Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Political Zone!

It’s time the U.S. intervened to stop the disintegration of Syria and the ongoing slaughter there. It’s time an end was put to all the hedging, wagering, and bet-placement through the imposition of a no-fly zone which, after all is said and done, remains the only path that could get us to the coveted political solution. It’s pretty hard to negotiate with a Scud.  

Sunday April 14, 2013

Death Toll: 124 martyrs, including 18 children, 7 women and 6 under torture: 34 reported in Damascus and Suburbs; 20 in Hassakeh, mostly in Tal Haddad; 19 in Idlib; 18 in Homs; 18 in Aleppo; 8 in Daraa; 4 in Raqaa; 2 in Deir Ezzor and 1 in Hama (LCC).

News
Symbolic Syrian mosque destroyed; activists warn of phosphorus bombs Throughout the past two years, the Omari mosque has been a gathering place for protesters, the center of anti-government demonstrations in the city. At the start of the uprising, it was briefly used as a civilian hospital for wounded protesters. The mosque was the first place protesters gathered in March 2011 to protest the arrest and alleged torture of teenagers who sprayed anti-Assad graffiti, sparking the waves of weekly peaceful demonstrations that eventually spread across the country.
Syria: Jordan to spearhead Saudi Arabian arms drive Fears over rising power of al-Qaida-linked groups drives move to channel weapons to moderate rebel fighters through Jordan
Syrian crisis: Damascus adjusts to the constant sound of war Two years into crisis, bombs, rockets and planes have become the new normal for Damascenes
Lebanese Shiite fighters backed by Hezbollah fighting inside Syria near border The sectarian tensions in the civil war have spilled over to neighboring Lebanon, which has a similar ethnic divide and a long, bitter history of civil war and domination by Syria. Deadly gun-battles have broken out in Lebanon in recent months between supporters of both sides of the Syrian war. But more broadly, Hezbollah's deepening involvement shows how the Syrian civil war is exacerbating tensions between Shiites and Sunnis around the Middle East.
Syria’s second revolution? Women stand to be emancipated in more ways than one. Typically characterized in the Western press as grieving widows and childless mothers – bit players in an overlong masculine tragedy – Syria’s women have been prime movers in the two-year-long struggle for emancipation, which carries a double meaning in this context. Women have led the earliest demonstrations against the regime, they’ve chronicled the uprising and its repression in vivid detail, they’ve coordinated humanitarian relief efforts, and they’ve taken up arms. Judging from what I’ve witnessed of the extensive reconstruction planning being undertaken by the Syrian diaspora, women have also been the best organized and most willing to bypass the pettiness and factionalism that have stunted their male counterparts.

Special Reports
Al Qaeda adds urgency to search for Syrian peace Saturday's meeting of 11 countries from the Friends of Syria alliance will come after the al-Nusra Front, among the strongest formations seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad, pledged allegiance to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri on April 10. "We will be meeting under the shadow of the advances of Nusra and other militants. The recent al Qaeda statements have injected a new urgency for the international community to push to end the conflict," said an official who will attend the meeting on the conflict that has killed more than 70,000 people. Western powers, which want to see the end of the Assad family's 43-year rule but do not want to intervene militarily in Syria, have been alarmed by the advance of groups like the Nusra Front in a conflict which has deepened the Middle East's sectarian divide.
McManus: Inching closer to entanglement in Syria In Syria, the Obama administration is already doing more for the rebels than it acknowledges in public. The United States has quietly provided training for selected rebel units on bases in neighboring Jordan. And last month, the New York Times reported that the CIA had expanded its secret role in aiding weapons shipments to the rebels from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. At this point, Obama seems determined to supply just enough aid to try to tip the balance but not enough to get entangled. But the administration's distinction between lethal and nonlethal aid looks more and more artificial. The reasons that would justify giving military aid to the rebels or imposing a no-fly zone over Syria are only growing stronger. It's a debate Obama might prefer to avoid, but that's the problem with a slippery slope.
A muddled plan for the clear danger in Syria Mr. Ford said that “we need to weigh in on behalf of those who promote freedom and tolerance.” Yet Ms. Jones reiterated that the administration was opposed to providing “lethal support” to any Syrian forces — notwithstanding the weapons and fighters that Mr. Ford said were being supplied by Iran or the growing military capability of al-Qaeda described by Mr. Clapper. Translation: It’s vital that Syria’s moderate forces win, but we won’t counter the military support the extremists are getting. Senators from both parties expressed exasperation with this non-policy, but not as much exasperation as President Obama’s stubborn passivity deserves. Mr. Clapper was asked whether the United States and its allies were prepared to secure Syria’s chemical weapons sites. His answer, that it “would be very, very situationally dependent,” was anything but reassuring.
Looking for Obama's agenda in Syria For now, Americans remain uncertain as to what good they can do in Syria. Proposals to arm rebels or create a no-fly protective zone over rebel-held areas require certainty that the US is backing those rebel leaders who will eventually create a democratic, stable Syria. And any US arms must not reach radical, pro-Al Qaeda groups. Yet by not acting in Syria, the US also risks a collapse of the Assad regime that might result in the country’s stockpile of chemical weapons getting into the hands of terrorists. In balancing these contending risks, the West and friendly Arab nations should agree on what values they offer Syria. Opposing evil isn’t enough – its hold on a country is more easily broken when its opposite is asserted.

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

Rebels pound Hezbollah’s position inside Lebanese territories from areas around the town of Qusair in Homs Province http://youtu.be/IPQrFi-bNGI

The pounding of Jobar neighborhood continues http://youtu.be/kubnME-40DE , http://youtu.be/mraC2JCuKD8 Tanks try to pound their way in http://youtu.be/JRiPrmp1quQ To the north, Barzeh neighborhood gets pounded http://youtu.be/sMtj74FJ4vg  Tanks and BMPs roan the streets of the southern neighborhoods http://youtu.be/iDYy96TWoX0 Same in Zamalka neighborhood http://youtu.be/b_YbnuS_Zxc

Clashes between loyalists and rebels in Daraa Province continue to heat up: Khirbet Ghazaleh http://youtu.be/cByztTKRSN8 , http://youtu.be/3aW6Tzs9f8U , http://youtu.be/ynu6oqxVJoc

Clashes heat up around Jisr Ashoughour, Idlib Province http://youtu.be/OUHQvDHBbvs , http://youtu.be/Rvkcv-B6XhE , http://youtu.be/4fq4yeXJuXw

The pounding of rebel strongholds in Homs City continues http://youtu.be/ck8kOUg00KM

Aerial raids on the town of Sheikh Saeed in Aleppo Province http://youtu.be/6b4-g5V2h_k , http://youtu.be/IBHl1x4Mh5s