Topics from the Syrian Revolution. By hazrid

I’d like to start this 3178-word Mega-comment by refuting everything said by True about sentiments towards Palestinians in Damascus, with no offense to True intended; I’m not in the messenger-shooting business.

Jibril (Pro-Assad General Command) depicted in a wanted poster on Facebook

I have never, ever heard a single anti-Palestinian slogan at any of the protests I have attended, nor have I heard any anti-Palestinian slogans in any of the videos on the web,  and I extend this statement to  clearly sectarian slogans in the same vein. To some extent, relations with the Palestinian community have been affected by the revolution, with the pro-regime groups such as the General Command (القيادة العامة : أحمد جبريل) and Al-Sa’aeqa (الصاعقة) being pitted against everybody else. Yes, the regime finally succeeded in unifying the Palestinians. After the attacks on the Palestinian protest by GC in Yarmouk camp, which happened soon after the attempts to enter the Golan, I have heard Palestinians aligned with Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and various others swear up and down that they will do a multitude of unspeakable things to Ahmed Jibreel, none of which I will detail here. The Palestinians are generally with the revolution, and the revolution (at least that is the sentiment here, in the Damascus area) is with the Palestinians.

The Veto Power

I’m Going to do something controversial here and explain one view regarding  ‘veto’ concept within the UNSC. Please don’t be too harsh on me.

A long, long time ago, the world was a bloody place. Much more bloodier than it is today. We all recall tales of the great empires of old, and the greater empires of not-so-old. All these great empires had penchant for going at each other. The Persians and the Romans, the English and the French, the Ottomans and the Safavids, and countless others.

Often, we would see wars break out at the slightest provocation. Granted, killing a Serbian prince in itself isn’t going to cause a war to end all wars, but sometimes, many times, it can be a sufficient fuse. What is different in our modern world is the lack of great wars. We haven’t seen super-powers duke it out, not since the Second World War. This is, I think because of two reasons:

  1. We talk. Imagine the Cuban Missile Crisis without communications between the US and the USSR, or without a forum like the UN.
  2. Superpowers can bugger with each other without going to war

The second point is basically Veto rights. The legal structure of the UN, and the rules and restrictions placed on war-making within the structure mean that nation-states need to go through various acrobatic acts before they can proactively go to war.

Imagine if Syria was a major strategic asset for Russia, one that the Russians would be willing to go to war over. Imagine Russia not having veto power in such a situation.

To understand veto rights, one must think outside the ‘favoritism’ mentality. The nations that were given these rights at the formation of the UN have been the largest military powers since the late 1940s. A veto is a diplomatic tool that allows one of these nations to defend its interests, rightly or wrongly so, in a way that does not involve military action. This is one of the main reasons the world hasn’t seen two superpowers colliding in a military conflict. The (relatively) little things they used to go to war over are now vetoed into lower intensity.

With that said, Veto powers never were a good idea, and I disagree with the concept.

On the subject of the Russian, and to a lesser extent Chinese position… It is one that brings up many conspiracy theories. One thing that has been clear is that the Russians are intelligent about their foreign policy, and have a tendency to support their allies (even the wacky genocidal ones) to the hilt. Once things go past the hilt though, and all that support is gone. Two examples come to mind here: the aforementioned Cuban Missile Crisis, which ended with an under the table deal between the USSR and the USA that left Cuba out in the cold and Castro swearing with the ferocious rage of someone who just learnt about the realities of Superpower diplomacy, and the Serbian example everybody is talking about.

It isn’t clear though what the Russians see in Syria. True, there is a small naval base in Tartous, but it isn’t one that can be considered of any use in any conflicts it might be needed in other than as a weak retardant, at least for the next few years. Expanded, it might play a role in defending Russia’s assets and allies throughout the wider region, including The Mediterranean region, the Black Sea, the Gulf and the east coast of Africa, but that will take many years to happen.

There is also the Russian fear of similar ‘intervention’ happening on its grounds or much closer to home, but the Libya situation should show them that such action will happen regardless of what the Russians want when the Europeans and Americans put their minds to it, and the Russians do realize that the US is very hesitant in engaging directly in the Russian sphere of influence, as was clear in Georgia, when the Russians Decimated a relatively important NATO ally without any real western resistance.

What seems to me to be the dominant factor in Russian thinking now is the domino effect. The revolution is part of a long line of dominoes around the world, which include demonstrations in the west such as the Spain demonstrations last year, and the greater Occupy movement, as well as the other Arab revolutions. It is conceivable that these revolutions will spread to more regions considered pro-Russian. Prime locations, other than Iran would be the Caucus and Balkans regions, the Asian Soviet Republics such as Kazakhstan, and to Russia itself. It is also clear that once, and if Revolts spread to these regions, some if not most will be supported directly by a large body of Arab revolutionaries, and directly and indirectly by Powers That Care (PTCs). Historically, this has happened as is evident in the Arab Mujaheddin in Afghanistan, Arab support in the various Yugoslav conflicts, and the Arabs in Chechnya. Really, we’re more international than the Americans in our conflicts.

