Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 27, 2013

Pundits Start To See The Syrian Danger

This is the extraordinary occasion in which I at least partitially agree with "flat word" Thomas Friedman:
We know what kind of Syria we’d like to see emerge, and we have a good idea of the terrible costs of not achieving that and the war continuing. But I don’t see a consensus inside Syria — or even inside the opposition — for the kind of multisectarian, democratic Syria to which we aspire. In this kind of situation, there are three basic options:
  • We and some global coalition can invade Syria, as we did Iraq, sit on the parties and forge the kind of Syria we want. But that hasn’t succeeded in Iraq yet, at huge cost, and there is zero support for that in America. Forget it.
  • We can try to contain the conflict by hardening Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel, wait for the Syrian parties to get exhausted and then try to forge a cease-fire/power-sharing deal.
  • Or we can let the war take its course with the certainty of more terrible killings, the likelihood of its spreading to neighboring states and the possibility of its leading to the fracturing of Syria into Sunni, Alawite and Kurdish mini-states.
I’m dubious that just arming “nice” rebels will produce the Syria we want; it could, though, drag us in in ways we might not want.
While Friedman's diagnosis is right, i.e. if the opposition wins the resulting situation would be catastrophic, his choices leave out the fourth option which I suggested over a year ago:
A Syrian state crumbling under terror followed by large sectarian slaughter and refugee streams with certain spillover of fighting into all neighboring countries. That can not be in anyone's interest.

It is time for the west to not only step back from this cliff but to turn around and to help Assad to fight the terrorists that want to bring down his country.

Some western commentators are slowly, slowly coming around to reach that point. Former Foreign Service Officer Henry Precht is nearly making it:
[T]he end of the track of the Syrian war could be a conflict that will work severe damage for American interests far beyond the Middle East.

We can only hope that Obama and his team will find the vision to foresee the unintended wreck that may lie ahead. To be sure, there will be tough congressional and media criticism and active opposition against any American move to relieve the pressure on Assad and join the Russians in promoting compromise between the two sides. The Administration can argue that the overthrow of Assad will mean al Qaeda rule in Damascus, but many will reject that argument. There are no easy choices: ending Syria’s war will mean applying strong pressure on Saudi Arabia and Turkey to cease and desist. It will be messy, but a negotiated truce will slow down the killing and end the drift towards a major war.

The ultimate stakes for regional stability are too high and the continued suffering of the Syria people too great for America to allow the war to continue and probably escalate. The President will have to show uncustomary political courage. We can only hope he will.

U.S. pressure on Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to stop the weapon and personal flow to Syria would be the first step towards a solution. The alternative is indeed handeling Syria to AlQaida. That is not in anyone's interest. Why is it so difficult for Washington to understand this?

We can certainly hope that this realist viewpoint will gain further ground and that Obama finds some backbone and pushes for a non-military resolution of the conflict. But this hopy changy president has so far shown zero of the needed political courage. The mess is thereby likely to continue until the Friedman's of this world acknowledge the real solution.

Posted by b on March 27, 2013 at 09:15 AM | Permalink

Comments

yesterday someone posted Friedman's quote, and I was shocked that it sounded like the sanest thing I'd expect to hear on TV. I like b's proposal for the US to actually fight the terrorists in Syria. That sounds crazy, considering we've finally admitted to actually providing weapons to the rebels; but I think it would be a bold stroke. This would allow the US to take an ideal position against violence and terrorism. I don't know if anyone appreciates taking idealistic stands, but if they are followed with behavioral changes these limitations influences others. (I think the US excels at our covert hypocrisy, claiming to be faithful, and fun-loving, and still being all about business. Arabs have the same ethic ironically) But, Obama could really set a standard that encourages civil disobedience. If he's listening to Zbig, who worries about the limits of the elites to control the masses; this would be a sensible way for our elites to protect their necks, if some similar disorder should come here.

I don't think this is likely, but it would be bold, and I think is politically possible. If they're using proper perspective, it's the most likely solution politically. But, I don't know if our elites are that far sighted. I think they may cling to their guns and rigged game so tightly, they'd never consider relenting. So, while it's in their best interest to encourage civil disobedience, and to stop encouraging might makes right and force; they may fail to understand the limits of their fortresses. A bullet proof pill box can be easily flooded, a moated castle burnt down, infection may enter through the servants gate.

Posted by: scottindallas | Mar 27, 2013 9:49:52 AM | 1

I think you're missing the point b. I's all about weakening Iran.

Posted by: dh | Mar 27, 2013 10:36:09 AM | 2

Haven't read Friedman's latest thoughts, but, I'll take b's word that he said something worthwhile. On Obama, I find it hard to believe he does anything, with regards to Syria, that doesn't come from his handlers in the corporate cabal he works for. Whatever they want, will happen.

