Thursday, November 8, 2012

The New Game Plan!

What Syrian opposition members fail to understand, and some of them may not even want to understand, is that speaking of a political solution at this stage is not an attempt at circumventing the revolution: for the revolution has already succeeded, it has already toppled the regime, by reducing it into sectarian militias enacting a purely sectarian agenda and serving interests that are intrinsically un-Syrian. As a result, the regime took its revenge against the state and tore it apart. We now need to think of ways to put the state back together, for failure on this front makes us as Un-Syrian as the fallen regime.

Wednesday November 07, 2012

Today’s Death Toll: 168. The Breakdown: Toll includes 4 women and 16 children: 73 in Damascus and suburbs (including 25 in Beit Sahem), 32 in Aleppo, 25 in Idlib, 8 in Raqqah, 6 in Homs, 4 in Lattakia, 4 in Deir Ezzor, 4 in Daraa and 3 in Hama. Other Developments: The LCC also documented 176 instances of random shelling by regime forces, including 22 instances of aerial shelling and 4 instances of bombing with explosive barrels. Rebels clashed with regime forces in 57 points, and was able to repel a number of regime attempts to storm Eastern Ghoutah Region in Damascus Suburbs (LCC).

News

Resolving Syria crisis is first foreign policy priority, David Cameron tells Barack Obama David Cameron has urged Barack Obama to join Britain in a new effort to "solve" Syria's crisis as world leaders queued up to refer global problems to America's newly re-elected president.
Syria seizing foreign aid while patients die, medical NGO says "When the regime attacks one of our medical facilities, whether it's a hospital or something else, they load up everything they can carry, and they burn the rest," said Tawfik Chamaa, a Geneva-based doctor and spokesman for the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM). "They take as much as they can, and that just depends on how many soldiers they have, but most of the time they resell it on the black market," he told a news briefing in Geneva.

Special Reports
Hobbled by a lack of supplies and a confused chain of command, rebels here said Wednesday that they feared they might lose the city without reinforcements and ammunition.
Before the unrest in Syria began last year, there was a lively art scene in Damascus, and many galleries showcased contemporary painters. The departure of artists from Syria has caught the attention of gallery owners and collectors in Lebanon. “It was a way for us to discover that Syria has so many great young artists,” said Alia Noueihed Nohra, the owner of the Art Circle gallery in the bustling Hamra neighborhood of west Beirut.
With Syrian forces and Arab rebels entangled in fighting to their west, a Syrian Kurdish party tied to Turkish Kurd separatists has exploited a vacuum to start Kurdish schools, cultural centers, police stations and armed militias. But the growing influence of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) is concerning not only Turkey, which is worried that border areas will become a foothold for Turkish Kurd PKK rebels, but also Syrian Arab fighters who see the Kurdish militias as a threat.
After the election, the administration may be emboldened to take more aggressive action on Syria. At least that's what the rebels hope for.
Turkey May Deploy Patriot Missiles Near Syria The development, coming only hours after President Obama had won re-election, raised speculation that the United States and its allies were working on a more robust plan to deal with the 20-month-old conflict in Syria during the second Obama administration term. Further reinforcing that speculation, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain said he was prepared to open direct lines of communication with Syrian rebel commanders.
Bombings and assassinations seem to be less about holding territory than making guerrilla-style strikes, some of which have caused civilian casualties.
President Obama's re-election ensures continuity in US foreign policy, he now faces the governments of Iran, Syria, and possibly China.
There's some hope for a faster end to the fighting – with British Prime Minister Cameron hinting at safe passage for Assad if he decides to quit the fight. But the outlook is grim.
Long-oppressed, Syria’s Kurds see the conflict ravaging their country as an opportunity to win the kind of liberty enjoyed by their ethnic kin in Iraq who live autonomously from the federal capital in Baghdad.

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

Are the British PM and Turkish Foreign Minister seeking to pile up some pressure on President Obama in order to get him to adopt a more proactive policy on Syria, or do their statements reflect an already agreed new course of action involving, at the very least, the creation of a limited no-fly zone over northern Syria? My take: it’s all about pressure at this stage because there is nothing that is agreed, in fact, I doubt if any serious high level conversation on Syria has taken place between the great powers in quite a while, beyond a simple exchange of platitudes. I believe that, at least for the near future, President Obama will continue to pursue a policy of minimal intervention in Syrian Conflict, one that goes little beyond increasing nonlethal aid to rebels and activists while contending with having other regional and international players pursue their own policies in this regard,  including supplying funds and more advanced weapons to the rebels.

