Sunday, April 29, 2012

“How is it that Assad is still in power?”

“How is it that Assad is still in power?” This question by Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel will continue to hang over President Obama’s head until Assad is removed. The mere delay is a stain on President Obama’s record and honor.

Sunday April 29, 2012

More than 450 people were reported killed in the period of April 24-29 in the ongoing crackdown against protesters ... The cities of Homs and Hama and surrounding communities continue to be pounded by pro-Assad troops ... The northern province of Deir Ezzor has become a battleground between pro-Assad militias and members of the local resistance, especially the town of Mouhassan ... Authorities report attacks on a number of targets along the coast of Lattakia, but details remain murky as no opposition groups claim credits ... A ship reportedly carrying weapons and supplies to rebel groups was halted by Lebanese authorities off the coast of Lebanon ... New “suicide” attacks were reported, with timing and contradictory reports spread by local media suggesting the attacks were government-staged as was the case on previous occasions.

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“The greatest tragedy in history could have been prevented had the civilized world spoken up, taken measures,” he said, referring to the Holocaust and how its perpetrators “always wanted to see what would be the reaction in Washington and London and Rome, and there was no reaction so they felt they could continue.” So he asked the audience at Monday’s ceremony: “Have we learned anything from it? If so, how is it that Assad is still in power?”

SNC & the Obama Administration

SNC leader, Burhan Ghalioun, and other figures from the SNC Executive Office, were scheduled to attend an event arranged by The Atlantic Council and the Hariri Center in Washington, D.C. on April 26, followed by meetings with a number of ranking Congressmen. The event cancelled at the last minute, and according to an email sent out by Mr. Ghalioun to a number of Syrian lists by way of explanation, the decision was made after a long meeting with Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and Mr. Frederick Hoff, the Obama Administration point man on Syria.

“We found it better,” Ghalioun said, “to wait for an official invitation to be sent instead of one from a research center, considering how significant this will be to the image of the Council.”

More importantly, he goes on, “we find that it will not be useful today to create any contradiction [sic] between Congress and Administration. It is not politically proper for us not to show consideration to the Administration’s request that we postpone this visit. The administration has undertaken to contact all congressmen and explain the situation to them and to arrange for higher level meetings with all at the next possible opportunity.”

In a follow up communication, and after people on the list complained that this is a wasted opportunity, he explains that Feltman and Hoff promised to “arrange for a combined meeting with the Administration and the Congress during a future visit.”

Let’s see if I got this correct. The Administration has agreed to recognize the SNC at a certain point in the future if its leaders agreed in return to avoid embarrassing the Administration politically by showing up in town so soon after Elie Wiesel challenged Obama’s credibility on Syria?

How will this benefit the people who are dying every day in Syria? And “how is it that Assad is still in power?”

Be that as it may, as far as many Syrians are concerned, Mr. Obama has lost his credibility on Syria long ago. It will take much more than recognizing the perennially dysfunctional SNC to redeem him in our eyes. It will take a safe haven, it will take support to the people on the ground, it will take air strikes, it will leading from where leading is actually done, it will take doing everything he can to ensure Assad’s removal from power, it will take a backbone. Hopefully, he’ll manage to develop one in time, because this is not a comedy routine for us, but more like, how shall I put it?, slaughter.

Syria’s Political Opposition: A report by the Institute for the Study of War

* The SNC has not meaningfully engaged with local opposition forces, and is losing credibility and influence within Syria as the conflict grows more militarized.

* The other significant established political opposition coalition is the National Coordination Committee (NCC ). The NCC is based in Damascus and favors a negotiated political settlement and dialogue with the regime. This stance has made the NCC less popular amongst the grassroots opposition movement.

* The grassroots movement functions at a local and regional level through coordination between the local coordinating committees and revolutionary councils. This movement has become tactically adept, better organized, and more cohesive, developing nascent political structures.

* The established political coalitions such as the SNC have articulated a national vision for a post-Assad future and have received nominal support from the international community, yet they lack strong networks and popular legitimacy inside Syria. On the other hand, the grassroots political opposition has gained the support of the people, but it lacks a national vision and united front as the basis for international support.

* A bottom-up strategy would provide an avenue for U.S. support that incorporates both national and local opposition groups and encourages the emergence of a legitimate national political leadership.

The Assads and Al-Qaeda

The only Al-Qaeda cells that operate in Syria are those manipulated by Assad’s security apparatuses. The suicide bombings are directly staged or facilitated by them. Issues pertaining to the timing and real beneficiaries, and everything we know about the Assads’ involvement in terror networks all point in this direction. And for those who forgot, here is a reminder .

Objectivity demands that international media outlets say whenever they report on such developments in Syria that many experts believe, on the basis of their analysis of available footage in the past, that the Assads are in the habit of staging terrorist attacks inside Syria when that suits their purposes. I am referring here not only to the attacks that were staged during the revolution, but even to attacks in previous years, including the attack on the American Embassy in 2006. It’s not enough to say that the opposition casts doubts, when there are many respected experts who also do.

Video Highlights

A new child martyr from Mouhassan, Deir Ezzor Province Another 9-year old Qouriyeh, Deir Ezzor Province

Finding deformed cadavers like this is becoming commonplace – Saraqib, Idlib Province  

Defections and the formation of new fighting units remain commonplace as well – Aleppo Province Hama Province Hama City Homs Province

The pounding of towns continues: Alatareb, Aleppo

People keep burying their dead with all due defiance: Douma, Damascus

And the men and women of Homs City continue to defy death in their colorful manner