Featured Post

Man behind the Curtain for al-Qaeda in Syria is Assad

Monday, December 31, 2012

5,000 Syrians murdered in 2011, 40,000 in 2012, what will 2013 bring?

Follow clayclai on Twitter

A year ago the death toll resulting from the Assad regime crackdown on the uprising of the Syrian people against his rule stood at about 5,000, a year later it is about 45,000. The protest movement was just about eight months old and had been facing increasing violence from the regime, although the violence of 2011 was nothing like what 2012 would bring.

A BBC News article from 15 December 2011 gives us a picture of the time:

Syria 'authorised forces to shoot to kill' in crackdown

Syrian soldiers said their commanders told them to stop anti-government protests "by all means necessary", Human Rights Watch has said.

The group spoke to dozens of defectors who said they had understood this as authorisation to use lethal force.

Anti-government protests have continued despite President Bashar al-Assad's attempts to stifle them.

The UN believes more than 5,000 people have died in seven months of unrest, which Syria blames on armed gangs.


The death toll has risen so dramatically because Assad has continuously increased the level of violence he has employed in his effort to put down the resistance and the resistance, rather than submitting, has responded by escalating its armed struggle to topple the regime.

A year ago it was well known that Assad was shooting unarmed protesters, and since there was no effective international action, he increased the use of his army.

He started using his artillery and tanks to kill Syrians in opposition communities even faster, and when that got a pass from the international powers, he started using his helicopters and war planes. Just a little at first, and when he saw that nobody was seriously proposing a "no-fly" zone, he started using them more and more. He uses them all time now and 2012 may mark the first year the world came to accept the bombing of communities by its own air force as something routine and not to be interfered with.

In the last half of 2012 Assad had escalated his killing through the use of incendiary weapons, cluster bombs and barrel bombs. In August, President Obama warned him that the use of "a whole bunch of chemical weapons" was a red-line so to date, we have only seen reports of him using chemical weapons in small doses.

Bashar al-Assad has learned well from the mistakes of his farther. His father became notorious for killing 18,000 Syrians in a few weeks in Hama, 1982. He has already killed twice that many but has spread the deaths out over a whole year. No really big massacres, just too many small ones to count or track or call breaking news anymore.

A year ago, the UN swung into action to protect the Syrian people. They issued a report:
UN report: Syria committed crimes against humanity

28/11/2011
REUTERS - A United Nations commission of inquiry on Syria said on Monday Syrian military and security forces had committed crimes against humanity including murder, torture and rape and the government of President Bashar al-Assad bore responsibility.

The panel, which interviewed 223 victims and witnesses including defectors, called on Syria to halt the “gross human rights violations”, release prisoners rounded up in mass arrests and allow media, aid workers and rights monitors access to the country.

Syria is “responsible for wrongful acts, including crimes against humanity, committed by members of its military and security forces as documented in the present report,” the three-member panel said in a 39-page report to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

It catalogues executions, torture, rapes including of children, arbitrary detentions and abductions carried out since March by Syrian forces quashing pro-democracy demonstrations while enjoying “systemic impunity” for their crimes, it said.

“The commission therefore believes that orders to shoot and otherwise mistreat civilians originated from policies and directives issued at the highest levels of the armed forces and the government,” said the team, led by Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro.
In 2011 the world hadn't seen anything compared to the carnage the coming year would bring.

In March 2012, the UN put Kofi Annan on the case. He came up with the basic 6 point plan the UN has been peddling ever since. At the end of May, he reported back about his meeting with Assad "I appealed to him for bold steps now -- not tomorrow, now -- to create momentum for the implementation of the plan."

He never succeeding in doing much more than giving Assad diplomatic cover for increased carnage. In August, he quit, saying he could do no more. He got $7.5 million for his peace making while thousands more Syrians died.

Kofi Annan was replaced by Lakhdar Brahimi who, one year and 40,000 Syrian lives later, is still peddling the same trash from the international "community" of gangsters, still trying to force Assad down the throats of the Syrian people in a "political settlement."

“This, actually, [is] what we discussed in Syria and in Moscow and are discussing with the US and Russia – you know that I met with Hillary Clinton and Sergey Lavrov and with their aides William Burns and Michael Bogdanov as well,” Mr. Brahimi said. “God-willing, we will continue our contacts, cooperation and meetings seeking this necessary and urgent peaceful solution.”
Everybody but the Syrian people are consulted.

This is what he had to say Sunday after his latest round of jet set diplomacy:
In his remarks to the journalists, Mr. Brahimi reiterated his belief in a political solution to the crisis in Syria, noting that “the choice is between the political solution and the entire collapse of the Syrian State” – referring to the so-called 'Geneva communiqué,' which, he said, could form the basis of a peace process.

The document was issued after a meeting in the Swiss city of the Action Group for Syria – made up of interested parties – in late June. It lays out key steps in a process to end the violence in Syria. Amongst other items, it calls for the establishment of a transitional governing body, with full executive powers and made up by members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups, as part of agreed principles and guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition.

In point of fact that's exactly what a revolution is. Its about collapsing the state and replacing it with a new one.

That is not an easy task, but it is one that can be done. The experiences of Libya in 2012 illustrates both of these points. In Libya, the Qaddafi state was completely collapsed, the Qaddafi armed forces were completely defeated on the field of battle. That is how they began 2012.

One thing that the last year's experience in Syria should show is that those who claim that the Libyan revolution was on the verge of defeat when NATO intervened were wrong. The Libyan revolution would have no more been defeated without NATO intervention than the Syrian revolution has been. If the world community had not intervened to level the battlefield in Libya by denying Qaddafi the use of his armor and air force, the Libyan thuwar would most likely still be sloughing it out with horrendous casualties today just like their brothers and sisters in Syria, but they wouldn't been defeated and they wouldn't have given up.

Instead they have been able to spent 2012 rebuilding their country and building a new democratic state and while that has not been without trouble, several hundred Libyans and four prominent US citizens fell to political violence in Libya in 2012, it was nothing like it was in 2011 and nothing like it was in Syria in 2012.

In Syria the struggle continued between a people left to their own devices and denied heavy weapons by an arms embargo enforced by the United States and a dictatorial government with the best modern weapons money could buy and the continuing military supply lines of its allies Iran and Russia.

Fortunately for the people's defense, the ranks of the Free Syrian Army have been swelled by a growing tide of defections along with citizen soldiers that have withstood the tests of combat and Arabs and Muslims from everywhere that came to fight the fascists in an internationalist spirit that most others seem to have forgotten.

In spite of the willingness of world leaders, that prefer Assad to the freedom fighter's vision of Syria, to allow the regime virtually a free hand in using its military might to suppress the rebellion, the opposition not only held its ground in 2012, it has actually turned the tide of battle and looks likely to be victorious in 2013.

Hence these new diplomatic moves to the get a "political solution" which is code for a "transitional" government that includes members of the Assad regime including may be even Assad himself. In other words the UN is still demanding that the people that it said a year ago were guilty of "crimes against humanity including murder, torture and rape" be part of the solution.

The international community is still offering no real support for the Syrian people. Russia continues to insist that Assad be part of any future government. The United States will now allow that Assad must go, but insists that his apparatus be part of any future government. The Syrians that have shed so much blood to be rid of Assad will not back down, and so the "stalemate" continues.

When Brahimi said Sunday:“I am unable to see another solution out of two possibilities: either a political solution ... or Syria to be transformed into hell.”He was denying not only what is possible but also most desirable - the revolutionary transformation of the Syrian state.

That is the cat that all the "great powers" don't want to let get out of the bag and that it why Assad remains in powers with free reign to brutally suppress the rebellion.

That is the task it is hoped will face the Syrian people in 2013.

Click here for a list of my other diaries on Syria

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Prediction: In 2013 Syria will see the last of Assad

Follow clayclai on Twitter

It is my fervent wish that in 2013, the Syrian people, and the world see an end to the murderous Assad regime.

It is also my prediction that 2013 will see an end to the Assad regime and that the Syrian opposition will not bow to pressure from Putin, or Brahimi or Cameron or Obama to include members of this criminal regime in the future government of Syria.

I think the Syria people will be the victors in 2013 and that victory will not be long in coming!

















