The Starting Point (By OBSERVER)

Analysis and a plan for action

The current situation prompts an analysis of the structure of the regime and a plan of action for resistance.

The current house of security cards was built in the 70’s on the following:

1. A weak army with units infiltrated with members of the regime whose function is to monitor for any evidence of dissent or plots.

2. Lack of horizontal communication between units to prevent a coordinated coup d’etat.

3. Seventeen branches of the security services from monitoring the Palestinian refugees to the monitoring of students and workers and even artists. These likewise have vertical reporting schemes and no horizontal communication abilities.

4. A Baath party that is the venue for control of the civilian aspect of life whereby all important activities and promotions and education go through its structure. Over the last 10 years, it has lost its importance to the rise of the inner circle mafia-like structure that allowed for the use of state structures for the development of huge corrupt graft schemes to enrich the few at the expense of the many.

5. A very large number of informants in the form of taxi drivers and clerks and middle men and waiters whose income is supplemented by their reporting on any activity that may be detrimental to the regime. This group is the least reliable and loyal.

6. Special praetorian guard to protect the regime that is best equipped and trained.

7. Alliance with minorities fearful fo change and loss of status and privilege

8. A centralized system of propaganda

Weaknesses of the system are evident in the following areas

1. A central command structure and if it is impaired in its ability to assess or communicate may leave local branches and subordinates without clear directives

2. A lack of internal control of the individual units and a huge burden on the leadership in maintaining its grip everywhere and at all times. Therefore, we see the rise of fiefdoms such as the directorate responsible for the presence in neighboring countries; or of the refugees; or the border crossings and what have you.

3. The rivalry and protection of turf that is bound to rise in times of peace and perhaps diminish in times of strife until there is evidence of a ship sinking.

4. The inability of the regime to pay and ensure loyalty of the troops and the rank and file.

5. In a single party system, the ultimate weakness is based on the fact that positions are based on loyalty to the regime and not on expertise and that there is no mechanism of accountability leading to a inner rot of the system.

6. Truthful information is a horror for the regime and more important is any scandal on the international air waves for image is a very important component of any discourse to stay in power, justify repression, impose a state of emergency, suspend the constitution, and corrupt the judiciary.

7. The Baath party is actually very weak and many of the protesters are angry that the former role of the party to allow for social and professional and educational upward mobility has been destroyed.

8. Recurrent mistakes of a regime that is believing its own lies and propaganda in a world that is most interconnected and open.

9. A state run economy recently liberalized in a “Wild West Way” that makes it very fragile and on the brink of collapse.

Strengths of the regime are

1. Ruthless and utter savagery in dealing with dissent

2. A sect based division of the country that plays into the hands of the few by using chaos as a terror card

3. Significant military resources

4. Pervasive intrusive information system that frames all aspects of society’s life

5. Centralized structure of propaganda and single voice organs.

6. Extensive business deals and relations with the neighbors that make it difficult to isolate it completely especially when it comes to illegal activities from prostitution to drugs to smuggling.

7. Experience from the regimes that fell recently in the sense that it either marginalizes the army or insures its loyalty; preparation of contacts with regional and other powers to insure their alliance with the regime as the region has now shifted away from the alliances of the past regimes. For example, Russia came out with egg on its face in Libya while the US came out on top in Egypt and France was able to recuperate Tunisia by intervening favorably in Libya. This leaves Russia with few allies in the Mediterranean region. It makes the regime more indispensable to it.

8. The opposition is made up of disparate groups who have put the cart in front of the horses and started by bickering on the shape of the future of the country as if the regime’s fall was going to be easy and imminent and only lately have concentrated again on the need to stop the repressive machine first and foremost.

9. Some ability of the regime to insert the resistance discourse on the one hand and the fanatic religious groups on the other hand as we see on several blogs.

Proposals

1. Concentrate on propagating the truth as much as possible

2. Concentrate on the single discourse that is important: the country is not a democracy; dialogue cannot happen while repression continues; self reform is impossible without dissolution of the state of emergency and the dismantling of the security house of cards

3. The state institutions need to be preserved for the aftermath of the fall of the regime; stability of the economy on the long run will require massive investments and cooperation from many countries. Insure that promises of aid and development will be much better than anything the regime can offer.

4. Truth and reconciliation will be the order of the day without revenge or exclusion.

5. Continue civil disobedience to the maximum.

6. Shame and isolate the supporters of the regime such as writing to the Russian Federation embassies and to RT.

7. The long tradition of the people for the Arab and Palestinian cause and for the cooperation and work with all Arab states will remain the bedrock of the new country.

8. The only fear we should fear is fear itself for it robs the work of today from the hope of a better tomorrow

9. Collective awareness of the need for change does not mean the end of individual freedom for this is why many are afraid of dissent for they are used to have an extremely strong sense of individuality without a single ounce of civic duty as we see in the day to day life of the people in the cities. Once people realize that their fate is common collective awareness for the need to change will start.

I hope this bring forth a new and constructive point of departure. Please let me know whether this needs to be posted on other blogs even though they may be pro regime.

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87 Comments

  1. Dear 7ee6anis
    I think OBSERVER’s points are very important to highlight. I am working on collecting points from the analysis in the previous post but such will take time. Let us have ago.

    I have not yet received any feedback on whether you want to continue the discussion in more private setting or as it is in public.

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  2. When you plan for change, and lets not underestimate the challenge here, you must remember one cardinal rule “Change is a dangerous game”. This is a good start, but needs work and refinement.

    One of the fundamental problems you have with communication and a message

    1. The Message needs to be clear and concise
    2. The message needs to have clear stated goals
    3. The message needs to be simpe
    4. The message needs to be reinforced continously

    I have been witnessing events as a outsider for the nine months, and one old friend today asked me to come aboard and contribute. I have yet to see a clear and concise plan from THE SNC or any Srian for that matter, if anyone has please distribute it- becaus some of us are yet to see it. One fundamental question needs to be asked “Why after 40 years of Baathist and Assad repression” have we made a disaster of this? Most of my Syrian friends in a chauavinistic way over many years would take pride in Syrian Society! Well where is it? Why has the revolution not galvanisedthe the majority of Syrian Society so far.

    Well I am sorry to tell you, the message is not there, the plan is not there, the future is not as rosy as it seems for some of them, Clearly my dear Syrians you need to take the future into your own hands and ensure that Syrians themselves decide what future you want for your country- before any nefarious forces dictate that future for you.

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  3. Dear Enlightened
    It means a lot to me personally that you are giving your thoughts. I have to agree that the message is not there. And my own observation is that with the exception of two or three messages from Burhan Ghalyoun, the SNC has been busy sending messages to its own membership instead of working on a simple coherent message to the Syrian people.

    In his outstanding article in Jadalayya, The Syrian Revolution and the Question of Militarization Ziad Majed, argues that the revolution is itself a transforming and constitutive act. While I have few additional points to add to the list of achievements Ziad has identified, i think that the issue here is that the revolution is in itself a process of change. Change that has exposed the regime for the anemic regime it really is in terms of creative solutions other than brute force (both in bullets and words), and initiated the destruction of the barrier of fear. The fact that in many besieged locations, people are now establishing their own governance and life support structure without even the benefit of access to humanitarian relief organization is giving a new meaning to what it means to be a citizen, and surprisingly enough, the new meaning is as far as possible from the chauvinistic, mythical image of the Syrian Society you have aptly described as prevailing among some Syrians. An example of a remarkable transformation, at least from my own point of view, is the transformation of the Krudish question from a Krudish issue into a national Syrian issue relevant to citizenship and what it means.

    I would say that judging by the geographic spread, much of Syria is galvanized but not yet fully organized and coordinated. There are several messages, some are astonishingly simple “Dignity” and others are a little more complex “Pluralistic Civil States vs Secular State”. The slogans, however, do change as time goes, and as the regime and its loyalists present yet one more challenge. When the thugs were forcing people to bow to pictures of the Assad thugs, the streets started shouting “we won’t kneel except to god”.

    I know my rant may not answer your excellent challenge, but I invite all to participate in addressing the tremendous challenges we face.