Defection and the FSA 

What we must understand is that the defectors are, at the same level, are reacting in a manner consistent with what we all saw in Egypt most recently, and in places such as Romania and to a lesser extent Tunisia previously. The only difference is that while the decision to defect was taken by the highest echelons of military command in the aforementioned cases, here in Syria we have a complacent and criminal high command that is in the end, part of the cult-leadership. This in turn caused people much lower in the chain of command to take personal initiatives based on their moral ideals. Initially, the FSA focused on defending protests. The reason that large-scale protests such as the ones we see in Homs before the invasion, and the Suburbs of Damascus is because off camera, there are FSA soldiers on the rooftops defending the protesters from any Assadist attack. Later on, the FSA grew in confidence, to a point where it started engaging the military in offensive action. Sometimes, these attacks have had an adverse effect on the FSA in the short-term or long-term, such as the recent offensive on the eastern Ghouta, which has unearthed a lot of inefficiencies in the FSA, and a lot of things that need sorting out.

In short, these guys have acted as a military force with some sense of professionalism. They have acted as a sponge for any civilians who might feel the need to bear arms, which is an important function as it forces these civilians who will inevitably appear in any such situation to act within a framework that isn’t a local-militia framework. They have isolated themselves from political action on all levels, which is in all ways a good sign. They have refrained from engaging in fights over petty disputes, regardless of the tensions that do exist on the ground between commanders, and at the higher levels, especially with Colonel Riad Al-Ass’ad or however it must be spelt. They have not isolated themselves from the populace in most instances, which is also a good sign.

There have been difficulties. The inability to use heavy weapons, and lack of effective counters to these weapons (which for some reason, Khalid Tlass, in his third incarnation isn’t so vocally lobbying for). The near impossibility of getting weapons in from across the borders, especially with the Jordanian gov’t trying to put a stranglehold on all weapons going through its borders, Hezbullah’s effective cornering of the arms market in Lebanon early in the revolution, and the shoring up of the Iraqi border by the Malki Government. I’d also like to call out the Muslim Brotherhood, who have been going on a membership drive, forcing activists and FSA members to swear allegiance to the MB before receiving a penny of support from the Brotherhood. Yeah, this is gonna be interesting in the long-term.

My point is, and this is mainly addressed to Zenoubia, your plan won’t work, under current circumstances. The Regime hasn’t shied away from assassinating any leaders who might be a threat to it, in fact, they’ve been doing it from the start, starting with Alawite military leaders back when Hafez took over, up to people who look like they might be leading the chants on the ground, such as happened in Midan during Rammadan. This has been one of their cornerstone policies, to kill anybody who might have any semblance of leadership skills or charisma. Tell me, do you know any ‘leaders’ of the Alawite sect whose sur-name isn’t Assad? They existed before 1982. Do you know any labor or union leaders who are in any way prominent? Parliamentarians? Heck, even government officials who might be slightly non-Baathist. I could think of Dardari who was always critical of the government, at least economically. Look where he is now. In Syria, prominence is a death sentence. Become too prominent, and you have sentenced your whole family, nay, your whole community to disfavor, if not annihilation. But then, you are asking of Syrians something that has been refused by all other Peoples who have been put under similar situations. Look at Egypt, Hosni only wanted to stay until the September elections in the end, and the protesters refused. Give these people time to pack their bags, and they will use that time to rob the country of everything that isn’t nailed down, then go for the stuff with the weakest nails. Believe me when I say this, in Zabadani, the Assadist forces have looted villas even of their door frames. Yes, door frames. This is how kleptomaniacal the regime is. In Egypt, the situation was a lot easier and simple than it is here. It was clear that Hosni was not going to be allowed to stay by the military, and there wasn’t as much violence, nor as much blood. Please note, a lot of people have much at stake here. It is clear that if the regime is given any breathing space, in any form, it will go on a cleansing campaign against all FSA members, all the people in the LCCs, anybody who as much as raised a finger to help a wounded protester.

And then you have the whole post-election. What then? We went the whole nine yards, proven our pre-proven thesis true, and the regime has not handed over power because it is clear, that whatever happens, the name of the game is Don’t Hand Over Power To The Masses. Is the international community going to come and save our souls, like it didn’t in Iran, and like it resoundingly didn’t in Burma? Are we going to protest peacefully, maybe do a sit-in like the one that happened in Clock Tower Square, or Tiananmen? Or are we going to bear arms against a regime military that will be much, much more prepared? What comes after the elections?

Please note, that the FSA has the most legitimacy out of any opposition group in the eyes of the people on the ground. This is because they are the epitome of counter-Assadist-culture… Let me explain:

This will sound sexist, I apologize. I’ve previously mentioned that the regime isn’t the window dressing called the cabinet, headed by the prime-minister. It’s the extended family and cronies who control the Mukhabarat and to a lesser extent the army. To understand the administrative/bureaucratic environment this group has nurtured, grown, and grown from, one has to run the gauntlet only Syrian males with brothers, and a few unfortunate women do. It is called dealing with the army.

For most men, their first encounter with the army is when they go to create their army book. One does not truly know how debilitating, stupid, backwards, solidified, idiotic, neurotic, resentful, corrupt, nepotic, authoritarian, dictatorial, stupid, ignorant, stupid, bureaucratic, banal, inefficient, careless, dirty, uncreative, kleptomaniac, sectarian and stupid the regime can be until you have created your army book. If you’ve tried to pay the Badal, it is an even better learning experience.

