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.


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.


Posted on December 30, 2011, in Syria. Bookmark the permalink. 87 Comments.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. @ 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.

  5. 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).

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.


    For the hundredth time FOCUS

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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?

  17. 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.


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

  19. some guy in damascus

    Otw I sent u a message on facebook. Please check it out

  20. 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.

  21. “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.

  22. 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.

  23. “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…

  24. 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”…??

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. Son of Damascus

    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.

  28. Son of Damascus

    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.

  29. 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…

  30. 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 :

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

  31. some guy in damascus

    and the first place to hold a demonstration was MIDAN!

  32. some guy in damascus

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

  33. SGID,

    Does your family hail from Midan orginally? Mine does.

  34. 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.

  35. 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?

  36. 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).

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