Published on Dec 25, 2012

Welcome to "The Reality"

- a youth inspired, peace innovation documentary about Aleppo, Syria - our present and future

Abdullah Hz., DirectorAleppo, Syria Illinois Institute of Technology (admitted and, Inshallah, future student)




Click here for a list of my other diaries on Syria

MSM finally reports on Syria massacre story I broke here yesterday

Follow clayclai on Twitter

In comments to my dairy yesterday BREAKING: Massacre in Homs Syria right now! 150 burnt corpses found, some Kossacks questioned whether my reports were accurate or whether that diary should have even been published. For example, InAntalya wrote:
Activists and Al Arabiya 'report' but (8+ / 0-)

no one else has. That might give you an indication of what the media think about the reliability of these reports.
He then went on to double down on his opinion by suspecting the opposition of massacring its own people:
If there was a 'massacre' (6+ / 0-)

it is just as possible that it was committed by rebel forces before or as they were forced out of the area by government forces.

There are many more media sources in the world than those you listed, some of which are very anti-Assad and even they often don't cover these 'reports' because they are known to be unreliable.
InAntalya based his opinion on his expertise. He said he knows
much much more about what is happening in Syria than the dumbass who writes these posts

Yesterday I suggested InAntalya and his supporters wait a day or so. Now we have these reports from the Washington Post, CNN and the SF Chronicle and I expect there will be others.

From today's Washington Post we have:
Brahimi issued his chilling prediction after one of the deadliest 24-hour periods in the conflict, which began in March 2011. Opposition groups that monitor the death toll said as many as 400 people — more than double the typical daily death toll — were killed Saturday. About half of them were civilians slain in an alleged mass killing carried out by government troops at a petrochemical university in central Syria, opposition groups reported.
...
On Saturday, the government announced that it was in control of Deir Baalba, a suburb of the central Syrian city of Homs, after having surrounded the rebel-held town about a month ago. Opposition groups, whose reports were murky and could not be independently verified, said government forces committed a massacre in the battle for the town.

Walid Faris, a spokesman for the Revolutionary Council of Homs, said by telephone that Deir Baalba is surrounded by villages populated by members of the Alawite sect of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. During the army counteroffensive, it was hit heavily by artillery shells and mortars, he said, and the rebel Free Syrian Army managed to clear a small evacuation route to get most civilians out of the conflict zone.

But some remained. As government troops moved back into Deir Baalba, Faris said, 150 to 180 people were rounded up and taken to a petrochemical university, where they were executed. Their bodies and houses were burned before dawn, he said. The count was based on reports from government soldiers sympathetic to the rebels and from residents of a nearby village, who heard the gunfire inside the university and saw the fire and smoke through binoculars, Faris said.

Other reports put the death toll higher. A statement on the Web site of the Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists who monitor and report on the conflict, estimated that 220 people, including women and children, might have been executed.

Suzan Haidamous in Beirut contributed to this report.

Four hours ago the SF Chronicle released:
Syrian Expatriates Organization (SEO) Shocked at Deaths of Over 400 Syrians

SEO is receiving reports of a heinous massacre of over 220 people by Assad regime forces in the town of Deir Ba’alba, near Homs. According to Al-Arabiya, on December 29 over 400 people were killed throughout Syria and 150 charred bodies were found in an abandoned school in Deir Ba’alba. Activists are also reporting that people were slaughtered with knives, including women and children in Deir Ba'alba's main square. The Syrian Army encircled Deir Ba’alba four days ago in a push to take control of the town. More...

And about the same time CNN ran with this:
(CNN) -- The stench of the burnt bodies was so potent, Abu Jafar said, he could smell it from 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away.
6:18 PM EST, Sun December 30, 2012
"It smells awful because the regime appears to have burnt so many bodies recently," the opposition activist said Sunday from the beleaguered city of Homs.

"Some cars arrived this morning and carried away dead bodies. We are not sure where."

Jafar's account comes a day after what may be the deadliest day yet in Syria's 21-month civil war, according to opposition figures.
...
At least 397 people were killed across the country Saturday, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. At least 143 deaths were reported Sunday, including 10 children.
Intense violence kills dozens in Syria

The LCC said Saturday's death toll included more than 200 people who were captured and "field executed" by Syrian soldiers in the Homs suburb of Deir Baalbeh after Syrian forces won a battle there.

The group's representative in Deir Baalbeh said he could only personally account for 27 deaths, but said a Syrian soldier who had been captured by rebels said government forces killed at least 200 people in the suburb.

The group posted video of several men's bodies lined up in a grassy field with wounds to the head, in what it claimed was footage taken by witnesses.

Jafar said he believes Deir Baalbeh was targeted "because it is the main gate to reach the Khaldiya neighborhood, which has been under the control of the rebels." More...

There is also EXTREMELY GRAPHIC VIDEO that show victims that have clearly been shot in the head.

Click here for a list of my other diaries on Syria

Friday, December 28, 2012

Massacre in Homs Syria right now! 150 burnt corpses found




Activists are reporting that the Assad regime is currently carrying out a new massacre in Homs. The current death toll in Homs is said to be 220 and counting as Al Arabiya reports:
At least 150 charred corpses found in Homs: activists

Sat Dec 29, 2012 20:27 pm (KSA) 17:27 pm (GMT)

At least 150 charred corpses were found Saturday in Deir Baalba in Homs, the Shaam Network reported as violence flared in other parts of Syria.

Earlie,r Syrian regime forces killed 20 people in a town near Aleppo, raising the nationwide death toll to more than 100, according to activist media.

Sana Revolution reported the “massacre” took place in Khamsya town near Aleppo. The Coordination Committees reported that more than 100 were killed in the country.

The fighting in Aleppo forced Syria’s national airline to cancel a flight into the city.
More...




Follow clayclai on Twitter














6:32 PM PT:

France24 is now carrying this report:


Assad forces 'take district of Syria's Homs'

29 December 2012 - 12H42

AFP - Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday seized a district of the central city of Homs after a fierce assault that sparked a humanitarian crisis, a watchdog said.

"The army launched an offensive several days ago on the neighbourhood of Deir Baalbeh with heavy bombing, and the fighting and attacks continued until the rebels withdrew," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based watchdog, which relies on a large network of activists and medics on the ground, said that several other rebel districts, long under siege by the army, were still holding the troops at bay.

It said that the fighting had triggered a humanitarian crisis in the city, referred to by anti-regime activists as "the capital of the revolution."

Homs, a longtime industrial heartland, was the target of a major army offensive in February that left 700 people killed, the majority civilians. More...




?#Syria #Homs

tonight,in AlZaatari refugee camp...a little girl passed away..the kid FROZEN TO DEATH...

her name is NADA ALHRAKI...she is nine months old.

the angel... her soul crossed the border to join our 397 martyrs.

collective refuge to Heaven


EAWorldView had this report on Homs:

2137 GMT: Syria. Activists are claiming, supported by video of bodies, that five children and two women were among 10 people killed by shelling of the Damascus suburb of Douma today.

1829 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees is now including 220 people "field-executed" in the Deir Baalba section of Homs (see 1749 GMT) in its claim of 364 victims today.

The Committees write more than 20 children and 20 women are among today's deaths.

1749 GMT: Syria. The Local Coordination Committees report that 146 people have been killed today, including 45 in Damascus and its suburbs, 38 in Aleppo Province, and 20 in Deir Ez Zor Province.

The total could soar, however. The LCC claim 220 people were slain in the Deir Baalba section of Homs as regime forces moved into the area. The organisation asserts that victims were allowed to pass through the "Petrochemistry checkpoint", but were then arrested near the university and field-executed.

1641 GMT: Syria. Reuters, citing activists, reports that regime forces have made advances in Homs, moving into Deir Baalba on the northeastern edge.

Insurgents now hold only central areas around the old city and the district of Khalidiyah, immediately to the north.




Click here for a list of my other diaries on Syria

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why did this Syrian mother try to kill her own child?

With all that is going on, ABC Nightly News didn't mention Syria once last night. That doesn't sound like MSM is trying to build support for NATO intervention to me. Israel has spoken up to support Assad's contention that he hasn't used chemical weapons. That doesn't sound like the Zionists are looking for a pretext for "regime change." Below is another story you will never hear from Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, they haven't done a segment on the human suffering in Syria in a very long time.
Follow clayclai on Twitter

What would you do if you needed to silence your crying child so as to save the lives of hundreds?

This is the dilemma one Syria family was faced with while trying to escape Syria were the government is known for slaughtering civilians who oppose or flee their rule.

The family was among a group 1400 Syrians trying to flee Syria. They where trying to sneak between two army posts and cross the border to Lebanon. It is well known that the Syrian Army will open fire on Syrians attempting to flee their violence and cross the border into a neighboring country,


Then the child started to cry and would not be quieted. The family knew that if the child continue to cry, the whole group would be discovered and slaughtered.