Imagine a system where each person you have to deal with declares their price before servicing you, or even has their price written down on a chart to simplify the process, and EVERYBODY has a price you must pay. Imagine a system where you can be trapped in a requirement-circle that has you going from desk, to desk, to desk with each person referring you to someone else for reasons you can’t ask, lest you know about the arcane secrets of the military’s conscription offices. Imagine mistakes made by office clerks that could ruin your life, put you in jail, or have you paying huge fines, and these mistakes happen all the time! Imagine going through a process with no known end. Imagine getting to that end, only to find out that there is some minor detail that is wrong, and you have to do everything all over again. Imagine trying to tell an officer with the brain of a goose, the skull of a moose and the psyche of a rat that he might have made a tiny mistake in processing your documents, only for him to slap you and tell you he’ll shoot you the next time he sees you in his office. Imagine being told you haven’t processed your documents, or that yes, they know they processed your documents and that everything is good in them, but they lost them because some rat of fate had to choose your file in the archives to make its nest, and thusly, the rat has pressed you into conscription even though you’ve done ta’ajeel dirasi. Yes this has happened.

Now imagine the people at the head of such an apparatus. Imagine how they think, how they managed to create such a monstrosity, how they may have fought to keep the cleansing acids of reforms away from their growing hell-beast, how they grew it and in turn grew from it. These are the people we are dealing with. And these are the people who the FSA have turned away from. They have taken everything these devils have built, and refused to indulge or be complicit in it. They are the embodiment of the opposite of dealing with the army. They are the only white knights most anti-regime young Syrian men see in a sea of uncertain and gloomy darkness, where the world stood silent with its trillions of dollars of arms, they came with their AKs and RPGs to defend them from the military behemoth of despair. I hope you now understand why people see the FSA as central to this revolution, regardless of its many flaws.

SWOT Analysis Proposal

It looks like everybody left the SWOT analysis post, so I’m going to post my two cents here: After some thinking, a crude suggestion has formulated itself. First of all, we might be better off doing multiple SWOTs, one for each player. Defining each player will be the difficult part, as in multiple cases it isn’t clear where lines should be drawn for each group, among other things. Each SWOT analysis should be curated by one person who is tasked with the management and verification of the information going into their SWOT, as well as understanding the actual process itself. The comment section of a blog post isn’t really the best place for such discussions, as it lacks many tools to make things easier. I would suggest something like Crabgrass (made by the Riseup collective) or Asana, as well as other software, maybe a CMS or a wiki? I’m sure that specialized software for this stuff exists.

Participation in most SWOTs should be open, and the main person responsible for managing  each one is the curator of that SWOT.

SNC site is up, and they seem to have a project in the works called ‘One Thousand Years for Syria’. The idea is for volunteers to sign up one year of work for Syria in their respective fields of expertise after the revolution is finished, and it is an applause-worthy program. This is the sort of stuff the SNC, in my opinion, should be focusing on. Not trying to cuddle up to the west, and isolate Iran, Russia, Hezbullah and Hamas. Optimally, the Swot analysis should be hosted by the SNC, and so far the only good thing I’ve seen coming out of its activities alone is a severe mistrust and dislike now ingrained into every Syrian’s mind towards all politicians, post revolution.

Since I’ve gone into SNC-Bashing mode again (It’s addictive), I’d like to point them towards the Libya Rebuilding Taskforce, which was a seventy strong team of Libyan experts in various fields based in Dubai that was tasked with formulating what the LTC should do after capturing all of Libya. Rebuilding, infrastructure, policing, electricity and water supplies, stuff like that. Mr. Bourhan: I know the deep deep corridors of politicking are a trap for any politician with good intentions, but you are not a politician, you are an opposition figurehead for all of Syria. More of this stuff will show us that the post-Bashar political scene will be less like Lebanon, which the SNC is emulating within itself right now and more like the UK, where politics is (mostly) about policy, nation development is debated by people who care and decisions (mostly) are made based on facts (mostly), studies, research, and inquiries not by bigoted politicians on testosterone fueled vendettas and criminal enterprises. And you know what, initiatives like that, if crowdsourced, can really make Syrians feel like tomorrow’s Syria will be a different place, as if their intellect, creativity, knowledge and patriotic feelings will be felt by those on top, having a positive effect on the decision-making process, and the country as a whole. Market that, not foreign intervention.

Note from OTW: This post first appeared as a comment from hazrid on 7ee6an (here). It elicited a response from  Zenobia (here) and further narrative elaboration on the corruption in the regime’s army from  Sheila (here)  as well as from Zenobia (here), and on the self imposed exile of MGB (here)


Posted on February 14, 2012, in Corruption, Palestine, Syria, Syrian Regime Crimes Against Humanity and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 76 Comments.

  1. One of the National Consensus Movement member posted a letter today that he received from one of his oldest friends. I thought it was fascinating. Although – of course, other members sort of trashed it because they don’t want to hear such things and think that it is anyone’s responsibility to listen and understand the problem of communication and necessary efforts to bring the minority population on board. I think it still important to see the perception of some other groups… in order to imagine what the complexities are and how they will ever be addressed now or in the future. Reminded me of that email I stared (but much more extensive) many weeks ago from my relative who was a big regime hater until after the uprising began and somehow – he got very scared and suspicious of the rev side either because of too much brainwashing…or because they have seen too much confusing behaviors and rhetoric that has bred doubts.

