Saturday, July 7, 2012

Our Fickle Friends!

If only freedom could find friends as real and loyal as those who stand by tyranny it would never be lost. But such is the fickleness of freedom’s friends that it has to be sought in endless bloodshed and sacrifice, and, once found, protected with constant vigilance that those who love her can never know rest.

Friday July 06, 2012 – A Week dedicated to the Popular Liberation War.

Today’s Death toll: 81. The Breakdown: 34 in Damascus (28 in Suburbs and 6 in City), 11 in Daraa, 10 in Idlib, 8 in Aleppo, 8 in Homs, 7 in Hama and 5 in Deir Ezzor.


Op-Eds & Special Reports

"Don't try anything with Assad, just military intervention can stop the killing in Syria," Fares said when asked to sum up the signs' most fundamental message. "That's it and nothing [else] will help us, just military intervention."

Although Syria’s present dictator may still think he can retake control of the whole country, the nature and locations of the fighting indicate that the regime is also preparing a Plan B: to consolidate the traditional Alawite stronghold in northwest Syria. There, Assad loyalists can dig in and conduct a long protracted fight, as they begin to lose the ability to hold territory in the interior.

The fact that our president seems to be biding his time might be understandable from a policy perspective during an election year, but it fails every other test the United States sets for itself. Standing on the sidelines while innocents are being massacred (even if those sidelines involve diplomatic negotiations behind closed doors) is not unprecedented, but it flies in the face of our national character and obligations. In fact, we didn't stand on the sidelines in Libya, a conflict that involved far fewer deaths.

There is no room for hypocrisy in America’s global leadership when crimes against humanity are at stake, as they are now in Syria. “America, by deed and example, led and lifted the world.”  Those are President Obama’s own words in Foreign Affairs outlining the “visionary leadership” he would provide America if he were elected president.

Signs of strength within FSA forces and the revolutionary councils that drive the revolution do not, however, assure an end to the conflict any time soon. And a possible alternative political structure coming either from a power-sharing agreement crafted by the Action Group for Syria, or competition for power from within a successful rebel leadership would also not promise a quick end to the crisis either, experts say.

It seems yesterday I put a picture from Palestine thinking it was from Kurdish areas in Syria. I am sorry about that. There was a crossed wire in communications. The picture was horrible nonetheless.

Concentration Camps?

Local activists from the Damascene Suburb of Sit Zeinab (AKA Sayyida Zeinab), say that the thousands of refugees from Homs City who came to the neighborhood have been ordered by authorities to leave and go to designated camps usually used for indoctrinating Baath youth. The move, locals fear, might a first step in setting up “concentration camps” for refugees in different parts of Syria, as another measure for dealing with the spreading rebellion.

Defection & Impact

French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, seems to have read too much into the defection of Assad’s Sunni confidant Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, to the extent that he felt compelled to announce the matter to his colleagues at the Friends of Syria conference.

But, while the defection comes as an important indication of how shrunk the decision-making circle inside the Assad regime has become, it’s not necessarily, if at all, a sign of its impending demise, at least through an implosion. For this shrinkage of the decision-making circle came as a result of forethought and planning months in advance. In fact, in times of crises, the Assad regime has always fallen on a very small inner circle made up exclusively of members of the Assad family, and a few trusted security and military officers, almost all of whom come from are Alawites. Everyone outside that circle was assigned certain specific duties and tasks and was left out of any decision-making or even consultation. And everyone outside this circle was expendable. If Assad felt that they needed advice and assistance at these particular times, they would try to recruit them from beyond the usual circles. That is why these times always bring about new faces to the fore, acting in different capacities. Ultimately, though, the final decisions resident in the small Alawite circle of family and its few allies.

Moreover, in these times, the Assad circle dramatically increase the number of informants designed to monitor state officials, military and political, and end up relying on second and third and fourth tiers command structures already in place or that can be put in place in the matter of weeks. The Assads have excelled at constructing these parallel structures over the years, and can create them whenever they need to. That’s why despite the shrinkage of the decision-making process, the Assads always manage to retain control of most institutions. The fact that high level defections did take place is telling of course, but it does not denote an impending collapse.

The tipping point with the Assad will be reflected not with major defections among Alawite generals, as some are hoping, but with continuing defections among lower and middle ranks, coupled with continued and more effective activities by local resistance as a result of greater arms flows and coordination, leading to overstretch and an inability to maintain operational potential in all restive areas, at which time the Assads will fall back on their Plan B: the creation of an Alawite-majority enclave along the coasts and in central parts of Syria.

Video Highlights

Eyewitness testimony on the massacre of the Damascene Suburb of Douma (English subtitles)

Known Homsi activist, Khalid Abou Salah, was invited to address the Friends of Syrian gathering, and he delivered an explosive message demanding weapons and no-fly zone, saying we don’t need another statement, we need an action plan 

In Rural Aleppo, an entire pro-Assad military convoy made up of tanks and armored vehicles is destroyed by local resistance groups, outside the town of Eizaz Not too long, local resistance groups managed to destroy a missile base station over Mount Sheikh Barakat

Local resistance in Baba Amr Neighborhood, Homs City, claim that this wreckage is the result of bringing down a chopper over the local railway station

Local resistance in Khan Al-Subul, Idlib Province, transform their town in a graveyard for Assad’s tanks A tour of the town shows where battles have taken place

But Assad’s all-out war against restive towns and cities continues with shelling taking place around the country:

Aleppo: Bayanoun

Hama: Ellatamneh

But Rallies took place everywhere

Deir Ezzor: DE City (Jourah) Qouriyeh