Posted by: ben | Mar 27, 2013 10:45:37 AM | 3

Friedman offers only two choices: invasion or a failed state. Ummm--Friedman never heard of a thing called negotiations, involving all parties to the conflict? It's interesting to note that "all options on the table" specifically excludes serious negotiations.

It seems that Washington never learns. Intervention in Iraq brought a civil war and chaos. Intervention in Afghanistan brought chaos on top of a civil war. And years of efforts to topple Assad are bearing fruit...in a civil war and chaos.

Washington's policies should be code named "Failed States, Inc."

And they claim to justify all this in the name of fighting terrorism? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Posted by: JohnH | Mar 27, 2013 11:02:44 AM | 4

Is "flat word" another way of saying word for word, or verbatim?
Apologies.
I said I wouldn't do that. But I'm not 100% sure.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 27, 2013 11:14:58 AM | 5

Assad doesn't need much help, as the invaders are losing ground just about everywhere. Just stop with the help from NATO. The Saudis can send folks from Pakistani prisons, but the support personnel are required from places like the CIA or DGSE. Without those, the war would be like Western wars in Africa centuries ago. The real problem for Obama is that powerful folks in Israel, France, and Qatar are not in the mood to stop.

Posted by: Ozawa | Mar 27, 2013 11:25:45 AM | 6

America is a bully, a liar and thus a coward.
The only way to get through to them is to rough them up a bit.
I believe China and Russia are getting ready to draw a line in the sand. I also believe that Obama is hugely pissed off with Bibi for interfering in his re-election campaign and for the smearing that Hagel received from The Lobby's satraps in the Senate.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 27, 2013 11:32:28 AM | 7

"We know what kind of Syria we’d like to see emerge, and we have a good idea of the terrible costs of not achieving that and the war continuing."

Was it hard for you during the war, Tom? You bearing up well under the "terrible costs"? Tom Friedman is the kind commentator you can consult twice a day for accurate information and analysis.

Posted by: Mooser | Mar 27, 2013 11:34:43 AM | 8

"I also believe that Obama is hugely pissed off with Bibi for interfering in his re-election campaign and for the smearing that Hagel received from The Lobby's satraps in the Senate."

And Obama's actions and words in Israel do nothing but confirm that hypothesis? Of course, Obama's anger may be on too high a level for me to detect.

Posted by: Mooser | Mar 27, 2013 11:44:51 AM | 9

TLF is usually so-o up himself.
A few years ago a pundit opined that the only way he can muster some enthusiasm for making love to his wife is to cover her face with a photo of his.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 27, 2013 11:48:09 AM | 10

This may be significant. Rasmussen is talking about a 'political solution'.

http://news.yahoo.com/nato-head-urges-syria-political-solution-rules-intervention-133900816.html

Posted by: dh | Mar 27, 2013 12:43:08 PM | 11

@11: http://www.moonofalabama.org/2011/07/rasmussen-on-libya.html

This man is a professional liar and war criminal.

Posted by: k_w | Mar 27, 2013 1:02:55 PM | 12

"I don’t see a consensus inside Syria — or even inside the opposition — for the kind of multisectarian, democratic Syria to which we aspire..."

The US risks a lot by "having aspirations" for countries like Syria. When the NLF won the Vietnam war, America's position in the world changed dramatically.
If Syria manages to resist the massive efforts, (covering the spectrum from "Hate Assad" media propaganda, through thousands of tons in arms shipments to the mobilisation of mercenary armies commanded by European and US experts), to smash up the state it will make the Vietnam syndrome look like a mild case of second thoughts.

The next stage downwards, for the Washington rules the world folks, will involve some enterprising satrapy, Italy perhaps or Greece, beginning to disobey orders, prosecuting spies, closing bases and other basic populist-nationalist moves, if only to bathe in the popular enthusiasm for, what the likes of Friedman call anti-americanism and the rest of the world realises is a revulsion against Quislings, by people who have been bullied for too long. And have stopped being rewarded for tolerating it.

Posted by: bevin | Mar 27, 2013 1:57:47 PM | 13

the fifth option is keep going as is, since the real goal is destruction of Syria and its defenses, and letting these sectarian rebels duke it out with Assad is fine with US/Israel. seems to work while Assad is there and willing to play.
I doubt the US/Israel cares that much who their next puppet is. they'll control via torture and guns and sectarian violence, as usual. don't believe the words of the state dept that we want an inclusive government - the opposition is AGAINST an inclusive government, and that's about all the local & foreign coalitions can probably agree on. of course the US/Israel has no use for an inclusive government in Syria! apparently, they don't even need Assad's anti-Al-Qaeda intelligence either. don't be fooled by the pretty words. the US would sooner fund A-Q and keep the GWOT than see it dry up and blow away.