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  4. I was ill the last two days and I vote for keeping the discussion public and open. The more the better. I would just ask to remain FOCUSED and not to digress into non related details.
    From this analysis that I proposed, I would like for the following
    1. How to take advantage of the weak spots in the regime’s armor
    2. How to weaken the strong spots
    3. How to make it as simple and as broad as possible.
    One of the most important aspects is the diffusion of reality on the ground. As is; without comments without bias
    The second is to make sure the financial system of the regime is sabotaged and weakened.
    The third is to focus on one thing and that is the end of the regime of dictatorship.
    I will think a bit and post again on the broad outlines of organizing the group.
    I would love to have a regime sympathizer ( not a supporter ) join us in the discussion so as to have the “other” view and try to understand the fear and obsessions that may be breached or reassured.

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  5. Dear OTW,
    I like your post. It is a good start for all of us to start dissecting the strength, weaknesses and best courses of action.
    When I was reading your post, it dawned on me that the most important strength that the regime has today is the fact that in the last 40 some years, it managed to shatter the Syrian individual’s moral compass. This lack of basic ethics and morality is allowing the regime to recruit the so called Shabiha, who have no qualms about hitting their own people for money or power. It is also allowing the regime the ability to find individuals to infiltrate the revolutionary circles and wreak havoc. A case in point was the beginning of the revolution in Halab, when the “tansiquiat” were infiltrated thus to hindering the movement in the city. This was told to my brother by a few members of the Halab “tansiquiat” who were actually arrested and tortured to be released only a month ago. They found out during their detention, that they had a few informers in their ranks. Another case in point, tragedy and irony, was the death of Omar 7awi in Halab. This young man was beaten to death by the Shabiha, who against popular belief, are locals in Halab. Omar 7awi is from a local tribe in Aleppo called 3assassineh. The irony is that one of the known Shabiha in Halab is Jamal 7awi, a doctor in the coroner’s office and a relative of Omar’s. The regime was able to recruit Jamal 7awi to work as a head Shabih in my view by exploiting his lack of morals and his hunger for power.

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  6. Dear Observer,
    I had the “pleasure” of spending five days with my pro-regime brother who lives in Syria and two days with a good friend of mine who also lives in Syria. I tried very hard to listen to what they had to say and found out that changing their minds is not going to be easy. They have already convinced themselves that this revolution is wrong for the country for two main reasons:
    1- It is destroying the country in all meanings of the word destroy.
    2- It will not bring a better government or future for Syria.
    The reality is that they are absolutely right. This revolution did destroy Syria and will most likely not bring a better government or future for Syria in the short term. You and I and everyone else on this blog know that Syria has no other choice. We know that Syria was regressing rapidly and something had to be done to stop the fall. We know that revolutions take time to produce results and we know that it is not the revolution, but the regime’s response to it that is destroying the country. Alas, to convince these people to accept that their world is now destroyed because we are correcting a wrong and paving the way for a better Syria, is in vain. The majority of people are going to “vote their pocket books”. The only thing that is going for the revolution is that my brother and my friend are a minority. Most people in Syria have very little to lose and as the revolution goes on and the country get more destroyed, there will be more people with nothing to lose.
    In conclusion, I do not think that there is a strategy that we can follow to change hearts and minds. It is going to be time and events on the ground that will do the work for us. Meanwhile, we continue speaking the truth and exposing the murderous regime to help that “natural” process.

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  7. Dear OTW,
    I was thinking that instead of going directly to Russia, China, India, Brazil and even supportive countries like the US, UK and France, we could create alliances with local human rights groups. These groups already have the membership and the channels to reach their governments and create a buzz for Syria. We have to try to find respected groups and target them to pick up our cause and help us.

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  8. Dear Observer
    Sorry to hear your were ill. Hope you continue to feel better.

    Dear Sheila and Observer
    Let’s go. It is a public discussion then.

    Some Ideas about the War for Public Space

    I have been thinking of today’s Friday slogan and with Ziad’s article, and it is seems to me that the following has happened.

    1. In the start of the revolution, the protesters managed to reclaim some of the public space, which was denied them over the past 40 years. This was done in different ways including

    a. Removal of the symbols of appropriating Syria, with its public space to the Assad mafia family (statues, photos, big murals and cheaply painted gross giant pictures or the four thugs). The regime gave in a little, primarily motivated by its fear that more demolition of these holly symbols will further erode the hallow of fear. Statues were removed, and some of those gross and cheaply painted murals were covered by Giant flags.

    b. The people continued in their retaking of the public Occupying, successfully several major public squares in Homs and Hama

    2. The regime countered by its charades of “pro” fests of dancing on the bodies of dead, but that has been declining as they are having problems busing sufficient numbers in, and maintaining the costs of celebration (food, drinks, and entertainers). The regime also was adamant to deny the people the public space in Damascus and when the number of protesters reached critical and potentially permanent occupation of squares in Hama and Homs, the regime showed as much brutality as it can.

    3. Today, the regime’s effort focused on preventing the people from claiming large areas of the public space, killing in the process 32 Syrians. NO longer can the regime rely only on Shabee7a but it has now to use very obvious military units to occupy the public space

    It seems to me that from the lessons of Tunisia and Egypt, and like Qaddafi, the regime is really scared of the people getting more successful in claiming back the public space from the vulgar images of the personality cult. It is failing in mobilizing enough “loyalists” to maintain its image of having support as manifested by presence of its loyalists in public space (really their rallies are becoming anemic and more pathetic by the day). It will only become more vicious now in attempting to prevent the people from gathering en-mass in the presence of the observers.

    As OBSERVER said, Truth is the regime’s worst nightmare. Denial of public space aims to accomplish several goals.

    1. Hide the truth of the wide-spread and popularity of anti-regime ideals
    2. Prevent reluctant groups from believing that it is safe to join their brethren.

    Possible Tactical Implication

    The regime’s obsession in maintaining its monopoly of public space is also an area that can be used to drive it faster into bankruptcy. There should be many many declaration of intent to occupy all major squares, but with the true plans and destination being kept secret. Let the regime send its Shabee7a all around and keep them occupied in large numbers. Every shabee7 costs the regime no less than 800 SYP per day. Also, every military movement has a a cost. This is one of the venues to exhaust whatever supplies the regime can obtain rather rapidly as well as exhaust the forces on the ground, who are already fatigued (I heard that there is a rotation being implemented now).

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  9. With respect to Military capacity, there is a need to focus on the capacity that is most effective in killing people, especially during demonstrations. I think Snipers are the most significant resource the regime is using now for that purpose. Creative methods are needed to deny access to high points or to make the sniper’s life hell while on the roof.

    Also, has anyone seen the bunch of Shabee7a from Aleppo that were caught sometime ago. Did anyone notice the variance in their daily price of blood. Some were receiving 500 SYP/Day and others nearly 1100 SYP/day for the same disgusting purpose. Such has to be exploited. I believe Hamster wrote a funny piece in SC on this issue early during the revolution. Spreading rumors that certain Shabee7a are receiving very high blood-price may initiate some resentment in the ranks of this greedy group. It helps also to spread the rumor that the leaders (coordinators/contractors) are taking a bigger cut than agreed on for each insect they recruit than the insect itself (steeling from their employees while doing nothing).

    I have not gone mad. Nor have I gone KT on you, but now we should discuss all aspects. The success of any SWOT analysis depends on the ability of its participants to think Out of the Box.

