Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Wounded Lion!

Jubilation and continuing bloodshed, but things are bound to get worse, because a wounded lion is a dangerous animal.

Wednesday July 18, 2012

Today’s Death toll:  187. The Breakdown: 106 in Damascus (69 in the Suburbs, including 60 in Sit Zeinab, and 37 in the City), 16 in Daraa, 15 in Aleppo, 15 in Idlib, 10 in Dier Ezzor, 7 in Hama, 2 in Lattakia, 2 in Suweida and 1 in Qunaitra.

News

Op-Eds & Special Reports

Battle in Damascus Netizens question whether deadly blast could be the beginning of the end for President Assad's government.


What Americans would do for Syriaresults of a new survey by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, published exclusively today on ForeignPolicy.com, reveals a general consensus among Americans of what they are and are not willing to do to help end the bloodshed in Syria.  A sizable majority of those polled support a U.S. role in enforcing sanctions and a no-fly zone in Syria (though a larger majority opposes bombing Syrian air defenses, which could be a prerequisite step to enforcing a no-fly zone). At the same time, overwhelming majorities oppose more forceful measures such as arming the Syrian opposition or sending troops into Syria.

I won’t delve into the countless conspiracy theories being promoted by different experts and their informed sources regarding the assassinations of some of Assad’s most senior partners. For beyond all conspiracy theories, there lies an important fact of which we should be quite mindful at this stage, namely that a wounded lion is the most dangerous animal of all. This is even more true, if the wound is self-inflicted, as some who see in the assassinations an internal liquidation of potential rivals argue.

As we near end-game in Syria, the potential use of WMDs in the conflict grows exponentially. If Assad is bent on holding on, whether as president of a re-tamed state or of an ethnically cleansed and loyal enclave, there is no other weapons in his arsenal that can help him achieve this end. After so many months of shelling and failing to subdue, Assad and his supporters must see by now the limits of conventional weapons. Since, we are not dealing here with people who are prone to sudden attacks of decency, we have to begin to seriously consider the fact that use of WMDs in this conflict might be just around the corner.

Yet, the only contingency plans for dealing with the potential use of WMDs in Syria that came to my attention are those that will be employed after the fact. This is not only unacceptable, it’s downright immoral and shameful.  

Preemption is what we need to be concerned about in this case. The risks are already too real, as evidenced by the recent moving of parts of the WMD stockpile, according to the State Department’s own leaks.  There is no matter preemption in case of wounded than finishing the job. The U.S. should act to put Assad out of our misery.

As for what other steps the administration could do, Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute makes excellent recommendations:

·         In coordination with key allies, urge Assad both publicly and privately to leave for exile with his remaining family while he still has a chance to avoid the fate of Muammar Qadhafi and Saddam Hussein.
·         Privately urge Iran and Russia to remove any residual military presence in Syria.
·         Convene leaders of the Syrian opposition (both civilian and military) and key "Friends of Syria" (e.g., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and major European powers) to discuss a blueprint for the endgame, including the formation of a successor government-in-waiting. Neither Russia nor Iran should be invited. This is as much political theater as practical policymaking, given that the goal at the moment should be to drive an ever-deeper wedge between Assad and his shrinking circle of support, especially among Alawites outside his clan and his remaining Sunni collaborators.
·         Work with the Syrian opposition, the Arab League, and Turkey to issue a statement offering specific commitments to the protection of Syrian minorities in the event of Assad's departure, with reference to Alawites, Christians, Kurds, and Druze.
·         Dispatch military/security officials to consult with Syria's neighbors -- Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel -- in a high-profile display of coordination to warn Assad against a desperate, last-chance external adventure.
·         Begin intensive preparations for the deployment of an international stabilization and humanitarian support force designed to reduce the risks associated with post-Assad transition. Its mission should include securing and possibly removing Syria's chemical weapons stocks, supporting the successor government's efforts to prevent violent retribution against Alawites and others perceived as pro-Assad, and providing humanitarian assistance. The latter element should include medical care (on hospital ships and onshore) and other aid to Syrians who suffered during the regime's brutal crackdown, as well as assisting in the repatriation of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Although this could eventually become a UN-sanctioned operation, it is important for the United States to take the lead in defining the mission with key allies as soon as possible.

