Asma and Complicated Syria (by SYRIAN HAMSTER)

Word from OFF THE WALL

This post by SYRIAN HAMSTER also appeared as a comment titled “Complicated Syria” response to an article on Syria Comment titled “in Defense of Asma al-Assad,” by an Anonymous Syrian writing under the name Cicero with S.H’s intent to also publish it on 7ee6an if I agreed to  cross posting.  There are only a few editorial corrections including a slight change of the title by SYRIAN HAMSTER in this post.

Complicated Syria

Regime promoters always attach a paragraph about Syria being a complicated country with rich heritage …. and so on. Take for example the first segment of this paragraph from the above “defense of Asma”

Syria is a complicated country, with a rich cultural heritage that is the result of the intermingling of the many religions and ethnicities, customs, beliefs, habits, ideas and values left behind by all the civilizations that have passed through and made Syria their home over thousands of years.

Further reading, shows the real objective of this paragraph which follows

It is at the nexus of the most heated schism our world faces today, between Iran, and Saudi Arabia, between Christianity and Islam, between East and West, and between Arabs and Israelis.

A logical link between the first and second segments is possible if one argues that 1. Syria is culturally diverse, 2. Syrians are connected, then it may follow that Syria is place where regional and global powers and cultures face each others through Syrians. This of course assumes good intention on the writer’s side. But when such argument is put forth by a regime loyalist in defense of Asma Al-Assad, it is used as an attempt to de-legitimize the revolution and to insinuate that what we see is merely the result of external forces using Syrians as if Syrians themselves have no choice or hand in their uprising and as if those dying are merely agents of external schism. The untold conclusion–premise of defense would then become: “Bashar is defending the country against these powers, and by extension, Asma is.”

Asma’s past deeds, some of which may be laudable had they reflected anything other than a PR campaign, are irrelevant to her current and recent actions. Furthermore, it is natural and common to say that she “embarked” on this or that project, but giving her the credit for the projects is a neither fair, nor accurate and it reflects a grave misunderstanding of how NGOs work. NGO activists are the real ones who design these projects, they manage them, they implement them, but to promote these projects, it is part if their work to find a “celebrity patron” to give the project visibility, and in the case of a brutal, money grabbing regime such as the Assad Mafia, some opbtain protection from the little mafiosi and some “oiling” of the machinery of the security apparatus to reduce the obstructive rejectionism so permeates the psych of the machinery. Asma Al-Assad received her rewards for playing along: a propagation of a false image of her husband and his brutal regime as a reform-minded regime, and an acceptance, and I may add, a rationalization of dealing with the regime while ignoring its continuing, but slightly lower-intensity brutality against opposition and against any attempt to establish a real powerful civil society. Not only that, she received a prime seat in the regime as its “civilized and modern” facade.

It is also well known that NGO’s approach wealthy people to serve as patrons for their projects. Some of these wealthy people are true philanthropists, and some play along for PR purposes, but in both cases, they donate money along with their celebrity status. NGOs are not shy about this, and why should they be, it is one way to provide benefit and some return to society. We are yet to find the level of Asma’s own financial contributions to her “wide network of” NGOs, knowing that her family gained significantly financially and in influence as well.

Asma’s “rose of the desert” veneer was relatively thin. It did not survive the heat produced by the first bullet her husband thugs fired at protesters. All what the email scandal did was to finish peeling off the last few specks of paint, which were more like tabloid play on speculations about whether she supports her husband or not and whether she is tormented by what he has been ordering his thugs to do. What we see is a careless woman, a woman who is fully behind her husband, and a woman fully out of touch with the multiple layers of misery her partner is causing to the people of Syria. A woman who has no qualm saying “i am the real dictator”, which reflects both bad taste and cold heart, even if said jokingly.

Her media rise as a “reform minded” “western educated” woman should in reality rile those who protest “orientalism”. Conditioning the progress of Syria on her “western” outlook (i would argue appearance) reduces Syrians to mere recipients of the “goodwill” of their “western-oriented” rulers and plays into the hand of the autocrats themselves. Not surprisingly, an anonymous regime loyalist, playing a hyper-nationalist tone, rushed to attack the anonymous Turk, who objected to one more attempt to rehabilitate an unworthy image and showed real respect for Syrians. The insult to Syrians posed by the west’s celebration of this fake image does not register on their radar despite of their constant stream of attacks on the west and “its evil plans” against Syria.

It would have been more appropriate to blast the EU for the ineffectiveness of these sanctions as real support to freedom and dignity seeking Syrians as far as the Syrian Revolution goes. The sanctions are worst than being symbolic. They are primarily at attempt to whitewash the “play along” policy over the past decade, and the propagation of the fraudulent image of the Assad mafia chieftain in hope of wooing him not cause further problem in the region. It is the west compensating itself for not challenging her and her husband to put their money where their mouths were. For that, these sanction may be condemned but never for the goodness of her heart.

The worst offense of the article is not the defense of Asma, but it is in its  last few words, which attempted to tie the fate of poor women in Syria to Asma’s inability to shop. That was bad taste, a really really bad taste.

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170 Comments

  1. ASma has been a key PR card in the regime’s sleeve. One of the advantges this regime enjoys, over similar, equally brutal and dictatorial anti-western regimes ( Saddam and Gaddafi) is that its public faces give an outward appearance of being suave, urbane, sexy, flexible. Which is why you won;t see Maher or Assef Shawkat ever in public. Bashar, like Hafez before him, took great pains to cultivate an image that was different from the typical psychotic, strange, quirky image we have of Gaddafi or Saddam ( the typical “evil dictator”). So much so that for the first 6 months, many ppl in the West, especially policy makers, found it hard to believe Bashar was killing “his own people”.

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  2. http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/20120323-napolitano-statement-syria-tps.shtm

    Statement from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syrian Nationals

    Release Date: March 23, 2012

    For Immediate Release
    Office of the Press Secretary
    Contact: 202-282-8010

    “In light of the deteriorating conditions in Syria, I am announcing that DHS will be designating Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Syrians currently present in the United States. Conditions in Syria have worsened to the point where Syrian nationals already in the United States would face serious threats to their personal safety if they were to return to their home country. Early next week, the Department will publish a notice in the Federal Register that will provide further guidance about TPS eligibility requirements and registration procedures. All applicants must undergo full background checks and while Syrians in the United States are encouraged to apply, they should not submit their applications before the notice is published.”

    ###

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  3. Thanks Zenobia, It is now on the bar. Once the implementation instruction is published in the FR, I will try to make it available. I think we should now try to have a section on resources for “refugees” if possible. I would welcome information to that effect, once validated, I will collate it and publish it in a separate page.

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  4. Syrian Sun
    http://syriansun.info/

    Dear 7ee6anis
    A friend from the old days of commenting sent me news about this new blog/news-letter. It is in English and Arabic. I always welcome new voices. Please check it out. It is a collective work of some bright and outstanding Syrians with diversity of opinion and well written articles. I have checked a few.

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  5. Thanks OTW, for posting the link to Syria Sun. But what caught my eyes, accidentally, is a link to a site, The Sweet Maker’s Wife, you’ve posted as an addendum. Her posts are worth reading as you’d mentioned. Very interesting analysis. Here is a link to one of her posts written in colloquial Arabic, she describes her fear, as a Syrian Alawite. Our fear as Syrians became a national phenomena. All because of one family, who are nothing, but traitors to all Syrians, from the grandfather to the offspring. Thanks for the links.

    http://thesweetmakerswife.tumblr.com/

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  6. http://all4syria.info/web/archives/58347

    fyi, especially Jergen, asking about the Jesuits…. interesting…

    The Jesuits: “Christians have fled from Homs, not thrown out by Islamists”
    بواسطة
    editor2
    – 2012/03/26نشر فى: English

    Homs (Agenzia Fides) –

    The faithful Christians living in the Bustan Al Diwan and Hamideh neighborhoods, in the city of Homs, have left the area and fled on their own initiative because of fear and conflict and were not forced to leave their homes because of threats on behalf of Islamist militia: this is what is reported to Fides by the Jesuit community of Homs. In past days, some sources in the Orthodox Christian community had told Fides that some Christian families in the two districts had been thrown out by militant Islamists. Other sources in the Middle East countries have repeatedly spoken of the militant Islamic extremists travels from Libya, Iraq and other nations toward Syria, with the aim to infiltrate in the ranks of the Free Syrian Army.
    The Jesuits of Homs told Fides that “as far as we know, the Christians in the city of Homs have not been threatened and forced to flee their homes”. “There were some incidents – they explain – where houses left empty (by Christians) were occupied by displaced families. But when the owners returned, their homes were given back in a peaceful manner. One of the imams of the area – they add – apologized to the priest of the Jesuit church, because of these unfortunate incidents”.
    The Christian areas of Homs, note sources of Fides, are at the center of the crossfire between army and rebels. In Homs there are about 1,000 Christians. A year ago, before the start of the fighting, there were in town, on the whole, 160 thousand faithful and four Bishops of various denominations.

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  7. Dear N.Z.
    I added it a while ago, but it seems that I overlooked tagging it appropriately to appear in the list. Her post on deconstructing the Syrian Revolution is an eye opener. The link to the short but very powerful Arabic post is:

    I hope she posts more analysis. But she is active on twitter as @eafesooriyah

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    The link to the main blog page you kindly provided is now tagged appropriately and it appears in the I like list.

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  8. Dear Zenobia,
    I met one of the displaced Christian Homsi families here in the US. They left because living in Homs became intolerable, even though where they lived was relatively safe. They left their home and their business with nothing but the cloths on their backs. They were a well to do family now left with nothing. It is so heartbreaking to see what is happening to our people. The most important part of this story for us to know is that this family is an ardent revolution supporter.

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  9. Did you know that uncle Rifaat fled Syria with his children without even taking his personal belonging, did you know that this thug turned buzinessman was given $ 25000 by some of his friends and together with his children they turned the capital to 250 million! His own estimate.

    Did you know, according to the thug that the Butcher was forced to become “president”, he was a good student, that was forced to take the presidency, and the constitution was changed in less than half an hour to save the country from inner strife? According to Mafioso Rifaat.

    Did you know that he had nothing to do with Hama. He is an innocent man running freely in the UK, he ain’t on the sanction list, and the Scotland Yard are as fond of him as the British citizens!

    Do you know of a lawyer who can bring this mass murderer, a pathetic liar, a pampered criminal in the UK to justice?

    How can anyone in the land of the free, anywhere in the EU, turn a blind eye towards a thug and mass murderer? Roaming the streets of London with impunity is rifaat assad, embraced by the Brits.

    Sami Khiami, the Syrian ambassador in Britain, his invitation to attend the royal wedding was withdrawn, while a mass murderer, with stolen money is given the red carpet treatment. Are these British values? Without a shadow of doubt, yes..this is how you define a nation. When it turns a blind eye.

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  10. Dear Sheila,

    You were correct regarding the travel ban, however it seems to be rescinded 24hrs later according to the Aliqtisadi :

    علم موقع الاقتصادي من مصدر رسمي في وزارة الداخلية السورية أنه تم إلغاء قرار منع السفر للسوريين من الذكور بين 18 و42 عاماً والذي صدر أمس واشترط عليهم مراجعة شعبة التجنيد للحصول على موافقة من أجل السفر.

    http://aliqtisadi.com/index.php?mode=article&id=21391

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  11. My brother is back. I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight. He told me that the situation on the ground is far worse than what we are hearing. He said that the people are being slaughtered indiscriminately. They are rounding up all the young men that they can get their hands on to add them to the military ranks. They give them a rifle and uniform and throw them on the front line without a day of training. He was told from someone in the army recruiting office that they had 55,000 young men on their books that they were trying to get. They only managed to find around 5,000 of them. The rest disappeared. According to my brother, the defections are increasingly higher in number. He was told by a military officer that they were ordered to march to Maaret Misreen (Idleb province). They started with 400 soldiers. Only 100 made it to their destination. The rest defected.
    My brother is livid with the position of the minorities. He said that what is happening in Syria is ethnic cleansing. He said that we have all lived together in Syria for hundreds of years, yet suddenly everybody fears the Sunnis. My brother was furious with his best friend, (a Christian), who was complaining that if the regime falls, the Islamists will take over and he will not be able to buy liquor in Syria. My brother could not believe that buying liquor was more important than basic decency to stand against tyranny and murder. He asked his friend if he felt it was ok for the regime to murder, torture, rape and destroy the country so that he can continue to buy liquor, that is if this is actually what will happen next. His friend had no answer. My brother was wondering if in the middle of everyone worrying about the minorities in Syria, they forgot about the basic human rights of the majority that is being murdered in cold blood.
    He is also furious with the West and especially the US and the Democrats. Turns out, Mrs. Clinton is making the rounds to prohibit anyone from providing arms to the FSA. This comes from reliable sources.

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  12. Dear N. Z.,
    When Rifaat left Syria, he left with his family of God knows how many wives and concubines along with 600 “companions” who received their monthly salaries from the Syrian treasury. My parents personally knew one of those people, so this information is 100% true.
    My question is how he managed to get legal status in the UK, France or Spain for him and his entourage. I guess money talks.

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  13. NZ,

    I have a feeling that in some sick and convoluted way the Brits and US would not mind at all if Rifaat the Butcher of Hama Assad takes over the regime along with his little side kick Khaddam.

    I say bring them to Syria, let them go to Hama unguarded, lets see how welcoming Hamwis will be to them.

    A mass murderer denying his crimes… this sick, demented, and criminal immorality must run in the family genes, many say caused H1B3M2 virus aka Batta Flue.

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  14. Dear Sheila,

    The story of the family from Homs is heartbreaking. What a loss on all levels. On the personal level and the national level. These are the Syrian refugees. This a patriotic family.

    I had just finished listening to the despicable rifaat assad on youtube, An interview that I was unable to watch, because I could not stand the thug, I forced myself to watch the full interview four months later. It is revealing. A pathological liar. He is careless with his past, and comfortable that the winds of change will not effect him and non of the mafia members.

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  15. I say why doesn’t someone “take out” Rifaat ? I am sure he doesn’t have much security, at least not something that cannot be “penetrated.” This only shows how hypocrite the MB is. Now they are lobbying for full control of SNC and the entire opposition. Inside Syria, they have made repeated attempts to take over d LCCs and the FSA. Infact these guys are very power hungry and a mirror image of the Baath. Thex are forcing the refugees in Turkey to pledge allegiance 2 them in exchange for any assistance whatsoever. Coming back to Rifaat, the MBs would have killed him by now if they had an ounce of self respect, instead of teaming up with him and Khaddam..

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  16. Sheila, does your brother live in Syria ? I must say I was surprised to hear his account, especially that of the Army’s recruitment drive and the defections. I wonder why they are rounding up young men, of whose loyalty there is no guarantee, giving them minimal training and throwing them in the frontline. These things are done only in War time. Does that mean the regime takes the FSA threat very seriously. Still it does not make sense to enlist 55, 000 young men to fight a poorly armed guerilla force. Then again, when have the Assads made sense ? However , their recruitment drives and the recent order of the travel ban for young men, points to the fact that the regime may still be thinking in terms of foreign intervention. Another plausible explanation may be, they are just trying to kill off all the young men by making them fight the FSA., so as to preserve the strength of their loyal forces and Shabbiha. However, I am wondering how,they managed to get their hands on 55,000 men. I am sure thex were not recruited from anti-regime provinces and cities. I would like to know Sheila, where these recruitment drives r being carried out. Are they confined to the 2 big cities, or are they taking place in Idleb, Hama, Homs, Reef Dimashq, Dara.a as well ?

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  17. Sheila,

    Thanks for posting your brothers story.

    He is also furious with the West and especially the US and the Democrats. Turns out, Mrs. Clinton is making the rounds to prohibit anyone from providing arms to the FSA. This comes from reliable sources.

    Does your brother have any harsh words for Iran, Russia, or Hezbollah, who are openly arming the Assad family?

    BTW – Kofi Annan seems and Assad have reached some sort of “peace” agreement. I find it hard to believe that is will hold.

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  18. Dear Akbar Palace,
    You asked:
    “Does your brother have any harsh words for Iran, Russia, or Hezbollah, who are openly arming the Assad family?”

    You do not want to hear what my brother says about them. Iran, Russia and Hezbollah are declaring publicly on whose side they are. They are the enemies of the Syrian people and the friends of Assad, however, the US, the UK and France talk a lot and do nothing. In my brother’s opinion, the US is not only doing nothing, it is working diligently to prevent weapons from reaching the FSA, thus allowing the regime to slaughter the people with impunity and without allowing them to defend themselves. He believes that the US is doing what Israel wants. This stalemate is perfect for Israel. Syria is now shattered and will take at least a generation to rebuild.

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  19. Sheila I have been hearing similar stories. The reason why they rescinded the recall Is obvious. Recruiting has become an impossible job and recruiting fresh recruits for the FSA is a bit counterproductive lol

    You will also find that those that do volunteer will come from certain sectarian backgrounds
    It does show that they are desperate. They just do not have enough men.

    They are pulverising the opposition into negotiations and not defeat. I even bet that Assad would step down just to keep the key players in the regime

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  20. You do not want to hear what my brother says about them.

    Sheila,

    It is nice to know there are other enemies of the arab people other than the usual suspect. Personally, I don’t read about it, however I’m sure there is plenty written in arabic.

    This “stalemate” is short term, and I think the US and Israeli gov’ts feel they are not in a position to influence the outcome (certainly the Israeli gov’t). I think the US is wrong. I would urge (like Sen. Lieberman) the US govt to arm the opposition as we did for Libya. If a hostile Islamist gov’t emerges, then at least we can say we helped free a nation (like Libya), and hope we found a friend. Israel, obviously, can’t (and shouldn’t) arm anyone.

    Individual Jews and Israelis I know believe freedom has the best long-term chance of promoting peace – for everyone.

