that an alibi can always be found. Turkey can be trusted to play a role here. When Turkey gets involved, Charter 5 of the NATO can be invoked. The heart of the matter is that regime change in Syria is imperative for the advancement of the US strategy in the Middle East and Washington is unlikely to brook any BRICS obstacles on its path, since the stakes are very high. The stakes include the expulsion of the Hamas leadership from Damascus; the break-up of the Syrian-Iranian axis; isolation of Iran and a push for regime change there; weakening and degradation of Hezbollah in Lebanon; and regaining Israel’s strategic dominance over the Arab world. And, of course, at the root of it all lies the control of oil, which George Kennan had said 60 years ago are “our resources – and not theirs” [Arabs’] – which are crucial for the continued prosperity of the western world. Mock at him if anyone claims that cash-strapped western governments and their war-weary citizens have no more appetite for wars.

Finally, all this means in geopolitical terms the rolling back of Russian and Chinese influence in the Middle East. A subtle western propaganda has begun pitting Russia and China as obstacles to regime change in the region – standing on the ‘wrong side of history’. It is a clever ideological twist to the hugely successful Cold-War era blueprint that pitted communism against Islam. The body language in the western capitals underscores that there is no conceivable way the US would let go the opportunity in Syria.


August 31st, 2011, 6:23 pm


Khalid Tlass said:

^ I wouldn’t be so optimistic brother (Abu Umar). From what I’ve observed about this guy (SyrianCommando a.k.a Schrodinger), he’s a dangerous type and I think he has links with al Mukhabarat al Jawiyyah. Like I said, he always knew about the military operations BEFOREHAND. How do you think eh ? These guys are dangerous and not like the poor stupid brainless Menhebaks like Mjabalai or Afram, lol. Whether he is a Sunni or not, these guys need to be exterminated. Don;t count on the loyalty of Sunnis, we are not at all like Shias , we have no solidarity among ourselves. Hpw do you think ppl like Najib Mikati, Khaddam, Mustafa Tlass came about . Hell, even Rafiq Hariri was a Menhebak.

As for SyrianCommando, what do you know abt him on SC ? I’m knew on SC, but the guy does not seem like the typical stupid Menhebak. He has brains, and he also knows some secret information. He is in full form on http://www.ShiaChat.com, you can go there and see 4 urselves, his future predictions always come true.

August 31st, 2011, 6:29 pm


Tara said:


What does * mean? A star?

One of your early articles today had August 3 date instead of August 31.

August 31st, 2011, 6:29 pm


Humanist said:

Re. sunni-soulmates (s-s) Abu Umar and Khalid T:

The AssadS are in fact SUNNIS by conversion (look it up!), so ACCORDING TO YOUR LOGIC all Sunnis of Syria should LOVE THEM (and by the same logic all the alawires should hate them because they betrayed their own sect).

It just doesn’t work that way….

August 31st, 2011, 6:30 pm


beaware said:

How Saudi Arabia can contain Iran – and other benefits from Syria’s turmoil

Saudi Arabia is facing its biggest foreign policy obstacle (and opportunity) yet – one whose outcome matters deeply to the US. How the kingdom handles Syrian turmoil will determine its leadership standing in the region and its containment of Iran.

By Bilal Y. Saab
posted August 31, 2011 at 11:35 am EDT

All of a sudden, Saudi Arabia finds itself facing a historic opportunity to greatly enhance its strategic position in the Middle East and perhaps even assume an undisputed leadership role in Arab politics.

And this is hardly just an internal Saudi matter.

The regional status of the kingdom is a matter of some importance to the United States and its policies in the Middle East. Given the (still solid) strategic alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia, it goes without saying that a more influential and assertive Riyadh helps Washington achieve its overall foreign policy goals in the region, most urgent of which is checking Iran’s power and preventing it from becoming a nuclear power state.

So what is this new Saudi opportunity all about? It starts in Syria

RELATED: Seven reasons why Syrian opposition hasn’t toppled Assad

Earlier this month, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia issued a strongly worded statement against Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad for his brutal crackdown against Syrian protestors, asking him to stop the “killing machine and end the bloodshed.” He also pulled his ambassador to Syria out of Damascus.

Mr. Abdullah’s statement is worth paying close attention to because it reflects not only the kingdom’s foreign policy shift toward relations with Syria but also its new regional approach toward this period of uncertainty and upheaval that has been rocking the Middle East.
Saudi priority No. 1: Contain Iran

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, Saudi Arabia has focused all its efforts on fulfilling a single task in foreign policy: the containment of Tehran’s power and influence in the region. Saudi Arabia’s rulers saw (and continue to see) the world, almost exclusively, from the prism of the “Shiite octopus.” Always reacting to Iranian moves, Saudi Arabia seemed behind, trying to limit Iranian advances and minimize costs as much as possible.

Containing Iran was never easy because Tehran had done a masterful job projecting its power onto the Levant and Arab Gulf where the kingdom had vital political and security interests. After the 2003 Iraq War, containing Iran became much more difficult because the elimination of late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, a longtime foe of the Iranians, offered Tehran a huge opportunity to dominate the politics and security of oil-rich Iraq. Iran’s rise after the fall of Baghdad prompted leaders in the region, including King Abdullah II of Jordan, to speak of a “Shiite Crescent.”

The Saudis looked at their relations with Syria as a means to slow down, or perhaps more realistically, manage Iran’s rise and growing influence. They needed someone that could carry their messages and concerns to the Iranians. Yes, Syria had harassed and often eliminated the kingdom’s allies in Lebanon, and yes, it had armed and offered political backing to pro-Iranian Hezbollah, but the thinking inside the kingdom was that this was no time for payback. Indeed, the House of Saud calculated that a rupture in relations between them and the Syrians would most likely turn the job of containing Iran from difficult to impossible.

RELATED: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s top 5 quotes to the UN, 2005-2009

Therefore, the decision was to turn a blind eye (at least temporarily) to Syrian mischief in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and Iraq – even if it came at the cost of important Saudi interests – on the condition that the Syrians show good faith and gradually distance themselves from Iran. While Abdullah never expected Mr. Assad to break completely with Iran, he wanted to see the Syrian leader cooperate on sensitive matters and give more priority to Arab affairs.