Damascus Video Highlights

Highlights

The pounding by helicopter gunships leaves over 60 dead in Sit Zeinab (AKA Sayyida Zeinab) http://youtu.be/L_jhibONF6g , http://youtu.be/1Q-XWAR_wRw

Mass grave was uncovered in eh suburb of Douma http://youtu.be/eTnekbIzZQM

City


Parts of Midan District have fallen completely under the control of the local resistance who can now patrol its alleys openly http://youtu.be/WklD-WaI1yc , http://youtu.be/dfb6L8lf9pA A tank was destroyed in clashes meant to secure the neighborhoods http://youtu.be/ZFgPa3Ub-N0 The pounding of Midan http://youtu.be/jMMc5D0Z_40 These are the pro-Assad militias pouring into Midan http://youtu.be/7aU0vcCpQqA

Protesters come under fire in Filasteen Camp http://youtu.be/4ixuSEue3bw Some were wounded http://youtu.be/82IXplIz0v0 But members of the local resistance soon rush in to protect the local inhabitants http://youtu.be/b8x8h-WYnHI Protesters control the local police station http://youtu.be/FQAg8RlbMJY

In Jobar, a helicopter gunship takes part in the pounding http://youtu.be/lTg_yGDZicU

In Suwaiqah, local barricade themselves http://youtu.be/apJjxofFuSQ Clashes take place in Al-Hajar Al-Aswad http://youtu.be/WTQczpd7EvA Clashes take place in Kafar Sousseh http://youtu.be/cVOCScT-oMk

The neighborhood of Al-Qadam was pounded http://youtu.be/4RDTBGp5uGI , http://youtu.be/AAEG9phshts Snipers weigh on as well http://youtu.be/gVVN-BsQ1tE And pro-Assad militias carry out some field executions when they can http://youtu.be/ai0PfkXDdYg

At 7:30 pm local time, explosions could be heard from downtown Damascus, near the headquarters of Syrian Arab News Agency in Baramkeh http://youtu.be/sG8MRPHCAfo

Black smoke rises over the city http://youtu.be/SxqOXmOAbE0

At night, members of the local resistance conduct several operations, leading to the destructions of a number of tanks in Midan http://youtu.be/C71Tn37eIyw Al-Qadam: nighttime pounding http://youtu.be/WTwytSAnDEA , http://youtu.be/5NNAjtbor2E Nighttime clashes take place in Kafar Sousseh http://youtu.be/PZWgGsAm_U0 At night, parts of the Mazzeh District, came under fire http://youtu.be/ygjOwHeetfE

Helicopter gunships take off from Mazzeh Military Airport to take turn pounding the neighborhoods http://youtu.be/pUPDU_h-SlY , http://youtu.be/BC4lHWpBSCk


The Burbs

Black smoke rises over the Eastern Ghoutah http://youtu.be/l4q2nZvZvOs (Ain Terma) http://youtu.be/Rx3ATgsUt_Y as a result of clashes and pounding: Zamalka http://youtu.be/dBXDCJSnd54

Saqba comes under intense pounding http://youtu.be/ZETL_Wk7FI8 , http://youtu.be/vnsN7yVveuk Nearby Kafar Batna witness some clashes as well http://youtu.be/pDWXdC_QHjM Harasta was pounded http://youtu.be/E4wTRskINk0

In the suburbs, Daraya was pounded (night) http://youtu.be/J2MfJ4TpjmA


Other Video Highlights

In Saraqib, Idlib, a massacre takes place on account of the shelling that the town suffered. There were many children among the dead http://youtu.be/OdOQbs-C14c , http://youtu.be/jdQ782xAo84 , http://youtu.be/WsNWUOZPhFg A mother and two daughters http://youtu.be/fJZHwuaxi6w

The nearby Ma’arrat Al-Nouman is pounded http://youtu.be/Hwvvg4M4WrA Kafar Sajnah is pounded http://youtu.be/y1C3fbZB_PU , http://youtu.be/43hT2Ovvejk



The pounding of Arba’een Neighborhood in Hama City http://youtu.be/0-rlD7YOtxw


In Na’eemah, Daraa, a funeral comes under fire http://youtu.be/OB0sY6fu3tM

Jabal Al-Akrad in Lattakia, pounded by helicopter gunships http://youtu.be/mNiJcSLPk6w Forests fires keep raging http://youtu.be/axr2S9f_iUM The pounding continues http://youtu.be/9aZplAXerco

Members of the local resistance in Eizaz, Aleppo, destroy four another tanks belonging to the pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/v96PZpa9KkU , http://youtu.be/dbmn2YYmffw /But helicopter gunships continue to pound the city http://youtu.be/Wt9krI2XeiQ

The local resistance controls the town of Marei http://youtu.be/b4-N40yjJyU

Defectors organize a unit fighting unit in Aleppo http://youtu.be/IJLaHctegpk


The pounding of Deir Ezzor City continues http://youtu.be/L14nrBPNlAk Martyrs http://youtu.be/SL-I5D4u0r8