Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Holy War!

As calls for Jihad and counter-Jihad proliferate, and an all against all holy war unfolds, Syria disintegrates.  

Monday March 11, 2013

Today’s Death Toll: 121 martyrs, including 8 women and 5 children: 36 martyrs in Damascus and suburbs, 31 in Aleppo, 17 in Homs, 14 in Deir Ezzor, 14 in Daraa, 4 in Idlib, 3 in Hama, and 1 in Jableh (LCCs).

Points of Random Shelling: 308 points. Aerial bombardment counted in 17 points. Scud bombing in 3 points, Shelling using Surface-to-Surface missiles in 7 points. Shelling using cluster bombs recorded in Busra Harir, Daraa. Artillery shelling in 102 points. Rocket shelling counted for 78 points, while mortar shelling counted in 102 points (LCCs).

Clashes: 159. Successful rebel operations include the liberation of the towns of Karnaz, Tal Jadid and Hammamiyat in Hama Province, and shelling the vicinity of the Military Security and Air Force Intelligence headquarters in Deir Ezzor. FSA rebels also seized control over the main road in Busr Al-Harir and targeted few locations where regime forces were stationed. In Aleppo, the FSA targeted a regime checkpoint manned by pro-regime thugs in Tal Shuoaib area near Nairab Camp and killed several regime soldiers (LCCs).

Deadly abuses intensify in Syria as war worsens: U.N. The Syrian government has stepped up indiscriminate, heavy bombardments of cities while rebels are executing prisoners condemned in their own makeshift courts without due process, U.N. investigators said on Monday. The independent investigators said they were looking into 20 massacres committed by one or the other side and hundreds of "unlawful killings", cases of torture and arbitrary arrests since September in the two-year-old conflict… "In a disturbing and dangerous trend, mass killings allegedly perpetrated by Popular Committees have at times taken on sectarian overtones," the 10-page U.N. report said. "Some appear to have been trained and armed by the government."… "We are not saying that it is a sectarian war but we call attention to sectarian elements in the present conflict," Pinheiro said. Foreign fighters from more than a dozen countries are estimated to comprise less than 10 percent of the opposition forces fighting the Assad government, he said. "We don't want to contribute to a paranoia that Syria is being invaded by foreign fighters. But they have a lot of skills and have been very successful in spreading acts of terror inside Syria," said Pinheiro.
Turkey Links Syria to Deadly Car Bombing at Border Turkey's interior minister blamed Syria's intelligence agencies and its army for involvement in a car bombing at a border crossing last month that killed 14 people, after he announced Monday that police detained five suspects. Four Syrians and a Turk are in custody in connection with the Feb. 11 attack at the Bab al-Hawa frontier post. No one has claimed responsibility, but a Syrian opposition faction accused the Syrian government of the bombing, saying it narrowly missed 13 leaders of the group.
EU Foreign Ministers Split on Arms to Syria The ministers were sharply divided, with Britain and Italy joining France in supporting eventual military aid for the opposition while Germany, Sweden and others see that as moving in the wrong direction. Sweden's Carl Bildt warned that a military solution carries the risk of "the devastation of the region." On her way into the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she supports a political solution.
Supporting Assad is a ‘religious obligation:’ Syria’s Grand Imam Supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a “religious obligation” of all Muslims, whether they live inside or outside of Syria, the country’s supreme religious ruling body said Monday. The state television quoted Grand Mufti Shiekh Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun as urging all Arabs and Muslims to fight so called “enemies of Syria.” The Assad government had recently claimed in an interview with The Sunday Time that it was the last "secular" state in the Middle East, reiterating that radical Islamists would come into power if the Alawite president was overthrown.
"Now he is much more the 'boss' than before, though he of course could not do without his military and security supporters," Nikolaos van Dam, a Dutch diplomat and leading expert on Syria, told AFP. "He will fight until death if necessary," said van Dam, author of "The struggle for power in Syria." "There is too much at stake here, not only for him, but for his Alawite followers and the Alawite community as well." The Alawites are an offshoot of Shiite Islam, while the rebels in Syria are mostly Sunni. "The future may hold a long and ferocious civil war," van Dam added… "He seems both more erratic and more delusional, still convinced he can win militarily," said Berlin-based Volker Perthes, who heads the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. Steeped in the "anti-imperialist" ideology of the Baath party which has ruled for 50 years, Assad believes Syria is the target of a foreign conspiracy because his government supports movements fighting Israel, such as Lebanon's Hezbollah. He also believes that control over Syria's main cities - chiefly Damascus - and the west of the country will give him cards to play in any future negotiations led by the United States and Russia.

Special Reports
there is no reason why a government, as opposed to an opposition, could not be the interlocutor with regime-designated negotiators in talks aimed at producing the peaceful, managed, and complete regime change transition agreed to by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council at Geneva last year. British and American reluctance on this score has less to do with who does the talking and the implications for continuity of government than it does with their own preparedness to take the next step on Syria.
Today a political order is needed to manage the multiple identities of the Middle East—Syria included. It must not impugn them, suppress them or pretend they don't exist. Orientalists, Arabists in particular, should stop railing [3] against the pre-modern heritage of the region. They would serve their fields by admitting that tribal, sectarian, and ethnic identities matter in the Middle East, trump all others, and deserve consideration in any thoughtful reflection on the region’s troubles. Absent that, no sense of meaningful civic identities, or genuine "citizenship" can ever develop, and Syria will prove a mere passageway to the impending unraveling of other Middle Eastern states.
The Syria Trust for Development was beginning to play an important role in Syria, when the Syrian uprising took place: an excerpt from a study of Syrian civil society on the eve of revolution that helps us to understand some of the deeper changes that were under way.

