Sunday, December 23, 2012

Flip-Flop!

If the Americans have no clear public policy on the goings-on in Syria, the Russians have a dozen at any given moment. Whatever talks are taking place behind closed doors between the two parties don’t seem be making any difference so far. What the haggling is all about is hard to know. But my limited experience in such matters indicates that indirect modes of communication often prevail even in secret talks. Each side will have to continually guess what the other side really wants, because neither side is willing to say it clearly and openly. And both sides have notoriously been either bad at guessing, or unwilling to admit, even to themselves, what the other side really wants, because they don’t really want to give it.

Saturday December 22, 2012

Today’s Death Toll: 143, including 2 children and 3 women: 75 in Damascus and suburbs (including 30 bodies were found in Bahdaliya, 5 in Hamouriya, and 5 in Qaboun), 30 in Aleppo, 13 in Hama, 8 in Raqqa, 7 in Idlib, 5 in Daraa, 4 in Homs and one martyr in Deir Ezzor. Points of Random Shelling: 199. Clashes: 116. Rebels gained control of the Qaybar battalion in Efreen in Aleppo, liberated Ishara battalion in Homs, liberated two checkpoints at the entrance of Raqqa, and gained control of the Siyasa and Elim roundabouts in Raqqa. They also forced regime forces to retreat from the southern region of Mourek in Hama (LCC).

News
Syria Rebels Threaten To Storm Christian Towns Of Mahrada, Sqailbiyeh A video released by rebels showed Rashid Abul-Fidaa, who identified himself as the commander of the Ansar Brigade for Hama province, calling on locals in Mahrada and Sqailbiyeh to rise up against Assad's forces or prepare for an assault.
In Syria's Aleppo, 'We're starving. I can bear it but what about my children?' Rebel fighters have hunkered down in warehouses to halt offensives by Assad's forces in the civil war. The few lucky bakeries in Aleppo that have supplies often have hundreds standing in line, hoping for a few loaves.
Syria: Strong Coalition Message Against Targeting Civilians The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) sent a clear signal that targeting civilians violates the laws of war. The coalition’s statement on December 19, 2012, condemned attacks on civilians, regardless of their nationality.
Iran says to send humanitarian aid to Syria's Palestinians Aid would be dispatched in Yarmouk, where insurgents took control earlier this week.

The Russian Conundrum

Video Highlights

Rebels in Damascus take control of an interrogation center in the suburb of Harasta used by the Republican Guard. One of the slogans written on the wall goes as follows: “If you’re a patriot, you will be saved 100%. But if you were an infiltrator, then you will be missing 100%.” http://youtu.be/fMxImqALJEU Gathering for the assault against the center http://youtu.be/HbLqZAtKe2w , http://youtu.be/txixHKGkB8U Hitting the compound with a rocket http://youtu.be/ZpaC26dH-RI Preparing the rocket http://youtu.be/LWk2XOgSGOw

In Qaboun Suburb, Damascus City, locals search through the rubble in search of bodies after a booby-trapped car exploded http://youtu.be/DiTCeTwxGQY , http://youtu.be/wNZGDiPNdx4 , http://youtu.be/IcRKeNKO56w , http://youtu.be/Y8_9RYUr15s , http://youtu.be/joHUbSS2G8U Local activists blame regime loyalists for the explosion, as Qaboun is mainly a rebel-held area.

Shelling leave many dead in Hamouriyeh Suburb, in Eastern Ghoutah, Damascus http://youtu.be/qOnZ8s3Glp4 , http://youtu.be/28ZwC2gmEHg , http://youtu.be/4n3I8ded4tA the shelling of Zibdeen leaves many vehicles on fire http://youtu.be/Tk8JVerCnjs

This rant by an Islamist rebel in Damascus against another group, Liwa Al-Haqq, believed to be supported by the Muslim Brotherhood serves as an indication of the kind of schisms that will divide rebel groups in the near future. Basically, the disagreement here is that members of Liwa Al-Haqq seem to have abandoned their positions to collect the booty and claim the victory on video, allowing regime forces to move in against other rebels http://youtu.be/KBnWvYx0yqY The rebel leader, Abu jabber, rails against the Brotherhood and says Syria can only be led by a true pious Muslim. Such disputes happen every day and are usually swept under the carpet and go unreported.

