Monday, February 13, 2012

No Wrong Bets!

Syria’s Revolution is no danger of being coopted by extremist elements of any kind at this stage. Protest leaders have too high an IQ to bet on AQ, and despite their growing frustration they remain focused on the goal of building a free and fair Syria for all.

Sunday February 12, 2012

Today’s death toll: 36 in Homs, Deraa, Idlib, Hassakeh and Rural Damascus. 8 loyalist soldiers were also killed in clashes with defectors in Hama Province.

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“Al-Qaeda has no sympathizers among the protesters,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian activist and fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington. “The protesters’ goal remains the establishment of a democratic civil state,” he said, and “they all understand that al-Qaeda involvement would ultimately undermine this goal.” “Al-Qaeda and the Assads are two faces of the same coin of sectarian hatred,” said Mr. Abdulhamid, the Syrian activist. “Both seek to stoke fires that we want to extinguish.”

Indeed, Clarissa Ward is right in noting that Syria's rebels "disillusioned" with America, and the reason is simple, the protesters has expected that America would have made her mind to stand by their side from the beginning, and they are indeed disheartened by the continued reluctance of the Obama Administration to lead the way. But, and as Michael Peel and Geoff Dyer note in Pressure grows to arm Syria rebels, they are still knocking on America’s doors:

Some of the most effective advocates for intervention have been members of groups connected to the Free Syrian Army, whose views have been eagerly sought and who, with the help of US-based activists, have spent the week appealing directly for help. On one call organised by a Washington-based think-tank, one of the leaders of a group based to the east of Damascus, which was affiliated with the FSA, said that there were several thousand people in the area wanting to get involved but that only a few hundred were active because of a lack of weapons. Despite the appeals, the Obama administration has spent all week ruling out any form of direct intervention, calling instead for a “negotiated conversation about a democratic transition”.

For clarity and transparency, the think tank referred to above is the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the planners were Khawla Yusuf (my wife and a member of the Executive Committee of the Antalya Conference for Change which recently evolved into the National Current for Change) and myself. The event took place on February 8.

While the politicians and the analysts might be tilted heavily against military action for now, the question is whether the appalling scenes in Homs and elsewhere will lead to an overwhelming pressure to launch it anyway. As the rebel leader on the Washington conference call, who went by the name of Mohammed, put it: “We can do the job ourselves if we have more equipment. With more sophisticated weapons, we can take the fight to Assad.”

More on AQ and Syria

Observation: Majid Abdallah Smeisim is from the town of Binnish in Idlib Province, but was studying chemistry at the University of Aleppo. He was arrested a week ago, but on Friday February 10, he was named by Syrian authorities as one of the victims of the explosions in Aleppo. Meaning: To the activists on the ground, the explosions in Aleppo were as staged as those in Damascus.

So, what do we make of McClatchy’s report quoting unnamed U.S. officials asserting that AQ in Iraq was behind the attacks in Aleppo and Damascus? Simple. We go back to the source, to U.S. intelligence community, for clarity, just as the Washington Post did. We then discover that the intelligence community has a far more nuanced take on the events:

“Intelligence officials told The Washington Post that while the recent bombings in Syria have the hallmarks of al-Qaeda operations, they have found no conclusive link to al-Qaeda or its Iraqi affiliate.”

Bear in mind as well that Assad officials have reportedly released an AQ mastermind not too long ago. Moreover, in his call on the Muslim World to support the Syrian Revolution, Ayman Al-Zawahiri made no mention of the attacks, and took no credit neither for the Damascus attacks or the Aleppo ones.

Evidence of staging has been clearly noted in the case of the Damascus attacks, the timing of the Aleppo attacks are simply too convenient for a regime that is beginning to lose control of certain neighborhoods, having lost it in rural areas, releasing AQ masterminds at a time when Assad officials are naming AQ as an enemy and the party responsible for the attacks… whatever is going here, it has the fingerprints of the Assads all over it.


Leaked video showing the treatment the body of a dead defector is receiving at the hands of loyalist soldiers, doctors and nurses http://youtu.be/FoCciXmiolE A feminine voice who seems to belong to a nurse is heard in the background describing the dead man as a “dog” and a “traitor.” The accent of the nurse and other figures is coastal which betrays their Alawite background. Many activists suspect that leaking these videos to protesters is meant to fuel the sectarian tendencies among them. But it also reveals the depth of sectarian hatred and fears which allows loyalist militias to carry out the kind of massacres we are currently witnessing in Homs City and across the country.

