Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Frog!

By trying to fill his father’s shoes, Bashar Al-Assad ended up magnifying his father’s sociopathy. One destroyed a city in order to concentrate his power, the other destroyed a country, and has little power left. The frog can never become a bull. Bashar can never become his father. And Syria will never be the same.

Tuesday March 5, 2013

Today’s Death Toll: 134 martyrs, including 9 children,7 women and 2 martyrs under torture. 34 martyrs reported in Damascus and Suburbs, 27 in Daraa, 23 in Raqqa, 18 in Aleppo, 12 in Homs, 11 in Idlib, 5 in Deir Ezzor, 3 in Hama and 1 martyr in Lattakia (LCCs).

Points of Random Shelling: 406 points: warplanes shelling was recorded in 12 points, and shelling with Scud missiles was reported in 4 points, while the shelling with mortar shells was reported in 122 points and artillery shelling was recorded in 160 points, the shelling with rocket launchers was recorded in108 points (LCCs).

Clashes: 138. Successful operations include the liberation of the village of Sfeira in Aleppo. In Damascus and Sububs, FSA rebels targeted a checkpoint in Ein Tarma and destroyed 2 tanks and inflicting heavy casualties on regime soldiers. FSA rebels carried out a successful raid on a loyalist convoy traveling on the Damascus International Airport Highway destroying tanks and inflicting heavy casualties near the checkpoint of Ghassouleh. In Hama, rebels destroyed a convoy east of the town of Khan Arnabeh (LCCs).

Kerry: U.S. more confident arms flow to Syria moderates Kerry, on his first overseas tour since taking office, told a news conference in Doha he had held talks with nations in the region about the kinds of arms being sent to the different Syrian opposition forces. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are widely believed to be providing weapons to the rebels, but the United States says it does not wish to send arms for fear they may find their way to Islamist hardliners who might then use them against Western targets.
Low on Ammo, Rebels Drive in Northern Syria Slows The rebels' capture of this strategic city was a key success in their advances in northern Syria against regime forces. But it's so far proven an incomplete victory. Maaret al-Numan remains a shell of a city. One major reason: Rebels have been unable to take a large regime military base on the edge of the city. Artillery fire from Wadi Deif and other nearby government strongholds regularly thuds into its largely empty residential buildings, while warplanes pound surrounding villages. The vast majority of the population has fled and it's too unsafe for them to return.
Syria spillover, al Qaeda strain Iraq security Invigorated by the conflict in neighboring Syria, insurgents are gaining ground and recruits in Iraq's Sunni heartland, regrouping in the vast desert where the Euphrates river winds through both countries, security officials say.
Free Syrian Army secret bakery helps quell food shortage in Aleppo - video A secret bakery, run by the Free Syrian Army, is helping to feed people in the Syrian city of Aleppo. With scarce fuel supplies, much of the industry in Syria's largest city has shut down. However one bakery, which has resorted to operating in secret, is continuing to supply residents with fresh bread and is helping to quell the growing food shortage in the city.
Children lack schooling in Syria crisis, UNICEF says One in 5 Syrian schools have suffered damage or have been converted into shelters, UNICEF said in a new overview of the parlous state of education in Syria, where an armed rebellion has been raging for almost two years. In some cases, UNICEF said, armed groups have commandeered schools. At least 2,400 schools have been damaged or destroyed, the U.N. children's agency said.
Syrian jets bomb northern city overrun by rebels The rebels continued to battle pockets of government troops in Raqqa, struggling to crush the remaining resistance in the city of 500,000 people on the Euphrates river. If successful, it would be the first major city they would completely control in the civil war, and would consolidate their recent gains in the northern Syrian towns along the river.
Syrian Forces Hit Two Cities as Rebels Claim Advances Highways through Homs and Hama connect the western coast, a stronghold for the ruling regime's Alawite minority, to Damascus. The roads are vital supply routes for the military and possible exit routes for Alawites seeking to flee other parts of Syria and head back to the coast. While diplomats said Alawite officials have started to send some of their families to coastal villages and hometowns from Damascus, President Assad and the Alawite core that make up the security and military apparatus appear to be focused on controlling Damascus, Homs and Hama. "The Plan B for the regime seems to be consolidation in Damascus, not contraction to the coast," a Western diplomat working on Syria said.

