Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 26, 2012

"Al Qaida in Syria" As Propaganda For Intervention

It seems every news outlet is suddenly confirming what the Syrian president Assad has claimed months ago. To a quite large part the insurgency in Syria consists of foreign Salafi fighters.

As usual the NYT is propaganda and wrong in its headline and the piece. The Salafis do not have a "new role" but a quite established one.

From the TIME piece:

In another town in northern Idlib, another jihadist — belonging to a different group — also shared Ibrahim’s goal of an Islamic state. “Abu Zayd,” is a 25-year-old Sharia graduate who heads one of the founding brigades of Ahrar al-Sham, a group that adheres to the conservative Salafi interpretation of Sunni Islam.
The Ahrar started working on forming brigades “after the Egyptian revolution,” Abu Zayd said, well before March 15, 2011 when the Syrian revolution kicked off with protests in the southern agricultural city of Dara’a. The group announced its presence about six months ago, he said. Abu Zayd denied the presence of foreigners even though TIME saw a man in the group’s compound who possessed strong Central Asian features.
One prominent Syrian smuggler in a border town near Turkey said that he ferried 17 Tunisians across the night before. [...] “Before that, every day there were new people, from Morocco, Libya, and elsewhere,” he said. (In the course of several hours of waiting to cross back into Turkey, I saw at least a dozen Arabs who were clearly not Syrian, and identified as foreigners by the smuggler.)

Bashar Assad was right. These guerrilla groups formed BEFORE the start of demonstrations in Syria and many of them are foreigners. This confirms that there was indeed, as Seymour Hersh reported in 2007, a larger well prepared plan behind this whole war. The ground was obviously already prepared before the conflict was started with provocateurs enticing bloody conflicts between local demonstration and police forces by firing at both sides.

That everyone now comes out with these Al Qaeda stories might be signal that the propaganda that covered up the real conflict with blabber of "peaceful protests" and "freedom" is no longer needed. It also might have a much more sinister purpose.

Following the headlines above, some parts of the FSA are now complaining about the existance of these Salafi groups. But here the hyping of their existence and the alleged threat of them taking over is used as a justification for intervention by foreign troops:

Those pushing Western governments to play a greater role in Syria often contend that failing to do so invites extremist groups to fill the void. “Extremist groups, al Qaeda-plus and all, are definitely in Syria,” says James Prince, founder and president of the Democracy Council. “We need to learn from similar lessons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt and not leave democracy activists fighting for their own freedoms swinging in the wind.”

[FSA General] Sheikh sought to strike a similar note in his comments today, using the specter of armed extremists to call on Western governments to act. “Leaving Syria like this is very dangerous. It may become another Afghanistan or Iraq,” he said. “The international community must do something and move quickly.”

James Prince and his Democracy Council is the official conduit, according to Wikileaks documents, the U.S. government used since 2006 to funnel money to the Syrian opposition:

Several U.S. diplomatic cables from the embassy in Damascus reveal that the Syrian exiles received money from a State Department program called the Middle East Partnership Initiative. According to the cables, the State Department funneled money to the exile group via the Democracy Council, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit.

James Prince is paid tool of the CIA and the State Department. When he raises the specter of an Al Qaida takeover as justification for intervention, i.e. outright war, we can be sure that he is introduces a new official propaganda line. That also explains how all these semi-official media are somewhat synchronized in now coming out with the same Al Qaeda in Syria headlines. Who briefed them?

But even without the intervention the propaganda is pressing for the conflict in Syria is threatening to become more internationalized. The Turkish premier Erdogan wants to eliminate terrorists on the Syrian side of the border. But that of course does not mean he wants to kill the foreign Salafists of the Free Syrian Army. He will continue to support those with weapons and whatever they need. Erdogan wants to go after the Syrian Kurds who, after a deal with the Syrian government, have taken control over their cities and villages. Turkey is moving additional troops to the eastern Kurdish part of its border with Syria. Erdogan claims a "natural right" for Turkey to fight "terrorists" outside of its borders. One wonders how he will feel about that "natural right" when the Syrian government claims and acts upon it.

In another development the U.S. and its allies have shunned the disunited and ineffective National Syrian Council and are trying a different exile "government in a box" game. They now want to put the former general Manaf Tlass into the key role of their new Syrian puppet dictator:

The officials said Gen. Tlass is one of the few figures in opposition to the regime who could potentially help restore order in Damascus and secure Syria's vast chemical-weapons stockpile.

