The “Half-men” respond to the Boy-king

In 2006, and during the Israeli war on Lebanon, Bashar Al-Assad, claiming leadership of the Arab resistance camp, and using the popularity of Hizbullah’s struggle against Israel to burnish his own image, called Arab leaders “half-men”. Whether that was on the minds of the 18 foreign ministers who voted yes for the suspension of the participation of the Syrian delegation in all of the league’s activities and meetings remain to be found by those who write books of political intrigue and personalities. For now, it is clear that the Syrian regime thought that its policy makers are smarter than the “Bedouins” and has underestimated their resolve and intelligence.

The Chair of the meeting today, Qatar’s foreign minister outlined the decision in 7 points. Here they are in Arabic, then in English:

نص البيان

أولا :نظرا لعدم التزام سوريا بالتنفيذ الكامل والفوري للمبادرة العربية قررنا تعليق مشاركة الوفود السورية في انشطة الجامعة العربية لحين تنفيذ دمشق المبادرة العربية.

ثانيا: توفير الحماية للمدنيين السوريين بالاتصال الفوري
بالمنظمات المعنية بما فيها الأمم المتحدة ، في حين عدم توقف اعمال العنف والقتل.

ثالثا: دعوة الجيش العربي السوري للامتناع عن التورط في اعمال القتل والعنف ضد المدنيين.

رابعا: توقيع عقوبات اجتماعية واقتصادية على الحكومة السورية
في حال عدم الالتزام.

خامسا: دعوة دول الجامعة العربية لسحب سفرائها من دمشق ، مع الاخذ في الاعتبار ان هذا القرار سيادي.

سادسا: دعوة جميع اطراف المعارضة للاجتماع في مقر الجامعة خلال 3 أيام للاتفاق على رؤية موحدة لمرحلة انتقالية في سوريا ، ويقرر ما يراه مناسب للاعتراف بالمعارضة السورية.

سابعا: بقاء المجلس الوزاري العربي في حالة انعقاد دائم لحين متابعة الموقف.

Text of the Statement from the Arab League Ministerial Committee

  • First: Due to lack of commitment from Syria to the full and immediate implementation of the initiative, we have decided to suspend the participation of Syrian Arab delegations in the activities of the Arab League until  Damascus implements the Arab initiative
  • Second: Provide protection to Syrian civilians through the prompt contact with relevant organization including the United Nations as long as there is no halt to violence and murder
  • Third: Call on the Syrian Arab Army to abstain from being involved in the killing and violence against civilians
  • Fourth: Initiate social and economic punitive measures against the Syrian government in case of lack of commitment
  • Fifth: Calls on all Member States of the Arab League to withdraw their Ambassadors from Damascus, while remaining cognizant that this is a sovereign decision.
  • Sixth: Call on all sides of the opposition to meet in the League’s headquarters within three days to agree on a unified vision for a transition phase in Syria and for the council to decide on what it sees as appropriate in the matter of recognition of the Syrian opposition .
  • Seventh: Maintain the Ministerial Council in permanent session to follow up on the situation.

Some of my own thinking about the 7 items:

First: Due to lack of compliance from Syria to the full and immediate implementation of the initiative, we have decided to suspend the participation of Arab delegations in the activities of the Arab League until the Damascus implements the Arab initiative

While this is not a suspension of Syria’s membership in the League, it is still significant step. In addition, the Arab league here puts the blame squarely in the regime’s court. It is Assad’s regime who failed, willingly to comply with the league’s initiative, even after it was modified to address the regime’s request. The league also indicates that its members consider the statement delivered earlier by the Assad’s ambassador to the league as disingenuous attempt at gaining more time and they said no.

Second: Provide protection to Syrian civilians through the prompt contact with relevant organization including the United Nations as long as there is no halt to violence and murder

This is a very important item. It is the mechanism through which the architects of the AL initiative hope to regain momentum in the UN for the Syrian issue after the Russian and Chinese block. They now have mandate from the AL to bring Syria’s non-compliance with an initiative it signed on to UN Security Council.  The Russian and Chinese Ambassadors to the UNSC will now be in a bind, especially after their own governments have called on Syria to start implementing real reform and to put an end to the bloodshed nearly two months ago after the first attempt at UNSC. What will be the outcome at the UNSC is still undetermined and it will depend a lot on the outcome of other steps in this recent decision by the Arab League.

