Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Ah, the Humanity!

No one has rushed to help the people who rebelled, but, in a typical fashion, many have rushed to take advantage of them: ideological groups seeking to reintroduce themselves onto the scene, a former superpower that wants to relive the glory of the old days, no matter how vicariously, neighboring states that saw a chance to fight their brewing domestic wars abroad, and lonely Arab men in search of cheap sex with desperate refugee women. The more things change the more humanity proves to be as screwed up as we always knew her to be.

Monday April 1, 2013

Today’s Death Toll: 146 martyrs, including 5 women, 4 children and 2 martyrs under torture: 55 in Damascus and Suburbs; 31 in Homs; 25 in Idlib; 18 in Aleppo;10 in Hama; 6 in Deir Ezzor; and 1 in Daraa (LCCs).

Points of Random Shelling: 291 points, including 16 points shelled by warplanes, 4 points with Scud missiles, and 3 point using barrel bombs. Thermobaric bombs were used to shell Kafr Zeta and Kafr Nabouda in Hama, and cluster bombs to shell Qara in Damascus Suburbs. In addition, 107 points were shelled with mortar, 98 points with heavy caliber artillery and 60 points with rockets (LCCs).

Clashes: 113. Successful rebel operations included the liberation of a number of buildings in Jobar and Qaboon in Damascus City, targeting the Damascus International airport with rockets, and the headquarters of the 22nd Brigade in Otaibeh with missiles. In Idlib, rebels targeted the reservoirs checkpoint with Grad missiles (LCCs).

March bloodiest month so far in Syria uprising March was the bloodiest month of the Syrian uprising, with more than 6,000 documented deaths, a pro-opposition human rights group reported Monday. More than one-third of those killed were civilians, including nearly 300 children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based organization with monitors in Syria.
Historic Damascus synagogue damaged, looted The Jobar Synagogue, in the neighborhood of the same name in northeastern Damascus, is a relic of the area's once sizeable Jewish population. Tradition holds that the biblical prophet Elisha built the first structure on the site over a grotto in which his teacher, the prophet Elijah, had sought refuge.
Tit-for-tat kidnappings bring Syria's war into Lebanese backyards In northern Lebanon, the kidnapping of a member of the powerful Shiite Jaafar clan has created yet another arena for Sunni-Shiite tensions fomented by Syria's unrest.
‘Iran's Plan B is Alawite State If Syria’s Assad Falls’ A Syrian professor says Iran hopes to fragment Syria and create an Alawite state to maintain power in the region, Today’s Zayman reports.

Special Reports
The Kurdish Factorlast week’s reversal in Sheikh Maksoud suggests that Erdogan’s recent overtures to Ocalan are already bearing fruit in his struggle with Assad. Although the Kurdish groups in Syria are not very significant militarily, their cooperation would free the Turkish government’s hands by allowing it to increase its support for the rebels in Syria without fear that the Assad regime could stoke the Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey in response. It remains to be seen whether the Kurds’ newfound cooperation with the rebels in Aleppo is part of a larger realignment by the P.Y.D. But if over the weeks ahead government forces are pushed out of their remaining bases in Kurdish areas, like oil-rich Hasakah in the northeast, then the fall of Sheikh Maksoud on Friday will have marked the beginning of a dramatic shift in Syria’s civil war.
Syria’s Civil War: The Mystery Behind a Deadly Chemical Attack The investigation, when it starts, will be hobbled by the passage of time. According to a chemical weapons expert familiar with such inquiries, who spoke on condition of anonymity over the telephone, the investigating team will examine soil, air and oil samples taken from the blast site. It is unclear whether they will have access to survivors (who probably bear little traces of the chemicals so long after the attack) or to autopsy reports. But initial assessments based upon body counts, photos and video footage taken at the hospital after the attack seem to rule out nerve agents or mustard gas. “Looking at the death rate relative to the number of people exposed, it couldn’t have been a weaponized nerve agent,” says the expert. “And mustard gas rubs off on whoever touches it, but you don’t see the medical personnel taking additional protective measure when they treat the patients. So it’s pretty likely it was something else.”
Syrian Newspapers Emerge to Fill Out War Reporting Mr. Smesem has used the paper to confront the mood of intimidation that he said had infected towns like Binnish, where supporters of the fundamentalist Salafi movement leveraged their success on the battlefield to take over the town council. In one editorial, he criticized changes in the tone of the town’s weekly Friday protests since the Nusra Front began organizing them. The very people who now shouted about killing all the Alawites were once members of the Binnish Coordination Committee who marched every Friday in support of civil society, he wrote. Now Sham editors worry whether the new freedom of expression that has emerged in the areas seized from government control will persist should the Assad government fall.
Brides for 'Sale' The offer comes via BlackBerry Messenger: "If you want to marry a beautiful fair young Syrian woman, contact ..." and a number is provided. As the conflict in Syria rages on, with no respite in sight, desperation is hitting Syrians hard. And there are many around to take full advantage of it.

