Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hold the [Red] Line!

To President Obama, paraphrasing Toto: It's not in the way that you told us, It's not in the way you say you care, It's not in the way you've been treating your friends, It's not in the way that you'll stay till the end, It's not in the way you calculate or the things that you say that you do: Hold the line; Crises are not always on time. Nor are they convenient or easy to handle. But the fact is: ignoring them will not make them go away.  

Saturday April 27, 2013

News
Rebels attack air base in northern Syria In Saturday's fighting at the Abu Zuhour air base in northwestern Idlib province, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were casualties on both sides. The base has been under rebel siege for months. The Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees said the Syrian air force conducted several air raids during the fighting to ease pressure on government troops inside the air base.
Cameron fears Iraq effect holding West back in Syria UK PM David Cameron has expressed concern that international action in Syria may be being held back because of fears of a repeat of the Iraq war. It follows evidence from the US and the UK that Syrian government troops may have used chemical weapons. Mr Cameron said world leaders must look at Syria and "ask ourselves what more we can do."

Investigative Reports
Syria: Al-Qaeda's battle for control of Assad's chemical weapons plant The fight for al-Safira is no ordinary turf war, however, and the prize can be found behind the perimeter walls of the heavily-guarded military base on the edge of town. Inside what looks like a drab industrial estate is one of Syria's main facilities for producing chemical weapons - and among its products is sarin, the lethal nerve gas that the regime is now feared to be deploying in its bid to cling to power.
Lebanon dragged in as Hezbollah joins Syria war The Shi'ite Muslim group, designated a terrorist organization by the United States, is the most effective military body in Lebanon and its growing involvement in Syria's quagmire has angered Lebanese Sunni rebel sympathizers. The Hezbollah stronghold of Baalbek, famed for its colossal Roman ruins, now feels like a garrison town. Hezbollah men in military fatigues and police outfits are everywhere. As are Jeeps and Chevrolets with blacked-out windows - the group's vehicles of choice.

Analyses & Op-Eds
Islamist Rebels Create Dilemma on Syria Policy Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government. Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of. This is the landscape President Obama confronts as he considers how to respond to growing evidence that Syrian officials have used chemical weapons, crossing a “red line” he had set. More than two years of violence have radicalized the armed opposition fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad, leaving few groups that both share the political vision of the United States and have the military might to push it forward.
Analysis: No good military options for U.S. in Syria Possible military choices range from limited one-off missile strikes from ships - one of the less complicated scenarios - to bolder operations like carving out no-fly safe zones. One of the most politically unpalatable possibilities envisions sending tens of thousands of U.S. forces to help secure Syrian chemical weapons. Obama has so far opposed limited steps, like arming anti-government rebels, but pressure to deepen U.S. involvement in Syria's civil war has grown since Thursday's White House announcement that President Bashar al-Assad likely used chemical weapons.
Obama’s 'red line' on Syria: An Iraq-like 'slam dunk' moment? (+video) President Obama said a 'red line' would be crossed if the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against rebels. Might that propel the US into war, as those elusive 'weapons of mass destruction' did in Iraq?

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

Destroyed tanks and BMPs in Jobar Neighborhood, Damascus City, following clashes between rebels and loyalists http://youtu.be/_o_UM9LmKRA The pounding of the neighborhood with heavy artillery position on top of Mount Qasayoun continues http://youtu.be/iOi1__YbAFo , http://youtu.be/zM5-TrAqSqM The pounding from Mount Qasayoun http://youtu.be/QW-uZqlRIPA

Aerial bombardment on nearby Eastern Ghoutah continues: Saqba http://youtu.be/iOi1__YbAFo , http://youtu.be/26REwk2wHLI Fires rage in Kafar Batna after an aerial raid http://youtu.be/NsgdtnMeWV4 , http://youtu.be/ZRAUhjIeWVI

Rebels in Al-Qusair, Homs, claim that this body belongs to a Hezbollah operative they recently killed in battles. Hezbollah acknowledge the death of this operative known as Abu Ali Rida or Hussain Salah Habeeb, we see his obituary at end of the clip http://youtu.be/KbZZ5EQLOlQ

Aerial bombardment on rebel strongholds in the mountains of North Lattakia intensifies: Salma http://youtu.be/Ez7UxVG_IKU , http://youtu.be/b4PChIF9Vqs Rebels try to bring down a jet http://youtu.be/2A1yGIN-xlg

Rebels in Na’eemah, Daraa, destroy a radar station http://youtu.be/MDxVs3FsMGU and try to bring down an overflying jet http://youtu.be/YnwmtXFZ7e4 But MiGs soon destroy the position http://youtu.be/iOi1__YbAFo

Heavy clashes between loyalists and rebels take place on the outskirts of Hama City http://youtu.be/KE1iWtacUx0

The pounding of rebel strongholds in Deir Ezzor City continues http://youtu.be/bXl2pMnqSMI