Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

As a huge chunk of human heritage gets obliterated by Assad’s warplanes in Aleppo City and across Syria, and world leaders stick to their usual song and dance about Assad’s loss of legitimacy and impending end, the resilience of the Syrian people and their willingness to go on are the only source of inspiration.  

Tuesday August 7, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 170. The Breakdown: the toll includes 10 women and 18 children: 35 in Homs (including 10 in Deir Baablbah, mostly children and 4 children and their mother in Rastan), 33 in Damascus and Suburbs, 33 in Aleppo (including 10 prisoners who were  summarily executed), 25 inDaraa, 15 in Idlib 14 in Hama (most of whom killed in a massacre in Jarsis), 10 in Deir Ezzor (including 4 members of the FSA), and 5 in Lattakia. (According to LCC)

Cities & Towns Under Shelling: Harasta, Arbeen, Moadamiah, Harran Al-Awameed, Deir Al-Asafeer, Ain Terma, Zabadani, Madaya, Eltal, Dmeir, Hameh, Yelda, Rankous, Qarrah (Damascus Suburbs), Sit Zeinab, Al-Qadam, Midan, Tadamon, Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, Yarmouk, Kafar Sousseh, Mazzeh, Qaboun, Barzeh, Salhiyeh, Ruknaddine, Dafelshawk (Damascus City), Daraa City, Khirbet Al-Ghazaleh, Tafas, Bostra Al-Sham, Na’eemah, Mseifrah, Jimreen, Hraak (Daraa), Rastan, Talbisseh, Houla, Tal Kalakh, Al-Qusayr, Al-Hosn, Al-Ghanto, Al-Bouaydah, Old Homs (Homs Province), Hreitan, Elbab, Eizaz, Marei, Bayanoun (Aleppo Province), Haffeh, Jabal Al-Akrad (Lattakia), Deir Ezzor City, Mouhassan, Albou Kamal (Deir Ezzor Province), Kafar Zeiteh, Hawash, Shahshabo, Hama City (Hama Province), Jabal Al-Zawiyeh, Ma’rrat Al-Nouman, Saraqib, Maar Shoureen, Ariha, Kafroumah, Al-Rami, Khan Shaikhoon (Idlib).

Newsflashes: *** FSA members from the Ghoutah Region claimed that they have killed a Russian General working with the local pro-Assad security forces. The General was taking active part in the crackdown, they say. Al-Arabiya TV aired the report along with a photo of the general, identifying him as General Petrovic Kojiev. No word yet from Moscow in this regard.

