Monday, December 10, 2012

Justify Yourself, Mr. President!

The Obama Administration needs to explain in clear terms and soon its decision to declare Jabhat Al-Nusra as a terrorist group at this particular juncture. Despite being critical of Al-Nusra themselves, too many rebels and activists see in this move an attempt at quashing the armed struggle in favor of a political solution that would accommodate the interests of all and sundry, except those of the revolutionaries. But it’s not only this decision that seems problematic to the revolutionaries, it’s the entire about-face that the Obama Administration did in its stance on the Syrian Revolution that remains unexplained and, hence, subject to misunderstandings. The desire to be so involved in steering the process at this stage is being interpreted as an attempt at appropriating the advances recently made by rebels in order to retain some influence over them after the fall of Assad. While this might come as an oversimplification, as well as a misreading of the facts on the ground, it represents an ethos that is too widespread to be ignored. It’s time for some justifications: why has President Obama been so late in coming to the fore, and what endgame in Syria is he really seeking? It’s not enough to have Ambassador Ford explain Obama’s point-of-view to the opposition. It’s the Syrian people who need to be openly addressed by the Man himself.

Monday December 10, 2012

Today’s Death Toll: 142, including 7 children and 11 women: 59 in Aleppo (including 10 in Shaikh Maksoud), 50 in Damascus and suburbs, 12 in Daraa, 9 in Idlib, 5 in Homs, 3 in Deir Ezzor, 3 in Hama and 1 in Raqqa. Points of Random Shelling: 213. Clashes: 108. Regime forces carried out aerial raids against Alkhadra village in Latakia as well as Talbisseh and Houla in Homs using cluster bombs, and Erbin in Damascus suburbs using phosphorous bombs. In Damascus, rebels liberate the Art Institution in Harasta, previously used by pro-regime militias, shelled the military airports in Deir Ezzor and Mazzeh (Damascus) (LCC).


Syrian rebels defy US and pledge allegiance to jihadi group Rebel groups across Syria are defying the United States by pledging their allegiance to a group that Washington will designate today a terrorist organization for its alleged links to al-Qaeda.
Syrian economy to shrink 20 percent in 2012: IIF War-ravaged Syria's economy will shrink by a fifth in 2012 and all its foreign reserves could be spent by the end of next year, a global finance industry association said on Monday.
Syria's Assad Will Use Chemical Weapons, Says Former Weapons Program General He listed mustard gas along with the sarin, VX and tabun nerve agents as the main elements in Syria's chemical arsenal, whose existence Syria doesn't even acknowledge… "They're idiots, crazy. Simply they are killers," he said.
EU moves closer to full recognition of Syria opposition Alkhatib said he expected to get a decision on Wednesday from the EU over whether it would recognise the coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. "This is under discussion because the European countries each have their own point of view and they are debating the issue," he told reporters after he left midway through the ministers' meeting. "They will give the final answer in Marrakesh."
EU: Syria war is ‘stain’ on world conscience The European Union, winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, said at the award ceremony on Monday that the conflict in Syria was “a stain” on the world’s conscience. “Let me say it from here today,” said European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso. “The current situation in Syria is a stain on the world’s conscience and the international community has a moral duty to address it.”
Google trends: The moment Syria’s ‘revolution’ became a ‘civil war’ Google users are now almost three times as likely to search for “Syrian civil war” as they are for “Syrian revolution.” A week ago, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights warned that the country risked “a full-fledged civil war.” She’s probably a better judge than Google’s billion-plus users, but, according to the wisdom of this particular crowd, Syria has already crossed the line into civil war.

Special Reports
Despite using more effective battlefield tactics and acquiring more arms, the mainly Sunni Muslim fighters have so far lacked the firepower to deliver a decisive blow to Assad… "The Qataris and the Saudis gave us positive promises. We will see what will happen," he said, adding that officials from Western countries, who also attended the meeting in Turkey, had not mentioned arming the rebels but talked about "sending aid".
Privately, some western government officials say they think the use of CW by the Assad regime is unlikely. “He knows it would be a game changer that triggers outside intervention, which is why he probably won’t use them,” says one western official. “Nor are these weapons you can use with any safety in close combat guerrilla warfare.” Instead the much greater concern for the US and its allies, especially Israel, is that parts of the chemical arsenal will eventually fall into the hands of militant groups, such as Hizbollah and the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al Nusra.
But as Assad’s army weakens, rebels and analysts warn, it is also becoming more extreme in its fight for survival. And two of the grimmest scenarios observers have long feared—that Islamic extremism could come to dominate the rebel fight, and that Assad could decide to attack with chemical weapons—now look more likely than ever to take hold.
The city brutalised by Assad is calm. But this is no easy peace.

Following up on yesterday’s post, the regime continues to pursue a line of action that seems designed to allow it to use chemical weapons while blaming the rebels for it. Today, the regime tells the U.N. that it fears it will be framed for using chemical weapons. So, now we have a video purporting to show rebels experimenting with chemical weapons, and threatening to use them to wipe out the Alawites, and a public protestation designed to build an alternate theory of the would-be crime. Things do not augur well indeed.  

Video Highlights

This leaked video shows the storming of the Army Headquarters in Damascus that took place on September 26, 2012 The car that was brought into the compound was later detonated, and all the Jihadi elements were killed during the ensuing gun battles. The clip was made by a loyalist officer using his mobile phone to capture the video he was watching on a laptop. The original video was taken by security cameras of the compound. The officer was captured by rebels during recent clashes around Damascus.

An incendiary bomb lands in the town of Aqraba, Damascus, sending people scurrying in all directions thinking it was a chemical weapon People are convinced that Assad will be using chemical weapons against them.

A clip showing a reported WMDs storage facility In Mazzeh District on the periphery of Damascus City

A missile launcher recently won by rebels in Damascus suburbs

Sounds of clashes in Salhiyeh Neighborhood in Damascus City

Rebels in Aleppo showcase their gains from their takeover of the military base of Sheikh Sulaiman