Yet what Riyadh had not realized (until now) was that the very network of relations it enjoyed in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories, and Iraq that was being constantly undermined by Syria was in fact the very tool that was necessary to successfully implement the Iran-containment policy.

Here’s one example. When Saudi Arabia sought several understandings with Syria on Lebanon during the 2009 to 2010 period, it was, in effect, hurting its chances of containing Iran because these deals ended up bolstering the strength of Iranian-backed Hezbollah. At the same time, these deals ended up weakening Saudi Arabia’s allies in Lebanon, including Saad Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, son of Rafik whom Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran are suspected of killing in February 2005.
No longer turning a blind in Syria

But turning a blind eye to Syria’s mischief and connection to Iran is now all over.

Abdullah’s recent statement suggests that Saudi Arabia is no longer viewing its relations with Syria in the same light. The House of Saud has finally decided instead to take advantage of the vulnerability of the Syrian regime and grab the great opportunities presented by the crisis it is facing:

First, with Assad potentially gone (or with his role transformed), Saudi Arabia could find a “natural” ally in a new, Sunni-dominated government in Damascus, and consequently extend its influence in the Levant. Equally, if not more, important, with a new Syrian political order that is friendly to the Saudis, Iran will lose a gigantic gateway to the Arab world and therefore find it much harder to fulfill its goals in the Middle East. This will allow the kingdom’s Lebanese allies to breathe again.

Second, Saudi Arabia could assume an undisputed leadership role in the Arab world and the region, now that Syria is facing an existential crisis, Egypt is in what could be a lengthy transitional stage in its politics, and Iraq’s politics are dangerously paralyzing and unstable.
The balancing act ahead

But the kingdom knows very well that if the Syrian regime falls, there will be inherent risks during the transition, all of which will require prudent but also forward-looking Saudi statesmanship and crisis management. On the security front, things could (but not necessarily) turn ugly if Assad goes, with sectarian fighting inside Syria spilling over to Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East.

At home, the Saudi leadership cannot pressure the Syrian regime too much because it knows that it is in an awkward, hypocritical position (the kingdom is second to none when it comes to denial of political rights and freedoms, especially to women, in the Middle East). Its vocal opposition could awaken a so-far relatively dormant Saudi population, especially its Shiite part in the Eastern province.

RELATED: Syria 101: 4 attributes of Assad’s authoritarian regime

Because of the risks and uncertainties of the Syrian crisis, Saudi Arabia is aware that it has to engage in a very delicate balancing act. Too much pressure could backfire. Too little could see the opportunity for greater regional leadership and containment of Iranian influence slip away. In its place, Turkey could step in as a major power broker and manage Syria’s political future.

The current upheaval in Syria and shifting sands in the greater Middle East is one of the most challenging foreign policy tasks that Saudi Arabia has had to deal with since its creation in 1932 – and it’s one whose completion is of great concern to the US as well. If it succeeds in setting itself up for leadership in Syria, the kingdom could become a revived, major player on the regional scene, and Washington could rejoice for finally having an ally that is capable of confronting Iran. If Saudi Arabia fails in this balancing act, it risks becoming far less relevant and falling well behind nations such as up-and-coming Egypt and rising Turkey. And then Tehran would rejoice.

Bilal Y. Saab is a visiting fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

August 31st, 2011, 6:38 pm


beaware said:

Syrian Activists: Tanks, Troops Raid Hama, Make Arrests
31 August 2011

August 31st, 2011, 6:43 pm


Khalid Tlass said:

Also, what do you think abiout the Sabra and Shatila massacre, I mean do you think Assad amd the Syrian regime had some responsibilty ? Though most sources blame Israel and Ellie Hobeika-Kateb Party, I have heard that Assad and his cronies cannot escape responsibility ?

Hariris are equally odious. Their greatest allies are the killers of Sabra and Shatila and Hariri senior was a henchman of Papa Assad. Their Saudi daddies do not have the guts to take any concrete action against Iran and Assad. If they spemnt their huge money WISELY instead of spending it on women, and if Saudi really cared, they would have sent their Air Force and Special Forcres to knock out the Besho brigades and put kll the Asad family.

August 31st, 2011, 6:44 pm


Chris W said:

I think Israel and the hawks have mistimed their attempt to overthrow Syria.

It’s true the US is something of a puppet of Israel, but only so far. US politicians are even more in awe of opinion polls. Egypt is still under military rule, only less efficiently than before. Libya shows every sign of descending into chaos; no alternative government has stepped in to govern; and Afghanistan is an ongoing source of embarrassing news headlines.

If US public support was going to be brought behind the current ‘plan’ to throw Syria into anarchy, it ought to have been timed to happen now; but the US is still dithering.

As elections in Syria draw closer, even the ignorant but fundamentally decent American man-in-the-street is going to wonder if there’s any reason – apart from the satisfaction of Jewish spite and revenge for military humiliations at the hands of Hezbollah – for the people of Syria to have to undergo the very real chaos which we not only remember from Iraq, but of which scenes of anarchy in Libya are about to provide a nightly reminder.

August 31st, 2011, 6:59 pm


Some guy in Damascus said:

@Syrian hamster, BAAHAHAHAHAHA. Wt was up with that Asian animation, did besho’s counter-productivity reach new limits??
It seems there are less people who can stand up to the regime now? Especially on SC. Winds of change anybody?

August 31st, 2011, 7:10 pm


Tara said:

Some mamnhebaks

I do not like this sectarian hateful language. You’re reminding me with a great movie I saw several years ago of a blind man who was given a chance by god to see. He some how misused his new found vision and therefore god, displeased with him, took his vision away again. The movie was sad beyond measure..

No one will allow Qurdaha to be leveled after the revolution succeeds. This is not why 2300 people died. You are disrespecting the bravest and the finest who sacrificed themselves for all of us. Please stop!

August 31st, 2011, 7:11 pm


N.Z. said:

Jumblatt defected once again, the barometer of Arab politics. A telling sign?

I believe so.

