Tuesday, November 15, 2011

War of the Worlds – Syria Edition!

Welcome to the Syrian Civil War. It took 8 months to get us here, but we are finally here, thanks to the diligent efforts and dedication of the cowardly few, the silent middle and the impotent lot, who all collaborated to make the sacrifices of the protesting majority meaningless. Let there be no doubt that the protesters, the little germs according to Assad, will overcome at the end, but the human and material cost will be much higher than it could have been had we all acted earlier to support them.  

Monday 14, 2011

51 people were killed including 20 civilians and 20 loyalists. 16 civilians were killed when loyalist troops fired at a convoy of protesters on the road connecting the towns of Khirbet Ghazaleh and Hraak. Later, clashes between loyalists and defectors left 20 loyalists and 5 defectors dead. 11 more civilians were killed in various locations in Homs Province. 6 more were killed in Idlib Province and 2 in Hama and Qamishly.  Clashes between defectors and loyalists were also reported in Bayadah neighborhood in Homs City and in the town of Shaizar in Hama Province.

The Arab League has decided to send a 500-strong delegation made up of military experts and officials as well as representatives of the media and of human rights organizations to monitor the situation on the ground in Syria. The upcoming meeting of the League on Wednesday which will take place in the Moroccan city of Rabat will decide on the exact date of the visit.

Death toll for Thursday November 10 is now put at 39 including 15 in Homs City, 9 in Idlib Province, 5 in Hama Province, 3 in Deraa Province and 6 in the Damascene suburb of Barzeh. The dead included 5 children and a baby. Also, 6 loyalists were killed in M’arrat Al-Nouman in Idlib Province and Deir Ezzor City in ambushes staged by the units affiliated with the Free Syrian Army.

On Friday November 11, a day dedicated to demanding freezing of Syria’s membership in the Arab League, 33 people were killed by pro-Assad militias. Pro-democracy demonstrations took place in close to 300 communities.

On Saturday November 12, 15 people were killed, mostly in Homs City. An ambush by members of the Free Syrian Arm also left 9 loyalist militiamen dead on the road between M’arrat Al-Nouman and Khan Shaikhoon in the Idlib Province.

On Sunday November 13, and as Russia announced that it will continue arms sales to the Assads, Assad loyalists killed 28 people, including 14 in Hama Province and 7 in Homs City.

The official death toll for Friday November 4 is now pout at 165.


While the opposition celebrate pyrrhic victories, make grandiose claims and exchange meaningless accusations, the Assads have managed to plunge the country into civil war, just as they had threatened since the beginning of the protest movement.

Yes. There is no denying it anymore, and no sugarcoating it. It’s here, it’s now, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon – it’s Syria First Civil War of the modern era, and it is taking place everywhere: in Homs, in Hama, in Deir Ezzor, in Deraa and in Rural Damascus – and this is only the beginning. The only thing we can do now is see to it that the tragedy is brought to a swift conclusion with the protesters emerging as the true and indisputable victors. It will then be our task to make sure that this is last such war to take place in our country.

A Military Council

The Free Syrian Army announced earlier today the formation of a Military Council made up of

1.   Colonel Riyad Moussa Al-Ass’aad (leader)
2.  Colonel Malik Abdulhaleem Kurdi
3.  Colonel Ahmad Hijazi Hijazi
4.  Colonel Arafat Rasheed
5.  Colonel Aref Muhammad Nour Al-Hamoud http://youtu.be/cmJ6gDhErtA
6.  Lieutenant Abdurrazzaq Rashid Al-Rahmoun
7.  Lieutenant Abdulsattar Muhammad Jameel Younso
8.  Lieutenant Ghassan Ismail Hleihel
9.  Major Maher Ismail Al-Rahmoun

The main goals of the council include: toppling the regime, protecting citizens, protecting public and private property and preventing chaos and any acts of vengeance once the regime has been toppled.

In the meantime, the co0uncil will retain complete jurisdiction over military operations and safeguarding security, but its members cannot take part in political party or religious movement. The Council will constitute the highest military authority in the land and will have the rights to contact foreign government and organizations. It will also form a military police unit charged with pursuing loyalists suspected of committing crimes and submitting them for trial by the revolutionary court.
Once the regime falls, all security apparatuses will be dissolved and all members who were not involved in killings will be invited to become members of the FSA. The same apply to all military personnel.

All governmental and political institutions were called upon to cooperate with and implement the directives of the FSA.