    “Dear all:
    This letter came from a cherished friend inside Syria in responce to a comments and emails I sent him. Please read it and add your comments, It’s very important to have your perspective to the views of the other side and their rationale for being silent or not joining the uprising. I will be posting it in other groups also. It’s very important to get a feedback from SNC members .

    Thank you very much”

    “Dear Mohanad;
    I am writing you in response to your strong comments to me yesterday .
    First let me say my condolences to you and may god bless Homs and protect all of Syria.
    I do understand your frustration and your agony but I do hope that this anger should not stop you from seeing things in the right perspective.
    I was really very hesitant of whether I should reply to you or just ignore the whole thing until I see you again (if ever again), but believe me Mohanad the only reason I am writing you this letter is because I do care about our friendship and I do cherish it. I have always been very proud with this relation and will always be regardless of what will happen.

    As you remember at the beginning of the uprising we had a short call and you asked me about what I think, and I did tell you at that time if you remember that I am terribly worried because what I see on the ground is dam scary and I am talking about March 2011, at the beginnings of the uprising. Reasons for my feelings at that time is that there was an uprising against a regime that failed to lead a society or meet the minimum needs of people, but there has been an extreme manipulation for this legitimate reason. The amount of violence that I saw from the very beginnings made it clear for me from day one that things will be going in the wrong direction. I am not generalizing here, there have some beautiful peaceful demonstrations like in Quamishly (Amouda) , and in Hama (Salamayya)and the first demonstration in downtown Homs near the clock. Those were peaceful and they had patriotic slogans. Unfortunately they were the exceptions, this was not the case in the majority of the country. I assure that I did hear very ugly sectarian violent slogans in the suburb of Damascus, in Banias and in Lattakia. I know that your immediate reaction will be it is done by regime but unfortunately I did hear thousands of demonstrators in person and not through Utube.
    I hate to talk in this terms but since you brought up when you said “polarization is a fact” , let me tell you how I look at it not only as Syrian but also as an Alawite:
    Did you ask yourself the question why did not all minorities join the uprising?
    Instead of immediately blaming them and accusing them of not being patriotic, did not surprise why they did not join?
    The immediate answer of the opposition is that the regime is scaring them from the other party and the uncertain future ….
    In a way the regime is defiantly benefiting from that but I do believe that he did not have to place any efforts in this direction…unfortunately tens of thousands were doing this favor for him already.
    I will not talk about history and defend the patriotic history of Christians, Druze and alawite who have always been a driving force in all of Syrian historical national struggles, I do hope that you agree with this part at least…I am just asking you to calm down a little bit and search for the reasons why these people did not join current movement.
    Please remember that these people are generally well educated, open minded and history shows that they love freedom as much as their other fellow counterparts.
    I am not talking about the masses only here, I am also including the religious , scholars and writers elite .
    Let me share with you something else, many alawite ( including two of my immediate cousins) did participate in Tartous first demonstration, but that was it for them , they are watching Al Dounia now 24/7.
    Let me also remind you that most secular parties including Syrian Communist Party and the Syrian National Social Party that have very strong penetrations in the Syrian coast, and their members were subject to extreme violent acts by Assad the father. Why did they disappear?? Worse yet why are they lining up with the regime now?
    Let me tell you my friend my personal explanation: Very soon after the uprising started in Darra and when it took everybody by surprise, a feeling of joy touched the heart of every Syrian that change is finally coming, and the face of Syria will change to the better and for good.
    But it was only a matter of weeks when the demonstrations were completely controlled by extremist mosque clerks and their followers. I do not care if you agree with me or not but I was there and I was watching very suspiciously what was going on like many others. The regime and during forty years of oppression to any possible secular educated opposition left the field completely open to the only well organized structure which is the mosque and religious institutes.
    Their presence was overwhelming. I had many friends from the opposition and we had lengthy discussions about the possible consequences of such leadership but everyone was overexcited with the idea of rebellion and they found it more comfortable to ignore this fact altogether and to keep living in their imaginary dream about the coming bright future.
    Demonstrations coming out of the mosques had a purely one sectarian color with awful slogans.
    Very soon the violence and revenge against Alawite started to spread everywhere. None of them were mentioned in the news, A retired General was killed with his sons in Katana in a demonstration near Damascus, another retired officer with two sons were shot dead in Homs.
    I have some employees in Mo3addameye Damascus suburbs, who were threatened to leave their homes by their neighbors, the doors of their houses were marked to single them out, eventually they had to flee the area along with tens of families to more safe places. (rents in Mouaddamayee fell more than 50% because of tens of poor alawite families who evacuated their houses to safer areas in Damascus
    People were stopped a t random and are killed purely based on place of birth and name. the national TV did not want to talk about it to avoid a wide spread civil war and Al_ Jazera did not want to talk about it to keep the picture of Arab spring clean and the opposition did not want to talk about it because it does not fit their mental picture of how the revolution should be. The killing continued everywhere and everyday to a point where it could not be covered up anymore and that is when the opposition said it was all a conspiracy by regime to scare minorities.
    With this naïf explanation of the opposition, it gave the needed cover to the killers to do more killing since they are scoring double points by committing the act and accusing the regime.
    In the ordeal , the alawite found themselves being slaughtered but nobody wants to really know about that and even if they know nobody really cares.
    To make things worse, the leaders of the opposition whether religious ( such Karadawy who gave the permission to slaughter 30% of the people for the sake of remaining 70%, or the new star Mr. Arour who preached in one of his speeches in Al Wissal channel that Alawite should be executed and their meat should be put in a mixer.
    What actually scared me and many others not these calls (despite how scary it is), what really scared me is the response of the opposition to these calls . I challenge you to find one condemnation to any explicit sectarian violent call or act inflicted, everyone was a partner in the crime because nobody chose to stop it at least verbally.
    Leave alone condemnation, demonstrations in the tens of thousands were roaming the streets haling Al Ararour and repeating his calls.
    Can you imagine the feeling of any minority when they see a demonstration of thousands of people chanting for Al Wissaal??
    Did you ever try to watch this channel that broadcast from the land of wahhabies and that preaches all kind of hates and violence to others??
    How would you feel Mohnnad Beik when you find your brothers in the country are given a license to eliminate you from the face of earth and they are very happy to use it?? Please stop telling me it is the regime game because I am quite sick of this childish explanation of all what happened of killing for thousands of soldiers , officers, students, and doctors.
    I am very skeptical by nature and I do look for conspiracy theory behind the scene of any story but excuse me I cannot swallow the fact that the army is killing the security and the security is killing the army and both of them are killing innocent doctors, retired officers or passengers at the highways based on identity, and the regime is bombing the electricity generators and gas station to the point that might collapse the whole country.
    My friend Mohannad; I am not trying to defend the regime and I will never do specially after what is happening now, all I am saying that we are devastated by the fact that we did not hear one single voice from all sides of opposition denouncing Karadway or Arour or at least condemning the violent acts that spread all over Syrian cities against this minority, having done so they could have distant the revolution from such figures or act .
    So on the one hand there are explicit calls for slaughtering people based on their religion and on the other hand suspicious silence if not acceptance by the opposition of these dirty acts.
    I will give you a very small homework Mohanad, try to find one statement from the Syrian National Council condemning these figures or acts…just try…
    The Syrain National Council (SNC) refused the membership of Rifaat because his hands are stained with Syrian blood, which I fully agree with, on the other hand that did not stop Mr. Shoukfey from joining in ? what happened to the blood of Syrian Artillery school in Aleppo ?
    How would you expect the Alawite to perceive this Council when Al Shoukfey is one of their main members?
    How about Mamoun Al Houmsey with his famous act and threat to the Alawite in Egypt? Was he fired from SNC as a result of his dangerous statements ?
    How about the exteremly dangerous commenst in the thousands that you can read daily on the Syrian Revolution FaceBook page every day? Please go there and check it out for yourself and see who is encouraging civil war…
    How about the brutal amputation and cuttings of human corps in Deir Al zoor ?
    How about singling out the Alawite in Jaser Alshougour security building and killing 185 persons after letting others escape? ( I happen to personally know the family of one of these victims)
    How about the throwing of dead bodies from the top of a bridge in Hama ?
    How about the call of Mr. Al Zawaery of Al Qaeda for his followers to join the battle on the land of Al Cham more than 4 month ago??