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  10. @ sheila,
    Your comment is interesting, although maybe observer will think it a digression to ask more about it. I am not sure if you are bringing it up to say that this is a limiting factor in the struggle because so many people have been corrupted (or their moral compass corrupted) such that there are always informants and infiltrators who will sabotage a group’s collective project? I think this is a problem, indeed. However as someone, I think it was actually Aboud in response to KT’s hyperventilation about the FSA infiltrators, said… this works both ways! .. the opposition has actually infinite more ability to sabotage on the sly… if people have been turned in their hearts and know how to do it. They also have been born and bred to have two faces and be able to talk the talk but do something else.
    Should not this be used to the revolution’s advantage? I think so… again – it is more of a tactical issue of building techniques for sabotage that are easily implemented without detection even.

    but back to your moral compass issue for a moment, if I may digress from strategy ideas, I wonder how you think by your comment that people’s “moral compass” is “shattered”…
    I remember you bringing up one time the topic of the brutal methods of the army for shattering the will of new conscripts. My own knowledge of destruction of moral compasses is also focused around military methods, which are par for the course in the conditioning process for getting people to kill other people.
    However, I had always wanted understand these processes in less formal circumstances, say in militias and death squads and the like. I don’t think they are that different except in matters of degree. (this was partly my thesis actually, that normal militaries are employing the same cognitive manipulations as those in atrocity/ massacre contexts just in a lesser degree)…
    but part of my own conclusions was that “shattering” is not necessarily permanent, depending on how far the dehumanization process has proceeded. I think once you create killers, it is hard to reverse that.
    However, in lesser circumstances of corruption and brutalization short of torture/killing… I think certain forms of moral degradation are not irreversible.

    This is a central reason I am highly against militarized conflict again – because at the end of the day, a lot of these people in both sides of violent conflict will have to live with each other! – and the more violence they have engaged in – the harder it is to reconcile it or to reverse the loss of moral compass that occurs inherently when people have to become dehumanized in order to dehumanize others for purposes of inflicting harm on them. I am also against retribution for similar reasons, that those who have been turned into monsters were not by any means born monsters… and I guess I am convinced that most people retain the possibility of being ‘rehumanized’ by forces of reconciliation and forgiveness – and by being immersed in new social conditions.

    the Regime obviously doesn’t care at all what shattering of the humanity of people they employ and use to do their work. And this was the argument – again I believe it was Aboud- put forth for why he thought non-violence can’t win the day… because there is no morality on the other side to compel them to refrain from always upping the ante and being at an advantage. However, Non-violence expert argue (and this is in Ziad’s article as well) that this is only the case if the struggle is fought using their methods and in their terrain- where winning is a factor of how nasty and brutal you can fight.
    The opposition has to bring the struggle to other terms… to another strategic plane… where brute force is not the determining mode of struggle.

    my final thought on this is that I think another message (perhaps just implied) in Ziad Majed’s analysis is that – as the public space is reclaimed by those uprising, and former “symbolic fields of despotism” and affiliations are challenged and dismantled… this would increasingly open up possibilities for more defection…further driving cracks into the prior mental landscape of people…. potentially transforming the formerly narrow field of identification choices… into a broader set of choices / sources for affiliation and means of social pride and loyalty beyond those that were rigidly defined by constant repression. Maybe even the formerly “shattered” can be repaired in this transformative environment.

    and I want to say….maybe even for a shabiha?

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  11. If we can effectively make the Syrian revolution the cause du jour, get all sorts of celebrities involved to create public awareness, this will in turn put pressure on governments and create opportunities for politicians to please their audience.

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  12. ahhh ROOFTOPs are such a stupid place to put one’s soldiers….it is so ripe for sabotage!….
    the possibilities are actually sort of endless for a number of reasons…
    there are multiple entry points but only certain people have access to them. so many places to fall on your ass and break a leg. Ways to be trapped up there. And to get down from them…you have to traverse zillions of steps of stairs..in most buildings in Syria.
    they have locks that can be destroyed or glued.
    there is this beautiful thing called invisible fishing wire.
    and another beautiful invention called CRISCO… that has many applications in this world…

    I am sure if people put their minds to it…every rooftop could be the last place a sniper wants to be…. especially if he had to leave it covered in say… farina or something…. or something that stinks horribly…: )

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  13. not to be contrary to any project you want to embark on…but having lived in California for twenty years prior…I can say that every celebrity and ever human rights group has bashed on China for decades regarding their own human rights crimes to no avail whatsoever…

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  14. Dear Zanobia,
    I enjoyed reading your comment a lot. This is by no means my field and I do not have as much insight as you do into the details. I have always felt that the deterioration of Syria was directly connected to the loss of the individuals’ moral compass and work ethics. This was accomplished directly and indirectly, on purpose and unintentionally by the Syrian regime, through many life experiences that a typical Syrian goes through in his or her lifetime. Military service was and still is their crown jewel. While they have the conscripts at their mercy, they can inflict all sorts of spirit killing methods known to man. But even if you did not have the “honor” to service the Syrian military, you can still get the royal treatment in everyday life. You start with the educational system: the classrooms are crowded, the teachers are mostly unqualified and under paid, the school buildings are in disrepair, the bathrooms are unfit for human use if not outright unusable and most of the time the classrooms are not heated in the winter. The typical Syrian teacher has to be brutal to survive the environment. The kids are subjected to beatings from the teachers and the bullies. They learn early on in life how to survive in the jungle called Syria as they see that cheating, lying and stabbing your friend in the back are the traits that are rewarded most.
    I had a friend who worked for the government for a few years in the late eighties. She ended up having to flee the country because she was receiving death threats. For years, she was unable to even go back and visit. Her problem was that she was a very ethical person put in an important position. She was offered big bribes to allow deviations from the law, to which her answer was a resounding no. She was literally driven out of the country. What I am trying to say is that those with ethics can not survive in Syria Al Assad.
    The lack of moral compass is magnified in the military and intelligence service. It gets to the point where you get desensitized to the suffering of other humans as to be able to torture them so mercilessly. I do not know how you can create such monsters, but I am sure that we have many of them around in Syria. When torture is so rampant and systematic, you know that there are more than a handful of people doing the dirty work.
    I do believe that people can change as the society changes; however, I believe that this takes time and determination.
    As for the militarization of the revolution that I was so dead set against at the beginning, it is becoming inevitable and necessary. I agree that it is not a positive thing, but how are you going to manage the logistics of the regime fall and its aftermath without an alternative force to fill the created vacuum?

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  15. The lack of moral compass can also be exploited to turn the regime’s support against each others.

    There is a major lack of trust among the mid-rank to top echelons, can that be exploited somehow?

    Celebrities can galvanize the public opinion in the US and Europe, but one must be conscious of the possible usage of their support by the regime. It will invent stories to link them to the great global or galactic conspiracy against Syria.

    One issue also, when one reads some of the screeches of regime sympathizers, masked or obvious, they always use phrases like (You want the fall of Syria)…. This needs to be responded to promptly by correction (I want the Fall of the Regime that has caused Syria so much decline, loss, and pain). and that the Regime is not Syria. Never accept even casual equation between the two even on face-book and keep hammering until the other side agrees to that divorce. This will help in moving the message from the mythical romantic construct of Syria, which is contested territory where the regime may have bigger media guns and a long ingrained notion of resistance for Syria and Sacrifice for the Arabs, and focus on the real matter, the people of Syria. Always challenge that mythical construct, for it was that construct which was used as an excuse for suspending our human and civil rights for three generations.

    Syria simply is a lovely country whose people like everywhere else, need and deserves a normal political life, with the basic civil and human rights guaranteed and protected. The regime is unwilling and incapable of doing so and it is the antithesis to such normalcy.

    Sorry for pontificating. But I am sure there are people reading this blog but not interacting. I hope that we can give tools that support them. Zenobia, i hope that you will help us see how can we project Sharp’s work to accomplish some of the daunting tasks ahead.

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  16. Dear Zanobia,
    Human rights in China is a totally different matter than the revolution in Syria:
    1- It is a chronic problem, while the revolution in Syria is hopefully a short term situation.
    2- Human rights abuses in China are not affecting as many people per day and to the same degree.
    3- Human rights abuses in China are not an urgent matter to address.
    4- It is not as well documented in as many gruesome videos as the revolution in Syria.
    5- The West has no interest nor ability to do anything about China, but has the ability to do a lot about Syria.
    Rallying the “troops” to the Syrian issue is not impossible and I believe can be very helpful.