So they took the hard decision to kill their own child. What would you have done?

They smothered the child, which did indeed silence it. Fortunately, later they discovered that the child had survived.

These are the hard decisions that a people must make when faced with massacre by their own government and abandoned by the world.

Where is the humanity? I fear the people who just shine this on or excuse it. If they prevail, humanity is doomed.






Ans this is why:







Click here for a list of my other diaries on Syria

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Defecting General confirms use of chemical weapons in #Syria

Follow clayclai on Twitter
I already mentioned this in my diary today on the UNAC statement but I thought it deserved its own "Breaking News" headline seeing how it involved crossing Obama's red-line in all.

Last week we had multiple reports of a sarin-like gas being used by the Assad regime against opposition forces in Homs. Now we have confirmation from someone in a position to know,

On Christmas day, the general in charge of Assad's military police defected to the revolution. Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, is the highest rank member of Assad's army to defect and he brought with him confirmation that the Syrian Army did use chemical weapons in Homs.

The Independent is running this report:
Chemical weapons were used on Homs': Syria's military police defector tells of nerve gas attack

General becomes one of the most senior officers to join the rebels
Alistair Dawber Wednesday 26 December 2012
The head of Syria’s military police defected to the opposition, accusing the Assad regime of systematic “murder” and claiming that reports of chemical weapons being used against rebels in the restive city of Homs were true.

Maj-Gen Abdul-Aziz Jassim al-Shallal became one of the highest ranking Syrian military officers to throw their support behind the rebels, accusing forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad of turning their weapons on innocent civilians in the now 22-month-long civil war.

“I declare my defection from the army because of its deviation from its fundamental mission to protect the nation and [its] transformation into gangs of murder and destruction,” he said in a video message posted online, reportedly from the Turkish border.

He accused the military of “destroying cities and villages and committing massacres against our innocent people who came out to demand freedom.” General Shallal suggested in his message that he had been working with the opposition for some time before he formally defected to the rebel cause.

He becomes the latest in a string of leading military advisers to abandon the government and join the disparate rebels. But it is his claim that chemical weapons were used in Homs during a deadly attack on Christmas Eve that is likely to be of greater interest to the Syrian opposition and their foreign backers.

Reports from Homs had suggested that a type of nerve agent was used by the Syrian forces in the attack, a point that General Shallal appeared to verify yesterday. Al Jazeera reported at the time that at least seven people had died after inhaling a poisonous gas “sprayed by government forces in a rebel-held Homs neighbourhood”.

“We don’t know what this gas is but medics are saying it’s something similar to sarin gas,” Raji Rahmet Rabbou, an activist in Homs, told Al Jazeera.

It is not clear that the substance used in Homs was banned by international law, even the though the General yesterday specifically referred to a “chemical weapons” attack. Nonetheless, the use of non-conventional weapons is considered a “red line” by some in the international community who have been reluctant to intervene directly. More...


This is where Obama reinvokes his "whole bunch of chemical weapons" loop-hole in his Syrian WMD "red-line."

Back! Back! Move'em on Back!

Click here for a list of my other diaries on Syria

Another high level defection in Syria

News bit on Syria....
Follow clayclai on Twitter
There are reports at this hour in the Arabic media that Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Hassoun, director of Academy of the Assad Military in Aleppo has defected today.







The FSA is also reporting this high level defection today:



Also on the subject of defections, there is an interesting story about Assad's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi and some Twiiter converstations he had with activists before he defected. In this article, Al Jazeera raises the question: Did activists influence a top Syrian official to defect?

Also on the subject of Al Jazeera and defections, Al Jazeera has produced this very interesting interactive map of Syrian defections. It doesn't touch on the thousands and thousands of defections of ordinary functionaries and soldiers. It just covers the top one hundred or less.

In spite of the fighting going on, Syrians still manage to organize mass protests against the regime like these today:

Demonstration in Al Qaryatayn | 27 Dec 2012



Night anti-Assad demonstration in Tariq Halab neighborhood of Hama | 27 Dec 2012






And while "anti-war activists" like those associated with UNAC may find all manner of reason to ignore the people's struggle in Syria, other activists like this flash mob for Syria and Palestine in Eaton Centre find a way to have an impact.
Flash mob for Syria and Palestine at Toronto's Eaton Centre. | 27 Dec 2012


There is an ongoing conflict in Syria with no end in sight and thousands of refugees have fled into neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon. This project is dedicated to raising funds for the Medecins Sans Frontieres / Doctors Without Borders "Emergency Fund". Donations will go towards purchasing medical supplies, food, blankets, and other supplies for the refugees living in camps in northern Lebanon.

New use of poison gas reported in Daraya, Syria

We have new reports of a poisonous gas being used by the Assad forces in Daraya. So far three people are reported as having been killed by the toxic gas.









Brown Moses has published a new collection of the latest ordinances being used by the Assad regime.
A Collection Of Some Unusual Syria Videos From The Past Week
Here we have a report of an Iraqi mercenary that has been captured by the Free Syria Army.


Click here for a list of my other diaries on Syria

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bashar Assad reported willing to leave Syria with entourage of 142

Follow clayclai on Twitter
This is clearly from the "For What Its Worth Dept." but since I think it does pass the sniff test of plausibility, I thought I'd share this with you.

From asharq alawsat, the leading Arabic International Daily - English Edition, by Nazeer Rida, 24 Dec 2012:
US - Russia reach agreement on al-Assad ouster: Opposition sources

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Senior sources in the opposition Syrian National Coalition have revealed that Moscow and Washington have reached an agreement on the Syria crisis, informing Asharq Al-Awsat that this includes “a settlement regarding the departure of President Bashar al-Assad from power”. However the source added that “sticking points in this agreement include the precise mechanism of al-Assad’s departure and handover of power.”

The source confirmed that this US - Russian agreement which was reached during meetings between officials in Dublin and Geneva last week “stipulates that a settlement has truly been agreed”. The senior Syrian National Coalition source added that these meetings "led to two options being outlined for the Syrian President, namely either that he is a partner in transferring power and enjoys international protection, or the transfer of power is negotiated in his absence and he loses the [international] protection that can be gained by agreeing to a settlement.”

This information intersects with other information revealed by Syrian National Coalition member Adib al-Shishakli on his Facebook page. Quoting a Russian source, al-Shishakli claimed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “has expressed his readiness to negotiate and leave power, accompanied by 142 members of his entourage.”

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, al-Shishakli revealed that this 142 member entourage “includes 108 military and security figures who are responsible for issuing orders to the armed and security forces to kill Syrians” adding “as for the rest, these are members of the al-Assad family.”



Al-Shishakli stressed that al-Assad was including these figures in the negotiations “with the objective of protecting them from International Criminal Court [ICC] prosecution.”

The senior Syrian National Coalition figure also asserted that “the Russians are now well aware that they are no longer able to protect al-Assad in power, and they have no choice but to lift immunity from him and negotiate with the international community.”

For his part, another Syrian National Coalition member, Walid al-Bunni told Asharq Al-Awsat that Russian – US talks are ongoing with UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi over the Syrian file. He stressed that “the Syrian opposition will not accept any solution that includes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power.”

Al-Bunni said “the Syrian opposition will also not accept any political solution except after the departure of al-Assad, his aides, family and the rest of his regime” adding “the Syrian security apparatus, which has terrorized the Syrian people throughout this period, must also be dismantled.”

Speaking on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said “we are not concerned about the fate of al-Assad’s regime. We understand what is going on there.” Commenting on this, al-Bunni said “there is a new Russian political approach that is different than its previous approach” adding “this can be inferred from the statements issued by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as well as other statements issued after this, particularly those by Putin.”

Speaking last week, Bogdanov told reporters that al-Assad’s forces are “losing more and more control and territory” adding “we cannot rule out the victory of the Syrian opposition.” Speaking on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia isn’t a “defender” of Syria’s President al-Assad, adding that Moscow wants to see a democratically elected government in Damascus.

Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Syrian National Coalition member Walid al-Bunni said “I believe that the Russian viewpoint is in the process of change, after Moscow became aware that the Syrian opposition are making gains on the ground, becoming convinced that al-Assad’s ouster is only a matter of time.”

In a related context, the opposition Syrian National Coalition described an Iranian initiative to resolve the Syrian crisis as a “desperate attempt to prolong the life of the al-Assad regime.”