News
Abdullah warns Al Assad could seek Alawite refuge “In his mentality, he is going to stick to his guns ... I think the regime feels that it has no alternative, but to continue. ... I don’t think it’s just Bashar. It’s not the individual. It’s the system of the regime. “For Bashar, at the moment, if I’m reading the way he’s thinking, is, he’s going do what he’s going to do indefinitely.”
Assad Vows to Rid Syria of 'Terrorists' Syrian state-run media report Assad said he would show no leniency in quashing the rebellion against his government. His comments followed a meeting with Iran's visiting national security council secretary, Saeed Jalili.
Fighting Grows More Intense in Syria’s Largest City It was an especially violent day all over the country… But Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, with an ancient and foreboding citadel at its center, seemed on course to become the country’s Gettysburg.
Aleppo strafed by shells, fear, misery The Free Syrian Army remains ensconced in many Aleppo neighborhoods, but it has endured a pounding from Syrian forces for days and days… Opposition forces report warplane strikes on the Bab al-Hadid and Bab Al-Nasr areas, and shelling is raging in the Salaheddine neighborhood.
Syria: Mig fighter jets bomb Aleppo as rebels dig in Free Syrian Army strategy seemingly anchored more in hope than vision as regime counter-assault intensifies
Survivor Describes New Syria Mass Killing Together, they painted a picture of the summary slaying of 10 men, at least some of whom had only loose links to the armed rebels seeking to topple the regime. That story jibes with activist claims of the increasingly brutal tactics regime forces are using to try to crush the rebellion that has spread to Aleppo, Syria's largest city.
Druse from Israeli-held Golan return from Syria The evacuation, coordinated by the Red Cross, highlights the dilemma facing Golan Druse. Many are horrified by the carnage, occasionally taking place within earshot of their villages, but they are also hesitant to turn against a Syrian regime to which they have remained at least outwardly loyal.
Clinton warns against sectarian turmoil in Syria "We have to set very clear expectations about avoiding sectarian warfare," Clinton said, answering a question on Syria during a news conference in the South African capital Pretoria, her latest stop in a tour of Africa. "Those who are attempting to exploit the situation by sending in proxies or terrorist fighters must realize that will not be tolerated, first and foremost by the Syrian people," she added.
UN: 22,000 Iraqis in Syria return home to flee war The returning Iraqis have been joined by some 3,600 Syrians who have crossed into Iraq since July 23, when Baghdad announced it was opening its western borders to refugees. The Syrians are being kept near the border, evoking some complaints.
Officials: Syria's prime minister defects from al-Assad regime "But all indications are that Hijab was probably kept in the dark. This wasn't a man who had Assad's ear. Assad appointed him just a few months ago. He was essentially just another Cabinet member without much power at all."
Syria 'crumbling' after PM's defection Western powers have said the defection of Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab is a sign that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is crumbling. Mr Hijab, the most senior Syrian figure to defect, on Monday denounced Syria's "terrorist regime" and said he was joining the revolution.
Iranian officials dispatched to Turkey, Syria The Iranian foreign minister is traveling to Turkey, where he is expected to request Ankara's help securing the release of 48 Iranians being held in Syria by rebel forces.
Jordan's king warns of Syrian chemical weapons threat Clinton: 'We can begin planning for the day after the Assad regime falls.'
Livni on Syria: 'International community is impotent' “The fact that the international community is quite, excuse me, impotent on this issue sent a very sad and problematic message to the region. Because the international community is being watched by extremists in the region. It’s not only inside Syria, it’s by Iran, by other radical elements, by Hezbollah, by Hamas.”
WHO Warns of Severe Medicine Shortage in Syria Syria used to produce 90 percent of its medicines and drugs locally. With battles raging in the country, the World Health Organization says pharmaceuticals production has slowed because of less availability of raw materials, international sanctions, increased fuel costs and instability in much of the country.

Op-Eds & Special Reports
Iran Sees Syria as Priority Issue The former Iranian president says the stakes are high for Tehran because if the Shi'ite Syrian government falls, it not only would be a major blow to Iranian influence, but it also could mean the Tehran government is next.

Stanching Syria’s Bleeding: Inside a Rebel Triage Unit A medical student who has spent months saving lives in makeshift trauma stations shares his harrowing tale.

US makes plans to keep post-Assad Syria intact The State Department and the Pentagon are jointly working on plans for a post-President Bashar Assad Syria. They hope to avoid the kind of implosion they believe occurred because of a lack of planning for post-Saddam Iraq.

Syria’s agony prolonged as Russia and America pursue regional agendas “You have to understand: as an envoy, I can’t want peace more than the protagonists, more than the Security Council or the international community for that matter,” said Annan. “My central concern from the start has been the welfare of the Syrian people. Syria can still be saved from the worst calamity if the international community can show the courage and leadership necessary to compromise on their partial interests for the sake of the Syrian people.”

Analysis: Hamstrung Turkey's nightmares coming true in Syria Turkey's worst nightmares are beginning to come true in Syria - a protracted sectarian civil war on its long southern border with the emergence of a de facto Kurdish-controlled region friendly to its main domestic foe… "They cannot and will not intervene militarily. All they can do is help on the edges, i.e. allow insurgents free passage, train them, help them organise politically," Barkey told Reuters. "Still this is more than what many others are doing."

Armenia: An Uncertain “Homecoming” for Syria’s Diaspora Many ethnic Armenians are disgruntled after fleeing the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo for the safety of Armenia. They say they have been left to fend for themselves in the country they view as their ethnic homeland. Armenian government officials, meanwhile, insist they are doing what they can to accommodate diaspora members. Armenia: Destination Karabakh for Armenian-Syrian Refugees? Now, some politicians from both Armenia proper and Nagorno-Karabakh are floating a controversial remedy; encouraging those fleeing the Syrian violence to settle in the breakaway republic.

