Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Much Aposturing About Nothing!

Political posturing and sound-bites do not a policy make, but that’s all we are given by America’s leaders when they are not willing to lead. This world has yet to develop effective mechanisms for managing its myriad crises without America’s leadership. So, on we stumble onto another period of mayhem in so many parts of the world, with Syria becoming one of the main victims to be sacrificed on the altar of indifference. Nothing personal though, it’s just bad timing, luck, karma, what-have-you.

Tuesday October 23, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 202. The Breakdown: Toll includes a family from Alboukamal, 15 children and 10 women: 100 reported in Damascus and suburbs (50 in Moadamiya), 34 in Aleppo (most in a massacre at a bakery in Hanano), 25 in Deir Ezzor (7 due to shelling of Alboukamal), 13 in Homs (most in Talkalakh), 13 in Daraa, 11 in Idlib, 4 in Hama, 1 in Lattakia and 1 in Raqqah. Locations of Random Shelling: 123, including 22 by warplanes, 44 by mortars, 54 by artillery, 26 by rockets, 6 by explosive barrels. Clashes between rebels and loyalists: 72, with rebels carrying out 19 operations, mostly in Idlib Province (LCC).

News

Special Reports
Europe must work to prevent Assad's dirty war from unraveling the whole region.
Human Rights Watch spoke to two cluster bomb victims in the town of Eastern al-Buwayda, as well as with residents in the towns of Rastan, Talbiseh, al-Bab, and Qusayr, who witnessed cluster bomb air strikes or filmed the aftermath and directly provided the footage or photos to Human Rights Watch.
In a switch of tactics, rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad are trying to seize towns and military positions in Idlib's impoverished frontier region by surrounding them and slowly starving the soldiers out.
While Turkey is actively seeking regime change in Syria, the Islamist-based Erdogan government argues that they have no sectarian-motivated ambitions for the newly shaping majority-Sunni Arab world. Often shown as a model to its immediate Muslim neighborhood, Turkey, unfortunately, not only risks failing to lead by example at this critical turning point for the region, but also underestimates critical perceptions about its policies.
Piece by piece, Syria's rebels are slowly expanding their arsenal and getting their hands on more advanced weapons. The process still appears to be haphazard and improvised, far from the reliable, organized pipeline that rebels have sought ... Assad's forces have adapted too, although surprisingly they have at times turned more low-tech for the needs of urban warfare against guerrillas. Rebel fighters say the most terrifying new regime weapons are cluster munitions, which scatter "bomblets" over a large area, and so-called "barrel" bombs.
With death lurking around every corner, the survival instincts of Aleppo's population are being stretched to the limit every day as the battle between Syria's rebels and the regime of President Bashar Assad for the country's largest city stretches through its fourth destructive month. Residents in the rebel-held neighborhoods suffering the war's brunt tell tales of lives filled with fear over the war in their streets, along with an ingenuity and resilience in trying to keep their shattered families going.
While Ankara has been active in supporting the Syrian opposition, both in political and -- according to various reports -- military terms, and has in recent weeks beefed up its military presence along the Syrian border and retaliated with its own artillery after Syrian mortars landed in Turkish territory, both Obama and Romney showed little appetite for the United States to get militarily involved in Syria.
Ahmad explained that they found instructions online for many of the bombs but that some of their products were Syrian innovations.
Here, and throughout a swathe of countryside along the Turkish border, the rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) rule the land. But the aircraft of President Bashar al-Assad rule the sky and almost daily, they rain death and destruction on places like Marea.

Arabic Press (Prepared by Steven Miller, FDD Research Associate)
The Local Coordinating Committees reported that the Syrian military escalated its operations on the outskirts of Damascus yesterday, where it documented 100 deaths, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the regime opened a new front in northern Aleppo, and is expected to increase the viciousness of its campaigns in the city. The Observatory reported violent clashes in parts of Harasta (near Damascus) between rebel brigades and regime forces trying to storm the city, while  other clashes and regime shelling occurred in Jadida Artouz, Zabadani-where 13 people were killed, Zamalka, and Ain Tarma.
A recent poll by the Turkish paper Hurriyet showed that a majority of Turks reject any intervention by their country in the Syrian crisis, despite increasing tensions in relations between the two countries. The paper noted that it polled 1,500 people from 18 different provinces, and 51 percent responded that they want Turkey to remain uninvolved and impartial in the conflict. One of the poll questions asked, "Is there any role that Turkey should play in Syria after al-Assad?" 18 percent supported a Turkish role as mediator between Syrian factions, while 7 percent supported Turkish economic aid to Syria.