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  17. Once again the Syrian people have moved quickly to take advantage of the observer mission and are demonstrating when they see them around. The FSA has suspended operations as it should have done so during the observation time. The ability of the regime to suppress the demonstrations is down with the presence of observers and therefore it may be a good thing to ask for significantly more people on the ground with recording equipment and satellite phones and then to ask for the entry of outside media into the country. The presence of outside media and observers is the solution to allow for the non violent nature of the revolution to proceed forth. It should be used not only to allow people to demonstrate but to allow for the regime to stop the use of the military so as to preserve it for the protection of civilians of both sides in the long run. It should also be used to impose a cease fire on both the regime and the FSA. Violence begets violence and never solves anything.
    Once this happens, I think there will be two outcomes
    The first is there will be splits and debates and recrimination among the opposition. It is impossible to be Syrian without claiming to have the truth and the right way of doing this or that task. The second and more important is the ability of the pro regime factions that do not toe the line to express their dissent without fear of retribution.

    I would like to offer the following in terms of the fear of what the revolution will bring:
    1. The corruption of the entire institutional structure of the government by the security house of cards will necessitate that the regime structure of corrupting both the individual and the institution be abolished. However, you would like to remove the tumor that is producing the bad humors without killing the patient/institution. Each directorate should be asked to vote on the election of a group of three leaders to run things until a new government is in place. For example the office of immigration and passports should elect three of its most trustworthy and least corrupt of its officers. The period should be for one year until a new system is in place.
    2. The most important first step is to salvage the judiciary system to allow for an independent and completely free and impartial system of justice. I would invite those in the field of law to look at the abolition of the decrees and laws that have permitted the regime to corrupt man/beast/institution. Retired judges and prominent members of the law profession would be asked to take over the various districts.
    3. A truth and reconciliation commission should be established by the SNC before the end of the regime to prevent revenge atrocities.
    4. A return of the army to the barracks is the first step to preserve it.
    5. Clear separation of the difference between the security troops and the thugs employed by the regime. You need to preserve the first and exclude the second.
    6. Discussion with the Arab donor countries to be ready to intervene with sums of money to prevent the collapse of the economy. This will include immediate lifting of sanctions and financial constraints to allow for people to receive aid.
    7. Security of people and their belongings no matter what the graft has been in the past there should not be any free for all if the security situation is very fluid.

    I would like to challenge and provoke constructively. I do not wish for people to digress from the post by OTW today on how to proceed with the dismantling of the present state of affairs without thinking of the aftermath for it will insure that more people are driven by hope rather than fear.

    This is a partial response to Sheila and her pro regime acquaintances.
    I will post later again

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  18. Fully agree that a Truth and Reconciliation commission needs to be established now before anytime else. I would suggest that some of the regime-tolerant internal opposition members be nominated as members of that commission. This will do the following

    1. Bluntly, shut them up for now and prevent their constant regime-serving rightful or wrongful, but especially wrongful criticism of every little detail of the revolution, which has prevented others from joining.
    2. Provide more assurances to reluctant members of the regime.


    احفظوا جيشنا، اعيدوه لثكناته

    I love that slogan.

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  19. ahh… *sigh*….. Sheila,

    your account and story is so terribly sad…it seriously makes my eyes water. I hear this terrible tale loud and clear like a raging river tearing down upon us… and we (7ee6anis and all the people on the ground over there so much more so) are as if sitting in a small boat… paddling upstream through this impenetrable fierce water with the current bearing down on us.
    But we can only keep going, can we not?

    The story of your friend… makes me think: where did she come from? how did she have that in her? to be so full of integrity….
    She is a sign that there are is still lots of goodness buried deep somewhere. Her story makes me want to work harder to create something good.
    My father escaped Syria… nobody drove him out,nobody jailed him, nobody forced him… no he must have left for the usual reasons. Maybe he wanted money, status, education and opportunity, like so many others. But I think most of all it was because he had a big spirit and he wanted the freedom to express it.
    But he also suffered…like many immigrants coming to a new world (especially in the 50’s, not the 2000s)… and I think… he loved Syria…He spent more than 30 years of my life before he died wishing I would love Syria too. And out of that suffering…he meted out pain to a lot of people. Pain I see as coming all the way from an early lesson of torture and abuse… a long ago source of inter-generational violence handed down and the stress of a society filled with both vitality and oppression and authoritarianism… from the leader to the father.
    Everybody has their story, some more dramatic than others..but each with the power to drive us home.

    I am in a little boat paddling….upstream.

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  20. Dear Zenobia,
    Yes, there is always goodness in people, but the environment you grow up in plays a major role in forming your personality. My friend grew up in a well to do family, lived in a nice house and went to private schools. She is one of a few in Syria who have the luxury of holding on to their moral compass.

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  21. Dear Zenobia
    I used that term to be nice. They are basically opposition accepting regime narrative. They are the groups that want to focus on very slow process towards pluralism, accept the regime’ fraudulent reforms, under the disguise of preserving peace, they insist that Assad can and should stay, and they just may soon be members of a yet new government appointed by Mr. Assad. Given that splits are unhappiness already permeate the recently appointed and lectured at government.

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  22. The Arab observers maybe a silver lining after all 🙂

    I am so proud to be Syrian today! Listening to Asmi Bishara and man do I like his intelligent analysis.

    Like

  23. Just saw a YouTube clip where a T 72 was knocked out by the FSA. They are getting stronger by the day. Man, Bashar is ….well in an uncomfortable position.

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  24. OTW you said:

    “I have to agree that the message is not there.”

    “There are several messages, some are astonishingly simple “Dignity” and others are a little more complex “Pluralistic Civil States vs Secular State”.

    I have been waiting to comment until I have something valuable to say. The reason the message is absent or not clear is because of the current hegemony on Syrian Affairs. Whether you like it or not, we live in a world where the power is NOT in the hands of the people. So, you can get all creative, disect the Syrian psyche, get celebrities involved and increase the pressure but you aren’t going to uproot the oldest tree in Syria – Al Ba’ath. The more I read this blog and others, the more I realize that without militarization (sorry Zenobia) it will be snail speed at best.

    I was unequivocally against foreign intervention, but I have changed my mind. Absent of a coup, the only way out is to let them divide our wealth (Rebuilding of Syria, back room deals…like they did in Libya). The Russian have a vested intere$t in Syria, they will have to get their share as well.

    I demonstrated against the Iraq war in -20 degrees weather, and the world over protested and what… the war went on. Until Russia & China along with NATO divide the money pie, nothing significant will happen. That is why the drums of war are silent, they have not agreed on who will get what and who will pay for what. In the end of the day, it’s all about the money.

    The SNC has limited mandate and its “message” and success depends on the cards played out on a daily basis by those who call the shots.

    The only alternative is to wait it out and hopefully the regime will choke. The regime will starve its people than give up…are we willing to wait years!?

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  25. Dear Zenobia @ 5:12 PM
    Cool, a real Mundassa, with real creative mind. LOL, multipurpose CRISCO!
    I also think that hiding few dead fishes here and there would enhance the quality of stay on the roof.

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  26. The AL observer mission is a joke. It was set to fail from the beginning. “Look, we did what we can…all options have been tried, etc…”.

    An new phase, perhaps more dangerous (Militarization) is in the works. They are laying the foundation and marketing towards the final sale.

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  27. The NY Times is reporting that The Obama administration is moving ahead with the sale of nearly $11 billion worth of arms to Iraq.

    Iraq is sitll in chaos and getting weapons into Iraq will fall into who’s hand exactly? Where is the accountability, where are the checks & balances, etc… Who cares…Saddam is dead. They replaced one dictator with a dozen mini ones which can be better controlled.

    The american military industrial complex (Lockheed & Raytheon, etc) milks the last drop from the Iraqi cow. If we remember, Iraq was armed and then destroyed, now it will be re-armed at big profits. It is like a board game that we the Arabs suck at.

    Relevancy? Obama and his cronies are now working on the Libya’s sequel – The Syrian Project. Let them have it (fatalist, I know)…Syria was raped by Syrians for 40 years. At least, the west will leave the average Syrian bigger crumbs.

    …One member state at a time.

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  28. Hello OTW, Observer, Enlightened, Husam et al

    I, also, am no expert on Syrian affairs and have been waiting and reading widely before adding anything to this learned forum.