But Manaf is a rather mediocre guy who no one in the Syrian opposition wants to see in any leading role. That he is a tool of the Saudis, announcing his role in Saudi Arabia and giving his first interview there, may gain him Saudi and U.S. backing but will turn off most Syrians.

Meanwhile the build up of the Schwerpunkt battle in Aleppo continues. The Syrian government seems to assemble a serious force around the three suburbs the FSA has taken control of. Before hitting them the Syrian army is likely to give a high priority to first surrounding the insurgents and to let them no way to escape.

Posted by b on July 26, 2012 at 16:04 UTC | Permalink


There are some indicators that the US is preparing for all out war. Preparing to repress internal dissent is part of it. Counterpunch - Slouching towards Nuremberg

I would like to be wrong. Intervention in Syria would be absolute madness on a large scale.

I have been wondering about the strategy of suddenly finding out about Al Queida. It could cut both ways: A reason to intervene (however that would mean to reenter Iraq, too, or a reason not to support the opposition any longer. I guess Saudi Arabia and Quatar are out of sync with the US and out of sync with each other.

It is a perfect mess. Everybody in Syria should just stop to fight.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 26 2012 16:39 utc | 1

Many "Al Qaeda" agents are just guns for hire. Here's the account of an insider of how Assad "outsourced" many bombings to them and then blamed it on the Syrian opposition. These guys will do whatever the high bidder wants them to do, very similar to the US company Blackwater of Iraq fame (now named "Academi"). Al-Qaeda will probably be bought out by Bain Capital at some point.

Mr Fares's most damaging allegation is that the Syrian government itself has a hand in the nationwide wave of suicide bombings on government buildings, which have killed hundreds of people and maimed thousands more. By way of example, he cited the twin blasts outside a military intelligence building in the al-Qazzaz suburb of Damascus in May, which killed 55 people and injured another 370.
"I know for certain that not a single serving intelligence official was harmed during that explosion, as the whole office had been evacuated 15 minutes beforehand," he said. "All the victims were passers by instead. All these major explosions have been have been perpetrated by al-Qaeda through cooperation with the security forces."

Posted by: A V | Jul 26 2012 16:44 utc | 2

Are you considering whatever Nawaf Fares, paid by Qatar to defect and tell lies, says as true?

That's not a credible source on my book.

Allegations that 'Al Qaeda' bombings in Syria are performed by the Syrian regime have been flying for years. I remember that weird one, which I think included shooting, a few years ago in Damascus when Syria was being marked for helping the Sunni resistance against US forces in Iraq.

And if you believe them half of the FSA speakers always blame the Syrian regime for any bombing. The other half say that it was their own work. These guys are so trustable as a source of information ...

Posted by: ThePaper | Jul 26 2012 16:58 utc | 3

Rebels in Syria's Aleppo ready to fight... and die and kill

Syrian troops are massing for a major assault on Aleppo, and hundreds of rebels hunkered down in the strategic northern city's Salaheddin quarter are steeling themselves to fight, and probably to die.
On Wednesday, after the day's fast ended at sundown, they shared food with two young men, their eyes blindfolded and hands tied behind their backs.

A few hours later, the two men, accused of belonging to pro-government "shabiha" militia, were summarily dispatched in the street, each with a bullet to the head.

Residents of Salaheddin, particularly the women and children, have been fleeing the fighting.

The rebels, organised into small groups each led by someone who acts as both military and religious chief, prepare themselves as helicopters swoop overhead, firing into the neighbourhood.

Posted by: b | Jul 26 2012 17:08 utc | 4

you are right b. to hype Al Queida is used to ask for intervention

Syrian Rebel Leader Mustafa al-Sheikh Says Victory Against Assad Not in Sight

"The general who heads the Free Syrian Army says his forces are dangerously divided and underfunded, al Qaeda is gaining a foothold in the conflict, and a major win that could topple the regime, like seizing Aleppo, is still out of reach."

There is also the Israeli assessment that an intervention in Syria would suit them and work out just fine

Posted by: somebody | Jul 26 2012 17:16 utc | 5

slightly OT but could become important very fast in Syria and elsewhere: Israeli army arrests Al-Aqsa imam

Israeli forces have arrested the Imam of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and expelled a Muslim congregation, after breaking into the complex on Thursday morning.