Tehran has detailed a six-point peace initiative that does not include the ouster of the al-Assad regime, but instead calls for “an immediate halt to violence and armed action under the supervision of the United Nations.” The Iranian peace initiative also calls for sanctions against Syria to be lifted, the start of a “national dialogue”, the establishment of a transitional government and free elections.

In an official statement, the Syrian National Coalition said “the regime and its allies keep on launching lackluster and overdue political initiatives. The Iranian initiative represents one example of these desperate attempts to throw a lifeline to the inevitably sinking ship of the al-Assad regime.”

The statement added “the Iranian regime refuses to believe that what is happening in Syria is a revolution whose goal is liberation from the authoritarian and oppressive regime, and that this revolution is going to achieve complete victory.”

Also this evening, The Guardian is running this very informative piece that is just chock full of news, I suggest you follow the link and read the whole thing:
Russian military presence in Syria poses challenge to US-led intervention

Advisers deployed with surface-to-air systems bolster President Assad's defences and complicate outcome of any future strikes
Julian Borger
Sunday 23 December 2012 16.30 EST

Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria's more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.

The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago.

The depth and complexity of Syria's anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky. The possibility of Russian military casualties in such a campaign could have unpredictable geopolitical consequences.

Meanwhile, near-daily atrocities have kept western governments under pressure to act. A Syrian government air strike on a town near the central city of Hama on Sunday killed dozens of civilians queueing for bread, according to human rights activists.

Amateur footage from Halfaya showed mangled human remains strewn along a street where people had been blown off scooters and out of cars. One video showed a boy with his feet blown off. Piles of corpses could be seen beneath rubble outside a two-storey building the cameraman described as a bakery. It was unclear how many bodies were in the smoking ruins.

Human Rights Watch has previously accused the regime of targeting bakeries. The group warned the Assad regime that such targeted bombing of civilians represented war crimes. However, in the face of a Russian veto at the UN security council, the international criminal court has not had a mandate to investigate the atrocities committed by either side. The UN has put the death toll at more than 40,000 as the war continues to escalate.

Turkish officials, who accurately predicted the Syrian regime would use Scud missiles after several warplanes were shot down by rebels, also believe President Bashar al-Assad has twice come close to using chemical weapons including sarin, the nerve gas. First, after the bombing of the regime's Damascus security headquarters in July, which killed the president's brother in law, Assef Shawkat, and then last month, after opposition forces made significant gains.

The Turks and western officials say there are signs Assad sees chemical weapons as another step in the escalation of force, rather than a Rubicon-crossing gamble that could end his regime. The US, UK, France and Turkey have warned Syria that its use of such weapons would trigger military retribution. But any such a response would be fraught with difficulties. More...

Click here for a list of my other diaries on Syria

Why I think Syria is so important


What has turned into a very vicious and bloody civil war in Syria began as popular peaceful protests by large numbers of Syrians petitioning their government for change. At the most basic and fundamental levels, the demands and motivations of these Syrians were not that different from those of the protesters in Tunisia and Egypt, or Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. For that matter, they had much in common with people taking to the streets of Greece, Portugal and Spain. Protesters in Belgium saw the parallels; so did those that started occupying public space all across the United States just as Mummar Qaddafi was being put down for his first use of military power against the protest movement.

Qaddafi wasn't the first to use live fire in an attempt to suppress the protest movement that began with the Arab Spring and continues now in the worldwide movement against austerity, but he was the first to use military power, including regular army, tanks, artillery, jet aircraft and attack helicopter.

At the time the world said no to that. Substantial international aid was provided to the Libyans fighting back, UN resolutions got passed, NATO enforced a no-fly zone plus, and the Qaddafi regime was brought to heel. Even the Russians and Chinese were on board.

But then comes Syria and with Syria its a different story. In Syria, the international "community" is establishing very different rules about what measures a government is allowed to use in suppressing it own population, it would seem anything below chemical weapons is now to be allowed.

While there have been much greater slaughters in the past, especially in Asia and Africa, I believe what is happening in Syria now is very different from those massacres of the past. The Syrians are protesting much the same as people in the more developed countries worldwide. They live more like the people in the more developed countries worldwide and they are not being slaughtered with machetes but by the type of advanced military power possessed by the governments of the most developed countries worldwide.


Thanks to modern technology and communications like YouTube and Twitter, this slaughter is being viewed by the whole world in real time and that makes it precedent setting.

Therefore I fear that a terrible precedent is being set for just how far a government can go in suppressing its own population when they petition that government for change.

And this precedent is being set while the Left sits on its hands doesn't protest the use of cluster bombs against neighborhoods because they are known to be hostile to their government.

Merry Christmas,

I hope we can do better next year.

In Solidarity,

Clay

Christmas Eve in Syria

From SNN:
Breaking News | Dar'aa | Attaiybah | December 24, 2012
Military helicopters are dropping TNT barrels on the town.
Breaking News | Latakia | Assalibiyeh | December 24, 2012
An evening demonstration has mobilized on Aliskan St. calling for Hilfaya, a town witnessed a massacre yesterday, and the besieged cities and toppling the regime. Assad militias have violently attacked the protestors.
Breaking News | Hamah |Kafar Zita | December 24, 2012
Artillery and rocket shelling by Assad forces on residential areas.
Breaking News | Damascus Rural | Mu'adamyyat Asham | December 24, 2012
Dozens civilians have been killed during the shelling attacks on residential areas with rocket launchers.
Breaking News | Deir Ezzor | Alhusinyah | December 24, 2012
Fierce artillery shelling on residential areas.
Breaking News | Hamah |Bab Qabli | December 24, 2012
A mass demonstration mobilized in the neighborhood in support of the Free Syrian Army and besieged cities.
Breaking News | Aleppo | December 24, 2012
The Free Syrian Army and Assad forces are clashing around the police academy in Khan Al'sal.
Breaking News | Idlib | Ma'aret Annu'man | December 24, 2012
Assad forces are shelling the western neighborhood with rocket launchers and heavy artillery.
Breaking News | Homs | Talbiseh | December 24, 2012
Fifteen civilians have been killed including ten children and dozens injured when warplanes bombarded a bakery in the town.
Breaking News | Dar'aa | Jebreen | December 24, 2012
Eight civilians have been killed and dozens others injured when Assad forces shelled the village with artillery and rockets.
Breaking News | Arraqqah | December 24, 2012
Many towns and villages in the province are fiercely being bombarded with artillery by Al-Assad forces.
Breaking News | Hamah | December 24, 2012
Assad forces, stationed at Mt. Zain Alabdeen, are shelling the northern rural villages with rocket launchers.
Breaking News | Arraqqah | December 24, 2012
At least three citizens have been killed in aerial shelling with warplanes on many villages across the province by regime army.
Breaking News | Dar'aa | Alharra | December 24, 2012
An evening demonstration has mobilized across the western district calling for toppling the regime and chanting for freedom and in support of the besieged cities.
Breaking News | Dar'aa | Ezzraa | December 24, 2012
Assad militias have carried out indiscriminate raid and arrest campaign in the north neighborhood.
Breaking News | Homs| December 24, 2012
Civilians at a makeshift hospital after they inhaled poisonous gas released during shelling by regime forces on December 23, 2012
Breaking News | Damascus Rural | Douma | December 24, 2012
At least one civilians has been killed and many other have been injured as a result of bombardment with warplanes on the national hospital and the the cultural center by Assad forces.

Click here for a list of my other diaries on Syria

Sticking to their story: UNAC's new 'Statement on #Syria'

Follow clayclai on Twitter
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
--- Bishop Desmond Tutu

The United National Antiwar Coalition [UNAC] is a coalition of well known US anti-war groups. On 24 December 2012 they issued a new position statement about the conflict in Syria, titled:
UNITED NATIONAL ANTIWAR COALITION (UNAC)

STATEMENT ON SYRIA


Hands off Syria and Iran! End the Drone Wars!

We Need Jobs, Education and Healthcare, Not Endless War!

Six months before the Arab Spring even began, UNAC had an action program to oppose a US war against Syria. From their point of view, not much has changed since July 2010. They still see the threat of imminent US invasion as the main problem facing the Syrian people. That's their story and they're sticking to it. As we shall see, they don't need to consult concrete conditions in Syria to inform their position so it can remain the same throughout time.

I am including their entire statement in my appreciation of it so that the reader may see what I mean when I say that this statement says more by what it is silent on than it does by what it says. I am breaking it up, as I see appropriate, so I can interject comments, but other than that, it is complete and in the order in which they published it. The copyright police can know that there is no violation as UNAC has asked that it be distributed widely.