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  21. I was going through the full list of the elected members of the Syrian Parliament in 1961 ( widely considerd to be a free and fair election).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_members_of_the_Parliament_of_Syria,_1961

    There were some interesting statistics –

    1. both the Baath and the MB fared poorly.

    2. The Muslim Brotherhood got the maximum number of seats in Damascus and Aleppo. By contrast, they failed to win a single seat in Hama, Homs, Idleb or Daraa

    3. the Baath Party fared miserably in Latakia and Tartous

    4. The strongest showing for the Baath was in Idleb and Hama. In fact the Baath won the maximum number of seats in Idleb and Hama.

    The Baath Party also won the seat of Douma in Damascus, a well-known anti-regime stronghold.

    Intersting.

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  22. Sheila

    “They are rounding up all the young men that they can get their hands on to add them to the military ranks. They give them a rifle and uniform and throw them on the front line without a day of training.”

    The general Syrian population should be made aware of such things as well as the regime using civilian human shields (also how some conscripts are more or less used as human shields). It’ll be something for the ‘silent majority’ to think about and reassess their position.

    The opposition used to be very imainative early on in the uprising. Remember how fountains were turned red with dye and how loads of ping-pong balls with messages were released close to the Presidential palace? They could spread the word via flyers.

    N.Z

    The UK and other countries should be exposed and embarrassed for hosting these criminals.

    I do hope someone takes up legal action against Rifaat, at least it’ll bring him and his deeds in the spotlight.

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  23. CSI,

    I fully agree.

    Syria has turned into a slaughterhouse under the watchful eyes of the international community. Syria is SOoooo complicated that no one can intervene to stop the bloodletting. We are left to bleed slowly but surely.

    We have to begin somewhere. It is so obvious by now, the strong relationship Syria’s mass murdering family-the assads- has with the west. They are treated like noble royals by western government, however, ordinary citizens are disgusted by the endless torture and senseless killing.

    For those with a conscience, we have a thug roaming freely in the streets of London. HRW can start with this man, now. If they truly mean business.

    Activists on the ground are doing their share, the likes of Danny Abdul Dayyem, Abu Salah and the many many heroes, Syrians and non-syrians alike, many lost their lives and others are under the peril of-God forbid- …..They all courageously succeeded in showing the world the horrors that Syrians are enduring for daring to ask for their basic rights.

    Bringing those responsible to justice, is not as complicated. Let us be as creative, and as active, we have the means at our disposal- western institutions- do we have the will?

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  24. Dear Antoine,
    Yes, my brother lives in Syria. The young men that they are rounding up are those who turned 18 and have to do their military service. The 55,000 was the approximate number of kids who turned 18 and had to join the military from Aleppo and its province. So to answer your question, they are going after everyone that has to serve in the army no matter where they are from, but many are just disappearing because they are refusing to join in the massacre and are afraid for their lives.

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  25. Dear Sheila,

    Do you know if paying the Badal, or the postponement of the Military service for education is still permitted?

    Thanks for sharing your brothers story and observations with us.

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  26. Hi SOD,
    I am not really sure, but I would venture to say that it is still permitted because they need money more than they need men. Remember when the revolution started how they reduced the “badal”? I know because my brother wanted to pay it for his son and may nephew vehemently refused. He lives outside of Syria, so he could not talk freely with his father to explain why he refused. Finally, he told my other brother who was going to Syria to explain to his father that this money is going to be used to buy ammunition to kill the people. He did not want to contribute to the regime’s coffers.

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  27. Two independent journalists killed in Syria, Naseem Intriri and Walid Bledi, May God Bless their soul.

    Syrian security forces shot and killed two freelance British journalists of Algerian descent and wounded a third during an attack on Monday in the town of Darkoush near the Turkish border, according to news reports and a witness interviewed by CPJ.

    The journalists were filming a documentary about Syrians escaping the conflict and fleeing to Turkey, according to the London-based Guardian and regional press freedom groups. They were staying with several Syrian activists in a house in Darkoush in Idlib province, which is a center for the conflict, news reports said.

    “We offer our condolences to family and colleagues of Naseem Intriri and Walid Bledi,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “Their deaths are yet another illustration of the grave dangers that journalists face in reporting a conflict that the Syrian government has sought to hide from the world.”

    In all, 10 journalists have been killed in Syria since November, making it the most dangerous place for journalists in the world, CPJ research shows.

    For more data and analysis on Syria, visit CPJ’s Attacks on the Press.

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  28. Dear Kofi Annan,

    Do you remember what you said at the memorial conference, 10 years after Rwandan Genocide, when 800,000 people died? I do.

    You said:

    “I could and should have done more to stop the genocide in Rwanda”

    “The international community is guilty of sins of omission,”

    “The international community failed Rwanda and that must leave us always with a sense of bitter regret,”

    “I believed at that time that I was doing my best,”

    “But I realized after the genocide that there was more that I could and should have done to sound the alarm and rally support.”

    The UN has designated 7 April as international day of reflection on the genocide.

    In memory of those who perished in Rwanda 18 years ago, we can name next Friday’s protest, “Preventing Another Rwanda”. نحن لا نريد رواندا أخرى في سوريا

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  29. ^^ Excellent idea, NZ. These old statesmen like Annan should not be in charge of such sensitive things. Same goes for the SNC. They should not have put an old professor who doesn;t care jack abiut the Syrian people, at the helm.

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  30. Dear Sheila,

    If they do not give any training to the young ppl who are drafted into the Army, they are basically setting them up for slaughter. The FSA must be careful not to target soldiers indiscriminately.

    Also, do you think Aleppo countryside ( the tribal areas) are more loyal to the regime ?

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  31. Dear Antoine,
    Yes, that is exactly what they are doing. Take all these young conscripts, give them no training and throw them on the frontline as human shields.
    Aleppo countryside has been one of the hottest anti-regime areas in Syria. To answer your question: no it is not loyal to the regime at all.

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  32. http://static.bloggingheads.tv/ramon/_live/players/player_v5.2-licensed.swf

    Obviously, you guys saw this posted clip of Joshua on Bloggingheads video with Robert Wright- but I linked it again- I think in the video – you can see Joshua talking about the same issue that he wrote about in that post about the potential islamization of an insurgency and so forth – but I think in the video, one can hear better what he is actually saying (whether one disagrees or not). You get his tone, in which I do not hear him advocating or warning or criticizing or using it cynically to ‘prove’ something…I think he is just giving a prediction of what naturally has to occur on some level in order to have military victory against the regime -that this is the understandable tactical outcome.
    What isn’t stated or implied here is what that means in the long run. I think many would sort of argue that this development destroys the possibility for secular and inclusive ideology to prevail in the long run, but I think – that someone should make the argument that although these ‘doctrine’ as JL calls it may be utilized, this does not actually reflect the larger movement and how the future development will take shape and what will happen in the long run.
    People keep pointing at politics in Egypt currently as a cautionary tale, but what is significant to me is that Egypt was already very dominated by certain Islamic ideology- and conservatism – waiting to take control of politics. Not true in Syria- and the fact that an insurgency may have to utilize such ideology to mobilize militants – is disconcerting to many- but does reflect the actual level of power of such ideology in the larger culture – and one could easily over estimate what that could mean for political developments post military conflict.

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  33. Sheila,

    For someone to be successfully conscripted into the Syrian Army, does he have to undertake tests – like written exams, medical tests, physical tests ? Or does one automatically get into basic training centre without passing any test and just by enrolling your name ? Also are there any physical requirements – like height, weight, etc. for conscripts ?

    Also I am sure there are “background checks” done on Conscripts by the mukhabart before they give them a gun and a uniform. I am sure guys from known anti-regime families will not be accepted in the Army ?

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  34. Dear Zenobia,
    I totally agree with JL’s assessment of the situation. What my brother told me of facts on the ground confirms his logic. The only additional thing is that people are resorting to God and religion because they are seeing death every day. My brother told me about several people that he personally knows form Aleppo country side, who were never religious and never prayed and now pray regularly and have become quite religious. My brother asked one of them why he is now praying. He told him that he now never leaves his house without “wodou2” because he knows that he can be killed at any moment. Seeing death makes people spiritual and Islam is the only spirituality that they know.
    In terms of Syria being different than Egypt, I tend to disagree with you. The only reason why we did not see the political involvement of Islamic parties in Syria was because they were banned. Syrians in general are very devout people who are at their wits end with Bathism, communism, socialism and any other ism out there. They firmly believe, like most Arabs today, that since the only time that the Arabs amounted to anything was the time of Islam, they need to go back to that era to achieve any kind of greatness. With their limited minds and education, they are ending up at the time before Islam instead. My point is: the Islamists will no doubt win any kind of free elections in Syria.

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  35. I am not sure…. Sheila.
    I have heard many people talk about the conservatism in Egypt as even much greater – when referring to the religious type. Of course there was more political opposition allowed to operate marginally… however the population as whole is much more homogenous.
    Syrians who are Sunni may have been prevented from having a political islamic party – or any party for that matter – but this segment may or may not be the majority – and this is up for debate. and in addition – certainly the make up of the population as a whole is much much more diverse than in Egypt in terms of ethno religious affiliation. So- this already means there is – assuming the minorities don’t all flee the country- there is a greater chance for a multi-party and multi cultural political life to take hold in the longer term.

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  36. Sheila,

    Do you agree with Landis’ assessment that this movement will take on the shape of an “Islamic insurgency’ ( ala Iraq), the long run ? I mean do you see the possibilty of some youth being totally radicalized ?

    Also, do you think the regime’s popularity has been decreasing in Aleppo and the province as whole ? I have heard alternative accounts of “fence-sitters” becoming vocally pro-Assad becz of the lawlessness in Aleppo.

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  37. My point overall is that I am not convinced that the expediency that would drive towards more Islamization in a civil war – doesn’t necessarily mean it will last into the future….

    those who suddenly started praying just because they are going out to fight…. and only recently are invoking god right and left in the face of horror…. are not likely on a deeper values level to have truly become conservative…. I think it is a reflection of the moment – not a deep value system at work – or to have created lasting new social identifications….

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  38. What isn’t stated or implied here is what that means in the long run. I think many would sort of argue that this development destroys the possibility for secular and inclusive ideology to prevail in the long run

    The secular alternative suffers from many faults that it doesn’t need anything to destroy it.

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  39. Can anyone define “Secularism” or “Secular”? Will “Secularism” be considered a movement? Will you agree that secular states has served to protect religion and religious institution from government domination/manipulation as is the case all over the Arab world, more so in Egypt and Syria.

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  40. Dear Sheila
    First of all, thanks for the news from Aleppo. Today, while Assad thugs were firing life ammunition at a demonstration near the University area, some shop keepers stood by watching and even locking the doors of their shops in the face of the women who were trying to flee the murderous shabeeha. Aleppo is starting to talk about these cowards and every single activist and sympathizer with the revolution of dignity, freedom, and opportunity is livid with them.

    I tend to think that Syrians are conservative, but they are not “excessive”. Most Syrians are far more comfortable with a moderate version of conservatism, which will provide for a reasonable buffer against a disproportional power of salafie such as we now see in Egypt.

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  41. I was in Egypt when the clashes between the copts and the muslims happened. It was a new experience to me to see Egyptians united in hate, at least thats what was obvious on the surface. I met with muslims who tried to convince me that copts are killing children in their church and drink their blood( kind of what christians used to say about Jews in the medival times). At the same time the copts i talked to were saying that muslim men rape and kill coptic women, because to muslims thats allowed to do. I was pretty angry hearing such and angry to meet people who firmly believed such nonsense even though they personally havent seen such things happen. I do believe that Egypt differs when it comes to education, the numbers of those who cant read or write is higher today in Egypt than under Nasser( of course we have a bigger growth in people now). I think in such devastated educational background the rise of such salafi groups who offer simple answers to otherwise complicated issues is understandable. I do agree with Sheila that Islamism is on the rise and in Syria even though people are more educated and economically better off than Egyptians there could be an majority who would vote for moderate islamists. One egyptian friend told me this: see the revolution of Tahrir was planned and organized by the educated rich and young people. We won because the poor joined our cause. But in the elections we lost because the majority of people in Egypt arent rich, and educated. Thats why you wont see the Tahrir youth in everyday Egypt.

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  42. In Dubai, Shadi zaqzouq, a Palestinian artist was not only denied an entry visa, but his artwork was removed from the gallery. His latest series is called, “After Washing”, in one of his work, he depict a female figure covering her face, an activist, she is holding a male, white underwear, with the word “erhal” in Arabic. I thought will share.

    http://www.skeyesmedia.org/ar/News/Palestine/1247

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  43. Student’s demo in Bab Sreejah, Damascus

    These youngsters decided to take to the streets, after leaving school in spite of their parents. No doubt that rage and the sense of injustices they feel towards the Butcher and his men is not only non stoppable, it is on the verge of eruption. They are cursing the dead father for such a horrific produce, a mad mad beast.

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  44. Juergen,

    “I think in such devastated educational background the rise of such salafi groups who offer simple answers to otherwise complicated issues is understandable.”

    The lack of education might have an impact in recruiting few people. How about the educated sizable number of Americans that are recruited to the far right Zionist Christian movements in the U.S. ? The leaders of such groups, including political presidential candidates are heralded in many parts of the world, in the US and the Zionist state.

    The uneducated may recycle old cliches, yes, they follow, they can never lead.

    How about the growing number of German white supremacists, not exclusive to Germany only ? The French extreme right wing, xenophobes of Europe? Are they uneducated?

    I know you are talking about this in a Syrian context, I agree with OTW, they are an extremely insignificant group. The question that begs an answer is, who are behind these groups.

    But let me assure you, as a Syrian, and I have been with many uneducated, from rural areas, they are the ones who have true values, true instinct for what is right and what is wrong, they are the ones that will not easily relinquish their dignity, they are the ones who I can spend a whole lot more of time, feeling happiness and elation, substance and value, sharing with them a meal, or a cup of the most delicious tea. For the past year, they rose up and were at the forefront, while Damascenes and Aleppean were still calculating their losses. Not all. These are not extremists, they are Muslims non the less. They are people from all walks of life. But they are not Salafis, all can rest assure.

    The lack of education is a formula not for extremism in the Arab and Muslim world, it is a systematic formula to take a country like Syria, that was less than 50 years ago the seventh ranking economy in the world. The lack of education was a winning formula for both the dictators and their installers.

    I think because of, not in spite of the lack of education this beloved country of ours, Syria, will not fall into the traps of a sectarian civil war. It will rise from its ashes and rebuild collectively.

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  45. Juergen,

    What is the literacy rate for Syria and Egypt ? Also I think there is a great disparity between Sunnis and minorities in Syria when it comes to education. Sunni Arabs in Syria have generally failed to take advantge of the free and subsidized education which the Baath provided. Although this hass much to do with the political climate and the socialistic economy, where jobs for uneducated youth are more than jobs for educated youth ( most of those are in Government where theres a lot of competition and corruption). Also the Government has discriminated againt poor Provinces like Idleb or Daraa when it came to educational infrastructure. Today for many youth in these parts the easy way out is to go to the Gulf to do jobs which will fetch 10 times higher than in Syria. So the regime has not encouraged education at all.

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  46. a country like Syria, that was less than 50 years ago the seventh ranking economy in the world.

    Source ? And what do you mean by “seventh-ranking” ? Ranking in what sense ? Per capita income, economic efficieny, or size of the economy ?

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  47. for something momentarily cheerful, Fadwa Suleiman at a demo in Paris five days ago

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  48. @Khalid,

    I am talking to people who already know that secularism is desirable and important and needs to be fought for,
    not people like yourself who have lame ideas like the one you just put out there…so no need to address my points, since we exist in different universes already.

    remember when you tried to make a whole argument based on a completely fabricated definition of “selfless” – that somehow it means not having a personality. Try a dictionary next time before you blab your mouth off on something that doesn’t exist…. that was enough to show me not to pay attention to the pretend arguments you make.

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  49. من المفترض أن يكون المقاوم في صف الشعوب الثائرة على الظلم والطغيان لا حليفاً للطواغيت والقتلة والسفاحين.

    كم كنت أتمنى أن يبقى بعض الذين أحببناهم ذات يوم صامتين لأنهم كلما تكلموا انخفض رصيدهم لدى الشعوب. السكوت من ذهب يا سادة.اسكتوا

    هل سيحكمنا ذات يوم بشر؟ نعم بشر، فبعض طغاتنا يعتقدون أنهم آلهة ونحن عبيد في مزارعهم الخاصة التي يسمونها زوراً دولاً، لهذا يذبحوننا عندما نئ

    الديكتاتور لشعبه: ثوروا ضدي، دوسوا على صوري، حطموا تماثيلي، امسحوا الأرض بكرامتي، أهينيوني، اشتموني بأقذع المسبات وطالبوا برحيلي، لكنني لن أرحل. تلك هي عقلية الطغاة، تبصق في وجوههم فيتظاهرون بأن السماء تمطر

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  50. I am disapoounted by the very low frequency of participation on this blog. Just 4 comments in the last 3 days !!

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  51. List of Syrian Officers those involved in Massacres in Syria –

    The list below shows the names of those who contributed to the killing of innocents and thesepeople should face international criminal courts and be brought to justice –

    1.Bashar al-Assad’s Chief of Army and President of Syria.

    2.Dean Maher Assad, commander of a brigade in the fourth year, is the de facto leader of Grand Four.

    3.Major General Mohammad Nassif Kheir Bek, Assistant Vice President and SpecialSecurity Adviser to Bashar al-Assad.

    4.General Asef Shawkat, Deputy Chief of Staff for Security Affairs.

    5.Commander Brigadier General Hafez Makhlouf, Head of Counterterrorism Sectionand the Department of the Bridge of the White Branch 251 (internal section) in themanagement of state security.