Posted by: anon | Mar 27, 2013 2:04:17 PM | 14

Is "flat word" another way of saying word for word
I believe he means to say flat world for someone who argues against scientific facts as do those who believe the world is flat because if it were round we would fall off the underside

Posted by: dan of steele | Mar 27, 2013 4:50:48 PM | 15

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Backchannels/2013/0318/Thomas-Friedman-Iraq-war-booster


One of the kinder takedowns of (soft?)Zio-capitalist/imperialist Friedman.

Posted by: Ken Hoop | Mar 27, 2013 5:43:23 PM | 16

Actually, Mr. Friedman, there is a fourth option which is to support a diplomatic solution even if this might lose an opportunity to score points against Iran. Of course, with the U.S. track record, it is not exactly the most qualified party to "help" Syria.

Posted by: Edward | Mar 27, 2013 7:54:29 PM | 17

I think that anon at 14 is correct. The people who brought about the invasion and occupation of Iraq ten years ago look at the country now and congratulate themselves. If they could duplicate that 'success', on the cheap - now that they and the financial crowd have so depleted the resources available to work with - in Syria, in Iran ... they'd be very much gratified.

The US is no longer seen as having any creative power at all, but they can use the US Wehrmacht to destroy all the real or potential centers they cannot directly control.

And Europe seems finally to be unapologetic and on board ... the return of colonial rule after the destruction of the native governments in their former colonial possessions does seem to be a real possibility.

And the German bankers seem ready now just to grab control and the sums owed them, as in Cypress.

Posted by: john francis lee | Mar 27, 2013 8:01:23 PM | 18

My admittedly non-expert two cents: chaos in Syria is in Saudi Arabia's interest, since it promotes instability in Iraq and threatens Maliki. So I think Saudi-friendly organizations will continue to egg on the militants to keep fighting and resist a negotiated settlement.

Posted by: China Hand | Mar 27, 2013 9:10:00 PM | 19

Regarding Friedman, I never never discount what someone says until I read it. Those who say, and they've said it to me, "don't you know where she comes from?" fail in two ways. (1) None of us is always right, and none of us is always wrong. and (2) Even a stopped watch is correct twice a day.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 27, 2013 9:22:57 PM | 20

As dh says in #2, the paramount US objective is to weaken Iran by destroying its ally Syria. Syria is totally about Iran.

The (myopic) US can't see beyond that immediate goal. The failure of US foreign policy to envision sensible end states has been amply demonstrated.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 27, 2013 9:28:33 PM | 21

"Why is it so difficult for Washington to understand this?"

Because they do not want to understand it!

Posted by: Susan | Mar 27, 2013 9:33:05 PM | 22

from today's State presser, on Syria:
QUESTION: No, but you always – I mean, the general paradigm is that you want to know – or you want to ensure that arms do not fall in the wrong hands. Do you have a list to determine whether this is the right hand or the wrong hand?
MR. VENTRELL: We very carefully monitor extremist elements, and we’re very careful about empowering the opposition that wants a free, unified, democratic Syria and empowering those who have the positive message, the vision of a tolerant and inclusive Syria. And so absolutely everything we do is about helping and assisting those who have that vision of a tolerant, inclusive Syria and sidelining those who don’t. I’m not going to get into the details of all of our vetting in terms of our assistance, but we’ve sent a very clear message.

“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 27, 2013 10:23:04 PM | 23

B, I really like your point about helping Assad. It is not as farfetched as it seems. Obama went from paying Ethiopia to attack the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia, to arming and cooperating the ICU after the withdrawal of Ethiopians. He is at least not a neocon in foreign policy, he can reverse position when it's necessary to achieve a goal.

Posted by: Crest | Mar 27, 2013 10:40:06 PM | 24

Wonderful idea, but unfortunately predicated on the assumption that Obama (or any US President) actually calls the shots, especially related to foreign policy. I think he's just the public face of the real forces that wield the levers of power, whether they be agents of some other nation or agents of entrenched finance/business conglomerate, or an unseemly stew of all the aforementioned.
In any event, I don't think it's realistic to ascribe to Obama (or whatever other shill occupies the office) powers that they do not possess.

Posted by: Sasha | Mar 27, 2013 11:30:59 PM | 25

dan of steele | Mar 27, 2013 4:50:48 PM | 15

Thanks.
That didn't cross my mind and seems a better fit than my speculation.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 27, 2013 11:55:10 PM | 26

The US government spins the public with the help of a compliant media, and then does what the public demands. It's "the democratic way." It's not decision-making, it's more complicated than that, it's responding to the rigged public mandate. The president can't then just jump the track.

