End sanctions on Iran and Syria

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By signing this petition, you send the message that the sanctions levied against Iran and Syria cause privation and death and are unacceptable tools of foreign policy and diplomacy. This is the fundamental point.

The Iranian government is in full compliance with its treaty obligations under the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Sanctions against Iran will not cause the Iranian government to change its position on any issue. The sanctions will not further peaceful development and trade in the region.

The sanctions against Syria also undermine the ability of the Syrian people to determine their own fate.

In general, the unilateral use of sanctions on the part of the United States to promote its interests around the world is increasingly at odds with the goal of promoting peaceful development and trade. While sanctions may in some cases be an effective tool, such cases are rare and the effectiveness of sanctions is limited. Other examples of nations where the lifting or easing of sanctions has promoted or could promote democracy include Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Burma.


The WFP has only been able to feed up to 1.5 million people in Syria each month because of the fighting and a lack of local partners capable of delivering aid.

Its activities have been restricted because the government stopped it developing formal relationships with many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in Syria, said WFP executive-director Ertharin Cousin.

"We have now been given that authority from the government," Cousin told a news briefing in Geneva.
Volunteers of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, WFP's main local partner, deliver most WFP supplies but are overstretched.


Western governments have built waivers into the sanctions regime – aimed at persuading Tehran to curb its nuclear programme – in an effort to ensure that essential medicines get through, but those waivers are not functioning, as they conflict with blanket restrictions on banking, as well as bans on "dual-use" chemicals which might have a military application.
A senior British official acknowledged that discussions between London, Brussels and Washington had been going on for months with the aim of unblocking the supply of medicines, but without a decisive outcome. "The problem is that for some of the big pharmaceutical companies and banks it's just not worth the hassle and the risk of reputational damage, so they just steer clear," the official said.
In addition, there are over 8,000 haemophiliacs who are finding it harder to get blood clotting agents. Operations on haemophiliacs have been virtually suspended because of the risks created by the shortages. An estimated 23,000 Iranians with HIV/Aids have had their access to the drugs they need to keep them alive severely restricted. The society representing the 8,000 Iranians suffering from thalassaemia, an inherited blood disorder, has said its members are beginning to die because of a lack of an essential drug, deferoxamine, used to control the iron content in the blood.
US and European governments put the blame squarely on the Tehran regime. "Financial sanctions against Iran are in place because of the Iranian government's refusal to address the international community's well-founded concerns about its nuclear programme," said John Sullivan, a US treasury spokesman. "If there is in fact a shortage of some medicines in Iran, it is due to choices made by the Iranian government, not the US government."
One of the unintended consequences of sanctions on the health sector is that they have strengthened companies linked to the regime and the Revolutionary Guards at the expense of the private sector, because of their privileged access to hard currency at the official rate. In some cases, those regime-connected firms are actually using their access to cheap foreign currency to acquire drugs cheaply and smuggle them into Iraq, deepening the crisis.


Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Shamseddin Hosseini said Monday that Iran would no longer use euro and dollar in its trade exchanges according to a decission made by the government's economic working-group. Iranian state news agency IRNA writes about this.


Syria and Iran have agreed a $1 billion credit facility between Commercial Bank of Syria and Export Development Bank of Iran, Syrian state television reported on Wednesday.


Only if Tehran provided “meaningful concessions”, among them suspending all uranium enrichment and heavy water-related projects, closing the underground enrichment facility at Fordow, and accepting a highly intrusive International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections regime – should sanctions relief be considered, said the report, which was co-authored by FDD’s president, Mark Dubowitz, and David Albright, a physicist who heads the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

In that respect, the recommendations appeared to reflect more the position held by Israel than that of the Obama administration, which has suggested that it will not necessarily insist on a total suspension of uranium enrichment – a demand that Iran has consistently rejected and which many Iran specialists believe is a deal-killer – as a condition for possible sanctions relief.
“The focal point wasn’t to say, ‘Saddle up, we’re going to war in six months,’” said Leonard Spector, deputy director of the James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies and a co-chair of one of the five task forces that contributed to the report. “This was a more careful assessment of how much time we had, and it allows the sort of (sanctions) pressure, which has been mounting, to have more impact.”

Iranian officials have suggested over the last several months that they are willing to make major concessions, including halting their enrichment of uranium up to 20 percent, transferring a substantial portion of their 20-percent enriched stockpile out of the country, and accepting enhanced IAEA inspections, provided they receive major sanctions relief in exchange. But they have also insisted that their right to enrichment of up to five percent is nonnegotiable.
That the report’s recommendations coincided closely with Israel’s positions may have been due in part to the heavy involvement in the project by staff members from both FDD, which has been a leading proponent of “economic warfare” against Iran, and the Dershowitz Group, a media relations firm with FDD shares office space and reportedly cooperates closely.

Several Dershowitz account executives included in the report’s acknowledgments have previously been associated with Hasbara Fellowships, a group set up by the right-wing, Israel-based Aish HaTorah International, to counter alleged anti-Israel sentiment at U.S. universities. IPS inquiries into the project’s sources of funding went unanswered.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


I tried, but it won't let me sign because I don't have a Fecalbook Account.

Just as well - since it mistates the real basis for the sanctions. By using the Administration's stated reason (to prevent an imaginary thing from being done by people who don't imagine doing any such thing) which, even in opposition, makes their invalid premise appear to be a rational one.

I suppose Syria or Iran could propose similar sanctions against the U.S. in order to deter the U.S. from expanding the euthanasia program designed to reduce the number of people in the OASDI programs.

Rumor may have it that they plan to start with those that didn't make their desire to live clear by making a political contribution to either the Dems or Reps in 2012. (Too late, you missed the cut-off).

Rodger97321's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Assad himself is facing assassination no matter what happens, I mean if he agrees to leave the country – he would probably be killed by his Alawite associates because he is abandoning them to whatever fate would happen. If he doesn’t leave the country sooner or later it would be wiped out. There have been proposals, just a couple of days ago there was a proposal by one serious specialist Nicholas Noe that there will be temporary some kind of partition in which a region around Damascus is left under Assad’s control and the rest of the country is left under rebel control and see if they can work out some modus vivendi in which there could be a reduction of violence and maybe a negotiated settlement. But that’s a long shot and I haven’t really heard any other good proposal.
It is very hard to take the Hague Tribunal seriously from the beginning. {That's Noam Chomsky being interviewed. Interesting how that man is right on the money so often.}


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ordered his army commanders to target Israel and the US interests in the Middle East region in case he is assassinated by the terrorists, informed sources said on Monday.


Video footage showed women weeping over the dismembered bodies of children strewn across a field in Eastern Ghouta, near an air defence base on the edge of the town of Muleiha, 5 km (3 miles) east of Damascus.

Muleiha is the last major fortification in the area east of Damascus not yet to have fallen to the rebels. President Bashar al-Assad's core troops and security personnel, mostly belonging to his minority Alawite sect, are entrenched in the capital.

"God is greater than you, Bashar," one of the activists is shown saying as a youth carries the torso of a child.
"The regime has gone mad with bombardment today. Footage that has been coming in is heartbreaking. Among the dead is a mother, Heba al-Lahham, and her three children, who were playing in a field in Hazzeh," she said.
"This is the last base standing in the east between the rebels and Damascus. It is a huge compound and the regime is bombarding heavily to keep the rebels from mounting a concerted offensive to take it over," he said.


"If I were in the opposition's shoes, I would come up with my ideas in response on how to establish a dialogue."

{It's not a given, but one might hope that if Assad is offered immunity then certain proposals might move forward, such as the one proposed veep.}


Is Saudi Arabia renewing its ties with Syria? Why did Saudi Arabian Minister of Foreign Affairs, after 22 months of hostile positioning to Syria, demand political solution for the crisis and why did the country’s major Mufti ban the young Saudi Arabians from going to Syria for Jihad?
Saudi Arabia holds constant relations with Damascus, and recently, a group of Egypt’s security system has visited Damascus. Saudi officials who expected the fall of the Syrian system now realize that fall of Syrian system is unlikely, and have now set for reopening channels with the country’s officials. They worry that the extremist fundamentalist they have funded and provided military support, turn to Saudi Arabia.
On the other hand, some countries of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, lead by UAE, have clearly declared a sort of war on Muslim Brotherhood.

Now the positive position of Sultanate of Oman on political resolution on Syria also should be considered. Kuwait has also changed its position against the dominance of extremist groups on decision-making in Syrian.
Saudi Arabia’s decision to a détente with Syria can be attributed to different causes, including:

-22 months of resistance by Assad and Syrian Army

-The strengthening of the Salafist groups’ role in Syrian and fear that the group’s activities spread to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

-positions taken by some Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, especially UAE, on Muslim Brotherhood

-US probable retrenching after reelection of Obama and John Kerry’s nomination for post of Secretary of State, as one famous for friendship with Assad.

-UK concerns over a new Salafi-al-Qaida wave in Syria and fear of spread of the wave to European countries and terrorist activities in these countries is also significant.


Secretary-General of Egypt's Ikhwan al-Muslemin (Muslim Brotherhood) Ibrahim al-Masri said praised Iran for its six-point peace plan for resolving the Syrian crisis, and said that both sides (the Syrian government and opposition forces) should be committed to Iran's plan.


Syria government sources, however, say the militants entered the base after government troops left it according to an army evacuation order a few days ago and that all important military equipment deployed there as well as officers, pilots and soldiers were evacuated before the arrival of militants.

It is believed that the Syrian army has left behind only useless military equipment and weapons.

An opposition watchdog also said that the Syrian military had removed all its helicopters from the base, except for 20 which were no longer in working condition.


More than 50 countries asked the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to refer the crisis to the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes people for genocide and war crimes. But Russia - Assad's long-standing ally and arms supplier - blocked the initiative, calling it "ill-timed and counterproductive."
Each side in the 22-month-old conflict blamed the other for Tuesday's blasts at the University of Aleppo, located in a government-held area of Syria's most populous city.


When I shared these experiences with Abu al-Hassan, a Jabha fighter, he smiled approvingly. "Civilians are fed up with the FSA. There is lots of stealing, lots of bad treatment of civilians," he said. Abu al-Hassan then listed off the reasons why his organization is so popular. One stood out among his litany. "The FSA just accuses people of being shabiha and takes them away without proof. We require two witnesses."

The organization did not haphazardly choose the number. Islamic law requires two able-bodied male witnesses to prosecute someone, in order to protect innocent people from being wrongly accused for personal or financial motives.

Islamic justice would likely have spared Ibrahim, the mentally challenged prisoner I interviewed, his anguish in the room across the hall from me. Though his captors offered me no proof of his crimes, during the night they continuously humiliated him to the point of tears. Behind thick steel doors the sounds of a grown man crying were all I could make out. And his torment has left Ibrahim just one more Syrian whom the FSA lost from their dwindling role of supporters.


The United States made a halfhearted attempt to grapple with this problem of transition in Syria, by encouraging “military councils” in Aleppo, Idlib and other areas. The idea was that these groups would foster disciplined command and control among the rebels — helping them overcome Assad and also providing some structure for orderly transition and governance. But Syrian sources say that the military councils have largely dissolved, partly because the United States and its allies never used them effectively to funnel aid to the rebels.
In this anarchic situation, the disciplined Jabhat al-Nusra is “gaining popularity,” notes the assessment, because of its steps to serve the public, including: “No looting or violating civilian properties; shares gains among all participant battalions; does not care about claiming credit; if they gain essential materials (like propane gas tanks) they distribute them to the public for free.” If this trend continues, “the extremist groups will turn into the ‘savior’ for Syrian people from the warlords.”

While the latest reports from Syria illustrate the dangers of U.S. passivity there, they also suggest that foreign military intervention might well have created similar problems, like those seen in Libya and Iraq after their dictators were toppled. The answer in Syria is to support moderate military forces among the rebels and assist a stable transition — keeping intact important institutions of the Syrian state but under new political management.


“The reporting we have seen from media sources regarding alleged chemical weapons incidents in Syria has not been consistent with what we believe to be true about the Syrian chemical weapons program,” White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.

He was responding to a report in Foreign Policy magazine that a secret US State Department cable had concluded the Syrian military likely used poison gas against its own people in a deadly attack last month.


Syria and Iran have agreed a $1 billion credit facility between Commercial Bank of Syria and Export Development Bank of Iran, Syrian state television reported on Wednesday.


As the Independent's Patrick Cockburn reports, Syria is many conflicts rolled into one; the center of two regional struggles: a long-running confrontation between Sunni and Shiite factions across the Muslim world and the conflict that pits the U.S., its European allies, Israel, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) headed by Saudi Arabia, against Iran and its friends Iraq, Alawite Syria, Hezbolla in Lebanen and Hamas in Gaza.

Syria is also backed by Russia, which has given Damascus very effective, hypersonic Iskandar surface-to-surface missiles, and ground-to-air multiple target defense system Pechora 2M, that have the Pentagon worried about the effectiveness of any Syrian no-fly-zone.

A dozen Russian warships from the Northern, Baltic and Black Sea fleets are converging on the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Aden, as part of a large-scale strategic exercise. Russian intentions are obvious, even though it declares this has nothing to do with the situation in Syria.
Washington wants Basher al-Assad out to deprive Iran of a key ally. But it obviously does not want to see a balkanized Syria dominated by the jihadists. Will it go along with a post-Assad Syria ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood? MB has already taken over Egypt not much to U.S. liking. It is out to topple King Abdullah II of Jordan, another of U.S. clients. There are really no good options for Washington.


Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad swept through a small farming village in central Syria this week, torching houses and shooting and stabbing residents in an attack that killed up to 106 people, including women and children, activists said today.
A government official in Damascus flatly denied the reports of carnage, saying no such killings took place in the area at all. He said "the army protects civilians and their properties," and accused rebels of using civilians as "human shields. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
{Taking a page from the White House Press Secretary?}
However, the pro-government daily Al-Watan reported today that Syrian troops advanced in the countryside of Homs "cleansing the villages of Haswiyeh and Dweir as well as their fields" from gunmen. It did not elaborate.


“…We are even ready to negotiate with armed groups that tend to lay down their weapons because they are the children of the Syria who have been misled by the plots of the enemies, and our aim is to return them to our national society,” said al-Halqi in a Wednesday farewell meeting with Iran's First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi.

Commenting on a peace initiative put forward by President Bashar al-Assad to settle the unrest in the Arab country, al-Halqi said in the plan, the Syrian government has tried to consider negotiations with all political groups and parties in the country.

The premier also praised Iran’s support for the Arab country and hailed cooperation agreements signed with his Iranian counterparts during his two-day visit of Tehran.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

In a more sane, rational and just world, ending the cruel and horrific sanctions would be a no brainer... as would pulling US military out of the 120 plus nations where they are involved... Which of course is not likely to happen anytime soon. Making the world safe for corrupt, crony, predatory, monopolistic capitalism is the US raison d'etre... Slaughtering/murdering innocent people is just a side benefit...

norske's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I fear you are correct, sir.


Rodger, I know there are some exploring the option of suing the US over the sanctions. Sanctions against the US might be more of a reality sooner than expected.


Also, if anyone who opposes the sanctions on Iran and Syria will probably find the news Rand Paul delivered to Mahmoud Abbas disturbing:


"The source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity the Republican Senator told Abbas after a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah that the United States will impose sanctions on the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) if it decided to join UN agencies."

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

norske's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


“I tell the young men who carried arms to change and reform, take part in the dialogue for a new Syria and you will be a partner in building it. Why carry arms,” al-Moallem said in the hour-long interview. “Those who want foreign intervention will not be among us.”


Meanwhile Assad's mother Anisa Makhluf has left the war-torn country and joined her daughter in Dubai, Syrian expatriates in the United Arab Emirates and an activist said on Sunday.

Makhluf's "departure from Syria is another indication of Assad losing support even from within his family," said Ayman Abdel Nour, head of the newly formed group Syrian Christians for Democracy.


Meanwhile, Syria's foreign ministry criticised a petition by UN rights chief Navi Pillay and 58 countries calling for a war crimes case against Damascus to be opened at the International Criminal Court.

