Saturday, July 14, 2012

Outrage & Impotence!

Outrage will not spur the international community into action. What we really need is some in-rage.

Friday July 13, 2012 – The beginning of a week dedicated to “Toppling Annan – the Servant of Assad and Iran.”

Today’s Death toll:   80. The Breakdown: 28 in Idlib,14 in Homs, 13 in Damascus City (in the Palestinian Refugee Camp of Yarmouke), 12 in Aleppo, 5 in Daraa, 3 in Deir Ezzor, 2 in Damascus Suburbs, 2 in Hama, and 1 in Lattakia.

Syrian witnessed 738 rallies all across the country today: 140 in Hama, 138 in Aleppo and 170 in Damascus City and Suburbs.


In the wake of the reported killings in Treimseh, “the immediate popular reaction at this stage is anger towards all,” wrote Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian opposition activist based in the U.S. “The impotence of the opposition and continued dithering by international leaders seem unfathomable to locals after so many months of bloodshed, and so many massacres. Who can blame them?” (More Quotes in The Weekly Standard).

Op-Eds & Special Reports

Will Syria’s Conflict Spill Over into War-Weary Iraq? As the violence in Syria spirals into an increasingly bloody maelstrom, Iraq's Foreign Minister voices his country's fears that the chaos is spilling across the border—and that Baghdad won't be able to contain it.

Messages from the Syrian war zone: what life is really like in Homs Late last year, on a bus to Homs, the city at the centre of the Syrian uprising, British journalist James Harkin struck up a friendship with local boy Mohammed. These are the messages he has sent from his home in the war zone

US manipulation of news from Syria is a red herring The big picture is clear. A slaughter is under way in Syria, largely carried out by government forces and militias

Moving assets or preparing for mass genocide?

There are two ways for filtering the reports on Assad’s decision to move WMDs from Damascus to Homs. One, he is preparing for their deployment in his intensifying ethnic cleansing campaign against the Sunni population in Central Syria (Homs, Hama and Idlib), and two, he is merely moving his most prized assets from areas in which he is quickly losing control to the Alawite enclave he is busy creating. The two options are not mutually exclusive of course. There is nothing to prevent Assad from doing both.

Comment: Syria will never close its doors in the face of Palestinians. The revolutionaries understand the dilemma in which the Palestinians of Syria find themselves, a dilemma that did not stop so many of them from joining the ranks of the revolution or indirectly providing aid and support to the protesters. As far as the protesters are concerned, the Palestinians of Syria are no less Syrian than any National ID carrying citizen. Once transition to a new democratic order is accomplished, should the Palestinians of Syria ever want to become full-fledged citizens in the legal sense as well,  I have no doubt that the majority of Syrians will support this.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians in the refugee camp of Yarmouke in Damascus City today showed exactly where their sympathies lie when they demonstrated in support of the people of Treimseh and were fired on by pro-Assad militias, leaving 13 people dead: , a child among the martyrs, hit with a bullet to the head

What Rebels Want!

There are major problems with this Time article beginning from the title, which contradicts with everything that resistance leaders on the ground are saying – Intel will be useful of course, but it will mean absolutely nothing if we did not have enough arms, – going into the misconception that the Free Syrian Army "hired Brian Sayers to represent their interests in Washington," which is simply not true and Mr. Sayers himself will be the first to say so (or at least I hope so), and ending up with misconstruing Mr. Sayers’ assertion that rebels need intelligence and not only weapons.

This is what Mr. Sayers actually said:

“Everyone says, just give them a bunch of weapons. Well, rocket propelled grenades are fine but ultimately what they need is intelligence support in order to bring down the regime,” says Sayers, “because ultimately the regime has more sophisticated weaponry.

Very true! We need more than just arming the rebels, we need a more coherent strategy in which arming the rebels is only one element as we have argued in our own Six Points Plan, and as I argue here.

Some say that’s not nearly enough. “If the U.S. is only going to be a facilitator of arms flows into the country, that’s not enough to be stabilize things, to end the violence,” says Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian dissident who has been in exile in Washington since 2005. “In fact, it only makes things worse.” Adbulhamid wants Washington and NATO to impose a no-fly zone as they did over Libya and Iraq.

Intel sharing, and Mr. Sayers argues the case pretty well, will be not be enough if the move was not coupled with more serious support, including weapons. After all, if the purpose is to “level the playing field,” as Mr. Sayers argues, then, you have to bear in mind that Russia and Iran are not only providing the regime with Intel, they are also providing it with weapons.