    6.Major General Ali Mamlouk, Director of State Security.

    7.Major General Abdul-Fattah Qudseyyah, Head of Military Intelligence.

    8.Major General Mohammed Dib Zayton, President of Political Security Branch.

    9.Major General Mohammed Samur, former Interior Minister.

    10.Major General Mohammed el-Shaar, current Interior Minister.

    11.Brigadier General Jamil Hassan, Director of Air Intelligence.

    12.Major General Zuhair el-Hamd, Deputy Director of State Security.

    13.Major General Nazeeh Hassoun, Deputy Director of State Security in charge of operations in the coastal zone.

    14.Major General Jumah Al-Ahmad, Commander of Special Forces (special units).

    15.Jamil Badr Hassan, Commander of the Air Defense Department, who led the storming of Moadamieh.

    16.Major General Rustom Ghazali, head of Damascus and countryside Branch and Divisionof Military Security.

    17.Major General Ali Younes, Vice Chairman of the Military Intelligence Division (ViceGeneral Abdel-Fattah Qudseya).1

    18.General Tawfiq Younis, Department of State Security branch 251.

    19.Brigadier General Atef Naguib, President of the Political Security branch in the province

    20.Brigadier Thaer Al-Muammar, head of Raids and Patrols in the State SecurityDepartment, who led a raid on Doma city.

    21.Brigadier Nasser al-Ali, head of the Political Security Branch in Dara.

    22.Brigadier General Iyad Mahmoud, Brigadier Commander in the Republican Guard.2

    3.Brigadier General Alaa Saud, Republican Guard.

    24.Brigadier Manaf Tlass, Brigade Commander of the 105th Republican Guard. Heparticipated in the siege Al-Abasin yard and killed demonstrators.

    25.Brigadier Ghassan Bilal, Head of Security in the Fourth Grade. He supervised the tortureand interrogation of the protestors.

    26.Brigadier Nabih Rabea, of the Republican Guard. He participated in besiegingneighborhoods in Damascus.

    27.Brigadier Nasser Deeb, President of the Political Security branch in Hama. He is anephew of General Shafiq Fayyad Deeb.

    28.General Mounir Jalud, Chief of Military Security in Homs.

    29.Brigadier General Mohammad Makhlouf, Chairman of the State Security Branch of Homs.

    30.Brigadier General Jamea Jamea, Head of the Security Branch of the military in theprovince of Deir al-Zour. He participated in killing and suppressing demonstrators.

    31.Brigadier Burhan Qaddour, Military Interrogation Branch in the Division of MilitaryIntelligence and former head of Military Security.

    32.Brigadier Mohammad Khallouf, Chief of Palestine Branch who participated in therepression of demonstrators in Damascus.

    33.Brigadier General Adnan Ahmed, head of the Military Intelligence Branch.

    34.Brigadier Khader al-Hussein, head of the State Security Branch.

    35.Brigadier General Taha Taha, head of the Political Security Branch

    36.Brigadier Mohammad Akram, President of the State Security Branch in Halab.

    37. Thul Hemma Shalesh, Head of the Presidential Security Motorcade and has helped finance Al-Shabiha in Lattakia and Damascus.

    38.Colonel Khalil Mulla, Chairman of the Political Security Branch in Halab.

    WANTED.

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  52. The above list for some reason does not include Maj. Gen. Ali Ammar, the de jure commander of the 4th Armored Division.

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  53. Unfortunately, the `butcher and his helpers declared that they are in controooool, heheh he ha hah hah, control of what?

    “The bid to overthrow Syria’s government was over, and that the battle now was to restore stability.”

    Stability comes when they put their tail between their legs and stand trial, one by one. The honorable activists, revolutionists, rebel..young and old, men and women WILL NOT STOP UNTIL THE BUTCHER IS BROUGHT TO JUSTICE, will his 10 year old stand trial with his dad and his father’s buddies? No, we want a New Syria. ERHAL ya ameel. Traitors, installed and protected by enemies of the Syrian people. Those Syrians have turned the tables around and overcome a western dirty plan. Their man is soon to be flushed in the gutter. They, the western nations have no morality, a spit image of their hired pampered dictators, the lowest breed humanity has ever known.

    http://blogs.aljazeera.com/liveblog/syria-mar-31-2012-0747

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  54. Recently there have been high-profile assassinations of 2 Colonels and 1 Major-General in Aleppo, however the FSA did not claim responsibilty, normally the FSA claim responsibilty for all their actions, especially any assassination, so one can assume those officers were in touch with the opposition and the Mukhabarat eliminated them in a staged shooting, before they could make a move.

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  55. sometimes even atrocious things change incrementally and you have to accept that not all full vengeance plans are the priority or get satisfied. Instead of putting the cart before the horse and making big plans for punishment – maybe working towards a resolution would be more prudent.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303816504577312673744448172.html

    “Myanmar was ruled for nearly 50 years by an oppressive military regime accused of widespread human rights violations. The regime handed power to a nominally civilian government last year after an election dismissed as a sham by Western leaders.

    Since then, Myanmar’s leaders have surprised outsiders by pushing numerous reforms—including by releasing hundreds of political prisoners, easing restraints on the media and proposing laws to welcome more foreign investment.

    Skeptics say the government is trying to fool Western leaders into easing sanctions without committing to permanent changes that would seriously challenge its grip on power. Government officials say the reforms are irreversible and that they are serious about liberalizing the economy and allowing more freedoms.

    In her remarks Friday, Ms. Suu Kyi dismissed concerns that her political organization would collapse if anything were to happen to her. “I think the country can very well survive without me,” she said, as witnessed by the outpouring of public support for democracy in recent weeks. “I think people have the guts” to keep pressing for changes no matter what happens, she said.

    Ms. Suu Kyi didn’t rule out the possibility that the polling itself on Sunday could be free and fair, and she said she was at least encouraged that so many people—including youth—were taking part in the political process, with tens of thousands of people turning out to some rallies. Given the country’s repressive past, “one might have expected that very few people would have participated, but we have found they are quick to wake up,” she said. “

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  56. “working towards a resolution would be more prudent.” And what do we do when the international interests are much more important than the interest of the people that are fighting for their dignity and freedom? We have to be extremely prudent.

    “atrocious things change incrementally” Assad regime, including the “insecurity” apparatus, is one step in the right direction. Avery long way, indeed.

    Think, North Korea/Iraq, part of the BBB axis of evil.

    The main issue is can “international interest” be transformed into a passion for justice beyond one’s own group or community, beyond greed and envy. The Arab Awakening was not in the plan, especially in Syria. It will be a long struggle, in the right direction non the less.

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  57. عزمي بشارة

    حاجة نظام الى الدبابات للسيطرة على مدنه هي تعبير عن هزيمته. مر أكثر من عام على اندلاع الثورة السورية، أطول الثورات العربية، وإغناها فداء وتضحية، وأغزرها ملحمية، وأتوقها للحرية. إنها الثورة التي حققت الحرية والكرامة لصانعيها قبل أن تنتصر وتحقق الحرية السياسية. ويمكننا الآن الإضافة أن أعداءها كانوا أكثر الناس ثرثرة وزعيقا حول المؤامرة والتدخل الخارجي، ليتيبن أنها الأقل تدخلا خارجيا حتى اليوم. وسبق أن بينا في عدة مواقع أنه لا نية لدول الغرب ان تتدخل عسكريا لأسباب شتى، وأن خلافات القوى الديمقراطية السورية حول الموضوع هي خلافات نظرية. وفي حينه لم يصغ كثيرون. وخلطوا الأماني بالتحليل.

    حتى التسلح دفاعا عن النفس لا يسمح به إلا نادرًا. ولا شك أن من يذكر اطلاق النار الكثيف في الهواء في ليبيا بمناسبة ومن دون مناسبة لا شك قادر على الملاحظة أنه لا يوجد في سوريا من يطلق النار في الهواء لقلة الرصاص. وهذا من سيميائيات الثورة السورية الدالة. يجري تسلح القوى الثورية المدنية السورية، وليس تسليحها، بشق الأنفس. ومن يعارض الدفاع عن النفس لا يعرض على الناس بديلا سوى القتل. فالنظام يفشل اقتراحات اصحاب النوايا الحسنة كافة، ولم يبق على بدائل سلمية في جعبتهم.

    إذا استمر الوضع القائم حاليا فسوف يبتعد نموذج الحل السياسي السلمي الذي يشمل تفويض النائب والتحول نحو الديمقراطية بعملية دستورية وانتخابية، أو تزهق روحه تحت جنازير الدبابات. وسوف يقترب للأسف النموذج الصربي. والمفارقة أن روسيا كانت في الحالتين عائقا أمام الحل السياسي، ولكنها لم تتمكن في صربيا من حصر تداعيات فشل الحل السياسي لاحقا، إذ فرض عليها وعلى ميولوسيفتش.

    ما هو اكيد أن السوريين لن يتوقفوا قبل تغيير واقعهم السياسي، والتوقف عن التظاهر حين تدخل الحي دبابة، ليس انتصارا للدبابة ولا هزيمة للمتظاهرين. حاجة نظام إلى دبابات للسيطرة على مدنه هي إعلان هزيمته.

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  58. Don’t you love the Arabic language

    ويمكننا الآن الإضافة أن أعداءها كانوا أكثر الناس ثرثرة وزعيقا حول المؤامرة والتدخل الخارجي

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  59. Dear Zenobia,

    @04:39 yesterday (to Khalid): Ouch! Were those put-downs really necessary?

    @17:21 today:

    I am glad you brought up Burma because I am a long-time follower of its people’s struggle for freedom and democracy and have been wanting to post a comparison between Burma and Syria.

    It seems that dictatorships think alike and I would like to posit that Assad and Co. are aiming for the exact same thing that is happening in Burma today which obviously makes me extremely skeptical of the sort of “reforms” being trumpeted by the Burmese Junta. The reason the generals are happy to “reform” and re-introduce “democracy” is because they have solidified their positions both politically and economically to the point where having 10-20% of the seats in the parliament occupied by the opposition bothers them little (the constitution reserves 1/4 of the 664 seat-parliament for the military, BTW, and the next full election is in 2015). In fact playing this kind of game with the nice shiny “rehabilitated” image helps them to enrich themselves even more by getting int’l sanctions lifted and foreign investment flooding in openly and out of the shadows.

    The timetable Assad is aiming for is rather similar too: Burma had a major uprising that was violently and ruthlessly suppressed in 2007 with many activists killed and imprisoned and many more escaping into exile. Four years later the junta relaxed things a bit and released the opposition’s star-leader (a personality the Syrian opposition does not have) and allowed her and her party (the National League for Democracy) to take part in by-elections contesting a mere 7% of the total seats in parliament (46 seats) of which they will probably win 40, that’s not even 10% of the If you look at what Assad and Co.’s “reforms” you’ll more or less find a similar sort of deceit: an equally suspect “new” constitution, followed by parliamentary elections and eventually a presidential election, with pretty much expected results. This kind of set-up would be Assad and Co.’s absolute wet-dream.

    The main point of difference is the existence of the armed Syrian opposition in major cities inside the country as opposed to the many armed ethnic groups fighting the Burmese government in hinterland/border areas, but just like the Syrian opposition they were never allowed to gain the upper hand by the regional powers who controlled their arms supplies both quantitatively and qualitatively.

    All in all I am afraid I don’t share your or the article’s view that the Burmese example is one from which we can take lessons to help us achieve the freedom, justice and dignity we have been longing for. Instead we will get a facade of “democracy” with many of the same old players still in control sucking the nation’s blood for another generation at least, probably much longer.

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  60. Oops, one sentence incomplete in the second paragraph, 7th line: should go on to say

    “…not even 10% of the remaining “free” 3/4s of parliamentary seats, and rigging future general elections is not something the generals would be shy about doing if they felt that the NLD might get a majority.”

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  61. MGB & Zenobia,

    I don’t know nearly enough about Myanmar’s political struggle to comment on this subject.
    I read this article a few days ago, thought to share it…

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/30/the_success_of_sanctions?page=0,0

    _____

    I must agree with MGB I don’t really trust this Syrian regime to ever reform, they will try to package whatever they want and call it a reform package which would ultimately constitute to pretty much forgive and forget or else…

    I read many people advocating a solution of that sort, but the biggest flaw of such a solution is the lack of any accountability, we Syrians would be falling back into silence because of fear, and all of the dead, tortured, raped, imprisoned and all of the victims of this barbarity would never see justice, while the criminals that perpetrated these crimes will be hailed as heroes that saved Syria.

    Such a solution is just futile and ultimately a betrayal to all the victims, the victimizers cannot be trusted to properly reform themselves, it must be forced onto them not externally but internally by the will of the very same victims the Syrian people.

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  62. Hello there. I missed you. Just read non stop Samar Yazbek’s “taqâto’ nirân” in the French translation (Feux croisés) where she relates the Syrian revolution between March 25 and July 9 2011. Samar collects testimonies from almost all over the country and they are much worse than what the video clips showed us. Just as Sheila’s brother related said the people are being slaughtered indiscriminately. A total madhouse.

    And the nizam wants us to believe that it “won”, that it is over ? (see this article in LeGrandSoir : http://www.legrandsoir.info/comment-le-regime-est-sorti-gagnant-de-la-guerre-universelle-contre-la-syrie.html).

    Some Western leftist have me puke. In the same issue there is another article by Sister Agnès-Mariam de la Croix.

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  63. Excellent point Zenobia, “use the international interests to further the national interests” like what? I do agree that it is only way to get out of this stalemate. Their interests are more inline with the regime than the people. I will be very interested in your response. I think MGB, and perhaps SOD, are interested as well.

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  64. “Adopt” the Syrian uprising, supporters in Germany urge

    BERLIN // Activists in Germany are supporting the Syrian uprising by raising money and smuggling cash, mobile phones and laptops into the country to help opposition groups organise peaceful demonstrations.

    Their Adopt a Revolution programme (www.adoptrevolution.org) is modelled on charities that seek sponsors to “adopt” children in poor countries, or rainforest trees, through regular donations.

    Based in a secret location in Berlin, it says it has raised almost €120,000 (Dh588,000) from 1,400 sponsors across Germany since it was launched late last year, and is supporting some 30 so-called “local coordination committees” in Syria.

    It was founded by two Germans, Elias Perabo, a political scientist, and Andre Find, an expert on online campaigns, as well as by a Syrian expatriate, Aktham Abazid. They have set up a network of helpers and couriers to transport equipment and cash and to maintain contacts with the opposition groups.

    “A lot of the money goes toward renting secret apartments for activists,” Mr Find told The National in a telephone interview. “Our aim is to support their political work, so we also supply digital cameras, laptops and materials for demonstration such as fabric and spray paint for making banners. You need authorisation from the secret service to buy certain types of spray paints in Syria so it has to be purchased on the black market where it is pretty expensive.”

    The equipment enables the protesters to communicate with each other and record the demonstrations and show the activities of Syrian authorities on the internet.

    Mr Find, 31, said he and his colleagues had been struck by the lack of grassroots support for the Arab Spring in Germany and Europe, and wanted to give people a chance to help and show support.

    “It’s not primarily about the money, €120,000 isn’t that much. What’s more important is that we’re showing the Syrians that they’re not alone, and we want to encourage the groups to carry on their unarmed resistance.

    “We have received feedback from many committees who say that they’ve been organising this uprising for months and got virtually no support from abroad, and that this is the first time they’ve been helped. They no longer feel forgotten.”

    Mr Find said the scheme doesn’t want help from governments because that would allow the Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad, to claim that the revolution was being financed by foreign powers. “We want this to come from ordinary citizens to help fellow citizens in Syria.”

    While it is impossible to rule out that the money may be used to buy weapons, Adopt a Revolution said it vets the groups closely and has contacts on the ground in Syria to check where the cash is going.

    Paying for weapons would get Adopt a Revolution in trouble with the German authorities. Besides, the group believes that in the end, only peaceful demonstrations can topple Mr Al Assad.

    “In a war, the extremely strong Syrian army knows how to proceed, but the army is totally helpless when demonstrations are constantly held all over the place,” Mr Find said. “I’m not saying the Free Syrian Army hasn’t played its part, but Assad knows that even if he gets the military situation under control, he can’t control the minds of the people.”

    Adopt a Revolution asks the committees to submit regular reports and publishes them on its website.

    One report posted by an anonymous member of a group in northern Syria said it had used €1,800 to buy internet connections as well as a mobile loudspeaker system “to spread our message better and to give signals for the demonstration to disperse quickly. That is extremely important so that everyone can get away in time when we suddenly hear that the military or secret services are approaching the demonstration.”

    Mr Find has little doubt that his scheme is being monitored by Syria’s secret service. A member of Adopt a Revolution’s advisory council, Ferhad Ahma, who belongs to the opposition Syrian National Council, was attacked and injured by two men in his Berlin apartment in December, prompting the German government to warn Syria not to intimidate activists in Germany.

    “I don’t think he was beaten up because of his involvement in Adopt a Revolution, but it shows what Syrian agents in this country are still capable of,” said Mr Find.

    The work, which involves monitoring video feeds from Syria and staying in touch with contacts, can be harrowing, said Mr Find. “Sadly, we’ve had cases where we lost contact with someone and then heard later that they had been injured or arrested.” One courier has been killed en route.

    Smuggling goods is still possible because of the length of Syria’s borders with Turkey and Jordan. The supply of money is being aided by the depreciation of the Syrian pound. That is prompting wealthy families to act as “private banks” in which a family member in Germany takes euros and tells a relative in Syria to pay out the equivalent amount in pounds.

    Mr Find says Berlin could do far more to assist the revolution, for example by severing diplomatic ties with Syria, easing asylum restrictions and offering medical assistance to injured protesters.

