Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Everybody Loves Al-Qaeda!

Yes, everybody loves Al-Qaeda, everybody spoils her and exploits her, no wonder she misbehaves. Western governments often use her as an excuse to intervene, or not, according to their particular calculations at the time, and dictatorial regimes use her as an additional instrument of control over their people, a tool for intimidation and punishment, as well as an affordable means to fight their internecine wars, or conduct their occasional campaigns against western interests. Today, Assad accused the U.S. of supporting Al-Qaeda in Syria, yet all intelligence reports from before the revolution claim that his regime is the biggest supporter of Al-Qaeda in the Levant. Some fiends are just too bloody useful not to be embraced, by all. The Assad regime itself had for long played a similar role to Al-Qaeda’s. Theirs was a mercenary state par excellence. Now, the chickens have come home to roost, but, the Assads have always had a vindictive streak, and they will not go gently into that good night. To the brainwashed lot and downright idiots who still believe in them, the Assads’ last stand will be viewed as heroic. It’s good that the age of such fucked-up heroism is finally drawing to a close. Unfortunately, Al-Qaeda will likely survive this apocalypse: she’s too fucking useful to be left to die.

Wednesday April 17, 2013

Death Toll: 157 martyrs, including 10 women and 7 children: 75 in Damascus and Suburbs most in Jdaidet Artouz; 38 in Homs; 12 in Idlib; 9 in Raqqa; 8 in Daraa; 7 in Deir Ezzor; 7 in Aleppo; and 1 in Hama (LCC).

Assad says West will pay for backing al Qaeda in Syria "The West has paid heavily for funding al Qaeda in its early stages in Afghanistan. Today it is supporting it in Syria, Libya and other places, and will pay a heavy price later in the heart of Europe and the United States," he told Syrian television channel al-Ikhbariya, according to extracts published on the Syrian presidency's Facebook page on Wednesday. Assad was speaking a week after Syria's rebel al-Nusra Front, one of the most effective rebel forces battling his troops, formally pledged allegiance to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri.
Evidence of Nerve Gas in Aleppo Deaths Dr. Hassan, the director of the hospital in Afrin who did not want his full name used, said he didn't have evidence about who was responsible for the attack in Sheikh Maqsood or what kind of chemical was released. But he said the symptoms and treatment clearly indicate that chemical agents caused the deaths of a woman and two children, and injured more than a dozen people. Medical personnel involved refused to give their last names, citing fear of retaliation. Patients exhibited hyper-salivation, increased secretions, eye pain, muscle spasms and seizures, and loss of consciousness, Dr. Hassan said. Volunteers who helped rescue Yasser's family and medical staff who came in contact with the victims all exhibited the same symptoms. Roughly 1,500 doses of atropine were used to counter the poison, exhausting the local supplies in Afrin. A group of Syrian doctors and activists who run Bihar Relief Organization provided an additional 2,000 units to the hospital in Afrin. The haphazard response portends catastrophe if chemicals weapons are used in a larger scale.
U.N. lists Syrian army and militias as sex predators he U.N. Security Council Wednesday accused Syria's army and intelligence agency and a pro-government militia of being sexual war criminals for rape and assaults on women and children, along with the Al-Qaeda movement in Mali and various African rebel movements. The "name and shame" tally of alleged sexual predators and outlaws was in a report adopted unanimously by the U.N. Security Council as part of a debate on "Women in Peace and Security." It was drafted by Zainab Hawa Bangura, the U.N. chief's Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Israel hopes Turk deal defuses "friendly fire" risk over Syria A continued diplomatic freeze might have been tolerable, Israeli officials said, but not the possibility of inadvertently trading fire with Turkey should the Syria crisis trigger major military intervention. Israel, Turkey and another Syrian neighbor, Jordan, have been conferring with Washington on contingency options should Damascus fall to a more than two-year-old insurgency and its chemical weapons be taken by jihadi rebels or Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Obama discusses Syria in talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince The president will also meet the leaders of Turkey, Qatar and Jordan in the coming weeks, as Syrian rebels renew their appeals for Washington to provide weapons and as President Bashar al-Assad battles for survival.
Syrians take up backyard refining of crude oil The brothers get their raw material from the Deir al-Zor countryside, driving two and a half hours in their truck to purchase oil barrels from middlemen or those in control of the oil fields: local tribes and the jihadist Nusra Front. Nusra got involved in the oil business about six months ago, they say. “Nusra are operating in both lines, business and fighting,” Ahmad says. The group has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States and its leader has pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri. But on the ground, Nusra has won respect from some locals for its fighting prowess, discipline and ability to organize daily life in rebel-held areas.