A new Kurdish rebel group is formed in Kobani, Aleppo http://youtu.be/duqi71scvK0 But is it more a counterweight to the popular PYD militias? With the takeover of the Kurdish-majority town of Ras Al-Ain by Jabhat Al-Nusra, Kurdish territories were divided in two parts. There are different efforts by the Syrian National Council (not the Coalition) aimed, we are told, at reconciliation between Arab tribes, Kurdish population and Islamist rebel groups. But the moves seem to indicate a containment strategy meant to prevent a drive towards autonomy by the Kurdish population, and could, as such, instigate a larger conflict between Arabs and Kurds. The formation of “independent” Kurdish fighting units and battalions may be part of a larger strategy aimed at containing the Kurds, not fighting the regime.

Members of Jabhat Al-Nusra in Aleppo claims that they had arrested these Alawite officers in the village of Shaikh Sulaiman and that one of them later blew himself up killing himself and his comrades http://youtu.be/tcdhiXrTPUY The video does not appear to support this claim, as there are no signs of an explosion or of wounds caused by an explosion. The officers seem to have been executed. Reports of executions of captured Alawite officers by Islamist rebels, especially those belonging to Jabhat Al-Nusra and its affiliates are widespread, although seldom captured on video. But they attest as to the growing sectarian nature of the conflict.

Some of the missiles locally manufactured by rebels affiliated with Liwa Al-Tawhid in Aleppo http://youtu.be/RSuDMup4nT0 A missile in action: the target Aleppo International Airport http://youtu.be/6xPNnvmHyzg

Despite continuing battles, local councils do their best to maintain basic services: garbage collection in Al-Sukkari Neighborhood, Aleppo City http://youtu.be/7kTGoD96kvo , http://youtu.be/S9DG3xmc_cw

Rebel leader and defector, Col. Abdul-Jabbar Al-Oqaidi, awards the sash of independence to supporters of the revolution in Aleppo City http://youtu.be/-CBAs-Dg9mw 

In Yabroud, Damascus, rebels exhibit an armored vehicle that they have gained in recent fighting http://youtu.be/zihyyq4c7xE

A pipeline blows up in Deir Ezzor during clashes between loyalists and rebels http://youtu.be/I6Ggy48XobU Meanwhile, the siege of the Military Airport continues http://youtu.be/L5-AmZL1vbg

An activist from Mourek, Hama, comments on the current clashes taking place in his town http://youtu.be/e7wyOoeSUvY , http://youtu.be/fi2KbTCB6Ko Treating the wounded http://youtu.be/ypZwk95NkAY Rebels are trying to take back the city one checkpoint at a time http://youtu.be/CoT3X_YB3TI , http://youtu.be/viH2sbHHQRY Several checkpoints have so far fallen http://youtu.be/izIRUxTAZuU , http://youtu.be/k0RK45HxNPM , http://youtu.be/Vm_3tAUCEFw

In Sultaniyeh, Home, rebels try to take down a fighter jet but fail http://youtu.be/Y2vNJZ6kbdM Meanwhile, in Jobar, Homs City, jets take part in the pounding http://youtu.be/rqYKCo3pHQY

Leaked video documents the use of missile launchers in the pounding of Daraa City http://youtu.be/sDcbaDDFqb8

Rebels consolidate their hold of the areas around the town of Efreen, Aleppo, by taking control over Qaybar battalion: gathering http://youtu.be/EAkJOdc_lBU , http://youtu.be/9I7XeR90yQU , http://youtu.be/8dw4qJihVSc the attack http://youtu.be/zixBGzIeUzE , http://youtu.be/wAHNsabXhO8 , http://youtu.be/wxSU6Z3CrvA , http://youtu.be/pcwjj5-Mel8 , http://youtu.be/K0-3C43dv1w