In the case of Syria, there is no benefit to the US to resolve the crisis it is prolonging. Ongoing crises are what sustains the National Security State. Korea, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iran --- the resolution of these crises would bring -- peace! --A hated word, because it means that the US no longer needs a mighty war machine. no longer needs troops in Asia, Europe and Africa, no longer needs combatant commands spanning the world, no longer needs contracts for military hardware and consultants, and two million in the military.

Syria means Iran, and Iran has the ambition to develop a nuclear weapon, is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, has a terrible human rights record, and has bogus elections so that the citizens want to overthrow the government. Iran threatens to wipe Israel off the planet and routinely violates sanctions imposed by the world community. Iran also supports the hated terrorists Hezbollah and Hamas through it's puppet Syria. So Syria must go down. That's the party line. No foundation for any of it, but that's what it is. Obama can not change it.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 27, 2013 11:59:28 PM | 27

I hate when people type it's when "its" is intended. Grrrrr.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 28, 2013 12:01:30 AM | 28

DoS 15 hoarse 26 Friedman wrote a book, "the World is Flat" about how the internet and technology are leveling the playing field between India, China and everywhere else and the West and Japan. It's a celebration of globalization.

Posted by: scottindallas | Mar 28, 2013 2:16:41 AM | 29

Officials: Weapons supplies to Syrian rebels increase dramatically before a push on Damascus

AMMAN, Jordan — Mideast powers opposed to President Bashar Assad have dramatically stepped up weapons supplies to Syrian rebels in coordination with the U.S. in preparation for a push on the capital of Damascus, officials and Western military experts said Wednesday.
...
The Arab official said the number of arms airlifts has doubled in the past four weeks. He did not provide exact figures on the flights or the size of the cargo. Jordan opened up as a new route for the weapons late last year, amid U.S. worries that arms from Turkey were going to Islamic militants, all four told The Associated Press in separate interviews.
...
The Arab official said there was a “master plan” for the rebels to seize Damascus. He and the diplomat spoke to the AP on condition that their identities and their nationalities not be disclosed because the operation was covert.

“The idea is that the rebels now have the necessary means to advance from different fronts — north from Turkey and south from Jordan — to close in on Damascus to unseat Assad,” the Arab official said. He declined to provide details, but said the plan is being prepared in stages and will take “days or weeks” for results.
...

Posted by: b | Mar 28, 2013 2:22:26 AM | 30

U.S. pressure on Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to stop the weapon and personal flow to Syria would be the first step towards a solution.

Well you could persuade Erdogan to stop, but it would be difficult to stop Saudi and Qatar - they're ideologically obsessed. And quite a bit of their support is not government but wealthy individuals. Paying jihadis to go and suicide bomb often comes from uncontrollable individuals, not far from government, who have been used to having their own way for years.

Posted by: alexno | Mar 28, 2013 3:30:26 AM | 31

Why would "officials and Western military experts" broadcast their covert plans in the Washington Post?
I mean, if I weren't such a staunch believer in the integrity of Western media, I'd think this is a psyop or something.
But then again, maybe that's the intent - to blindfold and twirl the already disoriented?
Bobby Fischer's still dead I take it? Pity... he may have been able to solve this puzzle.

Posted by: Sasha | Mar 28, 2013 3:31:09 AM | 32

The new phase of the attack is well underway, & Obama is no longer 'leading from behind' but right out in front of this one. I'd put the report in the Washington Post that 'b' linked to, along with the previous report in NYT on the massive arms shipments as simply familiarizing people with the 'new normal', after repeated denials of the same.

The latest version of the dodgy western/gcc opposition council has finally been given Syria's seat at the Arab League while the last voices for dialogue have been purged; Obama has seated himself firmly in the forefront with the stage-managed Turkey/Israel official partnership; the Turks have convinced themselves that they've got the Kurd's sorted out with the PKK 'truce' & the US is fully behind them; & the arms floodgates have been opened even wider, now up to major-league advanced western weaponry.

The only question at this stage is whether they continue with a super-charged version of the existing strategy - pour in thousands more jihadi's with increased training, even heavier armaments, and larger numbers of mercenaries & their special forces/intelligence handlers, use these to create wider corridors (likely from all 4 directions simultaneously - Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon & Israel, but Turkey is the major one they'll back, while Israel grabs even more territory), then look to force 'no-fly' zones behind them as a pretext for a massive bombing campaign to take out most of Syria's infrastructure, this time simply ignoring the UN;

OR look to jump-start things with the bombing campaign backed by a propaganda blitz. This is being heavily sold in Washington as 'precision strikes' on Assad directly, to 'decapitate' the leadership in one 'easy swoop' & everything will fall magically into place.