Third: Call on the Syrian Arab Army to reject being involved in the killing and violence against civilians

I did not expect this one. It came as a surprise and an incredible moral boost. It is a direct call by the Arab league to the Syrian Army to revolt against the thugs who are forcing its members to become involved in the killing of their own country people. It is also a warning that soldiers and officers engaged in such murders will be liable in the future.  This is a call for disobedience that will resonate and should be used to the hilt by the opposition.  However, I would caution against this call being considered a recognition by the AL of the FSA as a legitimate liberation force. Such will depend again on what the opposition does in the next 72 hours (by now 66 hours).

Fourth: Initiate social and economic punitive measures against the Syrian government in case of lack of commitment

No more invitation for Syrian Ambassadors to receptions held in Arab embassies worldwide. No more direct communication with Assad and his inner circle, and a halt to any investment or development project with increasingly tight economic sanctions. It is likely that an increased scrutiny of bank accounts will ensue and things will get uglier for the regime’s big fishes.

Fifth: Calls on all Member States of the Arab League to withdraw their Ambassadors from Damascus, while remaining cognizant that this is a sovereign decision.

Again, this is a clear call for complete isolation. It is unlikely to be followed by all countries and it may take time to implement, but it also gives impetuous for other countries who are not members of the AL to withdraw their ambassadors in recognition of the legitimacy of the AL. Given the hysteria on Syrian media, I expect that several embassies will soon be closed to protect the staff. Continuing insult of members of the league will accelerate the process. You can count on the Syrian regime, its trumpets, and media, to do the job.

Sixth: Call on all sides of the opposition to meet in the League’s headquarters within three days to agree on a unified vision for a transition phase in Syria and for the council to decide on what it sees as appropriate in the matter of recognition of the Syrian opposition 

This is one huge nail in the regime’s coffin. It is also the most serious challenge to the opposition. Some elements in the internal opposition will now face a new reality. If they want to claim legitimacy as part of the opposition, they will have to work within the framework now adopted by the league including the possibility of UNSC decision, and the clear admonition of Assad’s army. No longer can some play both sides since the AL has defined the parameters. The dialog is now defined as being a dialog within the opposition to identify a unified vision for the inevitable transition phase, which does not include the regime in the discussion. The league’s ministers probably intentionally put in a very short time to force the opposition into the table without allowing for maneuvering and to force them to identify commonality rather than bicker and get into backstabbing deals. This will filter the opposition and force fake opposition into the open where they have to declare their loyalty to the maintenance of this dead man walking regime. Recognition of the opposition by the AL opens doors to recognition by many more countries in waiting.

Seventh: Maintain the Ministerial Council in permanent session to follow up on the situation.

They’ll be watching

Syrian Regime Ambassador Reacts to the Decision

UPDATE: 

Syrian Regime unleashed its mobs against several embassies and consulates. —  developing

Syrian regime is again orchestrating series of “spontaneous” demonstrations objecting to the AL decision — developing

All of a sudden, the fierce pan Arab nationalist regime sycophants are striking the word Arab from the republic name. Expecting a reactionary official decree sometime soon…

So What is Next

Here is a flow-chart of the upcoming process. It can use more details (e.g., including Russia, China and other variables). But for now it relates to the AL.

Flow chart of possible outcomes in Syria's events during the next few days based on statements and press coverage of the 7 points Arab League statement regarding the wanton failure of the Syrian regime to implement the Arab League Initiative to which in signed on.

Posted on November 12, 2011, in Arab Spring, Bashar Al-Assad, Syria and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 199 Comments.

  1. US plot to wage Syria war revealed
    Thu Nov 17, 2011

    Informed sources in Syria say they have discovered a pre-fabricated US scenario for the country’s future, seeking to wage war against the nation from various fronts, Press TV reports.

    Read more:

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/210597.html

  2. CSI HAMA,

    So you’re relying on an Iranian news agency for the veracity of that unsubstantiated article?

    BTW, I enjoyed the few comments posted just after the article…

  3. AP

    The article was for amusement.

  4. CSI Hama,

    Sorry, I keep forgetting I’m not on SC.

  5. ?استراحة المحارب ام ترقب وهدؤ يسبق العاصفة

  6. Asma Packs her Bags NewZ

    OTW,

    Do you think Athad, when cornered, will pick up a kalishnakov and fight back? He was always so keen on resistance, you’d thiink he’d set an example for the jihadists he has supported all these years, Or he may just hide in a “spider hole” or a concrete pipe like his heroes Saddam and the Colonel…

  7. AP
    I really don’t know what he will do. But most self obsessed leaders, and those who think they are on a divine mission, be it from god or nation, have shown the ability to fight with someone else’s blood and treasure. This off course applies to some in our own country such as GWB and Chaney. Saddam did the same, but he faced his fate with reasonable courage. I guess we’ll never know for the others. Hole or no hole, I hope that everyone who killed an innocent soul will eventually face up for that crime in a court of law. Bare in mind that I am against capital punishment.