Now is the time for U.S. to act on Syria Our goal should be limited: Pressure al-Assad's regime to negotiate with the rebels on major reforms but not to hand them victory… Above all, we must warn the rebels that we shall cease all support for them if they commit atrocities, a step we did not undertake in Libya, resulting in some very distressing consequences.

Assad's time is running out in Syria The defection of Syrian Prime Minister Riyad Hijab is the most significant of all those who have already deserted the Assad regime. It is a hard slap in the face to the president's prestige and a win for the rebels, especially on a symbolic level.

Syria: Despite prime minister's defection, Assad’s inner circle intact About five Alawite clans, all linked through intermarriage and business interests, control the real power bases in Syria — such as the security apparatus and the military — and there have been no notable defections from their ranks, said Ammar Abdulhamid, an exiled opposition member who is on the Syria Working Group at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, a think tank in Washington. “They control the key decision-making process in tactical terms,” Abdulhamid said of the powerful Alawite dynasties. “The defection shows that the regime has lost control of an old game: the Sunni fig leaf.”

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly About the Syrian Civil War Ammar Abdulhamid may know more about Syria’s civil war than anyone else in the world. That’s no exaggeration. An pro-democratic oppositionist living abroad, Abdulhamid has functioned on a virtual 24/7 basis as the source of news and analysis about events within Syria, always trying to be honest and accurate in his assessments regardless of his own preferences. Barry Rubin, PJMedia Middle East editor, interviewed Abdulhamid on the latest developments and trends.

Video Highlights

The video in which, the FSA in Damascus took credit for the killing of the Russian General, Petrovic Kojiev http://youtu.be/CxLIl82PNuc

A video that shows defected PM Riyad Hijab sitting with local members of the FSA in the village of Nouaimah, Daraa province, close to the Jordanian borders. While rebels insist that the PM has already crossed into Jordan, Jordanian authorities still deny that he did http://youtu.be/xMR98bfp7S0 Local activists report that the Finance Minister Muhammad Al-Jleilati, who had planned to defect as well, has been arrested by Assad loyalists. But Member of Parliament Ali Al-Bish announces his defection http://youtu.be/OP8L2AHNBIU

A fighter jet dropping a bomb on Sakhour Neighborhood in Aleppo City http://youtu.be/9brPQyP8Gc4 Another fighter jet in action http://youtu.be/V71Mbc--a_A Meanwhile, the indiscriminate pounding of the Salaheddine Neighborhood continues http://youtu.be/wVTtDaBJAzA , http://youtu.be/b7JkgXIhOH4 , http://youtu.be/mRF2w2r1y_g Elsewhere in the neighborhood the clashes continue http://youtu.be/kNemZ-Q-bwk Just at the outskirts of the city, activists stumble on the site of a massacre, where 10 people seem to have been executed on the spot http://youtu.be/ZBAfrlJyrQU

One of the cannons taking part in the indiscriminate pounding of Daraa City http://youtu.be/V59VQflAZ7s

A helicopter gunship taking part in the pounding of Ayn Terma, Damascus Suburbs http://youtu.be/fbjlc0n6v5k Nearby Jisreen is pounded by mortar rounds http://youtu.be/hOJnWxkUxiU In Jisreen, pro-Assad militias perpetrate another massacre by executing some of the local activists on the spot http://youtu.be/I97bhClT2gU The pounding claims the lives of two children in Kafar Batna http://youtu.be/maUeUcCIZ8E

The indiscriminate pounding of Rastan, Homs Province http://youtu.be/5oLgy02lcJg , http://youtu.be/19MFt5tsCWg keeps claiming the lives of children: 4 children and their mother – dead http://youtu.be/lrRjSoawnfo , http://youtu.be/6oTlnphPkSQ the pounding of nearby Talbisseh continues as well http://youtu.be/HDvaQetzOn0

The pounding claims the lives of more children in Deir Baalbah, Homs City, http://youtu.be/RyAYTzTwPhI , http://youtu.be/HicDak6LO-k , http://youtu.be/ao-HudANboA