Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Milkshake At Road’s End!

This revolution is against the Assad regime not just against Assad, the sooner the Russians (and Chinese) understand that the better.

Tuesday June 05, 2012

Today’s death toll: 54. The Breakdown: 15 in the town of Hiffen (Lattakia Province), 13 in Hama, 9 in Homs, 6 in Idlib, 5 in Daraa, 2 in Aleppo, 3 in Damascus, and 1 in Hassakeh.

Battles in the mountainous Hiffeh District in Lattakia Province have intensified today as the local resistance managed to repel an advance by pro-Assad militias. 15 locals were killed, and 5 tanks were destroyed. But the continuous pounding of the towns did force many inhabitants to flee their villages. Naturally, pro-regime websites spread stories of Salafist- take-over of villages where a Salafi Emirate is said to have been declared. This is the usual propaganda that proceeds a mass assault. With this, the ethnic cleansing of the coastal area will now begin at earnest. As western leaders watch on, Abkhazia on the Mediterranean inches closer to reality, with Russian, Chinese and Iranian backing. At night, intensive gunfire was heard in the majority Sunni neighborhood of Sleibeh in Lattakia City: http://youtu.be/jjNiKlHCgYQ.

Turkish officials declare that over 27,000 Syrians have crossed the border into Turkey over the last 5 days alone after loyalist troops set fire to fields and forests in an effort to flush out members of the local resistance. 

So-called Jabhat Al-Nusrah today claimed the killing of the 13 locals in Deir Ezzor Province whose bodies were discovered last week. The victims, the announcement claimed, were pro-Assad informants and security agents. But this account contradicts with reports from locals who now say the dead were defectors insisting that the Jabha, which had earlier claimed responsibility for the most recent bombings in Damascus, is nothing but a regime creation.  

Meanwhile, the war continues to rage in the countryside of Aleppo and Hama, with the continuing pounding affecting the towns of Eizaz and Hayan and reaching the outskirts of Aleppo City itself. In the town of Kafar Zeiteh, Hama Province, members of the local resistance was forced to evacuate after days of fighting.

Battles in Daraa City left Colonel Mohammad Aslan, one of the architects of the local crackdown dead. 

News
Op-Eds & Special Reports

KAFER ZAITA, SYRIA -- For four days, Syrian army units and armed rebels of the Free Syrian Army fought for control of this town in a battle that demonstrated the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. In the end, the rebels abandoned their positions, but only after fighting off multiple assaults by the army… (More)

Joshua says: “Let's be clear: Washington is pursuing regime change by civil war in Syria. The United States, Europe, and the Gulf states want regime change, so they are starving the regime in Damascus and feeding the opposition. They have sanctioned Syria to a fare-thee-well and are busy shoveling money and helping arms supplied by the Gulf get to the rebels. This will change the balance of power in favor of the revolution. It is also the most the United States can and should do.”

Let’s be clear indeed: everything that Joshua said above is false. At this stage the best thing that can be said about U.S. policy towards Syria is that they are pursuing regime change in rhetoric. So far, the opposition is ill-fed if not severely malnourished, while the regime can still count on the support of its allies to meet its basic crackdown needs, then some. U.S. and allies have come to us bearing the good intentions outlined above by Joshua, but so far, their support remains conceptual.

So, if we have asymmetrical civil war conditions currently prevailing in Syria, we have the Assads and their allies to thank for this (and it’s indeed noteworthy that the role of Assad’s allies has been completely ignored in Joshua’s analysis). The U.S. can be blamed only for its absence and for allowing the situation to devolve to this point. The kind of U.S. intervention that we seek is meant exactly to stop this civil war, asymmetric as it is, and ensure that some of our basic expectations are still met. There is no “democratization Kool-aid” to be drunk in this conflict, as Joshua implied, but there a milkshake at end of the road, and there will be blood on the way to it. Democratization is never easy, and, in a region like ours, it cannot be a purely internal affair as so many are advocating. There are too many players involved, domestic, global and regional, and too many intersecting and clashing interests to allow for this.

The situation needs to be judged on its merits. Not on what happened before or what sort of mistakes could be made in the future. Inaction might indeed save the U.S. and its allies from having to deal with a logistical nightmare and can help them avoid some blame for the unavoidable mistakes that come with intervention, but this inaction might just amount to an all-out betrayal of the values that America stands for, while jeopardizing certain of her interests.

If inaction is the lesson that some are drawing from the experiences of Iraq and Libya, Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda have more compelling lessons to teach in this regard.

It’s also interesting to see how analysts like Joshua who have advocated and helped chart yesterday’s wrong policies toward Assad, namely: engagement, are now advocating inaction, something that still benefits Assad. After all, inaction gives him the needed time to lay the necessary foundations for his Abkhazia on the Mediterranean.

No, this is not a personal swipe against Joshua. After all, he is not the only analyst that fits in this category. Almost all engagement-advocates of the days of yore are now inaction advocates. But Advocating inaction after advocating the wrong policy is a way for shirking responsibility for doing the right thing, just to avoid dealing with the headaches and the mess that come with it.  

By the way: yes, a policy that calls for arming rebels and watching from the sidelines, while providing occasional advice, is inaction. Stopping a civil war and keeping a country, or most of it, together, requires far greater involvement than allowing arms to flow in. There is a need for some micro-level involvement while managing this situation.

Video Highlights

The Battle for Hiffeh, Lattakia Province: members of the local resistance confiscate a tank http://youtu.be/mEZHdt0KcZk

Father Paolo visits the activists in Homs http://youtu.be/mbwDARff8Ok Including Dr. Mohammad Al-Mohammad, the former field doctor of Baba Amr neighborhood http://youtu.be/d3_W33xcur8

In Aleppo City, nighttime protesters in Salaheddine Neighborhood http://youtu.be/4GQLSlRU78c  come under fire http://youtu.be/MJG-HkbvEUM Explosions heard at the outskirts of the city http://youtu.be/UakcBKRsl3k

The town of Hayan, Aleepo province, is pounded http://youtu.be/TcHs1pvqdnY Bayanoun as well http://youtu.be/VEX6XWu5qzo Choppers take part in bombing of the town of Eizaz http://youtu.be/pfBLn5UtYQM

The Jib Neighborhood in Hama City comes under heavy nighttime pounding http://youtu.be/u2fbYSsV_hc

After retaking the town of Kafar Zeiteh, Hama Province, pro-Assad militias venture into town o their motorcycles for a brief victory parade http://youtu.be/p2Pk2fmJJqE

The city of Ma’arrat Al-Nouman, Idlib Province comes under heavy pounding http://youtu.be/fVx5Qo2_4dA

Clashes come within meters of the Syria-Turkish borders: Kilis http://youtu.be/ZC6geke9MfU

UN Monitors pay a visit to the town of Qouriyeh, Deir Ezzor Province http://youtu.be/uCf2uvDHcNI

The pounding of Homs City continues: Qoussour http://youtu.be/74r46Blr18c , http://youtu.be/_krfG6q5rGw

In Damascus, tanks storm through the town of Saqba http://youtu.be/zsXaw89xOWU

Daraa City received its fair share of pounding today as well http://youtu.be/F1kDzWAv-js especially the area of the Palestinians camps http://youtu.be/F1kDzWAv-js Attempt by loyalist troops to storm the camps at night was repelled by members of the local resistance http://youtu.be/7Qozj5gllx0 , http://youtu.be/9Yj3D45VzI4

Muhammad Aslan, the architect of the crackdown in Daraa Province, assassinated on June 5, 2012