Special Reports
Life and death in Damascus's shrinking Square of Security Every Damascene today is just one or two degrees removed from the latest casualty. On a daily basis we hear the sonic booms and air raids of fighter jets, the shelling from government-mounted missile batteries stationed in the hills overlooking north Damascus, and rocket and mortar fire from rebels on the outskirts… Damascus today feels smaller and emptier, shrunk to the dozen or so districts under government control known collectively as the 'Square of Security'. You can walk briskly from one end to the other in under two hours. As it shrinks, Damascenes with a dark sense of humor have taken to calling it the Triangle of Security. It includes the historic Old City, where the biblical Saint Paul walked on the Street Called Straight. All the city's major commercial districts are also in the Square-turned-Triangle, including the ancient bazaar and contemporary shopping malls. It includes middle class districts, parliament, various ministries and intelligence branches. It is here that Assad and most government officials live. Assad's forces are increasingly bringing artillery into the centre of this area, firing from the densely populated area towards the rebels outside.
The Flag of our Forefathers Across every corner of Syria, at every protest, Free Syrian Army checkpoint and every liberated square you’ll find the red, white & green Revolutionary flag, standing tall – or more precisely, Syria’s Flag of Independence. Despite the Assad regime’s attempts to marginalize this flag by shamelessly slandering it as the “French” flag they cannot cover up that it has been an important part of Syria’s history and that every Syrian President from Muhammad Ali al-Abd of the Syrian Republic, to Shukri al-Quwatli, Adib Shishakli, Hashim Atassi to even Assad have stood before it.
Syrian opposition begins rewriting history in textbooks "The narrative is going to be written and rewritten many times as the course of this tragedy plays out," said Amr Al-Azm, a Syrian dissident and professor of Middle East history at Shawnee State University in Ohio. "Right now they are just taking things out, but as time goes on they will start to rewrite the history books once we see who the victor is."
The Shiite crescent eclipsed: a photo essay The notion of a "Shiite crescent" stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean has always been problematic, for a very simple reason. While there are millions of Shiites in Iraq and Lebanon, the swath of territory along the middle Euphrates in Iraq and Syria is entirely Sunni. Mindful of this vulnerability, Iran decided in the 1980s to raise the profile of Shiism in Syria, with the cooperation of the Syrian regime. The driver was the strategic relationship between Syria and Iran, dating back to Iran's 1979 revolution. In support of this relationship, Iran and Syria collaborated to forge cultural and religious ties. Syria has only about 100,000 Twelver Shiites (of the same denomination as those in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon). But the pillars of the Asad regime (above all, the Asads themselves) hail from the Alawite sect, two or three million strong, which in recent decades has presented itself as a variety of Shiite Islam. Against this background, Syria and Iran worked together to bolster Shiite influence in Syria, as part of a strategy to legitimate the Iran-Syria bond and the Shiite standing of the Alawites.

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
* Rebels in Homs Province managed to take control of Al-Dab’ah Military Airport. Perhaps Assad’s second wind has turned somewhat foul.

Video Highlights

The rebellious neighborhood of Zamalka in Damascus City witnesses some intense pounding today

Rebel forces in Deir Ezzor City pounding the remaining loyalist strongholds Targeting the military airport with homemade rockets The siege of the airport continues ,

The pounding of Eastern Bouyadah village in Homs Province leaves many dead and injured ,