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

* Much controversy surrounds what happened to Ghassan Saleh Zeidan, a Druze Elder who went to the town of Hadar to mediate between Sunnis rebels and the local Druze population. On the way there, Ghassan’s convoy was ambushed and he was killed. Both the regime and rebels accused each other of perpetrating the murder, albeit, in practice, the murder serves the regime’s agenda of fomenting conflict between Sunnis and Druzes more than the rebels’ agenda which seeks to entice the Druze to join the revolution. The man speaking here is Ghassan’s brother. He accuses the pro-Assad Druze militias of shooting at their convoy, and names their leaders who were present and ordered the shooting http://youtu.be/0x__lYWHeIY The events took place in Quneitrah Province, where rebels formed a new division under Liwa Al-Tawhid http://youtu.be/Tb5H6Bl-Q2M.

* On Saturday, Syria’s State TV denied reports of Bashar Al-Assad’s death and promised that Assad would address the nation “within hours.” By dawn of Tuesday April 2, Assad is still nowhere to be seen or heard. Rumors of his physical demise might still prove to be false, but the truth of his political irrelevance can now be seen by all.  

Video Highlights

Aleppo City: Ansari Neighborhood removing the rubble after an aerial raid http://youtu.be/uSOE5MWD0pc Sheikh Maqsoud mass exodus following bombardment of the liberated neighborhood by loyalists http://youtu.be/v2eCTKmK_XA , http://youtu.be/gJpaKIQO4_E A loyalist headquarters in Maksoud after its liberation, the headquarters were used by the Mardel Clan, a small Sunnis ethnic group that has long been coopted by the Assads http://youtu.be/St3w2LlPIFI The pounding of the neighborhood continues http://youtu.be/Ac41IKcg3Pk

Damascus City: regime uses missile launchers to target restive communities in Eastern Ghoutah http://youtu.be/XkRG0q6QJuA Sounds of distant pounding http://youtu.be/z54vHteuqrk Rebels in Otaibeh hunt down a pro-regime sniper http://youtu.be/xA2-tpNj_sU Rebels manufacture their own mortars http://youtu.be/TSE7Gi7h8RQ Homes in Jobar catch fire due to pounding http://youtu.be/pRiLLo1CQdQ

Damascus Suburbs: rebels from the town of Qarrah dismantle a cluster bomb that failed to explode http://youtu.be/x65sAMggDXI In Daraya, the pounding leave many homes on fire http://youtu.be/cjGviCgCiws

Homs City: the pounding of the neighborhood of Khaldiyeh continues http://youtu.be/lQ2VyS-HzEI

Daraa: the liberation of the province continues with rebels now laying siege to the headquarters of the 46th Regiment in the town of Alma http://youtu.be/ayJfaboPYpQ , http://youtu.be/09kRwYkAKwY , http://youtu.be/4lVLwARGc2E

Idlib: clashes takes place on the outskirts of Maa’arrat Al-Nouman http://youtu.be/-s1xgAfW488 , http://youtu.be/eeDxYEZYxo0 , http://youtu.be/iTQFX-SdGcw

Leaked video shows loyalist soldiers torturing a Sunni scholar http://youtu.be/Fy_b_IXbn7Q Another leaked video from Idlib City shows a local loyalist militia leader cutting the hair of a man and his wife whom he suspected of being sympathetic to the rebels http://youtu.be/B-x3dW_2bcs