Saturday, March 16, 2013

Two Years Later!

Two years after the beginning of the Syrian Revolution, the fate of the regime, the delusions of its leaders and their domestic, regional and international supporters notwithstanding, has been sealed, the fight now is for control of the country: heart, soul and body.

Friday March 15, 2013

Today’s Death Toll: 144 martyrs, including 13 women, 12 children and 22 under torture: 59 in Damascus and Suburbs, 28 in Daraa most of them of torture at Hamida checkpoint,18 in Homs, 15 in Aleppo, 12 in Hama, 9 in Idlib, 2 in Deir Ezzor, and 1 in Latakia (LCCs).

Points of Random Shelling: 319 points. Aerial bombardments counted in 11. Scud bombing counted in 2 points. Shelling using Surface-to-Surface missiles counted in 4 points. Shelling using cluster bombs recorded in Sarmeen and Salqeen. Mortar shelling counted in 123 points. Artillery shelling counted for 121 points. Rocket shelling counted in 57 points (LCCs).

Clashes: 135. Successful operations include seizing munition depots in Khan Toman, Aleppo (LCCs).

Rallies: 245. Deir Ezzor 63, Aleppo 49, Hama 35, Damascus and Suburbs 33, Idlib with, Raqqa 11, Daraa 9, Homs 8, Hassakeh 4, Tartous 2 and Lattakia 2 (LCC).

CIA begins sizing up Islamic extremists in Syria for drone strikes The strategy is part of the agency's secret contingency planning to protect the U.S. and its allies as the violence there grows. Some militants in Syria are seen as closely linked to Al Qaeda… The Counterterrorism Center, which runs the CIA’s covert drone killing program in Pakistan and Yemen, recently shifted several targeting officers to improve intelligence collection on militants in Syria who could pose a terrorist threat, the officials said… President Obama has not authorized drone missile strikes in Syria, however, and none are under consideration.
U.N. Calls Lag in Syria Aid Worst Funding Crisis in Recent Memory Halfway into an appeal for $1.5 billion to cover the cost of aid to Syrians in the first six month of the year, United Nations officials say they have received barely one-fifth of the money. “That math just doesn’t work,” said Radhouane Nouicer, the United Nations’s regional humanitarian coordinator, in a statement from the Jordanian capital, Amman, on Friday. “It translates into less food, fewer blankets, fewer medicines, less clean water.” The sluggish pace of money that has been pledged is only part of the problem. The rising violence in Syria has accelerated the flow of refugees, making the need more severe, United Nations officials say.
Opposition source: Syrian rebels get U.S.-organized training in Jordan A senior rebel spokesman, who did not want to be named discussing a sensitive matter, would not comment on the nature of the personnel conducting the training, such as whether the personnel were military troops or contractors. But he said that 300 fighters had already completed the course and crossed border into Syria on Thursday. The training was said to include the use of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry, the latter aimed at the particularly vital part of the regime's military might, which has thus far kept rebels often in check.
From every direction, arms for Syria France is pushing hard, it seems, for Western powers to arm Syria's rebellion. If they get their way, they'll be joining an already crowded playing field… Saudi Arabia and Qatar are already arming the rebellion, and Iran and its partner Hezbollah in Lebanon have been sending arms and men to fight alongside President Bashar al-Assad's troops. Now Britain and France want to open the door to direct arming of the rebels themselves.
The Destruction of a Nation: Syria’s War Revealed in Satellite Imagery On the world map, Syria remains a country. On the ground, it has devolved into a battlefield warred over by sectarian fiefdoms, guerrilla outfits, extremist militias, criminal gangs and a regime clinging grimly to its dwindling sources of power and legitimacy.
Arab nations urge Damascus to cooperate with UN probe rab countries on Friday tabled a resolution lamenting the spiralling violence in Syria and demanding that the regime cooperate with a UN probe into rights violations in the war-torn country… The resolution -- submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva by Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates and posted on the council's website -- called for the UN investigators to be granted "immediate, full and unfettered access throughout the Syrian Arab Republic."
Austria fears for its Golan observers, wants Syria arms ban kept Austria, fearing for the safety of its peacekeepers on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, said on Friday it opposed a French push to lift a European Union ban on arming Syrian rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad. Austrian Defence Minister Gerald Klug also demanded United Nations guarantees that the observers can be rotated and get supplies via Syria, amid growing concerns about their security.
EU fails to agree on sending arms to Syria rebels Leaders at a European Union summit on Friday failed to agree on whether they should send arms to Syrian rebels on the second anniversary of the uprising that has escalated a full-scale civil war. An EU embargo prohibits any arms from being sent to Syria, whether to the rebels or to the Assad government. That embargo is scheduled to remain in effect until May, when it will either be renewed or allowed to expire.
Syria opposition in new bid to name premier "The Coalition is to meet on March 18-19 in Istanbul. So far, the meeting is going ahead, and it is to choose the head of government. Consultations are continuing," Samir Nashar told AFP. The Coalition posted on its Facebook account a list of 10 candidates.
Remembering the Start of Syria’s Uprising Gen. Salim Idriss, the leader of the Syrian opposition’s military wing, marked the second anniversary of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad on Friday with a brief address posted on YouTube in Arabic and English. In his statement, General Idriss said: “As you all know the Syrian revolution started peacefully. The only thing the Syrian people asked for was freedom, justice and reform. The regime of Bashar al-Assad responded with violence, torture, killings, massacres and bombing of our cities. Today nobody is safe anymore, men and women, elderly people and children.”