  8. This off course applies to some in our own country such as GWB and Chaney.

    OTW,

    You said that just to “get me going”, didn’t you?

    I voted for the Bush/Cheney ticket and they served both their terms admirably. They are not “Presidents-for-Life” like so many in the ME.

  9. AP
    I am not claiming that GWB and Cheney were tyrants, but it is true that both felt that they were on a divine mission, and that both fought wars that were unnecessary. The Arab spring was bound to happen for economic and dignity reasons if for nothing else. I am now more convinced than ever. Off course hindsight is always 20/20.

    The two served their terms like any other US president and his vice president. No matter what they did during their service, they left the office with dignity befitting the office. Bush did better than Cheney by disappearing, politically, for while, and allowing the new president to serve without looking like he is trying to serve a third term as a shadow president, but that is what most of our presidents did, no?

    We are fortunate that we have term limits and the institutions to enforce it. That, we never disagreed on. And to be honest with you, while I am not a believer in exceptionalism, i do think immigrants like me owe it to our host country to spread the word. It is not a romantic thing, it is simply stating the fact which both of us agree on.

  10. هل الجامعة العربيّة قادرة على إنقاذ سوريا؟

    http://www.dohainstitute.org/file/pdfViewer/4b7ebd70-e1ac-42ee-8ee1-d8bb94f6bb3a.pdf

  11. Ladies and Gentlemen,

    I am going back to Syria shortly and this is my last post…..for now.

    Dear Mr. OTW, I would be honored if you consider me a “7ee6ani”. I know what “7” stands for, is “6” supposed to be “ح”?

    I will be reading every comment. Congratulation on a successful blog..

    Dear 7ee6anis, try to help the distressed and suffering families of the protesters..

  12. Dear مندس
    Please stay safe. You are definitely 7ee6ani and your presence with us honor us all. Tel my beautiful Syria, I missed her terribly.

    7 = ح
    6 = ط

    حيطان
    7ee6an

    If possible, remember the names of the distressed.

  13. Dear Mundas,
    I just finished watching the torture of the mayor of Kafranbel. I am still shaking with rage. Please be careful and take good care of yourself and your family. We are all with you. May God help Syria and its courageous people.

  14. Dear 7ee6anis,

    It’s time for some humor with non other than regime trumpet Taleb Ibrahim.

    For those who don’t speak Arabic, Taleb Ibrahim states in no uncertain terms that if forced to do so, Syria will impose a no-fly zone in the Eastern Mediterranean. Moreover, Syria will also impose a maritime blockade in the same area. All of this Syria will do alone without the help of Iran or Hizbulah.

  15. Dear مندس

    Be careful; clean your laptop before going. Be safe. I envy you.
    Yours in the struggle

  16. Interesting opinion from the NYT. I happen to agree with all of it. It also emphasizes the Iran issue in making the AL assertive.

    The Devil We Knew
    By ITAMAR RABINOVICH
    During the first 25 years of its existence, until Hafez al-Assad came to power in 1970, the Syrian republic was a weak unstable state, an arena in which regional and international rivalries were played out. The first Assad reversed this state of affairs by turning Syria into a comparatively stable and powerful state, a player in regional and international politics.

    This was part of the unwritten pact between the regime and Syria’s urban population. Stability, prestige and a leading role in Arab nationalist “resistance” (to the United States and Israel) made up for the regime’s authoritarianism and corruption, and the hegemony of the minority Alawite sect.

    The outbreak of the revolt against the regime last March marked the end of this unwritten contract, and pushed Syria back to its pre-1970 state. It is once again an arena of regional and international rivalries, reflecting the changes that are transforming the region’s politics.

    The Syrian revolt is, of course, primarily a struggle between the regime — now led by Assad’s son Bashar — and its domestic foes over the nature and character of the Syrian state. But it is equally significant as a war by proxy between Iran and its rivals.

    In its quest for regional hegemony, Iran built a “resistance axis” comprised of itself, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. Syria was a crucial member of this axis, affording Iran access to its Lebanese assets and to the Mediterranean. Bashar al-Assad’s fall would deal a mortal blow to this axis, and Iran is making a major investment in trying to shore up his beleaguered regime.