August 31st, 2011, 7:13 pm


True said:

If that’s their belief then fair enough, I couldn’t care any less BUT the issue is why do they keep claiming being Shi’a while they are not? and why do they worship the Assadians?

— sorry for the long post i just thought to share it with you folks




The ‘Alawis believe in the absolute unity and transcendence of God who is undefinable and unknowable. God however reveals himself periodically to man in a Trinitarian form. This has happened seven times in history, the last and final revelation being in ‘Ali, Muhammad, and Salman al-Farisi. (Salman was a Persian disciple and close companion of Muhammad).
The first person of this Trinity (‘Ali) represents the Meaning of the Deity (Ma’na) which is the inner essence of God. The second person (Muhammad) is the Name or the Veil of Deity (Ism, Hijab) – its outward manifestation. The third person (Salman) is the Gate (Bab) of the Deity, through whom the true believer can gain an entrance to the mystery of the Godhead as revealed in ‘Ali.
The first person, the Ma’na, is the real substance of God, the source and meaning of all things. The other two are derived from him and inferior to him. They are emanations of the Ma’na’s light. In ‘Alawi theology ‘Ali is thus placed above Muhammad in the hierarchy of the trinity. All attributes and names of God are given to ‘Ali and worship is directed to him.
Muhammad emanated from the light of ‘Ali’s essence, and ‘Ali taught him the Quran. Muhammad’s role as Ism (Name = Logos?) was to create and sustain the universe, and as Veil (Hijab) to reveal ‘Ali to mankind. Muhammad is thus the intermediary between man and God.
Salman in turn emanated from Muhammad and is the only Door (Bab) which leads to the Ma’na through the Ism. He also appeared as the angel Gabriel to guide Muhammad into the Quran. He is also called the Holy Spirit and the Universal Soul, the third person in the ‘Alawi Trinity.
The ‘Alawi profession of faith states: “I testify that there is no God but ‘Ali ibn-Talib the one to be worshipped, no Veil but the Lord Muhammad worthy to be praised, and no Gate but the Lord Salman al-Farisi the object of love”.
The mystery of the Trinity is the centre of ‘Alawi worship and rites. It is symbolised by the three letters AMS (Arabic ‘Ain, Mim, Sin) standing for ‘Ali, Muhammad and Salman. These three are one and it is blasphemy to try and separate them. Meditating on the relationship between the three persons of this Trinity is part of ‘Alawi religious practice.
Out of the Bab emanated the five Lords of the Elements (Aytam – incomparable ones), who are also identified with real historical figures. These powers (hierarchies) under Salman, are the creators and sustainors of this universe. Below them are five further spiritual ranks. All these heavenly beings appeared in human form and are personified in Nusairi notables.
In addition to the hierarchies, the ‘Alawis also revere many prophets and apostles. The total number of hierarchies, apostles and prophets is said to be 124,000.
Light is the very essence of God, so the ‘Alawis worship the sun and the moon seeing them as the abodes of ‘Ali, Muhammad and Salman. Actually there are two divisions within the ‘Alawis: The Shamsiya (from the Arabic Shams, meaning sun), identify ‘Ali with the sun and Salman with the moon. The other group, the Qamariyah (from Qamar, the moon), identify ‘Ali with the moon and Salman with the sun. Prayers are said facing the sun.
The heavens are worshipped as God’s abode. ‘Alawi worship of sun, moon and sky can be traced back to the Sabean sect, an ancient Aramaic community of upper Mesopotamia (Harran) who worshipped the sun, moon and the five planets. They believed that God had one essence but was multiple in his manifestations.
Like Twelver Shi’ites, the ‘Alawis believe in the twelve Imams from ‘Ali down to Muhammad the Mahdi, each of whom had a Gate (Bab) who served as the pathway leading believers to the Imam. The twelfth Imam disappeared leaving no Bab. This position was then claimed by ibn-Nusayr the founder of the ‘Alawi faith. The Imams are seen as pre- existent heavenly spirits around God’s throne who later descended to earth in physical bodies to lead humans in praise back to God.
The ‘Alawi feasts include the general Muslim feasts of ‘Id al-Fitr ( but without the fast of Ramadan) and ‘Id al-Adha (without the pilgrimage to Mecca). From Shi’a Islam they celebrate ‘Id al-Ghadir that commemorates ‘Ali’s nomination as successor to Muhammad, and the ‘Ashura that commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein, ‘Ali’s son, at Karbala.
The Persian Nawruz (New Year, held in Spring and symbolising the change from cold to heat), and the Mihrajan (signifying the change from heat to cold in the Autumn), are also celebrated by the ‘Alawis revealing the strong Persian links of their religion.
Christian feast days such as Christmas, Epiphany (the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist), Pentecost and Palm Sunday are celebrated. Also the feasts of Saint John the Baptist, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Barbara and Saint Mary Magdalene.
The ‘Alawis also celebrate a ceremony resembling the mass (Quddass), where wine and bread are consecrated and partaken of by the male initiates. The wine especially is considered to be the very essence of God (‘Ali), transsubstantiated by the mass and offered to the believer. It is called “The Servant Of Light” (‘Abd al-Nur). Vines are treated with great respect in ‘Alawi culture.
The main ‘Alawi Holy Book is the “Kitab al-Majmu'” compiled by al-Khasibi and containing 16 Suras. Other sacred books are: Kitab al-Mashaykha (manual for Sheikhs), Kitab Majmu’ al-‘Ayad (Book of Feasts) and Kitab Ta’lim al-Diyana al-Nusayriyyah, the ‘Alawi chatechism.
The ‘Alawis believe in the transmigration of souls (metempshychosis, reincarnation). Unbelievers (Muslims, Christians, Jews) return as animals, whilst ‘Alawis are reincarnated in other ‘Alawis and eventually can reach the state of luminous stars!
Another important ‘Alawi principle is that of Taqiya – religious dissimulation, practiced also by Shi’as and the Druze. ‘Alawis may pretend to adhere outwardly to the majority religion in order to ensure their own survival. This also means keeping the ‘Alawi religion and its principles hidden from outsiders.