    so basically the alawite were supposed to help the party who threats them and who fails during the last ten month to give them minimum assurance of their well beings not even verbally . and because they did not support them their punishment as we all hear in everymedia is no less than eliminations .
    I feel sorry for that mohannad, I really feel sorry for those people who were left out with no option but to die either now or some few years later. Problem is that I see it all coming and sooner rather than later, it is only a matter of time believe me.
    They are stuck between an angry majority and a regime who might sacrify them all for his own survival.
    Mohannad my friend ;
    Once more let us not talk about the regime and its security forces and its awful acts, I am discussing a very specific point that you brought up when you implied that alawite are partners in the crime because they stood by the regime.
    Do you seriously think that they have a real choice??
    I am not saying they will all join as soon as they get the assurance, why for the same reasons half of the Sunni majority did not join in but difference nobody will punish them when the whole thing is over.
    I am really disappointed at you Mohanad, I was really sad when you said that our friendship was only an illusion because it was not fro me at least.
    What makes more sad is that two educated Syrian people who know each other inside out for years are not able to continue their friendship, how about other millions of Syrians who do not have this advantage…it scares me when I think of it this way. I hope I am mistaken but I truly believe that if this is the general feeling, Syrian will no longer be able to live with each other and soon we will find the Iraqi model attractive …
    I did not write what I right to score point and to show who wrong and who is right, I do not care anymore. I have been feeling like shit for the last 12 month, and I have been asking myself what can I do personally to contribute positively? The answer is not much , I can only try to calm people down from all sides. It is not very useful to place videos that shows act of terror on my face book page, it does not really help to spread rumors that I am sure of. Problem with this attitude is that both parties look at you as an enemy ( as you did in your latest mail).
    Is this the Syria that you want to build ? either with me or you are my enemy ? does this remind you with the attitude of Bush the son?

    In conclusion mohannad, this will not last for long , I believe the regime is leaving since he became a burden on his best allies (both Russians and Alawite) but I really do not care when or how because this will not be the end of the Syrian problem it will only be the beginning.”