    This is matched by two counterefforts. One is by Turkey. Until recently, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government had a close relationship with Syria as part of a policy sometimes call “neo-Ottomanism” and sometimes “zero conflict with neighbors.” But the rise of opposition to Assad’s regime, its persistence and its brutal suppression, have turned Turkey into an active foe.

    Turkey is worried by the repercussions of instability and potential chaos in Syria for its own stability, particularly in the Kurdish context. It also feels uncomfortable with the role played by Iran so close to its southern border.

    Turkey’s original policy of “zero conflicts” included an attempt to improve relations with Iran. But there could never be a comfortable relationship between a large Sunni state and a large Shiite state both vying for regional hegemony. With Iran seeking influence in Iraq and acting against Turkey’s policy and interests in Syria, an implicit rivalry is coming to the surface.

    The other effort is Saudi Arabia’s. Several developments have combined to alter the kingdom’s role from a reluctant wielder of discreet influence to that of a manifest, more aggressive regional power: Egypt’s current weakness; American reticence; and the threats presented by the Arab Spring.

    The Saudis intervened forcefully in Bahrain, are active in Yemen and are shoring up King Abdullah in Jordan.

    But for several months they were passive with regard to Syria. Like other states in the region — and like the United States and Europe — they were unhappy with Bashar al-Assad, but essentially subscribed to a policy of “the devil we know.” Bad as Assad’s brutality was, it seemed preferable to the dangers of anarchy, possible fragmentation and an uncertain future, given the fact that the Syrian opposition is largely an unknown.

    More recently, however, Saudi Arabia came to the conclusion that defeating Iran on the Syrian stage is the dominant consideration. This conclusion is shared by other Arab states, which explains the shift in the Arab League’s position and the extraordinary steps it has taken against the Assad regime.

    It is also a prime example of how “soft power” can be used by countries, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, that may not be a military match for Tehran.

    The roles played by Turkey and the Arab League are also a byproduct of the modest role played by the United States.

    In the Libyan crisis, President Obama sought to “lead from behind.” In the Syrian crisis, Washington does not lead at all. Yes, the American ambassador, Robert Ford, played a courageous role; the administration imposed some sanctions, and has used strong words to denounce Assad. But Washington does not have a coherent policy, and seems content to have regional powers in the driver’s seat in this crisis.

    Israel is passive as well. In 2005, when George W. Bush wanted to topple Bashar al-Assad, then-prime minister Ariel Sharon cautioned against doing so, using the “devil we know” argument. Assad was Iran’s close ally and Lebanon’s oppressor, a patron of Hamas and an anti-American actor in Iraq, but the alternative to his rule, according to the conventional wisdom at the time, was the Muslim Brotherhood.

    This is not Israel’s policy now. After the discovery of Assad’s secret cooperation with North Korea, and given the threats to its national security by Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, Israel came to the conclusion that there is more potential damage in Assad’s survival than in his departure.

    Deeply preoccupied with the Iranian threat, Israel is of the opinion that extracting the Syrian brick from the Iranian wall could usher in a new phase in regional politics. Clearly both Hamas and Hezbollah are treading more softly now.

    There is another dimension to this issue. Since 1973, Syria under both Assads fought Israel by proxy in the Lebanese and Palestinian arenas, but kept the Golan front quiet. This may change. Last May and June, Palestinian demonstrators were encouraged to approach the border fence at two sites in the Golan Heights and to try to break through it.

    Bashar al-Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf, recently warned, “if there is no stability here, there’s no way there will be stability in Israel,” and similar threats have been made by Syria’s foreign minister and by the leader of Hezbollah. The essence of these threats is that the regime does not intend to fall quietly, and should there be any external intervention, or should the final hour come, it might use its own and Hezbollah’s missiles against Israel and possibly other neighbors. Israel does not have a direct influence on the course of events in Syria, but it does have to take such threats seriously.

    There seems to be no real prospect of external military intervention in Syria. But the policies of external actors will have a major impact on the position of the Syrian army and on the middle classes of Damascus and Aleppo that so far have been sitting on the fence.

    The United States, France and other powers that traditionally played an important role in the Levant do not need to resort to military action. They have a full arsenal of diplomatic and economic assets that could tilt the current conflict in Syria, put an end to brutal suppression and bloodshed, and help the Arab Spring register another achievement.

    Itamar Rabinovich has served as Israel’s chief negotiator with Syria and as Israel’s ambassador in Washington. His books include “The View from Damascus.”