The ‘Alawi community is organised as a secret society, revealing its teachings only to the fully initiated who pledge themselves to keep them secret. Initiation is an extremely important ceremony, and special signs of recognition are used to identify members.
The ‘Alawi community is divided into the “Khassah”, the initiated religious leaders who learn the mysteries of the religion, and the ignorant majority called “‘Ammah”. Any male over eighteen can try and receive initiation if he passes certain tests. He is then attached to a spiritual guide and can gradually ascend to higher degrees of initiation (Najib, Natik, Imam). All Khassah must pledge to keep the secrets of the faith (Kitman) and it’s obligations.
The ignorant ‘Ammah are expected only to keep general moral rules, be loyal to the community’s spiritual leaders, celebrate the ‘Alawi feasts and make pilgrimages to the tombs of various holy men, amongst them al-Khidr (Elijah, St. George) and other saints venerated also by Muslims and Christians.
Religious knowledge is the exclusive privilege of the men, so only males are initiated. ‘Alawis believe that women were created from devils. Women therefore have a low status in ‘Alawi religion and society. They are not taught any prayers nor are they initiated into the secrets of their religion.
After initiation the new disciple is gradually introduced to the mysteries of his religion and is entitled to partake in the celebration of the mass and to receive the consecrated wine in which ‘Ali has manifested himself.
‘Alawi society is still strongly tribal and patriarchal. Feuding was the norm until the beginning of this century, and marauding into the territories of neighbouring non-‘Alawi communities was common. Today the community is fairly united under its religious leaders. The problems they now face are those of the new ideas penetrating the younger generation as larger numbers seek further education in universities.


There are many nominal Christian and heretical Christian elements in ‘Alawi religion. They include the concept of the Trinity, the celebration of the mass, the keeping of Christmas and other Christian holy days. Christian names such as Matthew, Gabriel, Catherine and Helen are common.
Much of our knowledge about the ‘Alawi religion comes from an ‘Alawi convert to Christianity, al-‘Adani, who was burnt alive for his apostasy and for divulging the secrets of the ‘Alawi faith. There are very few ‘Alawi converts at this time, and no Christian workers specialising in outreach to the ‘Alawis.
As with the Druze and other similar closed and secret sects, the ‘Alawis are enslaved by spiritual principalities and powers who will not easily be shaken. Much specific intercession has to be made on their behalf, followed by the praying forth of skilled workers to this specific field who will be willing to immerse themselves in ‘Alawi culture and befriend ‘Alawis as they seek for opportunities to share Christ with them.
Whilst there are superficial similarities to Christian doctrines, concepts and practices, we must be careful to realise the differences. We must present them with a loving and feeling personal God with whom we can have a relationship as opposed to their abstract and unknowable God, and explain the concept of incarnation, where God not only manifested himself in human flesh, but actually was made flesh and dwelt amongst us in Jesus Christ.
Christ must be presented as truly God and truly man, who fulfills all they would look for in ‘Ali and Muhammad and Salman – and much more. The fulness of the Godhead dwells in him, and he is the only Mediator and the only Door. It will not be easy to avoid confusion with their concepts of a multitude of divine ranks and manifestations, where Jesus is but one of many and may be seen as an earlier manifestation of Muhammad
The problem of sin must be pushed to the forefront, and with it the concept of sacrifice and atonement which only Christ could perfectly achieve.
Taqiyah presents us with both an opportunity and a problem. On the one hand it would allow a true seeker to come a long way in accepting Christian teaching and practice whilst still within the ‘Alawi framework, on the other hand we could never be sure of the real motives of such seekers and would have to humbly leave such soul searching to God

August 31st, 2011, 7:17 pm


Some guy in damascus said:

@ Tara
I absolutely agree, I get offended from this sectarian talk ,and would like to emphasize that there will be no bombing or assault on qurdaha. Khalid tlass , please stop these threats. Qurdaha is Syrian…..first and foremost.

August 31st, 2011, 7:19 pm


beaware said:

Iran makes a u-turn on Syria
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi
After months of tacitly echoing Damascus’ dismissal of the growing political opposition as armed gangs and foreign agents, Tehran has adjusted its policy by referring to the “legitimate demands” of protesters and the need for the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad to respect “people’s right to elect and achieve freedom”, to quote Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in a recent interview with an Arab network.

Simultaneously, in the wake of last week’s European Union sanctions on the elite al-Qods branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, accusing it of providing material support to Damascus to suppress the ongoing revolt, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Ramin Mehmanparast, has categorically denied the EU’s accusation, branding it “unfounded

and aiming at blaming other countries”.

At least 88 people, including 10 children, have died in detention in Syria since unrest broke out in March, according to Amnesty International. Majority of the victims were tortured or ill-treated, Amnesty said this week. At least 2,200 people have been killed since the start of the uprising, according to the United Nations.

“Iran’s reading of the crisis situation in Syria has turned a leaf toward political realism, that is, the knowledge and realization that Assad’s regime may crumble in the not too distant future and Iran should not be hooked to a sinking ship,” said a Tehran University political science professor who spoke to the author on the condition of anonymity.

He added, however, that Iran’s ruling elite was still optimistic that with “due changes and reforms”, the embattled Syrian government could survive and “in essence Iran has not advocated anything that President Assad himself has not already accepted in principle”.

The million dollar question, though, is whether or not Assad’s reform initiatives, such as adopting a more liberal press law, reflect a remedy too late, in light of the climbing death toll in the streets of various cities and the likely prospect of the capital city’s imminent infection by the virus of popular protests.

Behind Tehran’s decision to alter its approach to the Syrian political crisis are a number of important regional as well as internal considerations. As masters of survival who have successfully weathered the torrents of war, armed opposition and mass protests over the past 32 years, the leaders of the Islamic Republic are political pragmatists who rarely allow the rather thick lens of ideology or dogma to obliterate their grasp of political dynamics. They prefer to be ahead rather than behind political curves.

In essence, that means a dualistic approach toward Syria from now on, one track being in league with Turkey and other regional powers pushing for democratic reform, the other still in sync with alliance politics dictating discrete support for Assad’s regime and opposing any Libyan-style foreign intervention.

According to various media reports in Iran, last week’s Tehran visit by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, was an important catalyst in shifting Iran’s policy away from a blind support for Assad and in favor of a more nuanced approach that emphasizes genuine political reforms.