And so the body begins:
The ominous signs of impending war with Syria escalate.
There is already a war going on in Syria which this "Statement on Syria" leaves unmentioned. That is the war to overthrow the Assad regime and it has cost more than 40,000 Syrian lives so far, but what is really telling in this first sentence is their identification of the Assad regime with Syria.

There have been calls for NATO intervention in support of those forces attempting to overthrow the Assad regime, and there have even been signs that NATO may be preparing to go to war against the Assad regime, but to equate that with a war against Syria is to equate the Assad regime with Syria and to discount the Syrian armed opposition as a legitimate Syrian force. 130 countries no longer recognize the Assad regime as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, but UNAC still does.

The day after UNAC issued its "Statement on Syria," the head of Assad's military police defected to the Free Syrian Army. Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, then became the highest raking officer to defect from Assad. He said he had done so because of the military's deviation from “its fundamental mission to protect the nation and transformation into gangs of killing and destruction.” He also confirmed the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Homs last week. That's what finally sparked his defection. This is the reality of Syria that the UNAC "Statement on Syria" doesn't admit to. They are in an alternate universe.
NATO is massing troops and military equipment on Syria's borders, and preparing to install missiles aimed at Syria. U.S. warships are stationed off Syria’s coast. ‘Special operation’ units are readied.
I wish the most pressing problems the Syrian people faced right now were worries about future possible NATO attacks.
The U.S. government has been supplying arms and logistical support to a few selected Syrian paramilitary groups favored by the U.S. as “replacements” for Assad.

This is about as close as this UNAC "Statement on Syria" gets to recognizing the massive Syrian opposition to the Assad regime. Is it possible that they think the main struggle playing out in Syria in the last 23 months has been between Syria, as represented by the Assad regime and US imperialism?
The media bombards us with arguments that support foreign intervention, supposedly for “humanitarian reasons”.
That is about as close as this UNAC "Statement on Syria" comes to acknowledging the humanitarian crisis that without question really is going on in Syria. Is it possible that they believe the incredible human suffering and devastation we see every day on YouTube in hundreds of videos is all a fabrication or distraction to be ignored?

Assad's warplanes attacking civilians in Douma same day UNAC issues statement


Like WMD’s in Iraq, alarms are sounded, with no credible evidence, that Assad may unleash chemical weapons, thus establishing a pretext for invasion.
Acknowledging more than 40,000 murdered Syrians or that Assad's war planes are dropping explosive barrels and clusters bombs on civilians might get in the way of the "no credible evidence" line of reasoning. Those acknowledgements would also show that there already exists many a "pretext for invasion" so those corpses are conveniently swept under the carpet. No one will ever get a clue how many thousands of children have been slaughtered by this regime from the UNAC "Statement on Syria."
These are the facts that impel us to oppose any military, economic, diplomatic, or covert intervention aimed at controlling the internal affairs of Syria or any other country:

It would appear that the "facts that impel" the UNAC are very bias and very selective indeed and don't admit to the real suffering of the Syrian people let alone its chief cause.
· The Syrian people in their majority, regardless of their political positions re: the current government, have rejected calling for foreign intervention, such as occurred in Libya.
But there have been mass protests in Syria calling for intervention ala Libya. How did "Friday of International Protection", "Friday of No-Fly Zone", "Friday of the Syrian Buffer Zone" and "Friday for international military intervention" slip past the UNAC fact checkers? The names of these nationwide Friday protests is even more telling because they are chosen through a fierce on-line competition among activists and then endorsed by Syrians who come out in their hundreds of thousands to demonstrate under those banners.



Also when they say this, whether they know it or not, they are just reinforcing the imperialist line for doing nothing:
MS. NULAND: I think our position on this hasn't changed. As we have said, the vast majority of the Syrian opposition continues to speak in favor of peaceful, nonviolent protest and against foreign intervention of any kind, and particularly foreign military intervention into the situation in Syria, and we respect that.

· Sanctions harm the people of Syria by causing food shortages, power outages, and blocking the distribution of goods.
This is true, but right now the Syrian people are suffering a lot more from artillery bombardments and air attacks than they are from sanctions but those attacks aren't mentioned in the UNAC "Statement on Syria." Probably the UNAC is also opposed to any arms embargo against the Syrian government.

The next four paragraphs in their "Statement on Syria" are about the US, not Syria. All their "facts" are disputable, but I don't want to be distracted by that minutia and instead direct the reader to my other writings about the Syria revolution.

· The U.S. is directly involved in arming and training a few selected Syrian militias favorable to the U.S., contributing to the escalation of violence, direct foreign military intervention, and total destabilization.

The people who always suffer the most are the people not engaged in the armed struggle.
Which is why it is better to fight back and why every day more and more Syrians are fighting the Assad regime.
· We see the results of ‘humanitarian’ U.S. wars and occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya today, where the people, especially women and children, are worse off than before, with millions dead, injured, and/or displaced, an infrastructure and economy in shambles, and where there is no peace. A country that has a river of Iraqi, Afghan, and Libyan blood on its hands has no right to tell other countries what to do.

In other words, since Obama kills kids with drones, he has no right to demand, along with the majority of countries in the world and the majority of people in Syria, that the mass murderer Assad step down.

What does US moral authority, or the lack of it, have to do with anything?

Of course this "Statement on Syria" is not about Syria, but even if it were about countries in the region and not the US, they shouldn't try to get away with lumping Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya all together.
· The U.S. government’s goals in Syria are to gain dominance in a part of the world that holds the vast majority of the known oil reserves and to gain strategic advantage as it seeks to isolate and contain competitors like Russia and China.
And exactly why are the US government's goals the main focus of the UNAC "Statement on Syria?" Because the goal of the majority of Syrians to see an end to the Assad regime is not spoken of. They have demonstrated their determination with "rivers of blood" and a two year struggle that is on the verge of succeeding without international intervention on their side but the UNAC says nothing of this.

There has been international military intervention on the side of the Syria government by Iran, Hezbullah and Russia but the UNAC doesn't object to that. Governments like the Assad regime have a "right" to ask for international assistance; the Syrians, upon which the Russian cluster bombs rain, do not. That's their story and they're sticking to it.
The U.S. has no interest in democracy or the humanitarian well-being of a country’s peoples anywhere in the world, especially in areas where the U.S. has economic or strategic interests.
Their emotional dislike of the US, which is really the focus of the UNAC "Statement on Syria" causes them to make such categorical statements and not see that the US does have an interest in establishing bourgeois democracy as a more stable method of bourgeois rule in many cases and that they are actually interested in "humanitarian well-being," as they are interested in the health of their workers, if only to the extent they need to be to protect profits.
· The U.S. has a long history of thwarting the emerging economies and progressive initiatives of the third world while supporting repressive regimes.
One could only wish that insight would help the UNAC understand why US imperialism really is in no particular hurry to see the Assad regime go, and has actually been throttling, rather than helping, Assad's opposition.
While activists may hold different views of Syria’s internal political system,
This is code for the fact that some members of the UNAC actually support the fascist Assad regime but in the interest of "Left" unity, they have decided to be neutral as to the Syrian people's struggle to overthrow that regime, as noted above.

You will notice that while there are many "facts" and assertions in this "Statement on Syria" that the SNC and FSA would object to; there is nothing in it that would trouble the Assad regime much; nothing that is in conflict with their narrative on the situation.
we must all agree that the U.S. government has no right to impose its will on other countries, especially those formerly colonized and exploited by the West.

This is like an axiom that is easy to agree with except its placement in this "Statement on Syria" together with the four paragraphs above makes it sound like the main thing troubling Syria now is the U.S. government trying to impose its will. This may well be the ego-centric view of the U.S. Left, but I'm here to tell you that is not main thing going on in Syria.

Here again, the UNAC has rendered the courageous two year revolutionary mass struggle of the Syrian people invisible.
In all cases, we must support the right of nations to self-determination – that is to be able to decide on and resolve internal conflicts free from any foreign intervention.
By which they mean foreign intervention on the side of the people, because while there is a mountain of proof of foreign intervention in support of the Syrian government, they raise no objection to that. We know this because in an earlier statement they complained "State Department spokespeople are targeting Iran and Hezbollah for alleged military support to the Assad government." They even put this on their list of "alarming new threats" back in October 2012 and in June 2012, when Amnesty International called upon Russia to "end its shameful silence," UNAC called it "a campaign to support military intervention at the very time that the U.S. is openly feeding the violence in Syria by providing weapons, foot soldiers and logistical support."