If they start out with the first option (the most likely considering Obama's management style) the Syrian's have shown that the ability to throw them back to their enclaves near the border no matter how much support the west/gcc alliance puts into these 'rebels', but it generally takes time & the 'rebel's' leave an enormous amount of chaos in their wake.
What it will likely come down to is how quickly the US is prepared to jump in with airpower behind the latest flood of heavily armed psychotics, & whether Russia can deter them (for which they'll likely need to be sure the Chinese have their back before they commit military force - a dicey proposition).
Even then, if the US jumps in fast enough & just launches an airwar with little warning, there is likely very little Russia can do about it - they would have to have forces on the ground to deter an air campaign, & there is no way they can go directly against the the US in a theatre they control.

Scary times, & Obama 2 looks to be even worse than many of his worst US critics suggested. Would a blatant attack on Syria ordered by Obama finally wake up the US Democratic/anti-war left to what they are dealing with? My guess, most of them would actually cheer.

Giving Syrian opposition seats at Arab League is ‘illegal, indefensible’ – Moscow
http://rt.com/news/arab-league-syria-opposition-924/

An excellent article by MK Bhadrakumar gives the rundown:
War drums are beating for Syria
http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2013/03/25/war-drums-are-beating-for-syria/

Posted by: KenM | Mar 28, 2013 4:27:58 AM | 33

This is a test post to find out if I have been banned here for some reason. My posts over the last week haven't gone through after I spent a fair bit effort on them and I'm a long-time follower here & occasional poster here...

Posted by: KenM | Mar 28, 2013 5:13:07 AM | 34

Maybe it's just long posts that no longer go through. I'll try splitting them from now on...
---
The new phase of the attack seems to be well underway, & Obama is no longer 'leading from behind' but right out in front of this one. I'd put the report in the Washington Post that 'b' linked to, along with the previous report in NYT on the massive arms shipments as simply familiarizing people with the 'new normal', after repeated denials of the same.

The latest version of the dodgy western/gcc opposition council has finally been given Syria's seat at the Arab League while the last voices for dialogue have been purged; Obama has seated himself firmly in the forefront with the stage-managed Turkey/Israel official partnership; the Turks have convinced themselves that they've got the Kurd's sorted out with the PKK 'truce' & the US is fully behind them; & the arms floodgates have been opened even wider, now up to major-league advanced western weaponry.

The only question at this stage is whether they continue with a super-charged version of the existing strategy - pour in thousands more jihadi's with increased training, even heavier armaments, and larger numbers of mercenaries & their special forces/intelligence handlers, use these to create wider corridors (likely from all 4 directions simultaneously - Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon & Israel, but Turkey is the major one they'll back, while Israel grabs even more territory), then look to force 'no-fly' zones behind them as a pretext for a massive bombing campaign to take out most of Syria's infrastructure, this time simply ignoring the UN;
cont. on...

Posted by: KenM | Mar 28, 2013 5:15:51 AM | 35

cont. from above.
--
OR look to jump-start things with the bombing campaign backed by a propaganda blitz. This is being heavily sold in Washington as 'precision strikes' on Assad directly, to 'decapitate' the leadership in one 'easy swoop' & everything will fall magically into place.

If they start out with the first option (the most likely considering Obama's management style) the Syrian's have shown that the ability to throw them back to their enclaves near the border no matter how much support the west/gcc alliance puts into these 'rebels', but it generally takes time & the 'rebel's' leave an enormous amount of chaos in their wake.
What it will likely come down to is how quickly the US is prepared to jump in with airpower behind the latest flood of heavily armed psychotics, & whether Russia can deter them (for which they'll likely need to be sure the Chinese have their back before they commit military force - a dicey proposition).
Even then, if the US jumps in fast enough & just launches an airwar with little warning, there is likely very little Russia can do about it - they would have to have forces on the ground to deter an air campaign, & there is no way they can go directly against the the US in a theatre they control.

Scary times, & Obama 2 looks to be even worse than many of his worst US critics suggested. Would a blatant attack on Syria ordered by Obama finally wake up the US Democratic/anti-war left to what they are dealing with? My guess, most of them would actually cheer.

Giving Syrian opposition seats at Arab League is ‘illegal, indefensible’ – Moscow
http://rt.com/news/arab-league-syria-opposition-924/

An excellent article by MK Bhadrakumar gives the rundown:
War drums are beating for Syria
http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2013/03/25/war-drums-are-beating-for-syria/

Posted by: KenM | Mar 28, 2013 5:16:45 AM | 36

Friedman: 'But I don’t see a consensus inside Syria — or even inside the opposition — for the kind of multisectarian, democratic Syria to which we aspire

the USW isnt even a multisectarian democtratic system: but a one party two right wings system.
Syria is already multisectarian and democractic: what sort of nitwit supports absolute unmultisectarian salafists?

