Friday, April 12, 2013

Mysterious Politics!

By finally confirming the validity of the leaked video showing the killing of one of Syria’s top cleric, Syrian TV is also confirming the unreliability of regime reports on happenings all over the country. Did we really need that confirmation? No. Will it make any difference in how international media deal with official reports? Probably not. But we now have a new mystery to add to the growing list. Mysteries are multiplying as quickly as Jihadis and warlords in Syria. But it’s not a mystery how we got here (western dithering), and it’s not a mystery how we can get out: taking Assad’s toys (jets and scuds) away, even if you have to pry them out from his cold dead hands. Then and only then can politics become possible.

Thursday April 11, 2013

Death Toll: 149 martyrs including 17 women, 18 children and 3 under torture: 41 in Homs, mostly in the Massacres of Tal Shor and Qusseir; 36 in Aleppo, mostly in Sukkari; 33 in Damascus and suburbs; 15 in Idlib; 10 in Hama; 7 in Daraa; 4 in Lattakia; and 3 in Deir Ezzor (LCC).


Syria TV confirms video of cleric's killing is real In an unprecedented act, the broadcaster said it "apologised" for denying the authenticity of a video distributed online this week, showing the moment of an explosion in a Damascus mosque that killed Syria's best-known Sunni cleric.
Rebel Victory in Syria Might Not Stop Conflict, U.S. Officials Say The top American intelligence official, James R. Clapper Jr., said that even if Mr. Assad’s government fell, sectarian fighting would most likely engulf the country for a year or more. The American ambassador to Syria, Robert S. Ford, warned that without a negotiated political transition, supporters of the Assad government, “fearing death, would fight to the death.”
Ranking Democrat, Republican press Obama administration on Syria Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the committee’s chairman, prodded the White House during a hearing to begin providing arms to rebels seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, a step the administration has so far refused to take because it fears the weapons could someday be used against the United States or its allies. “Unless we change the dynamic and put our finger on the scales to change the tipping point, Assad will continue to believe he can hold on to power,” Menendez said. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the ranking minority member, complained that “we’ve been in reaction mode, and the administration’s response that we’ve seen is ad hoc.” Corker asked three administration officials who testified to shed more light on the administration’s intentions in Syria. Yet Corker stopped short of calling for a deeper U.S. military commitment, saying, “We really have no good options available to us in Syria.”
U.S. updates military options for Syria The first public discussion of the updated options could come soon as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Joint Chiefs chairman, are scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee next week. The military official emphasized the options are for planning and there is no indication President Barack Obama is about to order any military action. A senior administration official confirmed that the national security staff of the White House has been briefed on the updated planning, but emphasized that it does not differ from what already has been looked at by the administration. "We've been saying for quite some time now, we are constantly reviewing every possible option that could help end the violence and accelerate a political transition," the administration official told CNN. Officials have declined to speak on the record because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Main rebel groups in Syria's Aleppo The most important rebel groups in the city are the jihadist Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham, as well as Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Liwa al-Tawhid, which includes army deserters and anti-regime civilians.
Rights group accuses Syrian military of targeting civilians "These illegal airstrikes killed and injured many civilians and sowed a path of destruction, fear and displacement." Human Rights Watch said bakeries and hospitals have been targeted, in violation of the laws of war.
Military in Syria Is Accused of Massacre The reported massacre, which could not be independently verified, took place in the town of Sanamayn, about halfway between Damascus and the southern city of Dara’a. The town sits astride a vital highway that rebel forces have been fighting to control in recent weeks. Brigades affiliated with the Free Syrian Army had seized a number of towns south of Sanamayn, and this month took control of a military base near Dara’a, where the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began more than two years ago.

Special Reports
Dennis Ross, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations: U.S. Policy Toward Syria It is rare that idealists and realists find common ground and agree on threats. Ironically, Syria is a place where the idealists and realists should come together. There is a moral imperative to try to find a way to affect what is happening on the ground, but there is also a strong national security imperative at least to contain the conflict in Syria, ensure that its CW do not disappear, and prevent the neighborhood from being destabilized.
Northern Syria’s Kurds struggle to deal with influx Since the beginning of Syria’s uprising, the Kurds, who make up about 15 percent of the population, have tried to stay out of the fighting, stopping both rebel and regime forces from entering their neighborhoods. Last summer, Assad’s troops pulled out of majority-Kurdish areas and the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG), the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), took over. The PYD is considered as the Syrian branch of Turkey’s PKK… In Sheikh Maqsoud, rebels and Kurdish groups have joined together to fight forces loyal to Bashar Assad.

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

Clashes between rebels and pro-Assad militias intensify in Jobar Neighborhood in Damascus City , Tanks take part The pounding of southern neighborhoods continues Jets take part in the pounding , , The pounding leaves many building on fire in Yarmouk Camp

To the West, the town of Moadamiya continues to be pounded ,

Leaked video shows pro-Assad militias torturing a detainee to death by stabbing him with dull knives then shooting. The people who uploaded the video claim that one of the militiamen we see near the end was killed later by rebels Another leaked video shows pro-Assad troops preparing a missile for launch A third leaked video shows pro-Assad militias burning the bodies of dead detainees

The pounding of rebel strongholds in Homs City continues: Wa’er

The pounding of the town of Rastan, Homs, continues ,

The town of Talbisseh, Homs, is targeted by MiGs

The pounding of the town of Morek, Hama leaves three children dead