The principal they wish to create is that when a people attempt the overthrow their government, which is already in possession of massive military hardware and advanced weapons, or when a people are being slaughtered by their government for any reason, there should be no international assistance given to those people. The "principal" of self determination is here perversely interpreted as the duty to allow an unarmed minority to be slaughtered by their government unless they can stop it themselves. In accordance with this "principal" the UNAC would have objected to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade that fought in the Spanish Civil War and many other examples of militant internationalist support.

And that's it. That's how they end the "Statement on Syria."

The worst thing that can be said about this "Statement on Syria" is that it is ignorant of the realities facing the Syrian people now, the hardships they have endured or their striving for freedom from the fascist Assad dictatorship, The "Statement on Syria" was drafted with the requirements of the drafters in mind, not those of the Syrian people.

Anti-Assad demonstration today in Jobar neighborhood of Damascus | 26 Dec 2012



Click here for a list of my other diaries on Syria

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chemical weapons use reported in Syria, Has Obama's red-line has been crossed?

See also today: BREAKING: 300 killed in air strike on breadline in #Syria

10:42 PM PT:

From Israel News


7 killed in Syria from 'sarin-like gas'

Published: 12.24.12, 08:32

Opposition activists tell Al-Jazeera poisonous gas sprayed by Assad's forces in Homs neighborhood; German weekly says elite Israeli, American, French unites operating deep in Syria to take control of chemical arms arsenals

Seven people were killed in Homs' rebel-held neighborhood of al-Bayyada when they inhaled a poisonous gas sprayed by Syrian Army forces, opposition activists told Al-Jazeera early Monday.

According to the activists, scores of others suffered from side effects, including nausea, relaxed muscles, blurred vision, and breathing difficulties. More...


9:35 PM PT: We have this update from Al Jazeera Syria Live Blog:


Poisonous gas sprayed in Homs leaves seven people dead and scores affected, activists say

December 24, 2012 - 04:07

Seven people have died in Homs after they inhaled a poisonous gas sprayed by government forces in a rebel-held neighbourhood, activists said.

Activists also told Al Jazeera that scores of others were affected in al-Bayyada neighbourhood. Side effects reported include nausea, relaxed muscles, blurred vision, and breathing difficulties.

Residents said they did not know the nature of the gas sprayed.

"The situation is very difficult. We do not have enough facemasks. We don't know what this gas is but medics are saying it's something similar to Sarin gas," Raji Rahmet Rabbou, an activist in Homs, told Al Jazeera.



1:55 PM PT:


1:12 PM PT:




11:47 AM PT:
MORE BREAKING: Al Jazeera Live Blog reporting poison gas use against rebels in Homs

This just in:

Poisonous gas sprayed in a rebel-held neighbourhood in Homs, medics there say

December 23, 2012 - 22:27
This video shows medics in a besieged area in Homs city trying to help a person struggling to breath. They say he inhaled poisonous gas sprayed by regime forces in the rebel-held al-Bayada neighbourhood.

Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the accounts given by him.




I have also seen these twitter reports of a gas attack in Homs:









Follow clayclai on Twitter

The Iranian mouthpiece Press TV has just published this story claiming that the Syrian opposition has used chemical weapons against the Syrian government and that at least seven Syrian soldiers have been killed.

Let me be clear at the outset that I do not believe this report! I know that Press TV is an unreliable source, in fact I exposed their perchance for spreading misinformation long ago in my diary here.

I do not believe that militants have used chemical weapons in Syria. However, I consider the publication of this report by Press TV to be BREAKING NEWS of the highest order. Just as the reports of an attack by North Vietnamese PT boats against US destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin, an "attack" that we now know never happened, was certainly "Breaking News" of the highest order.

The mere claim by Iranian or Syrian government sources that the opposition has already used chemical weapons indicates that some very big moves are afoot: If the Syrian government is claiming that "militants" have killed seven of their soldiers through the first use of chemical weapons,
How will they now respond?

Here is the Press TV piece:
Syria militants use chemical weapons against Syrian forces

Sun Dec 23, 2012 2:4PM GMT
Militants fighting against the Syrian government have used chemical weapons against the army in Daraya near the capital, Damascus, military sources say.

According to a commander of the Syrian Presidential Guard, at least seven Syrian soldiers were killed on Saturday after they were attacked by a chemical weapon which produced a toxic yellow gas.

The soldiers were reportedly killed within an hour after inhaling the gas.
Foreign-backed militants have repeatedly threatened to use chemical weapons against the army and pro-government civilians in recent days.
They have also threatened to contaminate Syria's drinking water supply in a bid to kill all Alawite Shias and the supporters of President Bashar al-Assad.

The threat was made in a video posted on YouTube in which militants tested water contaminated with a lethal mixture on lab rabbits. The rabbits stopped breathing and their chests swelled shortly after drinking the poisoned water.

The militants had earlier released a footage in which lab rabbits were killed by inhaling poisonous gas.

The militants' use of chemical weapons come as the US and its allies have alleged that the Syrian government possesses the deadly weapons and is prepared to use them against militants.
More...

The Iranian FAR News Agency is carrying reports similar to the Press TV report:
Syria: Terrorists Use Chemical Weapons against Army

15:37 | 2012-12-23
TEHRAN (FNA)- Armed rebels used chemical weapons in their attacks against the Syrian army in Reef (outskirts of) Damascus on Sunday.
The terrorists used chemical weapons against the Syrian army forces in Darya district of Reef Damascus today.

"The terrorists have already thrown three cube-shaped plastic bags towards the (Syrian) army's forces that killed seven forces due to the gases emerging from the bags," a commander of the Syrian Presidential Guard told the Iran-based Arab-language Al-Alam news channel on Sunday.

The commander noted that a yellow button is installed on the bags and by pushing that a yellow gas came out and those who inhaled it died after nearly one hour.

Since several weeks ago, different media had reported about the presence of chemical weapons in Syria and the possibility of its use by armed rebels.

Earlier this month, a senior member of the Iranian parliament had warned that based on developments during the last 21 months of crisis in Syria, the terrorist groups are much more eager to use chemical weapons than the Syrian army.

The remarks were made by Head of the Parliament's Education and Research Commission Mohammad Mehdi Zahedi in an interview with the Parliament's news agency.

"The situation on the ground and what has happened over the past 21 months indicate that the possibility of using chemical and unconventional weapons by the rebels in Syria is much higher than the Syrian government," Zahedi said. More...

These reports comes after yesterday's reports from Russia that Syria's chemical weapons were being safeguarded.

Below the fold is what I planned to do with my diary today before the above story came across my desk. I wish to introduce you to another voice on the Syrian Revolution, The Revolution Observer.

The Revolution Observer, 17 Dec 2012, by Abu Anas:
Secrets of the US-Syrian Relations

After the defeat of the Ottoman Caliphate in World War I, and through the Sykes-Picot agreement between France and Britain in 1916, the French occupied what we know today as Syria. For one to understand the extent of US influence in Syria and to map the relationship between the Assad regime and the US, one must consider the history of modern Syria. The following are 10 key points, in chronological order, starting from the time of Western colonization of Syria to the present day, highlighting US involvement in the country.

1.) US and CIA orchestrated military coups in Syria since 1949: The US, through its embassy in Damascus and the CIA, led the first ever military coup in Syria in 1949, as detailed in the book “The Game of Nations” by Miles Copeland. This marked the beginning of the international struggle over the Middle East between the United States, the new entrant to the world arena, and the Europeans (French and British) who held the influence in the region but came out of World War II devastated. The US embassy and the CIA continued to support several subsequent military coups in Syria throughout the 50s and 60s against their European rivals, this was an era of instability that lasted over two decades.

2.) Hafez's pullout out of the 1967 war to secure Israel: Ex-President, Amin al-Hafiz, said in an interview on Al-Jazeera on July 2nd, 2001 that Hafez al-Assad, the then Defense Minister, sent a strict order of withdrawal to the Syrian army from the Golan Heights at the beginning of the war. This was before any sign of defeat or real confrontation against the Israeli military which has resulted in the occupation of such a strategic location.[1] It was through this move, Assad gained the trust of the US in defending Israel's northern border, which he continued to do for the next three decades.