    As an outside but interested party to the uprising in Syria, from my own point of view I would also like to stress the importance for the SNC in using good, effective and above all simple PR. I think this is what Enlightened and Husam are suggesting.

    I agree totally with OTW that there are of course, bigger and more moral issues involved here but in terms of garnering international support (whatever form that takes is up to the SNC and people like you to decide) there needs to be a very strong, easily understood and well marketed message that the SNC and other pro-regime-change organisations can bring, first of all to the international media and second of all to external governments, in the hope of pressuring them into giving such assistance.

    In my opinion, the opposition has the upper hand in coming up with a moral, easily marketable PR message – so far, from an outside POV, they have failed to do this effectively. Use some of the strengths of the opposition (eg its predominantly non-violent nature) and the weaknesses of the regime (eg its utter ruthlessness) – and all the other points Observer has suggested in this post – to craft this message. But, above all, keep it simple and understandable in order to make it “sell-able”.

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  29. @ Husam,

    not sure what ‘snail’s speed’ translates to, but with or without militarization we have several years ahead of struggle, at least. And the cost on the back side of militarization, in life and energy is just as great.. many would argue.
    To think that more guns translates to less time is a fantasy in my opinion. Or it may, MAY, nobody could say… knock out leadership in some way a shorter time, but situation is likely not going to be any less chaotic.
    Knocking out Sadaam was the only the end of the beginning. In your scenario, you are banking on a passive or even rejoicing population… but so did the pentagon.
    There is a lot of reason to doubt how much one can assume the aftermath of that will be a road of success.

    More significantly, I actually don’t know what “money pie” you are talking about. You will have to be more specific. I have no claim to knowledge about these things, but it was very obvious what money pie exist/exists in Iraq or other countries. Whereas, Syria’s oil resources are almost gone by global standards. To China, Syria is one small economic benefit. and to the Russians, i imagine the significance is strategic more than anything else in terms of their wanting control of their back door region. (maybe there are far more complicated strategic reasons, but something like that)
    Where is the money pie???? you speak of.
    I think the ‘war drums’ don’t beat precisely because THERE IS NO MONEY PIE!..

    re:china from earlier- my understanding was that Sheila was saying that Americans/Europeans should be exerting pressure on China re their support of Syria via the security council. To my view, it doesn’t matter what the relative situation in Syria is verses China’s record (which by the way is extremely well documented as well); this is not why they are obstructionist to UN action. They are not in a position where they have to respond to pressure from human rights groups or Americans. They own us.
    They are uninterested in supporting any kind of international efforts at enforcing global human rights standards. To do so – is to lend legitimacy to international standards and to the idea that these are effective mechanisms for forcing nations to abide by those standards. Hence they will continue to resist participating in these kinds of UN sponsored efforts, to my mind.
    Did they participate in other circumstances? I am actually not aware, so if someone knows different – it would be interesting to know. Darfur or something? but Syria is an actually trading partner, and this seems even less likely.

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  30. yes, we know what the money pie is in Iraq and potentially Libya, but Syria? Really… how much arms will be bought in a completely bankrupt system? and exactly how much arms can be sold to a country that hasn’t made peace with Israel? and if they did come to a peace agreement then who are the arms to protect against?…

    You are still peddling the big “plot” …for no good reason. We have to proceed regardless, as I see you concede, but there is not reason to focus on that – as it detracts from the possibility that this is NOT one big exploitation plot. That you might be wrong.

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  31. بالإضافة لهذا فإن النظام السوري غبي جداً، فهو قد إنخدع بالكلام الذي إعتبره مطمئناً من قبل رئيس اللجنة، مع أن هذا الكلام لا يدل على الإطلاق لا عن أرائه الحقيقية و لا عن طبيعة ما وجدته لجنته، إذ إن كلامه المعتدل اللهجة لا يعدو كونه كلاماً ديبلوماسياً و يأتي في سياق الأعراف المتبعة في هذه الأحوال. و هذا ما أوضحته الجامعة العربية بلسان رئيس غرفة العمليات الخاصة بعمل بعثة مراقبي الجامعة العربية الى سوريا السفير عدنان الخضير عندما قال أن تصريحات رئيس بعثة مراقبي الجامعة العربية الفريق أول محمد الدابي حول “إطمئنان الوضع في سوريا” كان يقصد فيها “التزام الحكومة السورية تجاه البعثة وليس ما يجري على الارض”. و لكن بسبب إنخداعه هذا ترك النظام مصفحاته ظاهرة للعيان و شبيحته غير خافية على الأبصار و قناصته تمارس هوايتها بالقتل في وضح النهار.
    http://haytham-khoury3.blogspot.com/2011/12/blog-post_30.html

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  32. Zenobia,

    Snails and slugs travel at speeds that vary from slow (0.013 m/s) to very slow ( 0.0028 m/s. Is that slow enough for you? Ok how about Turtle Speed then?

    Billions of dollars of Syria (like in Libya’s case) have been frozen all over the world (I think a few Billion just in Canada). Daily from Dubai to Canada, new clandenstine accounts are being knows and confiscated belonging to the Assads and 100 or so connected members and family. In Libya’s case there is talk on at least using a good of frozen Libyan money to pay for NATO’s bullets and rebuilding projects divided around NATO. Syria is the key to Iran’s oil. Once Syria falls, Iran will be isolated.

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  33. Zenobia:

    “That you might be wrong.” But of course, I may be wrong. It won’t be the first time.

    Zenobia, I know you Sheila, OTW and perhaps most of the people on this blog don’t buy into the “the big plot”. I respect that. I have done at least 1000’s hours reading through material, books, online and various discusion with friends and that is what I conclude. I don’t pretend to know it all, and I don’t read or learn to preach, I do it for my own knowledge and interest. Politics is a dirty game, so is the money game. I know that I get carried away….sometimes I can’t think without conspiracy thought but many, many facts are just undisputable about so many issues.

    While you don’t prescribe to such beliefs, the US is looking for its best interest (as Sheila once put it) at any cost, so what she said! The small guys either plays ball or get wings or b*llz clipped.

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  34. I have never posted a video link. I thought if any of you get the “Yeah, right!” when discussing that “SOME” Alawis actually pray, talk and think that Bashar is G*D. Watch to end (2 min.)

    Link removed by OTW

    Notice: This is not a sectarian video, and I know that some Alawis are as good or even better than anyone else. Just showing that there are extremist on every side. AND of course they will kill for their G*D!

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  35. I am really sorry Husam, the clip is definitely sectarian with the primary goal of inciting sectarian hatred. The whole ambiance, music, and production, and comments indicate that it is designed to illicit anger not only at those appearing in the clip, but against an entire community. While I do not believe this was your intention as clearly indicated by your message. The clip is inconsistent with the spirit of your message or with the spirit of this blog and its goals.

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  36. Observer I think you’ve raised an excellent point, reconciliation in the aftermath of regime collapse. This is one of the most important issues, this must be SNC priority issues.

    We know that this regime is finished, negotiation and reform-two words unfounded in the Syrian Revolutionaries dictionary.

    As bystanders, the best thing we can do is to support the many families. Their lives have been shattered. Many, in addition of losing their loved ones, they’ve lost the bread winner and are left to fend for themselves.

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  37. Dear Miki
    Welcome to 7ee6an, and sorry for my tardiness in noticing your comment. As you may have noticed, the first comment goes through moderation, but all subsequent comments should appear promptly from now on.

    Your point of view is very valuable and I hope that Dr. Khoury will be able to present it to his colleagues at the SNC. Speaking of PR campaign, CNN today ran a story on a Citizen Journalist who was gunned by sniper in Baba Amr in homs last week. He died Tuesday. CNN did not run the famous words of Mr. Assad, who said when meeting a delegation of youth

    The protesters are not important to us, what we are concerned about are those who shoot photos (e.g. document) the protest and sent the pictures to foreign press.
    Bashar Al-Asad

    It is clear that this was a premeditated murder, that was ordered as a policy by Mr. Assad. I am sure next time he giggle’s with Barabar Walters, he will claim that Mr. Sayed, the 24 years old aspiring citizen journalist was unknown and was not famous exactly as he did with Qashoudh, the singer.

