Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hedging Bets!

I wouldn’t ask for intervention had it not been a reality of our lives already, had Russia, China, Iran, Iraq, Belarus and Venezuela not chosen to intervene from the onset in our affairs, siding with the Assads, arming them to the teeth, helping circumvent sanctions, shielding them from accountability. Things need to be made equal. We need to be given a fighting chance. Assad is conducting a war of attrition against the rebels, while carving out his own personal fiefdom, hedging his bets. We only have one bet: staying the course, come what may.

Friday June 15, 2012

Death tolls: 48. The Breakdown: 14 in Damascus City and Suburbs (most in Douma), 9 in Homs, 10 in Daraa, 6 in Deir Ezzor, 6 in Aleppo, 2 in Idlib, and in Raqqah.

News

Mr. Isaykin, a powerful figure in Russia’s military industry, openly discussed the weapons being shipped to Syria: the Pantsyr-S1, a radar-guided missile and artillery system capable of hitting warplanes at altitudes well above those typically flown during bombing sorties, and up to 12 miles away; Buk-M2 antiaircraft missiles, capable of striking airplanes at even higher altitudes, up to 82,000 feet, and at longer ranges; and land-based Bastion antiship missiles that can fire at targets 180 miles from the coast.

My comment: I guess Assad will have to make do with Russian caviar just he is doing with Russian tanks.

Op-Eds & Special Reports
Syria: Sexual Assault in Detention Security Forces Also Attacked Women and Girls in Raids on Homes.
Syria: Shabiha Militia Member Tells It Like It Is An active member of Syria's feared shabiha militia says he is in a "win or die" fight for his president (and a little bit of cash).

Houla Again

Germany’s FAZ, its main source, Mother Agnes, and John Rosenthal from the National Review Online are sticking to their story that the Houla Massacre was perpetrated by jihadists against Alawite inhabitants. But neither FAZ, nor Mother Agnes nor Rosenthal offer any new proof to back their claims. They simply stick to their story that unidentified sources from the opposition and inhabitants from the village of Kafar Laha were behind the revelation.

Bear in mind here that even the Assad regime does not make or endorse this claim. Bear in mind as well that no one tried to explain why and how Sunni rebels were allowed to bury the bodies of their alleged Alawite victims in open daylight in shallow mass graves while documenting the entire event via YouTube, and while pro-Assad checkpoints were all over the place. Moreover, we have not heard any similar assertions from any of the Alawite communities in the area despite the regime’s access to them.

So, why is it that we can always provide videos and often eyewitnesses to back our stories, while the regime and its supporters, and whoever choose to believe them, for whatever reason, have only their assertions and their unidentified and unidentifiable sources? They certainly have more resources than we do to document their “suffering.” And locals who are sympathetic to the regime have cameras and smartphones as well, and open access to the Internet. How come, then, we are always left having to take their words and only their words for it?

Pointing out that an eyewitness said that people with long beards and shaved heads were the ones who committed this massacre is evidence of nothing in itself: because this is how many Shabbiha members (pro-Assad militias) look like.


Telling us that 80,000 Christians were forced to leave Homs City, well, so did 500,000 Sunnis. The question is why? Mother Agnes and the regime, and she is an unabashed supporter of the regime of course, want us to believe that this is the work of Sunni extremists and Jihadi elements. The evidence we have, not only the videos and testimonies offered by local activists, but those offered by foreign journalist as well, suggest that the intensive indiscriminate pounding of residential neighborhoods by pro-Assad troops and militias did in fact pave the way to this.

Who do you want to believe? Your eyes? Your people? Or the assertions of killers and their supporters? Don’t tell me Mother Agnes is a nun, I know nuns can be wonderful, Sisters Danielle and Jordanie, the nuns from the private school I briefly attended in Lebanon in my childhood, definitely were: cruel but wonderful. On the other hand, I know enough history and watch enough news to know that the habit and the cloth are not shields against prejudice and avarice. So, nun or not, the good old mother needs to offer proof other than her say so to back her stories, and it better be damn convincing. Because knowing Mother Agnes, and yes, I do know Mother Agnes, I know very well that she is no Mother Teresa, or an Angel or Mercy, or a good preacher or practitioner of Christian love.

But to each his source.

The U.S. Embassy in Damascus published the picture below with the following note on its Facebook Page: This map is an update of the one we originally posted on April 27 which shows the number of people displaced by the violence in Syria. The Assad regime is a destabilizing force both within Syria and throughout the region.