"The Syrian government regrets the persistence of these countries in following the wrong approach and refusing to recognise the duty of the Syrian state to protect its people from terrorism imposed from abroad," it said.

Those countries, are "hindering the Syrian national dialogue for a peaceful settlement of the crisis as proposed by Assad on January 6." Those talks would only include opposition forces tolerated by the regime, disqualifying the vast majority of the country's rebels.

Rebels offered a stark reply on Saturday by assassinating Khaled al-Hilal, a local official responsible for arranging any such talks in the southern province of Daraa.


The head of the 22-member bloc urged the Arab leaders to call "the UN Security Council for an immediate meeting and to issue a resolution enforcing a ceasefire to stop the bloodbath".

He also called for an "international monitoring force to make sure that fighting has stopped".
About four million Syrians, half of them driven from their homes by the fighting, are in urgent need of aid, the UN says.

But the opposition Syrian National Coalition warned following talks in Istanbul that it would pressure the UN to stop the delivery of any form of aid to the Assad regime.

"The participants decided to form a committee to move diplomatically and pressure the United Nations to stop delivery of any aid, approved under a plan to respond to Syria humanitarian needs last month, to the official Syrian institutions," it said.
On the ground, fierce fighting raged between rebels and forces loyal to Assad, including militias, as the Observatory reported the formation of a new paramilitary force of men and women, some trained by key ally Iran, to fight what is now becoming a guerrilla war.


The head of Syria's opposition coalition has flown to Qatar to secure promises of financial aid for a transitional government in rebel-held areas, sources at negotiations in Istanbul said on Sunday.

The talks on agreeing a transitional government had been hit by disagreement over whether a transitional government could survive when the Syrian National Coalition President Moaz Alkhatib left in the middle of deliberations, the sources said.


Syria's main rebel group said yesterday that it had postponed a decision on forming a government-in-exile at its meeting in Istanbul.

The organisation, which has so far found it almost impossible to agree on anything significant, said that it needs guarantees of support from dissident forces on the ground inside Syria.

The Syrian National Council, a key part of the opposition, said that a five-member panel had been formed at Sunday's meeting to consult concerned parties, including the Free Syria Army and "friendly countries."


The Syrian opposition is set for more talks in Paris on January 28, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told radio station Europe 1.


...Both newly-organised and veteran Syrian opposition coalitions have long preferred to keep the billions of dollars provided by the Qatar monarchy for the battle against the Syrian government in their own personal bank accounts in the USA and other countries. After receiving enormous sums of money, meanwhile, several leaders of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have disappeared for good, virtually breaking all ties with the revolution. For this reason, donors in Qatar decided several months ago that they would only finance specific military operations in Syria, which in turn lead to an increase in the number of ostentatious, and therefore weak, attacks. ...


Arms used or procured in Libya’s 2011 revolution have helped to promote a rebellion across the border in Mali and turned up in last week’s assault in neighboring Algeria that left at least 23 hostages dead, French officials said.
“There was already mounting skepticism about arming the Syrian rebels, and what happened in Algeria will make them that much more cautious,” Joshi said yesterday in a telephone interview. “It will certainly weigh on the debate.”

Weapons from Libya have shown up in Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria and possibly the Gaza Strip, the Civil-Military Fusion Centre, a Norfolk, Virginia-based organization that assists in the sharing of crisis information by military and civilian groups, said in a November report. Groups involved in the revolution also attacked the U.S. and Italian consulates in Benghazi, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya in September.


A top secret memo sent by the Ministry of Interior in Saudi Arabia reveals the Saudi Kingdom sent death-row inmates, sentenced to execution by decapitation, to Syria to fight Jihad against the Syrian government in exchange for commuting their sentences.
Initially Saudi Arabia denied the existence of this program. But the testimony of the released prisoners forced the Saudi government to admit, in private circles, its existence.

According to the former Iraqi MP, the Russians threatened to bring this issue to the United Nations if the Saudis continued working against President Bashar al-Assad. The Saudis agreed to stop their clandestine activities and work towards finding a political solution on condition that knowledge of this program would not be made public.


The Kurdish National Council, a pro-opposition umbrella group of Syrian Kurdish parties, condemned what it said was an ongoing assault "against unarmed civilians" by jihadist insurgents on the northern town of Ras al-Ain.


With Arab rebels entangling government forces to the west and south, the Kurds, who make up around 10 percent of the population, have exploited the vacuum to set up the Kurdish schools and cultural centers long denied them under Baath party rule, as well as police and armed militias.

But they have remained at arm's length from the increasingly Islamist-dominated mostly Sunni Arab rebels, fearing that these would not honor the autonomy aspirations of a region that holds a significant part of Syria's estimated 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil reserves.


Members of the Turkish Youth Union (TGB), affiliated to the Turkey Workers’ Party, attacked the soldiers in the center of the city on Tuesday and tried to put sacks on their heads.

Turkish media quoted Iskendurun Prosecutors Office as saying that 14 activists have been arrested and 28 others charged with intentionally attempting to cause harm.

Also on Tuesday, Turkish protesters staged a rally in the capital Ankara to voice opposition to the deployment of NATO’s missile system and the presence of foreign troops in the country.

Over the past days, similar protests have been held in front of the German and US embassies.


"If the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is toppled, the line of resistance in the face of Israel will be broken," Ali Akbar Velayati, who is seen as a potential contender in Iran's June presidential election, said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

"We believe that there should be reforms emanating from the will of the Syrian people, but without resorting to violence and obtaining assistance from the (United States of) America," he told Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen satellite television.


Sergei Markov, a political analyst and former lawmaker with President Vladimir Putin's party, said Russia believed Assad will fall and "may believe it is time to start gradually pulling its citizens out".


Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that global inaction on the bloodbath in Syria is a warning to many countries that they cannot count on outsiders' help — no matter how dire the circumstances.

He suggested, in an ironic twist, that this applied to Israel itself, discouraging its people from backing risks for peace, such as the return of strategic Palestinian territories in exchange for various assurances.


The maneuvers will continue until January 29 and comprise more than 60 drills, including anti-submarine warfare missions, missile and artillery firing practices.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Note that the first quote seems to imply that there is a possibility for individuals to leave a group not allowed in the talks proposed by Assad. The rebels seem to be increasingly desperate as they actually advocate that the U.N. not be able to deliver aid. They cannot bring themselves to relinquish the precondition that Assad be step down or that he be subject to criminal prosecution for war crimes. The press never mentions any voice that advocates for taking up Syria's case at the U.N., investigating the role of outsiders in supplying arms and fighters. Thus it seems that those who argue that the goal is to make Syria a failed state may be correct; there is no guarantee that whatever government replaces Assad's will in fact cause Syria to exit the "axis of resistance." Neither, however, is there any guarantee that if Assad falls that Russia will discontinue its relationship with the Syrians.

The insistance on Assad's fall arguably stems from attempts by the West to keep the opposition chained to the support of the west; it is a demand exacted by the West from the rebels in an attempt to guarantee that the rebels will agree to the foreign policy demands of the West. Russia is not part of the "axis of resistance," however, so Assad's fall is mainly a goal necessary according to the West's desire that Syria not have the ability to utilize the weapons the Assad regime gets from Russia. Aware that it is impossible to change the minds of Syrians' whose territory was captured by Israel, the goal of the U.S. is to make sure that Syria's ties to Russia are broken.

The most difficult or impossible piece of information to interpret is Assad's family leaving to Dubai. Has the United Arab Emirates, generally acknowledged to be one of the states involved in arming the rebel's, decided no longer to do so? Has there been some sort of gentlemen's agreement made prior to an escalation of the conflict which looks increasingly likely to occur? Did they pack up and flee of their own accord with the help of people inside the regime? Is it a lie or false rumor?

Its the kind of thing that feeds conspiracy theories. While I have entertained such theories at times in previous threads on this topic, it is not the type of interpretation I find most likely to be true. Yes, there are war profiteers who pull strings behind the scenes hoping to profit off the death and destruction. Perhaps the U.S. is controlled by such interests explaining why while the CIA was directing support through the border with Turkey the success of the radical jihadists might indicate that most of the material support went to their factions, most notably the one listed on the U.S. terrorist group list. But while these types of considerations remain a factor in analysis, the shifting of forces within the context of the broader development in the Middle East are the developments most likely to explain what is driving events.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


The relevant precedent is the so-called “Anbar Awakening” in Iraq in 2006, when socially conservative but not particularly fundamentalist Sunni elites in western Iraq got nervous about the growing role of al Qaeda in their anti-US resistance (and AQ’s challenge to their local authority and personal safety), switched over to cooperation with the United States, and participated in a counterinsurgency raree cum death squad purge of the jihadis.
However, Prince Saud has drawn the line in the sand, indicating that Saudi Arabia is optimistic about a scenario of total regime collapse—and a subsequent political endgame in which Saudi allies occupy a privileged and protected position in the new power structure instead of getting massacred by a tag team of threatened Sunni citizens and the newly “democratic” Syrian army.


Last month The Times of London reported that a Libyan ship "carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria … has docked in Turkey." The shipment reportedly weighed 400 tons and included SA-7 surface-to-air anti-craft missiles and rocket-propelled grenades.


He said Syrian opposition leaders and representatives of some 50 nations and organisations would meet in Paris on January 28 to discuss how to fulfil previous commitments.


According to investigative journalist Silvia Cattori, the barbaric bombing of Aleppo University on January 15 has been officially claimed by the terrorist group the Al Nousra Front. This confirmation should not come as a surprise to those who have been following closely events in the Levant since March 17, 2011, when unknown snipers opened fire in the Southern Syrian town of Deraa killing several policemen and innocent protestors.
The callous silence of the Western governments at the massacre in Aleppo contrasted sharply with the strong and unequivocal condemnations that came from Brazil, Venezuela, Russia, and China. The emerging powers in the world are bearing witness to the self-destruction of Western civilization through an excess of hubris, greed and megalomania.
...There are signs that Jordan may realign itself with Iraq, Iran, and Syria after signing new energy deals with Iraq on January. This could be fatal for the terrorists in Western Syria, as Jordan has hitherto been used as a base for the terror campaign. The Syrian state is strong enough to survive. The spirit of the Syrian people is indomitable. The illusions of the Arab Spring have faded. No one can argue now that the Arab Spring was about democracy and human rights. The Muslim Brotherhood have taken power in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya with Western support. No one can pretend any more that the conflict in Syria is about democracy.
Responding to a question from a caller concerning Qatar’s role in funding Islamist groups, De Villepin seemed to indicate that it was possible that “certain Gulf states” were financing Islamist extremist groups in Mali and Syria. It is unfortunately impossible to reproduce De Vilepin’s exact response to the question concerning Qatar’s role in Syria and Mali as France Inter edited this from their podcast version. They also edited out De Villepin’s highly significant suggestion that France should enter into negotiations with Russia in an effort to resolve the geopolitical impasse in Syria. In short, the three most important contributions by the former French foreign minister were edited out by the war propagandists running France’s state radio. In these strange, belligerent times even the voices of moderate imperialism are anathema to the roaring dogs of war.

...As I pointed out in previous articles, the absence of a genuine, anti-imperialist Left is opening the door to far right opportunism. Marine Le Pen is a clever operator. She understands that a significant portion of the French public are baffled by Quai d’Orsay’s love affair with the Gulf despots. Le Pen alludes to this but does not explain the real reasons for this relationship. The real reasons for the French elite’s love affair with gulf despotism has to do with the convergence of class interests. The Gulf despots support neo-liberal capitalism. They are authoritarian and neo-feudal. There is nothing Western capitalists love more than authoritarian regimes who comply with western economic interests and crush all dissent. For example, Qatari poet Mohammed Al-Ajami was imprisoned for life recently for the crime of criticizing the Emir of Qatar.


On Monday, representatives from 50 countries and organizations will meet in Kuwait with two vice presidents of the National Syrian Coalition, a spokesman with the French Foreign Ministry said.


Iran considers any attack against Syria an attack on itself, an advisor to the Islamic Republic's supreme leader was quoted as saying Saturday, the strongest warning to date by a top Iranian official that Tehran will use any available means to keep the regime of President Bashar Assad in power.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Sanctions are usually applied to lower the incomes of a country's elite....pushing them into change to protect their growing wallets from international sources.

While it can lower their incomes, it usually doesn't induce change. Change would diminish their domestic power....domestic earnings as well.....and long-term.

Those suffering most are the poorist. It boosts the prices of medicines and foods. They aren't the ones making policy anymore than the poorist make policy in the U.S.

It's estimated sanctions against Iraq caused the deaths of about 400,000 children. Saddam didn't change policy. Sanctions cost him nothing.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Sanctions, which are approved by the UN Security Council, are supposedly "smart," in that they target particular individals and firms, not the country per se. Whether these "smart sanctions" are effective or have unintended consequences is a different question.

While the effectiveness of "smart" and/or dumb sanctions is debateable, military force is the only remaining option once sanctions are taken off the table.

stuff's picture
Nov. 24, 2012 4:59 pm

Sounds like a lot of government bureaucracy.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Indeed, although nobody quite wants to say it out loud and on the record, there are many signs that governments in the region and the international community are adjusting to the idea that civil war in Syria is a sort of ‘new normal’.
Cousin said that the WPF [World Food Program], taking the lead for UN agencies working inside Syria, has been able to distribute food in government-controlled, rebel -controlled and contested areas, and is now distributing blankets in some places as well. They have worked mainly through the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, whose leadership is sometimes depicted as close to the Assad government, but whose volunteers in the field try hard to serve their local communities, according to Cousin. Recently the Assad regime also provided the UN with a list of 110 nongovernmental agencies that might help in the expanded feeding program, 23 of which will probably be deemed neutral enough to participate with the WPF.


Except, perhaps, that I happen to be an American and there is plenty of anger here among the Syrian public, the NGO’s, and increasingly the international legal community among others — not toward the American people but toward the US government — over the effects of its sanctions which are severely and illegally targeting the civilian population. At the same time they are directly contributing to prospects of irreparably damaging many of this millenary country’s historic sites.
This week, the Syrian Directorate of Antiquities and Museums has released its detailed report of acts of vandalism and illegal excavations by armed groups and foreign thieves across Syria. The Directorate has documented violations against archeological sites and Syrian museums, as well the emerging phenomenon of artifact forgery. In Aleppo, the Antiquities division reported that al-Diriya caves in Samaan Mountain suffered from acts of sabotage, adding that “terrorists have looted the equipment of excavations, wooden columns and timbers.”
“Let me tell you something!” she exclaimed and launched into describing the dire effects of the current US-led sanctions on UNESCO’s work in preserving and protecting historical sites. In her view, the American assault on UNESCO and its work began when UNESCO committed a sin in March of 2011 by admitting Palestine as a full member.


A senior member of Saudi Arabia's monarchy called on Friday for Syrian rebels to be given anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to "level the playing field" in their battle against President Bashar al-Assad.
King Abdullah of Jordan, which has taken in some 300,000 Syrian refugees, 20,000 of them in the last week, told the Davos meeting that anyone who thought Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was going to fall within weeks did not understand the complex situation and the balance of forces.
Noting that Jordanian forces were still fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan alongside NATO troops, he said: "The new Taliban we are going to have to deal with will be in Syria."
He called for major powers to craft "a real and inclusive transition plan" for Syria, saying the army must be preserved intact to form the backbone of any new system and avoid the anarchy that prevailed in Iraq after the U.S.-led 2003 invasion.

The United Nations should stockpile food and emergency supplies in Jordan to be moved into areas of Syria controlled by the opposition to prevent more people leaving.
Saudi Arabia has called in the past for the rebels to be armed, but diplomats say that Western countries are reluctant to allow sophisticated weapons into the country, fearing they would fall into the hands of increasingly powerful Islamist forces.
But the Saudi prince said foreign powers should have enough information on the many rebel brigades to ensure weapons only reached specific groups.


Barak added that in the past the US has been heavy-handed but that under Barack Obama, the United States has "prepared quite sophisticated, fine, extremely fine, scalpels," if the worse comes to the worst - even though the Israeli preference would be to end the nuclear threat diplomatically , calling for tougher sanctions (though he expressed doubt that diplomacy would lead to success).