    Like

  65. Malki supported US invasion to unseat Iraq’s dictator, today, he is supporting Syria’s dictator in killing Syrians. “we reject attempts to bring down the regime by force, because it will leave a wider crisis in the region,”

    Like

  66. People – it is not about ‘trusting’ the regime. No, the regime never has been and never will be in good faith no matter what it says. It is not about trusting or believing in this long term compromise.
    The goal is to move the ball forward and to de-escalate the crisis while advancing a reform agenda. It doesn’t matter what the will of the regime is ultimately. They must be cornered, manipulated, and maneuvered slowly but surely forward.
    The Burmese Junta does not have to be in good faith either – a democracy agenda and political reform agenda is proceeding and Aung Sang Suu Kyi is not saying – we will eat no pie because we have only part of the pie. The process is what is more important. And there is no concession – to saying that one is settling for one tenth or one quarter of a pie forever… only that one begins.

    what do I mean by the international interests should be used to advance the national interests??
    Nothing amazing…. only the obvious.
    I mean that the only power strong enough to make demands on the Syrian regime and to influence the outcome on this situation without resorting to militarization and without creating a civil war – is Russia.
    The opposition much go to bed with the Russians and offer them the staring role and the incentives to advance their interests in conjunction with the interests of the internal opposition and of a new Syria.

    Like

  67. Zenobia,

    wooing the russians may have worked right at the beginning when Syrians were willing to accept as friend anyone who would help them get their freedom. But now after so much blood and several shipments of weapons from Russia that helped in spilling that blood plus the UN vetos and other Lavrov activity against the revolution, how can Russia believe and trust that the replacement for the Assadist Mafiosi and Associates would really continue to favor it and protect its interests? the foreign policy of a democratic Syria isn’t such a sure thing for the Russians. OTOH, they know very well that a dictatorship so dependent on them for its survival will deliver what it promises, so why would they help destroy such a structure? To gain Brownie points with the Syrian people? I doubt it.

    Annie,

    Leftists aren’t all completely against the revolution, though most of them have been rather suspicious due to the involvement of the west in it. I’d say that many regime loyalists have cynically “used” those suspicions to peddle the regime view, the perfect example of that is the article you linked. But in the same site (I’ve never been there before) I found this:

    http://www.legrandsoir.info/seuls-les-travailleurs-les-paysans-et-la-jeunesse-sauront-se-defaire-du-regime-dictatorial-de-bachar-al-assad-et-liberer-le.html

    Which at least acknowledges that there IS a dictatorship in Syria and does not completely swallow that crap about “the valiant Syrian government that is standing up to the imperialist/zionist-supporting west”. But I do accept that the left’s position so far has been rather shameful.

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  68. [blockquote]

    Maliki supported US invasion to unseat Iraq’s dictator, today, he is supporting Syria’s dictator in killing Syrians. “we reject attempts to bring down the regime by force, because it will leave a wider crisis in the region,”
    [/blockquote]

    Hypocrisy, thy name is Maliki.

    Like

  69. Thank you MGB for pointing to http://www.legrandsoir.info/seuls-les-travailleurs-les-paysans-et-la-jeunesse-sauront-se-defaire-du-regime-dictatorial-de-bachar-al-assad-et-liberer-le.html.

    I received by e-mail this text by the Tarabut-Hithabrut movement, which “supports unequivocally the Syrian people in their struggle for their liberty and their rights”.

    It refutes all the arguments used by the anti-imperialists against the Revolution. I have not found the original link. So, I copied the text here below

    http://bandannie.com/2012/04/02/supporting-the-syrian-people-fighting-for-their-freedom-a-response-to-widespread-objections/

    Like

  70. شكراً Annie, a well-reasoned article and a principled stand that I wish the rest of the world’s anti-imperialist leftists and politicians in the rising economies would adopt.

    Like

  71. MGB,
    it is not about “believing”…it is about making commitments and agreements with consequences.
    I am not advocating lying to the Russians or that they should just hope to get ‘brownie points’… sounds like you think i am talking about some kind of charade by both parties. I am talking about actual commitments for the near future.
    I really don’t think the Russians care WHO they do business with or sell their weapons to…. if they thought that the country will become so bankrupt and destroyed increasingly and the future of Syria will inevitably be with the opposition – they will shift their allegiance. The dictatorship that is going broke – will not be able to deliver endlessly or reliably in an uncertain future. And if brokering a transition will re-establish their own power and prestige – they will choose to be the front player.

    They are only refusing to be the back player losing their strategic ally and caving to Nato and the US. And if not given the lead – they will continue to thwart progress and be spoilers, and drag on as long as possible. But even now- they are having problems politically speaking being this bad guy. It is not a comfortable spot for them – internationally- whereas the Assad are used to be pariah and don’t care.

    I disagree about you contention that this was only possible in beginning. Quite the contrary, it is only becoming increasingly possible. The Russians will not be taken for a free ride. And they are only contemplating now – their tenuous position and what options they have. They want Kofi Annan to come to them. And they will demand their role. They will not go easily. So- this would not have happened in the beginning. It is only the start now…

    Like

  72. Russian FM urges Assad to begin withdrawing troops from Syria’s cities
    By AVET DEMOURIAN
    Associated Press

    2 April 2012

    Associated Press Newswires

    YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) – Syria’s government must take the first step toward settling the country’s conflict by pulling troops from city streets, Russia’s foreign minister said Monday, raising pressure on an old ally.

    While Sergey Lavrov added that the country’s opposition forces should quickly follow suit and withdraw too, his statement appeared to reflect Moscow’s increasing impatience with Syrian ruler Bashar Assad.

    Russia, along with China, has twice shielded President Assad from United Nations sanctions over his crackdown on an uprising in which more than 9,000 people have been killed. But Moscow also has strongly supported a plan to settle the crisis by Kofi Annan, the joint U.N. and Arab League envoy for Syria.

    “The Syrian government must take the first step and start the troop withdrawal in line with Kofi Annan’s plan,” Lavrov said at a briefing in Yerevan following talks with his Armenian counterpart.

    Lavrov’s statement challenged the stance taken by the Syrian government, which has said it wouldn’t withdraw forces from towns and cities until life returns to normal. He added, however, that the opposition needs to reciprocate quickly.

    “Unless the beginning of such withdrawal isn’t accompanied by a similar action by all those fighting the government of Syria, I don’t think we will achieve any result,” he added.

    Lavrov warned the West against giving ultimatums to Damascus, saying that the priority now should be to separate the warring parties and open the way for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

    “Ultimatums and artificial deadlines rarely help,” he said. “We all want a quick end to bloodshed, but that demand should be addressed to all warring parties in Syria.”

    Lavrov said Russia had chosen not to attend Sunday’s meeting of the “Friends of the Syrian People” in Turkey’s second biggest city Istanbul because its organizers had failed to invite Syrian government representatives.

    “I think such an approach is dangerous and contradicts Kofi Annan’s efforts,” he said. “We are trying to be friends of all the Syrians, and not just some part of the Syrian people.”

    He said that Moscow will soon host two separate opposition delegations for talks.

    Like

  73. ps,
    as far as I am understanding – internal opposition has already been meeting with the Russians and trying to develop this negotiation.

    Like

  74. Dear 7ee6anis
    Must read and please distribute. This is an article by Amal Hanano, in which she delves into the details of the early days of the Syrian Revolution, exposing, with her superb story telling style and with her passionate commitment to Syria the regime’s lies and the pathetic case of its defenders and propagandists.

    The Syrian schoolboys who sparked a revolution

    Amal shows that she is not just an outstanding Syrian-American writer, but also a superb Journalist as she narrates the events of Daraa. Please spread.

    Like

  75. “You disrespected the president, but he has decided to pardon you.” I detest him passionately. I was told the word “Hate” is politically incorrect to use.

    Under his watchful eyes and big heart, 70 000 Syrians where-about is unknown, more than 11 000 Syrians dead, over 200 000 apprehended in the past year, yet we encounter those who say, “we are not pro regime but against YOUR revolution” the pretentious camp as Syrian Hamster describes them.

    The article that Annie posted answers their “fear”. These are the main points. The article deals with each point realistically. Some are sectarian in disguise, as Syrian Hamster points, yet they are many who are non-Syrians and from all walks of life, who invoke these points.

    Thanks Annie & MGB for highlighting the article. I think it is must read.

     There are those who say that the Syrian regime is anti-imperialist and comprises the last barrier to Western domination in our region.

     Protesters against the regime are peons in an imperialist plot

     The Syrian regime defends the Palestinian resistance

     The social protest is primarily a struggle between ethnic groups. The regime defends ethnic minorities and especially the Alawi group, which might suffer from a Sunni takeover.

     A large part of the Syrian people supports the regime, as many as oppose it if not more.

     Opposition to the Asad regime is armed and therefore not popular and not legitimate

     What about international intervention?

     What will happen when the regime falls? A worse regime will rise in its place.

    http://bandannie.com/2012/04/02/supporting-the-syrian-people-fighting-for-their-freedom-a-response-to-widespread-objections/

    Like

  76. Nobody know what “future Syria” will ultimately do or what it will purchase, but it can’t really be worse than the current Syria purchasing them now.

    @ Shami,

    i am not a “copy/paste” of said person because i have never read or heard anything he said.

    Are you a copy paste of every absolutist out there right now living in a fantasy of what you can militarily achieve, and attempting to discredit those who don’t agree with you???

    Like

  77. ps to Shami,
    I should add however, that I should be honored if I share the ideas of a person who I am aware that so many people respect.

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  78. by the way OTW,
    really….on this little point – of purchasing weapons…I find it ironic to even say – because…what exactly is the alternative ( I would be in favor of not purchasing weapons at all but…) would you prefer that Syria by “outdated” weapons for who??? the United States? KSA? who?
    Is there someone else selling who is so preferable?

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  79. Is there anyone living in Syria who is not effected by this bloody family, the Assads?
    From the very well off, to the have to the have not….from the pro to the anti… directly and indirectly

    It saddens me to see people finding excuses, inventing excuses or more, openly and blatantly lying to save one man? To see families feuding over a mortal. To see blood spilling, children dying, women and men wailing over their loved ones, because of the desire of one family, to stay in power against the will of the people. Is this what we have succumbed to. Idolizing a family. Let us say 50 percent of the people are anti, and he is the best man for Syrians and non-Syrians, after so long let us compromise.

    How could anyone with a grain of humanity watch what is happening without being moved? How can we be so foolish? So brainwashed? So indifferent to all the pain and suffering?

    This is far worse than the wars on Gaza and Lebanon combined, it is even worse than the American invasion on Iraq. We know that these who are killing, torturing and maiming are as Syrians as the victims themselves. It is worse than the civil war in Lebanon, because we lived the Lebanese civil war, we saw the price they are still paying to this day.

    The West is still watching our suffering with eyes wide shut. We know why, the enemy today is us against us, for the survivor of a butcher son of a butcher. It is time to change for the future of the people of Syria.

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  80. Zenobia,
    I think I understand what you’re trying to say though I fear I may have failed to relay my thoughts clearly. I don’t think you’re suggesting anyone should lie or engage in a charade; my point was that the Russians have a stronger incentive to have the regime stay in place since a dictatorship not answerable to the people can promise the Russians loyalty, while the revolution/opposition could neither promise nor deliver on anything since they would be held accountable to the people on the ground who, NOW after a year of bloodshed accomplished with Russia’s help, are extremely angry at Russia and would therefore not accept to continue the same relationship that the regime has had with her. So basically it would be meaningless and foolish for Russia to take the side of the opposition knowing that it stood to lose a lot by doing so.

    I agree with Haytham Manna3 that the opposition should have approached the Russians (and the Iranians too, I’d argue) right from the start and tried to involve them and assure them that the New Syria at least would not act against Russian (and Iranian) interests. Had they done that they would have once and for all exposed where Russia and Iran really stood. But unfortunately the opposition did not do that for all sorts of reasons (well, let’s face it, mainly because a powerful segment in the opposition had already decided that the New Syria should change tack and be solidly facing westwards!), so the Russians (and Iranians) felt their interests threatened and, well, you know the rest.

    I believe the Russians at this stage are not convinced of the inevitability of the regime’s demise and are therefore playing along with the UN/Anan game 1)to deflect international criticism and 2) to give the regime more time to snuff out the uprising (notice how Lavrov said ultimatums and deadlines should not be imposed). “Snuffing out” does not necessarily mean going back to the status quo of Feb. ’11, but for Assad to carry on with his charade “grand reform plan” (!) and achieve a Burma-like outcome where there is this great commotion and noise about elections, etc. while the ASMAA stay in real control and the population’s attention is meanwhile diverted towards material things: re-establishing/rebuilding their lives and livelihoods after all the regression they experienced in the last six months.

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  81. @ MGB,

    you might be right about everything.
    But I am in favor of finding out for certain by taking seriously this mode of direction and I think there is more to lose in going to the other direction.
    I think you are right about the previous and current view of the Russians that they believed their interests are safer and more secure just sticking with the regime, but if you believe – as I do- that the regime will continue not to be able to snuff out the opposition and that the power structure will continue to erode slowly but surely no matter what…. then I think one can predict that there will be a tipping point where the regime will look like a bad bet. I think it is already getting there.
    Couple this possible scenario with the fact that the Russians – although not minding to look sort of like a bad guy- basically are still part of the international community and need to stay somewhere in the realm of reasonable..in addition to being like all nation states in that they ‘have their price’ so to speak…. I think they will be amenable to being turned in some form.

    Will they be turned out of altruism and morality. No way. But they have their price – and some combination of positive outcome for them, face saving, security, and ability to actually elevate their standing by being actually the broker of positive negotiations or outcomes- is still worth something to them, as it is to all countries.
    In contrast, What will it be worth to them to keep control over a country that continues to tank economically, disintegrate internally, potentially fall into a civil war, and perhaps even be taken over by more and more militancy and entities that will engender long standing hatred for them.
    I don’t believe that they are not worried about that and about looking good to some degree on the world stage.
    So, perhaps they hedge their bets now – playing along with contrasting hopes similar to the regimes that maybe they can play ball for awhile and then reverse course. I am not doubting that there are likely these motives by some of their leadership. but probably – as with the Syrian regime there are those cogs in the system who are actually believing the reform talk, and some who are just pure treacherous strategists.
    Nonetheless, I believe in the value of the AS IF…

    that is to say, perhaps the Burmese Junta is still filled with people who are putting on a show of compromise with the full intention of never allowing full power sharing or certainly not a full political marginalization of the military parties.
    However, does this matter in terms of actually develops among the people? The people start to fully participate – they taste the possibilities. They start to create. It will be hard to undo later.
    Similarly – the Syrians can start somewhere – gain some ground…. move the ball forward as I said….foot by foot….and with enough breathing room – there is a kind of momentum that can be created that will be impossible for either the regime or the Russian backers to undo or reverse.
    It is already there in its nascent form. It is already happening…. in terms of the opening up that has occurred in the more quiet and not so quiet opposition communities of the urban centers. They are ready to take more ground if given even the slightest opportunity. And if they are offered even a pro forma stake…. I believe that this will result very quickly into a real gain that will be impossible to reverse. The regime has always known this (they are not dealing with a intellectually cowed population….as as Aung San Suu Kyi said of the Burmese it is shocking how quick people wake up)…. and this is why they could barely allow any kind of organizing or even talking for christ sakes… in the early 2000s. They are terrified of allowing it to take hold.
    But they are already forced right now to allow more than they did before…. because they are at full capacity and busy killing people in the peripheral areas. And they are also afraid to go all out in crackdown in Damas and Aleppo. They know they cannot anymore…or they will lose it all.
    So if the brokering with the Russians can create even a few yards more of maneuvering room….it can only result in more fuel to the fire brewing….and more oxygen to the flames…and the possibilty of seizeing more mental and psychological territory.
    Don’t underestimate the importance of this….I want to say.
    It is truly the most important part in the long run picture… and it will happen now or later…..

    but in the meantime it would be good to cease the mass killing going on mainly outside the urban centers, and this is something the Russians could force to happen if they wanted to or made the commitment to do.

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  82. Surely you don’t believe that all of our problems would be solved if one man, or even one family could be got rid of, do you, N.Z.? There are, in your words, Syrians killing Syrians, not to protect one man or one family but to protect themselves because he (and his father before him) has involved them in his criminal regime and they feel they and their own families have no future, even no life, in the free Syria the rest want. That’s why the SNC and all other opposition groups must almost on a daily basis speak out to them and repeatedly tell them that their throats won’t be slit if and when the Assadist regime goes.

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  83. MGB, to confirm your point, one of his men, Ja’fari, was giving a lecture on how the friends of Syria want to hijack Anann’s 6 point plan. Funny, no?

    I

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  84. Fadwa Suleiman, a true Syrian, a true patriot, a Syrian woman in the span of one year has done to Syrian Alawites what Assad’s had failed to do in 40 plus years. She is not a follower, she is a true leader, her name will enter history with other heroes of the Syrian revolution.

    Like

  85. Zenobia,

    Stopping the violence is what I wish for too, and would favor a totally pacifist approach if I truly believed it would work in this case, but I think the Assadist thugs need to be deterred by the existence of a well armed element of the revolution/opposition that does not carry out offensive operations but sends a message that the Assadist forces cannot shoot at civilian demonstrators with impunity and without consequences. So a ceasefire, yes; disarming/stopping the arming of the opposition, not yet.

    It is already in the wee hours of the morning where I am so I will say goodnight.

    Like

  86. 8 more days given to the regime by Kofi Annan.

    What is one big event that Syria’s enemy can do in Syria or Lebanon to create utter chaos?

    I hope this will never happen, Hassan Nasrallah gets assassinated in the same way that they assassinated Hariri in Beirut? The same way the enemies of Iraq bombed the Al-Asquari mosque.

    Ghazi Kana’n committed suicide by inflicting two bullets to his own head, Mughniyeh was assassinated in the middle of Damascus in daylight time. So was Hariri.