3.) US supporting Syria through UN Resolution 242 in 1967: UN Resolution 242 which was passed after the 1967 War, commonly known as the six-day war, with Israel and its occupation of the Golan Heights, grants Syria, to this day, the right to regain back its territory.[2] The US supported this agreement and Syria's right to its territory. This is in stark contrast to the Israeli position, apart from occasional lip service, of rejecting any notion of surrendering this geographically strategic territory.

4.) Strengthened US-Syrian relations after the 1973 war: After the 1973 surprise war with Israel, the US should have slammed Syria with sanctions. On the contrary, in 1974, President Nixon personally paid a visit to Damascus to strengthen relations with the Assad regime.

5.) US acceptance of Syrian occupation of Lebanon since 1976: Syrian troops invaded Lebanon at the beginning of the civil war. The silence on part of the US against such an occupation was a "green light" to Hafez al-Assad to initiate and continue this invasion until 2005, when a French-mandated resolution pushed the Syrians out with American reluctance. One political analyst described this US role by saying: "[The US] seemed tacitly to acquiesce to continued Syrian ascendancy in Lebanon."[3]

6.) Cooperation of Syria and US through the Tai'f Agreement in 1989: The Ta'if agreement was signed in Saudi Arabia between the different Lebanese factions to put an end to the civil war in 89’. The US was the power broker besides France, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria that helped form the agreement, "prompting international support for Syrian?guardianship over Lebanon."[4]

7.) Syria joining the US in its campaign to invade Iraq in 1991: Syria supported the US in its war campaign against Iraq (Operation Desert Storm) and sent 14,500 soldiers and personnel to aid the US in its invasion of Iraq.[5]

8.) US mediating negotiation between Syria and Israel during 1990's: Hafez al-Assad accepted the US to be a mediator between Syria and Israel. Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Hikmat al-Shihabi, led the delegation to the US that discussed peace negotiations on the matter. In an interview with Russia Today TV, Syrian ex-Minister of Defense and a pillar of the Assad regime, Mustafa Tlass, stated unequivocally that al-Shihabi was a CIA-agent for the US.[6]

9.) Intelligence cooperation between CIA and Syria to torture detainees since 2001: The close cooperation between the CIA and the Syrian regime was so warm, that even during times when Syria was called a rogue state, the Syrian regime offered its services to do the dirty work of the CIA. The regime used its world renowned intelligence agencies to extract information from detainees and prisoners of war through torture for the CIA. The famous case of Canadian citizen Maher Arar is one example that made International news.[7]

10.) US support of regime during the Syrian Revolution of 2011: As has been discussed in detail through our first part of this series on the agency of the Assad regime, the US has stood silent and watched the daily slaughter of Syrian civilians for 2 years, in addition to denying the rebels the weapons needed to protect themselves and to oust Assad.

As can clearly be seen, the US tried early on in Syria’s modern history to set its agents in power through military coups. Although the US continued its public rhetoric against Syria, it achieved complete hegemony when its agent, Hafez al-Assad, gained power in 1970. Since al-Assad, Syria has been a covert proxy state for the US serving its interests in the region and protecting Israel’s northern borders, while outwardly claiming to be the resistance leader within the Arab region.

The Revolution Observer, 8 Aug 2012, by Abu Anas:
The US Strategy In Syria

The United States has a great stake in Syria due to its geopolitical and strategic interest. It is very critical for any politician or activist to understand the interests and strategies employed by the world powers in a specific political scene. In the previous post, we have shed some light on the geopolitical interests of the US in Syria and now we will concentrate on the strategies employed by the US to preserve its influence in Syria due to this popular uprising that has shook its agent regime.

Looking backwards to the beginning of the uprising, the US has changed its posture toward the revolution three times, utilizing different strategies due to changes on the Syrian political scene.

The first strategy, which was utilized from the beginning of the revolution for little less than one year, can be termed as the "hands-off approach." The US policy makers, like many skeptics who knew the viciousness of the Syrian regime, had no doubt that the regime will be able to crush the masses and return them to their homes. The Syrian regime was very stern since the beginning, stating that it is very different from all of the other revolutions and Syria is not vulnerable to popular uprisings. The US was convinced by the regime rhetoric and therefore provided it with the necessary political cover through the Arab Summit and later on the UN resolutions, which gave it lots of time to crack down upon the people. The regime was advised by the US to utilize what was termed as "smart killing", which is the killing of less than 50 people a day, so as to not enrage the world public opinion against the criminal silence of the Western, so called Democratic and Free, world.

The resilience and determination of the Muslims of Syria has flabbergasted the whole world and sent shock waves through the policy making centers of the Western administrations. That is when the US administration came running with a different strategy to save its agent regime in Damascus, its second strategy, which we can call the "Yemeni approach." The US started through the Arab League and later on through the special envoy from the UN, Kofi Annan, to promote the "political transition" in similar steps as Ali Abdallah Saleh has taken in Yemen to transfer his powers to a so-called "opposition" transitional government. The deal was, in summary, the stepping down of Bashar al-Assad, securing his exit from the country and the appointment of his vice president, Farouq al-Shar'a, as his successor to lead a transitional government formed by giving some seats in it to an approved set of Syrian opposition figures, mainly from the Turkish-based Syrian National Council (SNC).

Due to the horrendous bloodshed and savagery of the regime's militias on one hand and the awareness of the Syrian people on the other, such a middle ground compromise that was set to preserve the whole regime, except for a face change, was trampled by the rebels. After 6-months of trying this Yemeni approach, the US had to change gears for a third time. The third strategy which happens to be the current one employed by the US against the revolution can be summarized in the proverb, "if you can't beat them, join them." This "infiltration approach" is based on two pillars, the first is to get some of the loyal elements from the regime to defect and join the opposition to steer it away from their goals. The second pillar is to try to buy out some loyalties from the current opposition through money, weapons supply, intimidation, psychological warfare, etc. The goal is to maintain as much of the old regime as possible while at the same time give the illusion of change to the masses to calm the streets and maintain control of the country.

We have seen lots of defections from the top echelon of the regime that would be playing such a role, most notably the close friend of Bashar al-Assad, Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, and the Syrian ambassador in Iraq, Nawaf al-Fares. There has been many news leaks about CIA operatives on the Turkish borders with Syria and even inside Homs and Idlib trying to filter out the FSA factions so support can be given to the appropriate ones. It is in the Syrian vital interest not to allow some of the doubtful characters from the top of the regime, who are defecting now, from leading the revolution or have any role in influencing the future of Syria.

The Revolution Observer, 20 Aug 2012, by Abu Anas:
The Agency of the Assad Regime

The goal of mainstream media outlets is the shaping of people's viewpoints based on the agendas of governments and multinational corporations. Therefore, the Muslim political observer, without an official media outlet to reflect his strategic and vital interests, is left to be bombarded by anti-Islamic propaganda that purposefully misinforms and distorts reality. This has led to the misconception that the relationship between the United States and Syria is filled with animosity. This article will be the first of a two part series discussing this topic.

For anyone to be able to explain the relationship between different countries one must understand the interests of these countries and their political actions must be analyzed so one can define what type of relationship they have. The media has suggested that the Syrian regime is part of the Iranian "axis of evil" which jeopardizes the US interests in the region. Iran has a strategic depth extending through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and even Bahrain, Yemen and Gaza. The Syrian regime, of all of these players, stands out as the strongest ally to Iran and is a pillar in its ability to project power into the Arab world. Based on this assumption, analysts have said that it is the strategic interest of the US to bring down the regime to undermine the Iranian influence in the region. They add that eliminating Syria from the Iranian sphere of influence will deal a great blow to Iran's expansionist strategy.

The political observer realizes that such an assumption is false through the examination of the political actions by the US towards the Syrian regime since the beginning of the revolution. One would be assured that if the above understanding of the US-Syrian relations were true then the US would have nurtured relationships with the Syrian opposition inside Syria from day one and even before the revolution. The first fact is that the US has left the regime to crack down upon the peaceful protests for months despite raw footage showing inhumane and totally savage behavior of the Assad militias (“shabiha”) towards innocent civilians. Aside from empty rhetoric and lip service from the US administration, nothing concrete was applied to support the rebels. Even the US ambassador to Syria stayed in Damascus under the guise of trying to collect information on the ground. The political cover that the US has provided to the regime, through the Arab League and the UN, cannot go unnoticed to even the amateur political observer and certainly not to the Syrian rebels.