Some Syrian rebel leaders said they are angry that Western countries contemplate aiding France in its attacks on al-Qaida-linked terrorists in Mali, while continuing to be reluctant to help Syria despite nearly two years of bloodshed, the Times reported.

"In a situation like Syria, I have to ask, can we make a difference in that situation? Would a military intervention have an impact? How would it affect our ability to support troops who are still in Afghanistan? What would be the aftermath of our involvement on the ground? Could it trigger even worse violence or the use of chemical weapons? What offers the best prospect of a stable post-Assad regime?" U.S. President Barack Obama told The New Republic in an interview published Sunday.

"And how do I weigh tens of thousands who've been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo? Those are not simple questions."


nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Documents allegedly "hacked" belonging to UK-based defense contractor Britam (official website here) appear to show the company considering an offer from Qatar to use Libyan chemical weapons in Homs, Syria in order to frame both the Syrian and Russian governments. The plan involves using Britam's Ukrainian mercenaries and Soviet-era chemical weapon shells brought in from Libya's large, Al Qaeda-linked, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) controlled arsenals.


The civil conflict in Syria can be over in two weeks if foreign fighters and weapons stop trickling in through the border with Turkey, the Al-Akhbar daily in Beirut quoted the Syrian president as saying on Monday.


"It seems to me that his chances of staying [in power] are shrinking day by day," Medvedev said in remarks to CNN television on the sidelines of the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland.


With tensions rising on Israel’s northern frontier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said Israel and the United States were exercising “very close cooperation on developing matters in Syria.”


Silvan Shalom, a vice prime minister, described the movement of such weapons as a “red line” that could lead to Israeli military action.


From the personal to the political, Assad surprises his guests "by his intricate reading of the situation in this phase." This comment was repeated by several people who saw him recently. He speaks about "the minutest details in the Syrian provinces. His information encompasses a street here and the news of a small neighborhood there. The reports he receives are comprehensive, even when they’re not to his liking."
The externally-funded armed groups received strong blows recently which will be followed by further measures that will lead to wiping out this al-Qaeda branch altogether.“Instead, they became false witnesses claiming that the Syrian state is acting in a sectarian manner. Logic says that we should expect them to tell the truth. We understand the circumstances of some of them, and we would have accepted their silence if they had been unable to be rightful witnesses.”
He told his visitors that “the externally-funded armed groups received strong blows recently. This development intersects with an international move, most prominently the inclusion of al-Nusra Front on the terrorism list, which will be followed by further measures that will lead to wiping out this al-Qaeda branch altogether.”

Assad believes that the US is not ready for a solution in the time being. He believes Russia will continue to support him. “It is protecting itself, not the Syrian regime,” he explained, stressing that “we will not budge on the articles of the Geneva agreement.”


President Barack Obama authorized an additional $155 million in humanitarian aid for the Syrian people Tuesday, as his administration grapples for a way to stem the violence there without direct U.S. military involvement.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Earlier in the day, Syrian rebels stormed a government intelligence complex in the oil-rich east of the country, freeing at least 11 people held in a prison at the facility, activists said.
The activists said the compound was run by the Political Security Department, one of Syria’s four most powerful intelligence agencies.
Back on the front line in Aleppo, a veiled female sniper who identified herself as Givara told the AP that when she decided to fight against Assad’s troops people used to tell her that it would be difficult as a woman.

“No it’s not difficult ... I want to defend my life,” she said, adding that her husband is proud of her and that she was fighting because she didn’t want to see her children reduced to “pieces of flesh” by government attacks.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Samir Kazaz put his head down as a fighter forced his way through the crowd outside the Military Bread Factory and the people around him teetered back like falling pins.

They had all been standing in line for almost three hours for their daily bag of pita bread when the fighter from the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) shot to the head of the line just before 2 a.m.
These irritations are pinpricks compared with what really annoys residents: the FSA’s arbitrary stops and arrests. Fighters detain civilians at checkpoints on the slightest suspicions.
It is not just the FSA’s battlefield tactics that have Syrians irate, but who they recruit. Teenagers barely old enough to sprout stubble have begun popping up at the front, carrying Kalashnikov rifles and emulating the older fighters by smoking cheap cigarettes with fancy French names.


Syrian opposition supporters demanded financial aid and heavy weaponry from the international community and asked for keeping promises in the meeting.


The meeting in Paris, attended also by three Syrian National Coalition vice-presidents, comes two days before a donors conference in Kuwait.

Promises of funding and other aid made at a December conference in Marrakech, Morocco of the Friends of Syria group have failed to materialize. France, which has spearheaded the formation of a viable opposition in exile, wants to make sure that already promised backing comes through.


Mr. Carney, meanwhile, said Tuesday that “the dangers of operating in Syria mean that many Syrians may not know that the aid they are receiving is provided by the United States.”

“It is a cruel fact that humanitarian aid providers and recipients are being deliberately targeted in Syria,” he said. “Our priority is to get American aid to those in need without endangering them or our humanitarian partners, which is why much of our aid is provided quietly and without fanfare and acknowledgment.”


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chances of remaining in power are diminishing and he must sit at the negotiating table with all of Syria’s ethnic and religious groups to bring an end to the country’s civil war, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said.


Regional security officials say Israel conducted an airstrike inside Syria overnight near the border with Lebanon.
They said the shipment included sophisticated, Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically "game-changing" in the hands of Hezbollah.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Assuming that Obama himself was not the architect of the so-called "Libya scenario" or complicit in it, then there is no indication that if Obama authorizes military intervention that he will retain authority over the military. At no point in the last two years has this question been breached. Otherwise, arguably, the enforcement of a no-fly zone would have resulted in the fewest civilian deaths.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Syria's opposition chief Moaz al-Khatib said on Wednesday he is ready for dialogue with officials of President Bashar al-Assad's regime, subject to conditions including that some 160,000 detainees are released.


"Israeli fighter jets violated our airspace at dawn today and carried out a direct strike on a scientific research centre in charge of raising our level of resistance and self-defence," Syria's army said.
On Monday, Israel's Maariv newspaper said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had "urgently dispatched" his National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror to Moscow to ask Russia to use its influence in Syria to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons.


Israel declined to comment, as did U.S. officials, who deferred to Israel, a key security partner. The response was similar to the silence that followed Israel’s bombing five years ago of a suspected Syrian nuclear reactor, an attack that U.S. officials later confirmed but that the Israelis have not acknowledged to date.
Yet, military experts cautioned that there was no independent evidence that the facility had been bombed by a foreign air force. Syria may simply be trying to blame Israel for the loss of a facility that had fallen to rebels or been destroyed by other means, said Anthony Cordesman, a senior analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

Quote Alberto Ceras 2:

This summary from UK’s Guardian suggests that Syria may have the ability to retaliate and that it will. Assad may yet emerge from Syria’s civil war damaged but in control while Iran and Russia remain allies. The Mid East appears, from my perspective, ready to go up in flames at any moment. A relatively innocuous event might be the spark that ignites it.



Syria has threatened to retaliate for Wednesday's Israeli air strike near the capital, Damascus. Syria's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul-Karim, said Damascus had "the option and the surprise to retaliate". Iran's deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said the attack would have "significant implications" for the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

The entire article:


Syria threatens retaliation for Israeli airstrike

January 31, 2013 | Modified: January 31, 2013 at 12:01 pm

“Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali threatened retribution for the Israeli airstrike, saying Damascus "has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation."

He told Hezbollah's al-Ahd news website that it was up to the relevant authorities to prepare the retaliation and choose the time and place.”

U.K.’s Economist has a measured and restrained commentary on Israel’s attack:

Israel v Syria

A rare Israeli attack on Syria

Jan 31st 2013, 11:15 by N.P. | JERUSALEM


“Mr Assad seems equally averse to hitting back. With half his realm in rebel hands, he hardly wants to open a new battle front. In fact, his border with Israel has been his quietest since the uprising against him began. (Even in calmer times, he held fire against his powerful Israeli neighbour after it bombed his nuclear reactor in 2008.)

Still, both Mr Assad and Hizbullah may ponder whether it may be worth having a limited confrontation with Israel. They may yet hope to find a common cause with jihadists fighting Israel, just as the Assad regime did after the American invasion of Iraq, when he helped them attack Americans there.”

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Also, Alberto (and others), while I understand if you don't feel comfortable with it, the address remains confidential (according to the website), its not displayed. Just used to make sure no dupes. I wouldn't lie about anything of course, but you might be able to fill it out with just the street name I don't know.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Israel might be looking to Annex a bit more

The Mideast is stumbling into one of its most dangerous crisis in decades. I’m just back from the region – and as an old Mideast hand, I am very worried.

This region is always tense, but right now a series of separate conflicts are rapidly beginning to intersect. We see the Mideast, North Africa and the Sahara buffeted by revolutions and counter-revolutions. Old colonial powers France and Britain, and the US, are trying to reassert their domination in the region. The jihadist are back.

In a brazen act of war, Israel launched airstrikes on Syria last Wednesday in a clear attempt to worsen the crisis in that war-torn nation and challenge Syria’s ally, Iran. Israel’s forces are on high alert and may invade Syria, whose strategic Golan Heights were seized and annexed by Israel. Will more Syrian land follow?

douglaslee's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


The Syrian military has denied the existence of any weapons shipment and said a scientific research facility outside Damascus was hit by the Israeli fighter jets.


In reality, the pressure placed on Syria's borders by both Israel and its partner, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey in the north, is part of a documented plan to relieve pressure on the Western, Israeli, Saudi-Qatari armed and funded militants operating inside Syria.


Wednesday's reported attack came days after Israel moved its Iron Dome defence system to the north of the country.


On the same day it became known that citizens of the Jewish state were stocking up on gas masks. The demand for them tripled at the end of January. Many Israelis believe that their country could face an assault with Syrian chemical weapons, RBC reports.


“It finally makes sense because the rebels or as they like to call themselves the revolutionaries, they have been attacking air defense bases near Damascus for the past seven months,” Dr. Mohamad said. “They’ve managed to attack the S-200 base and over four other surface-to-air missile bases. Now this followed by an airstrike from Israel. So it all adds up, it makes sense. It only shows that Israel has a great interest in the instability in Syria and that it is being helped by groups of armed rebels in Syria.”


Syrian opposition leaders and rebels on Friday slammed President Bashar Assad for not responding to a rare Israeli airstrike near Damascus, calling it proof of his weakness and acquiescence to the Jewish State.

In 2003 and again in 2007, Israeli warplanes struck targets in Syria. And in 2006, Israeli jets flew over Assad's palace in a show of force after Syrian-backed militants captured an Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip.

Syrian vowed to retaliate for the attacks but never did.

On Friday, Syria's opposition coalition criticized the government for not defending the country against the latest Israeli air raid, saying the Syrian army is too busy shelling civilian areas in Syria.


Maayteh recalled suicide bombings of hotels in Amman that killed 70 people in 2005, attacks claimed by Al Qaeda in Iraq, then led by a Jordanian Islamist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.


The head of the Syrian opposition Moaz Alkhatib will meet Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on Saturday on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich, a diplomatic source told Reuters.


US Vice President Joe Biden said on Saturday the US and its partners were pushing to help strengthen the Syrian opposition, insisting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was a "tyrant" and must go.


Israel on Sunday implicitly confirmed it staged an air strike on Syria last week as President Bashar al-Assad accused the Jewish state of trying to further destabilise his war-torn country.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, quoted in Hurriyet newspaper, mocked Syria for its failure to retaliate against its longtime arch-foe.
Video distributed by activists showed a man describing the carnage. "I saw a 13-year-old's body sprawled on the ground, I saw mutilated body parts everywhere," he told the amateur cameraman.



The gravity of Israel’s concern about the convoy and the research site was underlined by reports that officials briefed not only America but also the Kremlin before the attack.

There is growing awareness in the Israeli military that the collapse of the Syrian regime could suck the Jewish state into a long-term commitment in Syria.


Elsewhere in Syria, army troops battled rebels in oil-rich Deir al-Zor in the east, along Syria’s border with Iraq. In the north fighting was concentrated around the battlefield city of Aleppo, particularly along the road that links the city with its airport.
Rebels captured the strategic Sheikh Said neighborhood on Saturday. It was a significant blow to regime forces that have been battling rebels for control of Aleppo since last summer. The army used the road to supply troops.


A plan developed last summer by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA Director David Petraeus to arm and train Syrian rebels was rebuffed by the White House, The New York Times reported on Saturday.


Syria, which had earlier threatened a surprise revenge attack, is reported to have positioned at least four scud-type missiles which are ready to fire at Israel.
The decision to deploy the missiles came a day after the Israeli air raid. Syria's ally Russia has urged Damascus to avoid retaliation in order to prevent a full-fledged war in the region, according to the report.
Assad has also threatened to retaliate strongly for the Israeli air strike saying the attack was intended to destabilise his country. Assad made his remarks for the first time after the attack, following a meeting with Iran's National Security Council Secretary, Saeed Jalili, according to the official Sana news agency.

Mohammed Dirar Jammu, the chief of political and international relations at the Arab Organisation of Arab expatriates, told the pro-Syrian regime Alakhbarya channel: "The Syrian military response to the Israeli bombing of the research centre, in Damascus, will be earthshaking and staggering to Israel, very soon."
"Those who have been treating Israel like a spoilt child should expect anything from them, at any time. As I say time and again, Israel has a mentality of waging state terrorism. Right now, there is no telling what it might do and where it might do it," said Erdogan.


“As the Zionist regime [of Israel] regretted its aggression and hostility during its 33-day, 22-day and 8-day wars, it will also regret this attack [on Syria],” Jalili said during a press conference in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Monday.
He reaffirmed Iran’s readiness to proceed with talks with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - China, Russia, France, Britain and the US -- plus Germany (the P5+1) and called on the six powers to take a constructive approach in future negotiations.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


In Damascus, prominent Syrian Parliamentarian Fayez Sayegh told The Associated Press that any dialogue must begin without preconditions. He also called Khatib's number of opposition supporters in Syrian custody "exaggerated," although he did not give an alternate number.

"What is important is for Syrians to meet and agree on common ground for talks," Sayegh said, adding that al-Khatib's proposals, such as the prisoner release, should come "as a result of a dialogue, not before it begins."

Human rights organizations say tens of thousands of opposition leaders, protesters and their families are being held by state security services in Syria.

"The regime either has to admit that it has pushed the country to a scary state of complications and destruction and now feels this and negotiates to achieve the removal (of Assad) with the least losses or it takes another position," Khatib told Al-Arabiya television. "All the others issues are less important than this."

San Francisco Chronicle, pg A2, World, News of the Day ital:From Across The Globe:, #2
bold:Peace offer:: Syria's opposition coalition gave qualified backing Monday to its leader's surprise offer last week for a dialogue with President Bashar Al Assad to end the civil war, pressing him to respond definitively and even offering the added inducement that he could avoid trial if he resigned and left the country. Although the offer made by Mouaz al-Khatib was initially greeted with a torrent of criticism inside the Syrian opposition movement, his colleagues in the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces basically endorsed it over the weekend.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


In Jobar, a working-class Sunni Muslim area adjacent to Abbasid Square, mosque speakers chanted "God is Greatest" in support of opposition fighters who attacked roadblocks in the neighbourhood, activists told the Reuters news agency.

They said tanks stationed on the edge of the central district of Midan, just outside the walls of Old Damascus, shelled southern districts of the city.


Abdel Razzaq's "military academy" is a former school, located in northern Syria's Aleppo province. Before being sent off to the front, the boys receive two hours of training a day for three months.

The boys' families are eager that they are trained well before they are sent off to fight the army.


Consequently, only a select group of fighters qualify to receive funds from the Syrian Support Group (SSG), the organisation where Mr Sayers works and the only group licensed by US authorities to fund the rebels.

Those constraints are at least one of the reasons why the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), the main anti-Assad political bloc, announced this week that is it planning to open offices in Washington and New York. Najib Ghadbian, an associate professor of political science and Middle East studies at the University of Arkansas who was born in the Damascus suburbs, will lead both offices.