There are those in Tehran who think that Iran has decided to move closer to its Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf by distancing itself from the moribund Assad regime, which may experience serious cracks in its political, administrative and military institutions in the immediate future as a result of the growing mass discontent.

In turn, this raises a fundamental question: how valuable is Syria’s alliance to Iran today, and is it worth risking a major cognitive dissonance, in light of Iran’s overt support for the Arab Spring?

Indeed, the instant result of Iran’s new approach toward Syria is that it closes the previous gap, between Iran’s support for political transformations in other parts of the Arab world and Iran’s non-support for the similar process underway in Syria, thus allowing Tehran to declare that it pursues a consistent and logical policy with respect to the current Middle East upheavals.

Perhaps equally important, the new Tehran policy toward Syria is bound to reward the regime by also bringing Iran and Turkey closer together, in light of Ankara’s recent announcement that it has “lost confidence” in the Assad regime. (See Iran draws the line with Turkey on Syria Asia Times Online, July 26, 2011.)

Iran’s primary concern is the vital Persian Gulf, and despite all the talk of “strategic depth” as a result of the alliance with Syria, the principal concern of Iran is to improve its standing in the immediate region that has vast geo-economic value.

No longer menaced by Iraq, as it was during the bloody eight-year war during the 1980s, Iran is fundamentally less beholden to Syria acting as a “vital bridge to the Arab world”, particularly since the gates of diplomacy with the Arab world’s biggest power, Egypt, have begun to slowly open, given the prospect of normalization between Tehran and Cairo.

In addition, Tehran’s leaders have not forgotten recent statements from Damascus of support for Saudi intervention in Bahrain, in the name of Arab nationalism, which truly surprised and even dismayed Tehran.

“There has always been a nagging concern that Assad’s regime would sell out Iran in no time if the price was right, but that never happened and Assad we may recall solidly supported Iran during the upheaval of 2009 following the presidential elections,” says the Tehran professor.

As a result, Tehran has nuanced itself rather than come out too strongly against Damascus, thus protecting itself from the charge of hypocrisy and double standards, this while harvesting the gained ability to push for reform in neighboring Bahrain, where the simmering protests have met the iron fist of Saudi-backed official repression. Said otherwise, Iran can now have a greater say in Bahraini affairs, by opting to recognize the legitimacy of the Syrian opposition.

But, as with any major policy shift, there are also unintended consequences, such as a cooling in relations with Damascus in the event that Assad survives. Damascus would then look at Iran as a half-loyal friend that cannot be fully trusted.

There is, in other words, an inevitable element of risk in Iran’s new policy that could adversely affect its regional fortunes, depending on the dynamic of political change in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy (Westview Press) . For his Wikipedia entry, click here. He is author of Reading In Iran Foreign Policy After September 11 (BookSurge Publishing , October 23, 2008) and his latest book, Looking for rights at Harvard, is now available.

August 31st, 2011, 7:22 pm


sheila said:

Dear #186. Husam,
Your assessment is very good if it weren’t for the following:
1- I am not criticizing somebody else’s religion, nor am I judging. I am a Sunni Muslim and I am debating my own religion that I feel has been hijacked by people who refuse to use their brains and continuously act like robots who follow what the so called “scholars” decided for them, when Sunni Islam is based on the person’s direct relationship with God and personal responsibility for his or her actions.
2- I have clearly started my post with the following statement ”As much as I believe in personal freedom and the right of women to cover their heads if they want to”. So, clearly I totally agree with your statement “If women have the right to bare all, they should have the right to bare none”.
I hope this clarifies my position and removes me from your hypocrites list.

August 31st, 2011, 7:30 pm


Tara said:

Syrialover from previous post

Sorry to sound blunt but “the best way to link an article” you described in your post is a “self-proclaimed” assumption. I prefer how other posters link their article and I suggest that they leave it as is.

August 31st, 2011, 7:34 pm


Aboud said:

“He has brains,”


This is the same guy who kept insisting there were Indian-Zionist pilots in the 1973 war, and who said he would sue us if we called him a terrorist. He left this website after being roundly ridiculed and made fun of.

August 31st, 2011, 7:37 pm


beaware said:

Peace with Israel in post-Assad Syria possible, dissident says
08/30/2011 02:39
Syrian Kurdish opposition leader to ‘Post’: “Many members of the Syrian Democracy Council have no problem recognizing Israel, making peace.”
A functioning, democratic Syria at peace with its neighbors is possible in the post- Bashar Assad era, a Washington- based Syrian Kurdish opposition leader told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“We have a new vision for Syria – a federal Syria, a just Syria – not an Arab republic – that is inclusive, whether you’re Kurd or Arab, Christian or Muslim,” said Sherkoh Abbas, president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNAS).
He said a country as homogeneous as Syria is best suited to a federal model, in which areas with high minority populations enjoy certain powers not wielded by the national government.

The new Syria that Abbas envisions would be at peace with all of its neighbors, including Israel.

“Many Syrian religious and tribal leaders who are now part of the Syrian Democracy Council have no problem recognizing Israel and making peace,” he said. “They want to focus on Syria, and they have problems replacing one dictator with another – whether that’s Islamists or another group.”

Abbas dismissed the notion that because Assad has kept the Syrian-Israeli border largely quiet during his reign, the Syrian president is somehow a force for regional stability.

“Look at Hamas and Hezbollah.

Is Israel more stable today, or its borders more secure?” he said. Syria is a major sponsor and arms supplier for both radical groups, and a close ally of Iran.

“The only people who benefit from this regime staying in power are Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and other organizations that promote terrorism. Everyone else will win by removing this regime,” he said.

Of all Syrians, he said, Kurds are among the most favorably inclined to Israel. “Kurds in general have absolutely no problem with Israel. Israelis don’t kill us; they don’t take our land or oppress us. Why would we have a problem?” he said. “As for Kurdish religious leaders, they often say that the Koran says Israel belongs to the Jews, who are God’s chosen people, so why we should fight them? Even atheists say why should we fight the fight of Arab nationalism, which uses Islam to serve its own needs? We don’t want to fight – Jews are God’s people as well.”