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  38. Dear Miki:

    I agree with you completely. The SNC does not have an effective PR compaign. Indeed, its organizational apparatus is still dysfunctional. That is related to many factors. However, the most important one is the opposition has been paralyzed by the regime itself. I am hopeful that the opposition will be more effective in the near future.

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  39. dear Husam,

    I feel now sorry I asked for more explanation because truthfully it really doesn’t matter to our task.
    I will say only on this subject that I don’t think all the frozen Syrian money in the world matters… because it would be swallowed up in the cost of any kind of armed internationally involved conflict. This kind of money is didlely squat in larger scheme of things for either China or USA.

    Iran is a huge and powerful country. It can take care of itself. Syria is not the gateway or “key” to anything. If anyone dares to attack Iran, let them do so at their own folly. Actually, the United States cannot bare the “cost” of such an endeavor. We are bankrupt as it is from that last venture… It would be total folly and every american normal person knows it. Anyone who embarked on that kind of war – will own it – to the point of drowning…
    yes, you’ll tell me how little syria is a key, due to the fact that is a weigh station on the way to the East. It is the transit point for everything. These are all excuses that all the leaders, Iranian, Syrian, American, Israeli, etc use to justify their bullshit policies, to shut their people up.
    Don’t let them get away with it.

    Ok, you spent a thousand hours reading about world corruption and power. Congrats. If you want to talk about the U.S.A. outside of a cliche – in the future you to specify what you are even talking about…. the CIA?, the pentagon?, the president?, the people?, the corporate interests?, the weapons manufacturers? or the oil interests?… they don’t actually all have the same interests. “Obama and his cronies”… again.. i find this annoying. Unlike Syria, we can be certain that the American president does not control policy singularly. Far from it.
    And what are USA’s interests (assuming we figured out WHO the USA refers to)? And what are the costs? of “at any cost”…
    I actually don’t want your answers to all these questions. I am just being rhetorical. My point is that all these vague references can mean many things and therefore mean very little as sweeping statements.

    Truthfully, I think maybe you read too much because it will kill your will to think what you can do now matters. WE should be busy creating reality. You know…. how Fox TV does every night in America?… it is an amazing thing.
    Forget all your ‘knowledge’ of how things in the world work, suspend it. Let it go. If it were truly all powerful as you seem to believe, then – taking it into account is not going to change anything either way. And if you forget it, at least you could have a change, we could have a chance to see if we are able to will a new beginning here.
    We should practice the AS IF, in the same way tyrants and dictators and powerful government military agencies do, except with the interests of society in the forefront of our minds, with our moral compasses intact.

    Now we don’t have to talk about it anymore…or how sinister and crazed any particular groups in Syria are either. We can free ourselves to just plan and make something… with our most optimistic vision in mind.

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  40. and by the way, what is the hurry? what is wrong with Turtle’s pace?
    In fact, the way things are going.. with the SNC not that organized yet and not turning enough people…. without Damas and Aleppo fully on board, I would prefer things slow down.
    You and everyone is sick of watching people die, suffer, watching the terror. yes, i understand. But if you think that four thousand people dead or 10,000 being detained is bad… you should be even more wary of international intervention that comes in the form of jets and bombs or weapons. That could be tens of thousands, if not hundreds – if it turns out (once you are in it) that it ends up being prolonged. Assad gov would loved to have a visibly armed opposition to fight. They will have the perfect rationale to go all out any time.. worse than now.
    The purpose of a SLOW disobedience movement is to save lives actually.

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  41. Miki:

    There is no clear marketing campaign because there is no clear mandate. They need solid support and so far despite high profile meetings, no solid plan of action has been laid out. They are trying to appease everyone while the final cards are being dealt.

    It will be interesting to see how 300 members will agree on anything…

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  42. Miki:

    There is no clear marketing campaign because there is no clear mandate. They need solid support and so far despite high profile meetings, no solid plan of action has been laid out. They are trying to appease everyone while the final cards are being dealt.

    It will be interesting to see how 300 members will agree on anything…

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  43. Hmm, …. while we are debating the great conspiracy and what to do, I was able to drop 20+ replies to comments on the CNN blog story about the murdered young citizen journalist in Baba Amr. Does this qualify as PR?….

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  44. you’re crazy OTW, i saw you… you addressed practically every single commenter on CNN plus taking out the QN nutcase… you’re going to become the famous masked blogger appearing everywhere on it on it……but nobody can catch him…

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  45. Zenobia:

    The Speed train left the station, nothing can slow it down now. Putting the brakes today can be a very, very bad idea. This is what Norman, Jad and the rest are saying “what is the hurry anyway”. Zenobia, everyone knows that the idea is to keep mounting the pressure and choke the regime is the way to go… I am saying: I don’t believe anymore that there is a viable option becasue in the end intervention will eventually be the order of the day.

    Easy for you and I to debate sitting oceans apart from Syria. I too was afraid for more Syrians to fall, but recently figured out what others were saying. The endgame will be the similar to Libya, so why wait.

    As for my sweeping statements….Although, I strongly believe that you can not look at Syria like a small peanut (as you protrait it), I did not want to go into details because that is not the focus of this blog. You ask what I was referring to but you are not holding your breath and couldn’t care less about my answers specifically asking me not answer. Wow, now that is really annoying!

    You said:

    “We can free ourselves to just plan and make something… with our most optimistic vision in mind.”

    What happened, you changed your mind? Two days ago you were screaching at OTW asking him if he wanted to save Syria with his blog. Now you are forward thinker, Obamama, yes we can!

    “Iran can take care of itself”.

    No it can’t. No country can. Politics works very differently, and without allies no country can succeed on the world stage. Syria was a nice card to have for Iran because of its strategic significance. Just like Hezballah was to Syria…things will be reshaped.

    “Whoever embarks on that war will own it”, of course they will own it. War is a very lucrative business. Or did you think America really gives a hoot about bettering the lives of some tent dwellers, or doing Ba’aoush a favor?

    Zenobia, so you love Obama and you think he runs the show with legitimate good honest people. Good for you. Believe what you want and let others believe what they want.

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  46. Your sarcasm is pitiful and unnecessary.

    I am going to be the bigger man here and decide to shut this garbage down right now.
    That’s why I said I don’t need a reply from you on said stupid issues that have nothing to do with this project.
    And by the way, don’t ever mention me in the same sentence with Jad or Norman or someone similar or equate what I am saying with that – since you clearly don’t understand me ( I have already articulated myself clearly before) so that is just a cheap shot, or I will let you have it next.

    You are not an oracle and you actually DON’T KNOW…what the endgame or the order of the day will be in the end. You don’t know at all. Some of us are not prepared to gamble with it.

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  47. Just read this on all4syria

    على هامش مقابلة أجراها مع “اأنباء” الكويتية ، كشف النائب اللبناني خالد ضاهر عن تلقيه معلومات أكثر من مؤكدة تفيد عن تواري شقيق الرئيس الأسد ماهر الأسد عن الأنظار، حيث ترجح المعلومات أمرا من اثنين إما أنه مصاب بجروح بالغة وتتم معالجته بعيدا عن الأضواء، وإما أن الرئيس الأسد قد أبعده عن العمليات العسكرية عملا بمسعاه إلى إيجاد المخرج المناسب له ولأركان نظامه بعد استدعائه لاحقا إلى القضاء لمحاكمته بالجرائم التي ارتكبها، متحديا الإعلام السوري إظهار ماهر الأسد أمام الرأي العام لنفي المعلومات المشار اليها.

    30 years later, another massacre, same scenario, different players.

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  48. OTW,

    Thank you for inspiring us and for leading by example. I was there for the palestinians, I was there for the lebanese, for the Iraqis. I marched, I demonstrated, I petitioned, I voted, I wrote dozens of letters, I got thousands of signatures, I commented, I wrote to MPs. Did it matter? At 42, I can tell you it did not alter the course even 1%. And we were coordinated and doing numbers.