Nuland said the US filed a complaint with Turkey and pointed out the primary need to focus on Syrian President Bashar Assad's violence against his own people. Turkey's PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that "History will not forgive the State of Israel." On Saturday the Turkish FM said that Assad must retaliate to the Israeli strike. (Yitzhak Benhorin, Washington)


The embattled Syrian government has assigned at least two senior officials to reach out to the political opposition inside and outside Syria, in the latest efforts to start a national reconciliation dialogue proposed by President Bashar al-Assad, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told reporters on Wednesday.
"We hope the dialogue could start within two months," Mekdad said. "But the violence on the ground must be ended before any talks and the participants of the dialogue must be all Syrians, although it is not necessarily to take place inside Syria."
"We hope the dialogue could start within two months," Mekdad said. "But the violence on the ground must be ended before any talks and the participants of the dialogue must be all Syrians, although it is not necessarily to take place inside Syria."
Syria is "grateful" to China for its impartial stance on the Syrian issue and hopes countries like China, Russia and Iran can continue to support a peaceful resolution to the entangled problems, Mekdad added.


He said the preferred outcome would be "free elections, and the Syrian people are the ones who decide Syria's fate".
Ahmadinejad, the first Iranian president to visit Egypt since the two countries severed ties after Iran's Islamic revolution in 1979, met Egyptian and Turkish leaders on Wednesday to discuss the Syrian conflict.


Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Tuesday backed a call by the leader of Syria's main opposition group for talks with the Damascus regime aimed at ending nearly 23 months of bloodshed in the country, AFP reported.

Arabi also offered to play a role in any negotiations for a democratic transition in Syria, where tens of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting between rebels and President Bashar al-Assad's forces.


Syrian opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib said the Syrian government had until Sunday to release all women detainees, otherwise he would regard his offer for dialogue as rejected by President Bashar al-Assad, BBC Arabic said.
"They refused my suggestion to enlist the name of Vice President Farouk al-Shara as a party of dialogue," he said. "I insist on dialogue with Farouk al-Shara."


“We are witnessing another Arab country losing its Christian Assyrian minority. When it happened in Iraq nobody believed Syria’s turn would come. Christian Assyrians are fleeing massively from threats, kidnappings, rapes and murders. Behind the daily reporting about bombs there is an ethno-religious cleansing taking place, and soon Syria can be emptied of its Christians.”


It's unclear whether Kerry has formed his own opinion. Asked during his confirmation hearing last month about new options for Syria, he said he needed to first see the administration's contingency plans.


When the proposal to arm the rebels was put forward last summer, Obama was in the middle of election season and didn't want to get embroiled in a war. The public debate about Syria has often been framed in terms of all out intervention or nothing, but there are many other options on the table and it's becoming clear there's been intense debate within the administration about the options.
Mr Panetta is stepping down, with Chuck Hagel nominated as his successor.

Mr Hagel, a former Republican senator who broke with his party over the Iraq war, endured a testy confirmation hearing last week.

No vote has yet been scheduled for his confirmation.


Critics have assailed the administration for not sending arms to the rebel fighters, but Carney noted there is “no shortage of weapons in the country.” He added, “That’s why we’ve focused our efforts on helping the opposition to become stronger, more cohesive and more organized."
“I don’t know what the discussions were in the White House and who said what, and I’m not going to go backward,” Kerry said. “This is a new administration now, the president’s second term, I’m a new secretary of state, and we’re going forward from this point.”

But Kerry acknowledged “serious questions about al Nusra and AQI, al Qaida from Iraq, coming in and other violent groups on the ground.”


Syria's UN ambassador says there is "no truth" to reports that an Israeli airstrike last week which seriously damaged a scientific research center had targeted a convoy heading to neighboring Lebanon.


Late Friday, al-Zoubi said Damascus was ready for dialogue with the opposition so long as the rebels lay down their weapons. He said anyone who responds will not be harmed.

The initiative is unlikely to gain any traction among the Syrian opposition and fighters on the ground, a highly decentralized force with weak links to the political leaders that deeply distrusts the regime. Most groups are unlikely to stop fighting so long as Assad remains president.


Alkhatib last month offered to hold talks with Assad's ceremonial deputy Farouq al-Shara about an exit for Assad if the authorities started releasing tens of thousands of political prisoners jailed since the eruption of the 22-month uprising.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The last set shows offers and counteroffers along with both honest and merely formal endorsements. Enough simultaneous activity is occuring to indicate that a wider regional resolution can proceed without the U.S. becoming further involved. Rather than a single process being initiated several spates of bargaining will occur as the economic toll affects all parties. The high level of diplomatic involvement overall should be able to close this process within at least a few months.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


In spite of the sanctions, the Iranian people are not intrinsically hostile toward the American people, but to the foreign policy of the U.S. government. In fact, after the September 11th hijackings, many Iranians participated in vigils in support of the victims.

U.S. intervention in Iran's affairs reached their high-watermark in 1953 when the U.S. and Great Brittan sponsored a coup d'état to oust Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq because he nationalized the oil fields. The coup restored Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the "Shah of Iran," to supremacy. Unfortunately, under the Shah's iron-fisted rule, secret police tortured and killed political opponents, causing many Iranians to become hostile toward their own government.

During the Iran-Iraq War, the Reagan administration delisted Saddam Hussein as a state sponsor of terror so that the U.S. could send military and economic aid to Iraq. In taking this position, the U.S. turned a blind eye toward the chemical weapons Iraq was using against the Iranians.

Amazingly, the Iranian people do not hold a collective grudge against the American people for its government's support of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. Why, then, alienate the Iranian citizenry by inflating their economy and making it difficult for the Iranian people to subsist?


The new sanctions also target the Iranian Cyber Police, a unit formed in 2009 that has hacked into email accounts related to political action, deleted anti-government blogs and arrested bloggers, the Treasury said. The Iran Electronics Industries, which the Treasury said had helped the government crush activism by monitoring text messages, was also targeted by the sanctions. ... But the measures could reward Iran's oil customers for working with the United States on the sanctions by forcing Tehran to buy their products. "By bottling up this revenue in each one of these countries, it will I think enhance the attractiveness of the goods they sell to Iran," he said.

The extra revenues from sales of their goods could make it easier for India, Turkey and South Korea and other Iran oil customers to continue to seek alternatives to Iranian oil even if petroleum prices go higher.

Washington is expected to keep pressuring Iran's customers to make deeper cuts, as dictated by the U.S. sanctions law.

The new measure has not sat well with all of Iran's customers. India, Iran's second largest oil customer, plans to seek an exception to the new provision.


A European Union court has ruled that the EU should lift sanctions it imposed on one of Iran's largest banks, the second such judgment that could complicate Western efforts to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic.


"The Council (of EU governments) is in breach of the obligation to state reasons and the obligation to disclose to the applicant ... the evidence adduced against it," the court said in its ruling.


EU diplomats, who fear the rulings could undermine the sanctions program, say they face the challenge of providing sufficient justification while not compromising intelligence sources when they are drafting sanctions lists.


A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said EU institutions would examine the ruling, but gave no further comment.

She is due to lead a delegation representing six world powers in talks with Iran that resume in Kazakhstan on February 26, aimed at defusing the nuclear stand-off.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


In an interview in Cairo with the Saudi-owned, London-based Asharq al-Awsat, Maliki said U.S. President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton had told him Assad would fall "within two months".

He did not say when he had spoken to them.

Maliki said Assad would not fall "even after two years."


The Daily Telegraph gained rare access to Hajji Rasoul, the senior al-Nusra commander – or “emir” – who heads the civil program. “We have enough bread to help all the liberated areas,” he said. “We have put aside enough grain to last eight months in Aleppo.

“We are subsidising farmers so that they can prepare for the harvest and replenish the stores.”

Deeply conservative, Mr Rasoul faced forward in the front seat of the car and turned the mirror to avoid an accidental glimpse of this female reporter. His words were chosen carefully. Beyond the bread project, he said, the Nusra Front was encouraging businessmen to reopen their factories – Syria’s economic engines. They were even starting a project to clean Aleppo’s streets, he said.


The Syrian regime is prepared to have dialogue with its political opponents, but without "preconditions", the information minister said Friday in response to an offer from the opposition leader.


The Dutch assessments came as France also expressed concerns about its citizens heading to Mali to join radical Islamic fighters there, even as the French army is fighting the Muslim rebels in its former colony.
"I think many of the jihad fighters who go there realize very quickly it is less romantic than they were led to believe," he said. "But at the same time they realize there is no way back."


Syrian rebels captured the country's largest dam on Monday after days of intense clashes, giving them control over water and electricity supplies for much of the country in a major blow to President Bashar Assad's regime.


Several tense confrontations have broken out in the past week between residents of largely rebel-held northwestern Syria and hardline Islamist insurgents, witnesses said on Sunday.


Iran and Hezbollah, its Lebanese proxy, are building a network of militias inside Syria to preserve and protect their interests in the event that President Bashar al-
Assad’s government falls or is forced to retreat from Damascus, according to U.S. and Middle Eastern officials.
The fragmentation of Syria along religious and tribal lines is a growing concern for neighboring governments and the administration, as the civil war approaches its third year with little sign of a political solution or military victory for either Assad’s forces or the rebels.
In a divided Syria, Iran’s natural allies would include Shiites and Alawites concentrated in provinces near Syria’s border with Lebanon and in the key port city of Latakia. Under the most likely scenarios, analysts say, remnants of Assad’s government — with or without Assad — would seek to establish a coastal enclave closely tied to Tehran, dependent on the Iranians for survival while helping Iran to retain its link to Hezbollah and thereby its leverage against Israel.


"The real revolution in Syria is over, we have been betrayed," laments a bitter Abu Mahmoud, a respected rebel leader, accusing fellow commanders of marring a "beautiful" revolt through corruption.


In an interview the governor said he supports negotiations with the rebels for ceasefires under certain conditions. Unlike most officials, he referred to them not as "terrorists" but with the neutral term "armed groups" or "armed people". His said his policy was to separate the Syrians in the opposition from foreign fighters, jihadis, and the Islamic fundamentalists known as Salafis or Takfiris who reject non-Sunnis as heretics. "I keep telling the militias that all the people of Homs are my sons. We want to follow parallel tracks: military action against the gangs who declare some people to be infidels and social action for the others, by making contact and negotiating", he said. "The problem is not guns as such. The issue is to get rid of guns from people's minds. We ask people to return to civilian life. A number of them have dropped their weapons and joined us in fighting the Salafis and Takfiris".
While the rest of his testimony could only be taken on trust, his point that Homs was enjoying a virtual ceasefire was confirmed by many other people I spoke to in the city. Whether this city, which was once a byword for wanton destruction, could one day be a model for the rest of Syria remains to be seen.


The rebels, struggling to finance their effort, have joined an emerging trade in illicitly acquired Syrian artifacts and antiquities, selling off the country’s past as the war for its future intensifies.
“People may judge us and call us thieves,” said Abu Majed, 30, a Syrian army defector who runs the southern Syrian smuggling routes, each night navigating the steep valleys separating the war zone from Jordan. “But sometimes you have to sacrifice the past in order to secure the future.”


The Syrian government is ready to send a minister abroad for talks with Moaz al-Khatib, leader of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, who recently threw rebel politics into turmoil by coming out in favour of dialogue with the regime.
Haidar's offer to meet the coalition leader is clearly designed to prevent Khatib's initiative from collapsing under resistance from rebel colleagues. Haidar pointed out that like other regime ministers he was banned from the EU under sanctions, but said Geneva was a possible venue for preliminary talks. "But we insist that the actual national dialogue take place on Syrian soil because it is a matter of Syrian dignity," he added.

He recognised that exiled politicians were concerned about being arrested if they returned to Syria. In announcing his shift toward negotiations, Khatib demanded the government renew the passports of all Syrians who were overseas so they ceased to be stateless. Haidar said the justice ministry had already started taking steps to cancel any proceedings against Syrians overseas.


The Iranian mission in Beirut on Thursday confirmed the assassination of Hassan Shateri, the head of the Iranian delegation in charge of developmental projects in Lebanon, by the terrorist groups in Syria.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


But the Red Cross, traditionally seen as a neutral player, has endeavoured to get to all areas requiring help, whoever controls them.
But the Red Cross, traditionally seen as a neutral player, has endeavoured to get to all areas requiring help, whoever controls them.

“We are about the only organisations that are able to work across the frontlines in Syria,” Cotte said.


Humanitarian groups are lobbying hard against a proposal by several U.S. senators that would turn over the delivery of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to a Syrian opposition council that’s criticized as too weak and too political to handle the responsibility.
Executives from leading international aid groups are urging Congress to reject the recommendation. They say the proposal risks the traditional neutrality of aid missions and would place delivery of aid in the hands of an organization with no network for delivering it.
The dispute over humanitarian aid comes as the Obama administration also is being criticized for refusing to provide military aid to the opposition. President Barack Obama vetoed a proposal for military assistance to the rebels that had the backing of four senior advisers, including Hillary Clinton, then the secretary of state, retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, then the CIA director, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

The White House explained that rejection last week by saying lethal aid to the rebels would endanger the Syrian people, Israel and the United States – an apparent reference to the al Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front, a rebel faction that has become its leading military arm but that was added to the State Department’s list of international terrorist groups in December.


Less than two months after the UN announced "shocking" new casualty figures in Syria, its high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay estimates that deaths are "probably now approaching 70,000". But two years into a Syrian conflict marked by daily death tolls, the question arises as to whether these kinds of statistics are helpful in any way? Have they helped save Syrian lives? Have they shamed intransigent foes into seeking a political solution? Or might they have they contributed to the escalation of the crisis by pointing fingers and deepening divisions?
As if to underline the point, Libya's new government recently announced that death tolls had been exaggerated during the 2011 Libyan civil war; that there had been around 5,000 deaths on either side – a long way from the reported tens of thousands of casualties that set the scene for Nato's "humanitarian" intervention, or the 30-50,000 deaths claimed by opponents of this intervention.
Syria's death toll leapt from 45,000 to 60,000 earlier this year, a figure gathered by a UN-sponsored project to integrate data from seven separate lists. The new numbers are routinely cited by politicians and media as fact, and used to call for foreign intervention in the conflict.

But Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), whose casualty data are part of this count, calls the UN's effort "political" and the results "propaganda".
But questions about the accuracy of casualty numbers is only part of the story. Dig deeper, and it's clear that this data also offers an insight into the Syrian conflict at odds with the story that this is essentially about a brutal regime killing peaceful civilians.

With the proviso that the data may itself prove unreliable, Benetech's research nevertheless offers some useful clues about the makeup of the recorded death toll. Only 7.5% are female, making the casualties in Syria overwhelmingly male. Second, the largest segment of the 30% of victims whose ages are included in the records are between the ages of 20 and 30 – who might be classified as males of "military age".


The Syrian government on Monday blamed a rebel attack on a key power line for a blackout that hit Damascus and much of the country's south overnight, leaving residents cold and in the dark amid a fuel crisis that has stranded many at home.

Meanwhile, Syria's main opposition postponed the selection of a prime minister and the formation of a transitional government to run the country should the regime of President Bashar Assad fall, highlighting the continued failure of Assad's opponents to unite behind a shared leader or vision nearly two years into the country's crisis.

While Damascus's 2.5 million residents have grown used to frequent power cuts as the country's conflict has damaged infrastructure and sapped the government's finances, they said Monday that the overnight outage was the first to darken the entire capital since the conflict began.


The Al Nusrah Front has now claimed credit for 51 of the 61 suicide attacks that have taken place in Syria since December 2011, according to a tally by The Long War Journal (note that multiple suicide bombers deployed in a single operation are counted as part of a single attack). Nine suicide attacks have now been reported in Syria so far this year; Al Nusrah has claimed credit for eight of them.


The eight-point framework was drawn up at a meeting of the National Coalition's interim advisory political committee in the Egyptian capital on Thursday.

It singled out the Assad regime's most powerful backers, Russia and Iran, calling on the former to ensure there are "adequate safeguards" to make the peace process possible, together with the United States.

The statement urged Iran's leaders to recognize that the Islamic republic's support for Assad "is pushing the region towards sectarian conflict" and realize that "Assad and his regime have no chance to stay in power."