Since it was taken over by the Ba’ath Party in 1961, Syria – or officially, the Syrian Arab Republic – has systematically discriminated against Kurds living in its northeast and along the Turkish border. The Kurdish flag and language are banned, land confiscation and resettlement are common and an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 Syrian Kurds are without Syrian citizenship.

“There are close to 4 million Kurds in Syria, but in the Syrian Constitution we don’t exist,” Abbas said. “The Kurds in Syria have been ignored for more than five decades.”

Abbas founded the KNAS, an umbrella group of Syrian Kurdish parties, in 2006 to give a voice to a community whose leadership had been all but silenced over decades of Ba’ath rule. “Most leaders of Kurdish political parties in Syria are in jail, so we had to come up with an alternative for bringing out the voice of the Syrian Kurds to the international community,” he said.

Abbas is also a member of the Syrian Democracy Council, a coalition of Syrian ethnic and religious groups – Arab, Kurdish, Druze, Assyrian Christian, Alawite and others – that he says strives to create a democratic Syria as an alternative to either the current regime’s radical Arab nationalism or the Islamism of groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.

The KNAS had sent unofficial representatives to a June conference of the Syrian opposition in Turkey, but Abbas said the group quickly withdrew its representatives after discovering that Turkey was actively supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic parties at the other factions’ expense. Ankara’s support of those groups, he said, was aimed at ensuring that Kurds in Syria – and by extension, in Turkey – remain in a disadvantaged position.

Abbas said the West needs to take firmer diplomatic action to help push Assad aside. “Now is the time for the international community, the US, Europeans and Israel to push for democracy in Syria,” he said.

“We can learn from the experience in Iran in 1979, where the Americans and Europeans didn’t support the minorities and democratic groups, and that’s why opportunity was given to the Islamists there.”

Still, he said, fears of an Islamist takeover in Syria are overblown, as the Muslim Brotherhood is far less popular in the country than in Egypt, where some experts expect the group to receive a plurality of votes in national elections later this year. “Most people rising up in Syria are not Islamists,” he said. “But the Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey and some Salafis from the Gulf countries are trying to divert this revolution in a different direction.”

Abbas said distorted census numbers help the Assad regime claim Islamist power is greater in Syria than it actually is.

“Now they say Kurds make up 10 percent of the population, whereas two years ago they said it was zero percent. We say we’re about 20%. There are about a million Kurds in Damascus, 800,000 in Aleppo and 2.5 million in the Kurdish region in Hasaka and along the Turkish border – that’s closely to 4 million Kurds,” he said.

“So you have Kurds, Alawites, Druze, Ismailis and Christians – that makes up about 50% who are not Sunni and Arab. And if you look at the Sunni Arabs, most aren’t even pro-Muslim Brotherhood,” he said.

Abbas hails from Qamishli, the main Kurdish hub in Syria’s northeast, which has seen significant protests during the five-month Syrian uprising. He has lived in exile in Washington for close to three decades.

In April, Assad announced his government would grant citizenship to Kurds living in and around Qamishli, an area with a majority Kurdish population.

A 1962 census deprived one-fifth of the area’s Kurds of citizenship on the dubious pretext that they had infiltrated from Turkey decades earlier.

“They created the problem and now they’re making it seem as if they’re trying to resolve it,” Abbas said, adding that of the hundreds of thousands of stateless Kurds, only about 3,500 have been granted citizenship since the announcement.

Syria’s future – and that of its Kurds – hangs in the balance, but there is one thing Abbas is certain of. “Dynasties have a beginning and end,” he said.

“The Assad dynasty’s end is near.”

August 31st, 2011, 7:38 pm


sheila said:

Dear #183. Khalid Tlass:
Revenge is sweet at that specific moment and then you have to deal with the guilt and shame for killing the innocent. I want all those responsible for the killings to be brought to justice, but I do not want their children killed because of what they did. No guilt by association. I think you are a person who believes in God and should know that their judgment will be very severe indeed when they meet their creator.
Regarding the “hijab”, I think you missed my point that all those “scholars” can tell us what they think, but as true Muslims, we are ultimately responsible for our actions. God ordered us 19 times in the Koran to think. I believe we should oblige and use our brains.

August 31st, 2011, 7:39 pm


beaware said:

Damascus feels effects of crippled economy
By Kristen Gillespie and Jabeen Bhatti, Special for USA TODAY
DAMASCUS, Syria – The rows of sparkling 18-carat-gold bangle bracelets have long since been removed from the cramped, tiny jewelry shops in the Salihiya neighborhood of Damascus. Many of the shops and travel agencies clustered in this popular shopping district are closed until further notice.

More than 8.3 million tourists passed through Syria in 2010, generating 12% of the gross domestic product, according to the Syrian Ministry of Tourism. This year, the streets of the Syrian capital tell a different story: Empty Internet cafes and deserted dining tables at popular restaurants show the cloud of fear and uncertainty that hangs over the city.

Young Syrians, notably recent college graduates, are not finding work and gloomily predict dismal professional prospects if they stay in Syria. A 31-year-old unemployed graduate in English literature was having no luck finding work, describing the city as being “at a standstill.”

The bloody crackdown ordered by President Bashar Assad against protesters in cities throughout Syria is having an effect in the capital, his base of power. International condemnation of the military assaults have prompted trading partners in Europe and elsewhere to hold off on business dealings, and tourists have been scared away, said experts and residents of Damascus.

Assad has always had the support of Syria’s merchant class centered in Damascus, a cosmopolitan city by most standards. Protests against the regime here have been minor while tens of thousands of Syrians have filled the streets in cities such as Homs, Hama and Deir El Zour.

Economic ruin could collapse regime


August 31st, 2011, 7:55 pm


N.Z. said:

Seems that Muslim men are obsessed with woman’s hair, and the west is obsessed with her “hijab”.

August 31st, 2011, 8:09 pm


Darryl said:

174. AKBAR PALACE said:

The reason Jewish Women expected to wear a covering for their head is because Jewish tradition says the following (as I have been told):

A Women’s glory is in her hair, therefore when a woman stands in the temple in front of Yahwe, then only God’s glory should be visible. This is the reason Christian Women in the Middle East cover their hair in church or when they approach the Altar on sunday to receive communion (bread and wine) from the priest.