  2. The regime and during forty years of oppression to any possible secular educated opposition left the field completely open to the only well organized structure which is the mosque and religious institutes.

    I only partially agree with this. The fact of the matter is that the secular opposition does not have a proper (i.e rational) moral and political framework to offer the people and in response to the religious factions/institutions.

  3. Dear 7ee6anis
    Anthony Shadid, the NYT reporter who has covered Syria extensively passed away in Syria after suffering a fatal Asthma attack. He was 43 and will be greatly missed.

    Rest In Peace Anthony

  4. OH MY GOD! Allah yerhamu

  5. Holy shit, did you guys see this – that Anthony Shadid died in Syria!… from an asthma attack!… very sad.

  6. Anthony Shadid will be greatly missed. A brilliant reporter. His understanding of the Arab world, combined with his insightful coverage made him the most essential reporter to cover the Arab and Muslim world. What a devastating loss.

    Shadid: “I don’t think there’s any story worth dying for, but I do think there are stories worth taking risks for.”

  7. never heard of him before but that is indeed a sad story

  8. Transforming a Flag, Uplifting a Nation: Syria’s Story

  9. Dear N.Z.
    And risk he did take. Anthony’s Asthma made him allergic to horses. It seems that when the attack hit, Anthony was entering Jabal Azzawiyeh with a caravan of smugglers riding horses. Here is what Subhi Hadidi wrote:

    ‎@SubhiHadidi أنتوني شديد، مريض الربو، كان يتحسس من الخيل، ولكنه غامر بالدخول إلى جبل الزاوية مع مهربين على ظهور الخيل. أضحيته الأخيرة للانتفاضة؟ #Syria

  10. Hello everyone; I am glued to this site a good part of the day. Twitting and fb-ing what can help.
    We have a demo this afternoon in Brussels
    Syrian Freedom

    A place where we can all unite with the great people of Syria…(DISCLAIMER: Some images can be very disturbing!). – We fully support and demand an NFZ in Syria!! – Volunteers we still need: – Translators (Arabic to English) – Video uploading managers – Anyone to update channel’s twitter account – Anyone to upload info on tumblr — Room rules: No bashing anti-Assad Syrians – No regime propaganda. — Livestream email: (less)

  11. This is an article on “who killed the journalist Gilles Jacquier” (who was not allergic to horses). I apologize for posting it in full in a foreign language — French — but it’s in Le Monde subscribers’-only edition for which the url link doesn’t work. I have to get on a plane today, or I’d translate right away.

    Accueil > Idées
    Syrie : qui a tué Gilles Jacquier ?

    Point de vue | LEMONDE | 16.02.12 | 14h07 • Mis à jour le 16.02.12 | 17h59

    par Patrick Vallélian, grand reporter, “L’Hebdo”, Lausanne (Suisse), et Sid Ahmed Hammouche Grand reporter, “La Liberté”, Fribourg (Suisse)

    Qui a tiré les munitions qui ont fauché Gilles Jacquier, grand reporter de France 2, le 11 janvier à Homs ? Qui sont les civils du quartier de New Akrama qui l’ont poussé – et nous avec lui – vers le danger ? Le régime du président Bachar Al-Assad prétend qu’il s’agit d’une bavure de l’Armée syrienne libre (ASL). Nous avons plutôt, pour notre part, l’impression d’être tombés dans un piège.

    L’enquête, confiée au juge d’instruction Quentin Dandoy, va devoir répondre à une longue série de questions, des questions que nous nous posons aussi, nous qui étions ce mercredi funeste aux côtés de Gilles Jacquier, de son épouse, la photographe Caroline Poiron, ainsi que de Christophe Kenck, cameraman de France 2.

    1. Pourquoi notre escorte de sécurité a-t-elle disparu ? L’attitude de la vingtaine d’hommes armés qui nous escortait, en treillis militaires et en civil, est une énigme. La plupart nous abandonnent à la première explosion, à 15 h 20. Seuls deux seront à nos côtés lorsque nous nous faisons souffler par la seconde, à 15 h 23. Ils disparaîtront lors de la troisième (15 h 25) et de la dernière (15 h 26). Leur nonchalance et leurs rires moqueurs sont étranges. Durant l’attaque, ils ne ripostent pas et ne se mettent pas à l’abri. A aucun moment ils ne nous incitent à nous cacher. Ils nous poussent plutôt vers les lieux des impacts en nous affirmant qu’il s’agit de “bombes sonores”. Après la quatrième explosion, ils quittent les lieux, sans se presser, et nous prient de nous rendre au dispensaire tout proche pour filmer les “victimes des bombes de la liberté”. La circulation, bloquée de 15 h 20 à 15 h 26, reprend alors. Comme si de rien n’était. Après la mort de Gilles, nous ne reverrons plus ces hommes.

    2. Un quartier dangereux ? En rentrant en France, vendredi 13 janvier, nous apprenons que Mère Agnès, la religieuse chrétienne qui nous a facilité l’entrée en Syrie et qui ne cache pas sa sympathie pour le régime de Bachar Al-Assad, nous aurait avertis qu’à partir de 15 heures, tous les jours, les insurgés – des “terroristes”, pour elle – bombardent New Akrama. Elle prétend également nous avoir conseillé de nous munir de gilets pare-balles et de casques. Elle n’a jamais rien dit de tel. Surtout, nous n’avons constaté aucune destruction dans ce quartier. Quand nous arrivons à proximité du parc d’attractions, vers 15 h 10, nous y voyons des enfants qui jouent, des familles qui se promènent. De nombreux commerces sont ouverts. Cela ne ressemble pas à un quartier visé tous les jours.