    This is a mafia, they know no friends, no ties.

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  87. not to keep you up MGB,
    but the Assad thugs are sooooo f*ing happy to have an armed opposition – that they can then go after with everything they got with more impunity than if they were faced with ‘pacifists’ as you call them.

    They are relieved to have armed “terrorists” to point to….and make claims about and thus further brainwash at least a percentage of their people and at least scare the shit out of the rest.

    An intelligence, unarmed, erudite, urban, middle class, opposition of people at a table is their worst nightmare of all……

    all i am going to say for today…..sleep on that…

    Like

  88. Razan Saffour, another hero of the Syrian Revolution. Imprisoned by the thug and his men. She is as defiant. Because of Razan and millions like Razan.

    My Sister’s 2nd Poem
    By RazanSpeaks

    Back in September my sister (who is directly older than me, and has a disability called cerebral palsy) wrote a poem about Syria. Read it here: razanspeaks.wordpress.com/2011/09/29/my-sisters-poem/
    Ever since then I’ve been encouraging her to write another poem.

    “But I can’t Razan, it’s very difficult to write poems.”
    “Not for you, you have a talent. Just try, pick the pen up and I’m sure the words will just flow out of it like magic.”
    *She blushes and laughs uncertainly*
    “Come onnn Rouba, remember how viral your last poem went? Everyone loved it so much they kept sharing it for a whole 2 weeks and kept asking me when the next one was coming out..”
    “I remember. Okay.. I’ll try.”
    “Good. Tell me when you manage to write one.”

    Come January and my sister had managed to write another poem, just as lovely as her first one which made me shed tears just as the first one did, but I was unable to share it on here because I was too caught up with so many other things. With sincere apologies to my sister, and without further ado, I present you her second poem –

    This is a poem about:

    P eople are protesting for Freedom
    E veryone works together
    A round we go helping people
    C almly and friendly
    E veryone wants peace

    by Rouba Saffour

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  89. Syria FM spokesperson Jihad Makdisi`s “battle to topple the regime is over” and they are chanting, Allahu Akbar!

    I say Allahu Akabar. In Syria we all say “Allah is Great”. Alawites, Christians, Druze, Muslims: Ismaiilis, Shiites and Sunnis. These men are Syrians and they are determined to topple “the regime”.

    From Twitter:
    تباً لكل شبيحٍ أسدي تباً لكل علوي طائفي تباً لكل شيعي منحاز تباً لكل سني متخاذل. تباً الانسانية تُقتل في سوريا بإسمكم

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  90. Good morning All.

    But my dear Zenobia you know very well that the AsMAA invented an armed “opposition” right from day one to justify their murderous crackdown. So even if FSA and all armed factions were to lay down their arms publicly the AsMaa will send in their civilian-dressed shabbiha to play the role of armed gangs and will call them “rogue terrorists/alQaeda” to justify its continued attacks on the people. You just watch what happens between now and April 10 and then beyond.

    BTW, if you’re interested, there has been good coverage of the Burmese situation on the Australia network’s Newsline http://australianetwork.com/newsline/ There are 4 segments and if you have time I would urge watching all, definitely 2,3&4. So many parallels with the Syrian situation and what we can expect in the future, but of course many differences too, most important of which is that Syria doesn’t have a Nobel Peace Laureate for an opposition main figure, no Israel next door, and no complicating factor called Iran (though China and other surrounding regional players have tacitly,often openly supported the junta and are now gushing with praise for the latest developments so they can get in there and make more money openly rather than on the sly).

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  91. Zenobia,

    I think the opposition should present a coherent economic strategy and an financial and economic policy. Lets admit it, Syria (like Biritain), is a nation of shopkeepers, and its suicide when you ignore the economic aspect of nation-building when you claim to be the replacement of the current regime and the solution to problems. I think it was a grave mistake not to formulate economic policies from day 1 – this would have had a different effect on Damascus, Aleppo, and even on USA, Turkey, and the Gulf.

    One of the decisive factors and pillars of this regime is the support it got from the big business and industrial classes inside Syria, this was forumlated in the ‘Corrective Movement of 1970 Assad”. I suggest you read more about the “Corrective Movement of ’70 Assad” and how the State tacitly agreed to ditch socialism in favour of crony capitalism.

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  92. @ MGB,

    I think is one is determined to find reasons (no matter how much supposition is involved) to say why everything but a full on war won’t work – you can come up with myriad. But when the stakes are at the level that I and the military joint chiefs, and plenty other say it is- I think it doesn’t serve anyone to keep coming up with excuses really for why no other solutions should be pursued.
    As for the Assad regime propaganda tactics – they work for a time to a certain degree – and then they lose credibility also.
    My contention is that if the internal urban opposition continues to grow and can maintain its non militancy – it will be impossible to ‘fabricate’ threats as was possible and has been possible – in the outer areas, when there is sometimes also an element of truth and when the paranoid projections become a self fulfilling prophecy. As I said – the regime projects and they are overjoyed when their projections become reality enough for them to ‘confirm’ their claims of violent armed ‘terrorists’ and rogues to the larger population that is confined to the big cities.
    This only succeeds for a time. But it would start to fail completely when the alternatives start to overshadow the fabrications and the subterfuge.

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  93. MGB,

    “So even if FSA and all armed factions were to lay down their arms publicly the AsMaa will send in their civilian-dressed shabbiha to play the role of armed gangs and will call them “rogue terrorists/alQaeda” to justify its continued attacks on the people. You just watch what happens between now and April 10 and then beyond.”

    You are correct in your assessment that even if the FSA lay down their arms the criminal regime would continue to blame the opposition to be armed, and use that as a justification to further mow down the innocent. However if you look at the past year the opposition was able to get more international backing, and were able to influence the outcome of events much better when the opposition came out in numbers.

    Paying salaries to the FSA is fine, but thats just half the step. The other half is not what most would think (which is paying for arms), but of setting up a fund to pay state employee salaries, to make sure they have money for the police force, the fire brigade, ambulances, medical care… If the SNC wants to be considered as the legitimate representative of the Syrian opposition they need to act like it, they need to start establishing reasons why they can replace the regime (albeit temporarily until elections).

    Every time the regime says “us or chaos” the SNC needs to counter that with its Chaos, or Democracy and these are the reasons why… they need to explain that by replacing this criminal regime the state can survive.

    To concentrate on just an armed resistance without working on ways in which they can help mediate the transition is rather counterproductive.

    I agree with Zenobia in regards to the Russians, the opposition should have an office there where they send a person everyday to knock on the Kremlin door and try to establish better relations with them and help alleviate any fears they have when it comes to their interests. I am not sure who said this and don’t have time to look it up : “Countries don’t have permanent friends, they have permanent interests”.

    Antoine,

    The corrective movement was when Syria stopped progressing, don’t know how you can claim that helped the business community when most businesses were nationalized then…

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  94. The children of Dera’a has been the spoiler of the new scheme in the middle east, in addition to the unstoppable defiance Syrians are showing in the face of bloody oppression. Their heroism is legendary, they earned the respect of friends and foes alike. They will not be defeated.

    The latest player in the circus of nations is Maliki. How can this Iraqi regime in the span of one year change course. From accusing Damascus to protecting the regime in Damascus.

    All are hiding behind Russia and China. They are all vicious children toying with peoples’ lives.

    The only thing that is working for Syrians, they did not allow the deadliest card “sectarianism” to take place in their revolution. The west lost, their schemes shattered in the face of an unarmed people that was faced with the worse kinds of brutality ever known to man.

    I wish the world can learn from Syrians. I hope that religion will never be used to invoke, rather used to build common ground.

    I am so proud to call myself Syrian, always been proud of my Arab culture and my Syrian upbringing.

    Once these pampered marionettes in the Arab world tumble, one by one, only then we can blame ourselves for wrongdoing. Can the West leave us fend for ourselves?

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  95. Son of Damascus,
    thanks for your added thoughts. I agree very much, and even with Antoine’s previous comment about the necessity of the articulation of a coherent economic strategy – and financial policy by any opposition ( a severe failing of the SNC to even appear as if they have a strong enough plan and support internally to carry it out).

    I too was confused by A’s reference to the Corrective movement. It is my understanding that this was the point of movement towards soviet style socialist/communist policy and nationalization of businesses. Maybe he is trying to say that the part and parcel corruption still grew out of this- hypocritically/ironically, by virtue of it total economic failure.
    However, the real crony capitalism was what took hold in the middle of this past decade. Unfettered market opening with zero policy to deal with corruption.

    This problem – one would think- would be the number one ‘campaign’ issue of any new party attempting to sell itself and capable of governing a new Syria.

    Like

  96. Tartous is calm. People are fed up, from all walks of life. They are fed up with rise of prices, salaries were not raised. Last year, there was one uprising from a local mosque, 50 people came out chanting, down with the regime, they were surrounded by 500 shabih. They were all taken, beaten, some were released. This city is a mixture of Syrians Alawites and Syrian Sunni. The former are always reminded that they will be wiped off when the regime falls. A sizable portion are anti-assad. They know that he is lying, but like the rest of Syrians they cannot express their discontent. They remain silent or face death and destruction.

    Like

  97. The corrective movement was when Syria stopped progressing, don’t know how you can claim that helped the business community when most businesses were nationalized then…

    You are correct when you say this….what happened was Assad ditched socialsim for crony capitalism. He nationalised mainly the small and medium size business and insudtries, mainly in smaller cities like Hama and Homs. He left big business, and big industry intact. You are right that Syria stopped progressing, bcz it lost the very base of its industrialization – the samm and medium enterprisies – and with it came massive unemployment in Hama and Homs. But the fact is that before 1970, the Baath Party was hostile to all business – big or small, due to the “officlas line” of Salah Jadid and Noureddin al-Atassi. After 1970, they changed their standards – socialism only for small businessmen and only for Hama and Homs, capitalism for Damascus.

    Can you name me 2 prominent industries that were nationalized by Assad in 1970 ?

    Like

  98. Antoine,

    “what happened was Assad ditched socialsim for crony capitalism”

    That was besho, not Havez

    “he nationalised mainly the small and medium size business and insudtries, mainly in smaller cities like Hama and Homs.”

    No he nationalized all big industries, the small and medium ones if effected were not on the same scale as the large industries.

    “But the fact is that before 1970, the Baath Party was hostile to all business – big or small, due to the “officlas line” of Salah Jadid and Noureddin al-Atassi. After 1970, they changed their standards – socialism only for small businessmen and only for Hama and Homs, capitalism for Damascus”

    You are mixing up facts a lot, yes the Baath party was hostile to businesses but the major nationalization process did not come into effect until the corrective movement.

    “Can you name me 2 prominent industries that were nationalized by Assad in 1970 ?”

    Cement factories, banks, insurance companies, even biscuit factories….

    Antoine my family and many friends families was directly affected by the corrective movement, many of the prominent families ended up leaving Damascus in the 70’s and made their money in the Gulf/Europe/Americas. Many returned when Besho opened up the economy (albeit in the crony capitalistic type of way)…

    Like

  99. الخارج لا يتحرك إلا بعد أن يتحرك الداخل، أي أن الداخل يحرك الخارج ويفرض عليه إيقاعه.وكل من يراهن على الخارج ساذج.تحركوا فيتحرك معكم العالم

    And this story,

    زار رئيس لبناني معاد لسوريا امريكا قبل 30 عاما،فأخبره مسؤول أمريكي كبير بأن امريكا ستقلب نظام الحكم في سوريا،ففرح كثيرا، ثم أخبر مسؤولا أمريكيا آخر بالأمر، فضحك المسؤول من سذاجة الرئيس اللبناني قائلاً له إن زميله كذب عليه لسبب وجيه: فلو قال لك إننا سنتفاوض مع النظام السوري لكنت في دمشق غداً، وهو ما لانريده

    الدكتور فيصل القاسم

    Like

  100. please clarify what is “big business” and “big industry”….??? A.

    How big is big.

    My father’s cousins had extremely successful businesses…industrial….that were nationalized. And then the cousins left Syria for Lebanon and Jordan and restarted their enterprises there. I don’t know if one could say they were “small or medium”….they were very successful well off industrial manufacturing type entrepreneurs. This doesn’t seem small by Syria standards.

    Like

  101. Zenobia, what you are saying makes a whole lot of sense on paper, but is nonsense on the ground in Syria. You are always indignant when I tell you that you do not really understand Syria, but this is the truth. In your perfectly logical mind, the existence of the FSA is giving the regime the excuse they need to murder the population. In Syria’s reality: the regime does not need an excuse to murder the people. So whether the FSA exists or not, the regime will continue the indiscriminate killing, the only difference is that with the FSA, the people at least have a chance to survive. Thinking that arming the FSA will cause more killings only makes sense if you are a normal human being who lives in a normal country and grew up in a normal world. In Syria’s world, tanks roll into cities, villages and towns, kids are tortured and killed, women are raped and the president will look you in the eye and say: we do not have tanks in any city while the tank is standing as his backdrop. There are experiences that you have to go through to understand the intricacies of Syria. You do not have these experiences. You did not live in Syria, you did not experience what these thugs are capable of doing and you are not under fire everyday and unable to feed your kids. An Alawi friend of mine who has business dealings with the Assads told me once: you have no idea what these people are like. They are animals. They are capable of anything.
    So please, stop preaching peaceful demonstrations. Been there, done that. It simply did not work. We are now faced with the reality that Bashar simply will not give up power willingly. Our options are very limited. The best one is arming the FSA. In addition to giving the people a chance to defend themselves, this will also open up the doors for more defections. We all understand that no matter how much you give the FSA, they will be no match for the professional army. Our hope is that this army is going to fall apart as defections increase and as the regime runs out of money. We are hoping that the regime will eventually crumble from within. We need more time and the only way to get time is by hindering the regime from annihilating the peaceful demonstrations for good before it falls apart itself.

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  102. Sheila,
    actually I didn’t say one damn thing about “peaceful demonstrations”…. please quote me if you think I did???? where is it???

    I get indignant because you don’t know me and don’t know what I understand or don’t understand. You have an opinion and that’s it.
    Period. .

    Actually if I wanted to play devils advocate I could very easily assert that the increase in activity of the FSA actully INCREASE the number of deaths. And there are plenty of Syrians who think that is true. Since where the FSA went -so went the increased assault by heavy army forces.

    You can’t base it on whether I am Syrian born or American born because I have a fare number of contacts who are Syrian born and who are inside Syria right now and who agree with my viewpoint.
    It is such a lame copout argument by the way….. really weak:….”you didn’t live in Syria so you don’t know what they are capable of…..”
    really? all you have to do is read the history and talk to people and see it day and night on the TV.
    I never understood why you think my argument has anything to do with my assessment of how bad the capability of violence is. Lets pretend for a second that I think it actually is the worst in all of history.
    It doesn’t change my logic for one damn second. If you don’t see that -then you don’t understand me at all….and should just give up criticizing or take a step back and realize that it has nothing to do with – how violent the regime is. In fact the more they are capable of doing in terms of level of atrocity – the greater is the reason NOT to participate in a contest of strength of violent force. All such actions will be futile on the playing field of an adversary who has no restraint and no moral standards to uphold.
    Do you not get this??

    I frankly think you don’t know very much about violence and systems of violence or analysis of conflict or war.
    Should I condescend to you now about how obviously ignorant you are in this area of logic or your lack of insight into this field of knowlege??
    Should I tell you to stop talking because you know nothing about it??

    So many Syrians at this moment are full of hubris – and there own sense of exceptionalism – believing that somehow Syrian violence is different from other entho-religious violence and conflicts. It’s not.
    Every conflict arena has its own details and nuances and idiosyncratic aspects and complications, but strikingly – you can analysis conflict situations around the world and the behavior of militaries, dictators, paramilitaries, death squads, and violent authoritarian regimes and find very similar dynamic and patterns of behavior – and predictable scenarios.

    I hate to break the news to you Syrians, but your conflict, war, revolution is not actually that incredibly unique. And guess what – shocking as it may seem – Assad and company are NOT IN FACT the most brutal or amazing rulers of all history….as wonderfully hystrionic as that sounds.
    You need to get off your exceptionalist high horse of suffering and let people who actually know about this stuff give some advice and direction. And I don’t mean me. but I know enough to know that this not incomprehensible or unheard of in terms of the

    There are no guarantees, but actually – living in Syria for decades or your whole live does not in any way – give one the large scope knowledge or insight to know how to manage this situation. In fact it seems to have created people with severe blinders on who know only defeat or the language and rationale and methods of their oppressors, and that seems to include you Sheila, sorry to say, even though you keep qualifying it by claiming that somehow – because reality is what it is right now – that must be the only possible way.

    You actually haven’t been anywhere Sheila, nor done anything, so why don’t you stop trying to tell me that somehow you have or can read the crystal ball.

    I will keep asserting (or preaching if you will) what I know to be true and correct UNIVERSALLY and in terms of HUMAN NATURE or truths, and if you don’t buy it that is your prerogative.
    Are Syrians different from all other humans on the planet – are their natures and dynamics different from all others?
    NO, they are not. Nothing that has happened has proven them different. And amazing and horrifying as it seems – they are not different at a core level from their Iraqi neighbors or their Lebanese brothers.
    So lets take a page why don’t you.
    Nor are the Assad gov’t so incredibly complex and unique in human history or the history or the history of oppressors and their violent ways.

    Are they smarter than all the Syrians combined? Because you seem to think they are…

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  103. PS

    ARMING the FSA is an atrocious and suicidal idea. End of Story.
    YOu are not diminishing anything.
    The only thing you and I can agree on is that we need more time and that we hope the regime will continue to rot out from the inside…but why bother letting them have their way with an armed insurgency made up of real people.
    I can moralize people tooo….you only care about children and women….but you are willing to tell as many young men as possible to pick up an gun and lose his life!!!
    You are sending them to die….basically.