Posted by: brian | Mar 28, 2013 7:01:22 AM | 37

"I don’t see a consensus inside Syria — or even inside the opposition — for the kind of multisectarian, democratic Syria to which we aspire..."


This entire comment is a load. A load, that stinks.
Who says the US aspires to have a multisectarian democratic Syria?
There is nothing to indicate that claim.
Syria was a multisectarian democratic state.
No aspiration necessary
And the west destroyed that.

"It is time for the west to not only step back from this cliff but to turn around and to help Assad to fight the terrorists that want to bring down his country"

Why would the west fight the "terrorists" that want to bring Syria down?

Since the West is the entity that aided in the onslaught of terrorists in Syria.

Friedman's opinion is just a controlled dissension.
It's baloney!

Posted by: Penny | Mar 28, 2013 7:34:21 AM | 38


Hugo Chavez, for example, said that Fidel remained his political ideal role model, but the ruler who was closest to him in his style of behavior and who continued Castro's work was Bashar al-Assad.
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=505813732787747&id=298382103530912

Posted by: brian | Mar 28, 2013 8:17:29 AM | 39

32 agree, psyops,

this is the take of Le Figaro

"Dans le même temps, Américains et Russes ont continué de discuter de cette transition négociée, et ces dernières semaines des progrès ont été enregistrés. «Les Américains ont fini par accepter que la sortie de Bachar el-Assad ne soit effective qu'à la fin du processus et non plus au début comme ils le réclamaient ces derniers mois, affirme un diplomate onusien au cœur des pourparlers. De leur côté, les Russes ont accepté que Bachar ne garde qu'un rôle honorifique pendant la transition. Et les deux sont d'accord pour que le régime à venir ne soit plus présidentiel mais parlementaire», précise ce diplomate. Sur le modèle de l'Irak ou d'Israël, avec un pouvoir concentré entre les mains d'un premier ministre. Les grandes manœuvres vont donc s'intensifier, après la démission de M. al-Khatib."

Most likely every side is doing all of it - as the outcome of negotiations will be decided by the situation on the ground - as none of the political actors has control of all the opposition forces on the ground, the negotiation power of a single political actor is weak to say the least.

This will drag on a long time.

In the meantime Turkey seems to be losing a lot of its soft power.

Turkey deports 600 Syrian refugees over camp unrest: Claim

Russian media does not think the rebels are winning, by the way

If you google Darraya you find out that until recently, rebel propaganda made a big thing about successes there ...

Posted by: somebody | Mar 28, 2013 8:35:58 AM | 40

Ben, if your around?
Hope so? Thought I would make it easier for you to read my latest
It covers a lot of ground..
How Syria, Cyprus, Turkey and Israel are all intertwined along with NATO. Banks and war..
I have two parts up and there will be a third
For you and anyone else interested
Brian maybe?

Posted by: Penny | Mar 28, 2013 12:13:31 PM | 41

Please let us be real (as in realist). If the USA reverses course and supports Assad, I will go pray at the wailing wall with Netanyahu.

Posted by: HIlmi Hakim | Mar 28, 2013 4:02:26 PM | 42

Even if he wanted to help Assad, Obama may be too boxed in by policies established by Congress a decade ago (SANA) and escalated ever since. The Israel Lobby has been pushing hard for this war and the media rarely allows voices that deviate from the neocon narrative on the air. In spite of this successful demonizing of Syria in the American popular mindset, public opinion still overwhelmingly opposes the US attacking Syria and a majority oppose sending arms to the insurgents. With an AIPAC-compliant Democrats unwilling to support a change in policy, the most Obama might be able to do is to take his foot off the gas pedal of this car hurtling toward Syria and steer it in the direction of a different crisis.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Mar 28, 2013 4:54:39 PM | 43

Which of these headlines doesn't belong with the others?
--75 Planes With 3,000 Tons Of Weapons Left Croatia For Syria
--Evidence Of Jabhat al-Nusra With Croatian Weapons
--European Union Wins Nobel Peace Prize
--Saudi Arabia has supplied the Free Syrian Army with weapons from Croatia
--Croatia's EU ambitions get the final thumbs-up from Brussels

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 28, 2013 6:12:34 PM | 44

When wounded, where do insurgents turn for help? From Al Akhbar:

Israel's military says it's beefing up medical teams along the border with Syria following several cases of wounded Syrians crossing the frontier to seek medical assistance.

A military official said on Thursday there have been "numerous incidents" in recent months in which Syrians wounded in the fighting in their country arrived at the frontier for first aid from Israeli medics.