  17. AIG
    A reasonable analysis, but I would have liked to see a little more on the reason why KSA changed position and “came to the conclusion that defeating Iran on the Syrian stage is the dominant consideration.”

  18. هذا ماقاله بشار الأسد في لقائنا معه ..

    by Houssam Arian on Friday, November 18, 2011 at 3:03pm
    From FB

    Note: Bold emphasis on answers is added by OTW

    في البداية أود أن أشير إلى رفضي نشر الجانب المأساوي من النقاش سابقاً, وقد تم نشر ماصرحت به عبر الهاتف لجريدة السفير بجملة واحدة مفادها أننا ذهبنا لطرح الحلول لا إستجرار مطالبنا الشخصية ومع ذلك فقد كان جزء من الحاضرين يحملون مطالباً شخصية ..

    كما أود أن أسخط جملة “ماهي مطالبكم” حيث كانت تتردد على لسان كل مسؤول نصادفه وفي وقت سابق عبر إذاعة صوت الشباب أيضاً, وكأننا ذهبنا للتسول ..

    في الـخامس من أيار لسنة 2011 وعبر إتصال هاتفي من الإتحاد الوطني لطلبة سورية أبلغت بأنه تم طرح إسمي مع مجموعة من شباب سورية من مختلف المدن السورية, لمقابلة الرئيس الأسد للبحث في الشؤون العامة واللقاء بعد يومين أي بتاريخ 7/5/2011, قبلت وسافرت إلى دمشق ..

    في القصر الجمهوري هناك كان اللقاء, دخلنا جميعاً 14 شاباً وبعد الترحيب والتعارف بدأت الجلسة, فضلت أن أكون آخر الطارحين للمشاكل والحلول لكي لا أسرق فكرة أحدهم عن طريق الصدفة, لكن هنا سأسرد لكم بعض مما أذهلني بطريقة الردود أو التعامل المنتظر ..

    يجب تفعيل دور حزب البعث لأنه خلال العقود الماضية, المواطن السوري لم يلمس أهمية الحزب القائد في الدولة ..

    هذه الإجابة كانت من الرئيس الأسد على مداخلة لفتاة أتت من حمص حين طرحت فكرة إلغاء المادة الثامنة من الدستور بأسرع وقت ممكن لكي لاندخل في سجالات جديدة, والسماح للمعارضة بحرية التعبير, وتأسيس الأحزاب المعارضة لحزب البعث ..


    خدمة العلم بمفهومها الحالي هي خدمة للوطن وحتى لو كان الطبيب يقف عند الحواجز العسكرية ويحارب فهو بذلك يخدم وطنه ..

    جواب مختصر تلقاه أحد الأعضاء المشاركين معنا وكان آتياً من القامشلي, حين طرح فكرة تحويل مفهوم خدمة العلم إلى خدمة الوطن بوضع الإختصاص المناسب في المكان المناسب عبر إرسال المهندسين على سبيل المثال للمشاركة في المشاريع التابعة للحكومة وإرسال الأساتذة للتدريس في القرى, بهذه الطريقة الدولة تحقق فائدتين الأولى منهم هي تحقيق تغطية للمدارس في كافة الأراضي السورية, والثانية هي توفير مبالغ لابأس بها ويمكن الإستفادة منها في تحسين مستوى المدارس عمرانياً في بعض المناطق ..

    – وصل الدور لشاب قدم من الحسكة حين أدلى بمداخلة بسيطة, وهي توقف الأمن عن الضرب والقتل وإن كان هدفه الإعتقال فليعتقل وليحقق لكن بشكل محترم ..


    الرد كان, نحن نسعى لتدريب رجال شرطة مختصين في التعامل مع المتظاهرين وسيباشرون عملهم خلال أشهر قليلة ..

    كان ذلك أهم ماتم طرحه, حسب وجهة نظري أنذاك قبل أن أتوجه بثلاث نقاط للرئيس الأسد أولها كانت ..
    طالما أن رواية الحكومة صادقة ولاتحمل أي نوع من الأكاذيب والتلفيق, إذاً فلندع الإعلام يدخل إلى سوريا وليرى بأم عينيه مايدور على أرضنا ولتثبت الحكومة السورية أنها أصدق منهم ..