The second fact, which is of greater importance, is the US not providing any military support to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and until just recently giving a green light to Saudi Arabia and Qatar to fund the smuggling of meager weapons to the rebels. The US administration refused to support the FSA with weapons under the excuse of not wanting to further militarize the conflict and just recently under the guise of Islamist composition of the FSA. It is of paramount importance to know that what is needed to bring down the regime in a relatively short period of time is to provide portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. The FSA has specifically requested RPG-29 and SAM-7 supplies, something which is very easy for the US to provide. The US has given more sophisticated weaponry to the Afghan freedom fighters during the invasion in the 1970s which brought the Soviet Union to its knees. That kind of support can be used as the benchmark for when the US wants to bring down a regime. It is very clear that the US has behaved in a totally different fashion with the Syrian rebels.

A couple of issues that can be brought up by skeptics are the mistrust of some FSA factions and not having a unified and clear command for the FSA overall. First, if the Syrian regime was that much of a threat to the US, then supporting its enemies to cause its demise would be a priority. Second, the US could have from early on signaled that it will militarily support the opposition and it would have been very easy to connect with one of the defectors that would fulfill the US interests. When the US publicly supports that FSA personnel and its faction with the needed weapons, all future defectors will naturally fall in line under its leadership. This fact was confirmed by a Syrian financier to the rebels who was quoted as saying: "The number of fighters each commander can summon wax and wane with his ability to arm and pay them and their families, so there is no particular leader with enough clout to bring the brigades together."[1] So both questions can be easily resolved when you supply such a contact with the needed weapons and the rest is a trickle down effect.

It can be seen clearly from the above analysis of the US relationship with the Syrian regime that the US prefers this regime to continue and that there is no hostilities, at least not to the level the mainstream media would like to propose is the case. The Syrian regime has secured the US interests in the region, specifically toward Israel, and the US is very happy to continue such a relationship, if possible, for the future. The Syrian people in general, and the rebels in specific, have to realize that the real support to the regime is coming from Washington first and foremost and not only from Moscow and Tehran!




Here are my related diaries on Syria:
BREAKING: Russia takes control of Syrian chemical weapons
Syria: Assad Regime enters the Deathwatch Phase
SecState[?] John Kerry and his 'dear friend' Bashar Assad
A Libyan rebel speaks out on Jihadists in Syria
Does what Obama said at Newtown apply to Syria?
BREAKING: Heavy fighting in Damascus as coup attempt reported in progress
Assad's jets bomb Palestinian refugee camp
Jabhat al-Nusra is a Threat to the Syrian Revolution
AP weighs in on Obama's Green Light for Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syrian opposition says "Thanks but No Thanks!" to foreign intervention
BREAKING: Assad firing Scud missiles at Syria
Is Assad using white phosphorus in Syria?
BREAKING: Obama recognizes opposition in Syria
Speaking for the murderous regime in Syria
State of the war in Syria: Most of Damascus now in FSA hands!
Syria: Obama's moves Assad's "red line" back as SOHR reports 42,000 dead!
UPDATED: Syria goes dark as "cleansing" begins in Damascus
BREAKING: Assad's Troops Wipe Out a Playground Full of Children in #Syria
BREAKING: Russia denies Syrian army on brink of collapse
BREAKING in Syria: Explosion rocks Damascus as people use "Truce Day" to protest regime
We condemn Israel. So why the silence on Syria?
Norodom Sihanouk at his finest & more on Syria
Meet a Syrian who doesn't think both sides are equally bad and is betting her life on it!
Two statements about Syria
Syria Today: New videos from the revolutionary war
Syrian Defector: Assad behind "terrorist" bombs
How Assad fights "terrorism" in Syria
REVISITED: FSA says it killed Russian General in Syria
Turkey attacks Syria
Truth Out: How Assad helped France kill Qaddafi
Panetta: Unilateral U.S. Military Intervention in Syria Would Be a Serious Mistake
BREAKING: 305 Syrians slaughtered in bloodiest day yet
Syria: Secret source of rebel arms revealed
BREAKING: Amnesty on Syria - Assad Regime guilty on indiscriminate slaughter
Syrian Revolution Digest shows "disgusting" photos!
Syria: The Killing Field the World is Learning to Live With
Barack Obama's Courtship of Bashar al-Assad
LIVE VIDEO: “World Silence is Killing Syria” Rally in #DC
Free #Syria responds to Robert Fisk
UPDATED: #Assad: "#Syria doesn't need a green light!"
Obama opposes French support for #Assad's opposition in #Syria
BREAKING: Amnesty site hacked, Assad propaganda posted
BREAKING: 630 Slaughtered in new massacre in Syria
Special message from Syrian children to Obama
Assad's Redline and Obama's Greenlight!
General Meade at Gettysburg
Tell US gov't to stop endangering Syrian activists
UPDATED: Obama "green lights" #Assad's slaughter in Syria
Syria: Turning Battlegrounds into Playgrounds
BREAKING: Bashar al-Assad is alive as deaths in Syria reach 25,000
The Left and the Arab Spring
Iran increasing its intervention in Syria
Syria: Images from the Battle of Aleppo
Fears grow of WMD attack in Syria
UPDATED: FSA says it killed Russian General in Syria
BREAKING: Syria releases new images of Bashar al- Assad | Are they fakes?
NOT BREAKING NEWS: Just another massacre in Syria
UPDATED: Syrian prime minister defects
Syria: FSA says Iranian pilgrims really Republican Guard
Syria: Aleppo under Siege!
BREAKING: UN votes to condemn Assad Regime as Reuters posts false story on Syria
BREAKING: Kofi Annan resigns as envoy to Syria
Syria: Bashar al-Assad not heard from on Armed Forces Day!
BREAKING: Senior Syrian diplomat to Armenia defects
BREAKING: Big Explosion hits #Damascus #Syria
UPDATED: Syria's Charge D'Affaires Quits London Post
BREAKING: Ground assault on Aleppo begins!
BREAKING: Protests across Syria in spite of Assad regime violence
ALEPPO: Step outside the Matrix and witness the Horror
UPDATED: US fears massacre in #Aleppo, #Syria
BREAKING: Reports of clashes between Jordan Army & Assad's Syrian army
BRAKING: Obama stops Putin from re-arming Assad in Syria
Syria: Foreign meddling increases as crisis builds
BREAKING: Aleppo, Syria bombed with fighter jets
BREAKING: Syria issues a correction, it has no WMD to use
BREAKING: Arab League asks Assad to step down!
Bashar al-Assad: New images released as slaughter continues in Syria
no blood for oil
BREAKING: Activists report toxic gas attack in Deir ez-Zor, Syria
Glenn Greenwald sees Islamist Terrorism as main issue in Syria
Will Syria's Assad make a chemical attack in Damascus on Saturday?
BREAKING: I know where Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is!
BREAKING: Massive Fire near #Assad's Presidential Palace in #Damascus, #Syria
BREAKING: Is Syria's Bashar al-Assad dead or dying?
BREAKING: Damascus explosion kills Defense Minister, other key figures
The battle for Damascus is coming
BREAKING: General Strike in Damascus
BREAKING: Intense fighting reported in Damascus now!
BREAKING: Syrian defector spills beans as important new defection reported.
Does Syria's Assad have something on Kofi Annan?
Tremseh Massacre in Syria: What we know
BREAKING: ~227 reported massacred by Assad's forces in Tremseh, Syria today!
Syria: Is Assad regime on the verge of collapse?
BREAKING: Russian Warships reported in Syria
BREAKING: #Russia changing on #Assad but not as fast as conditions in #Syria
UN Observers say violence in Syria is ‘Unprecedented’
BREAKING: Defection of major Assad insider reported in Syria
BREAKING: WikiLeaks releases 2.4 million #Syria emails
When did "Never Again" become "Whenever?" | #Douma
BREAKING: Incredible mass rally in Aleppo, Syria today!
BREAKING: HRW releases torture report on Syria
BREAKING: Syrian General defects with 293 to Turkey
BREAKING: Items not in the MSM on Syria
My response to Phyllis Bennis: Where is the non-violent opposition in Syria?
BREAKING: Syrian Air Force attacks Douma, 10m from Damascus, thousands flee
BREAKING: As Syria Burns, UN Blows More Smoke
BREAKING: Kofi Annan to propose Syrian unity gov't sans Assad!
BREAKING: Douma, Syria under massive attack, another massacre feared
BREAKING: Another mass defection from Syrian army
BREAKING: #NATO says No War in #Syria shoot down of #Turkey jet
NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria
BREAKING: Turkey calls for NATO consult on downing of jet by Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian Officers Defect
UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria
BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout