Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 13, 2013

Syria: The "Moderate" Insurgents

It is well known that the Syrian insurgents have received, with U.S. help, many new weapons from various Arab states:
Salim Idriss, head of FSA’s military command, said that the new weapons have allowed the rebel army to “destroy more than 90 armored vehicles for Syrian regime.”
But even those new weapons are not enough for them. They, and their Arab and "western" supporters, are still pressing for more weapons. Obama seems to be willing to give more weapons:
President Barack Obama told Saudi Arabia’s king on Friday that he is committed to providing U.S. support to Syrian rebels who have been waiting for shipments of light arms that have been stalled in Washington.
Congress has so far blocked any official U.S. supplies. To change the opinion of some Congress leaders the war on Syria must now be redefined. From the left of the stage now appears the "moderate rebel". Instead of asking for weapons to fight the "bloody dictator" the "moderate rebel" will now request weapons to fight the "dangerous terrorists" with whom they have partnered all along.

We therefor now read about Pakistani Taliban setting up shop in Syria and can see some insurgents raise a monster size white "Taliban flag" at the Turkish-Syrian border. Suddenly there are many, many, many reports about strife between the "moderate" insurgents and the "terrorists":

Kamal Hamami, the Free Syrian Army commander killed on Thursday in the coastal province of Latakia, had just met with others in the group about getting weapons.
...
Last week, members of the Islamic State were accused of beheading two Free Syrian Army fighters and leaving their severed heads beside a garbage can in a square in Dana, a rebel-held town in Idlib Province near the Turkish border. The attack came after clashes broke out at a demonstration against the Islamic State, leaving 13 people dead.

Recently, a fighter from the area, Abu al-Haytham, claimed that the rebel dispute began when a foreign fighter with the Islamic State raped a local boy — “the last straw,” he said — and Free Syrian Army commanders complained.

At least some of these stories are false. But they will be used for a new push to arm the "moderate" insurgents.

But there are reasons to doubt that small local clashes over loot between some factions are really showing a principal split between the various insurgency groups:

Despite growing frictions, moderate factions and jihadist groups do still coordinate on the ground, said Charles Lister, an analyst at IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center. He said that is unlikely to change, although the FSA may use the assassination for political gain.

“Moderate forces could use this as a way to prove to the West that they are willing to break relations with jihadis in order to get more Western assistance,” he said. “The reality is very different for the commanders on the ground.”

These groups have been working together from the very beginning of the insurgency. While the Syrian locals may have been a bit more moderate in the beginning they were still religious radicals who named all their battalions after historic Sunni warriors. Their differences with the foreign jihadis fighting in Syria is smaller than with the general Syrian population. That infamous guy who was filmed eating the raw lung of a dead Syrian soldier? A "moderate" local Free Syrian Army guy. Is he now supposed to get more weapons because he also clashes with some other jihadis about his share of the loot?

To suggest that there are "good" and "moderate" insurgents is falling for a trivial ploy. If there are at all ideological differences between the various groups they are only gradual. Besides - any weapon given to any insurgent will be matched by the government and only cost more blood and lives.

Posted by b on July 13, 2013 at 10:43 AM | Permalink

Comments

Of course one could say there are good/moderate insurgents. That Obama want to give more arms just shows how out off touch that man is.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 13, 2013 11:09:02 AM | 1

Certainly it is likely that the FSA is using this to get more weapons. But let not forget, this is what a lot of failing insurgencies devolve into.

Algeria is of course the case in point. A moderate Islamic political movement "The Islamic Salvation Front" wanted to run in elections, which were cancelled when it looked like they would win. They started off targeting police and military, then devolved into targeting civilians. The experience of fighting/losing comrades/being tortured, further radicalised the fighters to the point they began accusing each other of not being "proper Muslims". Suddenly the Islamic Salvation Front broke in 3 groups becoming the "Islamic Armed Movement", the "Armed Islamic Group GIA", and the "Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat GSPC". In the following conflict between them they tore themselves and the country apart. It's the natural end-product of becoming more and more hardline, in the end you and your group are the only "true muslims".

Even outside the Muslim world you can see a similar pattern. In my own country, Ireland, the IRA did something similar. By the early nineties, the once united socialist IRA had become the "IRA", the "Real IRA", the "Continuity IRA", "the Provisional IRA" and a dozen smaller groups in between. They ended up killing more Irish Catholics than they did British because of these turf wars.

A third example is Iraq, where these same Jihadists ended up turning on the Sunni "Sons of Iraq" militias.

In Syria it is not only natural that this would happen, its inevitable. You have Jihadists, working with Muslim Brothers, working with secular army soldiers. It's been coming a long time.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jul 13, 2013 11:27:34 AM | 2

Did you spot the new channel for arms for the 'extreme' Jihadi faction: Fox News, Jul 11 (yesterday)? I have never been convinced by the idea that networks of rich and extreme individuals in the Gulf are funding Jihadi warfare hither & yon, and there is nothing that their governments, or the US with its 97 intelligence agencies, can do about it. I have always seen that as a cover story for what are in fact covert arms channels starting at Langley, Virginia, and working via the various Mukhabarats (the intelligence agencies of the Arab states) to the target countries, using if necessary 'charity collections' as cover. In this latest example, set this time in Kuwait (since Qatar is pretending to be hors de combat for a while), the author devotes a couple of a paragraphs to asserting that the govt can do nothing.

I also wonder whether this is a side effect of my earlier theory, that Israel is trying to veto further Jihadi recruitment and deployment in its immediate neighbours (hence its support for the Egyptian coup). Qatar was held responsible for that, and at first I hoped the 'extreme' Jihadi recruitment and arming might really stop, but lo & behold, we have this new channel via Kuwait. Could there be factions in the CIA, some trying to stop the Jihadi juggernaut and others determined to keep it going?

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 13, 2013 11:34:12 AM | 3

Kinda begs the question...How much more of this can the Syrian people tolerate? This from Reuters:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/07/12/uk-syria-crisis-idUKBRE96B08C20130712

Posted by: ben | Jul 13, 2013 11:43:05 AM | 4

This was July 6th, got a bit buried in all the Egypt news: Qatar Charity Wiring $5bln to Syria Rebels

http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13920415000275

"TEHRAN (FNA)- Qatar has undertaken to pay another USD5 billion to the rebels in Syria, sources revealed on Saturday. "Following the Friends of Syria meeting in Doha, Qatar has undertaken to pay a sum of USD5 billion to Syrian rebel groups," a diplomat present at the recent Doha meeting told FNA.

"All this money is now being paid to the rebels in Syria through the Qatar Charity (QC) foundation," added the source.

"The rebels are due to spend USD3 billion of the financial aid under the direct supervision of the Qatari government," he explained, and added, "And the remaining USD2 billion will be spent under the supervision of Turkey's IHH."

Meantime, other sources revealed that directors of the regional bureaus of the US, British, French, Turkish, Saudi, Qatari and Jordanian intelligence agencies had met in Ankara last month to discuss a rebel attack in reprisal for the Syrian army's recent victory in Al-Qusseir and extension of increased financial aid to the militants."

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 13, 2013 11:48:24 AM | 5

'the direct supervision of the Qatari government'

How does that work? Do they have Qatari officials driving around with truckloads of cash to pay the troops? Wonderful opportunities for enterprising young jihadis one would think.

Posted by: dh | Jul 13, 2013 11:59:59 AM | 6

This little NYT weasel says some interesting things about how the Saudi/Qatar competition in the region (incl. Syria) is damaging US interests. It just keeps seeming to me that the Saudis are overstepping their bounds - though it's hard to imagine them really flouting the wishes of the US, they have no other possible powerful ally. Maybe they're just getting cocky.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/13/opinion/global/jonathan-tepperman-the-story-behind-syria-and-egypt.html


And those interests — preserving authoritarian stability in Saudi Arabia’s case, and maximizing Doha’s diplomatic clout in Qatar’s — most definitely do not align with those of the West, or, for that matter, with those of the majority of the people of the Arab world.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 13, 2013 12:00:26 PM | 7

al akhbar also seems to think there is an armed opposition worth to reconcile with:

This is truly a moment of reckoning for the opposition, which has committed a series of unforgivable mistakes. The only way to redeem its position at this time is to give up the armed struggle and enter into a national reconciliation process, using peaceful protests to pressure the regime.

– They should expel – yes, expel – those foreign elements among them that came to fight in Syria, as well as end all forms of repression practiced by the opposition in the areas they control. This will only reinforce whatever respect they still have from their supporters, after alienating many with their unsavory practices.

– The opposition needs to reconsider its foreign backers, many of whom want nothing more than the endless destruction of Syria, because this is what suits their current interests.

Of course, there will be those who refuse the principle of negotiations and compromise. Regime supporters will say that we are close to victory, while opponents will argue that we cannot stop after months of struggle in which we have successfully stripped the regime of its internal and external legitimacy.

The lessons of Egypt’s revolutionary movement are not solely about the power of the masses in affecting change, for the revolutionary movement also had the wisdom of being practical at this critical moment by seeking the aid of the armed forces, the only institution in the country today that is capable of leading it through a transitional period

Posted by: somebody | Jul 13, 2013 12:58:38 PM | 8

"Qatar has undertaken to pay another USD5 billion to the rebels in Syria"

This should put to rest speculations Qatar will pull out of Syria. Over the first two years Qatar semi-officially said they spend $3 bln., now another 5 bln. The real numbers probably many times higher. Lets not forget PGGC petro-monarchies spend $60 bln. over 8 years to finance war against Iran, and oil prices in those days were $10 per barrel. Now oil prices are ~$100 per barrel, so PGGC with the same easy (and impunity) could spend $600 bln. to destroy Syria just to reach their financing scale of Iraq-Iran war, and then regain that money by building oil-gas pipelines from PGGC through Syria.

Granted, to fund terrorists is much cheaper than war between countries, but I can bet PGGC already spend tens of billions, and will continue financing until West says "stop", which isnt happening anytime soon either.

Unfortunately, neither Syria nor Iran are doing anything to change PGGC calculations, as long as these have full impunity, monarchies see no downside of financing the terror campaign. If they win - oil/gas pipelines will reimburse the "investment" and Iran/Hezb are weakened. If they lose but Syria destroyed - Iran is weakened anyway, and tens of billions is just a pockets change for PGGC.

Posted by: Harry | Jul 13, 2013 1:00:05 PM | 9

"I also wonder whether this is a side effect of my earlier theory"

You mean like how apples started falling from trees after Newton discovered gravity and the laws of motion. Wow, things must have been a mess before then!

Posted by: Mooser | Jul 13, 2013 2:01:21 PM | 10

I think the West is at least out of one side of its face saying 'stop', and I also think it's a mistake to believe the West has no control over Gulf governments or Gulf private funders. As I said before, it's a very convenient cover story, but it's not plausible that any Gulf funding for Jihadis, either private or public, is beyond the control of the West, should it seriously choose to exercise it. We have been fed an elaborate story for decades about how funders in the Gulf keep pumping money into al-Qaeda against the will and beyond the control of the West, and I think it's time we stopped believing this.

As for the West trying to say 'stop', I remind you that both the US Congress and the UK Parliament are in a position to block executive decisions to arm Syrian rebels (decisions by Obama & Cameron respectively) and are actually doing so. That is, both Congress and Parliament have said they will not approve funding. Finally, I still think the Egyptian Army coup itself was carried out with Israeli if not US encouragement, precisely to stop a particular Jihadi build-up, namely that in the Sinai.

Qatar's funding decision which you have all been citing took place before the Egyptian coup and the abrupt lurch of FSA control from Qatar to Saudi. So it does not reflect the new state of affairs and may well not go ahead. Qatar may say: well, if we no longer control the Syrian rebels, why waste money, let the Sauds do it, if they want to. And I don't think they will want to, because I think the whole trend since the Egyptian coup and the transfer of control of the Syrian rebels to Saudi is to stop funding Jihadis.

The exception, the new funding decision made since the Egyptian coup, is Kuwait's. That's the one I'm worried about, because I fear it reflects a new CIA strategy to keep pumping money and arms into Syria, if not by one route, then by another. And disregarding whatever the Israelis may be saying.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 13, 2013 2:15:43 PM | 11

I'm afraid we're digesting and pondering a side issue here.

I tend to think that israels attack on the Latakia weapons depot (the 2nd. attack from israel) will turn out the more decisive factor. And I assume that a) those missiles will be replaced quickly and b) israel having crossed a red line for the second time, Russia will take care of the third time being suicidal.

Let's not forget that until now the major powers have engaged "somewhat discretely" (through third parties, etc.). Russias current 160.000 troups exercise should be seen as having a strong message component, complemented by the fact that at the same time Chinese troups co-exercised in Russia.

Based on different factors (MacKinder inner line having been attacked or even occupied again and again by zato, de facto social terrorism by zusa, and others) it seems quite clear that Russia mustn't - and won't - tolerate further intrusions into it's near abroad and strategic interests.

Looking - with professional eyes and not supremacy bla bla - one will find that Russia is well capable to engage zusa/zato in a direct military confrontation (and Russia is clearly in a stronger position concerning the nuclear option).
While, of course, Russia/China would prefer to have the unipolar -> multipolar change happening more or less peacefully, there should be no doubt that Russia will not shy away or back off but fight when being pushed to do so.

In that context it might be worthwhile to think about israels prosition. They never cared about zusa; for them zusa always was just a dumb golem fighting and dying for them. So, while zusa might actually prefer to somehow peacefully (i.e. surviving and keeping a limited power) take care of its vast number of internal problems, israel sure enough, wants zusa to fight and if needed die for them.

On the other hand it needs not much more than a couple of Iskanders to take care of the israel problem once and for all ...

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 13, 2013 2:57:45 PM | 12

plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose


Ronald the Communicator Reagan

1. armed Sadaam with chemical and biological weapons,

2. blamed Sadaam’s use of the those weapons on Iran, and then

3. sat back with Begin/Peres/Shamir and enjoyed the murder and mayhem they and Sadaam provided.


Barack the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Obama

1. arms al Qaeda with chemical and other weapons,

2. blames al Qaeda’s use of the those weapons on the Syrian government, and then

3. sits back with Bibi Netanyahu and enjoys the murder and mayhem they and al Qaeda have provided.


Posted by: john francis lee | Jul 13, 2013 3:37:04 PM | 13

Team America hasn't quite come to grips with its own unspeakable cowardice, stupidity and hypocrisy. Despite the defeat of their hardware-rich 'war' in Vietnam, and with AfPak shaping up to be a Vietnam redux, they still cling to the laughable delusion that it's hardware, and not balls & brains, that wins wars.

So, although Obama & Friends may wish they could give their pet 'rebels' enough powerful modern weapons to weaken the SAA, they don't dare to because such weapons would pose a threat to ANY country/army (especially 'Israel'). But the problem doesn't end there. The high proportion of civilian casualties in Syria, and the fact that the 'rebels' haven't exactly distinguished themselves in their confrontations with the SAA, demonstrates that they're as amoral and incompetent as their paymasters. i.e. the weapon that would "safely" transform such vermin into victorious warriors hasn't been invented.

Russia has US-NAZO stymied and 'Israel' has gone unusually quiet having realised, perhaps, that its Syria daydream could quickly become a nightmare with all those angry and frustrated jihadis congregating next door.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 13, 2013 3:37:21 PM | 14

@14 Not to mention McCain's very disappointing performance in Northern Syria.

Posted by: dh | Jul 13, 2013 4:11:00 PM | 15

"I also wonder whether this is a side effect of my earlier theory" You mean like how apples started falling from trees after Newton discovered gravity and the laws of motion. Wow, things must have been a mess before then! Posted by: Mooser | Jul 13, 2013 2:01:21 PM | 10
Whatever would we do without the perennial humorist in our midst

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 13, 2013 4:26:06 PM | 16

I see what you mean, b, when you say that stories of the split between the FSA and the Islamists are ramped up to stimulate intervention from the West.

The point where I have doubt, is what sort of weapons are on offer. The US, and Europe, is only offering light weapons. Is the M16 better than the AK47? Perhaps the ammunition supply will be better. But the offer is not war-changing. The FSA will be hoping for something better, and it is not on offer.

On the other hand, it could be, and, in my view, is, the case that the split is a basic issue, even if also ramped for Western help.

I've been saying for two years now, based on my experience of the war in Iraq, that the decisive moment was likely to come, when the Syrian Sunni rebels were fed up with the depredations of the foreign jihadis. That is what happened in Iraq, when many Sunnis joined the 'Awakening'.

This moment in Syria is now approaching. Two years ago someone from Antakya was saying to me that his relatives were complaining that the bearded ones were pillaging their orchards (on the Turkish side of the border, evidently). Every sign suggests that this process is continuing. The North Syrian Sunnis are not happy with the extreme Islam imposed. I recall, back in the 70s, in the North Syrian countryside, that when we asked for workers, it was women who came. OK, dressed in headscarves, but not like in Jordan, when only men were available. I don't see that the descendants of such women will be ready to hide themselves in the home. Women's views, even in Islam, play a major role, and, as in most families, it is they who decide.

My feeling is that the war is already decided, in favour of Asad. The US offer, as the European, is too little, too late, and no ramping up will change the situation.

Posted by: alexno | Jul 13, 2013 4:33:27 PM | 17

14) sounds like all the companies I have worked for.

Hardware is always the easy way out.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 13, 2013 4:45:28 PM | 18

add to 18)

forgot software, that's also always the solution.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 13, 2013 4:46:31 PM | 19

re 14

So, although Obama & Friends may wish they could give their pet 'rebels' enough powerful modern weapons to weaken the SAA, they don't dare to because such weapons would pose a threat to ANY country/army (especially 'Israel').

I took that that to be a basic 'given' of the situation, the same as the four F16s that the US are sending to Egypt. They will be disabled electronically from attacking Israeli planes.

Posted by: alexno | Jul 13, 2013 5:03:43 PM | 20

alexno

of course, why would the israeli allied army in egypt, attack israel?

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 13, 2013 5:25:42 PM | 21

"of course, why would the israeli allied army in egypt, attack israel?"

If it were that simple the planes would not be disabled, would they?

Posted by: bevin | Jul 13, 2013 10:54:38 PM | 22

The disabling of the planes is not a 'reality issue', to use psychiatric jargon. It does not relate to any real-world scenario. It is an expression of the delusory worldview of the Israel leadership as colluded with by the US one.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 14, 2013 12:46:47 AM | 23

looking again at the Kuwait story, I notice to my relief that it is in fact based on a statement made "last month" by the so-called Sheikh who was claiming to be collector of the "charity funds". therefore it falls into the same category as the Qatari announcement discussed above: it's pre the earthquake of the Morsi coup and the general lurch in control of the Jihadi funding and direction phenomenon.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 14, 2013 2:42:08 AM | 24

Arabic-speaking readers might like to chase down the interview in Asharq al-Awsat. It isn't in the english edition:

No weapons found on Iran-Syria flights: Iraq: Iraq
Press TV, Jul 13 2013

Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari says Baghdad has not found any military equipment on Syria-bound Iranian flights crossing through the country’s airspace. Zebari said in an interview with the London-based Asharq al-Awsat that Iraq has been conducting random checks on Iranian planes bound for Syria since September. The Iraqi foreign minister added that these checks had only found “non-lethal aid like medicines and food.” Under pressure from the US, Iraq has searched several Syria-bound Iranian planes. In April, Baghdad checked Iranian aircraft for three consecutive days. The searches, however, found nothing but humanitarian aid and commercial goods. In Oct 2012, Iraq forced a Damascus-bound IranAir cargo plane from Tehran to land and searched it for weapons, but allowed it to continue as no prohibited items were found on board. Nasser Bandar, the head of Iraq's civil aviation authority, said:

We did not see anything contrary to the instructions banning the transport of weapons between the Syrian and Iranian sides, so we therefore allowed it to continue its trip.

Iraq says Iran weapons flights to Syria cannot be stopped without West's help
Michael Wilner, JPost, Jul 13 2013

WASHINGTON – Iraq has recognized that Iran consistently uses its air space to conduct weapons transfers to the Syrian government of Assad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari told a London pan-Arab daily newspaper, stressing that his country’s military could do nothing to stop them. Iran has provided Assad’s government with non-lethal assistance, as well as light and heavy arms, communications equipment, and Iranian boots on the ground, including officers with extensive military training. In an apparent plea for assistance, Zebari called on the international community to enforce UNSCRs on Iran that prohibit its transfer of such military aid to any country. Zebari told Asharq al-Awsat:

We reject and condemn the transfer of weapons through our airspace and we will inform the Iranian side of that formally. But we do not have the ability to stop it. If you imagine these flights breach UNSCRs banning weapons imports and exports from Iran, I invite you in the name of the government to help us stop these flights across Iraqi airspace.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al- Maliki attempted to close the air corridor used by Iran to deliver weapons to Syria briefly in 2012, after significant US pressure to do so. But it was only a matter of months before the Iranians renewed the flights. Zebari noted that Iraq has consistently denied requests from Assad for cheap oil, and has not aided his efforts to repel opposition forces fighting for his ouster. In its training of the Iraqi military, the US military has spent little on rebuilding an Iraqi air force or providing the shaken country with an anti-aircraft capability. The US no longer has any planes stationed in the country. On multiple occasions, Iraq has warned Israel against using its airspace to reach and attack Iranian nuclear facilities.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 14, 2013 3:35:40 AM | 25

Rowan Berkely

"The disabling of the planes is not a 'reality issue', to use psychiatric jargon. It does not relate to any real-world scenario"

Planes "squawk code"
Friendlies cannot shoot on friendlies.
This technology has been around for a good while

It has also been discussed here at MoA sometime ago...

http://www.century-of-flight.net/Aviation%20history/WW2/RAF%20Fighter%20Control%20System.htm

If I had more time I could elaborate further. but that should be a starting point anyway

Posted by: Penny | Jul 14, 2013 9:04:22 AM | 26

Another chemical cache found by syrian government.

http://rt.com/news/damascus-syria-chemical-weapons-082/

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 14, 2013 10:24:39 AM | 27

Does anyone really believe that having received shipments of advanced missiles from Russia, the Syrian government would store them all in a warehouse so as to provide a convenient target for the Israelis? Nearly everything you see in the western media concerning the conflict in Syria is the product of US and Zionist propaganda. Do you remember all the breathless reports last year about the Syrian government being on the verge of collapse? Now western NGOs are begging for humanitarian cease-fires so as to save the poor terrorists, whereas they were previously blind to the murder, rape and looting previously committed by their beloved "freedom fighters".

Posted by: Gareth | Jul 14, 2013 10:26:56 AM | 28

Gareth

Why wouldnt it be true? Israel Always do this, not to mention its not the first time Israel bomb Syria. Israel knows very much whats going on on the ground, where shipment is coming/going etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 14, 2013 10:41:20 AM | 29

Anon,

Gareth's entire post was full of reasons why it wouldn't be true.

Posted by: Ozawa | Jul 14, 2013 11:59:42 AM | 30

As predicted the alleged split between some insurgents and Jihadis is used to call for more weapons.

FSA demands more weapons from West

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has demanded more weapons from the international community to fight al-Qaeda-linked groups, a day after one of its top commanders was killed by fighters from a rival group.

An FSA commander in the area who witnessed the killing told Al Jazeera on Saturday that they wanted to avoid all out war with al-Qaeda, but they sought justice for their killed commander.

"Their extremism has become unbearable. The foreign fighter have come with their own alien agenda. We demand the international community supply us with arms to get rid of this disease," the FSA commander said.


Next week John McCain will pick up on that.
---

That Latakia "attack" - are we sure that has at all happened? Or if it happened that it hit something interesting?

Posted by: b | Jul 14, 2013 12:17:04 PM | 31

@ B

That Latakia "attack" - are we sure that has at all happened? Or if it happened that it hit something interesting?

I heard it was over a checkpoint. The checkpoint on the Turkish border was under FSA control the last year until the Islamic State of Iraq guys took it over 2 weeks ago. Hamami along with his brother, went to negotiate some sort of deal over the checkpoint and both him and his brother wound up dead.

Again the FSA might be trying to milk the US for weapons but that doesn't mean the attack is a ploy. Al Nusra have been talking about after getting rid of Assad, getting rid of the FSA for a long time. The Syrian news agency SANA has been reporting a lot of clashes between groups of insurgents the last month, over loot, over turf wars, over ideology. I would be pretty confident it was a genuine attack, even if the FSA are using it to get weapons.

In the end if the US wants to give weapons to FSA and Saudi gives weapons to Al Nusra and they use those to attack each other... I say let them.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jul 14, 2013 12:44:42 PM | 32

That Latakia "attack" - are we sure that has at all happened? Or if it happened that it hit something interesting?

Richard Silverstein has a satellite image of the building hit. I would say that there was no secondary explosion, such as of missiles going up. The walls of the building are still standing in good condition. So either they hit the wrong building, or the target was not explosive weaponry.

Posted by: alexno | Jul 14, 2013 12:44:51 PM | 33

re 31. That Latakia "attack" was the supposed Israel raid, No?

Posted by: alexno | Jul 14, 2013 12:49:54 PM | 34

"That Latakia "attack" - are we sure that has at all happened? Or if it happened that it hit something interesting?"

From our friendly neighborhood Ziad from SyrPer:

I just got off the phone with a friend in Latakia. He says no attack on any military base or arsenal took place in rural Latakia. He also says that Syria does not store its missiles in warehouses just so the Zionists can simply bomb them. Our missiles. Yakhonts, S-300s and Scuds are hidden underground or in caves along the coast of Syria. The entire story is bound to be exposed soon. Interestingly, the only sources publishing anything about this are the "usual suspects" or the "usual gang of idiots": Reuters, AP and the NYT. Needless to say, all sources quoted are "anonymous". What a joke.

http://syrianperspective.blogspot.com/2013/07/first-post-july-14-2013-false-zionist.html

Posted by: Harry | Jul 14, 2013 12:52:05 PM | 35

That Latakia "attack" - are we sure that has at all happened? Or if it happened that it hit something interesting? Posted by: b | Jul 14, 2013 12:17:04 PM | 31
It originated in the first instance from Rami Abd'el-Rahman, the one-man so-called 'Syrian Observatory for Human Rights' in Coventry, a man frequently used to channel propaganda into the media. Syrian state TV said a “technical error” caused the explosion at a base used by the army corps of engineers. The proliferation of contracictory stories about "how Israel did it" whether by missiles fired from planes or from a submarine, is typical Israeli ventriloquism, and the submarines variant comes from the perennial disinformationist Uzi Mahnaimi via the classic channel (deliberately chosen to give an extra 24 hours before working day refutations can be generated), the Sunday Times.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 14, 2013 12:55:28 PM | 36

George Galloway has a new tweet, taking the opposite tack as b. He says the infighting will actually accelerate the West's disengagement from the "Rebels". (I'm not saying one is right or wrong, but it is an interesting counter-point).

The article itself (surprisingly) makes the obvious point: We've heard for months now that the FSA is the weaker party. We are now to be convinced that they can fight al Qaeda AND the SAA? I wouldn't have expected them to make this contradiction clear if indeed the press would be "finally, now the FSA is clear of the al Qaeda influence and will fight them!"

George Galloway ‏@georgegalloway 13 Jul

This @nytimes article marks the beginning of the end of Western policy towards Syria. The tide had turned.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/13/world/middleeast/syrian-rebel-infighting-undermines-anti-assad-effort.html?smid=tw-share&_r=0

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 14, 2013 1:06:31 PM | 37

Time for another flying visit from John McCain. Let's get this sorted out.

Posted by: dh | Jul 14, 2013 1:10:30 PM | 38

Russia knew sure full well that israeli attack were about to happen after all the warnings by Israel.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 14, 2013 1:11:36 PM | 39

Gareth (27)

Does anyone really believe that having received shipments of advanced missiles from Russia, the Syrian government would store them all in a warehouse so as to provide a convenient target for the Israelis?

Actually, yes, I do think so. Well, not precisely, in that I doubt it was real, useable, Yakhont missiles. I assume it rather was old stuff, exchanged stuff, whatever.

Why?

a) While I'm not sure about Syrias capabilities in the finer arts of warfare, I do not think they are that stupid. After all, haven't they just got new S-300s?

b) Russia has warships nearby and would certainly know about the submarine or, at the very least, have the capability to kill both the submarine and the missile - but they didn't.

Furthermore, it would standard practice to protect a very important installation (like the one holding dozens of Yakhont missiles). And it would be quite easy and achievable for Syria, too, using Pantsir, Buk or the like.

Knowing for sure that at least one of them, Russia, and quite probably both of them could have protected that Latakia warehouse - but didn't - one has to ask "Why?".

In that context it might be interesting to note that at almost the same time (+- 1 or 2 days) israel "tested" (read: introduced internationally) their new 5000km range ballistic missile able to carry conventional as well as nuclear payloads.
Russia understands perfectly well (but is not concerned) that this missile is not meant for the mid-east but rather against europe and foremost Russia.

Remembering that Russia and Syria playfully left it open to speculations whether the new S-300 have or have not been delivered (or just old S-300 upgraded, or...) one might think that israel would be very much interested in finding out the facts on the grounds and a missile against a credible target is a good way to find out.

Russia, on the other side, while having excellent weapons systems does not blindly rely on them but rather at least at much on brains would, of course, play their own game. Assad again right now can't afford to go against israel anyway; he must stay focussed on and solve the problem at hand and not open up new fronts.

Now, who did win and what? israel actually won nothing but some publicity which might later turn out to have an extremely high price tag. They still don't know about the S-300; are they not yet there? Or elsewhere? Or just not used for tactical reasons?

It's hard to attack israel. Not militarily but politically. Whoever wants to attack israel needs strong and convincing reasons. That's what Russia is doing; they stablish a nice collection of solid reasons against israel.
And the time is right. zusa was never weaker and there is even reason to doubt zusas unconditional friendship with israel (well, within the tight limits american politicians experience under aipac diktat). Chances are that zusa wouldn't react too forcefully and wholeheartedly if Syria reacted one day and hit israel - in particular when Russia wouldn't stand by idly.

Last but not least, whoever wants to cripple zusa out of the monopolar dictatorship will have to a) cripple or destroy israel (because they parasitically control the zusa golem) and b) break down the despotic oil regimes (because they a) keep the zusa$ from collapsing and b) are the zusa regional strongholds).

My guess is that Syria (with Russia backing it up) will sooner or later hit israel in a massive surprise strike and Iran will take care of the despotic oil regimes (with Russia backing it up) and Russia will make sure that the samson option will sink with the israeli submarines.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 14, 2013 1:13:40 PM | 40

@Mr. P:

"After all, haven't they just got new S-300s?"

Don't know, have they?

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 14, 2013 1:21:17 PM | 41

guest77 (41)

Thanks. That's one of my points ;)

But again: To protect a vital installation is not even the job of S-300 but rather of Buk, Tor, Pantsir (some of which Syria does have).

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 14, 2013 1:32:48 PM | 42

If Syria would have s-300 they wouldnt be attacked over and over again.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 14, 2013 1:57:12 PM | 43

It's quite obvious that this is DC's way of dropping the anti Assad forces like they were hot. Hell because of the Egyptian coup it makes Syria quite irrelevant now.
But there will be a whole bunch of dissed combat experienced thugs out there at a loose end. be interesting to see where they end up.

Posted by: heath | Jul 14, 2013 2:15:10 PM | 44

If Syria would have s-300 they wouldnt be attacked over and over again.

Anon, it's called 'keeping your powder dry'.
Syria's S-300s are there to discourage large-scale air raids. It's a dispersed, linked system capable of tracking multiple targets and making autonomous decisions about which installation should attack which target (known as hand-over capability). It would be unwise to activate such a system for 1 or 2 'bandits' and thus provide an opportunity to pinpoint the location of individual installations.

It's a (fake) war. Lots of things in Syria are being desroyed/damaged every day.
Let's not forget that none of Syria's S-300s have been attacked to date.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 14, 2013 2:32:16 PM | 45

And here, heath,

we come to another point concerning israel.

With an increasingly hesitant zusa, israel can't advance its agenda and even risks to find itself in danger in the mid term.
israel *wants and needs* zusa engaged in israels wars. Of course, acts of blunt agression raise the stakes and are meant to create a situation where zusa must engage militarily, if needed not for the Syrian agenda but to "protect" a "threatened" israel

As usual israels actions are as dirty and despicable as israel considers them "smart" because, either way, so their calculations, israels profits; be it by a weakened Syria or be it by forcing a full scale military engagement, or both.

Terminate israel and everything closely related to it (aipac, ...) and you have a more or less peacefull world. Simple as that.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 14, 2013 2:37:29 PM | 46

Following on from Colm @ 2, about Algeria,

The Battle of Algiers, movie - trailer. in F, arabic, with Eng subtitles, from 1966.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca3M2feqJk8

The first, in contemp. history, movie made from scratch, about the first contemp. Islamist /anti-colonialist/ little ppl uprising, or, rebellion in the Mahgreb.

here in F/arabic without subtitles.

http://viooz.co/movies/1739-the-battle-of-algiers-1966.html

It is black ‘n white drama and dated in some ways.

It has much to say about torture, insurgency, control of territory, forbidding movement, little ppl., prisons, personal violence, power relations, tracking and spying, a divided society, snobby elite glam modernity, domination by the military or the Police, wild hysteria about *terrorist* attacks.

See the loudspeakers, the barbed wire, the army trucks, the closed shops, the valiant girls, the out of control military, the bombs in civil places, the checks on citizens (not being infested with worms), the huge demos with flags, and shooting straight into them, police dragging off the one protestor, tanks in the streets, shouts of Allah Akbar, etc.

Some of the oppressors legitimize themselves because they survived.... Dachau. For bad young ppl, tough reform school is advised.

Amazing how this movie presents a timeless, universal picture, though foreign interference / support beyond the colonial power (France) is absent.

One site with this movie online for free with eng. subtitles, works for me, 121 mins:

http://retrofilms.in/index.php?productID=213


Posted by: Noirette | Jul 14, 2013 2:51:11 PM | 47

Hoarsewhisper

There have been rumour for years that Syria have s-300, unfortunately there is no evidence for that and of course they would be used against attacks by Israel like this last one. Russia blundered on s-300 on Iran too.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 14, 2013 2:57:37 PM | 48

Anon,
Russia & US-NAZO are acting as though Syria does have S-300. Although I can't recall the context, I can recall Assad moving, or offering to move, S-300s closer to a neighbor's border to Israel-proof them several years ago.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 14, 2013 3:07:58 PM | 49

@12
There might well be frictions between Russia and Israel which are being well-hidden from the general public.
One wonders what the recent Israeli nuclear-capable missile test which can easily target Moscow signifies. A signal to Putin: “Don’t mess with us in our neighborhood”?

Posted by: Danny Markus | Jul 14, 2013 4:42:40 PM | 50

Hoarsewhisper

ASsad have tried to paint that Picture (that he have s-300) however Israel know hes bluffing.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 14, 2013 4:46:51 PM | 51

Danny Markus

That israeli missile are nothing new. Been around for years.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 14, 2013 5:24:59 PM | 52

Mr Pragma 46

I don't wish anything bad for your average Israeli but they'll will be the ones being hit, not the jackass's in armored bunkers behind hundreds of thousands of troops and weapons.
At a guess Jordan will be next. Then the Palestinians will start to see strangers urging a new uprising.

Posted by: heath | Jul 14, 2013 6:59:19 PM | 53

52
Not only will regular Israeli Jews get hit, also the Palestinians will continue to suffer tragically. Another group or another will try to manipulate them. If the rebels declare war on each, so be it let them wipe each other out and then the SAA will pick them off. I can only forsee positive angles at this point.

Posted by: Fernando | Jul 14, 2013 10:44:56 PM | 54

ASsad have tried to paint that Picture (that he have s-300) however Israel know hes bluffing.
Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 14, 2013 4:46:51 PM | 50

Is it possible that you're confusing Syria's real S-300s with 'Israel's' Homegrown Hogwash about imaginary nukes? The fairy tale about an 'ambiguous' deterrent is beyond ludicrous (and was the punchline of Kubrik's Dr Strangelove).

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 15, 2013 1:33:19 AM | 55

"Yes, but the... whole point of the doomsday machine... is lost... if you keep it a secret! Why didn't you tell the world, eh? "

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 15, 2013 2:01:01 AM | 56

back to the Latakia attack. Observe the lengths that israeli information policy goes to disguise the fact that they announced their operation via unnamed 'US officials', as they often do:

Pentagon officials selling Israeli secrets know they are jeopardizing clear Israeli interests
Alex Fishman, Ynet, Jul 14 2013

Something is not right in the relationship of trust between Israel and the US. It’s illogical and unforgivable that in such an intimate relationship between two defense establishments, as it is known to us at least, the secrets of one side will be given away by the other side’s mouth. Those sources in the Pentagon who are selling the Israeli secrets for cheap to the US media know that they are jeopardizing clear Israeli interests in the region and putting the lives of Israel’s citizens in danger, as bad as it may sound. When it happens once, it could be someone’s slip of the tongue. When it happens twice, it’s a work plan. On May 5 at dawn, warehouses containing Hezbollah-bound Iranian Fateh-110 missiles were attacked in the Damascus area. Only several hours after the bombing, US government workers rushed to point a finger at Israel as the country behind the attack. This time, after the attack on a military base north of Latakia, the US managed to control themselves for one week. On Friday night they once against pointed a finger at Israel as the country responsible for the attack on the weapons depot, which is believed to have contained Yakhont coastal missiles. After May’s leak the US apologized, explaining that it was the work of low-ranking officials, saying there was a commission of inquiry. Israel swallowed the lie. Two months have passed and the big mouths in Washington speculated with state secrets once again, proving that the allegedly close relationship between Hagel and Ya’alon has nothing to do with Hagel’s ability to control his people...


Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 15, 2013 2:04:51 AM | 57

Hoarsewhisper

The missile they tested has been around for atleast 5 years, and the nukes they got in the early 1960s.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 15, 2013 2:12:55 AM | 58

There's a moral here somewhere:

UK PM David Cameron has abandoned plans to arm the Syrian rebels after being warned by military chiefs that it could embroil British forces in an all-out war. The move represents a significant climb-down by Mr Cameron. He and his Foreign Secretary William Hague have been keen to act. In May he demanded an end to the EU arms embargo to give him more options. His wife Samantha was reportedly pushing for him to take a more robust response after being moved by the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Syria. She travelled to a refugee camp in her role as a charity envoy with Save the Children, where she met children who have been left traumatised by the conflict. However, Mr Cameron has been told by Tory whips that there is little prospect of winning a vote on arming rebels in the Commons. A source close to Downing Street last night confirmed that Mr Cameron is not planning to arm Syrian rebels. British forces will instead draw up plans to help train and advise moderate elements of the opposition forces fighting the regime. (Telegraph)

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 15, 2013 4:00:34 AM | 59

The difference here is N weapons and N power, Iran has the N power, energy is the H- grail and in that you 'CAN' have both - Bibi just made his 'Danger' speech about Iran's new leader, nothing new and his 'priceless' analogies ensued.

Root cause - One must not forget the bed one makes; The U.S.-supplied 5 MW research reactor in Tehran came online in 1967. Since Iran got close with Russia (mid-1990s). Clinton pushed Russia to focus on a deal to bring back the Bushehr civilian nuclear power project and build a 1000 MWe V-446 reactor. The outcome - Israel has nuclear weapons, but only Iran has nuclear power the Bushehr reactor is likely to produce over 8 billion kWhrs of electricity each year. To make matters worse, Israel can have 'N' power, not suited site - Unless it gets a chunk of Syria that is!
Israel has two (Old) nuclear reactors, in Soreq and in Dimona, and both operate at a much lower power than nuclear stations used to generate electricity - They are ‘Banking on natural Gas’, and we all know that story.

What put a spanner in the works for Israel was simply bad timing and Japans disaster. So what we have here is; ‘if you have it and I can’t, I don’t want you having it'.

Posted by: kev | Jul 15, 2013 4:16:12 AM | 60

Now the Russians are getting in on this game of fabricating more or less damaging or prestigious fiction about the attack that may never have happened at all:

RT source: Israeli strike on Syria was carried out from Turkish base
Russia Today, Jul 15 2013

Israel used a Turkish military base to launch one of its recent airstrikes against Syria from the sea, a reliable source told RT. Israel has been under scrutiny since last week, when it was reported to be responsible for a Jul 5 depot attack in Latakia. News that Turkey assisted Israel in attacking another Muslim state could result in serious turmoil for Ankara, once the information is confirmed. RT's Paula Slier reports:

Our source is telling us that Israeli planes left a military base inside Turkey and approached Latakia from the sea to make sure that they stayed out of Syrian airspace so that they cannot become a legitimate target for the Syrian air force.

In response, Turkey has denied that Israel has used its base to strike Syria. Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu told the media that existing reports of the incident are “absolutely wrong” and those who spread such rumors are committing an “act of betrayal.” He said:
Turkey will neither be a part nor a partner of such ‘attacks.’ The ones who claim this want to damage Turkey’s power and reputation.

Israel has declined RT’s request for comment and refused to confirm or deny the information. Netanyahu also hesitated to comment on reports when speaking to CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, saying:
My policy is to prevent the transfer of dangerous weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and other terror groups as well. And we stand by that policy. And I'm not in the habit of saying what we did or didn't do.

If the recent airstrikes are proven to have been carried out by Israel, the Jul 5 strike will be the fourth known Israeli air attack against targets in Syria this year.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 15, 2013 5:32:56 AM | 61

Israel used Turkish military base to airstrike Syria arms depot - RT source

Posted by: Juan Moment | Jul 15, 2013 5:41:27 AM | 62

Interesting take by Ol' Fisk'y over at The Independent: now that the FSA is fighting the rabid cannibals then their natural ally is going to be.... Assad.

He's suggesting that Assad's boys will start making quiet contact with the more senior FSA leadership, promising them a place in The New Order if they decide to switch sides.

And, let's face it, Assad's boys will be offering that inducement to dudes who have a proven track-record of switching sides....

Posted by: Johnboy | Jul 15, 2013 6:06:37 AM | 63

@60 and @61: Remind me again: what's in it for Ankara to induce them to open up their airbases for the IDF.....

Because - and I'm being charitable here - I can't see any reason why anyone in Turkey would think "Gosh! Isn't this a good idea!".

Posted by: Johnboy | Jul 15, 2013 6:09:39 AM | 64

@56 I have to say that Alex Fishman's whine is good for a laugh.

Here's a tip, Alex: if your country orders its soldiers into a fight then the least - the very least - that Israel can do for those Brave Boys In Uniform is to take public responsibility for their actions.

After all those pilots didn't decide on their own to do this as a bit o' a lark; they were ordered to attack by Bibi and his gang.

And if Israel isn't willing to man up to it then Israel is showing all the hallmarks of political cowardice.

How Very Netanyahu Of You.

Posted by: Johnboy | Jul 15, 2013 6:26:43 AM | 65

Johnboy, good question, why would Turkey agree to be a launch pad for Israeli fighter jets attacking Syria?

The Erdogan government is on shaky ground at the moment. Possibly Israelis have some juicy details on skeletons in their closet, easy to twist some arms that way.

Also, the Turkish government is neck deep involved in supporting Syrian rebels, so its fair to assume that respecting Syrian sovereignty is not high on its agenda. Al-Nusra jihadists or Israeli fighter jets, same same.

An lastly, when zooming out into the bigger picture, its pretty obvious that NATO (incl. Turkey) = Israel. One hand washing the other.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Jul 15, 2013 6:48:36 AM | 66

So the turks let the israelis do what the turks dont dare. Of course we will hear Erdogan deny israeli using turkish airbase.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 15, 2013 7:07:19 AM | 67

Re: Ol' Fisk'y - just a fundamental part of 'The Art of War' -If Assad was astute, and he is, getting some of his ex-staff (FSA) back would be a logical move. Firstly it shows compassion and the ability to move forward, even if a bitter pill (He can always reprimand later). Most of all it will give 'information', plans, links, insider/outsider connections; join the dots -all is fair in love and War. In that, those who paved and paid the way would be very weak, fingered and on edge, moreover in shit depending on the involvement.

Is it possible?, Hell yeah, if they jumped boat in the first place, there was a trigger, all one needs to do is isolate that trigger and counter, make it business - be it cold cash, 15 min, power or just. Many in the FSA heads of sheds over the recent months have been sidelined, and I am sure all of them were given platters and promises that is now shards and splinters. Morsi and Egypt is a core aspect (MB), possibly not as the funder or military elements, but as the movement and stability of that movement, but now that proven futile and the futility of change via MB, and sending alarming ripples, in turn showing the ‘behind the scenes power’, its true colors, and it’s all bad…

As for the strike, it was from sea, one of two things resonate; Turkey does not want to be fingered and Israel be it the waters and Law or the fact that it uses ‘GERMAN’ Subs! It’s just so fucking hypocritical, the holocaust and all that, talk about bad karma!

Posted by: kev | Jul 15, 2013 7:17:51 AM | 68

@65 Yeah, maybe, but wouldn't someone in the Turkish govt say "Errr, guys, we won't look good if this thing leaks.... and it's sure to leak like crazy"

Personally I'd suggest this is a more likely scenario:

Israel loves it when it gets to Whack!!! something and then sit back with that arrogant what-me? smirk. Just looooves it, because it feeds their belief that they are The Smartest Guys In The Room.

But Israel doesn't much like it when it goes Whack!!!! on something only to find the spotlight turned on it. Israel becomes very uncomfortable when that happens, because that feeds its everyone-picks-on-me! paranoia.

Hence the slow leaking of rumours to make "the rebels did it!!!!" cover fall apart, and now this nonsense ensures that the story gets its second-wind.

As far as the Russians are concerned who cares if it's a load of bollocks?
Who cares if the Turks are as astonished by it as everyone else?

Indeed, the sheer audacity of this claim ensures that it has legs, because now every man and his dog will be trying to find out if it's true or not.

And what better way to keep the spotlight on Israel's Very Special Propensity to keep dropping bombs on foreigners?

Posted by: Johnboy | Jul 15, 2013 7:54:44 AM | 69

I have seen Israel plant contradictory rumours about its own amazing military exploits in the foreign press again and again, while officially refusing to confirm or deny. It's standard operating procedure for them, because, to be frank, they have a great many journalists in important newspapers all over the world whom they can use as ventriloquists' dummies. But I think the Turkey story is a Russian invention, the Russians being just as aware as I am of this Israeli habit to use ventriloquism, and saying to themselves, why not make fun of this, and embarrass the Turks.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 15, 2013 8:02:10 AM | 70

Also a good test of reaction, (Global) in other words it does an attack, nothing happens, other than a bit of media and a few objections, so it can attack again until it is told to stop. Si it does, for a while that is, then goes through the same process, basically a bombing siege. Be it land or Sea, even with German weaponry, that is how absurd all this is...

Posted by: kev | Jul 15, 2013 8:06:37 AM | 71

Kev 60

what was that you said about Isreal not have an acceptable site for a reactor?

Posted by: heath | Jul 15, 2013 9:03:04 AM | 72

@heath | Jul 15, 2013 9:03:04 AM | 72, wrong wording on my part Heath, it was supposed to read 'Nuclear Power Station' as opposed to reactor.

Posted by: kev | Jul 15, 2013 9:28:05 AM | 73

kev

Israel could could probably get away with attacks on the US and Lindsey Graham w/ company would still defend it.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jul 15, 2013 11:24:32 AM | 74

@74 Yeah, possibly. Probably.

Interesting though is the lack of response from either Syria or Russia.

The Israelis love to big-note themselves, so it must be immensely frustrating for them to drop bombs only to find that Assad can't even be bothered to respond.

As far as he's concerned that's just Israel Being Israel, not like it's a big deal or anything, much too inconsequential to worry about.

Man, that's gotta' hurt Bibi and Boogie's sense of self-importance.....

Posted by: Johnboy | Jul 15, 2013 7:23:51 PM | 75

Assads priority right now must be to go ahead with the decontamination. Looking realistically the price for 50 new Yakhont missiles will be less than a week of the civil war.

Furthermore he has to ask himself what his gain - and risks - would be if he stroke back at israel.

Now, if you can't do that much about israels criminal attack for the moment, what good would it do to make a lot of fuzz about it? Quite certainly it's wiser to stay quiet and to cnentrate on the decontamination.
Another important point is that Assad isn't alone; sure enough his plans and actions are to be seen within a larger plan codefined by Iran and Russia.

Last but not least israel isn't acting out of some real and serious concern for the situation in Syria or, as they blubber, regarding Hamas or Hezbollah but actually based on increasingly realistic and tangible fear to be destroyed.