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

My take on the Great Debate as it pertains to Syria:

On Syria, close observers felt neither candidate presented a serious plan toward resolving the bloody civil war that threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East. “In Obama’s case, this is quite disheartening because he’s been following the situation and been involved in it from the beginning,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It’s as if he’s putting together a eulogy rather than a policy.” While Mr. Abdulhamid credited Mr. Romney with doing “some good posturing” on Syria policy, he added that it was “not clear if Romney is going to bring a coherent policy other than saying we’ll throw some weapons at the problem and hopefully it will solve itself.”

The fact that the two candidates’ views on Syria were so much alike was also noted by Max Fischer:

Just how similar were the two candidates’ statements on Syria? Here are some of their comments side-by-side to give you a sense. The remarkable overlap, sometimes word-for-word, is a reminder of both Syria’s urgency and its difficulty. Tellingly, Romney strained to portray the crisis there as a failure by the Obama administration, but seemed unable to articulate a different approach.


Video Highlights


Tanks taking part in the pounding of neighborhoods in Damascus City & Suburbs: Qaboun http://youtu.be/Yh_aO2tezlo Zamalka http://youtu.be/cM3R_j1wonA In nearby Douma, rescuers come under fire as they try to pick up the wounded http://youtu.be/cIgj7jhosSE Nearby Harasta is pounded as well http://youtu.be/yAFURdOW65U MiGs take part in the pounding of Saqba http://youtu.be/_uewWmYeQRs

Massaken Hanano, Aleppo City: a massacre at the bakery http://youtu.be/8lKYOs049jY , http://youtu.be/ZUlwfbk7WDg The jet that carried out the raid http://youtu.be/kKm1r9LFzEs

In Aleppo City, local rebels used improvised missiles in their attack on loyalist headquarters http://youtu.be/HjLn99pAnDE Elsewhere in the city, MiGs continue to pound restive neighborhoods http://youtu.be/T8OGAoH_hgA

A new massacre in Alboukamal, Deir Ezzor Province http://youtu.be/_40xx4muX0E

A unit affiliated with the secular-leaning National Unity Brigades takes control of the Research Center on the western outskirts of Damascus City http://youtu.be/DTn0nKzwYGc

MiGs continue their pounding of Ma’arrat Al-Nouman, Idlib Province http://youtu.be/E4lZyofuG7w , http://youtu.be/Cw4bAZcBWqw

In Homs City, targeting mosques and minarets remain part of the modus operandi of pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/nlfIE8nVC8Q Warplanes pound nearby town of Al-Qusair http://youtu.be/t2lEMfPN544 , http://youtu.be/OoFRn2TtdKM The pounding of Rastan continues as well http://youtu.be/w6RfjwuWjII , http://youtu.be/fkEsbfzphZ0 In Tadmor/Palmyra, a group of defectors declare the formation of a Revolutionary Military Council http://youtu.be/h1IPNJNEVvo

Local rebels in Anadan, Idlib Province, members of a unit named after Late Lebanese PM, Rafic Al-Hariri, among other fighting units, repel an attack fro pro-Assad militias coming from the Shiite villages of Zahrah and Nabbol http://youtu.be/amSgDCj3ka8 , http://youtu.be/MUj7Sy5MkaY , http://youtu.be/gJpGfm4mAgA Meanwhile, a group of lawyers, doctors, engineers and intellectuals forma local ruling council http://youtu.be/uXVPJZueL7Y

Leaked video shows the pounding of Kafar Shams, Daraa Province http://youtu.be/kwOTAty_65U