Sunday, October 7, 2012

Big Bad Bird!

Candidate Romney says he will kill Big Bird. Problem is: President Obama has already given him to us.

Saturday October 6, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 105. The Breakdown: total includes 10 FSA members, 3 women and 2 children. 31 in Damascus and Suburbs, 24 in Homs (most in Houla), 22 in Aleppo, 10 in Lattakia, 9 in Idlib, 7 in Daraa, 1 in Hama, and 1 in Deir Ezzor (LCC).

Other Developments

Rebels in Homs City claim to have captured Hussam Al-Assad, Bashar Al-Assad’s cousin, he was taking part in orchestrating the crackdown in the city. Still, the intensive pounding of the city continues.

Rebels declare Al-Akrad Mountain, Lattakia Province, and Khirbet Al-Joz Village, Idlib Province, completely liberated as pro-Assad militias are forced to withdraw. The battle for Turkmen Mountain continues.


Special Reports
With the Syrian rebellion has come a rise in Kurdish autonomy. The rebels have tense relations with the Kurds, and Turkey fears northern Syria may become a haven for the Kurdish militia the PKK.
Identity and geopolitics are not always in tension, and at times can work in tandem to strengthen a country's position. But this complicates things, as it's easier to ignore humanitarian crises -- like the one in Syria -- when you are a hard-nosed realist.

Ammar Abdulhamid & Khawla Yusuf: The Shredded Tapestry: The State of Syria Today

The Turkish Newspaper Hurriyet published this map below showing the distribution of major rebel groups inside Syria. Despite some huge gaps there, especially the absence of the Syrian Martyrs Brigades, currently the largest rebel group in the country, taken in conjunction with information provided in Shredded Tapestry and again in my latest Op-Ed in Foreign Policy, the map is still quite useful.

Video Highlights

Jockeying for power among rebel groups continue: here is a video showing Lieutenant Abdurrazzaq Tlas announcing the formation of The First Division, a new rebel movement made up of fighting battalions and brigades from all over the country, including his former Al-Farouq Brigade But in this clip, the new commander of Al-Farouq, Abu Sayih Juneidi, declares that Abdurrazzaq has been relieved of all his duties

At issue here is a sex scandal, to which I alluded in the Shredded Tapestry, involving Lt. Tlas. It seems pro-Assad hackers have been able to monitor the internet account of Tlas and record his video sex chats with a variety of women, and made some of them available online. At first, rebels in Al-Farouq tried to ignore the story, but, according to Abu Sayih, over the last few weeks, Assad’s intelligence services have been trying to blackmail them threatening to release more videos, necessitating this move. Lt. Tlas is closed to the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi factions, who seem to back his latest move to remain relevant, it’s not clear at this stage how serious a move the formation of the First Division is. What is obviously wrong here is the claim that all active groups have joined the Division, as this is nowhere near true.

From Douma, Damascus Suburbs, comes this video-clip showing the burnt-out body of the pilot whose helicopter was brought down by rebels on Friday Today, MIGs continued their pounding of Eastern Ghoutah: Misraba Kafar Batna

In Damascus City, the pounding of Al-Qadam Neighborhood continues

The pounding of Nouaimah, Daraa Province, with heavy artillery continues

In Saif Al-Dawleh, Aleppo City, the shelling leaves a building on fire

The pounding of Houleh, Homs Province, leaves many dead including local rebels Some of the tanks taking part in the pounding of the town

Clashes take place in several neighborhoods in Homs City: Khaldiyeh , and the neighborhood was pounded by helicopter gunships as well In moments of clam, black smoke can be seen rising all over the  neighborhood But the pounding does not stop for long