It said the "friends of the Syrian people" should understand that a solution would only take place though "changing the balance of power," meaning support for the Coalition and the rebellion by "all possible means."


Syrian rebels should abandon demands for President Bashar Assad to resign before they begin peace talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.


French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called Saturday for regime change in Syria, indicating a stiffening stance on the part of his country regarding the fate of Bashar Assad.


Israel was responsible for the assassination of a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander in Syria, a faction of Syrian rebels said Friday according to the Wall Street Journal.

According to reports, the man was killed in his car while traveling from Damascus to Beirut. However, the Syrian rebels dispute this account, claiming that the Iranian commander, identified as Gen. Hassan Shateri, also known as Hessam Khoshnevis, had actually been assassinated on January 30, when Israel attacked a convoy and military factory in Jamaraya, Syria, near the Lebanon border.


At least four Turkish officers have been killed in clashes between Syrian government troops and foreign-backed militants in Syria's northern city of Aleppo.


Fighting began on Saturday as Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, in control of eight Syrian border villages, tried to move into three adjacent villages held by Syrian Free Army rebels, said Hadi al-Abdallah of the Syrian Revolution General Commission.

Syrian helicopters fired rockets at rebel positions to support the advancing Hezbollah unit, which included pro-Assad militia recruited from the villages it controls, residents said.

"The Hezbollah force moved on foot and was supported by multiple rocket launchers. The Free Syrian Army had to call in two tanks that had been captured from the Assad army to repel the attack," Abdallah told Reuters by phone.

The villages of Burhanieh, Abu Houri and Safarja defended by the rebels lie on smuggling routes. Many locals have Syrian and Lebanese nationality and property on both sides of the border.

Hezbollah guerrillas, based in the Bekaa Valley on the other side of the undemarcated border, moved into the area last year.


Syrians in "leadership positions" who may be responsible for war crimes have been identified, along with units accused of perpetrating them, UN investigators say.

Both government forces and armed rebels are committing war crimes, including killings and torture, spreading terror among civilians in a nearly two-year-old conflict, they said on Monday.

The investigators' latest report, covering the six months to mid-January, was based on 445 interviews conducted abroad with victims and witnesses, as they have not been allowed into Syria.

The independent team, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, called on the UN Security Council to "act urgently to ensure accountability" for grave violations, possibly by referring the violators to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.

"The international community, and the UN Security Council, must take the decision to refer this to justice," Carla del Ponte, a former UN prosecutor and a member of the commission, said.

"We suggest the International Criminal Court."
"In some incidents, such as in the assault on Harak, indiscriminate shelling was followed by ground operations during which government forces perpetrated mass killing," it said, referring to a town in the southern province of Deraa where residents told them that 500 civilians were killed in August.

"Government forces and affiliated militias have committed extra-judicial executions, breaching international human rights law. This conduct also constitutes the war crime of murder."

They have also targeted queues at bakeries and funeral processions, in violence aimed at "spreading terror among the civilian population", and used cluster bombs, the commission said.

Rebel forces fighting to topple Assad have committed their own war crimes including murder, torture, hostage-taking and using children under age 15 in hostilities.

"They continue to endanger the civilian population by positioning military objectives inside civilian areas," the report said, adding that rebel snipers have caused "considerable civilian casualties".

"The violations and abuses committed by anti-government armed groups did not, however, reach the intensity and scale of those committed by government forces and affiliated militia," the report noted.


Syria is prepared to talk to armed opposition groups, the minister for national reconciliation said on Monday, the first time the government has offered to hold direct negotiations with rebel forces it long dismissed as terrorists.

It was not clear if the comments by Ali Haidar, who is not in President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle of decision-makers, reflect a substantive change in policy.


Russia will send two planes to Syria on Tuesday to deliver 46 tonnes of humanitarian aid and pick up citizens that want to leave the war-torn country, an emergencies ministry spokeswoman was reported as saying on Monday.
She said that as well as Russian citizens, the planes would pick up citizens from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a regional group of post-Soviet states.


European Union foreign ministers have announced that they are keeping current sanctions against Syria in place for three months, rejecting any attempt to ease the arms embargo so military aid could be funneled to rebels fighting President Bashar Assad.
Ahead of the meeting, various foreign ministers said shipping more arms into Syria would be a bad idea. The EU maintains a number of sanctions on Syria, including the arms embargo, a ban on importing Syrian oil, and measures against various individuals and companies.


The European Union took steps on Monday to provide direct aid potentially including security advice to rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but stopped short of lifting an arms embargo on the country.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton underlined that no “lethal” support would be provided but said Monday's decision marked a significant change in the EU's approach to the rebels.

“This is not about military support, but that we were able to give the support to the people on the ground to help them in every possible way,” she told reporters. “There's nothing politically fudgy ... around this at all.”
Despite some support from Sunni regional powers including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the rebels remain largely disorganised, fragmented and ill-equipped. They say weapons occasionally do seep through from Jordan but they rely more on arsenals seized from Assad's troops and arms from Turkey.


Tens of thousands, if not more, of foreign fighters are making their way into Syria to join the rebel forces as they fight against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad as the civil war enters its third year. Among the non-Syrians reported to be fighting alongside the rebel forces are Americans, Syrians, Moroccans, Libyans, Egyptians, Bosnians, and others.
He said Idlib in the northwest is the only liberated city in Syria. "They are totally free. They have their own police force, court system, and traffic police. The city is totally independent and the Assad regime cannot enter due to the mountainous nature of the city, with the rebels controlling the mountain tops," Basel said.

According to the rebels, morale is down despite the large number of foreign fighters. Libyans Abd Al-Duhaimi Hamza opined that the fight “wasn’t worth it. There [was a] huge gap between our strength and that of the Syrian army. We just had Kalashnikovs and night vision goggles. They are an organized force. They made us go back to Libya.” He mentioned that compared to Libyan government forces during its revolution, the Syrian regime has better weapons, more expertly trained fighters, and a stronger determination to end the uprising.


He was quiet and pleasant and his organisation is doing what every Jihad organisation from the Taliban to Hamas and al Qaeda has done: they are providing law and order and they are feeding and providing medicine for the people.

It works every time.
Sheik Homan is not just fighting for Aleppo, or Syria but predicts a greater Jihad is underway from North Africa to the Middle East.

"I am very surprised at France's reaction in Mali. They have seen what happened to the US in Afghanistan and Iraq," he told me.

"The West should learn their lesson and not fight Muslims. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq has led to an increase in resistance to the west.

"So you see all the Jihadists waiting to come here because of its value to Muslims," he said.


Note: The Amnesty report, and these graphs, do not include data from Russia, China and other countries which do not report annually on their arms sales

Earlier this year, as mass popular uprisings spread through the Middle East and audiences across the world sat transfixed by images of unarmed citizens confronting iron-fisted security forces in the streets of Arab capitals, powerful governments from Russia to the United States were forced to begin accounting for the weapons they had for decades sold to the very rulers they now found themselves abandoning.
The United States has far outpaced all other countries in arms exports to the five countries mentioned in the report, approving sales worth roughly $1.1 billion between 2005 and 2010, all but $100 million of which went to Egypt. Italy sold $554 million in arms, mostly to Libya, followed by $145 million from Germany and $111 million from Serbia.
Italian companies may have sought to evade government restrictions to also sell weapons to Gaddafi's regime. In 2009, the company Fabbrica d'Armi Pietro Beretta shipped roughly $11.9 million of small arms, including shotguns, pistols and semi-automatic rifles, via Malta, to the General People's Committee for Public Safety. The company reportedly marked the shipment as non-military items, so the permit for the transport was issued by a local authority instead of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rome, which would have subjected the export to laws regarding military items and undertaken a risk assessment.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

This is all too unsurprising. Even after the 1953 coup, the Iranian people were not foaming at the mouth to get back at us. What they wanted was an apology, a perfectly reasonable request, but one that would have caused apoplexy on the American Right, so Carter couldn't.

Then, after 9/11, they were in the streets in support of US, not al Qaeda. But they are of the "axis of evil" because we play the Great Satan and they respond appropriately.

The entropic disintegration of colonialism cannot be held together. The transition from this criminal arrangement to what suits the indigenous population is theirs to make, not ours. The damage we have done to their civil infrastructure and ability to live with one another will not be solved by our continued presence, but it might use some reparations.

Apr. 26, 2012 12:15 pm

One basic axiom is that as transportation is factored as a cost, the proposed integration of the global economy does, in fact, rest upon the possible facility of ease of currency exchange. That is not the highest priority in general, however. In regard to unemployment, which is a problem everywhere, here is one activist's opinion:

Quote Susan George, here:

Es que la actual política de austeridad, en particular en Grecia y España, es inaceptable. Es inaceptable que la mitad de jóvenes españoles no tenga trabajo. ¿Para quién se gobierna? Porque ésa es la gran cuestión en democracia. Las constituciones de Estados Unidos, Francia —y me imagino que también la de España— subrayan que el pueblo es soberano. Pero con este principio de austeridad aprobado por Europa, ¿se gobierna para la gente o para los mercados financieros?

Basically, asking the pertinent question at a time when "technocrats" are taking control, "Who is the government working for?" Who can best see the needs of the consumer, as a citizen? As such not being approachable merely as a potential buyer of a given product? A person who must maximize their personal economy in relation to the spaces available to him or her as time progresses.

The proportional increase in the ranks of the middle class which we can predict by focusing on the needs of the working class now would be about a 25% increase of the total population (in direct relation as a proportionate factor to variation in population total). The definition of "middle class" undergoes a change as material factors alter. Cooperative advantage might dictate for example that large numbers of people rent an apartment building together, mitigating credit risk among them instead of the landlord. While not offering legal ownership, the advantage of managing a space available to all members of a community regardless of a given individual's financial status at the moment is such that the greatest risk is of a profession growing up around the activity of providing services related to securing living within the community; this risk is compounded by the formation of networks dependent upon high-level organization across the total socioeconomic spectrum. That is, one fears most the raising of various banners and symbols and so forth that rally strangers to a cause, however noble sounding and virtuous the origin of its genius. As things stand now, the general public is poised to arrange itself around the available cryptography and dance routines.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Activists have reported the army’s use of surface-to-surface missiles on various targets in northern Syria since late 2012.

Late last year, a security source in Damascus told AFP such missiles were a Syrian-made version of Scud missiles, while NATO has since reported the use of ballistic missiles in Syria.


“I reminded Khatib that after the creation of the coalition and the appointment of their leader, we immediately demonstrated our interest in maintaining regular contact,” Russian news agencies quoted Mr. Lavrov as saying after the meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

“We will make that happen,” he added.

Mr. Lavrov had earlier Saturday held talks with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi amid strong disagreement between Moscow and Washington about ways to end the 22-month Syria conflict, which according to the United Nations has claimed upwards of 60,000 lives.
Mr. Biden, in his meeting with Mr. Lavrov, called on Washington and Moscow to put aside “serious differences” and stressed the need for U.S.-Russian cooperation, including over Syria, the White House said.
Mr. Biden also met Mr. Khatib and Mr. Brahimi in Munich on Saturday.


The decision followed a battle between William Hague and Baroness Ashton at a meeting of European foreign ministers over a British call to lift current EU sanctions that prevent any form of military support to Syria’s besieged rebels.

Following opposition to lifting the arms embargo, from Germany, Sweden and over 20 other countries, the Foreign Secretary hailed a compromise amending EU sanctions to allow “technical assistance for the protection of civilians” as a breakthrough.
The loosening of sanctions followed a row between an isolated Britain, which only had support from France and Italy and Lady Ashton’s EU foreign service which warned that arming the rebels was illegal, could fuel Islamist extremism and destabilise the region.


Qatar, one of the principal supporters of the Syrian rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad, has criticised the EU's decision to extend its blanket arms embargo on Syria and said it would only prolong the war.

Hamed bin Jassim Al Thani, prime minister and foreign minister of the Gulf state, told al-Jazeera TV that the decision was wrong and accused the Syrian government of seeking to buy time.
Public discussion of this issue is rare. Last month Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former spy chief and senior Saudi royal, said the rebels should be given anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to "level the playing field" and ensure that "extremist" groups did not dominate the opposition.

On Tuesday the New York Times reported that the US may reconsider its refusal to supply weapons to the rebels. Barack Obama rebuffed the advice of his senior security officials last autumn, but with conditions in Syria continuing to deteriorate the debate could be reopened. "This is not a closed decision," a senior administration official told the paper. "As the situation evolves, as our confidence increases, we might revisit it."
But the decision not to provide weapons has greatly limited the influence the US has with groups that are likely to control much of Syria if Assad is ousted. The new US secretary of state, John Kerry has said he plans to advance ideas on how to change the situation, including more co-operation with Russia, Syria's closest ally on the UN security council.

In a related development, the Syrian foreign minister, Walid al-Mualim, is to visit Moscow next week, the Russian foreign ministry announced. But there is still no agreement on a visit by Moaz al-Khatib, leader of the Syrian National Coalition, dashing hopes for an early start to possible talks between the Assad regime and the opposition. Russia appeared to have hoped the two visits would coincide.


Abdul, who used to work as a teacher and supports the government, says the conflict has affected the economy in Damascus: "A lot of people are on the streets asking for money. Some people are relying on their savings. The good thing is, the government is giving salaries to their employees. Some company and factory owners have moved to Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan and that means the money has moved to these places."


The architect of the change is Sheikh Habib or, to give him his full name, Mohammed Habib Fendi. Barely mentioned in Syria's official media, he prefers to keep a low profile even though he seems a rare hero in the country's brutal conflict. He heads a Sunni tribe in al-Raqqa, a city on the Euphrates in north-eastern Syria, and is a regular preacher at Friday prayers. But his political work began after he took part in one of many delegations of local people whom Assad started inviting to Damascus soon after the uprising began in 2011.

The aim was to discuss their grievances and see whether "reconciliation" could be used by tribal and community leaders as a way to end the mounting street protests. The policy was an implicit admission that the ruling Ba'ath party had become an empty shell, more associated with corruption and security control than with providing services, let alone justice, fairly.

As protesters moved from peaceful demonstrations to armed resistance following the government's mass arrests in 2011 and the heavy use of force last year, reconciliation made little headway. The arrival of foreign jihadis, the Islamisation of large parts of the opposition, and the onset of sectarian clashes created new tensions and made compromise harder.

An alternative to permanent war

But now, as the war's death toll mounts with no prospect of an early end, reconciliation is making a hesitant comeback. The bleakness of the nation's outlook, indeed of the country's very survival, makes it seem a better alternative than permanent war.

"I am religious and I have an idea – perhaps it's crazy – of leadership via love", said Habib.
The governor of Homs province strongly supports the sheikh's ceasefire efforts, but the army is leery. ...
Sheikh Habib had explained to us that Talkalakh's reconciliation agreement had several stages. First, there would be a ceasefire. Then the rebels, all of whom were Sunnis, would stop patrolling with their weapons while the pro-government militias – the Alawite shabiha – would stay away from Sunni villages. , Abu Oday, the rebel leader, would collect his men's weapons and secure them, in return for which the shabiha would be replaced by proper troops. Finally, the rebels would surrender their weapons and the army would withdraw from the area.


With an uprising-turned-insurgency raging for nearly two years, kidnappings by both rebel and government militia are rampant, especially against the business class of Damascus.
"It's rebel turf, and no one does anything without the rebels' blessings," he said. "Truth be told, just like the regime has its own Shabbiha (pro-Assad militia), so do the rebels these days."

The young man says he sympathizes with the anti-Assad insurgents, but his family has mixed affiliations and his brother is a staunch supporter of the government.

He reckons his brother was his abductors' intended target. "When they pushed me into their van with my eyes blindfolded and hands bound, the first thing they asked was: 'Where's your brother? He's the one who needs to be taught a lesson'."

The two brothers and their father have abandoned their factory in Aqraba since the incident in December. They have shut it down completely.

"We're all just sitting at home doing nothing," he said, refusing an almond from his wife, pointing to his battered jaw.
As lawlessness, looting and kidnappings spread through the capital, businesses and factories are closing down.

Local product shortages range from food to medicine to textiles. Shop shelves in Damascus are emptying.