The impact of this policy will be to encourage the further fracturing of Syria and a further devolution of powers to the provinces and right into the hands of rebels and pro-Assad militias, and whatever political forces end up coalescing around them.

At this stage, this trend cannot be reversed, not without massive intervention which, even in the best of cases, was never on the table. So, devolution, followed by regional stabilization and eventually, launching a political process to put the pieces back together, this is what we should expect over the next few years. We may not be here as a result of an intentional policy, irrespective of what the conspiracy-minded in our midst believe, but this is where we find ourselves now anyway, and this might be the only viable way forward. 

In this light, the initiative proposed by Riad Seif and backed by the Americans was meant to create a pragmatic enough political body that can take charge of the processes ahead, processes that will involve not only negotiating with the regime over the specific mechanisms of power transfer, but also much negotiations and mediation between the different groups in their regional, confessional and national diversity. The effort will likely fail, scuttled by an overambitious and further radicalized and Islamized SNC. But ultimately that will have little effect on developments on the ground where rebels are the real decision-makers. Given a foothold to representatives of rebel groups in the SNC or any new body will not make them embrace either beyond using them as temporary conduits for interacting with the wider world.

In other words, whatever comes out of Doha will be meaningless. Guns will continue to speak louder than words, especially when the words are uttered in favor of self-serving agendas by people who long lost their moral relevance and legitimacy, and people close to the ground and reality will eventually pull the carpet from under the feet of those reaching for imaginary stars and gains.

What Syrian opposition members fail to understand, and some of them may not even want to understand, is that speaking of a political solution at this stage is not an attempt at circumventing the revolution: for the revolution has already succeeded, it has already toppled the regime, by reducing it into sectarian militias enacting a purely sectarian agenda and serving interests that are intrinsically un-Syrian. As a result, the regime took its revenge against the state and tore it apart. We now need to think of ways to put the state back together, for failure on this front makes us as Un-Syrian as the fallen regime.

Saving Syria as an independent state requires talking to all stakeholders in it, including members of the ancien rĂ©gime and their supporters. There is no circumventing that. We might be able to storm the presidential palace soon, but attempting to storm Alawite strongholds or Kurdish regions, or any loyalist base will be disastrous. We need to plan ahead. We need a vision for how the country will be ruled in the future, and that vision, in order to be legitimate and acceptable to all different segments of the population, has to come as a result of negotiations with all parties, including regime supporters. Embarking on this political process is not a betrayal of the revolution, but an acknowledgement of its success. More importantly, there is no contradiction between the ongoing armed struggle and such a process: it’s not an either/or situation. In fact, military operations by all sides might intensify when the political process acquires more relevance as each side seeks to increase its stake.

Video Highlights

A Syrian girl urges Michelle Obama to ask her husband to intervene in Syria during Mrs. Obama’s stop in Ohio on November 6 http://youtu.be/2DD8Z4D02G4

The Great Mosque of Douma in Damascus Suburbs gets consumed by fire as a result of pounding by pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/YKCKJQd6JvQ , http://youtu.be/TyDmllyp9wI Elsewhere in the suburb, people rush to pull bodies from under the rubble following an aerial raid http://youtu.be/pk1p0VU30kE , http://youtu.be/BGQkXCTctzg This is how intense the pounding was http://youtu.be/hghI7vCReNw Nearby Kafar Batna was also pounded http://youtu.be/7UDW5jcpLfM The aftermath http://youtu.be/s_xrDYnkDIY

In Beit Sahem, aerial bombardments leaves dozens dead http://youtu.be/Yd5Vv5w1YQE

The remains of the car that exploded in Al-Qadam Neighborhood in Damascus City http://youtu.be/Be3kort27ZU More pounding in Damascus City http://youtu.be/MzpbNobkk5o

People pull bodies from under the rubble in Khan Al-Subul in Idlib Province http://youtu.be/VmU_dZDriZk Nothing but body parts remain following an aerial raid on a village near Ma’arrat Al-Nouman, Idlib http://youtu.be/qjjP_naWS_I