There are basically two groups around. On one side the zusa oriented and fed israel/saudi arabia/micro gulf oil states - and on the other hand Iran/Syria being close to oriented toward Russia/China.
While most people tend to see just one criterium, the leading power (zusa or Russia) there actually is another important criterium, let me call it "internal validity". This basically means concern two issues, the social coherence and the economic width, depth and coherence.

Concerning the zusa group it can be said that there is no social coherence; those countries are led by filthy puppets whose regime would fall the very moment where zusa and their satellites stopped - or couldn't continue - to tolerate and support it. Iran and in a special fashion, Syria on the other hand are lead by governments that, while being critized by not few, basically enjoy fair to strong support by their citizens. This evidently makes those countries way stronger than their counterparts.
israel is a seperate thing. Officially democratic israel actually is more of a diktatur of half elected dictators with an extremely bad human rights and a hardly better democracy and legitimacy record. Most importantly, however, it is quite meaningless what they are because their not being marginal in every respect is based solely on zusas support.

Looking at the economic side one could say that the gulf monarchies are based more or less exclusively on oil and the connected finance industry with the latter being largely based on western connections. israel has a more widely spread industry that is, however, extremely dependent on zusa.
Syria is economically not that well placed but at least not an economic monoculture and with some potential. Iran is simply amazing. This country has, based on a very old and profound culture, developed amazing capabilities that are not far behind major european states promising an excellent economic future.

So, looking at the "social validity" there is a large gap between the two groups with Syria/Iran clearly much better placed than the gulf oil regimes. Looking at the leaders of the groups one can't but observe zusa having steadily and brutally weakened and Russia having strongly gained in pretty every relevant regard.

In summary Assad might be pressed to complete the decontamination process but sure enough he is under no pressure to take care of the israel problem, particularly when considering that retaking the Golan heights without much of israel resistance seems to be an almost natural final phase of the current situation. Being confronted with solid air defense capabilities and some Iskanders, capable to basically cripple israel without advance notice, israel won't have many choices unless they would be willing to start a world war that doubtlessly will bring israels extermination.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jul 15, 2013 8:50:48 PM | 76

"Looking at the economic side one could say that the gulf monarchies are based more or less exclusively on oil and the connected finance industry"

Absolutely. The ideal state for the US is one with vast resources and a tiny population - or barring that, massive resources and a government that refuses to spend cash on its population no matter what the size (see DRCongo).

It seems that Libya is being pushed in this direction. It already has a small population, it may be divided further either officially or unofficially. In any case the socialism of Gadhafi is now replaced with neo-liberalism and the cash will go to the corporations, not the people.

Egypt on the other hand is the United State's nightmare. A large population with no resources to speak of. We nearly saw what Egypt's newest export was about to be in the jihadists for cash deal with Qatar.

Posted by: guest77 | Jul 15, 2013 9:10:26 PM | 77

Assad is playing a good game; (Although a travesty in terms of life and what is happening to Syria). I thought all the while he was being besieged, bled out; but in reality he is doing just that and more, this is a'Warm War'. He has not only made others spend billions, but caused infighting between those trying to overthrow him; the refugees are being covered (Footing the Bill) outside, that number at the million mark and on a daily basis. It's not like you give then a couple of bucks a day per head, it's like a prison, the cost turn out to be 100 times the cost - Most of the 1 million (79% reported) are registered as refugees but the figure also includes individuals awaiting registration, a 20% increase will break most donor funding, even the 5 Billion the UN requested is chicken feed - One could say 3 Billion a month needs to be found purely for humanitarian needs, then starts the reconstruction. Between all the players, this sum must be a huge impact, more so when most have enough economic strife.

Though donors committed to give $1.5bn, international aid agencies announced Feb most of this had failed to materialize, in fact most is now (And a greater sum) in the way of Military Aid, and that is also failing.

Not retaliating to Israel is also making his case stronger. The whole situation is a far more complex dynamics and that is simply because Assad has smarts. Still lost to how all this will pan out though, Israel has just proved it can strike and nothing is done. The problem is perception, the day Assad strikes, he will be the Bad Boy, even if fully justified.

One thing is for sure, this is 2013, books will need balanced, and the years end is not that far away...

Posted by: kev | Jul 15, 2013 10:17:33 PM | 78

After the attack on the so-called weapons convoy, there were scads of videos of the resulting explosions and fires. After this supposed strike, there are no videos. Which means they either hit an empty building, or it's something else entirely.

Posted by: Crest | Jul 16, 2013 8:39:19 AM | 79

The latest version of this is a Turkish counter-fabrication. At least it's my view that all of these stories about responsibility & method for the raid, and possibly even the raid itself, are fabrications. It's a game anybody can play, by sourcing a story to anonymous 'officials'. the function of this one is to reinforce the submarine story and extricate Turkish airbases from involvement:

Report: Israel made sure no Russians in Latakia then attacked

Roi Kais, Ynet, Jul 16 2013

On Monday evening, Lebanese channel MTV reported that Israel had bombed the advanced land-to-sea missiles, which had been transferred from Russia to Syria, only after it made sure that no Russian experts were on-site. At the same time, Syrian news site al-Hakika quoted Turkish officials who said that a senior rebel source, Malik al-Kurdi, sent a message to the US that Yakhont missiles had arrived in Syria and Assad intended to give them to Hezbollah. The sources, close to the FSA command in Istanbul, said that al-Kurdi, who defected from the Syrian Army in 2011, recently sent a message to the US military attaché in Ankara via a Turkish officer, asking to meet in order to pass on “important information of interest to the US and Israel regarding Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.” According to the same Turkish sources, al-Kurdi said in his communiqué that “he had important military secrets related to the arrival of Yakhont missiles in Syria and that the regime intends to give some of them to Hezbollah.” He noted that his former colleagues in the Syrian naval command had provided him with the information and the location of stockpiles. The report claimed that the senior rebel gave the US naval attaché additional, accurate information regarding the stockpiles, and met with him again at the end of June. According to the Turkish sources, this information was what made it possible for Israel, after consultation and coordination with the US government, to determine at least three locations where the missiles were stored. The same report said that the missiles were destroyed with three sea-to-land Harpoon missiles...

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 16, 2013 8:58:49 AM | 80


@ Crest | Jul 16, 2013 8:39:19 AM | 79, that is my point, perception and the reaction (How it's taken externally, public support). Let’s say they (Israel) 'did' or 'did not and it was media stated they did (Lets not look at Israel’s silence on the matter, as it could be true), and to confuse matters it became ambiguous (Again media) how they (Israel) did it, i.e. Sea via 'German' built subs, or Air, via Turkish support. The point is touchy/ feely, let's see the reaction, if it's not so dramatic then this lays a route/method that is viable/accepted externally, if you get my point. What is clear and what is a signal, is simply 'Israel', the common denominator in the factor...

Posted by: kev | Jul 16, 2013 9:09:19 AM | 81

all these muslims are doing is confirming the danish cartoonists view that islam is a religion of terrorism

Posted by: brian | Jul 28, 2013 12:10:23 AM | 82

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