    I decided to sponsor a Palestinian Child 7 years ago, and can tell you that was the most satisfying thing I have ever done. Why? Because, I can measure my action and watch this child grow to be a man knowing my contribution directly impacted his life and well being. I got others to do the same. Similarily in marketing campaigns I run, people throw money easily because there are measurable identifiable data and results.

    That is why helping the wounded, sending money, etc…can be rewarding for some like me. So while I applaud you for at least attempting to make change, it is okay to let others vent out and discuss stupid theories. To me it is the reality we live in.

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  49. @ Husam,

    Your concrete actions taken are commendable. You should still with them, as you said before… working on getting medical supplies and whatever is in your power to do. It IS more meaningful, no question.
    Of course, I am guilty of long winded discussions at times – and I find a tangential issue is sometimes excusable if it is in some way at least arguably in the service of understanding issues that MAY further our goals.
    however, Particularly – Observer asked that we not go way afield today. And I think complaining about IRAQ and such, and how they got screwed, and how the global military industrial complex is going to screw everyone and ruin every revolutionary effort in the region…is just totally counterproductive and not helpful.

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  50. Zenobia,

    I think you are angry today. I saw a difference with your stance from two days ago and added some spice. Can’t you handle a little spice?

    Jad & Norman are not swear words and they are Syrian, please be don’t be an extremist (us vs. them).

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  51. Zenobia:

    I heard him and I heard you. I will shut it. I thought it was relevant and should be considered along those efforts so they aren’t done in vain. We have to be realistic.

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  52. Dear OTW,

    “I was able to drop 20+ replies to comments on the CNN blog story about the murdered young citizen journalist in Baba Amr. Does this qualify as PR?”

    It definitely does, especially from someone like you who has a lot of good things say.

    One thing I would like to pint out so that you or Haytham can raise it with the SNC, is their clear weakness in dealing with AL observers. I was shocked to see the observers show up without specialized equipment and personnel to document their findings. The question is what did the SNC do to ensure the success of the mission? This should have happened before the observers were sent. Did the SNC consult with the UN and other agencies to help them ensure that the mission succedes and is not co-opted by the Syrian regime?

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  53. Miki, Thanks you were the only one who picked up what I was alluding to. Il come back in the next 48 hours and add what needs to be done when time allows me. OTW thanks for your response. As a Lebanese we have witnessed the ugly side of the Syrian security regime. When referring to Syrian chauvinism – I am referring to personal
    relations with friends- this is no way indicative of of my feelings towards Syrian society in
    general. I should have been more clear on that point earlier.

    However, I will come back and value add to observers points. In the interim I would suggest that people like Qunfuz, Maysaloon and others b

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  54. Dear Dr Khoury, OTW, Enlightened

    I know there’s lots of people out there with great skills and I’m not a marketing or PR person myself but I am, I hope, a fairly good objective viewpoint. My partner is also a website person (design, SEO, basically just getting your information to more people) so if at some point there is a message that needs sending we would be happy to help out more practically.

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  55. I am starting to think that there are PR activities but they aim at selling the wrong products. I seems that the SNC and all other “internal opposition” structures are conducting PR efforts that aim primarily as selling themselves as the representatives of the Syrian peoples. No one but the local coordination committees is focusing on transmitting the facts on the ground. However, facts on the ground are one thing and message is another. A message could be as simple as the global necessity of eradicating the pest Syrian regime . What is needed is a unique message that can not be turned around and used by regime loyalists.

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  56. I would suggest some points here
    1. We can all go and ask Anderson Cooper on CNN to focus on Syria
    2. We can go back and contribute to SC again
    3. Some who are in contact with the SNC could possibly send the points made here on a plan of action.
    4. Families back home can give us feedback on the efforts if possible

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  57. Sorry, but I would rather focus on blogs that are more read by Americans than SC where we can deliver the message as opposed to haggle with cut and paste artists.

    As for informing SNC, I can assure you that your points were made available to them at least to those close to Burhan Ghalyoun. However, stay tuned for some major issues related to SNC/CNB agreement.

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  58. I was just told by a person related to a high ranking officer in the ministry of the exterior in Syria, that every time a Syrian official is sent outside the country on state business, he is called to a meeting where he is told point blank: you family is here under our “protection”. Needless to say, they are not allowed to leave with their families.

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  59. Zenobia, I couldn’t help but notice your continued cheap shots against me, even when I’ve been absent from the blog. You are a sad, sad case.

    Your loud and rather impractical suggestions of an ultra slow “civil reform” movement, will instead see us through to the reign of Hafiz, the son of Hafiz, and the grandson of Hafiz, all so you can play act at revolutionary while making sure the revolution doesn’t touch your friends and relatives in Damascus. Why is it that the areas that have suffered the most, found the most success in hosting and sheltering the FSA?

    How is it that you have failed so utterly to learn the lessons of the past 40 years, that the Baathists will not allow any dissent or change in the system, no matter how minute. Your laughable ideas of reforming the shabihas would be hilarious were it not so idiotically tragic. Just how do you imagine in your Zenobia flower power universe to be able to reform someone who has never been made to pay for the errors of his ways?

    Zenobia, you are the classic case of the comfy expat, totally oblivious to hard realities on the ground. Just look at what happened to Ali Ferzat the next time you want people to believe in the power of cultured enlightenment over thuggery.

    Meantime, get some professional help for your pathetic obsession.

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  60. With regards to Angry Arab, he is a man who has failed. He will never see an independent Palestinian state in his lifetime. Burhan Ghalyon is also an academic, but he is shouldering the responsibilities of building a national movement from the ground up, under the hardest of all possible circumstances. As’ad Abu Tantrums has spent the last few years wallowing in his anger at the world, and alienating anyone who might have previously been inclined to help his cause.

    Abu Khalil does not want to see a Syrian revolution succeed, especially at the hands of academics with a background similar to his own. It would only emphasize his complete and utter failure in his own political life. A few days ago, Abu Khalil said that not needing to worry about people’s votes was liberating. Much in the same way that an unemployed, homeless person is “liberated” from the worries of paying mortgage or working weekends for a living, I should imagine.

    And so Abu Khalil rants at NATO, rants at the USA, rants at the Ikhwan, rants at the Lebanese, Saudis, Qataris, Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, CNN. His was one of the first blogs on the Middle East in any language, and his readership are drive by the same motives that make Baathists obsessively watch Ar’or’s shows. His page views is a result of inertia, from having been around the longest. Is he influential? Har har, when was the last time any media outlet quoted Abu Angry?

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  61. It’s quite telling that the people who are most eager to “rehabilitate” the shabiha and kiss and make up, have themselves acted with pettiness and vindictiveness on this very forum. A slow civil movement means more time for the regime to keep killing 40 a day, imprisoning thousands a month. Yesterday was the biggest turnout in ten months. Any president with an ounce of dignity would have gotten the message and stepped down. Anyone with a conscious would have. But as has become quite clear, a conscious is something lacking in the regime’s rank and file.

    And yet some people would have us bet on this same, non existent conscious. Hey, just as long as friends and relatives in Damascus can pretend to live in their own alternative reality.

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  62. Ego, what killed those before you, Ego what will kill you
    Chill down on personal attacks, all of you, would ya..

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  63. Aboud,
    what “cheap shots” ? I alluded to you in two cases from arguments you made that I think actually are very representative of real arguments. And because they led me to think other things that fit with my personal view…I was using them within my discourse.
    There was nothing derogatory about it. It was infused into my argument only as counterpoint, not as any insult to you.
    As you like to say to others, ‘if you took it that way’, not really my problem.
    but I will make sure not to use your name again in order not to have that confusion.

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  64. “but I will make sure not to use your name again in order not to have that confusion”

    I’d consider it a favor in fact. Feel free to refer to me as “that lunatic egotistical guy whose name begins with an A”, won’t mind one bit.

    And Happy New year everyone.

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  65. Aboud,

    Just how do you imagine in your Zenobia flower power universe to be able to reform someone who has never been made to pay for the errors of his ways?

    because I don’t believe in punishment as a means of teaching, reforming, or changing anybody.

    did sitting in prison ever “reform” or “change” those on the opposition side? no.

    really you are allowed to have any opinion you want without being so defensive that I disagree with you.

