Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Great Debate That Never Was!

1) The Syria Crisis is no longer about Syria, neither Romney nor Obama has so far shows that he understands that. But judging from their debate on Foreign Policy, one cannot but conclude that the very concept of policy seems foreign to them. 2) Dealing with Syria requires action on both the political and military fronts. Those who insist on approaching the situation with an either-or mentality will only contribute to making the situation worse, intentions notwithstanding. 3) Identifying suitable partners among Syria’s rebels is important for the U.S. of course, but, and as the Revolution enters into its 20th month, the Obama Administration has taken only a few baby steps in this regard. At this pace, the only suitable partners that the Administration will find in Syria will be Libyans, and other foreign fighters.  

Monday October 22, 2012

Today’s Death toll: 204. The Breakdown: Toll includes 8 women and 5 children: 134 in Damascus and Suburbs (including more than 60 were found with signs of torture on most in Moadamiah, 10 in Harasta and 15 due to the aerial shelling of Outaya), 23 in Aleppo, 14 in Idlib, 13 in Deir Ezzor, 9 in Daraa (including 4 field-executed in Busra Al-Sham), 6 in Homs, 5 in Hama, 1 in Raqqah, 1 in Banyas, and 1 in Lattakia (LCC)

Other Developments: The LCCs managed to count 125 points of random shelling by Regime Forces: 12 by fighter jets, 49 by mortar, 44 by artillery, 20 by missiles, 2 points explosive barrels.

Clashes between the FSA and regime forces were reported in 65 points. The Free Syrian Army started 13 operations the most successful of which took place in Ma’arrat Al-Nouman (Idlib Province) and Damascus Suburbs.


Special Reports
USA TODAY freelance correspondent Clare Morgana Gillis spent several days in the besieged city of Aleppo, the deadliest battleground in Syria's brutal civil war.
Onetime demonstrators seeking the government's ouster now risk their lives to aid the displaced and wounded civilians and rebels as Syria's humanitarian crisis grows.
Brahimi’s appointment as Arab League and U.N. representative came at a time when the Syrian people had lost all confidence in the Arab and international organizations. We have not only lost all hope; we now have a tendency to look upon any new initiative as intended to control the Syria massacre, rather than stop it.
The US has remained largely on the sidelines but the Syrian crisis will affect all corners of the Middle East and beyond
In Lebanon, troops launched a major security operation to open all roads and force gunmen off the streets, trying to contain an outburst of violence set off by the assassination of a top intelligence official who was a powerful opponent of Syria. Sectarian clashes overnight killed at least two people.
The accumulation in civilian hands of guns, ranging from hunting rifles to assault weapons from official stocks, shows the potential for the battle between President Bashar al-Assad’s government and opposition groups to degenerate further into a militia-based war.
Determining the suitability of armed opposition elements as potential recipients of military assistance is complex and challenging. In Syria, such groups are numerous, rapidly evolving, and highly varied in ideology. Nevertheless, they do not pose an impenetrable mystery.
If the United States wants to save Lebanon, it should get off the sidelines and help topple Bashar al-Assad's bloody dictatorship.

The US government should tell Assad that he must launch serious negotiations for a transition government. If he does not, Western governments should supply opposition militias with ground to air missiles in sufficient numbers to bring down the Syrian air-force.

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

Briefly Noted

* The foiled terrorist plot in Jordan gives another glimpse of what the future of the region will be like if the situation in in Syria is allowed to continue on its current downward spiral.

* What’s happening in Lebanon is not the simple manifestation of the spillover effect, but the active results of an import/export activity championed by Assad, Iran and Hezbollah, with Russian backing.

The lack of a commitment to military intervention – such as a no-fly zone or airstrikes, but not foreign boots on Syrian soil – is maddening to pro-intervention Syrian opposition figures such as Ammar Abdulhamid, a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington research center.

While Abdulhamid said the Obama administration’s involvement in the Arab protests was “overall a positive one,” Syria is “a nightmare scenario” that was facilitated by government officials’ “lack of resolve, leadership and vision.” Syria, he and other activists say, could end up as a stain on the administration’s otherwise sensible response to the Arab uprisings.

