Monday, June 18, 2012

Obama’s Legacy!

In the first major battle of Cold War II, Russia and its allies (the Assad regime, China, Iran, Belarus, Venezuela, etc.) are winning, so far. Forget about killing Bin Laden and ousting Qaddafi, if Obama loses Syria, that and the regional chaos that will ensue will be what he is remembered for. If Obama’s strategy is to wait for November, the battle might just be lost by then, and his legacy set in blood and stone.

Sunday June 17, 2012

Death tolls: 60. The Breakdown: 17 in Homs, 18 in Damascus (15 in Suburbs and 3 in City), 11 in Hama, 5 in Deir Ezzor, 5 in Daraa, 4 in Aleppo.

Associated Press journalist wounded in Syria
Op-Eds & Special Reports
Group of Tel Aviv Arabs post Anti-Assad signs in Nazareth: But Israeli Arabs remain deeply split over events in Syria.
The rebels risked a great deal in allowing journalists to embed with them, but they needed to get their message out, not through the opposition “leaders” in London, and in answer to the regime’s version of events. Commander al Sheikh told Shelton, “We want the people of the world to understand us as people, to see our revolution from a human prospective. The Syrian people cannot turn back. We must fight until victory.”

A great roundup by Rhonda Parker, with reference to the Digest and a personal interview


In an interview published yesterday by American PBS Newshour, self-proclaiming Alawite “Shabiha active member” Abu Jaafar, said he is “ready to kill women and children to defend his friends, family and president.” "Sunni women are giving birth to babies who will fight us in years to come, so we have the right to fight anyone who can hurt us in the future," said the Alawite militiaman, a member of the ancient offshoot of Shiite Islam to which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the powerbase of his regime belong.

Syrian dissident and pro-democracy activist in exile, Ammar Abdulhamid, has been calling for more active international intervention in Syria, and added another addendum in his Syrian Revolution Digest Syria report last night.

Stated Abdulhamid, “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, (and) 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.

Meanwhile, in an opinion piece for A&E the National had the soul-searching title, “When tanks crush children, Syrians must ask: who are we?”

The piece documents activists who feel there is a military strategy behind the madness and civilian carnage - including the brutal massacres and targeting of children.

“By outsourcing the dirty work to local militias, the regime distanced itself from the monstrosity of the crimes while deceptively placing the perpetrators within the blurry category of ‘armed gangs,’ said one hama activist.

Another activist from Homs said: "This is what they want to see: we are 20 massacres away from an opposition-free Syrian coast."

Abdulhamid also stated in an email interview late tonight that he didn't feel the Free Syrian Army had the time or resources to take civilian hostages, as some pro-Assad media have been alleging in regards to the Christian and Sunni civilians trapped in Homs.

"Basically, at this stage, the few local fighters in Homs City are locked in a fight for survival against pro-Assad militias, they do not have the time or the capacity to take hostages, and the regime does not care about the well-being of hostages anyway. Having hostages - even Alawites - will not stop pro-Assad militias, who, for months now, have been bombing both Sunnis and Christian neighborhoods, destroying mosques and churches, without any hesitation."

Said Abdulhamid, "The truth of what is happening in Syria is quite simple: Assad and his militias are trying to re-subjugate their opponents using all means at their disposal, including resorting to ethnic cleansing along the coast and in central Syria in preparation for a possible breakup of the country."

He also stated that Assad and his supporters realize "they have lost control of major swathes of the country, and that their opponents are committed to staying the course until Assad is brought down."
 For this reason, Abdulhamid said, "...They are carving out a territory that will remain, by virtue of its ethnic makeup, completely loyal to Assad, and so it can serve as a base that will keep the Assads as active players in the regional scene even after the state falls apart."

He added, "With the help of Russia and Iran, Assad is creating a win-win scenario for himself: reestablishing control over all the country, or becoming the undisputed leader of a critical chunk of it that might be declared as an independent state at a certain point in the future." 

Video Highlights

Qudsaya, West Damascus: the impact of shelling by pro-Assad militias , Buildings catch fire

Zabadani, West Damascus: playing cat-and-mouth with snipers

Douma, East Damascus: buildings catch fire due to shelling Martyrs The pounding resumes at night

Dmeir, East Damascus: locals leaving the town at night to escape the shelling  

Rastan, Homs: a child martyr Martyrs The cemetery is pounded even as people try to bury their dead The pounding continues

Houla, Homs: pro-Assad militias set houses on fire At night, the pounding resumes

The real thing can be seen in action here: (Karak, Daraa Province), but it’s been used all over the country, as I have been documenting over the last few weeks