Friday, April 5, 2013

Going for Broke!

You picked a fine time to go broke UN. Then again, we all go for broke these days. Killers who don’t want to stop, governments that don’t want to intervene, governments that do want to intervene, and rebels who cannot afford to give up. Meanwhile, there is this little miracle child in North Korea who feels left out. What can a UN do?

Friday April 5, 2013

News
Rebels say take army post near Syria's southern border Fighters from the Free Syrian Army said they captured the Um al-Mayathen post on the main Damascus-Jordan highway in heavy fighting overnight that ended a siege that lasted more than a week. Dozens died in the clashes they said. "It (the garrison) is a major defense and now we will lay siege to the border crossing and cut their (the Damascus government's) supply lines," Abu Omar, commander of the Lions of the Sunna Brigade, told Reuters by phone.
Putin insists peace talks the only way to end Syria's 'massacre' Speaking to the German ARD television in remarks released by the Kremlin on Friday, he rejected the Western criticism of Russia for its continuing supply of weapons to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Putin said that such shipments don't violate international law, and he criticized those who send weapons to the Syrian opposition. Putin said that peace talks should spell out the future of Syria and provide guarantees to all parties.
Syria: Humanitarian aid, a lifeline for displaced people The displacement of millions of people across Syria has resulted in complete dependency on humanitarian assistance in some parts of the country. Crossing front lines and finding ways to reach people in need is becoming more urgent than ever before.
Report: Hamas training Syrian rebels in Damascus area The Times reports that the military unit of Hamas, which broke ties with former ally Syrian President Bashar Assad in the wake of the insurgency, began training the rebels in the Damascus neighbourhoods of Yalda, Jaramana and Babbila. “The Kassam Brigades have been training units very close to Damascus," a Western diplomat with contacts in both the Assad regime and the Syrian opposition told the London daily newspaper. "These are specialists. They are really good.” According to the Times, Hamas has assisted in the digging of a tunnel beneath Damascus in preparation for an attack on the city, a skill that Hamas has honed smuggling supplies from Egypt into the Gaza Strip.
Western sanctions put squeeze on ordinary Syrians, regime unfazed “We’ve been without electricity in the entire city for about two weeks now. We’ve only had a few hours of water too, as it takes electricity to pump water through the city,” he told The Daily Star over Facebook, adding that it was not unusual for hospitals to go for much of the day without power due to the lack of diesel for generators, and some have even stopped their services. “Sanctions only hurt normal people. The regime doesn’t care, and gets the weapons and fuel for its army from Russia, while the ordinary people suffer from high living costs and outages.”
Obama to meet regional leaders on Syria The White House said Jordan’s King Abdullah II would meet with Obama on April 26… Obama will then host Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on May 16… Obama will also host Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nahayan of the United Arab Emirates on April 16, and will meet with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani on April 23. Turkey, Jordan and Qatar have strongly backed the 2-year-old revolt against Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
Rebels look to extend gains from Raqqa Raqqa – a predominantly Sunni city that sits at a strategic gateway between Aleppo in the northwest, Deir al-Zor to the east and Homs in the center – fell to the rebels March 4 after a combined attack led by Islamist brigades. The fall of the city was swift and coordinated. Units from the Islamist Nusra Front and the Salafi al-Sham brigade, in coordination with other Islamist brigades, easily overran Syrian army units positioned at checkpoints around the city, sparsely manned by one army unit, Division 17.

Special Reports
Syria in ruins: Photos capture shocking devastation caused to war-torn country Buildings are in tatters and fallen drainpipes lay across the road after fierce fighting in Deir al-Zor in the war-torn country.


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.

Below the Radar

* The Kurdish Majority city of Qamishly in the northeast corner of Syria has been ben witnessing some interesting developments of late. The city, in a sense, is being administered in accordance to an unofficial power-sharing arrangement of sorts allowing both regime representatives as well as leaders of local Kurdish parties, especially the PYD to take part in administering the city and its surroundings. Both sides in fact maintain a strong military presence on the city, the Kurds through the Popular Defense Committees (YPGs), and the regime through the local police force and loyalist militias. But power is really on the side of the Kurds, if the YPGs wanted to take complete control of the city, they could probably do it with minimal resistance. Indeed, yesterday, following an incident in which pro-regime forces killed three Kurdish activists, Kurdish groups held a major funeral in which thousands of people showed bearing arms. The YPGs also attacked several regime checkpoints killing three and arresting 7. The situation remains tense. http://youtu.be/Iii7MaGA0M0

* Meanwhile, in the Arab-majority city of Deir Ezzor also in the northeast, a new rebel group has been making a name for itself and is projecting itself as a tribal alternative to Jabhat Al-Nusra (JAN). Its founders, said to be Syrians based in Saudi Arabia and are disciples of the late Syrian religious scholar, Nasser Al-Din Al-Albani, seem to be trying to imitate the Sahwa movement in Iraq that challenged Al-Qaeda’s dominance in Sunni majority areas there. The group is called Jabhat Al-Assalah wa Al-Tanmiya (JAT), or the Front for Authenticity and Development, but it has so far garnered little attention beyond the borders of Deir Ezzor. This video shows a recent “exploit” by JAT members against their loyalist prisoners http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=493388297388460 JAT was formed in early November 2012. This is their YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/user/alasalawatanmya This is their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/alasalawatanmya?fref=ts

Video Highlights

Like marauding killer sharks, pro-regime tanks keep roving around the outskirts of the town of Daraya in Damascus Suburbs http://youtu.be/W25DzJVO9NY Pounding their way in http://youtu.be/VCs0ognV_5w and out http://youtu.be/vhqpRha8IQg Other parts of town are targeted by missile launchers http://youtu.be/RjKuzVFbuXg , http://youtu.be/EHfbI2BGHX0 The result a wasteland http://youtu.be/9TA587zQ40E

To the East, the town of Eastern Ghoutah continue to come under aerial bombardment and missile attacks: Saqba http://youtu.be/OdQDH2AKiR0 Kafar Batna http://youtu.be/UhN82JQkzWg , http://youtu.be/7pv3Kj33q8g Zamalka http://youtu.be/X7kbLmZbkTM Jisreen http://youtu.be/gjQVBljS7Ss The pounding reaches the neighborhood of Jobar in Damascus City http://youtu.be/Txs29FU_3Zc , http://youtu.be/8I52ZGJ3vnU

In Aleppo City, clashes in and around the Kurdish-majority neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud intensify http://youtu.be/TKBsaXfmXPM Despite the climate of panic that ensue following attacks, people rush to help the wounded http://youtu.be/Vn8SDZBFj-o

Elsewhere in Aleppo and across Syria, rallies like this one in Boustan Al-Qasr http://youtu.be/Aqx84g0oIFk and this one in Al-Wa’er neighborhood (Homs City) http://youtu.be/5yl7-zbOqaU took place as is the case on Fridays.