    جائني الرد, نحن لسنا بحاجة للإعلام الخارجي لسببين, أولهم أن وكالات الأنباء العالمية لديها مراسلين في شتى أنحاء العالم, عدا سورية .. فلذلك يبنغي عليهم أخذ أخبارهم من إعلامنا نحن ونحن من سيعطيهم الأنباء الواقعة على أرضنا, أضف إلى ذلك أن إعلامنا على طول السنين الماضية لم تسمح الفرصة لكي يبرز عالمياً واليوم هاهو يغتنم الفرصة لزيادة خبرته في هذا المجال …

    مداخلتي الثانية :
    الشعوب العربية بغالبيتها تميل للناحية العاطفية, ومع أن هذه الصفة هي من الصفاة الحسنة لكنها قد تكون نقمة على البعض الآخر إذا لم يتم التعامل معها بشكل جاد, لذلك أرى أنه ينبغي على رجال الأمن الإبتعاد عن الإعتقال العشوائي والتعامل مع المعتقلين بشكل حضاري وإنساني ..
    الرد:
    نحن عاطفيون فعلاً, لكن حتى نتغلب على كل ماذكرت يجب علينا أولاً وأخيراً متابعة الإعلام الصادق والمتواجد على الأرض ومن هنا نستطيع أن نحدد إلى أين ينبغي أن تسير عاطفتنا..
    وكما أجبت أحد أصدقائك هنا, نعم نحن نعد كوادر مدربة على التعامل مع المتظاهرين بكل أدب وإحترام ..

    القيادة والحكمة والقضاء لديكم, لماذا لم نرى حتى اليوم محاكمة للمتوطرين في سفك دماء السوريين كعاطف نجيب على سبيل المثال..

    أجل عاطف نجيب متورط “مع طأطأة للرأس” لكن لم يرفع أي شخص دعوى في المحكمة عليه ليتم محاكمته, أضف إلى ذلك هو إبن خالتي وصرلي 22 سنة ماشفته ..!!

    هنا أنا لم أستطع أن أتاملك أعصابي قبل أن أقاطعه قائلاً, لكن في الأمس فقط تم إعتقال عدد من أصدقائي في مظاهرة لم يكونوا مشاركين فيها بالأصل لكن الإعتقال العشوائي طالهم, وعندما ذهبنا للمطالبة بهم وعن طريق محامي, أتانا الرد التالي “أنت ضد مين بدك توكل محامي” ..؟!

    هنا طلب مني أن أعطيه أسماء المعتقلين من أصدقائي, لكن بقي لدي سؤال مبهم, مامصير باقي المعتقلين حتى هذه اللحظة ..؟!

    أكمل حديثه مع المجموعة قائلاً “مبارح 19 واحد بسيف الدولة وكلهم عاطلين العمل” قاطعته من جديد, من بين ال19 شخص هنالك خمسة أطباء وهم اللذين تحدثت عنهم, بالإضافة لذلك الإعتقالات في تلك الليلة تجاوزت المئتين معتقل
    ..
    ثم تابعت
    ماذا بالنسبة لقانون التظاهر الذي لم يطبق بعد..؟

    لا نحن لايهمنا من يتظاهر, لكن مايهمنا أمره هو من يصور ومن يرسل المقاطع للإعلام الخارجي ..

    بعد لحظات
    دخل علينا الحارس الشخصي ليبلغنا بإنتهاء الوقت المحدد ..

    وقبل مغادرتنا, طلب الرئيس الأسد متطوعاً في لقائنا على قناة الدنيا لكي يدلي على الهواء مباشرة مادار بيننا في اللقاء, لم يجبه أحد من بين الحاضرين ..
    صمت الجميع لبرهة, وقاطع الصامتين هو بعبارة “لهالدرجة” ..؟؟
    أجبنا سويةً, أنا ومن في جانبي .. وأكتر كمان ..

  19. OTW,

    Yes, Rabinovich should have been more clear. The straw that broke the Camel’s back is the Iranian interference in Bahrain.

  20. Syrian Regime Revision to the Arab Observers Protocol
    (From Basma Qadmani, Member SNC leadership, few minutes ago on Aljazeera)

    1. No visits to hospitals
    2. No visits to detention centers and Jails
    3. Regime wants to study the personnel files and investigate every single observer
    4. No talking to anyone
    5. Must be accompanied by regime minders.

    I think they should send them with tourist visas, it will be easier to gather information and to get in.

  21. The regime finally takes the bait and tries to stage support demos on Friday under the slogan “the mosques are ours”. The numbers are pretty small. Pictures from SANA speaks for themselves.

    http://www.sana.sy/ara/336/2011/11/18/382480.htm

    I bet all those attending are either mukhabarat or shabiha.

    This settles the argument about “support from millions” with regime demos staged during the working days of the week and made mainly by government employees and school students.

  22. Dear OTW,
    This is an amazing interview. It shows you two things:
    1- How detached from reality Bashar Alassad is.
    2- How simple the solution to this problem could have been.
    It is sad to see that a bunch of kids in their twenties had the answers that could have saved the day while the adult president of a country does not even get it.

  23. Dear Annie,
    I tried to translate OTW’s post for you. I tried to do my best, but this is not my field of expertise, so please forgive the mistakes. Here it is:

    This is what Bashar Alassad said during his meeting with us:
    by Houssam Arian on Friday, November 18, 2011 at 3:03pm

    First, I would like to point out that I refused to publish the disastrous aspect of our debate earlier. What I said, was published by Alsafir Newspaper in one sentence that boils down to this: We went to propose solutions, not to ask for personal favors, despite that, some of the people present did have personal favors to ask. I would also like to say that I resent the question: “what are your demands?” that we heard over and over from every regime representative that we met and earlier over the broadcast of “the students’ voice”. It felt like we were there on a begging mission.

    On May 5, 2011 and through a phone call that I received from the Student union of Syrian students, I was informed that my name came up along with a group of other Syrian youth from all over Syria, to attend a meeting with the president Alassad to discuss the current situation. I was also told that the meeting will take place in two days, i.e. on May 7, 2011. I accepted and traveled to Damascus to attend the meeting at the presidential palace. We all went in. A group of 14 young men and women. After they welcomed us and we introduced ourselves, the meeting started. I chose to be the last to ask any questions about problems and solutions, hoping not to steal anybody else’s ideas without realizing it. Here is what amazed me in terms of the answers that we received:

    We have to activate the role of the Baath party, because in the last few decades, the Syrian citizens did not feel the importance of the ruling party in the government.

    This was the president’s answer to a young woman who came from Homs, when she asked about the proposed idea to cancel article 8 of the constitution with the utmost speed, so that we avoid arguments and allow the opposition free speech and permit the establishment of parties opposed to the Baath party.

    Military service, in its current condition is in fact national service. Even if you thought of a doctor manning a check point and fighting. In doing so, he is in fact serving his nation.

    This was the answer that one of the participants from Qamishli received, when he suggested that we should transform the concept of military service into national service. This will allow us to use the young conscripts in their fields of expertise, like sending engineers to participate in government projects or sending teachers to teach in underserved areas. This will achieve two objectives: first, is covering all the schools in Syria and second, is saving a good amount of money that can be used to improve the schools infrastructure in some areas.

    It was the turn of a guy from Hasakeh, who had a simple request: can we stop the beatings and killings by the intelligence services. If they are trying to arrest someone, why don’t they do it with a little respect?

    The answer was that we are working on training police forces specializing in dealing with demonstrations. They will start their work within the next few months.

    I believe that these were the most important questions asked before it was my turn and I asked three questions:

    The first was that since the government account of what is happening in Syria is the truth and not lies and fabrications, why don’t we allow the press to come to Syria and see what is going on to prove once and for all that the Syrian government is telling the truth.

    The answer was that we do not need the outside press for two reasons: first, because press agencies have reporters all over the world except in Syria, this is why they need to get their news from our Syrian press and we will give them the truth about what is happening on our soil, second, our press throughout these past years never had the chance to shine on the world stage. Today it is taking advantage of this opportunity to increase its expertise in this field.

    My second question was: Arabs in general tend to lean to the emotional side. This characteristic is a good one, but can prove detrimental if it is not dealt with properly. This is why I suggest that the intelligence services avoid random arrests and treat detainees in a humane and civilized manner.

    The answer was that yes, we are emotional, and to overcome what you talked about, we should first and foremost, follow the truthful press on this earth. this will help guide us on where to go with our emotions. I have also answered your friend that we are working on training the police to deal with the demonstrators with respect.

    My third question was: since you have the leadership, the wisdom and the judicial system, why haven’t we seen till this day any trial for those who are complicit and guilty of killing Syrians like Atef Najeeb?

    The answer was with a lowered head: yes, Atef Najeeb is complicit, but no one filed a law suit against him. In addition, he is my first cousin and I have not seen him in 22 years.

    Here I could not control myself and dared to interrupt him to point out that only yesterday a few of my friends were arrested during a demonstration that they were not even participating in. When we went to try to get them out through the judicial system, we were told: who are you going to sew? Here he asked me to give him the names of my detained friends, but I had one more question: what is the fate of the other detainees? He continued addressing the group saying:

    yesterday there were 19 people arrested in Seif Aldowleh, all of whom are hobos.