The allusion in the article that the “FSA is getting plenty of arms and cash from the Qatari, Saudi Arabian and, to a lesser extent, the Emirati governments” is inaccurate at best. Weapons supplies to the local resistance remain pretty limited, and no way near meeting the demands of the local resistance.

This Reuters report, “Syria rebels get light arms, heavy weapons elusive,” explains things much more clearly:

Syrian rebels are smuggling small arms into Syria through a network of land and sea routes involving cargo ships and trucks moving through Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, maritime intelligence and Free Syrian Army (FSA) officers say. Western and regional powers deny any suggestion they are involved in gun running. Their interest in the sensitive border region lies rather in screening to ensure powerful weapons such as surface to air missiles do not find their way to Islamist or other militants.

FSA fighters say munitions supply chains remain tenuous. In one clash last week, rebel fighters say they ran out of ammunition which forced them to retreat from one of their strongholds in the northern Idlib province.

The steady trickle of relatively unsophisticated arms making its way to forces opposing President Bashar al-Assad is being financed mainly by wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, a se c urity source said, as well as from expatriate Syrian supporters. It complements supplies captured from the Syrian army or brought by defectors.

But the main problem with the Time’s article is thinking that Mr. Sayers speak for the FSA, and that his advice is synonymous with rebel demands. That’s not true. Mr. Sayers represent a lobby formed recently by Syrian-Americans and tasked with supporting the FSA, not representing the FSA. Most FSA leaders are not yet aware of the existence of the group nor of Ms. Sayers.

Mr. Sayers approach is sound. Indeed, there is nothing wrong with demanding the possible, while others, like me, push for what seems impossible. But his approach represents a support strategy and does not represent the official point of view of the FSA, whose leaders still demand a no-fly zone, as one of their most prominent representatives, Khalid Abou Salah, argued recently in the Friends of Syria Conference in Paris.

The reason why so many of us still call for a more integrated strategy for intervention that goes beyond sending weapons and sharing Intel but calls for air-strikes and deployment peacekeepers is simple: we are not just concerned with toppling the regime, we want to create a stable democratic state that respects the rights and ensures the security of all Syrians. A policy of arming without mitigation does not just risk putting weapons in the wrong hands, it forgets that often the right hands become wrong once you put weapons in them.

Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration are never easy. Considering the regional, ethnic and religious diversity in Syria, and bearing in mind the current violence and fragmentation and growing popular frustration and anger, DDR will indeed be a nightmare. I think that a strategy in which air strikes are used to target positions of heavy artillery and roving tank columns and to ground Assad’s helicopter gunships and jets will create a situation in which light weapons are more than enough to help local resistance groups secure their areas. In fact, this is exactly what happened before Assad deployed his tanks, artillery and air force. In this scenario, which also calls for rapid deployment of peacekeepers to critical areas, the risks for empowering the wrong groups and for carrying out revenge killings are substantially minimized. 

Video Highlights  

Treimseh, Hama: the destruction wrought by shelling The funeral procession for yesterday’s martyrs begins at the mosque The man has his throat slit Another martyr was a local doctor who was killed as he treated the wounded The martyrs , The burial of 40 people The tanks that took part in pounding the city on July 12 ,

Al-Rami, Jabal Al-Zawiyeh, Idlib Province: today’s shelling leaves a number of martyrs , , The wounded Meanwhile, helicopter gunships continue their pounding of the mountainous region

Hraak, Daraa: rescuing the wounded after a local rally came under fire

Taybah, Daraa: the town is pounded by helicopter gunship So is nearby Jizeh Children among the wounded

Houla, Homs: the pounding and continues killing adults and children , The continuing pounding sets the local crops on fire And the pounding never stops

Rastan, Homs: the daily pounding continues

Homs City: the pounding of Old Homs continues: Khaldiyeh Jouret Al-Shayah , , Qarabis

Eizaz. Aleppo Province: a tank column tries to storm into the city ,

This new defection by an air force pilot was inspired by the defection of the Syrian Ambassador in Iraq

In order to counter the growing frustration and recourse to threats of vendettas, activists throughout the country are hoisting signs with messages like this one from Kafar Sousseh Neighborhood in Damascus City: “the difference between vengeance and justice is like the difference the regime and the revolution.”