Special Reports
Obsessing over whether the ‘right’ people get whatever aid is sent to the Syrian rebels, however, misses the point. The real argument for keeping clear of the Syrian conflict, at least in a military sense, is this: neither America nor any other western nation is prepared to commit to the struggle against Al Assad in any substantive way. There will be no ground troops. There will not even be a no-fly zone. The political will to sustain an intervention in Syria simply does not exist. Lacking that will, it is better to keep clear of the conflict in any military sense.
…if the Military Command is to successfully stitch together the patchwork of factions and militias that make up the rebellion, it needs some form of leverage — and the funneling of weapons and ammunition into Syria is supposed to be its modus operandi. Although there are reports of new batches of armaments being shuttled mainly via Syria’s southern border with Jordan, as well as its northern one with Turkey, Idris says it’s all not enough: “We need between 500-600 tons of ammunition a week. We get between 30-40 tons. So you do the calculations.”
Sectarian violence in Lebanon may resemble Syria's conflict, but residents say the real problems are poverty and neglect.
Syria as we know it in current maps, is for all intents and purposes a political fiction. There is no more one Syria, there are quite a few Syrias. In that regard, Bashar Assad may have a point. He keeps saying, that the "great game" of Turkey, the U.S., Saudi-Arabia and others is to divide Syria. Well, Syria is indeed divided, but the dictator should blame himself in the first place, as his policies made it impossible for any meaningful reform to take place in Syria, one that could have prevented the current calamity. But then, exactly because the regime has always been based on the Alawites and other minorities, it lacked any real desire for reforms which would have brought it down, if leading to a truly representative democratic regime.
Why does war still savage Syria? When will it stop? Is President Bashar al-Assad a man trapped in his dead father’s web? Has his cruelty been thrust upon him by family and fate, or is it entirely of his own making? Does he want to flee in defeat? To admit he has been ruinously wrong?... The young president was completely immersed in his father’s experience. His father’s legacy dominated the mentality of the son, and he could not escape from it, or think outside it. Every time Bashar the president confronted a new development in the current crisis, he resorted not to his own common sense but looked back for similarities to what his father had experienced in the past and how he had reacted. He became a brutal mimic man.
First, successful repression by the Assad regime appears to have failed. Second, a scenario of de facto—let alone de jure—partition of the country would compound the turmoil already facing the region and thus would find little favor in Turkey, Iran or Iraq. Third, an outright victory by opposition forces that effectively blows away the regime is highly unlikely. Fourth, there is little chance of decisive external combat intervention on behalf of the opposition. Syrian mayhem appears unlikely to prompt a repetition of the kind of NATO/UN military action seen in the Balkans, and Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad knows it. One implication of these observations is that Syria’s best chance lies in the possibility of an internationally led, negotiated transition that is subject to some measure of external monitoring or peacekeeping (UN/Arab League). The key to such an outcome would hinge on American and Russian negotiators with the assistance of UN–Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, the veteran Algerian mediator.

My new paper, prepared for a briefing in Washington, D.C. that took place on January 15, 2013, is now out and is titled “Syria 2013: Rise of the Warlords.” It should be read in conjunction with my previous briefing “The Shredded Tapestry,” and my recent essay “The Creation of an Unbridgeable Divide.

Quickly Noted

* “Chavez is with Hafiz now!” (Comment by a Syrian activist on Facebook)

* We want real policy for managing the Syria situation into a fair resolution, not a smoke screen meant to alleviate political pressure or some feeling of guilt.

* If people want to blame basketball player Dennis Rodman for saying that North Korea's dictator is a "great" and "humble" man, what should we do, I wonder, with all those Syria experts who for years kept contending that Assad is a reformer? Especially when so many of them are still getting consulted on all things Syrian and are still providing advice to U.S. and western leaders?

* In his recent interview, Assad mockingly asked for the names of the martyrs his troops and militias had killed. Well, we actually have them. Even the U.N. acknowledges that the actual death toll is far in excess of the oft-quoted 70,000, but these are the documented cases.

Mattis also painted a daunting portrayal of events on the ground in Syria, where he said the situation was too complex at this point for him to support arming rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

"We don't want to inadvertently, with the best of intentions, arm people who are basically sworn enemies," he said before the Senate Armed Services Committee… "The collapse of the Assad regime, sir, would be biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years," Mattis said in response to a question from Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island…

Mattis said "quiet planning" was also underway with regional allies for potential stability operations if needed after the Syrian regime's collapse, and pointed to regional organizations like the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as groups "that may be able to take this on."

"We are doing some planning with the regional militaries and getting basically a framework for what this would look like," he said.

Still, Mattis said the situation in Syria remained "fundamentally unpredictable," even though Assad's power base and geographic area of control were eroding.

Asked how long he believed Assad could hold onto power, at least in a sub-region of Syria, Mattis said: "I really don't have the ability to forecast this well, Senator."

"I'd hate to give you some kind of certainty that I don't sense right now," he said.

Video Highlights

Thanks to this straightforward report by the Abkhazian News Network, a creation of Russian intelligence covering developments in Syria and of course wholeheartedly buying the regime line on its fight against terrorist, we are taken on a tour of the battlefield in the town of Daraya, Damascus Suburbs, to see exactly how the regime combats “terrorism. The report is succinctly tiled “A Tank Assault,” and is nothing more than a camera put on the top of an attack tank, with occasional commentary in Russian. The commentary is not as important as the visuals. The fact that ANN and its correspondents don’t realize that they are in effect documenting a war crime in action is… as surreal as the unfolding scene  

Daraa: After liberating a loyalist checkpoint in the village of Jamlah, rebels executed their prisoners despite heated protestations from some in their ranks The fighters, however, are not affiliated with Jabhat Al-Nusra or any other Jihadi groups, their rhetoric and their adherence to the independence flag indicate that they are the “moderate” Islamists we hear so much about. There are no more moderates in this fight. We have waited too long. “Those who don’t defect, will be killed” The incident took place on March 4. In many ways, the options ahead for international intervention have become increasingly limited and perhaps the scenario described by Chester Crocker is the most realistic one at this stage.

In nearby Khirbet Ghazaleh, rebels destroy a tank

Meanwhile members of Jabhat Al-Nusra were busy destroying a shipment of alcoholic beverages Elsewhere, in Minnigh, rebels from JAN taking part in laying siege tot eh airport turn down a request from an old man to join them

In Deir Ezzor, shelling by pro-regime troops besieging the provincial capital damages its famous suspended bridge. Locals believes it could soon collapse Elsewhere in the City, clashes continue

More and more villages come under shelling by regime forces as they intensify their assault on the provinces of Homs and Hama: Deir Fool, Homs local rush to save the wounded ,

People stream out of the recently liberated Raqqah City to evade bombing b y MiGs