    Like

  104. I vividly remember, an older man in Baba Amr coming out of his house, talking to an armed Free Syrian Army, he said to him, we do not mind if you finish all the Assad men, but if you cannot there is no need to instigate/incite them. More or less is what he said. He was not angry of the honourable free men defending him, he knew that they are doing their best, at the same time he knows very well the viciousness of the enemy.

    It is a situation, two sides, one has legitimate right to their demands, the other side is powerful and has no legitimacy. Arming or not arming, people are losing their lives. Period.

    What I think was a great step forward, paying these honourable men their dues, it is a positive step in the right direction. I am pretty sure that these men, when the moment comes they will not hesitate, they will defect, once they have their families life secure. They do not want to kill their countrymen and they do not want to get killed.

    In this day and age, it is beyond comprehensible what this regime is doing. We are for the first time seeing as it is happening, sor over a year. It is crystal clear, who the two sides are. A government killing civilians because they dared open their mouth. This is an Abu Ghraib on a daily basis. We are witnessing the horrors as they are happening, but the world reaction is numb. Why? I have no clue.

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  105. Assad’s brutality isn’t the worst in history. It bothers me when people compare Bashar to Hitler and say that humanity has never seen such massacres. People have been through worse conditions in the past and will also suffer in the future.

    But this revolution is very special and perhaps unique. The world is in awe of the courage of the Syrian people, their perseverance and sacrifice, and for the creativity and beauty of the protests. It’s hard to believe that the arrest of boys in Daraa sparked an uprising of the long dormant Syrian people who are forcing global powers to put on the theater of diplomatic action.

    I remember March 24, 2011, as being a pivotal day as many Syrians were evaluating a difficult choice: do I protest the deaths of my compatriots in Daraa or do I stay out of trouble. They made the choice and we know the rest of the story.

    Peaceful protests are keeping this revolution going. Even if people are protected by armed men the demonstrations themselves is still a peaceful affair: neighbors and relatives meet and talk about life and politics and join in chants and songs that are still cathartic. It never gets old saying يلعن روحك يا حافظ or taking in the latest local rendition of يا إيراني كلبك ودع.

    If Syrians stop the protests the revolution is over and the FSA will be isolated. But the people will not stop unless they are under total siege, a status that Assad’s soldiers can’t maintain. Force hasn’t crushed the revolution and the regime will not be able to placate the people, bringing us to the now familiar stalemate.

    Annan’s plan may succeed in bringing about an orderly transition. Doubtful, but there is chance. Arming the FSA, creating safe zones and direct military action are other options, with arming the FSA being the most realistic and perhaps cheapest. It applies direct pressure on the regime at the cost of more lives being wasted. If the FSA remains without a sponsor it’s likely that fewer people would die but we will still be in a deadly stalemate that threatens regional stability.

    The FSA will receive weapons. Destroying more Syrian tanks and infrastructure serves the interests of many countries – weakening the military is probably better for Syrians in the long run too. We won’t have to be too concerned about a military coup or undue control of the army over civilian affairs and it could force Israel’s hand to settle the Golan issue and come to peace. (If we don’t have tanks, artillery and missiles, Israel can’t be threatened by us and would have a weaker case to continue its violation of U.N. resolution 242.

    Anti-tank missiles, stingers and many instruments of death can neutralize the crappy tanks, planes and helicopters we paid Russia for all these years. If Assad’s soldiers can’t move around, more pockets will be liberated, etc. Then we win, take over the squares, sing songs and wake up with a huge hangover.

    All the options for Syria are ugly. People are fighting for freedom and democracy, but will end up with militias, foreign intervention, paranoid minorities with itchy trigger fingers, victims seeking revenge, Islamists, terrorists, political opportunists and dozens of other maladies. And hope, hope that the Syrian people will continue to surprise the world again and overcome these challenges. I will always choose that over an eternity of bliss in Assad’s Syria.

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  106. S.O.D,

    I must admit I am saying much on hearsay. I have heard from Homsi Syrians, exiled sionce 1963, that the Atassis in 1963 were the main protagonists of nationalization, and that Assad in 1970 gave a bit of “relief” to the upper classes by launching the Corrective Movement.

    I must admit the person I heard this from is not free from biases, since he is an active member of the SSNP.

    Like

  107. I hate to break the news to you Syrians, but your conflict, war, revolution is not actually that incredibly unique. And guess what – shocking as it may seem – Assad and company are NOT IN FACT the most brutal or amazing rulers of all history….as wonderfully hystrionic as that sounds.

    Zenobia,

    Just my opinion. But what is going on in Syria is a revolution, and I can’t see this thing ending with some sort of “peace agreement” with the Assads remaining in power.

    When you have a bad marriage where the husband and wife have totally lost trust, there is no good way to keep the two people together. How can Assad remain in power after all that he has done?

    There have been freedom and independence wars fought all over the world, and none of them are pretty and some of them have been worse than what we are seeing in Syria. True.

    However, the fastest and best way to end this conflict is to arm the opposition.

    The other crucial aspect of all this is the opposition. Can they set up a new government?

    Will Syria be like Libya? I tend to trust the people, their ability to care for themselves and their ability to map out their own future.

    I agree 100% with Halabi above.

    Like

  108. Syrian Scenarios by Manjal al-Sarraj
    1. A person suffering from autism stands in front of the camera and makes us witness the scars of the whipping and electrocution on his chest, legs and arms. His eyes are swollen, his cheeks black and blue, his lips split, yet he continues to smile. He is happy to be filmed and to soak up the attention.

    2. The little girl lost her mother. Everyone was preoccupied with escorting the martyr to her final resting place, with the revolution, with the slogans. The girl closed the door behind her and drew an image of her mother with chalk on the floor of the room. Beside it she wrote‘Mummy’. She fell asleep embracing her drawing.

    3. One wounded ankle is bleeding, the other is covered by a sock adorned with a red ball. A girl, four years of age, with a shoe size of 27, was not rushed to hospital. They treated her in the same way that they treated all the patient revolutionaries – at home, in hiding, and without anaesthetic. As the bullet was removed from her ankle, she screamed in pain. The doctor tried to calm her: ‘Soon the pain will be gone!’

    4. A three-year-old child knew his faith and his Lord, knew his friend from his foe, knew his path from the moment they killed his mother. He led protests every day, chanting ‘Allahu Akbar, takbeer! Allahu Akbar, takbeer! The President will fall!’ And he would repeat, ‘Allahu Akbar, the People Want the Execution of the President!’ He looks in anger from the corner of his eye and inspires those present to follow his lead and to also call: ‘Takbeer! Takbeer!’

    read more below :
    http://www.musliminstitute.org/blogs/front-featured/syrian-scenarios-manhal-al-sarraj

    Manhal al-Sarraj is a Syrian novelist based in Sweden. Her first novel, As the River Must, considers the Hama massacre of 1982, and is banned in Syria.

    Like

  109. Yassin Haj Saleh has a column in the NYTimes today.

    April 10, 2011
    Prisoner of Damascus
    By YASSIN AL-HAJ SALEH

    Damascus, Syria

    IN all my 50 years, I have never held a passport. Other than visiting Lebanon, I’d never left Syria when, in the fall of 2004, I was barred from leaving the country. I tried many times afterward to get a passport, but to no avail.

    I spent 16 years of my youth in my country’s prisons, incarcerated for being a member of a communist pro-democracy group. During the recent protests, many more friends have been detained — most of them young — under the government’s catch-all emergency laws.

    The state of emergency, under which Syria has lived for 48 years, has extended the ruling elite’s authority into all spheres of Syrians’ public and private lives, and there is nothing to stop the regime from using this power to abuse the Syrian population. Today, promises follow one after the other that these all-pervasive restrictions will be lifted. But one must ask, will it be possible for the Baath Party to rule Syria without the state of emergency that has for so long sustained it?

    The official pretext for the emergency laws is the country’s state of war with Israel. However, restricting Syrians’ freedoms did no good in the 1967 war, which ended with the occupation of the Golan Heights, nor did it help in any other confrontations with the Jewish state, nor in any true emergencies. Because in the government’s eyes everything has been an emergency for the last half-century, nothing is an emergency.

    Syria’s struggle against an aggressive Israel has encouraged the militarization of political life — a development that has been particularly favorable to single-party rule. And the suspension of the rule of law has created an environment conducive to the growth of a new ruling elite.

    In 2005, the Baath Party decided, without any serious public discussion, to move toward what was dubbed a “social market economy.” It was supposed to combine competition and private initiative with a good measure of traditional socialism. In reality, as the state retreated, new monopolies arose and the quality of goods and services declined. Because local courts are corrupt and lack independence, grievances could not be fairly heard. Add to that a venal and idle bureaucracy, and the supposed economic reforms became a justification for the appropriation of economic power for the benefit of the rich and powerful.

    Economic liberalization was in no way linked to political liberalization. After a half-century of “socialist” rule, a new aristocratic class has risen in Syria that does not accept the principles of equality, accountability or the rule of law. It was no accident that protesters in the cities of Dara’a and Latakia went after the property of this feared and hated aristocracy, most notably that of President Bashar al-Assad’s cousin Rami Makhlouf, a businessman who controls the country’s cellphone network and, more than anyone else, represents the intertwining of power and wealth in Syria.

    Today’s ruling class has undeservedly accumulated alarming material and political power. Its members are fundamentally disengaged from the everyday realities of the majority of Syrians and no longer hear their muffled voices. In recent years, a culture of contempt for the public has developed among them.

    Although some argue that the demonstrations are religiously motivated, there is no indication that Islamists have played a major role in the recent protests, though many began in mosques. Believers praying in mosques are the only “gatherings” the government cannot disperse, and religious texts are the only “opinions” the government cannot suppress. Rather than Islamist slogans, the most prominent chant raised in the Rifai Mosque in Damascus on April 1 was “One, one, one, the Syrian people are one!” Syrians want freedom, and they are fully aware that it cannot be sown in the soil of fear, which Montesquieu deemed the fount of all tyranny. We know this better than anyone else.

    A search for equality, justice, dignity and freedom — not religion — is what compels Syrians to engage in protests today. It has spurred many of them to overcome their fear of the government and is putting the regime on the defensive.

    The Syrian regime enjoys broader support than did Hosni Mubarak in Egypt or Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia. This is a source of strength, and one that Mr. Assad appears not to consider when he relies on the security forces to quell protests. If the regime is to keep any of its deeply damaged legitimacy, it will have to answer the protesters’ demands and recognize the popular longing for freedom and equality.

    Whatever the outcome of the protests, Syria has a difficult road ahead. Between the pains of oppression and the hardships of liberation, I of course prefer the latter. Personally, I want to live nowhere but in Syria, although I am looking forward to acquiring a passport to visit my brothers in Europe, whom I have not seen for 10 years. I also want, finally, to feel safe.

    Yassin al-Haj Saleh is a writer and political activist. This essay was translated from the Arabic.

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  110. @ Halabi

    I like your summary. Grim, hopeful, reality.

    Akbar, you know i disagree with your prescription, but just to clarify…. I don’t know where the “end” is…. when is the “end”….but there will be some point – for certain – where the Assads will be out forever. I and think it will realistically be awhile- … a year, three years…i have no idea, but it will be longer than anyone would like – but nobody will accept that they stay.
    My advocating is for choices about the path and the approach – not about a compromised “end”…. I want the same end and will only accept the same end as anyone else on this blog.

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  111. Zenobia,
    Thank you for condescending to my intellectual level and responding to my lack of logic. I, personally, neither think that Syrians are unique creatures, nor that the Syrian situation is unmatched in history. You are right when you say that there have been worse situations and worse dictators. I do not dispute that. Where we do not see eye to eye is when you contend that: “In fact the more they are capable of doing in terms of level of atrocity – the greater is the reason NOT to participate in a contest of strength of violent force”. This is where your ignorance in Syria comes into play. As logical as your statement sounds, it does not work in Syria. The attempts to find other solutions that do not involve force, have failed miserably. What I and many other Syrians want is not to go head to head with the regime, because we know that we cannot win. What we are hoping for is that if our side has more power and support that the regime will collapse from within. You can write books on methods to use to dislodge a dictator and I guarantee you that nothing would work in Syria. This is beyond a dictatorship. Syria is ruled by organized criminals. This should help the revolution, because at one point when the money runs out, they will lose interest. Thinking that the regime can be part of the solution is naïve at best. Thinking that they will negotiate themselves out of power is a complete fallacy. I now want to quote you: “All such actions will be futile on the playing field of an adversary who has no restraint and no moral standards to uphold”. Those actions include direct dialogue and negotiations. What other options do we have short of retreating and accepting defeat? You tell me.

    You said: “I can moralize people tooo….you only care about children and women….but you are willing to tell as many young men as possible to pick up an gun and lose his life!!!
    You are sending them to die….basically.” The reality is Zenobia, they are already dying in their beds, in their houses and in prison under torture. Let’s give them a chance at least to defend themselves.

    Like

  112. This is fresh from Twitter:

    نؤكدعدم تواجدمظاهر مسلحةفي حي الغوطةالذي امتدإليه القصف عصراليوم وهوحي تحول منذأسابيع لملجأكبيريضم مئات العائلات النازحة ‎‫#حمص‪‏ ‎‫#سورية‪‏
    16m Samsom homs Samsom homs ‏ @Samsomhoms

    Intense shelling on #Homs from the morning untilnow. #Assad forces have resumed the use of rocket launchers extensively. #Syria

    “Parts of my neighborhood (Ghouta) is being attacked right now. It’s being shelled for the first time. Why? No one knows. No FSA here.”

    Like

  113. تفاصيل لقائي بالرئيس

    ” هو لقاءٌ افتراضي بيني وبين بشار الأسد “

    ..

    كَيفَ تشربُ قهوتك ؟

    عادية ً .. أم مُرةً .. أم سُكر زيادة ..!

    أم أنّ قانون الطبيبِ بداخلك يُنئيكَ عن

    رشفةِ السَمراء ..

    خوفاً على القلبِ والشريانِ و الأمعاء ..

    خُذ رشفة ً منها و ثِقْ بي ..

    فالعِلمُ اثبتَ انها تُنظم فوضوية الأفكار

    و تُحفِّزُ عقلكَ الخامل ..

    و تجلو ما تراكم في دماغكَ من غباء ..

    ماذا .. هل مسستُ كرامتك ؟

    هل أهنتُ سيادتك ؟

    كلا , لا أظُن .. فأنتَ فُقتَ الذئب

    مكراً و دهاء ..

    فَخُذ رشفةً منها , و استرح

    و خُذ نفساً عميقاً و عُدَّ معي

    اربعة , واحد , اثنان , سبعة , اثنان و خمسون …

    ماذا دهاك ؟ لِمَ نظرة الشّكِ التي تُحاصرني بها ؟

    ألم تسمع ؟ ألم يصلكَ خبرُ الأرقامِ بعد ؟

    تغيرت لغةُ الأرقام منذُ سنةٍ أو تزيد

    و بِتنا نبدأ العَدّ منذ أن سقط الشَهيد

    فأولُ الأرقام كان أربعة , ثم يتبعهُ واحدٌ ثم اثنان ثم سبعة

    و هكذا , سنكملُ ماتبقّى لنا من وجعٍ أو حياة ..

    فَخُذ رشفة ً أخرى و عُدّ معي أو لا تَعُدّ ..

    لنا من صفحةِ التاريخِ ما اخترنا

    و لك من لعنةِ التاريخِ ما أنتَ تُريد ..

    و الآنَ إذ تصحو تخيل ..

    أن طفلاً يُرددُ بارتباكٍ نشيدهُ الوطني

    و يمسكُ كفّ والدهِ المُسجّى فوق نعشه

    لا شيء يُوحي بوحشيةِ الأبِ المقتول ..

    لا يداهُ تحتضنُ السلاحَ

    و لا تُحيطُ بخصرهِ حِزمُ القنابل ,

    لا شيءَ إلاّ قطعة الخُبزِ ممزوجةً بالدمِ السائل

    كعادتهِ كان يمضي ليطرُد الجُوعَ عن جسدِ الصغير

    و خُطاهُ تُسرعُ في تعثُرها ..

    حين فاحت نشوة الدمِ من ضحكة القنّاص

    و أرْدتِ الأبَ مقتولاً ..

    لم يكُن طائشاً ذاكَ الرصاص ,

    فكُلُ رصاصةٍ خطفت من الأرواحِ ما خطفت

    مصقولةً سلفاً بنار البربرية ..

    فالفرقُ بين الموتِ و الحياة في شريعتكم

    يُقاسُ بطلقةٍ من بندقية ..

    و الآنَ .. إذ تدنو يداكَ لرشفةٍ أخرى تذكر

    كم يداً بُترت .. ذنبها انها امتدت تُطالبُ بالعدالة

    و أنتَ تحيكُ من دفء الفراشِ غمامةً

    و تنامُ مُنتشياً تذكر

    كم من أبٍ باتَ مثقوب الفؤاد ,

    و يقُظُّ مضجعهُ سؤاله ..

    و انت تمارسُ حقكَ اليومي من ترفِ الحياة تذكر

    وطناً يُقاومُ منذ عامٍ شهقة الموتِ الأخيرة ..

    فالموتُ و الحياةُ في شريعتكم

    تُقاسُ بطلقةٍ من بُندقية ..!

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  114. Here is a list of 16 “martyrs” who were buried today at the Tishreen Military Hospital today, according to SANA –

    Colonel Mohammad Ahmad Suleiman for Tartous.

    -Lieutenant Colonel Hammoud Mohammad Kamal Eddin from Damascus Countryside.