Meanwhile, FSA leader admonished all members of his army to adhere strictly to international law governing protection of civilians and civilian targets, and asserted that the Military Council will dissolve itself once a democratically elected government takes charge of the country.

On the political front…

Cairo has become the current mecca of Syrian opposition groups, where all are heading to the headquarters of the Arab League to argue their case for inclusion in the ranks of the officially recognized opposition, when it gets officially recognized.

And no, this is not a race between the SNC (Syrian National Council) and NCC (National Coordination Committee), or the SNC and the FSA (Free Syrian Army), as some would like to picture it. The scene is much more open than this: there is the liberal-oriented Antalya Group, the Salafist-leaning council established by the popular preacher Sheikh Adnan Arour, the Kurdish National Council, formed in protest over the size and quality of Kurdish representation in the SNC, the Secular Democratic Coalition, or at least some segments in it who continue to protest against the overrepresentation and the great behind-the-scene influence of Islamist elements on SNC decision-making process, among many others.

The protesters, of course, cannot find themselves anywhere in this scene. Those of them who are still betting on the SNC are doing it for pragmatic reasons and in the hope that events will nudge SNC leaders into adopting their demands, despite their ideological objections and predilections. But the erstwhile enthusiasm is definitely gone.

Indeed, and speaking of enthusiasm, the Kurdish streets have grown relatively quiet of late, the assassination of Mishal Tammo, which could have ignited them, had no such effect. The policies of the SNC and the statements of its leaders on the Kurdish Question have served to alienate the Kurds, and played into the hands of those who prefer keeping a low profile in hope of striking a deal with the regime for greater autonomy.

Meanwhile, the Turkmen, who number around 750,000 strong located in the northern and central parts and in some areas along the coast, recently issued a statement saying that the SNC does not represent them. But then, in all fairness, no Syrian opposition group has so far bothered to reach out to the Turkmen, who are only now beginning to organize themselves politically. 

Last ditch attempts at clarifying the exact membership of the SNC and opening it to more groups and figures are currently taking place in Cairo, but no one is holding his breaths. The powers-that-be behind the SNC seem satisfied with murkiness of the current situation, even if it stood as an obstacle in the way of getting international acceptance and legitimacy. For while SNC propagandists are quick to point out that the Turkish Foreign Minister, for instance, has recently declared the Council as a legitimate representative of the Syrian people, they fail to tell us why he didn’t declare them as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people at this stage, which is the coveted position for any institution hoping to lead the transitional phase.

But the reason is known, and it’s the same reason given by the French and Americans, among other: problems with representation, including overrepresentation of certain currents and underrepresentation of others, as well as lack of transparency in the selection and decision-making processes, not to mention lack of clear political vision and transitional plans. If these “details” are not worked out in Cairo over the next few days, a new council, if not several of them, might end up emerging.   

Nov 10: A general strike in most protest communities

This leaked clip from Hama City dates back to September but it still convey the reality of what is taking place in many communities throughout Syria today (September 24): pro-Assad militias trying to storm into the home of a local resident http://youtu.be/sdtW38VcR8Y

This more recent leaked clip from Baba Amr Neighborhood in Homs City shows a tank and a couple of loyalist troops who were hit by local members of Free Syrian Army during recent clashes http://youtu.be/QGWFLEFT_eY

Meanwhile, in the Damascene suburb of Harasta, a protester was killed and his body snatched by pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/XiJl9uC-WnQ Shortly afterwards, defectors clash with pro-Assad militias and drive them out http://youtu.be/nf-aWBkzOws  

Locals and defectors form a new anti-Assad brigade in Deir Ezzor Province http://youtu.be/Qks1Z35w_OI More defections took place in Idlib Province as well http://youtu.be/CDkV4mBx_VM In Deraa Province, defectors dance openly in the streets to the tunes of Bashar is a traitor to Syria” http://youtu.be/5iaRy3Wbb28

In this leaked video from Idlib Province, we see pro-Assad militias treating their own wounds http://youtu.be/w_D-Rl7d7tU

Demonstrations: Hama (Taybat Al-Imam) http://youtu.be/jEWpVKYmBQ4 (Hilfaya) http://youtu.be/A9aEatVNVgY (Karnaz) http://youtu.be/FyuioBaPewg In the town of Kafroumah in Idlib Province, the daughter of a local martyr leads his funerary procession (in green) http://youtu.be/BTK32TKfpHI

Friday / Nov 11: Membership suspension

A young man from Bosra in the Deraa/Hauran province is taking his last breaths after being shot in the chest http://youtu.be/27VQ2PZV2T0 Other people were shot as well in Bosra http://youtu.be/w_j4php4YgQ Protesters came under fire in Tafas as well http://youtu.be/OWwq_Ur8nbw