Syria used to have several dairy brands. Now only one is on sale, with most other factories destroyed or shut down.

Milk Man is owned by Rami Makhlouf, a cousin of Assad. His factory in Ghouta is under strong military protection from the rebels operating in the area.

Pharmacists are chronically short of supplies and say criminals often steal their goods. One said dozens of locally made drugs, from creams to nasal sprays, no longer exist because the factories that make them have closed.

To avoid the lawlessness and clashes in outlying industrial areas, some factories, such as Syria's international award-winning chocolate-maker Ghraoui, have relocated to calmer sites.

"We've moved our entire workshop to the city center," said one Ghraoui employee on condition of anonymity.


Led by a ruling family that does not shy away from taking controversial positions on world affairs, the gas-producing Gulf Arab state was a major supporter of Libya's NATO-backed rebels.
However, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said last month that international aid to Syria was not being distributed equally, with government-controlled areas receiving nearly all of it, and opposition-held zones getting only a tiny share.


The killing of the northern commander of one of Syria’s largest rebel groups wasn’t carried out by gunmen loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but by men supposedly on the rebel side in the nearly two-year-long Syrian civil war.
Omar Ashour, a professor at Britain's University of Exeter, says rivalry between Islamists and Jihadists goes back to well before the Arab Spring. “This rivalry has been there for four decades, from the late 1960s onwards.”

As Ashour sees it, the dispute is “between the ones who say armed tactics are the most effective and legitimate means for social change and those who doubt its effectiveness or legitimacy.”

He points to a sharp disagreement between the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and a spin-off group, the Fighting Vanguard, who fought an insurgency between 1976 and 1982 against Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez. “You also saw violent clashes between Jihadists and Islamists in Algeria and in Egypt in the 1980s,” he says.


Free Syrian Army threatened yesterday to shell positions of the Hezbollah militant group in neighboring Lebanon after accusing it of firing across the border into territory it controls.


Russia and the Arab League are offering to broker talks between the Syrian government and opposition to end the two-year civil war ravaging the country.


"The continued presence of Russian warships close to Syria demonstrates the Kremlin's desire to keep up the Russian navy colors in the area to indicate that Russia stands by its attitude that the Syrian crisis should be resolved within the country by the country's existing political forces," Igor Korotchenko, editor in chief of the National Defense monthly journal said in an interview.


While the US and its Western partners pretend to be engaged in a global war against terrorism, their terrorist allies in Syria have set off another car bomb, tellingly very close to the ruling Baath party offices and the Russian embassy. Initial reports are that more than 50 have been killed by the terrorists, including many children attending a nearby school.

The Syrian rebels despise the Russians for refusing to provide them weapons and resisting US demands for regime change in Syria. The rebels have long threatened to attack Russian interests in Syria.


The NGOs, who say she is being held by the Free Syrian Army, called on the US and EU states to help with negotiations to facilitate Kochneva's release, in a statement on the ARTICLE 19 website.


The most extreme of Syria's rebel groups, Jabhat al-Nusra, claimed responsibility for that and other bombings that have struck targets associated with the regime but also killed civilians.

Such tactics have galvanized Assad's supporters and made many other Syrians distrustful of the rebel movement as a whole, most of whose fighting groups do not use such tactics.


The two Gulf Arab states rooting for President Bashar al-Assad's overthrow appear to be chafing at Western pressure to keep out of the fight, arguing that building ties through aid and advice to favored opposition groups is the only way to ensure other, hardline Islamist factions are sidelined.
Not all Gulf Arab states are eager to arm Syrian rebels, but all fear possible "blowback" if their own nationals go to fight in Syria and one day come home and launch a jihad for a purist Islamic state. The al-Nusra Front has ideological overlaps with al Qaeda, which has sworn to topple the Saudi ruling family.

In the 1980s Saudi rulers supported U.S.-backed Islamists fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan, a factor in the creation of al Qaeda, and in the last decade they turned a blind eye to clerics who urged Saudis to join an anti-U.S. jihad in Iraq.

In 2003 Saudis who had fought in both conflicts launched attacks at home, drawing a tough security response from Riyadh.


Close on the heels of a decision to hand over the Syrian Embassy in Qatar to the Syrian opposition, Qatar provided financial support worth $100m to the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.


The opposition Syrian National Coalition is willing to negotiate a peace deal under U.S and Russian auspices to end the country's civil war but President Bashar al-Assad cannot be a party to any settlement, a document drafted for an opposition meeting said.
"Bashar al-Assad and the military and security apparatus commands are responsible for the decisions that have led the country to what it is now, are outside the political process and are not part of any political solution in Syria," it said.
Alkhatib's supporters say the initiative has popular support inside Syria from people who want to see a peaceful departure of Assad and a halt to the war that has increasingly pitted Assad's Alawite minority sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, against Syria's Sunni Muslim majority.

But rebel fighters on the ground, over whom Alkhatib has little control, are generally against the proposal.
"Russia is key," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We are showing the international community that we are willing to take criticism from the street but the problem is Assad and his inner circle. They do not want to leave."
One diplomat in contact with the opposition and the United Nations said a coalition endorsement of Alkhatib's initiative could help change the position of Russia, which has blocked several United Nations Security Council resolutions on Syria.

The diplomat said only a U.N. resolution could force Assad to the negotiating table, and a U.N. "stabilisation force" may still be needed to prevent an all-out slide into a civil war.


One Washington-based source close to the Syrian rebels suggested that Croatia “might be involved” but thought the Libya clearinghouse theory was more persuasive, particularly as new stockpiles of Libyan weapons have been appearing and disappearing from Mali. That said, the source believes that classroom training seminars bespeak “total formalization,” and because “the people getting these weapons are not Salafis or Nusra, that suggests a Western power” orchestrating or overseeing the entire effort.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The peace process appears to have the most momentum on the ground.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Syria's opposition National Coalition said it was pulling out of several international meetings to protest at the "international silence" despite the slaughter of civilians in the conflict.

The announcement came after the coalition had said it would form a government to run "liberated areas" of Syria, and as international condemnation mounted against Thursday's devastating attacks in Damascus that left around 100 people dead.
The National Coalition said it was pulling out of meetings in Italy, Russia and the United States, to protest against the "shameful" lack of international condemnation of "crimes committed against the Syrian people".
"We hold the Russian leaders in particular ethically and politically responsible because they continue to support the (Damascus) regime with weapons," the National Coalition added.

Already Friday, coalition spokesman Walid al-Bunni had announced plans for a government for "liberated areas" following a meeting in Cairo.


Now those trips are called off, and Mr Khatib's hands are further bound by a clause in the National Coalition's latest political position paper saying that any future initiatives must stem from the group's full executive - no more going it alone.
The decision to boycott international diplomatic meetings in Syria effectively torpedoes the initiative launched by the National Coalition's leader Moaz al-Khatib, the BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says.


"OK fine, so the rebels want to make a point that they've arrived here in Damascus... How does that help their cause?" said a man in his 40s who is no supporter of Assad. "It's us civilians who are getting hurt. We're paying the price."

An elderly woman vented her anger on both sides. "They've gone crazy, all of them...I don't care what they want or who they think they're fighting, they're aiming their wrath at us. Damn them all," she said.


Assad's government and the opposition have blamed the Damascus attack on "terrorists".


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States on Friday of having double standards on Syria, saying it had blocked a U.N. Security Council statement condemning a car bomb attack in Damascus.

Washington denied it had blocked the statement and said it had only asked for balance. The disagreement was likely to sour the atmosphere before Lavrov meets newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry next week in Berlin.
He added: "China is ready to support Russia in the Middle East on issues which are politically important for Russia, so when it comes to questions of vital importance to China, like North Korea, of course it expects reciprocity - that Russia endorse China's position." (Writing by Thomas Grove; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Sonya Hepinstall)


The inability of aid agencies to do anything more for Atmeh, let alone for the hundreds of thousands of other Syrians living in even more dire conditions in less visible locations, has come to stand for the ineffectiveness of the international community in dealing with the Syrian crisis.
"The government of Syria has made it very clear that they will not accept materials coming over from the border with Turkey. So without a separate Security Council resolution, the United Nations and its partners are not able to come across that border," she [Valerie Amos, "U.N.'s humanitarian chief"]said.


Gunmen from rival Sunni and Shiite Muslim villages in northern Syria have freed more than 200 people snatched in tit-for-tat kidnappings this month, easing tensions that threatened to touch off more sectarian violence, activists said Friday.


However, Lebanon is sharply divided over the Syrian conflict, with the Sunni-led March 14 movement "Future bloc led by Saad Hariri" supporting the Syrian popular revolution against the Syrian regime, which occupied Lebanon for 30 years and the Shiite Hezbollah and its allies including the President and Prime Minister Najib Miqati are backing the Alawite regime of Bashar Assad.


The foreign-backed militants in Syria have reportedly been supplied with a large new consignment of weapons, including heavy armaments, over the recent weeks.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Kerry has said he is eager to discuss new ways of persuading Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and usher in a democratic transition in the country that wracked by escalating violence that has killed at least 70,000 people.


The head of one group, Free Syrian Army chief Gen. Salim Idriss, said he is "ready to take part in dialogue within specific frameworks," but then rattled off several conditions that the regime has flatly rejected in the past.

"There needs to be a clear decision on the resignation of the head of the criminal gang Bashar Assad and for those who participated in the killing of the Syrian people to be put on trial," Idriss told pan-Arab Al-Arabiya TV.

He said the government must agree to stop all kinds of violence and to hand over power, saying that "as rebels, this is our bottom line."


Key to increasing pressure on Assad will be Russia, which has staunchly resisted efforts to push Assad out, to the increasing anger and frustration of the United States and its allies in Europe and the Middle East.

Kerry will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the second stop of his trip, in Berlin on Tuesday, and hopes to get a better idea of what Moscow may be willing to support. However, two officials traveling with Kerry said they did not expect any breakthroughs in the German capital.


The new outbreak of violence comes the same day as the Syrian government announced its readiness for negotiations with the opposition, including armed groups.


A surge of rebel advances in Syria is being fueled at least in part by an influx of heavy weaponry in a renewed effort by outside powers to arm moderates in the Free Syrian Army, according to Arab and rebel officials.
The officials declined to identify the source of the newly provided weapons, but they noted that the countries most closely involved in supporting the rebels’ campaign to oust Assad have grown increasingly alarmed at the soaring influence of Islamists over the fragmented rebel movement. They include the United States and its major European allies, along with Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the two countries most directly involved in supplying the rebels. Security officials from those nations have formed a security coordination committee that consults regularly on events in Syria, they said.
Another coordinator for the Free Syrian Army, whose units have received small quantities of donated weaponry in the past two weeks, said that as much as empowering moderates, the goal of the supplies also is to shift the focus of the war away from the north toward the south and the capital, Assad’s stronghold. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed so far in the conflict, which has thus far frustrated all attempts by the international community to broker a diplomatic settlement.


The Syrian opposition has dropped its boycott of talks with John Kerry, William Hague and other western backers in Rome this week after promises of substantially increased aid, western diplomatic sources have said.


On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch said more than 141 people had been killed in at least four missile strikes by the Syrian government in and near the city of Aleppo last week. About half of the dead were children, it said.


"There are those who have set a course for further bloodshed and an escalation of conflict. This is fraught with the risk of the collapse of the Syrian state and society," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned yesterday as he urged dialogue.


The latest UN estimates for the number of refugees who have fled the country stands at 925,908, with hundreds of thousands more who never registered as refugees.


The arms transfers appeared to signal a shift among several governments to a more activist approach to assisting Syria’s armed opposition, in part as an effort to counter shipments of weapons from Iran to Mr. Assad’s forces. The weapons’ distribution has been principally to armed groups viewed as nationalist and secular, and appears to have been intended to bypass the jihadist groups whose roles in the war have alarmed Western and regional powers.


The official added that Iran, with its shipments to Syria’s government, still outstrips what Arab states have sent to the rebels.
Croatia’s Foreign Ministry and arms-export agency denied that such shipments had occurred. Saudi officials have declined requests for interviews about the shipments for two weeks. Jordanian officials also declined to comment.

Danijela Barisic, a spokeswoman for Croatia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that since the Arab Spring began, Croatia had not sold any weapons to either Saudi Arabia or the Syrian rebels. “We did not supply arms,” she said by telephone.


“Any act or threat to neighbouring states drains resources and is a victory for the regime’s propaganda war against the revolution, but many foreign fighters seem not to care.”


"We have received this shipment legally and normally. It was not delivered through smuggling routes but formally through Bab al-Hawa crossing," said a rebel commander in Homs province, referring to a rebel-held crossing with Turkey.
The political opposition will meet in Istanbul on Saturday to choose a prime minister in the transitional government, which is also supposed to choose a civilian defense minister - creating the basic structure for a future state and army.
So far rebels have relied mainly on light weapons smuggled from neighboring countries, many of them financed or sent from sympathizers in Gulf states, and from supplies seized from captured army bases inside Syria.

But video footage and pictures from across the country appear to support assertions that advanced weapons - with origins as varied as the former Yugoslavia and China - have ended up in rebel hands.
"Each front has received its share. All equally distributed," the rebel said, adding that 'payment' for the weapons would come in the form of post-conflict reconstruction contracts in Syria awarded to countries that helped.
Previous attempts to unify Syria's divided rebels have foundered on local rivalries and competition for money and influence. Some have grown rich and powerful by smuggling weapons, medical supplies, food and diesel, while the lack of civil administration in rebel controlled areas has also encouraged the proliferation of autonomous rebel groups.

Seeking to address those divisions, the military councils hope to pay fighters a symbolic monthly salary of $100, funded in part by donations from the Gulf. The Homs commander said one Gulf state had recently paid $15 million towards their wages.

"They want to organize the rebels and have them all under one command - who joins will be eligible to receive the money and the weapons," he said. "This is all for organization purposes."


The US will increase aid to the Syrian opposition in an effort to speed a political transition in Syria, according to the White House spokesman.


The Iraqi foreign ministry in a statement underlined the importance of bilateral relations with Iran for the country, and announced that Baghdad will not join the US-sponsored sanctions against Tehran.


The Obama administration said on Thursday that it will provide the Syrian opposition with an additional $60 million in assistance and in a significant policy shift will for the first time provide nonlethal aid like food and medical supplies directly to rebels battling to oust President Bashar Assad.
The $60 million in new aid to the political opposition is intended to help the opposition govern newly liberated areas of Syria by aiding in the delivery of services and improving rule of law and human rights as well as to blunt the influence of extremists who have made inroads in some places.

The rations and medical supplies for the fighters will be delivered to the military council for distribution only to carefully vetted members of the Free Syrian Army, U.S. officials said.

The U.S. will be sending technical advisers to the Syrian National Coalition offices in Cairo to oversee and help them spend the money for good governance and rule of law. The advisers will be from non-governmental organizations and other groups that do this kind of work.


The Washington Office will serve as the SC’s official liaison to the US government and foreign policy community on matters relating to the pro-democracy movement, including coordination and delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid to Syria. The Washington Office represents the united opposition supporting the Syrian revolution and working to establish peace, freedom, and democracy for all Syrians. The Washington Office will also reach out to all Syrian Americans and Syrian nationals in the US, in order to help move Syria forward with unity and cooperation toward an inclusive, democratic future.


Croatia will pull its soldiers out of the U.N. peace force in the Golan Heights as a precautionary step, the government said on Thursday, after media reports that Croatian arms were being sent to Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.


Syrian rebels have seized a convoy of U.N. peacekeepers near the Golan Heights and say they will hold them captive until President Bashar al-Assad's forces pull back from a rebel-held village which has seen heavy recent fighting.


US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed confidence on Tuesday that weapons being supplied by Gulf countries to the Syrian rebels were reaching the "right people," as he visited key rebel ally Qatar.

"We had discussions about the type of weapons that are being transferred. We are aware of what people are doing," Kerry told reporters in Doha at a press conference with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem Al-Thani.