    I did not any point above insult you personally, whereas you just made several indirect and one very direct insult to me with your final comment. You should put it in check right now.

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  66. “It’s quite telling that the people who are most eager to “rehabilitate” the shabiha and kiss and make up, have themselves acted with pettiness and vindictiveness on this very forum.”

    yet another Straw Man, followed by low blow….with no evidence of anything attached to it… except perhaps frustration that the mini-me part is gone.

    by the way, the word is conscience…

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  67. the really hilarious thing is that this was the first reference to you Aboud:

    “However as someone, I think it was actually Aboud in response to KT’s hyperventilation about the FSA infiltrators, said… this works both ways! .. the opposition has actually infinite more ability to sabotage on the sly….”

    which was me agreeing with you…. ironic! isn’t it – that because most of my thoughts and belief you disdain, you mis-characterized my reference to you as a “cheap shot”…??

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  68. And here is the second reference:

    “the Regime obviously doesn’t care at all what shattering of the humanity of people they employ and use to do their work. And this was the argument – again I believe it was Aboud- put forth for why he thought non-violence can’t win the day… because there is no morality on the other side to compel them to refrain from always upping the ante and being at an advantage.”

    again, not sure what about that is a criticism of you personally at all or a cheap shot.

    I have to conclude that my “vindictiveness” must be a reference to KT getting banned for being an incessant violator of the rules but that I told him I wished he were gone after his continual harassment.

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  69. KT was banned? Well, I didn’t scroll that far down, and he was on that path anyway.

    “by the way, the word is conscience…”

    And a thousand one and commentators on SC and elsewhere are overjoyed that Aboud got caught out on a grammatical error. Hehehe.

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  70. Dear OTW,

    Traditional media (news, print, TV, …) are rather slow in taking the initiative on stories these days, they tend to “pick-up” stories than actually lead with it.

    Maybe for the PR part we can contact the established blog network. I will use one network I am familiar with as an example called Gawker, they have 7 different blogs that generate roughly over 10 million unique hits per day. Gizmodo (Tech blog, part of gawker) ran with many stories about Libya, all of which created a buzz within the tech community (with many different Tech blogs linking to it, including WIRED) that helped get the message out. Jalopnik (Car blog, part of Gawker) ran with a few stories of the cars the rebels in Libya were using (How they transformed pickup trucks into tanks) and was picked up by the New York Times, and many different automotive media.

    It is easier to reach these blogs than traditional media, and traditional media have people following these kinds of blogs because they are a great source for them. Maybe if we contribute a story about how blogs (like yours) are helping ordinary Syrians communicate and co-ordinate between each other with the cover of the internet. How with the lack of International media brave ordinary Syrians have resorted to becoming photo journalist that film the regimes crimes under the worst circumstances and with just cell phones as cameras.

    ———

    Thank you for the kind words by the way (from previous post), but my sadness and humiliation is a driving force for me to do something, anything; and not an excuse to wallow in self pity. I have family members that stopped talking to me, friends that black listed me because of the choice I made, I don’t regret it at all. If I seemed defeated in my previous post I apologize thats not what I meant to do, I was just trying to explain the precarious position that I am in (I support the revolution and aware that ultimately that it is not enough to just support it, that won’t be my carte blanche or get out of jail free card for what I or my family had done). Truth and reconciliation should not just be for people that have blood on their hands, but for the people that supported this thieving and slaughtering machine, for they are just as guilty and the Syrian people deserve their dues.

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  71. Dear Sheila,

    Sorry I missed your post from the previous thread.

    Family is well established in Damascus, with a very old trading name. So wealth and prominence is our name to fame (or shame if you would like). However many of my female relatives are married into the regime in some form or another.

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  72. OTW – I think you are exactly correct.

    What we are hearing may not be the whole picture but we are hearing about what is happening on the ground, how many people have been killed etc. This is important, but perhaps does not further the cause in a directed way (I say this with absolutely no denigration intended to those who have been harmed in any way, or their families).

    What I think we need to hear is what the SNC stands for and wants to do. I realise there are issues with this as Husam and Dr Khoury have pointed out.

    I know that Syria is different to Libya but I think what worked so well there is the Transitional Council knew what it wanted – Gaddafi out, intervention in – and they set about getting that from the international community in a very methodical way. I’m not saying that international intervention has to be the goal here but the opposition leadership needs to work out what they are asking for and let others know…

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  73. Yâ Aboud al-‘azîz

    Bidhnillah As’ad Abu Khalil will see an independent Palestinian state in his, your, mine and the rest of our lifetimes. You are in Homs and I’m not : my brother/ father/sister/lover/ son aren’t in danger of their lives when they go out the door. But it isn’t a contest and the Palestinian struggle isn’t over. The Angry Arab post was , as far as concrete stuff, about the amount of pro-regime (& pro-Besho ?) material on Arabic language blogs – this is either accurate or inaccurate. Either way , those of us whose Arabic isn’t up to following blogs daily the way we do this one ought to know.

    This, by Iraqi poet Sargon Boulus, translated by Iraqi poet in exile Sinan Antoon, seemed appropriate today :
    http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/3850/sargon-boulus_news-about-no-one

    & especially for Sheila , this by Amal Hanano about being Halabi and becoming pan-Arab in the wake of revolutions

    http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/3809/outside-the-walls

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  74. correction: and the first place to hold a demonstration in 2012 was MIDAN!

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  75. Miki:

    “This is important, but perhaps does not further the cause in a directed way…”

    I agree. For the first few months, it had a big impact. But after the summer, it was almost expected every Friday. Then Ramadan came with more consistent abductions and killings. From then on, people became sort of immune to it. Zenobia, Tara and many others don’t want to watch any proof as they have had enough.

    The SNC can’t seem to take us to the next step because:

    1) The majority Syrians don’t know what/how/when/who they want change. It ranges from extreme far left to far right and anything in between. Intervention, no fly zone, peace talks, do nothing, slow it down, bring in NATO, covert ops, create a blog army, etc.. With many people changing their viewpoints (like I did) consistently, it is hard for the SNC to have clear directives because the majority consensus.

    2) The SNC is caught in a quagmire between clear representation of the people on one hand and between the maneuvering of NATO, AL, and the Gulf interest on the other. I still strongly believe until the major players decide which button to press next, you will see more of the same.

    Perhaps they are trying to solidify and focus with the recent partnership and understanding with other bodies and organization.

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  76. Apologies My earlier post was done through my Iphone, I accidently sent it without the benefit of completing it.

    Miki and OTW:

    Let me adress history a little, if my mind serves me correctly Syria in its history had a democratically elected government at its early stages of independence. This was later overthrown by a CIA sponsored coup. My point here is there was a consitution Pre- Baath. This should be a good starting point for the SNC and its affiliates. I am not a expert on constitutional legal matters, but if I was in the SNC , I would run with this simple message, with the overthrow of Democracy- Coups and Counter Coups- The Baathist seizure of power and the 50 lost years.

    1. For those that argue for what next after Assad?- Democracy was there, but most syrians are unaware of this.
    2 Coups and Military governance has brought instability
    3. Baathist rule has brought lack of freedom, free speach, corruption and poverty
    4. Its resistance credentials are bogus it only sponors outsiders to carry the resistance tag

    Quite simply, its a Time Theme, Time for Freedom, Time for Liberty and Good Governance, Time for Democracy again.

    Put Simply its a Theme For Time For a Change…………….

    I am not sure how this would be transcribed into Arabic however, and I am sure we will hear that Syria is not ready for democracy etc . But this could be a start. Any thoughts?

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  77. Englightened,

    I like your angle. From a PR and Marketing perspective, your idea is a winner in my view provided the consitution has a good basis.

    The only issue, if my history seves me well, is that there many years of instability with one coup after another. That democracy was short lived. Which we fall back to the notion of the iron fist.

    As for the theme, I would go with “A Time for Syrian Awakening, A Time for New Biggining”.

    BTW, are you in marketing in any way?

    See my comment in the next thread (What happened in Midan).

    Like

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