Eleven of them were taken and treated at Israeli hospitals, including one who died from his wounds on Wednesday. Others returned home after their conditions have improved.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Mar 28, 2013 7:41:23 PM | 45

Considering the common FBI tactic of setting up idealistic, but gullible, young Muslim men in sting operations with an agent who claims to have links to a terrorist organization, leads to a reasonable doubt that this young Swedish Muslim was working for Hezbollah in Cypress, and rather set up by a foreign intelligence agent claiming to help him contact and work for Hezbollah. Hezbollah has much less to benefit from such a stupid stunt than Israel does within the EU by making Hezbollah look evil (and stupid).

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Mar 28, 2013 8:01:41 PM | 46

What to make of this??

Former soldier charged with aiding al-Qaeda in Syria

A former U.S. soldier was charged Thursday with taking up arms with an al-Qaeda group in attacks against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Eric Harroun, a 30-year-old Phoenix Army veteran, was charged with conspiring to use a rocket-propelled grenade while fighting with the al-Nusrah Front, which has claimed responsibility for nearly 600 attacks in Syria since November 2011, according to federal court documents filed by the Justice Department.

Posted by: WTF | Mar 28, 2013 8:50:05 PM | 47

@46. I'm surprised he was charged. Clearly he was just having fun and hoping to get his own reality show.

Posted by: dh | Mar 28, 2013 8:57:31 PM | 48

scottindallas | Mar 28, 2013 2:16:41 AM | 29

Thanks.
That adds QED to DoS's clarification.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 28, 2013 10:37:06 PM | 49

@47
From the BBC angle - He is specifically charged with "conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction outside of the United States", a law that applies to US nationals anywhere in the world.
When I saw that I assumed he may have been involved with the gas attack, but no, a mere RPG.
Rather broad criteria for WMDs these days I suppose.

Posted by: Sasha | Mar 29, 2013 12:47:36 AM | 50

48, 50
seems he was mainly charged because of stupidity, not understanding the difference between overt and covert US actions, or official declarations and the actions of individual US actors, or US and international law and real life.

"Harroun, who allegedly posted Facebook photographs of his activities in Syria, crossed into that country in January 2013 and "participated in attacks led by the al-Nusrah Front," the documents state."

The US declaration of Al Nusrah as terrorist, but not individual actors of Al Nusrah as terrorist is a very interesting point of schizophrenia. The US alliance with Syrian actors who refuse to renounce Al Nusrah as terrorists, also. Hillary Clintons very last act in her career as Foreign Secretary by the way was to visit insignificant Croatia. Now why is she doing that when the US could deliver weapons straight away?

I guess the Obama administration attempts to avoid Republican accusations of selling out to "Muslims" whilst doing just that to their Wahhabi incarnation.

The template of course is the US el Salvador strategy. Let's check where El Salvador stands now.

Maintaining close ties with the United States has been a primary foreign policy goal of the Funes Administration. During a March 2011 visit to El Salvador, President Barack Obama and President Funes pledged to strengthen cooperation through the new Partnership for Growth (PFG) initiative. The PFG commits both governments to work closely together to boost competitiveness and reduce insecurity in El Salvador. U.S. bilateral assistance, which totaled $28.2 million in FY2012, as well as aid provided through the Central American Regional Security Initiative (CARSI), is supporting PFG priorities. The Administration requested an increase in funding—to $41.8 million—for El Salvador for FY2013. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) recently closed out a five-year $461 million program that helped develop El Salvador’s northern border region. MCC has determined that El Salvador is eligible to submit a second compact proposal to develop its southern coastal region. It is as yet unclear how the U.S. Treasury Department’s designation of the MS-13 gang as a major transnational criminal organization whose assets will be targeted may affect bilateral anti-gang efforts.

El Salvador's president Funes belongs to the left ex guerilla fighters' party FMNL.

I could post similar quotes on present Vietnam relations with the US. So what was all the killing for?

Posted by: somebody | Mar 29, 2013 6:02:15 AM | 51

The MS-13 gang mentioned above by the way is a superb example for blowback

"The Mara Salvatrucha gang originated in Los Angeles], set up in the 1980s by Salvadoran immigrants in the city's Pico-Union neighborhood who immigrated to the United States after the Central American civil wars of the 1980s"

Posted by: somebody | Mar 29, 2013 6:30:10 AM | 52

Re: #47

What I find interesting, is not only the fact that the USG has brought serious charges against him, but that the MSM is also universally reporting this in the same manner. Here the NYT as well as Fox News are reporting this in a way that portrays the ex-US soldier fighting to oust Assad as a terrorist - not exactly meshing with the current narrative of a brutal dictator crushing a popular revolt.

