Friday, December 14, 2012

Failure to Launch!

This Friday’s rallies in Syria were held under the slogan “the only terrorism in Syria is practiced by Assad.” This comes in response to U.S. decision to designate Jabhat Al-Nusra as a terrorist organization. The U.S. ignored the fact that most members fighting under the emblem of al-Nusra care little for its ideology and has little connection to its leadership abroad, but joined because they need its resources, something the U.S. was asked to provide months ago and failed to do. The U.S. is failing to connect with the Syrian people even as it finally seeks to help. Delayed, reluctant and ineffectual support begets disdain and rejection, not appreciation. Yet, contrary to popular sentiments, reason dictates that we still need American support, political and material, and if America is listening to reason, then, she would know she has much to lose than reputation and goodwill if she failed to provide it this time around.

Friday December 14, 2012Today’s rallies were held under the slogan “the only terrorism in Syria is practiced by Assad.”

Today’s Death Toll: 106, including 5 women and 8 children: 49 in Damascus and suburbs (including 4 in shelling of Hajar Aswad and 4 were shot in a funeral in Barza in addition to unidentified martyrs in Qaboun), 21 in Idlib, 11 in Aleppo, 8 in Daraa, 5 in Homs, 5 in Deir Ezzor, 4 in Hama, 2 in Qunaitra and 1 in Hassaka. Points of Random Shelling: 262. Clashes: 109. Heavy clashes took place in Damascus and suburbs, with rebels downing a MiG near the Damascus International Airport. Rebels also shelled the military airport in Deir Ezzor and downed a MiG there as well. In Aleppo, more than 100 soldiers and officers defected from the Defense factories follwo9ng a rebel attack (LCC).

News

Special Reports
There are plausible scenarios in which Assad would use CW in a tactical manner against his domestic enemies—and it’s not at all clear that he wouldn’t get away with it. Assad will fight tooth and nail to maintain control over Damascus, while also securing the route from Homs to the coast (an area that witnessed regime ethnic cleansing attacks)… Obama has now offered Assad another loophole with the designation of the Jabhat al-Nusra group as a terrorist organization. As soon as news came out that the designation was forthcoming, the regime rushed to claim that rebels had seized control of a toxic chlorine factory in east Aleppo, and may now use these chemicals in an attack. Such bogus stories set the stage for a possible attack in the future and provide Assad, and his backers in Moscow, with enough to muddy the waters.
Conditions are especially dire in the northern city of Aleppo, where civilians enduring incessant clashes and air raids in rebel-held districts say hunger is a new threat to survival in the 20-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
The regime's exit from Kurdish areas has sparked mistrust between the rebels and Syria's third biggest ethnic group
Artfulness only adds to this picture's stark reality. Here is a sinister new chapter in the war between Assad and his people
As rebel fighters advance on the Syrian capital, those caught in the middle suffer from food, gas, and power shortages. Mikel Ayestaran on how Damascus residents are struggling to ride out the storm.
One day apart, North Korea launched a long-range missile to much fanfare, and the Assad regime fired Scud missiles on the rebels. Eli Lake on how the Hermit Kingdom helped Syria with the technology—and why chemical weapons might be next.
for Russia, there are no good options left. The NCC is made up mostly of academics and dissidents with no military wing, and it has little hope of turning the situation in Russia’s favor if Assad is overthrown. “They have zero influence in Syria,” says Hassan Al-Huri, a Syrian businessman in Moscow who owns the Picasso restaurant and hosted his countrymen there. “If anything, the Syrian people now hate them for associating with the Russians,” he told me after the dinner was over. That means Moscow has no choice but to accept the loss of its last real foothold in the Middle East, says Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs. Says he: “Maybe they have no more illusions.”
If Syrian rebels succeed in breaching an infantry school in Aleppo, they will gain some strategically critical pieces of territory, a windfall of supplies, and possibly a slew of regime defectors.
He still has thousands of loyal troops and a monopoly on air power. A moribund diplomatic process has given him room to maneuver despite withering international condemnation. And the power of Islamic extremists among the rebels is dashing hopes that the West will help turn the tide of the civil war by sending heavy weapons to the opposition.
The commander, Amar al-Dadikhi of the North Storm brigade, which has been holding the prisoners at an undisclosed location in Syria’s northern countryside, said in interviews that he would free the hostages if the Syrian government released two prominent opposition figures and if Lebanon freed all Syrian activists in government custody.

Op-Eds
If Assad is to be replaced, who will replace the Alawites?
… the U.S. must rebuild its relationship with Syrians. This will be important for many reasons: to isolate the jihadists; to have a say in likely future talks between a post-Assad Syria and Israel over the Golan Heights; and to block Iran out of the country, and in that way contain it regionally. With some attention, this is achievable.

