Thursday, May 2, 2013

Aid and Fallout!

Delivering aid just to create the appearance of doing something knowing that it could never be enough to reverse the tide will not win appreciation, make friends or end the conflict. Syria will continue to fall apart, dragging the region along with it. Meanwhile, policymakers will keep limiting the debate to Syria ignoring the real issue of fallouts and its implications for regional stability.

Wednesday May 1, 2013

Death Toll: 95 martyrs, including 6 women, 8 children and 2 martyrs under torture: 36 reported in Damascus and Suburbs; 18 in Aleppo; 16 in Hama; 14 in Homs; 5 in Deir Ezzor; 3 in Daraa; 2 in Hassaka and 1 martyr in Lattakia (LCC).

Syria's Assad reportedly makes rare public appearance The broadcast showed Assad speaking to staff on the occasion of International Workers Day, or May Day, at the Umayyad Electrical Station in the Tishrin Park district. Similar still images also appeared on a page used by the Syrian presidency on the popular social network Facebook…The television showed Assad, confident and wearing a dark business suit, talking with workers and shaking their hands. Later he is shown encircled by the staff in a garden.
Syria activists say rockets hit central Damascus The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rockets fell on the Bab Mesalla neighborhood in central Damascus. Initial information indicates that there were casualties, but the number could not be obtained immediately, the Observatory said. It said police sealed off the area, which has restaurants, shops and a main public transportation station linking Damascus with the southern provinces of Daraa and Sweida. Meanwhile, the Observatory said that a bomb exploded in a nearby neighborhood, near police headquarters on Khalid Bin Walid Street. It said several people, including children, were wounded in the blast.
U.S. delivers first aid shipment to Free Syrian Army "The Syrian Support Group was the U.S. government's key partner in organizing and delivering the supplies directly into Syria. With the protection and oversight of General Idris and Col. Abdel Jabar al-Akaidi, the supplies will be distributed to units under the command of the Supreme Military Council operating throughout each of Syria's 14 provinces," the SSG said in a statement provided to The Cable.
Syrian activists draw their own red line … in front of the White House A group of Syrian activists extended a long, symbolic red line in front of the White House Sunday in a call for the Obama administration to respond aggressively to the Syrian regime's alleged use of chemical weapons. The Syrian American Council, a U.S.-based group that supports the Syrian opposition, organized a series of events in the Washington area over the weekend and coordinated the White House protest. The group's sign, directed at President Barack Obama, reads "Your credibility is on the line."

Investigative Reports
U.N. faces ghost of Iraq in evaluating chemical weapons use in Syria For U.N. inspectors, the inquiry is reminiscent of the days when they scoured Iraq’s deserts and industrial parks more than a decade ago in fruitless pursuit of lethal stockpiles of chemical weapons that had long before been destroyed and nuclear facilities that no longer existed. There are stark differences between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and President Bashar al-Assad’s Syria. For one, the United States, which led the push for invading Iraq, appears reluctant to intervene militarily in the war in Syria. For another, U.N. inspectors may never be permitted to step foot in Syria to examine the sites in question, making it extremely difficult to establish definitively whether chemical weapons were used and by whom. But officials at U.N. headquarters also see parallels between the Iraq and Syria cases — and potential pitfalls. Among them is a big-power rift between the United States and Russia and the reactivation of several veterans of the Iraq inspections, including Sellstrom.
Syria’s Opposition Hopes to Win the War by Selling Oil From their perch at the margins of the conflict or overseas, the opposition’s leaders are struggling to create an iota of legitimacy among the fighting factions on the ground. “Oil will be one of the main resources for the government’s budget,” Yasser Tabbara, advisor to the Syrian National Coalition’s interim Prime Minister Ghassan Hitto, told TIME on Wednesday. Speaking by phone from Chicago, where he has lived for years, Tabarra said opposition leaders were thrashing out details of how to begin commercial oil production by using experts who have defected from the regime, including Syria’s deputy oil minister. Since the regime controls the oil pipelines, as well as the existing export terminals on the Mediterranean, rebel groups would have to truck barrels of oil across rebel territory into Turkey, where the nearest refineries are situated and where they could—if they can produce enough oil—export to the rest of Europe. “It is part of a larger plan to preserve the institutions and to keep as many public employees working a s possible,” Tabarra says. Still, analysts warn that the plan is deeply flawed—and in fact, that the E.U.’s decision could intensify the violence in Syria, by setting up a deadly competition for control of a resource that has languished amid two years of grinding civil war… Complicating the issue is the fact that several of the rebel-held oil fields are believed to be under the control of Jabhat al-Nusra,which has declared its allegiance to al-Qaeda. “There is no way the E.U. is going to do business with al-Qaeda,” says Ayham Kamel, a Syria analyst for the Eurasia Group in London.

Analyses & Op-Eds
Aaron David Miller: Obama's no-win options in Syria The fact is, Obama has no good options. He'll pick the least worst one, providing some kind of weapons to the rebels. That will make us feel better, neutralize the liberal interventionists and conservative Republicans who've been blasting him and respond to those who say he's backing away from his red line. It won't turn the tide in Syria or necessarily prevent al-Assad from using chemical weapons. The other alternatives -- do nothing or design a proactive and comprehensive military strategy to take out the al-Assads -- aren't in the cards. But make no mistake: Sooner rather than later, the president will likely be faced with another decision point along the slippery slope of U.S. military intervention in Syria.

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.

Syrians opposed to Assad accuse him of encouraging and planting extremists in the ranks of the rebellion, including releasing hundreds of jihadis from prison early in the uprising, knowing full well that they were bound to take up arms against it.

Ammar Abdulhamid, a Washington-based Syrian pro-democracy activist and director of the Tharwa Foundation, said that while the regime has probably lost control over these cells by now, their presence has helped it achieve its goal…

Abdulhamid said that if groups like al-Nusra increase their profile in Syria, there will be a greater willingness among some Western leaders to listen to Assad's argument again.

"The mantra of 'Either us or the extremists' is slowly but surely regaining some of its popularity and relevance in decision-making circles in the West," he said.

Video Highlights

The children of Kafrenbel, Idlib, wonder how long it will take Obama before he decides to step in

Lebanese preacher Ahmad Al-Assir fights alongside Syrian rebels during a brief tour of the town of Qusair

Rebels combat loyalists in Al-Sayih Neighborhood in Homs City

Rebels and loyalists clash in the town of Ariha, Idlib ,

Regime pounds rebel strongholds in Damascus City: Al-Qadam Jobar

The nearby suburbs of Eastern Ghoutah were targeted by fighter jets and heavy artillery: Saqba Misraba Arbeen