They are also presenting this as a very sensational story (similar to the American Taliban), the type us Americans can't get enough of - which means that this story may have legs and could end up taking up a fair portion of the media attention re Syria, in at least the short term. I could be reading too much into this, but the way that this story was rolled out certainly doesn't seem to reconcile with prepping the US public for an attack on Syria.

Posted by: WTF | Mar 29, 2013 9:41:17 AM | 53

Fox news link from above (couldn't get it through for some reason).

foxnews dot com/world/2013/03/28/american-who-fought-with-al-qaeda-against-syria-assad-arrested-in-virginia/

Posted by: WTF | Mar 29, 2013 9:43:39 AM | 54

Tunisian parents : how their 16-yr-old daughter, Rahma, was kidnapped for "Sex Jihad" in Syria - Video http://goo.gl/lvOkm

Posted by: brian | Mar 29, 2013 4:49:50 PM | 55

Regarding what 'b' hopes for, there's a well-informed comment at #42 by HIlmi Hakim, a person who's likely to be a Real Syrian: "Please let us be real (as in realist). If the USA reverses course and supports Assad, I will go pray at the wailing wall with Netanyahu."

Posted by: Parviziyi | Mar 29, 2013 8:01:38 PM | 56

From youtube:

Footage of dead rebels in Syria makes me gleeful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkf7Ycw-_5g . Comparable footage of dead government soldiers makes me angry.

Footage of the badly injured rebel colonel Riad Al-Asaad murmuring "I want to die" makes me gleeful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7mvbbpm3r0 . I hope he gets what he wants this time.

Footage from within the past couple of weeks from NEWS ANNA from Darayya town in Outer Damascus, showing Darayya is still an active war zone despite four months of fighting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBwxRW2iHJ8 , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovE7MXPJ5sk , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0hD6T6Ke5E . From my perspective this is bad news; the battles in Darayya should've been all over by now, according to my set of presuppositions. For the past four months in Darayya the government side has been superior in terms of men on the ground, in terms of tanks and other hardware, and in terms of organization and coordination systems. And yet they've failed to obtain a complete victory as of yet. That shouldn't be, but is, and I don't understand why.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Mar 29, 2013 8:20:46 PM | 57

I try to read all sides.
The Zionists now are very concerned about the MB. Here's Barry Rubin:

It really isn’t hard to understand what is happening in the Middle East if you gather the facts:
1. Jordan’s King Abdullah — whom President Barack Obama just visited — is clearly telling us what’s going wrong: the Muslim Brotherhood is dangerous, and the United States is supporting it. Presumably, this is what Abdullah told Obama.
2. U.S. policy is now escalating support for a Muslim Brotherhood regime in Syria, and the Syrian rebels increasingly have open Brotherhood leadership.
3. Repression is gradually escalating in Egypt, with arrests of moderates, Islamists being sent to the military academy, and many other measures.
Meanwhile, while President Barack Obama was love-bombing Israel during his visit, U.S. policy was helping to install a Muslim Brotherhood supporter as the putative next leader of Syria. . . the connections between Hitto and the Muslim Brotherhood — and those are only the ones documented quickly following his election — are extensive.

And in a NYTimes piece, Jordan's King Abdullah is not flattered, but he is quoted:
Stopping the Islamists from winning power was now “our major fight” across the region, [King Abdullah] said. He repeatedly mocked the Muslim Brotherhood, the pan-Arab Islamist movement behind the largest opposition party in the Jordanian Parliament and Mr. Morsi’s governing party in Egypt, calling it “a Masonic cult” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” And he accused American diplomats of naïveté about their intentions.

Yet this stupid king allows a major Jordan cargo airline to fly tons of weapons from Croatia to Turkey, for Syria jihadist rebels.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Mar 29, 2013 10:24:08 PM | 58

57) you are describing the problem. as long as people cannot sympathize with the pain of the other side this will go on.

Posted by: somebody | Mar 30, 2013 3:02:41 AM | 59

58) I would describe the Jordanian King as a coward. He is a traitor and always has been. Although, I still prefer his more secular ruling style to the crazy Jihadists.

The King of Jordan realizes that his country could be next. But, saying No to the assault on Syria is not in his character. He, like his father, has always been a wimp, puppet.

56) Thanks for your comment. I am A Syrian-American which leaves me very sad & conflicted at the moment.

Posted by: HIlmi Hakim | Mar 30, 2013 8:54:22 AM | 60

Parviziy @ 57 -- It's the US Surge of new weaponry for the "rebels." Well, they're opening admitting to sending more weapons into Jordan for invasion from the south. From Croatia, shipped to Jordan (by whom?), paid for by (to whom?) Saudia Arabia.

It's the new Big Thing for Obama and Kerry.

Posted by: jawbone | Mar 31, 2013 2:51:27 PM | 61

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