    -Chief Warrant Officer Sameer Ahmad Ismael from Tartous

    -Sergeant Major Alaa Abdullah from Lattakia

    -Sergeant Iyhab Aziz Haydar from Tartous

    -Sergeant Radwan Ali al-Hussein from Hama

    -Sergeant Anas Ahmad al-Deeb from Daraa

    -Sergeant Zuhair Ali Sultan from Lattakia

    -Sergeant Ali Mohammad Ali from Hama

    -Sergeant Motaz Shukri al-Rihyji from Lattakia

    -Conscript Qasim Hassan Kaka from Aleppo

    -Conscript Hameed Mustafa Tama from Aleppo

    -Conscript Khalid Ibrahim al-Salih from Deir Ezzor

    -Conscript Mohammad Ahmad al- Hussein from Deir Ezzor

    -Conscript Ahmad Dahir al-Hussein from Deir Ezzor

    -Conscript Mohammad Kanjo al-Shami from Idleb

    Not saying anything, but cld not help notice the preponderance of Alawite names ( 8 out of 16). And the fact that all the Conscpripts are not from that sect. Its useless to keep ion denying sectariansim and hiding from it, infact sectariansim is a major, I would say Tthe biggest, feature of this revolution. At least it has become so.

    http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2012/04/04/410519.htm

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  115. This was posted on Facebook:
    لا زلنا في مرحلة مناقشة سلمية الثورة من عدمها …وتناسينا أننا وصلنا إلى مرحلة يفرض علينا الواقع ما نفعله وليس ما نريد فعله

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  116. Who is Noura al Jizawi ? Never heard of her before, but seems to be a pretty important activist. Googled her name but couldn;t get any background information.

    It is noteworthy that JAD and SNK of Syria-Comment have already called her a Salafist terrorist, and has criticised the SNC for campaigning for the release of a “terrorist” like Noura al Jizawy ?

    Though I must say JAD and SNK are as low as they come.

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  117. All the options for Syria are ugly. People are fighting for freedom and democracy, but will end up with militias, foreign intervention, paranoid minorities with itchy trigger fingers, victims seeking revenge, Islamists, terrorists, political opportunists and dozens of other maladies. And hope, hope that the Syrian people will continue to surprise the world again and overcome these challenges.

    unfortunately, hope is not a course of action, so I don’t necessarily put my “hopes” on the Syrian public, especially if the leaders of society (intellectuals, philosophers and artists) can’t articulate a rational basis for individual liberties.

    crony capitalism

    ‎”crony capitalism” is capitalism like “christian science” is science

    However, the real crony capitalism was what took hold in the middle of this past decade. Unfettered market opening with zero policy to deal with corruption.

    Actually the real problem is with the mixed economies of the past and today, corruption being a logical outcome of such systems [and also of the bad ideas that the voters of today hold to and support]. “Crony capitalism” is an oxymoron. To advocate for a fettered market system is to advocate for a mixed economy and more of today’s problems. What we instead should be demanding is pure unfettered capitalism with the sole role of government being the protection of individual rights.

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  118. @Sheila:
    “This is where your ignorance in Syria comes into play. As logical as your statement sounds, it does not work in Syria. The attempts to find other solutions that do not involve force, have failed miserably. ”

    I wholeheartedly reject your assessment.
    YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WORKS IN SYRIA BECAUSE THE STORY IS NOT OVER!…. IN FACT IT BARELY STARTED.

    I am not sure what fantasy scenarios people are acting by if they think that REAL revolutionary movements and changes take ONE YEAR.
    This is absurd, naive, ignorant, and foolhardy as a premise.

    on the subject of OTHER SOLUTIONS…. 90 % percent of ‘solutions’ have not even been executed….and most of the real strategic plans have been pre-empted by warmongering and impatience and pathetic infighting and incompetence of a lot of external opposition that has stolen the spotlight, attention, resources, and pushed out of the light – what would be really viable and more significant efforts that should be the one supported and given the time and resources to succeed.
    No matter, this is what will succeed if anything will in the long run – in addition to the economic rotting out from the inside.

    ““All such actions will be futile on the playing field of an adversary who has no restraint and no moral standards to uphold”. Those actions include direct dialogue and negotiations. ”

    WRONG.
    Actually- you know I am very clear – that I am referring to military actions. It DOES NOT INCLUDE NEGOTIATIONS or any other strategic efforts.

    I could care less about demonstrations at this moment- unless they will be in the center of Damascus or Aleppo – in which case – I am all for it. Syrians know how to demonstrate. And the security forces clearly are very timid to full on attack the center of Damas or Alep demonstrations. They do a minimal attack to assert power but they know better than to go all out.
    All efforts should be directed as they are now – with some building intensity but need to continue steadfastly – in the areas of coalition building inside.
    In addition, why wait for the aftermaths – Syria needs a reconciliation process in place and activated RIGHT NOW. None of the is either illegal or attract any attention at all hardly because it looks positively benign to security compared to their focus on the FSA or on pummeling part of Homs or Idleb.

    In addition- internal opposition needs to continue to build its collective community – build coalitions, expand, and from what I heard has already been approaching Russian authorities, Iranians, and the Annan project – to assert their presence and goals- separate from the high profile opportunistic SNC and other pro-military intervention camps/Friends of Syria and so forth.
    These internal activist need to be supported and built up continuously in order to make strategic planning possible and for actually planning and platform building – and the substantiating of a sizable internal base for governing – that has been completely pathetic and lacking in the larger opposition groups – particularly those based outside Syria.

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  119. Dear Sheila,

    Having grown up in the circles I did, I have had the unfortunate displeasure of shaking hands with the devils that are ruling our country. One of them once (I’ll leave it for you to guess whom it is) was boasting to me how he is God, he told me that he can take and give life away on just a whim, happily proclaiming “if I want you to live you live, if I want you dead all I have to do is think it, I am bigger than God”.

    We are not dealing with a small group of people of an over zealous mafia gangster mentality, but with barbarians that think they are god. They have been preparing for such a thing for over 30 years, 19 different secret service agencies all of which along on keeping tabs on us, they keep tabs on each other. This is a regime built on not crumbling from within, but to withstand any attempts to do that, and to brutally crush any inner discontent.

    In order to be successful we need to concentrate on their weak points, not their strong points. Politically speaking the weakest moment this regime saw in the past year was when Hama was free and life was normal there, people went about, shops opened, it showed the Syrian people that there is a viable alternative to this demonic regime.

    The weakest moment of this revolution was when Baba Amr was back in the regime hands, for 27 days mercilessly and systematically bombarded, virtually cut off from the rest of the world but for a little generator and a satellite connection and brave souls that broadcasted to the world the horrors they witnessed (even that would face the scorn of the Assadieh). When Baba Amr fell and the subsequent massacres started to take place it felt like the revolution was quashed a sense of outrage and defeatism, some Homsis felt betrayed by the FSA, while others were happy they would escape to fight another day. The only thing that kept it alive was when the Homsis of Khaldieh, Bab Dreib, and else where came out and protested and showed the world we won’t back down, they might bombard us, rape us, imprison us in our own city, but we won’t bow down in cowardice.

    The biggest lesson that Baba Amr taught us is that Hama can happen again, because it did. And the sickest part about it, it started almost exactly the same time as Hama only 30 years later (the significance of which should not be counted as a coincidence).

    Every time the FSA gained a foot, the civilians lost a mile for the regime is willing not only to punish the FSA but the civilian population that the FSA needs to help sustain it. Without proper communication, command structure, bases of operations (and forward operating bases), constant supply and resupply in terms of men and material (especially in combat zones), heavy arms, training, and state backing the FSA has no chance. While the Syrian Army has all of that and then some, and an over eager will to use it without blinking an eye.

    The tipping point will come when our birth cities rise in such numbers that a military solution would be impossible, in enough numbers that the very legitimacy the regime has over the state is stripped it away from them, and the army has no chance but to switch sides.

    I hope you understand that I reserve nothing but respect to the brave soldiers that defected, many of them had to overcome difficulties that is unimaginable for most people, the right of self defence is a covenant that must be taken in the face of such evil barbarity. The only indignation I reserve is towards the coward monsters that are maiming our country, and the fools that trumpet their cause blindly while callously egging them on to cleanse and disinfect Syria of us.

    The reason why I don’t call for wholesale arming the FSA, is because I would be calling and condoning the death of Syrians because they don’t agree with me, how would that make me any different from them?

    In my view rising in the face of such callous barbarity is the most powerful weapon we can use, and without it we are doomed to lose.

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  120. Those who are still deceived by their Bashar I urge you to read Maysaloon’s article.
    Understand the future by examining the past.

    A Word On The Syrian Independence Flag

    Several times I have heard people who support Assad derisively label the Syrian independence flag as “that French mandate” flag. For some reason these people think that this flag is a product of Syria’s former colonial masters, and that it is fitting that a revolution that they consider to be a foreign plot against the regime would choose such a flag. This is patently untrue and demonstrates a lack of knowledge in the country’s history. If anything the Syrian independence flag represents the best of everything that is Syrian, and its history gives us some startling insight into the present.

    In 1933 the French colonial authorities suspended the Syrian constitution of 1930 and tried to impose an independence treaty that would have left them in control of Syria’s coastal mountains. There was an immediate uproar and widespread demonstrations and strikes. There was also immense support throughout the Arab world, with protests in what are today Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan. This period of crisis reached its climax with the Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence, which was the first time that a treaty was made with a recognised representative of the Syrian people, the National Bloc, under Hashem al Atassi. al Atassi, who was the prime minister of the short lived Kingdom of Syria under King Feisal, returned to Syria and was made the first president of the Syrian Republic. This independence flag was made the national flag of all of Syria, including Syria’s coastal mountains and what might have become a separate Alawite Syrian state under the French.

    The main goal of the National Bloc was to achieve independence through non-violent and diplomatic means, and they succeeded. Today the Syrian opposition would do well to remember how Syria’s freedom was initially won, and how the Syrian Republic had been born. The general strike that eventually forced the French to the negotiating table paralysed the country, and could not be quashed violently. Ironically it had its roots in an event held by the National Bloc commemorating the death of another national hero of Syria’s fight for independence, and once a prominent National Bloc leader himself, Ibrahim Hanano. Hanano had fought the French and led an armed uprising, with Ataturk’s help, centred around the Idlib and Aleppo regions. It was soon crushed when the Turk’s withdrew military assistance, but it cemented Hananu’s reputation in Syrian history, having already fought for King Feisal’s Arab Army. When the heads of the National Bloc were arrested by the French, mass protests and a strike were called. The series of events culminating in the Independence Treaty of 1936 can be traced from here, and with that, the path to the new Syrian independence flag.

    Today that flag has been chosen by many of the Syrian opposition as representative of those who do not wish Assad or his family to rule the country anymore, and in it they find an authentic representation and nostalgia for a better Syria where life was not governed by fear. Cynical attempts by detractors of the Syrian revolution – in both its armed and peaceful components – ignore the enormous personal bravery and conviction required for any Syrian to dare challenge Assad’s rule and stand up against his injustice. They choose to simply see things in a black and white world of power politics and a West versus the Rest perspective. In doing so they deny the Syrian people any agency, and also deny them the right to make their own mistakes and aspire for a better future for themselves and their country.

    Everything about this flag, the background of the movement that made it a symbol for Syria, and the figures that fought for it to become so, is steeped in principles rooted in a hope for a better country that is free and good for all its people. Should the Syrian people decide one day to once again make this flag Syria’s official flag, then it is not because the current flag is any less legitimate, but because the independence flag represents that hope. To describe it flippantly as a “colonial” flag is an insult.

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  121. Sooooo gracefully said Son of Damascus. Really Truly.

    I want to clarify/reiterate myself – that I don’t blame any FSA or the citizen who rely on them or have resorted to them…. at all for the stand they have taken or for asserting their right to protect themselves. It is perfectly understandable and unavoidable.
    If I want negotiations at this moment – it is not to sacrifice the future or accept the status quo on going – it is ONLY to try to bring the fighting to a stop and to bring a cease fire to prevent more destruction and killing in the peripheral areas and in these already demolished neighborhoods and communities. I do not want the FSA in all its myriad forms to be hung out to dry or left to be killed- when it is clear that realistically – as SOD has said so eloquently – it is impossible for the resources necessary to be achieved to win a military fight (even if I did not object to it on anti-violence grounds)- it is not happening. Therefore – i see ‘negotiation’ not as a political negotiation about the future but about immediate mechanisms for deescalating violence and killing as much as possible. It would be my hope that if such a phase is possible – it will create room to maneuver and for planning in how to protect defected soldiers. When soldiers in the Army began defecting many many months ago – now – it was never my hope that they form an alternate military. I thought that the general Riyad Assad- sounded like a dope when I heard him on the radio broadcasting in Canada – and his main assurance of how they could win against the Syrian Army … he told the interviewer ….was that they are the “real Syrians” and they more “heart” than the others fighting for the regime army. This was all he said!…. they have bigger hearts and they are real…. that was his sole explanation for why they would succeed.
    Anyhow my point is that ….this is foolish….and the truth is…defectors need protection and a place to escape to, no question…but they need to be political spoke people to encourage more defection….not to become another unprepared unequipped army.
    They are better serving simply by leaving the Syrian Army period. That in itself is their courageous act.

    Meanwhile, as Son of Damascus said – that I want to add my ditto x 10… the key is here:

    “The tipping point will come when our birth cities rise in such numbers that a military solution would be impossible, in enough numbers that the very legitimacy the regime has over the state is stripped it away from them, and the army has no chance but to switch sides. “

    when even a hundred thousand prominent Damascenes and Aleppians refuse to serve the state publicly and another hundred thousand surreptitiously disobey with painful structural results to the regime, then you will have truly be able to say we have a viable revolution…..

    Some people do not have the patience to see this out….to wait for it to organically happen – even though – it is growing as we speak now…. like flower that if you stare at it seems to be still but the next time you look has grown bigger than the last time you measured it….
    but if we are impatient and seek a seemingly expedient result born out of the barrel of a gun…. the final result will be a bloody mess, and a structural mess, and an unprepared and unorganized leaderless mess…. and one with only stench of revenge floating around in its bowels… people waiting for opportunities to exact repayment.

    There is so much work to be done – and maybe this work should start now… if only a little breathing room can be negotiated… with no intention of allowing anybody to shift backwards.
    I don’t think anybody on any level is fooled to think it will ever be able to go backwards, regress ….
    There is only forward- on any path… but we have choices. People still have choices.

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  122. @Zenobia,
    This is the last time I address this issue with you (This does not mean that I will not discuss other issues with you in the future). It is obvious that we are in complete disagreement and neither of us will change her mind. I respect your opinion but respectfully disagree.

    You said: “YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WORKS IN SYRIA BECAUSE THE STORY IS NOT OVER!…. IN FACT IT BARELY STARTED”.
    Wrong. It started in 1979 and it is still on going.

    You said: “on the subject of OTHER SOLUTIONS…. 90 % percent of ‘solutions’ have not even been executed“.
    Like what? Enlighten us.

    You said: “I could care less about demonstrations at this moment- unless they will be in the center of Damascus or Aleppo – in which case – I am all for it. Syrians know how to demonstrate. And the security forces clearly are very timid to full on attack the center of Damas or Alep demonstrations. They do a minimal attack to assert power but they know better than to go all out”.
    Wrong again. They have no problem going all out in Damascus and in Aleppo and they will. In 1980 they opened fire in one of the best areas of Aleppo on unarmed demonstrators. Many died. To this day no one knows how many. The next day, a big pile of bodies was left outside covered with tarp. They did it then and they will do it today.

    You said: “why wait for the aftermaths – Syria needs a reconciliation process in place and activated RIGHT NOW. None of the is either illegal or attract any attention at all hardly because it looks positively benign to security compared to their focus on the FSA or on pummeling part of Homs or Idleb”.
    Wrong one more time. Remember the Damascus spring? They were all rounded up and thrown in prison. In Syria, there is no such thing as legal or illegal activity because there is no rule of law. If the Mukhabarat finds out that you are doing any kind of activity without clearing it first with them, kiss your life goodbye. May I also ask you to tell me when do you suppose Syrians are going to work on this process? In the dark without electricity, in the cold without heat or while they are standing in line to buy bread if they can afford it?

    You said: “In addition- internal opposition needs to continue to build its collective community – build coalitions, expand, and from what I heard has already been approaching Russian authorities, Iranians, and the Annan project – to assert their presence and goals- separate from the high profile opportunistic SNC and other pro-military intervention camps/Friends of Syria and so forth”.
    Have you missed the intense pressure that was put on the SNC from no other than the internal opposition to call for military intervention? All you have to do is read the signs.

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  123. Sheila,
    there are dramatic activities that are going on in Damascus right now – that would not have been able to happen even one year ago.
    There are demonstrations happening in Damas in which most of the people are not in fact being killed.
    This is no 1980 and it is not even last year.
    Neither is it 2005. Yes they did crack down on the Damascus Declaration – but there is language and organizing going on wayyyyy more significant than the Damascus Declaration going on – and it is so many people that there is no way in hell that the authorities can address it. As well – they are not able to stop it without losing ground …. so they are biding their time… but meanwhile – this organizing and development is gaining ground not losing ground and this has been reported by many people now – including by own people like Hazrid, other activists, and analysts like that of Crisis Group. Amidst the horror going on in the peripheral areas and with individuals targeted in the big capitals – still there is incredible positive movement and developments and that is what I am saying is optimistic and significant and will be the decisive factor in the final outcome if it is not overshadowed by negative developments like militarization or destructive intervention from outside.

    I think you are mistaking your ‘internal opposition’ for another than whom I am referring to. Obviously – young activist in the outer cities under siege are asking for increased militarization – but I am not talking about them…. because they have very little room to move at this point and yes, the electricity might be out, due to the fighting….they are now depleted.

    I am referring to internal opposition and activist inside the two urban centers – and – albeit there is a lot of stress and anxiety and caution, and slow internet and diminished electricity. People are not that bad off that they cannot continue their organizing.

    this opposition is completely against military intervention from outside and of increased armaments coming into Syria, and against the SNC speaking for everyone as they have been.