I hope that helps you AP.

August 31st, 2011, 8:10 pm


Afram said:

Khalid Tlass:
(deleted for insult. This is a warning)

August 31st, 2011, 8:15 pm


True said:

Betho and all Assadins should go back to the mountains!! Not the Syrian coast mountains but the Sinjar mountain where they originally came from.

August 31st, 2011, 8:35 pm


amal said:

226. AFRAM

That was very very funny 😀

August 31st, 2011, 8:46 pm


some guy in damascus said:

SO, HOWS THE SGID is in TEL-AVIV story working out for you 😀

August 31st, 2011, 8:51 pm


amal said:



August 31st, 2011, 8:56 pm


Husam said:

Dearest Sheila:

I respect your opinion and I already knew that you were Sunni from earlier post. You can say, question, and do whatever you want about about any religion, yours or others without offending or judging. I would like to share with you a very significant letter of one woman who chose to wear a Hijab.

Why I wear a Hijab:

I probably do not fit into the preconceived notion of a “rebel”. I have no visible tattoos and minimal piercing. I do not possess a leather jacket. In fact, when most people look at me, their first thought usually is something along the lines of “oppressed female.” The brave individuals who have mustered the courage to ask me about the way I dress usually have questions like: “Do your parents make you wear that?” or “Don’t you find that really unfair?”

A while back, a couple of girls in Montreal were kicked out of school for dressing like I do. It seems strange that a little piece of cloth would make for such controversy. Perhaps the fear is that I am harboring an Uzi underneath it! Of course, the issue at hand is more than a mere piece of cloth. I am a Muslim woman who, like millions of other Muslim women across the globe, chooses to wear the hijab. And the concept of the hijab, contrary to popular opinion, is actually one of the most fundamental aspects of female empowerment.

When I cover myself, I make it virtually impossible for people to judge me according to the way I look. I cannot be categorized because of my attractiveness or lack thereof.

Compare this to life in today’s society: We are constantly sizing one another up on the basis of our clothing, jewelry, hair and makeup. What kind of depth can there be in a world like this? Yes, I have a body, a physical manifestation upon this Earth. But it is the vessel of an intelligent mind and a strong spirit. It is not for the beholder to leer at or to use in advertisements to sell everything from beer to cars!

Because of the superficiality of the world in which we live, external appearances are so stressed that the value of the individual counts for almost nothing. It is a myth that women in today’s society are liberated! What kind of freedom can there be when a woman can not walk down the street without every aspect of her physical self being “checked out”?

When I wear the hijab I feel safe from all of this. I can rest assured that no one is looking at me and making assumptions about my character from the length of my skirt. There is a barrier between me and those who would exploit me. I am first and foremost a human being, equal to any man, and not vulnerable because of my sexuality.

One of the saddest truths of our time is the question of the beauty myth and female self-image. Reading popular teenage magazines, you can instantly find out what kind of body image is “in” or “out.” and if you have the “wrong” body type, well, then, you’re just going to have to change it, aren’t you? After all, there is no way that you can be overweight and still be beautiful.

Look at any advertisement. Is a woman being used to sell the product? How old is she? How attractive is she? What is she wearing? More often than not, that woman will be no older than her early 20s, taller, slimmer and more attractive than average, dressed in skimpy clothing. Why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated like this?

Whether the 90s woman wishes to believe it or not, she is being forced into a mold. She is being coerced into selling herself, into compromising herself. This is why we have 13-year-old girls sticking their fingers down their throats and overweight adolescents hanging themselves.

When people ask me if I feel oppressed, I can honestly say no. I made this decision out of my own free will. I like the fact that I am taking control of the way other people perceive me. I enjoy the fact that I don’t give anyone anything to look at and that I have released myself from the bondage of the swinging pendulum of the fashion industry and other institutions that exploit females.

My body is my own business. Nobody can tell me how I should look or whether or not I am beautiful. I know that there is more to me than that. I am also able to say “no” comfortably then people ask me if I feel as though my sexuality is being repressed. I have taken control of my sexuality. I am thankful I will never have to suffer the fate of trying to lose/gain weight or trying to find the exact lipstick shade that will go with my skin color. I have made choices about what my priorities are and these are not among them.

So next time you see me, don’t look at me sympathetically. I am not under duress or a male-worshipping female captive from those barbarous Arabic deserts! I’ve been liberated.

August 31st, 2011, 9:03 pm


some guy in damascus said:

im not going to fight over the internet like a 12 year old, i just wanted to rub it in. i love the feeling of refuting idiotic statements and stories from people like you. next time bring something worth debating with some credibility( enter ammar shami). btw, wheres your team? SNK,SAMARA,ALI and the other bunch….
guys i was wondering, are there any other blogs i can debate with menhebaks? SC has run out of them.

August 31st, 2011, 9:04 pm


amal said:

232. SOME (Deleted For Honesty) IN DAMASCUS

Wait until NATO and Israel starts raining DEMOCRACY over your head. Leaving no stone unturned in your beloved Damascus, and you becoming a refugee in your own country living under a tent like the Iraqis and the Palestinians. Maybe I’ll debate you then.

August 31st, 2011, 9:31 pm


Aboud said:

SGID, well done, you now have your very own obsessed-menhebak-stalker-groupie 🙂 Remember to feed her with sarcastic a comment or two, it keeps them wound up hehehehehe 🙂

August 31st, 2011, 9:50 pm


beaware said:

اعترافات ارهابي دير الزور وارهابي جسر الشغور

Aug 29, 2011

August 31st, 2011, 9:50 pm


Tara said:

Khalid Tlass

You said “Moussa Sadr was a criminal terrorist, his only aim was to provode “oxygen” to his co-religionsist in Lebanon and to the Assads. He was a staunch enemy of the PLO”

Can you elaborate further on the relationship between Moussa Sadr and the PLO?

August 31st, 2011, 9:53 pm


Akbar Palace said:


Are you seriously saying that Syrians prefer an Assad-led autocracy with no freedom of speech and no elections to an Israeli democracy?