    3. Qui sont les pro-Bachar qui participent à la manifestion qu’on nous invite à couvrir ? Des habitants du quartier, mais surtout des agents de sécurité en civil, des chabiha. Après la première explosion, ils accourent vers notre véhicule, ouvrent les portes et nous poussent vers le lieu d’où s’échappe un nuage de fumée. En revoyant nos images, nous nous rendons compte que certains vont rester à nos côtés tout au long de l’attaque et qu’ils reçoivent des ordres de deux militaires qui leur chuchotent à l’oreille. Comment expliquer cette proximité alors que, au pays de Bachar, tout civil est considéré par un soldat comme un danger potentiel ?

    4. Gilles Jacquier était-il visé personnellement ? C’est une piste. Notre confrère avait pris des contacts à haut niveau au sein du régime : il peut avoir été victime de la guerre fratricide qui s’y joue. Il voulait également suivre les troupes de Maher Al-Assad, le frère du président. Au moment où nous sommes arrivés à l’Hôtel Al-Safir, un militaire syrien s’est approché de nous pour savoir où se trouvait l’équipe de France Télévisions. Encore plus troublant : un journaliste d’Al-Watan croisé à l’hôtel Dedeman de Damas a conseillé à Gilles, et à Gilles seul, d’être très prudent. Etranges aussi, les accusations d’un docteur russe nommé Boris V. Dolgov : dans un article publié par le Réseau Voltaire, il qualifie notre confrère d’agent secret français en mission à Homs. A noter enfin que son sac à dos a disparu lors de son transfert à l’hôpital ; il contenait son iPad et tous ses contacts en Syrie.

    5. Quelle arme ? Quatre explosions puis plus rien… Aucune autre détonation ne retentit cette nuit-là dans le quartier alors que le corps de Gilles repose dans une chambre du dispensaire Al-Nahda et qu’avec Caroline et Christophe nous en refusons l’accès aux autorités syriennes. Nous ne voulons pas que les médias officiels du régime instrumentalisent la mort du premier journaliste étranger depuis le début de la contestation en Syrie. Or, en voyant les blessures de Gilles, nous ne pouvons nous empêcher de nous demander ce qui a pu le tuer. Un obus de mortier ? Une grenade ? Un tir de sniper ? Plusieurs armes à la fois ? Selon les premiers résultats de l’enquête, le grand reporter a été touché au niveau des poumons et du coeur par trois éclats de projectile. Probablement un obus de mortier d’origine russe.

    6. Quel est le rôle de Mère Agnès ? Peu de portes officielles résistent à cette religieuse qui s’est donné pour mission de défendre les chrétiens de Syrie mais qui fait d’étranges déclarations. Elle affirme par exemple que nous avons refusé de prendre le bus officiel du ministère de l’information qui était à Homs le même jour que nous avec des équipes de la BBC et de CNN. Il est arrivé le matin à 9 h 30 avant de devoir quitter la ville précipitamment vers 14 h 45 pour des raisons de sécurité. Or nous n’avons jamais entendu parler de cette proposition. La religieuse oublie également de dire qu’elle nous a fait chanter sur la prolongation de nos visas de quatre jours, qu’elle nous a menacés d’expulsion si nous ne suivions pas son programme, qu’elle a eu un clash violent avec Gilles qui ne voulait pas se rendre à Homs, et qu’elle a piqué une grosse colère quand elle a compris que notre confrère avait des contacts avec l’opposition. Mère Agnès a-t-elle été utilisée par l’un des multiples services de renseignement syrien pour nous piéger ? Etait-elle au courant ? Comment a-t-elle pu annoncer dès 15 h 19 la mort de Gilles, alors que celle-ci ne subviendra que quelques minutes plus tard ? Espérons que la justice française l’entendra.
    Gilles Jacquier, grand reporter à France 2, a été tué, mercredi 11 janvier, dans un quartier d’Homs, en Syrie.

  12. Son of Damascus

    To serve thy generation, this thy fate: “Written in water,” swiftly fades thy name; But he who loves his kind does, first and late, A work too great for fame.

    RIP Anthony Shadid.

  13. This is an article about the “watchdog” zealots who patrol the web. All zealots are tiresome.

    Neil Neil Macdonald: Adventures in Twitter-land

  14. Amal Hanano’s new article in Jadaliyya
    The Insha’at Exodus

  15. Son of Damascus


    Did not know Neil is related to Norm MacDonald of SNL, talk about complete opposites. Thanks for the link.


    Thanks for the Amal Hanano article, as always a great read.
    Btw is Mazzeh Cemetery not on Old Mazzeh Road, or did I invent a new road name? I noticed many road names on Google map don’t match what I know them as (i.e. Tal3at Abou Rummaneh never knew it was called Jalaa Street)

  16. Bambuser is a mobile live stream service based in Sweden, which means no downloading is necessary. It has become something of an underground hit because of its ability to stream video over poor mobile connections.