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  124. The long history of dissent may be decades old….and YES, revolt and dissidents and resistance has been going on since the seventies, but this is an unprecedented moment in time right now – and every day – the possibilities shift – more openings, and then closing, options and closed options…but either you pretend that everything that happened this year is just repetition, or you recognize its uniqueness and change….
    You did not have even the population – and the youth – that is now alive..in 1980. Nor is the functioning of media and information transfer anything like it previously was.
    Nor did people think what has happened this year – would ever be possible. So – open your eyes…..
    I am so glad I did not live in Syria… because may be I would just think that I was forever living in a closed box with no imagination and no sense of the possibilities.

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  125. Dear SOD,
    I don not know if you remember that a few months ago, I was one of the ardent supporters of keeping the revolution peaceful. As time went by, I changed my mind. It is the reality on the ground that made me switch sides and believe that our only option is arming the FSA.
    My brother just came back from Syria and I had the chance to hear what is happening there from a very reliable source to me. He is also involved with both the regime and the opposition due to his position. He is a very strong supporter of arming the FSA.
    I know that this regime is built on not crumbling from within, but this is not an unconditional truth. As you said they do have their weak points. They are all mini Gods that coalesce together by power and money. Without us, the people, that they can step over with impunity, they loose their God status. Without power and money, their existence is meaningless. They are now sending their troops to kill the people, while they carry on with their lifestyle undisturbed. They are still partying, shopping and sending their kids to school every day. If the FSA becomes stronger, the regime will start loosing people too. The killings will be on both sides not only on one side. This will necessitate a change in lifestyle. This will make them worry about their kids going to school everyday, like all other Syrians already do now. This will make some of them think twice and consider whether this is worth it to them. Then you will start to see the defections en mass. I do not have any illusions of beating a professional army with a few defectors with light weapons no matter how brave, but I am betting that the professional army will suffer more defections when the other side gets stronger and has more support from important players. The Syrian army encompasses men from all religions, sects and ethnicities. These young men have family everywhere in Syria. They are scared and oppressed. Let us give them a way out.
    You said: “The reason why I don’t call for wholesale arming the FSA, is because I would be calling and condoning the death of Syrians because they don’t agree with me, how would that make me any different from them?”.
    I do not want any Syrian to be killed, including the top man. I want the criminals to stand trial and pay for their crimes for years to come. Death is too easy a way out. However, if someone attacked you and tried to kill you, you will defend yourself no doubt. You will not stand there and say: well I am not a killer like him so let him kill me. This is theory, not real life. When man was created, survival instinct was built into his structure. We have to allow the Syrians the ability to defend themselves. This is a basic human right, literally and figuratively speaking.
    Try to imagine living in Homs under fire every day, watching your close friends die while you can do nothing to help, not having the basics, waking up and sleeping on the sound of shelling and not knowing if you would be alive the next minute. What would you do? How would you react?

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  126. Dear Zenobia,
    I am so glad I lived in Syria and in a few other countries. These experiences allowed me to understand life in ways that most people can’t, It showed me a horizon that many people can not even imagine and it opened up a world of possibilities for my mind to explore.

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  127. @sheila,

    one would think. but in this instance – like many people, in fact the majority of people – you are responding as if there is one horizon and one road under it/towards it.

    I could sit here and try to figure out what deficit of experience you have that makes you not agree with my viewpoint (as you have done with me) – or I could just accept that despite both of our wealth of experiences – do to their differences (of equal value) we will disagree because we see different possibilities available and weight what we know of differently.
    So, I would appreciate it if you could do the same in the future and just accept the possibility that our disagreement is a result of our different knowledge and way of thinking about things…not some contest of ‘knowing Syria’ the best or ‘knowing the regime’ the best.

    there are too many examples of people everywhere who are having exactly our conflict (in fact it is the central conflict at this point!) and none of the same traits we have.
    Otherwise, every person who actually lives in Syria right now- by your measure would be more entitled to a viewpoint than you and could claim that you just don’t know enough and have a distorted view because you live in the USA.

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  128. Sheila, Zenobia and Son of Damascus,

    You represent the dilemma Syrians are facing under the Assad’s house for the past long decades. The 80s are no different than today, in fact, from their coming to power to now.

    These traitors said it clearly, the moment they appointed themselves, what is taken by force will only be relinquished by force. This is what we are witnessing today. The difference between the illegitimate Assad and Syrians, the former does not give a dam about the people of Syria, nor the country, whether they leave it in shambles or not. We do.

    They are petrified. For the first time. This is a fact.

    If Damascus and Aleppo do not mobilize in large numbers, the bloodletting will linger for a very long time. I do not think Annan’s 6 point plan is a game changer unless the two largest cities take advantage and took to the streets. Only then, will the end be nearer. With or without arming the FSA. What began over a year ago, will not stop.

    This is the only certainty.

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  129. NZ,
    I agree with what you said – especially this last paragraph.
    However, in 1980 – you will not be able to upload this video of Kafar Souseh in five seconds for the whole world to see.
    And this is of great significance.
    Additionally, last year we were watching a video of 15 people silently walking down the Hamra in Salhieh with little 8X11 paper signs… and a small group of security people grabs most of them and beat them with a stick and pushes them into the van hauling them off after less than half and hour of protest.
    and TODAY – you are showing us a video of a few thousand people yelling loudly in Kafar Souseh marching down an entire street with two dead people out of thousands at this moment… and same thing for the similar footage a number of weeks ago in Al Mezzeh.

    So… the evidence is there – that progress is being made even just in the one area of demonstrated expression…. within the urban center area.

    And guess what – there are not FSA fighter standing guard on this – and this why it is taking place. In fact it is the opposite. If you had the weapons waving it would be a huge provocation.

    The status of outer damascus and Idleb and similar is different at this point – a breach was reached and the battle cannot be undone or recede without international negotiated or enforced ceasefire.
    So, I am talking here specifically about Damas and Aleppo. As you have noted your agreement on this- whether the weapons come or the weapons don’t come – the outcome is decided by the decisions and actions of the urban centers….and what will they do.
    My fear is that the weapons coming will continue to deter the urbanites from ‘taking to the streets’ as you say – or as I say…. changing their hearts and minds towards supporting a mass movement.
    Part of Sheila and my disagreement lies in our continued difference of assumption about what is in people’s heads.
    I have in the past -as everyone here knows- felt there was a giant problem of fence sitters. And I still think this is an ongoing challenge that is slowly but surely being won, but it is still the issue.
    She never thought that was the issue to begin with, and so has a different conclusion about why the critical mass is not there in body. For her- I understood it is a function only of the threat from the regime…..keeping people still.
    Of course I agree with this to a point. But I believe if the urban middle classes were not ambivalent about what is the right course of action….and were not uncertain of exactly how big is their mass – they would take more actions….
    So far the confusion and propaganda and lack of cohesion has had the effect of putting people in doubt about exactly how much power they have and how certain a successful outcome would be.
    The certainty was not there… and this doubt translates to wait and see for the critical population of the two capitals who actually have the power due to their critical economic role in the power structure and the functioning of society and the regime to actually fuck it up and bring it to its knees completely if they on mass chose to do so.

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  130. نقطة حوار: جدل حول طلب معارضة المجلس السوري للتسليح

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  131. Zenobia said about Manaa :I should add however, that I should be honored if I share the ideas of a person who I am aware that so many people respect.

    What are those ideas? ideas from the kind of rotten leftism from the half of the last century?

    Yes i know that he is respected by regime’s supporters and the iranian theocracy , Putinian russians and PKK .
    He appeared as a perfid liar behind a false modesty , with little difference from the mukhabarati Bassam al Qadi or Kadri Jamal.
    He belongs to ideologies that have stopped the cultural revivalism and renaissance since the 50’s,thus he is not very far from this outdated arab leftist idealism.

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  132. Dear Zenobia,
    Thank you for not delving into which one of us has what deficits. I am sure we both have at least a few. I am not trying to discount neither your intellect, nor your experiences. I respect and understand your point of view, if anything, just because I shared it a few months ago.
    I agree with you and NZ that many people are having exactly our conflict.
    I think as Syrians living outside the country, we are better able to see the whole picture, but you are right, I do feel that people living inside Syria right now are more entitled to a view point than us. It is true that we do not know enough because we are not on the ground. We have a proverb in Arabic that says: the person who in counting the hits is not like the person who is actually receiving them. We can imagine their daily suffering, but only they know what real suffering means. We can preach from afar, but they are the ones getting killed and tortured.

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  133. @ Shami,
    You are the one with the opinions. I never said I know anything about this man’s background.
    All I said is that I know he is plenty respected by people I respect. And no, they aren’t any of the things you must mentioned, so go figure….

    But I refuse to talk to someone who spouts so many cliches as you, shows me there is nothing to learn from you and….it is a waste of time.

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  134. Dear All
    I have been reading all of the comments and posts. This is exactly what I was hoping for. In the difficult times, dialogue is most needed. I would however urge all to continue showing respect to each others as you have been doing.

    I am working on a new post, which tries to address some of the comments made by Sheila and Zenobia, N.Z., and S.O.D. It should be ready in the next 24 hours.

    In the meantime, thank you all for keeping this blog a lively place. Please keep it going.

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  135. Zenobia, speaking for myself, I’ve never thought of owning a gun, never will.

    I always try to put myself in someone’s else shoes, and ask myself what will I do? Will I allow them to take my family in front of my eyes and remain silent, or will I try to defend my family, myself? Do I know?

    Having lived through two wars, and reflecting on the situation back then, my instinct then, I wish I had a gun, in case someone invades our shelter. Knowing well, what they did to Palestinians. These Syrian families are faced with the same situation, knowing well, what they did in Hama. It has been a year.

    They have a choice, dignity will cost them their loved ones, on the other hand, humiliation will not spare their loved ones.

    Syrians have come to experience precisely what the Palestinians have been enduring for decades under the Zionist colonialist racist ideology, ethnically cleansing Palestinians, slowly but surely.

    Armed struggle or non armed struggle. I am not sure.

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  136. Dear Shami,
    Please try to watch what NZ posted even if it has Haytham Almanaa in it. It has another person that had the opposite point of view. Even though I personally do not see eye to eye with Almanaa, but I think he did a pretty good job of explaining his position.

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  137. Syrians have come to experience precisely what the Palestinians have been enduring for decades under the Zionist colonialist racist ideology, ethnically cleansing Palestinians, slowly but surely.

    N.Z.,

    Would you mind if I responded to your comment? Thanks.

    One obvious difference between Assad and the “Zionist colonialist racist ideology” is that the Arab-Israeli conflict is a conflict of opposing nationalities.

    What are the opposing nationalities in Syria?

    Adding insult to injury, the fact of the matter is the Assad family have killed more Syrians than Israelis have killed Palestinians, and I’m still not sure why. Not to mention Israeli-Arabs are free; Syrians are not.

    If the arab people could show a tenth of the “outrage” at Assad that they have displayed in the past against Israel, Assad would be gone by now.

    So, while you ponder that, perhaps you can ponder why Israeli Arabs are one of the few arab communities that AREN’T violently demonstrating as they are in almost every other arab country.

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  138. Dear Sheila,

    I hope you understand that I am not trying to “change” your mind, or hope to influence you in anyway. I respect your decision, and fully understand it, and I agree with you the right for self defence is not negotiable under such horrendous circumstances.

    I don’t want to negotiate with these demons, this regime is illegitimate and criminal, the only place they belong is in a jail cell with a recording playing non stop the names of all the Syrians that died because of their sick, twisted arrogance. To be reminded to the very last breath of their natural life, all those they killed.

    I just want to make it clear that you can defend your freedom with a gun, but you can never win it without your voice.

    The sound of the word Hurieh scares them more than the sound of gun fire, for with us free they are nothing…

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  139. Sometime, while knives, swords, and machete around guns and rifles are not needed to commit CRIMES. Supporting the uprising against the regime should not twist your way of thinking and tilt your ethics to start accepting atrocities and inhuman actions, or taking the extreme side of justifying the mere fact of killing.

    I’m sure most of you come across this article days ago. However. nobody wanted really to cast some light on chopping and slaughtering Syrians as we speak. Being under oppression does not justify killing or grant immunity. I’d personally call for all those people who committed such cold-blooded crimes to face justice next to elBatta and his cronies.

    For those of you who would argue the authenticity of Der-Spiegel’s report, I wonder no one was criticizing it when it was hammering Betho and his filthy dogs.

    The Burial Brigade of Homs: An Executioner for Syria’s Rebels Tells His Story
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,824603,00.html

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  140. Sheila, since you are from Aleppo, can you answer my curioisty :

    Was the Masharqa massacre of 1980 and the other subsequent massacres seen as “retribution” for the Souk al Ahad massacre ? And who exactly were the victims at Souk al Ahad ? All that I could find on Google was that they were “peasants and workers” and that their killers arrived in military vehicles and were masked.

    There is so much haziness about the “events” of 1978-82. There is not one single article on the net that explains all the incidents in detail, every single big and small incident, persons involved, exact dynamics. Does anyone know where to find this information ?

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  141. Oh come on True, there has been brutality from the side of the Opposition since the early days, it started with the public lynching of the mukhber in Hama. These people are angry, you have to give them some leeway. rtaher you should ask ;

    Why are parents continuing to send their sons to the Army ?

    Why are people still willing to inform and spy for the regime ?

    I think people of the above two categories are worse criminals than those petty executioners.

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  142. Antoine, Yep for 1ce I agree with ya.

    So it’s an alarming shit we’re talking about here, isn’t?
    How would we manage/fix this culture of machete/slaughtering further to toppling the regime? I can’t see these folks going into rehabilitation centers!! At the same time having them around civilians would be bloody risky. You know it would be really hard to obey the law after a long period of constructing & executing your own interpretation of law.

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  143. Dear Antoine,
    I really do not know exactly what happened and why. No one really knows except those who committed the Masharqa massacre. As you well know, there was no investigation and no one went to jail for it. What I know is what I heard through the grape vine: Some high ranking Alawi officer heard the news that his brother was killed by the Muslim Brotherhood. He was stationed in Halab, consequently Halab had to take the brunt of his rage and quest for revenge. It was the first day of Eid. He took his soldiers and went to Al Masharqa, had his men bring all males including teenage boys from two buildings, lined them up against a wall and executed them on the spot.
    I think that once Syria is liberated from these thugs, there has to be an attempt to find out what really happened in the 80s.

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  144. Dear True,
    I am really surprised that you are shocked. Were you not expecting this? The people in the Syrian army who are bombing cities and murdering the population are actually Syrian. The only difference between them and the others is that they have been raised by the army and the intelligence services to become ruthless thugs. As the Syrian regime has never been an equal opportunity employer, Alawis take the top spot in the number of thugs in the army. The Sunnis and others in the population have just as many potential thugs that never got the chance. Every action creates a reaction that is just as powerful. After a year of the barbering actions by the regime, now the rest of the population is being raised to become just as bad. This is precisely why this has to end and has to end quickly, before the situation gets completely out of control. Under pressure, human beings are capable of doing the unimaginable. History is full of these stories.

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  145. From my cousin:
    Most of small towns in idlib are completely destroyed. People in Jabal Alzawieh have no bread to eat. No schools no water no roads no healthcare. The countryside is completely destroyed. Our house in ariha was damaged, all for asad family to stay in power. Alla yl3non

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  146. Easter is a time to celebrate new beginnings. Will like to wish you all a peaceful Easter and a happy Passover.

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  147. Antoine, those petty executioners in Homs are nornal human beings with family like you and me. the situation has mde them like that. If I was in Homs I would have executed every prisoner they would have caught, these guys executed just 20 % of the prisoners. The rest 80 % prisoners’ daily needs – food, clothing, shelter, medication – are all being met by the revolutionaries, at their own cost. These shabiha animals do not deserve to be judged on the scale of humanity.

    These men who are doing the “dirty job” of the revolution were normal human beings before the Uprissing. So I think its a bit of exaggeration to say they are a threat to civil society. Rather, I very much think these sort of killers are pretty much admired in their own neighborhoods as the “protectors” , in the same way as the “men” in the 4th Division and the shabiha are seen as protectors by many Syrians.

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  148. Sheila,

    What sort of neighborhood was Masharqa ? Middle class, or working class ?

    Why was that particular neighborhhod targetted ?

    Arre the family members of the massacres of 1980 still living in Aleppo ? Are those neighborhoods taking part in the protests ?

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  149. Sheila,

    Is it possible that Assad still enjoys some supprt in reef Idleb ?

    I have heard that for years the regime gave many subsidies and free land to the farmers in Idleb. Do you think they aree still supportive of the regime ? I also heard that before 1963 most of the land in Idleb was owned by feudal lords, and the regime gave the land to the farmers.

    So is it possible that the peasants and farmers of Idleb are all regime loyalists ?

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  150. Easter is a time to celebrate new beginnings. Will like to wish you all a peaceful Easter and a happy Passover.

    N.Z., Sheila,

    Thank you for the holiday wishes.

    Just thinking about our Seder meal, we are commanded to tell the story of our people’s freedom from slavery. The orthodox seders go SLOOOOOWLY, recounting the history in as much detail as possible. I would say in Israel, it is the most important Jewish holiday (a little less so in the US).

    Just to recap, Jews celebrate our freedom from bondage under Pharoah.

    Can you guys think who may be “Pharoh” today?? Exactly.

    And the “Ten Plagues” show you how stubborn and selfish this Pharoh was. He subjected his people to horrible diseases and tribulations until he could no longer withstand the wrath of Hashem when the first born of all Egyptians were slain.

    I hope this Passover ultimately finds peace and freedom for the Syrian people from tyrants and Pharoahs like the Assads.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover

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