Friday, October 12, 2012

So Be It!

Judging from the statements that have been made so far by both contenders to the presidential title in the U.S., and the statements that were just made by their running mates during the vice-presidential debate, it seems clear that Syria is not a priority for any of them, a fact that is unlikely to change in the future irrespective of the elections’ outcome. Though Syrians will have to bear the brunt of it all, there will be enough fallouts to spread the pain around.

Thursday October 11, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 210. The Breakdown: toll includes 10 children and 6 women. 47 in Idlib, 44 in Damascus and Suburbs (among them 3 field-executed in Tadamon), 37 in Deir Ezzor (including 21 field-executed), 24 in Daraa, 20 in Homs, 20 in Aleppo, 8 in Tartus, 7 in Hama, 2 in Raqqah, and 1 in Hassakah  (LCC).


Special Reports
In the midst of Syria’s civil war, more is being lost than lives. Aleppo may be the world’s oldest continuously occupied city, dating to the era of the pyramids, and at the height of the Ottoman Empire, it was the world’s largest metropolis after Istanbul and Cairo.
The cost of intervention in Syria may be high now, but the price will only increase for all nations if civilian massacres continue unabated.
Alawites and Alevis alike represent non-Orthodox Islam, and the two groups have similar-sounding names because of their shared reverence for Ali, son-in-law of Mohamed. Nevertheless, Alawites and Alevis are in fact different groups ethnically and theologically, and confusing the two would be akin to saying that all Protestants are protestors.
The BBC's Ian Pannell visits a hospital in Aleppo overwhelmed with trauma victims of Syria's civil war, where doctors work under fire to keep people alive.
Turkey's forced landing of a Syrian passenger jet from Moscow suspected of carrying military cargo is the latest example of regional spillover from the Syria crisis. The risks of these cascading spillovers may ultimately emerge as the leading rationale for international intervention.
The Syrian Army's pounding of the territory between Homs and the Lebanese border has sent hundreds of Syrian fighters and civilians fleeing to the Lebanese town of Masharih al-Qaa.
In a society where the transition from warzone to civilization takes a matter of days, the rapid change tends to leave a rift between two selves. One self is who you were during the war, while the other is who you were before it. Readjusting to the world after deployment is the reunification of these two selves. After merging them together, you are left with the person you have become after experiencing the realties of conflict.
He may no longer control huge swathes of Syrian territory, but his forces appear nowhere near collapse. Over the past 18 months, at least, the dictator has beaten the odds
The Assad regime dealt with ethno-sectarian wounds through a combination of policies that—unsurprisingly—elevated its own minority community and filled the broader sectarian milieu with paranoia and distrust. One can understand the ruthlessness of the shabeeha militias only in the light of Alawi historical memory: of poverty, underdevelopment, labor migration—its dependence on colonial and military institutions for social integration and its experiences of second-class citizenship. These memories (and fear of an unknown future) have helped lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians during the current conflict, in which an important segment of Syria’s Alawi community has been instilled with fear of annihilation.
With the forcing down of the airliner, Ankara is clearly increasing the already increased pressure it started putting on the Assad regime after last week's Syrian shelling of a Turkish border town, which resulted in the death of five locals and was followed by several days of back-and-forth artillery exchanges between Turkish and Syrian forces.

Arabic Press (Prepared by Steven Miller, FDD Research Associate)
According to the Syrian paper al-Watan, Homs could be announced a "secure province" in the coming hours or days, after marked progress by the regime in the city and its surroundings. Activists on the ground denied those reports, saying that the Syrian military has not made any progress in the city in the last few days, despite heavy shelling and its attempt to penetrate the city through the al-Khalidiya and Bab Houd neighborhoods. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights pointed out that there was "heavy shelling on the neighborhoods that the opposition controls in Homs, which has been besieged for months by regime forces," and that the regime specifically targeted al-Khalidiya, Jouret al-Shiyah, and areas of Homs' old city.

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

The Alawite Front

More clashes were reported in the town of Qardaha in Latakia Province today, pitting pro- and anti-Assad Alawite clans. Today’s clashes, we are told, came as a reaction to finding the bodies of 2 of the three girls from the anti-Assad Al-Khayyir clan who went missing last week. The clashes took part at the town’s periphery and in nearby villages due to the presence of loyalist troops from the 4th Armored Division in the town’s center. Inter-Alawite clashes have also taken place beyond the borders of Latakia province and in reached Alawite-majority suburbs and neighborhoods in Damascus City, especially Ish Al-Warwar which seems to have to a larger concentration of anti-Assad Alawite clans.

So far this is indeed the extant of U.S. involvement in the Syrian Crisis. As I have argued in Shredded Tapestry, the Office of Syrian Opposition Support (OSOS) represents the maximum that the Obama Administration seems willing to do at this stage. Indeed,

"we are not talking about major expenditures here," said Ammar Abdulhamid, a prominent Syrian activist and fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, cautioning that OSOS was too new to assess its effectiveness.

Still, if OSOS is not meant as a first step in a plan that will involve military assistance soon, then it’s a meaningless and unnecessary expenditure and a waste both from an American tax-payer perspective and a Syrian activist perspective. OSOS will prove useless and ineffective if it’s not part of a larger more focused plan, and no Syrian activist will take it seriously if it does not aim at providing enough support to the rebels to determine the outcome of the transition taking place.

We do not need America’s leaders to spend any amount of funds to assuage a guilty conscience and to pretend to give a damn when they actually don’t. We will not be fooled, and the American tax-payer, though sympathetic, is already uninterested, so, it is not really necessary to try to fool him/her.

Video Highlights

A child killed by the shelling in Aleppo City