Abdelbassit Sarout, goalkeeper of the national soccer team for under 21, recounts how his house in Bayadah Neighborhood in Homs City was bombed http://youtu.be/ptBjoU6hyIw   The pounding of the neighborhood resumes during the night http://youtu.be/ye9WpPPlz1E , http://youtu.be/dGqcETaPAUs The story unfolds in the nearby neighborhood of Khaldiyeh http://youtu.be/Hlio339I_pY

In Deir Baalba Neighborhood in Homs City, 3 people were killed when their car was shelled http://youtu.be/r5O0RILgFIo

Protesters retrieve the body of a fallen comrade in Cairo Street in Homs City http://youtu.be/lbhvR7Gf1Eg Protesters in Wa’er find themselves under fire http://youtu.be/EmvCQgG173A

Karm Al-Zeitun aftermath of shelling http://youtu.be/9M-sSCRYLyc A baby was shot dead in his crib when a bullet came through the window http://youtu.be/EE9XTs4sw5E

Armored vehicles patrol the streets of Homs City http://youtu.be/OCi3PXVLLBA

In the town of Mseifrah in Deraa/Hauran Province, a teenager is killed when he stepped on a landmine http://youtu.be/ElozQm7qmSk

Ass’aad Ashiq Mustafa, a former minister and governor of Hama announces his defection http://youtu.be/tUCQVGl2E3g

In Aleppo City, a protester is being brutalized by Assad loyalists http://youtu.be/N2ArKV2ju7s His colleagues get the same treatment http://youtu.be/75AMTCZgE3o Another protester is brutalized in Deraa City http://youtu.be/oYzHWqSA07k

IDLIB PROVINCE: Kafroumah http://youtu.be/o7zgi_Vf8Eo Kafar Nabbel http://youtu.be/3D05RZBT6lg

DAMASCUS: Qarrah http://youtu.be/TPRAmEtGClU

DERAA/HAURAN: Basr Al-Harir http://youtu.be/fD-kpQ-5eb8

DEIR EZZOR: Albou Kamal protesters come under heavy automatic fire http://youtu.be/9Lj16hjzv5Q

In this interview with a Dounia TV Cameraman who left the country, he asserts what protesters have been saying all along, that security officers were always present during interviews with people on the streets to make sure that they said the “right” things, and that weapons shown on TV belonged to pro-Assad militias and security forces http://youtu.be/YnDltKtr76E

Nov 12, Saturday

More defections in Idlib http://youtu.be/eWm4scZiLgM More destruction in the Bayadah Neighborhood in Homs City http://youtu.be/XOfAkBo02yk and elsewhere http://youtu.be/ThzBUYVT0Os

DERAA/HAURAN: Sourah http://youtu.be/-4fyTts9O54 Deir Al-Bakht http://youtu.be/Vdy_sX7PZDI

Nov 13 / Sunday

9 students were wounded in Homs City when a tank shell hit a classroom in the local College of Architecture http://youtu.be/rTThLerUeKo Elsewhere, students run for cover when gunfire is heard around the campus http://youtu.be/T7Ty991e0nQ And in Mahata, Christian protesters chant for the glory of Mary and freedom http://youtu.be/vpjUBmnCPQQ , http://youtu.be/pAgz9mjegHo

Meanwhile, clashes between defectors and loyalists continue to take place in Hama City. We can hear the gunfire I this clip and see loyalist troops positioned on top of the local chapter of the Baath Party http://youtu.be/45-8tHUDjKU  Protesters come under fire near the Murabit Mosque http://youtu.be/CgkQi92Htq8 A child is shot dead http://youtu.be/ejBW--U7w2c Another martyr http://youtu.be/g4-bfVG6ywo

More defections: Damascus http://youtu.be/Kmx2AMJ8gSQ Rastan (Homs) http://youtu.be/7lRzaO4XUIU Hbeit (Idlib) http://youtu.be/KYTnblfMRJw

In Deraa, commander of Al-Omari Brigade announces an operation against Assad loyalists that left 20-30 dead http://youtu.be/Dfze4W-TlXA

Idlib City: caravan of humanitarian aid meant for Homs City from the inhabitants of a town that is also suffering from the effect of blockade and collective punishment by pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/xV1Yw04KZ3k

