Sunday, December 9, 2012

Recipe for Disaster!

A policy of hoping for the best and preparing for nothing seems to be the modus operandi now for many western governments with regard to the ongoing crisis in Syria. At a time when credible security reports proliferate regarding the potential use of chemical weapons by the regime, this is nothing short of a recipe for disaster, in a region that may not be able to handle a new one.

Sunday December 9, 2012

Today’s Death Toll: 116, including 4 women and 10 children: 41 in Damascus and suburbs, 32
in Aleppo (including 20 burned near the Air Force Intelligence branch), 22 in Idlib (including 7 members of a single family), 8 in Homs, 8 in Daraa, and 5 in Deir Ezzor. Points of Random Shelling: 257. Clashes: 97. The most significant clashes took place in Damascus and suburbs. Rebels struck
Port Said checkpoint in Qadam and a defense factory in Sayeda Zainab. In Hama, they struck the northern checkpoint at Shayzar Palace. In Aleppo, rebels stormed the 111th Brigade (LCC).


Special Reports
It's not about them; it's about us — and the influence we'll have when they win.
Mohammad Jumbaz and Ayat Al-Qassab got married in Syria despite the violence around them.
Sky's Tim Marshall gains rare access to a prison where he finds evidence that international jihadists are operating in Syria.
… the passions unleashed by what is happening next door are proving harder and harder for Lebanon to contain, adding to concerns that it, too, could become enmeshed in the bloodshed.
The outskirts of Damascus have become a battleground, with some of the fiercest fighting the city has seen yet. Syrian rebels say they're closing in on the capital, street by street.
… the rumble of distant artillery echoes through the city, and its residents are afraid to leave their neighborhoods. Cocooned behind rows of concrete blocks that close off routes to the center, they huddle in fear of a prolonged battle that could bring destruction and division to a place where secular and religious Syrians from many sects — Sunni, Shiite, Alawite, Christian and others — have long lived peacefully.
The fully-enclosed vehicle made from light steel is about four meters in length and two meters across, mounted with a 7.62 mm machine gun controlled from inside the cabin. The vehicle has five cameras: three at the front, one in the back and another attached to the gun. The crew inside the cabin are fully protected, with the driver maneuvering the vehicle by watching a screen which displays video from the cameras.
The most likely option, however, and one that appears already to be under way, is for the regime and the core of the army and security forces to retreat to the Alawite-populated mountains on the Mediterranean coast. Diplomatic sources say that there are unconfirmed reports that the regime is planning to register all Sunnis who live in the coastal cities of Tartous, Banias, and Latakia which could potentially form part of an Alawite-dominated enclave. The coastal cities are predominantly Sunni-populated while the mountain hinterland is mainly Alawite.
Money flows to the group, the Nusra Front, from like-minded donors abroad. Its fighters, a small minority of the rebels, have the boldness and skill to storm fortified positions and lead other battalions to capture military bases and oil fields. As their successes mount, they gather more weapons and attract more fighters. The group is a direct offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Iraqi officials and former Iraqi insurgents say, which has contributed veteran fighters and weapons.
Assad’s security and intelligence chiefs believe the rebels’ convergence on the capital provides a unique “opportunity to exterminate them,” the source said. The Iraqi Sadrist leader said the Syrian regime’s political military and security factions have become more desperate as rebel forces converge on Damascus, and therefore the regime won’t hesitate to use “any weapon” against the opposition, Al-Seyassah reported.
Better to hold out in an enclave, the minority ruling sect will conclude, than risk annihilation at the hands of vengeful Sunnis. Better to be a spoiler in an anarchic Syria, figures Shiite Iran, than to see a strategic ally flip over to the opposing Sunni bloc. If Syria’s war takes this most likely of courses, how will the United States and its allies protect their interests? Officials seem to have no plan, other than to hope that the scenarios they are thinking about won’t happen.
Newsweek experts weigh in on what the U.S. must do to stop the bloodshed.
… the de-throning of Assad doesn't necessarily spell the end of the battle, but it will mark the start of a long weary road to weed out corruption. In a future Syria, the presence of mutual interests between those who fancy themselves as opposition leaders and regime remnants will threaten our dream of truly attaining democracy and equality.

Syria Deeply

This clip circulating making the round on the internet is troubling indeed, for it seems to come as part of ongoing preparations by the regime for covering up a potential recourse to chemical weapons.

The clip shows an alleged Jihadi scientist mixing up chemicals to create toxic fumes that kill two laboratory rabbits. The Jihadist, then, threatened to do the same to the Nusairis, the Jihadi derogatory name for Alawites

While western governments and foreign reporters may not buy the lie, the main audience here is, as always, the regime’s supporters who needs these crimes to be committed without having to feel guilty, and what better way for them than to believe that the crimes have actually been perpetrated by the enemies themselves as part of the ongoing conspiracy? This is what’s been happening all along in fact. Most massacres have been blamed by regime supporters on Jihadi infiltrators, and occasionally, some members of the western media has been taken in by that, as we have seen in the case of the Houla Massacre.

This video might also be aimed at Russians who could use it. FM Lavrov’s recent statements on this matter might signal a willingness to blame the militants:

“According to our information, and this information we pass to our US colleagues, and European colleagues, [the Syrian] government does not have such intentions and cannot have, because this is all very serious… True danger from Syrian chemical weapons is if militants acquire them.”

And so the Great Game continues.

Video Highlights

Sfeira, Aleppo: is this evidence of use of chemical weapons, or are these “simple” burns

A barrel bomb causes a fire that locals have difficulty extinguishing, as water and soil keep boiling

9 judges from Idlib Province announce their defection

Dr. Eyad Qunaibi, an Islamist Jordanian preacher, addresses his followers to try to explain the implications of having Jabhat Al-Nusra declared as a terrorist group. This move, he says, means that working for the establishment of an Islamic state is a terrorist project in itself for the U.S. and the international community Secular elements are all considered agents of the West, and he denounces the establishment of the National Coalition  Even though, Dr. Qunaibi is Jordanian, his views represent those of the domestic, regional and international backers of Al-Nusra. Attempts to isolate Al-Nusra will be portrayed as part of the ongoing war on Islam. At this stage in the conflict, this message will resonate among certain segments of the population on the home front, as well as among expatriate and refugee communities.

Islamist Rebels affiliated with Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria, succeed in controlling the Air-Defense Base 608 in Aleppo, coming into possession of few surface-to-air missiles known as Volga or SAM 2

An explosive barrel dropped over the town of Daraya, Damascus, fails to explode. It looks different from previous examples

The battles in and around Harasta and the Eastern Ghoutah Region, Damascus, continue  ,

Rebels in Utaya, Damascus, take control of a mobile missile launcher

MiGs pound the neighborhood of Deir Baalbah in Homs , Indeed, the battles in and around Homs are resuming their earlier intensity, perhaps as part of the preparation for a fallback position should Damascus fall into rebel hands. Jobar