Iraq has many people with similarly ruined lives. Many Sunni have seen their lives torn apart by occupation and sectarian violence over the last decade and are fearful of it happening again. Another Sunni friend has done better and has a middle ranking post in a ministry where he says most jobs are going to members of the ruling Dawa party of Mr Maliki. “They run it like a tribe,” he says. “Every appointee is one of their relatives.” He speaks fearfully of civil war but adds that “if the Sunni could just get jobs and pensions all this fury would ebb away.”


Top Iraqi officials called Tuesday for the United States to step up its promised delivery of major arms after an ambush well inside Iraq by suspected Islamist militants that left more than 50 Syrians and a dozen Iraqi troops dead.
The assailants used land mines and light arms to attack an Iraqi military convoy that was escorting Syrian civilians and soldiers, who’d fled to Iraq over the weekend when Nusra fighters seized control of a border crossing. The officials said the assailants had tracked the convoy’s movements, possibly by obtaining military intelligence.
“We need equipment. We need electronic surveillance. We need an air force,” Zebari said. “We need a border control system. Definitely. We don’t have it. We have only the concrete blocks that the Americans left for us, lined up along the borders.”

Iraq, he said, “doesn’t have a single jet. It has a few transport helicopters, for transport purposes, not as gunships.”
Mousawi pointed out that Arab tribes straddle the Iraqi-Syrian border, as do insurgent groups, and that those links may have facilitated what appears to be a serious intelligence breach. “They definitely got some information” in advance, he said.


Fighter jets also bombarded Homs in the centre, on the fourth day of a major offensive aimed at crushing the insurgency in the country’s third-largest city, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


It came on the day that Britain said it would increase aid to the opposition forces and the Arab League gave a green light to member states to arm the rebels.

The regional Arab body also invited the opposition Syrian coalition to take Syria's seat at a League meeting in Doha later this month. Syria was suspended in November 2011 in response to its crackdown on protests which since spiralled into civil war.


Arab states are free to offer military support to rebels fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad if they wish, a final statement of Arab League ministers said on Wednesday.
The statement called on the coalition to choose a representative to attend a League meeting to be held in Doha on 26 to 27 March.

Qatar has led a push against Damascus in the League, which has been resisted by Lebanon, Iraq and Algeria. These three countries refused to endorse the final document's sections on Syria.


As proof the Afghans are taking the lead on most operations, Mattis said U.S. forces have suffered only a small number of casualties since the beginning of 2013 while nearly 200 Afghan troops have been killed during the same period.

President Barack Obama announced last month that he will cut the size of the U.S. force in Afghanistan roughly in half by a year from now. There are currently about 66,000 U.S. troops there, and he said he will withdraw about 34,000 by this time next year.


Facing its own home-grown insurgency, and with the Winter Olympics planned for next year, Russia is likely to ensure that anyone from the North Caucasus fighting with the rebels is prevented from entering Russia when the violence in Syria ends.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Britain could break with a European Union arms embargo on Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday, allowing the flow of weapons to anti-government rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


"The well-known arguments against arming the rebels - finding a political situation first, not militarizing the situation or weapons falling into the wrong hands - are losing their impact," he said.

"We can't allow one side to continue getting massacred."

Fabius also said that Paris was working with Russia and the United States to create a list of Syrian officials that would be acceptable to begin negotiations with the Syrian opposition.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Much of the weaponry going to Syria now, diplomats say, continues to be shipped to Iran through Iraqi airspace and overland through Iraq, despite Baghdad's repeated promises to put a stop to Iranian arms supplies to Assad in violation of a U.N. arms embargo on Tehran over its nuclear program.


Turkey has intercepted Iranian arms shipments in the past and reported them to the U.N. Security Council's sanctions committee. Ankara's aggressive campaign to stamp out Iranian arms smuggling via its airspace, Western diplomats say, was what led Iran to begin using Iraqi airspace instead.


The reemergence of the CIA in Iraq has coincided with America's increasing concerns about extremist Syrian rebels, namely Jabhat al-Nusra — the radical Sunni rebel group that is supported byveteran fighters and financing from al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).


Lavrov continued that in Libya, when the UN Security Council imposed an embargo on supplying arms to either side of the conflict, it was broken with arms deliveries continuing openly, from both European and Arab countries and that this was a violation of international law.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I have some problems with my equiptment right now so I will need to take an incremental approach to catching up. It'll take a few days but I'm going to make the effort because it looks like things are "quickening" so to speak. The current state of affairs is predictable given that western governments long ago voiced the opinion that Assad "must go." Was it inevitable that the conflict drag on for so long? There are certainly players on the world stage who are capable of promoting action in one area that would contradict their stated intentions. This thread is not adequate to prove that this is what has occurred, but such behavior would. arguably, be necessary to time the eventual downfall of Assad or outside military intervention with a deadline imposed on Iran.


As the Syrian conflict entered its third year Friday, international fears of a spillover of the conflict intensified after Damascus threatened to bomb “armed gangs” in Lebanon if incursions into its territory continue.
“Armed terrorist groups have infiltrated in large numbers in the past 36 hours from Lebanese territory into Syrian territory,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry wrote in a letter to its Lebanese counterpart Thursday.

The Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda in Iraq's affiliate in Syria, may be close to taking control of Deir al Zour, the last major city on the Euphrates River in the west. The al Qaeda group's gains in the city take place just days after jihadists announced the formation of the "Sharia Committee for the Eastern Region" to govern areas under its control.

Today, OFAC has issued Syria General License No. 16, which authorizes U.S. persons to provide to the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces certain services, including transfers of funds, otherwise prohibited by Executive Order 13582 of August 17, 2011, “Blocking Property of the Government of Syria and Prohibiting Certain Transactions with Respect to Syria.”

The sudden Anglo-French move to overturn a European arms embargo on Syria in order to equip the rebels seeking to overthrow the Assad regime has run into a solid wall of resistance at an EU summit, with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, dismissing the policy U-turn and others warning of a regional conflagration from which Iran would emerge the winner.

Signalling a retreat, Mr Cameron backed away from earlier statements that Britain wanted to arm rebels immediately and was prepared to break ranks with the EU to do so. "As things stand today I'm not saying that Britain would actually like to supply arms to rebel groups. What we want to do is work with them and try to make sure that they are doing the right thing," he said.


The UK and France, though, are the most significant military powers in the EU, and when they act together on issues like this their arguments carry considerable weight. Foreign ministers will now take the debate forward. If no compromise is found, London and/or Paris could choose to go it alone.
But that would be controversial and would expose real splits in the EU. It would also mean the entire sanctions package could potentially fall apart. No-one in the EU wants that to happen.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


The Saudi paper Asharq Al Awsat, which is funded by the Saudi government, led with the headline "Turnabout in U.S. position toward Syria and Assad regime," suggesting displeasure with what the article describes as a change in U.S. policy toward Syria.


MOSCOW, March 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry warned the Arab League on Thursday that its recent decision to give Syria’s seat to the opposition National Council would legalize arms supplies to militants and terrorists.


Three Russian warships anchored in Beirut en route to the port of Tartus in Syria, Sky News reported Friday.


Eric Harroun, said to have been killed in Syria on Friday, apparently sends journalist a message deriding the claim

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


March 16, 2013 "Information Clearing House" -"La Times" - - WASHINGTON — The CIA has stepped up secret contingency planning to protect the United States and its allies as the turmoil expands in Syria, including collecting intelligence on Islamic extremists for the first time for possible lethal drone strikes, according to current and former U.S. officials.

U.S. lethal action in Syria is not unprecedented. In October 2008, the CIA and U.S. special operations forces conducted a helicopter assault across the Iraqi border into eastern Syria. The raid killed Abu Ghadiya, a logistics commander for Al Qaeda who allegedly smuggled weapons, money and foreign fighters from Syria into Iraq during the insurgency there.


opposition recognizes March 15, 2011 as the start of the uprising.

In a video posted on his Facebook page, Mouaz al-Khatib, head of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, congratulated the town of Yabrud, north of Damascus, for creating a civil council to run its affairs.

“Our people are great, our people are civilized and they don’t need gangs to rule them,” al-Khatib said, sitting in front of a Syrian flag and cracking a rare smile. “They just need to breathe a little bit of the air of freedom and they’ll create as they have created in all places.”


Samir Nashar, a member of the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition group in exile, said he hoped France and Britain would defy the EU if the embargo remains in place.

“I prefer that there is a consensus and a joint resolution,” he said Friday in Istanbul. “But if there’s no consensus, I still think France and Britain will act unilaterally.”

The French foreign minister suggested earlier this week that his country might arm the rebels even if the EU disagrees.


(CBS News) Ahmed al-Abaid leads a group of several hundred jihadis, or holy warriors. We had heard that, under al-Abaid, captured government soldiers were being tried by self-appointed sharia judges.

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Most of the first contingent of Syrian rebels taught by U.S. army and intelligence officers in Jordan to use anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry have finished their training and are now returning to Syria to fight, a senior rebel said on Thursday.


The CIA has increased its role in Iraq to fight al-Qaida affiliates backing an Islamic militant group in Syria, U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal.


The White House directed the CIA to support CTS -- an elite anti-terrorism group that reports directly to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki -- in a series of secret decisions from 2011 to late 2012, the Journal said.
The CIA has since ramped up its work with the CTS, taking over a mission long run by the U.S. military, administration and defense officials told the newspaper.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


warplanes entered 1 kilometer into Lebanese airspace and struck the town of Kerbet Younan in the Wadi al-Khayl region of Arsal, where the majority of Sunni Muslim residents support Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad, and fired four rockets at a remote section of the border with Lebanon, according to Reuters.

Conflicting reports have emerged over whether Lebanese territory was hit in the airstrike.


The US State Department later confirmed that Syrian government aircraft fired rockets into northern Lebanon and it described the incident as "a significant escalation."


AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian rebels on Sunday seized a Syrian military intelligence compound in the southern Hauran Plain near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, stepping up attacks in the strategic region which stretches to the outskirts of the capital Damascus, rebel commanders said.


"The challenge with the opposition in Syria is that it is - it's multilayered, multifaceted, and it's kind of ubiquitous and it's - meaning, spread throughout the country, pockets in some cases, intermingled in others," Dempsey said Monday at an event in Washington.

"I don't think, at this point, I can - I can see a military option that would create an understandable outcome," he added.


Speaking to reporters in Washington, she cautiously addressed the effort by opposition members meeting in Istanbul to form an interim government, saying only that the opposition should maintain unity and represent all Syrians with "the best standards of justice, human rights, democracy."


The U.S. has committed to taking military action should Syria deploy any of its chemical or biological weapons, or transfer them to extremist groups. The Israeli request, by contrast, would pertain to all missiles.

As news of the incidents spread, dozens of people took to the streets, blocking roads in the capital and in the predominantly Sunni cities of Sidon and Tripoli in southern and northern Lebanon.


Hezbollah was quick to condemn the attacks and assisted in handing over the suspects to security forces.


Lebanon, a tiny country with a population of about 4 million, also shelters about 360,000 Syrian refugees.


But the Netanyahu government wants the US to agree to "red lines" to limit Iranian bomb-making capacity, which would trigger action in the event of progress towards making plutonium, or an expansion of Iran's uranium-enriching capacity to the point at which it could make a warhead between UN inspections.
The Americans have said they will not commit to triggers for military action, other than repeating that Iran will not be permitted to make a weapon.
Obama told an Israeli interviewer last week that it would take Iran a year to make a bomb: much longer than the Israeli government estimates.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


March 19, 2013 "Information Clearing House" -"RT" - Syrian rebels have used a rocket chemical warhead in Aleppo, killing 25 people and injuring 86, says Syria's Information Minister. The attack escalates the Syrian conflict and brings the violence to a new level, believe Russian diplomats.

The Syrian government's SANA news agency reported that terrorists fired a rocket containing chemical substances in the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo and confirmed that at least 25 people, most of them civilians, were killed.


The Obama administration announced it is looking carefully at the chemical warfare allegation coming from Syria, but instantly called into question the possible use of such weapons by opposition groups.


The Turkish government has immediately rejected Syria’s accusations of taking part in the alleged chemical attack in Syria’s northern province of Aleppo.


Syrian rebel commander Qassim Saadeddine immediately denied the accusations and claimed the Syrian regime had launched Scud missiles containing chemical agents on Khan al-Assal.


"There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria," said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. "There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see."


Washington Post's reported "loose missiles" in Libya are now turning up on the battlefield in Syria. While outfits like the Guardian, in their article "Arms and the Manpads: Syrian rebels get anti-aircraft missiles," are reporting the missiles as being deployed across Syria, they have attempted to downplay any connection to Libya's looted arsenal and the Al Qaeda terrorists that have imported them. In contrast, Times has published open admissions from terrorists themselves admitting they are receiving heavy weapons including surface-to-air missiles from Libya.


The implications of Western-backed terrorists using chemical weapons, regardless of their origin, has cost the West its already floundering legitimacy, jeopardized its institutions, and has further shook the confidence of the many shareholders invested in them - politically, financially, industrially, and strategically. Such shareholders would be wise to begin looking for exits and cultivating alternatives outside the Wall Street-London international order. (Tony Cartalucci)

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Russia’s Foreign Ministry says Syrian rebels have used chemical weapons, killing 16 people and injuring 100 others.
The ministry said the attack represented an “extremely dangerous” development in the two-year Syrian crisis.

The Obama administration rejected the Assad claim as a sign of desperation by a besieged government intent on drawing attention from its war atrocities — some 70,000 dead, more than 1 million refugees and 2.5 million people internally displaced.
While a U.S. official said there was no evidence that either Assad forces or the opposition had used chemical weapons in an attack in northern Syria, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican, said there was a "high probability" that the government had used the weapons.
"We need that final verification, but given everything we know over the last year and a half, I would come to the conclusion that they are either positioned for use, and ready to do that, or in fact have been used," Rogers told CNN in an interview.

Dempsey along with former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the heads of the CIA and State Department favored the idea of arming Syrian rebels during discussions within the Obama administration last year.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Referring to Tuesday’s attack, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi described it as “the first act by the government announced in Istanbul.”

He was referring to the meeting convened Monday by the Syrian National Coalition, a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated front cobbled together last November under the direction of the US State Department. The gathering, consisting of a total of 63 people, chose Ghassan Hitto, a naturalized American citizen and IT business executive from Texas who left Syria more than 30 years ago, as “prime minister” of what the front is calling an “interim government.”

Hitto follows in the footsteps of Abdurraheem el-Keib, installed as Libya’s prime minister following the US-NATO war for regime change in that country. Like Hitto, Keib was also a US citizen with close ties to the oil industry, who had been out of Libya for 35 years.


It also lays bare the reactionary role played by a coterie of pseudo-left groups ranging from the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France to the Socialist Workers Party in Britain, the Left Party in Germany and the International Socialist Organization in the United States. All of them have sought to cast these sordid maneuvers and the bloody sectarian war for regime change as a social revolution, in which imperialist intervention can serve to further human rights and social progress. (World Socialist Website)


Conferring often, the men said the body had been set up at the request of the people of Aleppo after the units involved in creating it had won their trust, through “their honesty on the battlefield and the fact that they are not interested in looting,” the spokesman said.
A wide range of cases are adjudicated, including kidnapping, murder, marriage and divorce, he said, and the authority has a department that administers issues such as property and vehicle ownership.
The codes applied are “derived from the Islamic religion,” the spokesman said, but the most extreme Islamic punishments, such as cutting off the hands of thieves, are not imposed because Islamic law requires that they be suspended during war.
Instead, he said, sentences of five to 40 lashes for offenses such as drug abuse, adultery and theft are handed down, so that wrongdoers can return to their families, which otherwise might be deprived of wage earners if they were kept in prison. “It is not a big punishment, and we don’t use heavy pipes — they are small pipes — to tell him off,” the spokesman said.