Nov 14 / Monday

In Deir Baalbah Neighborhood in Homs City – locals stumble on 2 dead bodies in the street short execution style http://youtu.be/1s09rNMSevg In Bayadah, locals hold a mass funerals for 4 of their martyrs http://youtu.be/Qs2O3d2rhsY including this one http://youtu.be/CuCs4RUp_8I and renew their revolutionary vows http://youtu.be/PonjaIm3yQg In Qoussour, people try to fill up their natural gas tanks http://youtu.be/t3qiSoZAcdI In Wa’er locals try to fill up on Kerosene http://youtu.be/7TpaDQaEj0g In Insha’aat Neighborhood, locals come under fire http://youtu.be/kA1UGkmklYs In Jib Al-Jandali, tanks in the streets http://youtu.be/8MlZQ6bymaY Finding people in burnt out apartments is now a commonplace occurrence http://youtu.be/4YDhlia5lhw In Bab Al-Sibaa, clashes took place between loyalists and defectors http://youtu.be/ajr2PZnTWb8

In defiant Baba Amr, smoke rise above the horizon following new rounds of pounding http://youtu.be/AtQpogDBcFc , http://youtu.be/TPvQyXLHgi8 But the pounding continues http://youtu.be/nnMwNmUvLFo , http://youtu.be/njSdqtq_12Q , http://youtu.be/VGgZxROlMKU , http://youtu.be/Pof6OGiPJF4 Another house catches fire http://youtu.be/p2ynobSeuAE More defections take place among the ranks of troops sent in to quell the protests http://youtu.be/b8WJb3q-xo4 But during the brief nighttime lull, locals took to the streets as usual http://youtu.be/EI5OjU-anGs

Pro-Assad militias storm the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh in Derra/Hauran Province http://youtu.be/ST7Wfww3_QY Others storm the Sabeel Neighborhood in Deraa City http://youtu.be/PQmFibChMjM But in the College of Literature, students protest within the hall of their campus http://youtu.be/v54a929yKEc and in Kashef Neighborhood the people rule the streets http://youtu.be/e5XLgnJHEwU In Ankhel, locals hold a funeral for one of their fallen sons http://youtu.be/OjpUI2Tp-CA And soon come under fire http://youtu.be/YJCfV4OTpJg In Basr Al-Harir, there were many martyrs as well http://youtu.be/sYKMkBNnEVQ , http://youtu.be/d5Xko8ukBZg  

Elsewhere in the province, loyalists pound the village of Alma http://youtu.be/MB0g9EVCAek But defectors affiliated with the Free Syrian Army fight back and blow up a tank http://youtu.be/3qzbJNpt1o4 and armored vehicle http://youtu.be/HrvwNl3-VYE

All these developments in Deraa/Hauran lead to more defections in the ranks http://youtu.be/Grt_Qdmu8xs

In Idlib City, security forces separate loyalist and protest demonstrations http://youtu.be/i2TlRpKwzNc But no one can keep the protesters down http://youtu.be/MzphceTGPAE In Sarmeen in the larger Idlib Province, a tank storm into the city firing its way through http://youtu.be/PIt9IrgPi4M

In Khneizeer village in Hama Province, local water tanks and mosque come under fire http://youtu.be/9-s6_Y0yAd0 In Shaizar Village, pounding by loyalists leave many wounded http://youtu.be/id8pvE2lzyc , http://youtu.be/f7DDkpNFiv4

In Kisweh Suburb in Damascus, the nights come alive with the sounds of heavy gunfire http://youtu.be/qZHMMumtaCA In Douma, pro-Assad militias go on a vandalism spree http://youtu.be/PqWLAAv_juk

HOMS PROVINCE: Houleh http://youtu.be/_AAVa-LITxY Ghanto http://youtu.be/rSSjzRX5fqE Tadmor (Palmyra) http://youtu.be/-dbcVlu5bNY

DAMASCUS: Student demonstrations Douma http://youtu.be/ATL5qEzWuHc , http://youtu.be/SWYFOohzffA Main Demonstrations

DEIR EZZOR: Qrayah http://youtu.be/fP5VvAOK-Rs

I wanted to personally invite you to join me at FDD’s annual policy summit, Washington Forum, taking place December 7-9 at the Newseum in DC. This year’s conference focuses on “Ideology, Power, and Alliances in a Changing Middle East.” I’ll be speaking on “The Syrian Factor: The Middle East With and Without the Assad Dynasty” at 11:00am on December 8. I invite you to attend this session and any other of the public sessions as my guest. The full schedule can be found at www.FDDWashingtonForum.org. You can register here: www.fddwashingtonforum.org/register.php.