Syrian Guerrilla Warfare, by TRUE

A word from OFF THE WALL

Although personally I strongly oppose armed actions by the revolution or by anyone supporting the revolution. It seems that the regime has succeeded in pushing some of its own soldiers as well as other factions into armed action. Whether we like it or not, there are fights going on, and while the peaceful protest continues, and continue to be met with brute force whenever the regime can still do so, a parallel line has emerged and it is gaining strength. This article by TRUE is an attempt to understand the tactics of the armed factions. The subject is off course a controversial one, but it is important that Syrians of all stripes discuss it, especially in light of the brutal demise of a brutal man Qaddafi. I believe we are going to have a heated debate on the merit or follies of armed actions against a regime that is far better equipped than anything an armed faction can attain, in the absence of external intervention, which is rejected by the largest segment of the Opposition, including myself. Please read the article and please let us keep the discussion as civilized as it has been since we started gathering around 7ee6an.

Syrian Guerrilla Warfare, by TRUE

Ali Ferzat cartoon about army split in Syria
Once more, Ali Ferzat had something to say about our topic. The word under the tank says "Defections"

All roads lead to  Rome  and all tactics and strategies implemented by the current Syrian regime seem to lead to an inescapable civil war. The Syrian revolution 2011 took a sharp twist when some of its participants adopted the concept of guerrilla warfare in response to the regime’s brutal security based crack down. For the last seven months or so the Syrian protesters have done their best to paint and maintain their popular movement as peaceful “Sylmiah” as they could. Such a tactic, undeniably, brought them a great deal of respect and international support, in fact only “verbal” support. In return, the current regime did not respond back with roses or water, words or serious dialog with the protesters, but, to the contrary, with iron and weapons killing more than 3000 martyrs, arresting 43250 and 12430 reported “missing” and everyone knows what does “missing” mean in al-ASSAD kingdom.

On the one hand, and as they emerged, the Free Syrian Army [الجيش السوري الحر] (FSA) and the Syrian National Council (SNC)  concepts are emerging and developing slowly and are yet to harmonise and gain more weight on the ground. On the other hand, the guerrilla warfare remains the “de facto” which causes the regime the real deal of pain. The level of pain is demonstrated through different forms and shapes, from having cities and villages completely out of control, bleeding the regime’s resources, jeopardizing its image and hindering its confidence. Inescapably, the guerrilla warfare will be the drive to unite all efforts and entities to oust the current regime.

There are three main guerrilla warfare tactics (Human waveCu Chi tunnels and Foco). Although the mass demonstrations calling for toppling the regime might suggest “human Wave” tactic, however, in reality, these crowds are not armed and are purely peaceful protesters. A quick glance at the current situation suggests that the Syrian armed rebels are divided into small fragmented and independent units which operate individually on sting –run methodology.  This allows them to minimise casualties from their side giving their lack the firepower. On the other hand, by examining the geographical nature of Syrian cities, we can safely assume it’s not “Cu Chi Tunnels” tactic (which was used by Hizboallah in Southern Lebanon).

To date, the apparent code of conduct of the Syrian guerrilla warfare leads to one conclusion of (Urban-Foco) tactic. Originally, Foco was about mobilising irregular armed civilians to launch attacks o}n formal troops from rural areas, and then return back to remote villages where fighters could melt and disappear amongst locals. However, since 1960 there was a new trend and shift in implementation strategies leading to what is now called “Urban-Foco” where guerrilla warfare combat operations (ambush, raid, and sniper operations) are conducted in urban environments and the guerrilla fighters return to their urban bases among sympathizing population. The Syrian case can be measured and compared against other similar case studies such as the Irish Republican Army, the Mujahideen in  Afghanistan , the Che chen Rebels in  Grozny .

“The urbanized strategic environment provides a fertile environment for Unconventional Warfare. The battleground where Unconventional Warfare will be conducted is no longer just the inaccessible terrain of rural areas. It is also located within the increasing urban sprawl occurring worldwide. Urbanization may require the development of new skills and core competencies. (DA 2001a, 2-10)”

“The Soviet Army positioned outposts along all major roads and was especially active in pacifying the Northern provinces between Kabuland and Termez. Even so, the Kabul regime faced enormous difficulties in ensuring the personal security of its own officials, who were often subject to attacks within the capital itself. The resistance network in Kabul repeatedly carried out shootings, bombings, and assassinations. (Baumann 1993, 136)”

“The Che chen s were extremely effective during small unit battles with the Russian forces by utilizing methods with which the Russians were either unfamiliar or unable to counter. Using the tactic of “hugging” the rebels would stay close to the Russian units as they moved to avoid indirect fire and keep at close range (Thomas 1999).”

“Where the Russians fought to control and hold the territory, the rebels fought to make controlling and holding the territory as unpleasant as possible—a very different mission, and one far more difficult both to grasp and to counter. (Oliker 2001, 73)”

Personally speaking, in a little while, I believe the Syrian guerrilla warfare will be forced to amalgamate its units, define political goals and firmly establish political responsibilities, and that’s where the big picture of SFA & SNC starts coming together. On that line, Mao Tse-tung defines certain fundamental steps necessary for guerrilla warfare in the realization of policy and political agenda which I find quite applicable to our Syrian scenario as follows

  1. Arousing and organizing the people.
  2. Achieving internal unification politically.
  3. Establishing bases.
  4. Equipping forces.
  5. Recovering national strength.
  6. Destroying enemy’s national strength.
  7. Regaining lost territories.

Finally, I leave you with a quote to the soul of freedom fighters “Che Cuevara” to think and reflect on

“Why does the guerrilla fighter fight? We must come to the inevitable conclusion that the guerrilla fighter is a reformer, that he takes up arms responding to the angry protest of the people against their oppressors, and that he fights in order to change the social system that keeps all his unarmed brothers in ignominy and misery.”

Che Guevara


  1. I would like to add to Zenobia’s comment that it is not only the non Islamic minorities who can get concerned, it is also people who are Muslims but who do not share the rigid interpretation of Islam. Why should they accept the dictate of others in interpreting Islam the way a shaikh here or there decides to interpret it.


  2. If something big was going to happen they would have evacuated all the staff of every Western embassy, not just Ford. Two days before the American invasion of Iraq, all Americans in Saudi Arabia were advised to leave Saudi.

    Still waiting to hear the details of the meeting between the AL and the ASS. Qatar has been very unforgiving of the regime, so this should be very interesting.


  3. By the way OTW almost 6000 hits in the short time your website has been up is very impressive.


  4. Surely, a calm military coup in Syria to oust the current Alawi regime is extremely preferred over any other options such as civil war & Western military intervention NATO. A calm military coup in my definition is a bridge to secure safe transitioning of the state from the side of one-person/one-sect/one-party ruling ideology to the other side of democracy & enterprises principles. On the one hand, any military coup lead by a Sunni would result in an instant civil war giving the high level of sectarian hatred throughout the country and complexity of assuring Syrian minorities to join in. On the other hand, it’s quite naïve to suggest that a Christian or Durzi would lead any potential coup for many obvious reasons. Oddly enough, this would leave us with one option of an Alawi to lead a coup in order to oust the current Alawi regime.

    How realistic & weird is that?


  5. Although these uprisings are not ‘Islamic’ (calling for Islam) we support them as they are calling for justice and freedom from oppression. The ordinary youth have risen up and it is their revolution and shouldn’t be hijacked by anyone else. It is up to the Syrians what they want. Good luck to them. I wish them success.

    For muslims like myself we dream of another day. A change (and outcome) we can fully embrace. We wait for a muslim hero.

    Sheikh Yaqoubi is a Sufi master from Syria. You may have missed an article on him posted on SC by Prof. Landis.

    Also the speech at the Istanbul conference in August where the Sheikh amongst other things touched on ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ as he understood it. (Also posted on SC by P. Landis).


    Our Political Vision:

    By Shaykh Muhammad Al-Yaqoubi:

    We should remember that the worst tyrants of the Arab World in our modern history did not rule in the name of Islam but in the name of secularism and democracy. There first victims were not the seculars but Muslims who were suppressed and Islamic movements which were banned. Why then “Islamists” are feared and prevented from reaching power. It …was not “Islamists” who supported these oppressive regimes; rather the seculars, while the “democtaric world is helping these regimes stop the Islamic tide and applauding to them: France supported Ben Ali’ in Tunisia; USA supported Mubarak in Egypt; and the EU supported the Assad’s regime. It high time we proved that Islam is more tolerant towards its opponents than the fake democracies of the West which protect the secular and eliminate the religious under the claims of fighting extremism. All we are doing is replacing one alleged extremism by another already proven extremist. It is time for Islam to present its vision and solutions to the political, social and economic and crises in the Islamic World. For anyone who is trying to predict the future of the Middle East, I say, wait to see the Islamic choice being embraced by our people as the only guarantee to a better future. To all of that we see the start coming from Syria.


  6. Is it possible to have a limited edit function? I keep forgetting to include things in my post. I dont want to annoy people by posting quick successive posts.

    @ OTW

    Yes within democracy relying on strength of arguments.


  7. An Exchange with Amal

    I took a <a href="shot at a post by Alex, and out of the blue Amal wrote the following

    Amal Said
    hamster you had an excellent oppurtunity to overturn the government in Syria and you blew it! now it’s time for you and you killer buddies to admit defeat, bow down and kiss assad shoes




    Honest Bethoist

    Amal is not a hypocrite
    She practices what she preaches

    She kisses betho’s shoes in the morning
    And at night she’s one of his leeches

    Behold the two cells in her brain
    which are enough for all of his speeches

    But when she thinks out loudly
    Al we hear is rust and her screeches

    For Amal is a primo shoe kisser
    A practitioner of what she preaches

    Devoid of an ounce of integrity
    But patriotism to the honorable she teaches

    Amal is not a hypocrite
    She practices what she teaches

    She kisses betho’s shoes in the morning
    And at night for sure one of the leeches



    Please note there is nothing demeaning to women in what I wrote, it is all about an identity called Amal.


  8. Hahaha, I love it Hamster, describes Amal to a T.

    An officer told Robert Fisk that over a thousand security and shabiha had died. That’s atrocious for the regime. Imagine how many more will die once the revolution gets serious about the armed component.


  9. Speaking of Assad shoes, there was a famous incident where there was the following scene in a Syrian play;

    First guy: Nice shoes, what are they made of?

    Second guy: Lion’s skin.

    First guy: Hafez 3alihon.



  10. True, not weird at all. This is what will happen. Defections will grow, already they are vastly more than before Ramadan. The geographical areas that the regime can move freely in will steadily decrease.

    Eventually they will have to abandon the smaller towns and villages, and concentrate on Aleppo and Damascus. Civilian defections will start. Eventually, the more pragmatic Alawites will come to the conclusion that there isn’t a reason in hell for them to go down with Besho and Makhlouf. An arrangement will be made with their Sunni counterparts, and Athma will have the pleasure of checking out the latest Iranian burqa fashions.


  11. @ Hamster

    Hehehehe, u know how to keep el jamal on leash

    @ ABOUD

    Very good analysis and, personally speaking, I have no issue with an Alawi who would

    1. Setup guillotines to bring murderers to justice starting from Betho and his cronies
    2. Free political prisoners, no exception
    3. Imprison those guilty of corruption
    4. Initiate real and major reforms
    5. Bring a transformation to democracy

    “This would give the Alawis some credit for ending what is widely perceived as an Alawi regime, such an act could defuse hatreds and lead to national conciliation”.


  12. I have watched an interview with Yakoubi and was very impressed. He is smart and articulate with pretty decent English. He insisted in that interview that he was supporting a secular state where all minorities have equal rights. This is all I know. I hope he really meant what he said.


  13. Dear Syrian Hamster,
    Amal is actually one of those people who I completely ignored. She or he is either very limited on an intellectual level or is paid to write on SC and has to follow a script.


  14. @ Zenobia

    “truck it back to SC to argue with those who are so terrified of the possibility of not having such protections and of Islamic hegemony in Syria that they are willing to defend state terrorism and murder to “defend” themselves…”

    You can’t bully people just because they don’t fit your glove.

    “What does “establishing a Muslim Identity” mean?”

    For one, it means being able to preach and having sermons at the Mosque, not reading pre-scribed, signed-by-thug (aka: mukhabarat).


  15. @ Zenobia:

    I said “I agree that many would like to see Islam get diluted like the rest.”

    You did not like the word diluted. I can knit pick your comments too. I believe that there are many people who like to spread misconceptions about Islam and weaken its belief system. I am strongly against the Quran having multiple editions like the Bible if that is okay with you. If not, then perhaps we can both “truck it back” to SC together and have it there.


  16. @ Aboud:

    In response to my comments you said:

    “And yet it is European and American reporters and diplomats are have proven themselves the most reliable friends of the Syrian people….When the revolution wins, I am personally inviting the French and American ambassadors to my home for dinner.”

    You can invite whom ever you for dinner, whoever I am uncomfortable dining with those who feed with one hand and kill with the other.

    Oh, and I am not talking about the average American Joe or British Sue, I am talking about their sick owners.

    As for the Libyans owing their FREEDOM to NATO firepower, you got it wrong my friend. NATO is withholding Billions of Liyba’s money and will deduct it for the proceeds Any shortfall will be paid for with oil. It is was a good business deal for NATO and nothing more. Libya owes brave Libyans for their FREEDOM.


  17. “NATO is withholding Billions of Liyba’s money and will deduct it for the proceeds Any shortfall will be paid for with oil.”

    So Libyans bought their freedom using their own money (oil) eh, so what? sounds good to me and I can’t see any problem with that actually it’s quite convenient if you can hire such a service.

    If I had $$ I would put $100 on every dead Shabih, not that those thugs worth $100, not at all just to entice people to get armed and do some cash on the side while they’re liberating their country.


  18. A friend of mine in the UK asked me what I would be doing for Halloween. Let’s see, I’ll put on a mask and knock on the doors of homes in Homs late at night. Instead of sweets I’m more likely to get grabbed by the FSA and disposed of 🙂


  19. @ True, nothing wrong with paying for it with oil but IT WAS NOT like NATO was doing Libyans a favor in the name of democracy and freedom as Aboud put it. That was my point. And, Syria has no oil.

    Unless Saudi foots the bill to save the Shiite takeover… will you accept? I am interested now to hear from those who despise KSA-hand-cutters. Will you accept Wahabi money to save Syria?


  20. “IT WAS NOT like NATO was doing Libyans a favor in the name of democracy and freedom as Aboud put it.”

    Absolutely they did the Libyans a massive favor. Do you honestly believe that putting people’s lives in danger is worth any amount of money? Then you know nothing about Western democracies and how accountable governments are there. The US’s debacle in Somalia cost the sectary of defense his job.

    Husam, stop beating about the bush, and for once answer directly; if you don’t favor the military option, what then is your alternative? What is your plan of action? Saying “no” to everything isn’t a plan.


  21. Oh, and I’ll gladly put my hand in the hands of the Americans and Saudis to be rid of this murderous regime. Why not? How many Syrians have the Americans and Saudis killed? Now ask yourself how many Syrian, Iraqi and Lebanese deaths the Qurdahan junta have been responsible for. The entire region will be better off without them.


  22. Husam

    “And, Syria has no oil.”

    A highly ridiculous statement as ever I heard. Syria exports oil, and it has natural resources in abundance, but you dont see signs of it anywhere in the country. Ask yourself why.


  23. Regarding Robert Fisk, how many more departmental letters ordering civil servants into pro-regime demonstrations and buses of “supporters” does he have to see before he’ll be convinced that people are coerced into these disgraceful displays. His powers of observation have been failing him in his old age.

    You’d at least expect the regime to hold a period of mourning for the seven pilots who died in Yemen, but of course nothing must stand in the way of perverse and orchestrated displays of “support” for Besho. He reminds me of the short guy in the first Shrek film “go round up some guests and well wishers”


  24. The regime faced Ramadan. Now the first 10 days of the month of Hajj are also here (in UK). Another opportunity to seek God Almighty’s blessings and have prayer’s answered. A spiritual boost for the uprising.

    Some virtues of the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah:

    According to the Prophet, , who said, “There is no day more honorable in Allah’s sight and no acts more beloved therein to Allah than those in these ten days (of Dhul-Hijjah )”


    Abu Hurairah relates that the Messenger of Allah (saws) said, There are no days more loved to Allah for you to worship Him therein than the ten days of Dhul Hijja. Fasting any day during it is equivalent to fasting one year and to offer salatul tahajjud (late-night prayer) during one of its nights is like performing the late night prayer on the night of power. [i.e., Lailatul Qadr]. [Related by at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and al-Baihaqi]

    See links for more info:


  25. The regime’s sycophants said that everything would be wrapped up in October. Or is Besho going to say he meant *next* October? Every week that goes by, as every Besho bungle is put out there for the world it see, it gets harder and harder to imagine junior without a pacifier in his mouth and a security blanket in his hands.


  26. “Unless Saudi foots the bill to save the Shiite takeover… will you accept? I am interested now to hear from those who despise KSA-hand-cutters. Will you accept Wahabi money to save Syria?”

    Let me see, mmmmmm, yes I would happily and sure if Wahabis feel like spending $$ to spread democracy then why not sounds good to me, during any revolution “the goal justifies the means” and there’s only one goal, no more no less.


  27. “Regarding Robert Fisk”

    He’s an old fellow still living in the days of Hafiz and hoping to be the sole documenter for this period after Betho, in his dreams, subdues the revolution.

    I’m not sure even if he knows how to use YouTube but surely if someone took him through it he would easily find out how the show was orchestrated and how the herds of peasants, grudgingly , were dragged by their shepherds of shabiha.


  28. One of the first posts I made on SC was about a ridiculous report Fisk filed, about a massacre of 40 demonstrators in Telkelakh. As I said then, back in April, there was no massacre in that town. When the regime invaded the town in May, over 30 people were killed and over a thousand rounded up and tortured at the school in the nearby Alawite village of Tel Sarin.

    Fisk doesn’t even have an email. His entire report can be summed up thus;

    Shabih: We love Besho because the Salafis in Homs are killing women, children, old people and puppies.

    Fisk: Can I go check out Homs for myself?

    Shabih: No, you cannot go to Homs yourself. What, isn’t my word good enough for you?

    One of the last lines in Fisks’ report was how taped recording of cheering crowds had been prepared beforehand and was being tested during the night.


  29. NEWS:

    “Slapping at Syria, Turkey Shelters Anti- Assad Fighters” (LIAM STACK, NYtimes)

    “Syria’s Deraa strike ends, activists emboldened” (Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Reuters)

    “U.N. agency in Syria nuclear talks, no word on outcome” (Reuters)

    “Syrian troops ‘plant mines by Lebanon border’” (AFP)

    “Syria cartoonist dedicates award to ‘martyrs of freedom’” (TheDailyStar)

    “In Syria, Kurdish Groups Divided Over Taking Up Arms Against Assad” (TheAtlantic)


  30. @Husam

    “I believe that there are many people who like to spread misconceptions about Islam and weaken its belief system. I am strongly against the Quran having multiple editions like the Bible if that is okay with you. ”

    my mistake. I had no idea this was your issue because you could have fooled me considering there was nothing on the entire thread stream before that regarding multiple editions of the Koran, (but you will never avoid interpretation by the way- every sheikh has that…no need for editions).
    But – this seems a minor point really. I thought we were talking about how religion fits in with the subject of civil war and a future Syria.
    I am not bullying anybody. I am saying – I presume that to a certain degree persons who are on this blog can agree on a bare minimum of principles (for example -that nobody think the revolution is being run by ‘salafists’ and “political islamist” primarily. And we don’t need to debate that or debate whether even if they were a significant force that justifies Killing them (which to SC types seems to be a valid reason)… or whether conservative muslims are incapable of upholding democratic principles in their participation of gov’t ( another belief that I had to argue to the end of time with bigots on sc or fb).
    for the record, I am sure there are sheikhs who are, maybe like this one, putting forward a principled stance about having a secular state etc. That is needed.
    I am not nitpicking your comment so much, for the purpose of being annoying or winning an argument. I was legitimately trying to discern what the meaning of the wording was – as with the Sheikh’s wording because as I tried to say, this is no time for ambiguity or vagueness.

    My complaint is that if we can’t be clear on what we agree on – that seems incredible critical for taking a more cohesive position and pushing a conversation forward- than any of us – might as well truck it back to sc (metaphorically speaking) to flounder around stuck on the same insane defenses of the bare minimum crap…. (talk about nitpicking)… like whether an ‘islamist’ is a human being who doesn’t deserve to be shot… for example.

    So lets just consider ourselves to be on the same ‘side’ from here on in. (I am all for Sufis, anyway….)


  31. “taped recording of cheering crowds had been prepared beforehand and was being tested during the night”

    Mate, most of us been here & there and we know exactly how Bathists used to chucking us in buses (in a manner even the animals would not accept) to where we suppose to keep applauding and clapping for a jerk for long time, or even during the time of “renew-bay3a” where to keep us circulating around Al-Malki till we had the honour of passing underneath Hafiz’ balcony.

    “Fisk doesn’t even have an email”

    Yeah I know, I’ve tried it to fetch it many times but no luck. He really must join the crew of 2011 of realising the sophistication& scepticism of current audience comparing to the era of Hafiz, everyone would take his word with a grain of salt and put it to (Woulda coulda shoulda) test!!


  32. @ Zenobia

    I could sense you trepidation of post-Betho era, which drives me to couple of questions if you don’t mind eh.

    You don’t talk much about the revolution, is the victory done-deal for ya?
    When we talk about political-Islam, why do you keep looking at KSA & Iran instead of Turkey?

    Btw “(I am all for Sufis, anyway….)”
    They’re cool eh 🙂


  33. The “Oracle of Homs” 🙂 mmmmmm in Oceania this is a Thoughtcrime so you better watch out Emmanuel Goldstein ;p

    So the AL foreign ministers will meet in Qatar on Sun to discuss the final verdict by the current Syrian regime. Things are definitely are going to get sweet & bitter for either the opposition or regime from that point onward. Here are my expectations for the coming series of events, Walid Muallem would join the meeting to convey the final approval on the initiative (although giving that the regime is really afraid of Al-Muallem’s defection so they might send someone else). However, this approval would be conditional and subject to new proposed modifications such as adding 1-2 months time window before stopping the killing, emphasising on dialog lead by the regime, stressing on reform controlled by the regime …etc. Surely enough, the regime would not miss this chance to blow up and confuse everyone’s mind with drain questions such as what’s the opposition? Define the opposition? …etc . All in all, this would suck the goodness out of this initiative and turn it into a cheesy worthless piece of paper.

    At that point, the AL would call for an urgent meeting either to ACCEPT the new “tailored” initiative proving nothing but being the typical AL, or to REJECT the new modifications suggesting further actions.


  34. @ Aboud

    “Do you honestly believe that putting people’s lives in danger is worth any amount of money?”

    Yes I do if I am the hawkish military man or according to the top echelon that run the show. Sending 19 year old Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, red necks, blacks to the front line to die doesn’t even cause a blink of an to eye to them. To them the world is over-populated anyway.

    “Then you know nothing about Western democracies and how accountable governments are there.”

    No I don’t, but you do. What a shallow statement from someone like you (btw, I am using your style of language which I wouldn’t have used otherwise). You are painting the west with one brush. The West is not east. And please, don’t ask me what I am doing here and ship me back to Syria B.S.

    “The US’s debacle in Somalia cost the sectary of defense his job.”

    If the US pulls its nose out of Africa, Haiti, etc… the world would be a better place. Many people feel the same way I do. I am not for barbaric flag burning B.S. but I am for calling a spade a spade. I prefer and respect Sheila’s position in admitting how the U.S. operates.

    It is one thing to help allies in conflicts but it is a totally different thing to plunder other countries to feed your own herded sheep. While not exclusive, the U.S earns mastery for double talk, conspiracies, covert operations, assassinations, propaganda, pre-emptive theories, false fags in & out of the U.S. Is there a country where the U.S. doesn’t have spies, drones, satellites, and navy fleet under its watchful eye? Why? Because it has interest everywhere. Take Cote d’Ivoire, the previous thug was pro-east (Russia, China, India, etc.. they started to support and install someone that was more favorable to them at the cost of African lives. I know because I have several people from the region in my department who has family back there.

    You also mentioned India, Brazil, and China…not taking a stance. Beyond their borders, they don’t have imperialistic aspirations to ram their foreign policy into every corner of the world.

    “The entire region will be better off without them.”

    I agree totally, but how is key. The majority of Syrians, like myself, don’t want NATO intervention. We don’t want to rid of one regime to be replaced by another. Let the Syrians on the ground decide how and when. And until there is no consensus from those “INSIDE” Syria, I as an Expat will not dictate how things should go down. If they support the council, then I support the council. In the end of the day they were the ones who risked their lives, not I.

    “Husam, stop beating about the bush, and for once answer directly; if you don’t favor the military option, what then is your alternative? What is your plan of action? Saying “no” to everything isn’t a plan.”

    You perhaps are skimming through my comments and not grasping my position. OTW has asked me my opinion as to why I am not for military intervention. I gave him my outline for my stance…which may in full or in part be published in his next piece.

    Lastly, Aboud I understand your frustration and your eagerness to remove the regime, I voted for your left toe, do you remember? However, I am a conservative prudent person who likes to look at all the options. Do x, do y, do z or do nothing (perhaps coming in the next walls piece) are indeed options other than NATO. Trust me, I am losing sleep over those that dying and tortured, but I have to see the bigger picture and I have realized that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Syria (and the Arabs) to get out of our subservient mindset making something better for the future generation. We should not blow it by just taking the first bus back to Station A.


  35. Aboud : to night the RTBF news showed the resistance in Homs; the reporter had come clandestinely and it was so extraordinary to see the crowd holding signs with their backs to the camera. Then everyone went home and the soldiers arrived. Two people died that night.
    God protect you all.


  36. @ Aboud, regarding your very last comment (link to Reuters article). If you go back to my previous comments I said exactly that: “Time” itself, with current demonstrations, economic losses, etc… will outlast the regime and it will then disintegrated unto itself. For example!


  37. @ ABOUD

    Great article

    “W. Andrew Terrill, professor at the U.S. Army War College, said insurgents were small in number but could inflict serious casualties because the Syrian army is structured to fight Israel and control Lebanon, not deal with guerrillas and urban warfare.”

    European diplomat said.

    “The Sunni backlash against him is growing, and we could see a scenario where he will lose the countryside.”

    Yep as we discussed on OTW’s blog, the guerrilla warfare is the lead and others will follow.


  38. Husam, sometimes I get carried away. I see Angry Arab and I see myself in 20 years time. *shudder*. My apologies.

    The Iraq debacle cost alot of Neocons their careers. The Bush legacy is now and forever will be in the gutter. NATO wasn’t eager for a repeat performance, but the combination of Libyan and Arab boots on the ground, combined with NATO airpower, proved decisive.

    I’ve been advocating the military option because I *know* it works. It is how Homs has sustained itself all these months. People, the army is a paper tiger that will fall apart at the first strong blow. 250,000 soldiers are serving in it because the majority have to.

    One man, defecting and risking everything for his people is worth ten hired shabiha. I know from people who have seen the shabiha in combat that *they are not fighters*. They signed up for some beating of defenseless civilians and guarding checkpoints, they didn’t realize someone would fire back at them. Junior has built the pillars of his regime on very shaky and unreliable foundations.

    The regime has gotten used to the pattern of night time and Friday prayer demos, their entire security response was set up to counter it. So what happens when someone does something unexpected? In Ramadan, demonstrators in Homs held a flash daytime demonstration in the New Clock Square, they climbed the clock and painted over the regime’s graffiti on it. The security forces were taken utterly by surprise, so much so that the demonstrators managed to repeat the feat a few days later when the UN’s fact finding mission came to Homs.

    Likewise, the Dar’a strike was a complete shock to them, it took them a week to come up with a response.

    Always keep your enemy guessing. Always do something unpredictable. People in Homs know what form the regime’s crack down is going to take, and have prepared themselves to deal with it. The regime is always so predictable. One guy calling himself Rajel el Bakhakh (The Spray Man) can apparently go all over the country and spray paint graffiti on highways, bridges, major road signs and schools. Apparently the shabiha manual doesn’t have any protocol to deal with him and his sort.


  39. @ Aboud:

    Appology accepted. No hard feelings, I understand.

    The ones that lost their jobs over Iraq are now sitting on board of major companies earning 10 times more money; they got reshuffled and absorbed into military industrial complex. Frankly, I don’t give a hoot about them loosing anything.

    Moving on to your inside info and stories which I find extremely interesting, I have no problem with any kind of support for arming the guerillas covertly, etc… what I do have a problem with is NATO bombing cities, foreign (any) operations inside Syria (unless surgical 2 hrs strike, why I believe you or someone else said was not possible). I don’t see how a no fly zone would help, because so far they are not using any helicopters in a big way.

    el – Bakhakh, I which I was he.


  40. Hi ABOUD, is everything okay in Homs ? Who has the upper hand ( militarily) ? And what is the disposition of Homsi Christians, have they become pro-opposition ?


  41. Husam

    “I don’t see how a no fly zone would help, ”

    It wouldn’t help one bit. I think even some high up opposition figures are getting their military terminology mixed up. Almost certainly they envision some sort of safe area, which would be protected by airpower against attacks from the regime, while allowing defectors to group and launch attacks against the regime from within it. Just like what they had in Libya. At present, such a scenario seems highly unlikely, unless there is another Jisr Al Shoghour type mass exodus of refugees to a neighboring country.

    But NATO isn’t needed at all. The terrain in Libya was completely unsuitable to guerrilla warfare, but hospitable to conventional warfare. The case is reversed in Syria. Compare the number of defections today to the numbers two, three, four months ago. They can only increase as time goes on.

    Will guerrilla warfare on its own be enough to overthrow the regime? At present levels, no (although the FSA’s success in increasing the reach and capabilities of their operations has been spectacular). Not only has the FSA not had enough time to build itself up to such a degree, we must not forget the nature of the regime we are going to overthrow. To the Assad and Makhlouf regime, a hundred thousand dead Alawite foot soldiers are expendable, to be used up dispassionately, like barrels of fuel or rounds of ammunition. In Tunisia, a few dozen dead civilians was enough for the military to boot out the president. To the regime, a few dozen thousand Alawite dead are acceptable losses.

    As military defections increase, the civilian and sectarian pillars of the regime have to be counted on to be pragmatic, and work towards their own self interests.

    And such self serving calculations say that it is not in their interest at all to prop up a regime that can only offer them a country engaged in a prolonged war with itself, and living under crushing sanctions. People will endure any hardship and sacrifice much in the way of family and material comfort if they feel their existence as a religion or sect is under threat. It is a different matter entirely to ask them to go on a war footing just so Rami Makhlouf can keep charging 10 liras per SMS.

    Look at the pro-regime’s Facebook page comments, at what the Alawites in Homs are saying. They are fed up with what they perceive to be the army’s incompetence. They may not be for the revolution, but they are most certainly not for junior anymore. A minority actually would prefer Cro Magnum Maher, but the majority acknowledge that the government has completely and utterly bungled how they handled the past eight months.

    As hopes for a decisive regime military victory continues to fade, more and more of the regime’s nominal base of support will want to arrive at an accommodation. There is no future for Besho, his family or his cousins in Syria, that much is an indisputable fact. Robert Ford was spot on when he advised the revolution to gain the support of segments of Syrian society that have, out of fear, been too intimidated to move decisively against the regime. Remember the actors and artists’ demonstration in Damascus that was brutally broken up by the regime? THAT is what exists just underneath the surface, a surface currently smothered by an army of paid mercenary shabihas.

    Damn, now my soup is cold. Who the heck gets a hankering for soup at this time of night anyway (the menhebaks will say “A GAY ZIONIST BLOGGER LIVING IN WYOMING!”)


  42. The sneaky Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal al-Miqdad has arrived Moscow to meet up with both his counterpart and Russian foreign minister, seems like Betho is exchanging thoughts with Russians about the AL initiative.


  43. Khaled, the regime has won in Homs, they have eliminated all foreign Salafi armed gangs. All the Homsis are 100% pro Bashar now. The army can go home.

    (Think they will fall for it?)

    True, more like “we are going to tell the Arab League to go screw itself. Can we count on another veto buhleaze?”


  44. @ Zenobia:

    It was not totally your fault, I was perhaps not too clear…I mean how much can you type in one day 🙂

    “So lets just consider ourselves to be on the same ‘side’ from here on in. (I am all for Sufis, anyway….)”

    You bet we are on the same side; the killing machine has to stop. And for those who argue that it is a “big fake lie”, then I say: if Salafi-Jihadi-Bozo is doing the killings – not, then the government is incapable of rooting them out and stopping the bloodshed. For real, not some “ehe, ehe…they gave me $10 to suck my thumb and shoot somebody”. So no matter how you slice and dice it, the regime is incompetent.
    You are for Sufis, I am for Sunni-beards, Salafis, Shiite, Druze, Athiest, Alawis, Orthodox, Catholics, yes Jews going back to Syria and anything in between save for Evengical-Zionist and devil worshipers.



  45. @ Aboud, thanks for your comment.

    “At present levels, no (although the FSA’s success in increasing the reach and capabilities of their operations has been spectacular).”

    It will get more spectacular as more defect & coordinate because their guilt conscious will kick in. The tipping point, is not too far in the future and the train left the station. And guess what, it ain’t coming back no moh.

    Now, go enjoy your soup. Is it hearty A’das?


  46. Husam asked how the no fly zone will help
    Do you believe that if the people carry arms, the Shabbiha will defeat the armed people? the answer has to be NO,obviously the regime has to use the army and the airforce,this will be escalation,and massive killing will be the next step,the threat of such escalation is sure to force the UN to protect the people and so the situation will call for bombing the tanks and the missile launchers, in other word there will be domino effect,and we will end up in situation like Libya.,where no fly zone and protective area is needed,


  47. @ Majed Khaldoun,

    Habeeb, Syria is not Libya, they can’t do massive shelling (like they did in Hama). And, even if they did as you say, it wouldn’t last more than a week because, in my view that would seal their fate and the Syrians inside Syria who are now on the sideline, will join the revolution in bigger numbers and the rest is history.

    Majed, the Airforce is useless chasing people in alleys and without intellegence it is worthless anyway.

    Even if you have the biggest gun in the world and you have 1 million poeple marching against you, you are dead beat. If there were 5,000 “active & armed” defected soldiers (in groups of 50-100 with communications and intellegence support, you can outrun the shabiha in no time. Something tells me that the shabiha cowards will pee their pants if they thought they could be shot at. Aboud may no better. BTW Aboud, can’t you sniper a sniper. Or throw nails on a convoy and immobilize their vehicles? Special ops?


  48. Sorry guys I have to disappear for few days, my mum had a stroke and she’s in the ICU now.
    Your prayers are needed.


  49. True : May Allah hasten your mother’s recovery.

    Aboud : what is the disposition of Christians in Homs nowadays ? Have they finally become pro-opposition ? I understand Christains are 15 % in Homs and about 25 % of the population in Rastan, in Ratsan they are passively aiding the opposition, what abt Homs


  50. Aboud, do the FSA have snipers ?

    Also, have ordinary civilians joined the FSA ? Have ordinary civiians received military training ?


  51. Dear True, Bon courage; my prayers are with your mother and you and Syria always


  52. True : Be with her as much as possible, that is the most important thing because at times like this her knowing that you care so much will speed up her recovery. Been there, done that. Inshallah alf salameh.


  53. This blog is the new face of the New Syria.

    One big family, were we can express our thought with out fear of being marginalized. Were apologizing is not a sign of weakness. Were ideas are exchanged in a civilized discussion. With one common goal, working together to the betterment of the collective, an open mind, ear and eyes. All this with out relinquishing any of our principles or values.

    حيطان Walls, is prototype of a Syria I longed for.

    True, our thoughts are with you and your mother.


  54. True, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Please let us know how things go.

    Khaled, civilians haven’t joined the FSA. Groups of soldiers who know each other work and operate with each other. The moment you let civilians in, military discipline is at risk and you don’t know how reliable they may be.

    I haven’t taken a poll of Homsi Christians. But anyone who claims they are all rabidly pro regime is a raving lunatic.


  55. Interesting that Hama is out back in force again. Not a good development for the regime, if towns they had invaded are just going to come out again after a month.

    The demonstrations this week were very widespread and large. I wish the diplomatic efforts of the National Council were equal to the magnificent resilience of the Syrian people.

    Every demo the regime has orchestrated doesn’t come to a fraction of what the opposition can turn out in one week 🙂


  56. Im just watching again the Friday speech of Sheikh Yaqoubi from earlier this year. If Im correct this was the speech that resulted in the Sheikh’s dismissal as speaker at the mosque. The speech is a reminder for all of us.

    If you are interested here is the video. It has english subtitles.

    The Syrian Uprising. The problem and the solution.
    Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi
    Damascus, Syria,
    6th May 2011.


  57. Dear True

    Prayers for you and your mother. I hope all turns out to be OK. Please spend as much as possible time with her and be your best.


  58. @ N.Z.

    “One big family, were we can express our thought with out fear of being marginalized. Were apologizing is not a sign of weakness. Were ideas are exchanged in a civilized discussion. With one common goal, working together to the betterment of the collective, an open mind, ear and eyes. All this with out relinquishing any of our principles or values.”

    I don’t know how long you have been an Expat, but for me sometimes I feel like we are authentic (if there is such a thing) in our values because we left our sweet home decades ago. Syria has changed (nouveau riche, etc) while many of us Expats have not.

    Something fortunate to think about…


  59. I rarely surf SC nowadays, but thought I would peek there and see what is going on. Big mistake. After scrolling down skimming through, I paused to see what Josh posted regarding what Ehsani had to say. I got a sick feeling and realized once again that people will not change.

    Ehsani said: “The ayatollahs took over and promised the moon. In my opinion they have failed just like the current crop of “islam is the solution” crowd will most likely fail. But, try they will and may be try they must before the region’s next phase sees the light of day. In the meantime, the best we may hope for is that Turkish style rather than salafi style end up rising to the top should a change of the exisiting order actually materialize.”

    To me his hatred of Islam is clear even though he tries to hide it behind his writing eloquence. He equates the failures of ayatollahs with Sunni Syria! We are just crop of Islamist (aren’t you guys tired of the word) with the same doom and gloom. Geez, “try they will, try the must”… meaning they will “try” but unlikely to succeed because we need to wait for the next phase to see light. That is total bullshit. Then he goes on for Turkish rather than Salafi style. The word “salafi” in Syria was unheard of before the revolution.

    OTW, do you hear me? Stop covering for Ehsani, I knew from day one when he sided for his idol Elhadj that he was a closet-islamaphobe.

    I am trying hard not to dig back into SC and show this bigot character in the mirror.


  60. I’ve only visited SC once, when you guys linked a post Joshua made. That website is a shadow of what it once was. Giving the reins to Alex was a disaster the website will not soon recover from.

    The paragraph you quoted from Ehsani didn’t make much sense to me. Does he believe that the revolution is inspired by hardline Islam? He would be mistaken in that regard. None of the slogans at the demonstrations have been remotely Islamist.

    I’m giving serious thought to starting up a collection for Besho. The poor guy can only afford one orchestrated demonstration a week, and now he has to pay for something to keep Imad Mustapha busy.


  61. Thanks for that link Zenobia. I love looking back at what was said three or four months ago. Time and events have not been kind at all to Alex, when seen with the 20/20 vision one always has in hindsight 🙂


  62. Zenobia@

    Thanks for that post. I actually skimmed that post back in May, but there no or few comments then. It is really interesting now; I spent no less than an hour sifting through the comments.

    What are we doing Zenobia? I mean what’s the point… to spend hours on end arguing with people who refuse to see the big picture or who are set in their ways. Alex, Ehsani, SNK, Tlass, Elhadj, SNP and a few dozen others are solidly comfortable in their skin. Perhaps they have an inferiority complex, or it is just me.

    How can anyone feel anything but sick seeing people dying…the last few minutes through amateur phone videos.

    Before the first 200 deaths, I was trying to find every excuse to deny what was happening because I just couldn’t believe it. I was pulling all kinds of conspiracy theories imagineable. I then started to hear outlandish claims by the likes of JAD (and few others, I can’t remember now). And then I woke up man. Every once in a while I slip up, and then I straighten up again because the stuff that is going on is just so obvious.

    How can these guys keeping defending it…is beyond me. And, the Islamist-niqabi-clad card is still played. Ehsani, who already deemed anything involving Islam will be a failure before it even starts reminds me of why people left Syria in the first place…he can’t because I can’t, which means it ain’t going to happen. This kind of mentality is not what Syria needs no matter how clever a banker one is.


  63. @Aboud

    You are right, I never saw the mass invoking religion or jihad of any sort. I mean if anything, now it is the time for jihad (struggle) to stop the killing and rid of evil, yet I hear nothing but freedom, down with regime, etc….


  64. I don’t know. I really don’t know. Camille was my friend. I actually considered him my real friend- not just ‘internet’ friend, even though we don’t know each other that personally. But six years of talking and talking and respecting each other.
    And, really, I like SC very much in 2005 to 2007. but – I relate very much with Off the Walls account of his own shift in perspective described in the first post here “how it all started”… very similar feelings in terms of shifting perspective. I trusted Otrakji’s judgment on many things, and as a person. But when the guns and the tanks came out…and it was obvious to anyone regardless of the level of confusion or some convoluted back story, that people who don’t deserve to be killed are being killed, because nothing can excuse, not matter what political ideology you have…. as a basic human rights issue, bottom line…. people you would never expect are defending that.
    I can’t explain it. My friend. Some of my relatives. Till now even. And I just don’t get it.
    I also – found it fascinating to go back over that post again after many months. I let him have it with my best confrontation in #197 – just tell me I am wrong..about you. Tell me you are not making the justification it seems you are making… simple as can be.
    But he never did. He just ignored me cause I said he lost his moral compass. but he never refuted the charge i was making.
    Anyhow, I didn’t want to lose my friend. I still don’t want to think Joshua Landis was/is as at fault as some claim. i want to think the best of people who started out – with seemingly good motives for doing what they do and participating in so much dialoguing. but I am not sure what is at state for them or why some people don’t see their own prejudice. These are most – not people with any crude motivation or benefit from arguing what they are arguing. I just think they are denying certain prejudices.

    It is scary because these are not some poor isolated folk in a mountain village. So, what will be done about the hostility and bias and paranoia of those type… what is going to happen.

    I also diagnosed the problem to OFT many months ago – as being a direct transmission – a projection really from across 6000 miles of the hostility and anger and paranoia and confusion being pumped into the atmosphere by the security apparatus. They are hoping with all their hearts that Syrians with be polarized and start to fear and hate each other and stop being able to talk and end in confusion and deadlock, so that nobody can work together against the read source of the terror and fears. This is the nature and purpose of the projection. And it actually was working in these small ways…. that suddenly we can even lose our friends we thought we knew, or be angry at frustrated with family or disgusted to the point of ceasing to communicate with each other. I keep trying to tell myself that to walk away or stop discussing is to give in to the goal of those – entities – working for this. That we all have to resist as much as we can – and try to reach each other and work together. That is the challenge to bridge these divides. Some of them are damaged beyond repairs, but I am hoping not to have more casualties, so to speak, and to keep the lines of communication open. It is hard work, especially over computers, or in virtual world, but we have to keep trying.


  65. Dear Husam,
    I do not need to defend EHSANI, he is more than capable of defending himself if he chooses so. I do however believe that you may have misread Ehsani’s comment as I myself have misread you in the past. Some of my answers are forthcoming in a new post.


  66. It’s the “Saif Qaddafi” syndrome; civilized and liberal until push comes to shove and we are then required to make real world decisions, instead of discussing theoretical scenarios.


  67. There was alot of explosions and gunfire in Homs from 6am until around 10, then it cooled down a bit, with just the occasional gunfire and explosion.


  68. Dear Husam,
    Ihsani is no Islamophobe. He is a pragmatist realist. You formed an opinion about him a while ago and now you are trying to fit everything he says within that framework that you created in your mind. You are reading too much into his phrase. He is plainly saying that the Islamists are going to take over for sure and he is hoping that they would be of the moderated kind. By the way, I also used to think that the Salafis are the product of the regime’s imagination, until I watched an interview with the head of a Salafi group in Syria called almouslimoun yousharekoun. His name was Zouabi, from Daraa. He was interviewed by Gisele from Studio Beirut in Alrabiyah. While you and I were living in the West, the Salafis were getting stronger in Syria. Husam, I can tell you that the level of backwardness that the Sunni Muslims have reached is beyond belief. Anyone who knows Syria today should be very alarmed if the Islamists took over. This is when Syria will literally be taken back into the stone age. Please make the distinction between Islam, a religion that was a major breakthrough when it started, and today’s Muslims who happen to be very uneducated and backwards (the majority). I join Ihsani in hoping for the moderates to take over.


  69. Zenobia,

    Your observations about Syria Comment are really interesting. I have to agree with your assessment. But the Jewish community here (AIG, Amir in TA, and myself) sort of new that there was something wrong with the Assad clan even before the Arab Spring sprung.

    Any self-appointed leader who has to prohibit free speech and elections can’t last very long.

    Question for you or anyone else: Can you explain to a layman such as myself why Turkey still honors a Syrian ambassador in Ankara, but not an Israeli ambassador?

    And now an little anecdote:

    I just met the following person who is originally from a little town in Israel called Tira. This Israeli-American leads a small company here in the US. Notice his educational accomplishments. I’ll tell you, those Israelis are hard workers.;)


  70. AP

    “Question for you or anyone else: Can you explain to a layman such as myself why Turkey still honors a Syrian ambassador in Ankara, but not an Israeli ambassador?”

    Because Israel bashing comes at no cost to the Turks, and is popular in the Arab world, while taking concrete actions against a neighboring murderous dictator entails risks and costs, which Erdogan is too timid to see through.

    Erdogan seems to be the only politician on the planet who doesn’t seem to know that when you talk tough to a dictator, you need to carry through your threats, otherwise all you’ve done is embolden him. Thanks for nothing, idiot.


  71. Syrian People should back off at the moment. It seems that outside forces have heavily armed the opposition for regime change. It’s not going to help Syrian people revolt in this time. Look at the situation in Egypt and Libya. I thik current regime has got the message and I am sure they will do the necessary to rectify the situation.


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