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.

Onward Holy Soldiers!

In a statement read by Sheikh Mamdouh Junaid, the League of Syrian Ulema (Sunni religious scholars) responded to yesterday’s call for Jihad issued by Syria’s Grand Mufti with a call of their own. Today’s call was for Jihad against “Assad and his sect,” and threatened the international community that if it fails to intervene to stop Assad’s sectarian war against the “Syria’s Sunni people,” it will be considered a culprit http://youtu.be/lHKdR5D4MZY.

Yesterday’s call for Jihad by the Grand Mufti was not just aimed at Syrians, but at all Arab and Muslim nations. Many activists fear that the call is meant as a prelude for inviting Iran to officially send troops to defend the regime. In my recent paper “Syria 2013: Rise of the Warlords,” I actually predicted that Assad will resort to recruiting Shia fighters from other countries, including in South Asia. This development might be around the corner now. The Assads are not planning to give up despite their recent setbacks.

Activists today posted today a video showing Syrian TV running an actual Jihadi song titled “We will wage our battle against them.” If the video is not actually fake and meant as a joke, it would be the most surreal development to have taken place so far http://youtu.be/rLlpsDLrGVQ. Social media is picking it and describing as real.

Reports from Qardaha now explain that the weekend clashes happened when officials showed up to seek over 2,500 young Alawite men who are dodging the draft. Certain Alawite cans in Latakia may not be willing to directly challenge the Assads, but they are becoming increasingly reluctant to see their children being drafted and forced to fight against rebels, even as rebel groups inch their way towards Latakia City. If Alawite youths are to fight, they might as well fight to safeguard Alawite strongholds, rather than engage in a battle to safeguard Assads’ hold over Sunni-majority areas.

Still, an Alawite youth movement based in Turkey, the Coalition of Alawite Youth Against Bashar Al-Assad, issued a statement today promising to provide shelter and compensation for all Alawite youths willing to leave Syria in order to avoid the draft.

Meanwhile, a group of Alawite sheikhs from Latakia, where most Anti-Assad Alawite clans are based, came up with a 10-point plan to stop the current conflict. In the preamble, the sheikhs refer to a conspiracy against homeland, accuse all actors of working for their own private interests, and a accuse the opposition of being “weak,” “unable to lead the society,” and does not “represent the will of the Syrian people.” For its part, the regime is described as having become “weak and unable to manage the crisis to get Syria to the safe side.” This is not exactly an endorsement of the revolution, nor is it a reflection of a popular move among Alawites, but it does capture the mood within a certain small segments of the Alawite community.

The points: 1) A cease fire observed by all, 2) all non-Syrians should leave the country, 3) A committee of wise men should be established to oversee the implementation of the plan, 4) No more political kidnappings, 5) Assad should declare that he will not run for reelection and the date for the presidential elections should be moved forward to the last quarter of 2013, 6) all exiles should be allowed to return, 7) A representative national reconciliation committee should be established, 8)  Syrian should transition to a civil state with equal rights for all within a year, 9) the transitional period should be supervised by a joint civilian and military council whose members will not be allowed to run or occupy any position in the future, 10) no political party will be allowed to impose its ideology on the state, and the army should not dabble in politics.

Judging from comments on social media sites run by the opposition, the plan seems to have come too late to be taken seriously at this stage.

Video Highlights

Missile hit the recently liberated neighborhood of Baba Amr, Homs City http://youtu.be/8WNgCm-Q0b4 Tanks heads towards Baba Amr to take part in the shelling http://youtu.be/7Vn2zDHTMQs Missile launchers positioned inside Homs University are used in pounding Baba Amr http://youtu.be/EozPmjG-1nY The launchers as tehy enter the university grounds http://youtu.be/C2jz1ES_2Go MiGs take part in the pounding http://youtu.be/PJR9oX52u4g

Member of Jabhat Al-Nusra carried out a suicide operation against a checkpoint at Mashtal checkpoint, Damascus http://youtu.be/_3fW77WQ8To  

Rebels bring down a Sukhoy warplane in the Raqqa countryside http://youtu.be/SiUYdw2iQgk

Another video produced by the Russians covering the tank assault on the town of Daraya in Damascus Suburbs http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=437792469635518 The view from the rebels’ perspective http://youtu.be/jl4Qx7GluMU

Heavy clashes take place in Rushdiyeh, Deir Ezzor http://youtu.be/Bz0CKaQ3KWE , http://youtu.be/5KL1Wq5L_eI

The towns of Eastern Ghoutah, Damascus Suburbs, continue to be the target of warplanes and missile attacks: Saqba http://youtu.be/4Pmp5wVheuk Arbeen http://youtu.be/vF791qGyDsE