Friday, October 26, 2012

Marred and Peppered!

Marred by violent clashes, and peppered with anti-Assad rallies, ah the holidays in Syria – so much pain, so much hope, and so much global indifference.

Thursday October 25, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 103. The Breakdown:  Toll includes 9 women and 6 children: 39 in Damascus and suburbs (including 10 in an explosion in Al-Zohor neighborhood), 22 in Aleppo (including 4 rebels), 12 in Homs, 11 in Idlib, 9 in Daraa, 7 in Deir Ezzor, 3 in Hama. Other Developments: Regime committed 292 violations at end of 1st day of truce (LCC).

In Aleppo Neighborhood of Al-Shrafiyeh, where the majority of residents are Kurdish, local activsts reported clashes between rebels affiliated with the Jihadi group Jabhat Al-Nusrah and local militias affiliated with PYD, the Syrian branch of the PKK. The clashes left 5 local residents dead.

Syrian rebels advance into Aleppo Territorial gains break more than two months of stalemate as large areas of country's second city change hands

Special Reports
* City seen as bastion of loyalty to Assad before uprising * Businessmen hit by attacks, kidnapping, extortion * Rebel groups, government-linked gangs blamed * Political splits emerge within business community * Industrial zones operating at 5-10 percent of capacity
Islamist opposition groups are reported to be better funded and armed than their secular comrades.
The Syrian rebels and their support networks use social media for a variety of purposes including self-promotion, fundraising, directing attacks, and exchanging tactics. While the rebels would still be able to operate in the absence of social media, their financing and combat capabilities would be diminished, as would the influence of some high-profile rebel leaders.
Iran is conducting a region-wide drive with an eye on the regional balance of power. This is what’s at stake in Syria, and what’s playing out in Iraq, the Kurdish Regional Government, Lebanon and Turkey. This Iranian power play best explains why Hassan was killed.
Lebanon’s politics are inextricably linked to Syria’s. Syria and Lebanon were one country until Lebanon gained independence in 1943, and Syria occupied Lebanon militarily from 1976 until 2005.
Whatever the rationale, Assad is continuing his attempts to buy the building blocks of nerve agents like sarin. The CIA and the U.S. State Department, working with allies in the region, have recently prevented sales to Syria of industrial quantities of isopropanol. Popularly known as rubbing alcohol, it’s also one of the two main chemical precursors to sarin gas, one of the deadliest nerve agents in existence. The other precursor is methylphosphonyl difluoride, or DF. The Syrians were also recently blocked from acquiring the phosphorous compounds known as halides, some of which can be used to help make DF.
Can Syria's Kurds take advantage of the civil war to form their own government? Or are they too busy starting their own civil war?
Syrian refugees, trying to bring some normality to their new life in Turkey, are setting up schools for their children. But this is not always with the blessing of their host, as the BBC's James Reynolds finds out.

Arabic Press (Prepared by Steven Miller, FDD Research Associate)

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

Why “Assad is continuing his attempts to buy the building blocks of nerve agents like sarin?” Wonders Noah Shachtman.

Simple: because his program was never as big and advanced as previously advertised. The price of maintaining a system based on loyalty to a particular family above everything else is that you end up with corrupt morons populating key positions and leading key initiatives. At its best the regime could only attract third-rate technocrats who would soon become too mired in corruption to care about doing their jobs, beyond maintaining certain appearances.

Video Highlights

Clashes in Mahatah, Daraa City In Al-Qadam, Damascus City Douma, Damascus Suburbs

In their rush to distance themselves from more extremist groups and project an image of moderation, this rebel groups dubbed itself Master Jesus’s Battalion

Over 400 anti-regime rallies took place throughout Syria, like this one in Jobar Neighborhood in Damascus City Yabroud, Damascus Suburbs Elbab Road, Aleppo City Bouqrous, Deir Ezzor Aleppo Road, Hama Hilfaya, Hama Fatirah, Idlib Kafrenbel, Idlib Houleh, Homs