Special Reports
Did Climate Change Spark the War in Syria? The current conflict in Syria illustrates how climate change can cause societal, civil and even political unrest, say the co-founders of the Washington D.C.-based Center for Climate and Security, Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia, in an article on Grist. A recent series of essays (pdf) by the Center argues that the “Arab Spring is a textbook example of the link between climate change and social instability.”
Alawite heartland on Syria’s coast remains loyal to Assad regime It is not clear whether the consensus on the regime is as rock solid as presented by the families bearing the cost of its war. But with the martyrdom cult fusing ideas of country, regime and community, and an enemy at the gates, the logic of sacrifice grinds on.
Between devils and angels in Damascus and Caracas Both the Chavez and Assad regimes have "antagonistic relationships with the US", but the similarity ends there… Syrians should look to Palestinian civil society's grassroots Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions model as one way in which a people suffering from oppression can uphold its moral claims despite the politicking of official bodies. Wouldn't it be a feat if one of the Syrian delegations trotting around Paris or Istanbul had travelled instead to Caracas to convince Venezuelan oil or dock workers to take a stand in solidarity with Syria's people by protesting shipments to the Syrian military?

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.

Video Highlights

Rebels from Ahrar Al-Sham and other Islamist groups affiliated with Syrian Islamic Front take control of loyalist headquarters in Khan Touman, Aleppo Province, and confiscate major arms and munition storage facilities , , Rebels celebrate their victory by removing all posters of Assad Rebels used their own tanks in storming the premises

Rebels affiliated with the Syrian Islamic Front declares the consolidation of their hold over the village of Jousiyeh in Homs Province, close to the borders with Lebanon

Rebels in Ruknaddine Neighborhood, Damascus City, ambush a car carrying an officer in the Republican Guard and three assistance, they claim to have killed them all

Activists catch a major explosion on camera. They believe it’s caused by a Scud missile. It’s not clear where the explosion happened

Islamists rebels from Liwa al-Islam, storm a loyalist militia in the town of Adra, Damascus Suburbs, manned by members of Al-Jaish Al-Sha’bi, an entity designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. Treasury Department

Defectors in Aleppo from the air force form a new brigade dedicated to repairing and maintaining the various planes and helicopters that came under rebel control so that they can be used in the future for various humanitarian and military operations Most of the planes that came under rebel control require serious repairs to become operational again, as they had been sabotaged by loyalists before abandoning their positions or bombed while on the tarmac by the regime after the fall of the various airports to rebels.

Protesters in Houleh, Homs Province, remain defiant even as they come under fire while commemorating the second anniversary of the revolution