Syria Deeply

The High Military Command
Over 550 defector and revolutionary gathered recently in Antalya and elected a body made up of 261 representatives, which in turn elected a High Military Command made up of 30 individuals (11 officers and 19 civilians). The country was divided into 5 “fronts,” and each was represented by 6 members in the HMC. The 30 members then elected a joint-chief-of-staff, Brig. Gen. Salim Idriss. Brig. Gen. Idriss will be advised by 5 officers and 5 civilians representing the five fronts.  
The HMC will be considered the highest military authority in the land. The head of the HMC will be the future Minister of Defense to be named by the Coalition when the transitional government is announced. The HMC will nominate 5 people, and the Coalition will have to choose one of them for the post. The HMC will do the same for the post of Minster of Interior. The specific linkages between the two ministerial posts have not been specified at this stage. Any rebel suspected of violations will be tried by a Syrian court, not an international one.

Eastern Front
Northern Front
Homs
Central/Western
Southern
1
Col. Ziad hajj Obaied (Pilot)
Ahmad Issa Al-Shaikh
Lt. Col. Qassim Saadeddine (Pilot)
Brig. Gen. Abdulmajeed Dbeis
Zahran Alloush
2
Major Adnan Muhammad Al-Kawkab
Mustafa Abdulkareem
Rami Al-Dalati
Lt. Mazen Qneifdi
Khalid Hussein Al-Arnous
3
Raghib Basheer Tomeh
Jamal Khalid Maarouf
Lieutenant Abdulhaleem Ghannoum
Kamal Hammami
Col. Khalid Muhannad al-Hourani
4
Yelmaz Sa’eed
Col. Abdul-Jabbar Al-Oqaidi
Iyyad Jom’ah
Houthaifah Mustafa Al-Shoughri
Fadi Saad Al-Assimi
5
Faraj Hammoud Al-Faraj
Muhanna Jaffaleh
Munthir Ahmad Sarras
Youssef Muhammad Al-Hassan
Lt. Col. Abdallah Al-Rifai
6
Dr. Omar Dada
Ahmad Obeid
Col. Abdurrahman Souais
Saddeddine Al-Hashimi
Ibrahim Al-Toushi

The Advisory Council (working under the chief-of-staff)
1) Col. Fateh Hassoun (Homs Front)
2) Oussama Sayih Al-Juneidi (Homs)
3) Major Muhammad Al-Abboud (Eastern)
4) Saddam Al-Jamal (Eastern)
5) Col. Mustafa Hashim (Central)
6) Abdul-Fattah Aroub (Central)
7) Lt. Col. Abdulbassit Al-Taweel (Northern)
8) Abdul-Qader Al-Saleh (Northern)
9) Brig. Gen. Ziad Fahd (Southern)
10) Bashar Awad Al-Zoubi (Southern)
The HMC also created 5 specialized offices to manage the military operations in each front:

Eastern Front
Northern Front
Homs
Central/Western
Southern
Operations
Col. Raghib Al-Hamad
Gen. Hussain Al-Oqaidi
Lt. Abdllah Bahbouh
Capt. Bassil Sillo
Major Majeed Al-Sayyid Ahmad
Intelligence
Lt. Omar Tarrad
Major Ali Zain
Lt. Omar Shamsi + Zakariya Taha
Col. Muhammad Awad
Capt.  Jawad Sa’eed
Provisions
Lt. Oussama Al-Jassem
Muhammad Mustafa Al-Bakkour
Lt. Ikrimah Bakkour
Manar Al-Shami
Capt. Ahmad Nayif
Finance
Major Mustafa Ibrahim
Lt. Col. Fadel Al-Hajji
Ahmad Abdurrahman Al-Hamwi
Col. Maher Al-Nabhan
Capt. Mazid Dahhan
Transitional Justice
Lt. Col. Ahmad Ayid Al-Khalaf
Brig. Gen. Abdurrahman Al-Hassan
Khaid Bakkar + Ghanim Saadeddine (Esq.)
Abdurrazzaq Freijeh
Muhammad Al-Wazir

A number of specialized committees have also been set up.
Video Highlights

Rallies like this one in Kafrenbel, Idlib Province http://youtu.be/vVrThFBzXl8 and Elbab, Aleppo, http://youtu.be/pxYkZjZz9KU took place all over the country today, as per custom.

Clashes near a security headquarters in Aleppo http://youtu.be/Q_eIzwufEp8 , http://youtu.be/XmcyJe35nzM , http://youtu.be/XmcyJe35nzM