If you really believe that, why are there no free elections in Syria?

Arab-Israelis are not refugees.

August 31st, 2011, 9:59 pm


beaware said:

Adonis becomes first Arab writer to win Goethe prize
Tuesday 30 August 2011
The Syrian poet Adonis has become the first Arab writer to win Germany’s prestigious Goethe prize.

The 81-year-old poet, a perennial favourite to win the Nobel prize for literature, was presented with the award by the city of Frankfurt on Goethe’s birthday, 28 August. The jury called him “the most important Arab poet of our time”, and praised his “eminent literary talent, his cosmopolitanism and his contribution to world literature”.

The €50,000 Goethe prize is given every three years on Goethe’s birthday to an individual whose work reflects the spirit of the German master, and has been won in the past by Sigmund Freud and Herman Hesse, and more recently by the Israeli author Amos Oz.

“Just as Goethe popularised Arabic poetry with [his book] West-Eastern Divan, Adonis carried the accomplishments of European modernity into Arabic cultural circles, with great effect,” said the jury.

Born in Syria as Ali Ahmad Said Esber, Adonis adopted his pen name – after the Greek god of fertility – in his late teens. Imprisoned for his political activities, he moved to Beirut in 1956 and now lives in exile in Paris. He is the author of more than 20 books in Arabic, and is known for his experimental writing, breaking away from the formal structures of traditional Arabic poetry.

“I wanted to draw on Arab tradition and mythology without being tied to it,” he told the New York Times last year. “I wanted to break the linearity of poetic text – to mess with it, if you will. The poem is meant to be a network rather than a single rope of thought.”

Already the recipient of the Bjørnson Prize in 2007, the first International Nâzim Hikmet Poetry award and the Syria-Lebanon Best Poet award, Adonis has been given odds of 10/1 to win this year’s Nobel, behind Cormac McCarthy and Haruki Murakami.

August 31st, 2011, 10:02 pm


Aboud said:

My God, a Syrian poet wins a prestigious award, and some menhebak retard “dislikes” the comment. Seriously, you people really need help 🙂

August 31st, 2011, 10:09 pm


Tara said:

Ali Ferzat and Adonis both won international awards. How come the “Arabic cinema” never been internationally acclaimed? Is there such a thing called “Arabic cinema” or this is branch of visual art that does not currently exist in the Arab world?

It is shame that lots of Syrian and Egyptian actors stood by the tyranny.

August 31st, 2011, 10:25 pm


Norman said:

Arab intellectuals do not win any awards unless they speak against their contries or pro peace with Israel,

Tara, many Syrian documentaries won awards in Kane, others might know the names,

August 31st, 2011, 10:44 pm


Tara said:


You mean Cannes film festival? Even if true, documentaries are different than films.

Adonis won international award in 2007. Was he speaking against Besho then?

Finally, Besho is not Syria, so your first statement needs to be rephrased.

August 31st, 2011, 11:15 pm


ann said:

A Roman Holiday for Assad?

By John Tabin on 8.31.11 @ 10:57PM

Financial Times:


European Union efforts to impose an oil embargo on Syria suffered a setback on Tuesday when Italy broke ranks and insisted the sanctions be delayed until the end of November, when existing supply contracts will have expired.

The Italian objections angered several other member states, including the UK. But European diplomats insisted the issue could be resolved on Wednesday, when EU officials are scheduled to meet again on the issue…

European leaders had hoped to finalise the oil embargo by Friday, when EU foreign ministers are gathering for a high-profile meeting in Poland, and some diplomats worried that the Italian move would now make that impossible. “They [the Italians] simply couldn’t agree on the date that these existing contracts should phase out,” said a European official.

Other diplomats noted the timing of the sanctions was the only issue in dispute, making a quick resolution possible. “The question is only about when this is going to start,” said one. “There is a good chance we get an agreement by the end of the week.”

However, the move angered countries that were backing a quick move towards sanctions, which argued a delay in implementing them could blunt their effectiveness.

Let’s be clear here: Assad’s security forces have killed more than two thousand protestors in the past six months. A significant portion of the money used to pay those security forces comes from oil revenues. And Rome wants to keep the money flowing for three more months. Here’s their spin:

A spokesman for Italy’s foreign ministry said Rome still supported oil sanctions but that it was important to delay their start “to protect European industry”.

“We have been among the most vocal in criticising the regime, and were the first to recall our ambassador,” said the spokesman, Maurizio Massari. “The debate is on the application of this principle: we have asked that these sanctions could start, in effect, from November 30 in order to safeguard the existing … supply contracts.”

Come si dice “shut up and put your money where your mouth is” in italiano?

August 31st, 2011, 11:25 pm


Norman said:


President Assad is Syria as Obama is America until there are new presidents.

September 1st, 2011, 7:57 am


Akbar Palace said:

President Assad is Syria as Obama is America…


I would insert between “Assad” and “is”: “thinks he”.

I say this because Assad was not elected in a free multi-party election.

September 1st, 2011, 8:59 am


norman said:


And the POP is the head of the Catholic Church and is not elected by the people,

president Assad is still the president of Syria , like or not .

September 1st, 2011, 9:12 am


Akbar Palace said:

Assad is Loved


Yes, I know Assad is the self-appointed and president-for-life of Syria.

However, you said, “Assad is Syria”.

Considering the overwhelming demonstrations in Syria, I think your statement is debatable. We’ll never really know if “Assad is Syria” until he is elected in a free election. Just my opinion.

September 1st, 2011, 9:21 am


norman said:


I think that you are playing with words and you are much better player than i am , i am just saying that as an attack on president Obama is an attack on the US , an attack on president Assad is an attack on Syria, just an opinion .

September 1st, 2011, 9:27 am


Syria Comment » Archives » “Who is Mohammad Rahhal, the Syrian Revolutionary who Called for Armed Resistance and Attacked Burhan Ghalioun?” said:

[…] Ghalioun?” By Christiane Lange for Syria Comment August 7, 2011 Muhammad Rahhal made a big splash last week when he attacked Burhan Ghalioun, the newly appointed head of the Syrian National Council. By […]

September 7th, 2011, 12:51 pm


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