    “Dictators don’t like Bambuser,” he said, adding it appeared Assad’s regime saw the site as a “major threat.”

    Bambuser has for the past eight months been in close contact with the opposition in Syria, which uses its service to broadcast images of the escalating deadly crackdown, which otherwise would not be seen due to the international media blackout.

  17. The death of Anthony Shadid is a great loss for all Middle Easterners and all who love true things. If there is anything to be said to console his family and friends it is that he managed to do in his 42 years what many cannot in 100, enough in fact to allow his name to live on for long after millions of us have sunk into oblivion. It would not be an exaggeration to put the ultimate blame for his death on the murderous Assadist regime because its restrictions on the free movement of journalists forced him and others to go to extremes to reach the story and to present it, as it is, for the whole world to see. As a fellow asthmatic I wish he had been more careful, at least to avoid coming near the horses that triggered the allergy for a second time.

    Another courageous and determined human has lost his life in the course of yet another of many honorable and courageous struggles for freedom and dignity on this earth.

  18. Zenobia @ 02:29

    I can quite easily write a very convincing point by point rebuttal to the letter you attached from the Alawi friend of Mohannad’s, along with supporting evidence from hundreds of videos and news reports, but to tell you the truth it wouldn’t be worth the effort because the arguments he used are no different from what I have read on SC by the likes of Norman, Jad and Mjabali, and we know where their heads (and hearts?) are at.

    One sentence should be enough: it looks like not only the writer’s brother but the writer himself has been watching Addunia 24/7.

  19. Hey MGB,
    its not about reality. It is about perception. Again, I find it fascinating as a piece of non-public articulation. I think your equation to Jad and company is completely off. The guys says – many counter things at the start and the finish. But he is scared shitless by perhaps distorted accounts, or frightening misinformation. Nonetheless it is a problem. I remain interested in this problem. Because this is not some blog commenter outside. This is a person inside who is going to remain inside. And he vocalizes a scary perception – not based on hate but based on what is being spoon fed him night and day, not necessarily by choice. So – I think one can take seriously his claim that he feels that his community’s anxiety and fears have been discounted and ignored or – not taken seriously. This is a fact – not because we agree that this is the character of the real revolution but rather a fact that this is the – perception that has come through by virtue of the success of the propaganda machine of the regime – and by perhaps a lack of seriousness on the part of the rev to addressing this distortion and perceived threat.
    This is not new news. This has been a weakness that was identified early on – for even the SNC – how are they going to address it.
    Peter Harling listed it prominently repeatedly – as a number one concern. And I highlighted it again because I am obsessed with this perception problem not just by Alawites but by a large swathe of Syrians who are still in a state of fear and trepidation- of violence and strife potentially that will come from all sides.
    I am not sure who the writer’s brother is? It was posted by a friend of the writer – obviously they were at odds.
    But the poster had the same interest as mine – it was a close lifelong friend of his – and now – they can barely speak to each other.

  20. Son of Damas,
    I think you didn’t invent the ‘new’ name…. ; )
    you are referencing the old name and the authorities/State made the “new” names.
    I had a terrible time with maps of Damascus while in Syria – there were all these signs like – Jalaa (for Abu Rumaneh blvd)- as a good example. Except most of the time no one actually called the streets by these names from the map or the signs on corners of buildings!…. of course the people refused to change in their minds to the ‘new’ names and they continued to use the older names. It was extremely confusing.

  21. Arwa Damon, asked today what will the magic number of dead Syrians be, so the rest of the world will mobilize?

    I am not sure if Arwa recalls, how the UN stopped counting since December 28, 2011, they stopped at 5000+ death.

    UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said, the toll had risen since but added: “We are experiencing difficulties because of the fragmentation on the ground.” “Some areas are totally closed such as parts of Homs, so we are unable to update that figure but in my view 5,000 and more is a huge figure and should really shock the international community into taking action,” she told reporters. Activists on the ground are documenting each loss of life, diligently and professionally. They are reliable.

    Just watching Ms. Damon’s report from Homs, the devastation in Homs they were filming, a total war zone. A ghost town. Who does this regime think they are fighting, an occupier? An invader?

    In reality they are flexing their muscles on a people that dared to say what the regime does not want to hear, what the world is not ready for FREEDOM FOR SYRIA.

    It is bloody, it is extremely hard, it is inhumane conditions the people of Homs are living in, they are pleading for medicine, to treat the wounded, they are pleading for food to feed the young, they are pleading for flour, bread, water, …….but they will never go back. They vowed not to, their demands are legitimate. Yet, the hypocrisy of the west with their set of double standards has never ceased to amaze us! Sadly.

  22. Excellent reporting.

    Arwa Damon, the first independent and first account look at the inside of the besieged city of Homs, exactly what is really going on.

    “The activists are unable to comprehend how the onslaught taking place in the 21st century in full view of the international community of global powers and various humanitarian agencies and yet no concrete actions has been really taken to put an end to the violence.”

  23. The scene in Mezze was Sheikh Saad; I was living not far from there.
    The despair and the indignation of this doctor from bab Omar (is it because we are Muslims ?).

  1. Pingback: Syria Comment » Archives » UN Vote on Syria; Homs Killings Rise; CNN Shows Alawi Neighborhoods Shelled too

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