“Those people don’t represent the revolution. They don’t understand the revolution,” he said. “They have power, they have guns, but they don’t have support. When there are free elections, you will see.”
Whether there will be free elections anytime soon is in doubt. Jabhat al-Nusra has denounced elections as anti-Islamic, and Abu Hafs and his spokesman refused to discuss whether there would be elections.
With President Bashar al-Assad showing no sign that he is prepared to give way, the Islamists gaining ground in the areas he no longer controls and Western countries still refusing to arm more-moderate battalions, “Jabhat al-Nusra will grow stronger and stronger,” said Mohammed Najib Banna, an Islamist jurist who belongs to a rival effort to set up a judiciary in Aleppo that has been eclipsed by the Hayaa. Last month, the authority’s gunmen surrounded the courthouse where the United Judicial Council had installed itself, detained all those inside, including judges, note-takers and bodyguards, and imprisoned them at the former Eye Hospital.
They were freed the following day, and negotiations are underway to merge the two councils. But the talks have not borne fruit, in part because of ideological differences, the jurist said.
“Their ideology comes from outside Syria, and, unfortunately, it is the same ideology they tried to apply in Afghanistan and Iraq. They failed there, and now they are trying here,” he said.
In the dingy storefront in one of the Aleppo neighborhoods where activists still organize regular peaceful protests against the regime, Ibrahim, widely known by his nickname, Abu Mariam, dismissed the beating he received as “nothing.”
It didn’t hurt, he said, because the pipe was thin, “like the ones used in a toilet. It was just a reprimand, a way of saying, ‘Don’t do it again.’ ”
And it won’t happen again, he said, because he and his fellow activists have since made peace with the local Islamist protesters whose attempts to usurp a demonstration by Ibrahim’s group prompted him to toss aside their flag.
“We as Syrians feel it is more important to focus on toppling the regime,” said Ibrahim, a wiry, 30-year-old truck driver who joined the revolt in its first weeks two years ago. “It is not in our interest to open a second front in our revolution. We have one enemy now; we don’t want to end up with two.”
“I think the real war will start after toppling the regime,” he added, reflecting the fears of many Syrians that their war has only just begun. By , Mar 19, 2013 10:31 PM EDT


King Abdullah II, a key U.S.-ally, told The Associated Press in an interview that in his view, Syrian President Bashar Assad was beyond rehabilitation and it was only a matter of time before his authoritarian regime collapses. But he said he opposed foreign military intervention.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inbox/13d999949e3ae795 Nile Bowie

Several high-profile members of Syria’s opposition coalition boycotted the vote for interim prime minister, citing what they viewed as a foreign-backed campaign to elect Hitto. Kamal Labwani, a veteran opposition campaigner, was reported as saying, "We don't want what happened in Egypt to happen in Syria. They hijacked the revolution." Those who abstained from the vote accuse Hitto of being a puppet of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the SNC’s decisions were being dictated from the outside. Walid al-Bunni, another senior figure in the opposition, stated, "The Muslim Brotherhood, with the backing of Qatar, have imposed their prime minister candidate. We will keep away if the coalition does not reconsider its choice." Let’s just get this straight - Assad, a leader whose presence today is a testament to the fact that he continues to enjoy majority popular support, is considered to have lost his legitimacy. On the other hand, Hitto, a man with no political experience who received 35 votes out of 49 ballots cast during a Syrian National Coalition meeting, is supposed to be legitimate representative of the Syrian people?


The Syrian government charged that the Western-backed fighters fired the rocket carrying the chemical warhead. By all accounts, the device hit a government-controlled village outside of Aleppo. Opposition sources said that most of the victims were Syrian government soldiers, while sources in Syria described them as Alawite civilians, a population that largely supports Assad.

The assassination of Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti removes one of the few remaining pillars of support for the Alawite leader among the majority sect that has risen up against him.

Syrian TV began its evening newscast with a phone announcement from the religious endowments minister, Mohammad Abdelsattar al-Sayyed, declaring al-Buti's "martyrdom" as his voice choked up. It then showed parts of his sermon last Friday in which he praised the military for battling the "mercenaries" and said Syria was being subjected to a "universal conspiracy."


The statement made by the UN secretary-general became a response to the official request made by Syrian authorities on Wednesday to appoint an independent mission to investigate the March 19 chemical attack on the outskirts of Aleppo that claimed lives of at least 25 people.
"I have decided to conduct a United Nations investigation into the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria," Ban Ki-moon told reporters, specifying that the investigation will focus on the Aleppo attack, "the specific incident brought to my attention by the Syrian government."


The UN decision to investigate the Aleppo chemical attack as a single case contradicts the position of Britain and France, which followed the claims of the Syrian opposition saying that there were two chemical weapons attacks, one in Aleppo and another in Damascus, demanding that both be investigated simultaneously.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


In the letter, the duo suggests Obama take several steps, including U.S. airstrikes to cripple Assad’s Air Force to “ease the suffering of the Syrian people and protect U.S. national security interests.”

Visiting Jordan today, President Obama warned that extremists could fill the political vacuum left when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is finally ousted from power, creating another big problem for the region.


Obama became defensive when asked why the U.S. does not have a concrete plan to oust Assad. “I think that what your question may be suggesting is, why haven’t we simply gone in militarily? And you know, I think it’s fair to say that the United States often finds itself in a situation where if it goes in militarily, then it’s criticized for going in militarily, and if it doesn’t go in militarily, then people say, why aren’t you doing something militarily?” he explained.
“We haven’t just led with words, but we’ve also led with deeds,” he said. “We have worked diligently, in cooperation with the international community, to help organize and mobilize a political opposition that is credible, because in the absence of a credible political opposition, it will be impossible for us to transition to a more peaceful and more representative and legitimate government structure inside of Syria.”


There is also no NATO or U.S. radar or satellite intelligence indicating the launch of a SCUD missile at the time of the attack, according to the military official
"The fact that it's not a weapon doesn't mean it's not some creative use of a caustic agent," the first official said.
Officials say this is an emerging conclusion and there still may be more intelligence that will come to light


(ANSAmed) - ROME, MARCH 22 - The international community must help Syria end its civil war through reconciliation and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must be a part of that process, the Chaldean bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo, told ANSAmed in an interview on Friday.


But the new binational survey – produced for YouGov-Cambridge, the polling company's academic thinktank – finds US voters opposed to the idea of supplying munitions by a 29-point margin: 45% against to 16% in favour.
Identical questions were posed in Britain, where David Cameron has, with the French president, François Hollande, recently tried and failed to persuade the EU to lift its arms embargo. But the British public emerges as even more strongly against: 57% oppose arming the rebels and 16% are in favour.


A decade on from the invasion of 2003, YouGov reaffirms the verdict of other pollsters and finds a rough two-to-one (53%-27%) balance of Britons saying that the war launched by George Bush and Tony Blair was wrong rather than right.
US opinion is more evenly divided, with those who believe the war was right holding a slim 41%-38% edge. And whereas in Britain, opposition is consistent across supporters of different parties, in the US the political divide is stark. Democrats judge the war a mistake by a 53%-23% margin, but Republicans remain even more convinced that it was right, splitting 72% to 12% in favour.


Many of these women are not equipped to support their families, having been raised to keep the home and hearth while husbands and fathers provided for them. The true cost of how the war is ripping apart the nation is evident in the brutal life choices Syrian women are forced to make to survive.Grasping for the security of a husband and home, hundreds of girls are being sold into early marriage. These are undoubtedly forced marriages but the truth has several shades of grey: some mothers believe they are protecting their daughters from further hardship and violence, others are desperate to pay the bills. Yet their voices are rarely heard because their lives are lived behind closed doors, their private tragedies not shared with outsiders. ...The legal age of marriage in Jordan is 18 but some religious clerics will marry underage girls for a small fee. This puts the girls at even greater risk for exploitation because some of Um Majed’s clients want a temporary union lasting a few weeks or months after which the girl is returned to her parents.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


The leader of the Free Syrian Army was wounded in a car bomb explosion early on Monday, media outlets in the Arab world are reporting.
Al Jazeera reported that Riad al-Asaad, the commander of the rebel force, was severely wounded after an explosive device was attached to his vehicle.


The CIA reportedly has a hand in clandestine supply of arms to Syrian rebels by Gulf States. At least 3,500 tons of have been delivered - some ending up on the black market, with the Turkish government an active player, a media report says.
The flow of arms continues with the help of US agents as Washington criticizes Iran and Russia for delivering weapons to the Syrian regime, the New York Times says. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Iraq on Sunday to close its airspace to Iranian flights just as the latest arms delivery from Qatar for Syrian rebels was landing in Turkey, according to the daily’s report.


Syrian opposition is facing turmoil as the head of the opposition coalition Moaz al-Khatib resigned on Sunday and the so-called “Free Syrian Army” rejected the group’s appointment of an interim prime minister.


Shortly after Khatib announced his resignation, the so-called “Free Syrian Army” refused to recognize Hitto as prime minister, spokesman Louay al-Mekdad said.


"They have forgotten that it is the people who grant the powers and not the emirs of obscurantism and sand," the paper added, in an apparent reference to key opposition supporters Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The Arab League summit opening Tuesday in Doha "will take place under Qatari supervision with the main goal to finish off Syria. They forget... that the Arabs, without Syria, would not be real Arabs," the paper said.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

i should be getting the parts i ned next week, til then it will be coule mor days b4 i can catch up again

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Thus, the picture that emerges – alongside other tell tale signs lately – is that a western military intervention in Syria could be in the making. A major consideration could be the timing. Iran is preparing for a crucial presidential election in June and will be heavily preoccupied with its domestic politics for the coming several months thereafter.


However, the crucial operational aspect will be that in order for the US-NATO-Turkish operation to be optimal, Israel also needs to be brought in. A close cooperation between Turkey and Israel at the operational level can be expected to swiftly pulverize the Syrian regime from the north and south simultaneously. Hence the diligence with which Obama moved to heal the Turkish-Israeli rift. --Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR


Twelve-year-old Mohamed Asaf's days are filled treating Aleppo's war wounded. He starts work at 8am and usually gets to bed by 11pm.

When filmmaker Marcel Mettelsiefen meets him in the city's Dar al-Shifa clinic, Mohamed is battling to save a young girl's life.

For the people in Aleppo have much to fear. Three days after we filmed 11-year-old Yussef Mohamed treating an injured soldier he was killed by a government shell.


In the face of rebel attacks, Shiites in dozens of villages just inside Syria have fled here to a part of Lebanon dominated by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, the villagers and Hezbollah representatives say. Those who have been displaced credit Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., with providing shelter and security.


A visit to the border area arranged with Hezbollah representatives provided a glimpse into a war raging along the Orontes River basin in towns and villages near the city of Qusair, just a few miles from the Lebanese frontier.

The largely agricultural area, with snowcapped peaks in the distance, is of considerable strategic importance. Rebel forces covet it as a transit corridor for fighters and weaponry, a flow the Syrian military is trying to choke off.


Nearby, a concrete irrigation ditch marks the border. Across the way, relaxed Syrian troops, including several in sneakers, staff an observation post as farmers tend to wheat fields and olive groves. They were the only Syrian soldiers visible during the visit to the border area.

Standing at the irrigation canal, another militiaman showed a reporter a grisly cellphone video in which a man said to be a Syrian rebel appears to use a machete to decapitate a captive. Such videos circulate freely on all sides of the divide. The Hezbollah fighter, who gave his name as Mehdi, claimed the victim was killed because he was a Shiite.


A suicide bombing in northern Damascus on Tuesday killed three people and wounded several others, state news agency SANA reported, hours after a girl was killed in a mortar attack in the city.


Earlier on Tuesday, in the central Baramkeh district, “a young girl was killed and several other students were injured when mortars fired by terrorists hit a school compound,” SANA said, without giving the victim’s age.

“Shells also landed on two (other) schools... injuring four civilians, including a teacher, and damaging the buildings,” SANA added.

The Britain-based Observatory confirmed the report, adding that an unknown number of people were injured.

Earlier, state television reported a mortar attack on the same district, near SANA’S headquarters, describing it as “a new attack on Syrian media by terrorists”.

The attack left three civilians dead, it added, without specifying whether there were journalists among them.

Elsewhere in Syria, regime troops seized Baba Amr in the central city of Homs, the Observatory said, two weeks after fighting erupted in the flashpoint district.

Rebel fighters had re-entered Baba Amr after the army launched an all-out assault aimed at crushing the insurgency in besieged insurgent enclaves of central Homs.


The author is a Syrian citizen living in Damascus who is not being further identified out of safety concerns.
Syrian rebels carried out mortar and rocket attacks on Sunday and Monday in what appeared to mark a new escalation in the fighting over the Syrian capital.


Every now and then, Damascus is abuzz with the latest statements from rebels claiming that the "final battle" for Damascus has arrived.
"The shaking of fortresses has begun," a rebel brigade, Liwa al Islam, said in a statement referring to regime targets in the capital.
"Government installations shall be targeted, including presidential, military and intelligence. They will be pounded with surface-to-surface missiles," it added. "We advise our fellow citizen who live near such government targets to hurriedly leave to a more s

ecure location. As God is our witness, you have been forewarned."


Homs, and particularly Baba Amr, was the epicenter of the armed rebellion against four decades of Assad rule. The two-year uprising, which began as peaceful protests, has since spiraled into a full scale civil war across the country.

The city, 140 km (88 miles) north of Damascus, lies on a road juncture linking army bases on the Mediterranean coast and government forces in the capital Damascus.

Rebels punched through army lines in the north and west of Homs in early March to loosen a months-long military siege on their strongholds in the centre of the Syria's third biggest city.

Baba Amr had been in army hands for a year after they crushed rebel forces who had ensconced themselves in the impoverished district.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/world/middleeast/arms-airlift-to-syrian-rebels-expands-with-cia-aid.html?pagewanted=all&_r=2&The Turkish government has had oversight over much of the program, down to affixing transponders to trucks ferrying the military goods through Turkey so it might monitor shipments as they move by land into Syria, officials said. The scale of shipments was very large, according to officials familiar with the pipeline and to an arms-trafficking investigator who assembled data on the cargo planes involved. ...

He made a gesture as if switching on and off a tap. “They open and they close the way to the bullets like water,” he said.

Two other commanders, Hassan Aboud of Soquor al-Sham and Abu Ayman of Ahrar al-Sham, another Islamist group, said that whoever was vetting which groups receive the weapons was doing an inadequate job.

“There are fake Free Syrian Army brigades claiming to be revolutionaries, and when they get the weapons they sell them in trade,” Mr. Aboud said.

The former American official noted that the size of the shipments and the degree of distributions are voluminous.

“People hear the amounts flowing in, and it is huge,” he said. “But they burn through a million rounds of ammo in two weeks.”


nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


The main reason the arms trade talks took place at all is that the United States - the world's biggest arms exporter - reversed U.S. policy on the issue after President Barack Obama was first elected and decided in 2009 to support an arms treaty.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


Each of the five BRICS nations will contribute up to 10 billion dollars in the launching of the development bank, which could take several years to be up and running.

The bank will operate on national currencies, rather than using a single currency and will be used in bilateral and multilateral trade deals.

BRICS members say the current global balance of power is unworkable, with institutions such as the WB, the IMF and the United Nations Security Council irrelevant in addressing matters concerning global economics.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm


The long-running Doha round of trade negotiations began in 2001, and Lamy officially declared an impasse in the talks in December 2011.



Unlike similar organizations such as the various arms of the UN, whose chiefs are nominated, the WTO elects its leader based on a consensus system, meaning any member can block the process.
In January the candidates set out their stall at the WTO’s general council, which groups the member states, making 10-minute presentations before being quizzed by delegations.


Created in 1995, the WTO aims to advance global trade negotiations in a drive to spur growth by opening markets and removing trade barriers, including subsidies, excessive taxes and regulations.
Its so-called Doha Round of talks was launched in 2001, with the stated goal of harnessing global commerce to development in poorer nations, but has faltered in the face of obstacles set in particular by China, the EU, India and the United States.
The momentum has moved to regional and bilateral deals, such as a planned trans-Atlantic trade pact between the US and EU, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership being negotiated by players including the US, Canada, Chile, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.
Supporters of a WTO-wide deal warn that regional and bilateral accords create a “spaghetti bowl” of sometimes conflicting trade rules and thereby fail to serve global commerce.

nimblecivet's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Conservatives supposedly hate freeloading. So why are they trying to legalize it?

Conservatives supposedly hate freeloaders.

So why do they support right to work laws - which literally legalize freeloading?

Our nation's nine unelected monarchs on the Supreme Court are poised to deal yet another blow to organized labor.

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