“If they make it through this coming election, I just hope they have plans to give this tragedy the time and resources it requires to be brought to resolution in a manner commensurate with the aspirations of the pro-democracy activists who started this whole thing and were, in effect, betrayed,” Abdulhamid said.

More thoughts on U.S. foreign policy towards Syria and region:

The Obama Administration did not push and is not yet pushing for regime change in Syria. American officials simply asked Assad to step down and imposed sanctions hoping that this will somehow facilitate Assad’s decision-making process in this regard. That’s not pushing, that’s a Hail Mary, if not shirking the responsibility of pushing, of playing a real role in ensuring regime change.

Indeed, instead of pushing and formulating a policy to achieve the stated goal, the Obama administration stood by and watched as the situation devolved, massacres became a daily occurrence, and the pace and scale of violence escalated to the point where we now have a civil war and a failed state. What could have been resolved with a moderate use of force to get a message home to Assad and his supporters that the situation needs to be resolved through a real open political process now requires massive military and diplomatic intervention.

Of course, it’s not just Syria’s future that is at stake here, it’s the future of the region and it’s the credibility of the United States as world power, if not the credibility of the international order as a whole. We are facing the possibility of a regional meltdown here, and yet no one in the administration saw it coming, despite the plethora of warning signs throughout the last few months. This is unforgiveable.

On the other hand, harking back on the good old days of supporting dictators is not less of a betrayal. Allying with dictators is exactly why we have so many Salafists and Jihadists around and is the root cause of the problems we are facing in the region today. The good old days were hell for the people of the region. As Arab Human Development Reports produced over the UNDP program over a period of years showed, for all the wealth we have in our countries, Arabs rank next to sub-Saharan Africa, one of the poorest regions in the world, on the development index. To year for a return of a policy that ensured this kind of status quo is to show complete disrespect for our basic aspirations as a people and for our sense of humanity.

Fear of Islamists does not justify such an attitude. For Islamists were empowered, often intentionally and as a part of a deliberate policy, by our ruling oppressive regimes, in order to be used as instruments of blackmail vis-à-vis certain segments of the population as well as the international community. This strategy has been exposed and explained over the years by scholars from both the right and left, and it will not change unless the regimes are changed. Freedom will come with plenty of headaches for all concerned, and it will, for a certain time, empower people who will fail to appreciate it by virtue of their ideological predilections. Managing the transition ahead will not be easy or without risks, but proactive attitude is far better than trying to keep a lid on what is in effect a pressure cooker.

Video Highlights

New massacre in Massaken Hanano Neighborhood, Aleppo City http://youtu.be/H0wl0wCzEtI

This video from Aleppo City shows the aftermath of dropping a TNT barrel on a local mosque on October 17 http://youtu.be/PdrN3eLvjpY Elsewhere in the City, and in Midan Neighborhood, clashes take place http://youtu.be/ElA4D-zgGVo

This clip was uploaded by activists who claim it shows Iranian troops arriving in Damascus from Tehran on board of a Syrian airline flight http://youtu.be/CnH4aijhbj0

The bodies in this video belong to pro-Assad militias killed in a raid on their checkpoint by rebels in Lattakia province http://youtu.be/1GgTOg3yNTE , http://youtu.be/xh7grcSsNu0  

Leaked Videos

A clip showing the intensity of the pounding that rocked Baba Amr Neighborhood, Homs City http://youtu.be/VbQ0HMWXep0

A clip shows Brig. Gen. Issam Zahreddine, a commander in the Republican Guard, leading his soldiers on a march through the Qarabees Neighborhood in Homs City, while signing for martyrdom, praising Assad as a “holy leader,” and chanting “God, Syria, Bashar, the Guard, and nothing more.” http://youtu.be/XiSTiMaDBOg

Clip of pro-Assad militias surveying the damage of Qarabees, saying “this is freedom, this is the neighborhood that was occupied by terrorists” http://youtu.be/qxwebHiFCas , http://youtu.be/F9-6cJy6HzQ

Clip showing abuse of detainees by pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/ybVSpeD3HUo