    I interrupted him again to say: of the 19 that you just mentioned, 5 are doctors. In addition, the arrests that night exceeded 200. Then I continued: and how about the new demonstration law?

    His answer was: we do not care who is demonstrating, rather who is documenting the event and sending it to the foreign press.

    After a few seconds, his personal guard came in to tell us that our time was up. Before we left, the president asked if one of us would volunteer to appear on Aldunya news channel live, to talk about our meeting with him. He received no answer from anyone of us. Everyone was quiet for a little while, when he interjected: has it reached that level? The answer came from me and the person next to me simultaneously: and a lot more.

  24. Thanks Sheila, I hope you don’t mind me adding the emphasis to the make the Arabic and English text comparable.

    It is important to realize the mentality. It is the closed mind one would find in any Baath party meeting a brute self deluding framework.

    The same writer also reported that when asked about article 8, the president’s answer was that we need to reactivate the party’s role in the society. So basically he will keep depending on the party, which as we witnessed in two private universities recently is now nothing more than a training group for thugs and shabeeha, who, while being trained to become doctors, pharmacists, and engineers, are also willing to act as cheap security agents for the regime and to beat their fellow students and professors with cattle rods.

  25. Horrendous video from Maysaloon’s site

  26. Sheila, thank you for the translation.
    I have translated Maysaloon post into French.
    About time my “leftist” friends think it over and reconsider their blind support to Bashar.

  27. Sheila, posted your translation on my English Blog, I am overcommitted and have no time to translate it into French right now. Hopefully to morrow.

    Where is Aboud ? He has not checked in for three days.

  28. The battalion who caught Seif-al-Ijram was the Khalid-ibn-al-Walid Battalion. Is this a premonition of Homsis being the ones who will get Basshar, Maher and the other criminals? I certainly hope so!

  29. I could not resist cutting Mr. Arian’s account and pasting it on SC. I am sorry if anyone may have found it too hasty. I know I should have asked for permission.
    It clearly shows the following
    1. Either complete detachment from reality or
    2. Complete deception and disingeneous state of mind
    Either way he truly thinks that he is Chosen to lead and that there is no question that he and only he can lead with the current structure and framework as built by his father.
    We are in deep trouble if this is the mentality of the regime

  30. Dear Annie
    The meeting is now the subject of a full new post, and as usual, with a rather subjective introduction.

  31. Dear 7ee6anis

    This AL initiative and regime’s attempt to put conditionson the team of observers who will conduct this “fact-finding mission” is, imho, nothing but a little theatrical performance that will serve no purpose but increase the confusion and give the regime more room to argue and dispute facts and meanwhile to continue playing for more and more time.

    I mean, let’s look it realistically: even if they are allowed totally free unfettered access, what new things will they discover over and above what’s been recorded by the tens of thousands of mobile phone videos taken over the last 8 months? In fact, it is doubtful that even if there are events to be observed during their visit they would be able to be everywhere to witness everything that is happening; they’d need thousands of observers for that.

    Also, do not underestimate the ruling gang’s ability to come up with all sorts of devious schemes to falsify the picture. What’s to stop them from sprinkling their shabbiha dressed in civics and armed with concealed weapons within the anti-regime demonstrations that will naturally come out in big numbers when the observers come, then the shabbiha will start shooting here and there and the regime will say “see, 3sabat musallaha!” The army will be withdrawn and they are already dressing them in new blue/black uniforms and calling them with a new name and leaving them where the army was. You don’t need heavy weaponry to shoot civilian demonstrators.

    This delegation, even if it had the freedom to interview people “freely” will be followed and spied on and filmed, so who is going to speak with them without fear of retribution once the delegation has left Syria?

    And after they’ve been and gone, and they write their reports and even say that the regime was in fact guilty of many crimes, etc, etc., then what? The AL will issue an order for all the shabbiha and their bosses all they up to junior himself to receive two slaps on the palms, maybe a couple of smacks on the bum?

    All of the above are but a sample of the myriad of tricks that the regime can get up to and I am sure that you can think of many more than what I have been able to imagine.

    I know that many believe doing something is better than doing nothing at all (وأعلم كل العلم أن الحركة بركة), but I am afraid we’re just playing into the regime’s hands by agreeing to their game. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

  32. Apologies for the late response, but my Indisassat internet connection was failing to connect to the conspiracy satellite so kindly donated to the Syndicate by our cosmic allies.
    Dear Syrian Hamster , thank you. I found this image a few years ago, and have been waiting for a chance to use it ever since :)

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