Homs

Homs City

Deir Baalbah: A massacre http://youtu.be/GhrRaGrKQlI

Leaked videos show some of the artillery used in pounding Homs http://youtu.be/WctVGuiae9U , http://youtu.be/h8CJIhuBSfw , http://youtu.be/-FeWzKEdbZg , http://youtu.be/K-Xv1tWWh40

Baba Amr: The pounding resumes http://youtu.be/jD6-hHQwUoY , http://youtu.be/zcKkrdj1qq4 , http://youtu.be/jwzp1VOZkig , http://youtu.be/7F7pMUjbCBM Martyrs http://youtu.be/35mlwIXgX-0 , http://youtu.be/HoMqBTajnmI Standing next to a man taking his last breaths, Dr. Muhammad Ayoub appeals for action not more rhetoric from the GCC http://youtu.be/FY4bXf3hQA0 Impact of pounding http://youtu.be/49Jf50JLQLY , http://youtu.be/9zKfI63Dr-Q , http://youtu.be/6gUk2LNNIQk Jouri Mosque is targeted by the shelling http://youtu.be/8zAI_Gj80cE , http://youtu.be/RXNIAIYHy6M A glimpse of life in a local shelter http://youtu.be/F_VO8QQI_Eo

Malaab: lining up for bread and some basic food supplies http://youtu.be/HDMI0jvJ1LU

Daytime Rallies
Qoussour (all-women) http://youtu.be/fw20n0S0sIA

Nighttime Rallies

Homs Province

Rastan: more defections http://youtu.be/UkAhuScysoI

Nighttime Rallies


Damascus

Damascus City

Naher Eisheh: blocking the main highway connecting Damascus and Amman with burning tires has become a nightly practice for neighborhood activists http://youtu.be/I29D9LS9Af4

Nighttime Rallies

Eastern Ghoutah

Nighttime Rallies

Damascus South

Daraya: local women burn the Chinese flag http://youtu.be/v7epLC80wic

Daytime Rallies

West (Zabadani and Wadi Barada)

Nighttime Rallies

North (The Qalamoun Region )



Hama

Hama City

Gunfire is a normal background noise these days http://youtu.be/yIRj-ILg34A Tanks have to keep patrolling the streets to assert control http://youtu.be/82KBx-QzliA , http://youtu.be/-ix-6Z7jWPg Stopping to carry out some random pounding here http://youtu.be/isyQaBq7uWs and there http://youtu.be/st_zB-FBjvg

Hama Province

Daytime Rallies

Nighttime Rallies


Idlib


Ma’arrat Al-Nouman: Tanks and loyalists storm in firing randomly http://youtu.be/Rb74eL0r_WM the pounding continues http://youtu.be/x9SXVJWQrlM , http://youtu.be/zvBPWAH6ld8 Snipers in action  http://youtu.be/dw6OZq6JYgM Martyr http://youtu.be/r028u323YTo


Idlib City: Funeral http://youtu.be/KK6qXtlJF0M

Daytime Rallies
Ma’arrat Hourmah http://youtu.be/qDTsZhZfa3o

Nighttime Rallies


Deraa/Hauran

Deraa City

Sabeel: Funeral for a martyred girl http://youtu.be/XzliWI3Ja_I , http://youtu.be/xoxaDih-bNM Another child martyr (boy) http://youtu.be/If0MzNG_cnI His funeral http://youtu.be/M3xGtbnmdDg

Nighttime Rallies

Deraa/Hauran Province

Mseifrah: A martyr http://youtu.be/iR0z_nawofg

Tafas comes under fire at night http://youtu.be/08wafHsBPjQ


Nawa comes under fire at night http://youtu.be/B5QBdaxr_mY

Bosra Al-Sham: Funeral for a martyred defector http://youtu.be/ZxQ0_TUx_ZE His mother curses Bashar and Maher and says she knows that loyalist killed her son, not the protesters as the regime claims http://youtu.be/M23Vjl-Gw9Q

Daytime Rallies

Nighttime Rallies


Aleppo

Aleppo City

Daytime Rallies
Aleppo University http://youtu.be/TJK2-JYdp0g

Aleppo Province

Nighttime Rallies


Deir Ezzor


Deir Ezzor City: Funeral http://youtu.be/sdjgocji69M

Nighttime Rallies
Deir Ezzor City (Jbeileh) http://youtu.be/NW8amLrIp60 Khareetah http://youtu.be/oPdtAiD53kU


Hassakeh



Daytime Rallies

Nighttime Rallies