Local Palestinian media agency Wafa reported that IDF troops stormed into the the holy mosque at dawn as more than 20 believers were praying.

Local residents confirmed that they had arrested the mosque's imam and taken him to an unknown destination.

They added that a group of fundamentalist Jews, under the protection of Israeli forces, stormed into the mosque's courtyard and closed the gates.

The event is believed to have sparked violent clashes between dozens of young Palestinians and Israeli soldiers in a number of Jerusalem neighborhoods.

The grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, condemned the incident.

He said the intrusion and the desecration of the sanctity of the mosque is "provocative, especially that it occurred in the days of the holy month of Ramadan."

Posted by: b | Jul 26 2012 17:22 utc | 6

@ThePaper 3: No, I don't believe what any one person says as 100% true especially during a war. He could certainly be lying. Same question to you, have you considered that Assad could be lying some/most/all the time and that a majority of Syrians want his regime gone?

Posted by: A V | Jul 26 2012 17:38 utc | 7

US want to finish off syria before the Olympic game begin on saturday, looks like they have failed

Posted by: nikon | Jul 26 2012 17:45 utc | 8

foreign intervention is unlikely during the Olympic game, therefore give Syrian army enough time to clean Aleppo of rebels

Posted by: nikon | Jul 26 2012 17:47 utc | 9

That is bullshit, majority of Syrians doesn't want regime-change, they want the terrorists out. The Quatari poll showed, was it 54% support for Assad, the election 7. may 51%, new constitution like 2/3, and these votes were boycotted by the opposition.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 26 2012 17:47 utc | 10

b. that would be nothing unusual

more unusual is this here which makes me think there is strong competition for Islamic leadership between Turkey, Quatar and Saudi Arabia.

"The Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Mohammed Hussein has released a fatwa saying, "Arabs and Muslims should visit the Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa in support of the Palestinian opposition against the Israeli occupancy."

Speaking to AA on Tuesday, Sheikh Hussein said that the fatwa given by the chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi which forbidden Arabs' visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Israeli occupancy, was not a well-directed fatwa.

Sheikh Hussein said, "We are Palestinians and we give our fetwa basing on religious evidences. By doing this, we refuse the Israeli occupancy. If you go to Al-Aqsa Mosque, you see people coming from Jordan, Egypt, Malaysia and Turkey. Al-Qaradawi only forbids Arabs from visiting the mosque and that is why his fatwa is discriminative. If a fatwa is given, then it should involve everybody."

Sheikh Hussein also added that he is aware of Turkey's point of view about Palestine and said, "We see Turkish people as brothers, sisters. They always support Palestinians in any way. The support that Turks give to Palestine is enormous."

Posted by: somebody | Jul 26 2012 17:48 utc | 11

I do believe there are "al-Qaeda" fighters in Syria. But I think there is another possibility: The west is beginning to realize it can't overthrow the government of Syria. There have to be excuses for not delivering more and more sophisticated weapons, there has to be something to tell to the people in the west why there was no intervention on the side of the rebels. Let's hope for the best.

Posted by: m_s | Jul 26 2012 17:52 utc | 12

I'm not sure many people in 'the west' want or care about intervention on the side of the rebels.

Posted by: dh | Jul 26 2012 18:06 utc | 13

Very early on, former MI6 ranking officer Crooke identified these Salafi fighters as the vanguard of the rebel side of the conflict.

Posted by: Pirouz | Jul 26 2012 18:21 utc | 14

b @ 6 re: the IDF invasion of the Al Aqsa mosque and arrest of its iman.

This is almost a complete parallel of Ariel Sharon's actions in 2000 which led to the third, or Al Aqsa mosque, intifada among Palestinians. It was considered a direct and unnecessary provocation on the part of Sharon and mainly a move to increase his power among the Zionist voters.

On This Day by the BBC, September 28, 2000

Palestinians and Israeli police have clashed in the worst violence for several years at Jerusalem's holiest site, the compound around Al-Aqsa mosque.

The violence began after a highly controversial tour of the mosque compound early this morning by hardline Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon.

Under heavy guard, Mr Sharon entered the compound with a right-wing Likud party delegation.

He crossed from the west side of the compound to the east and back again, to the sound of enraged protests from demonstrators outside.

BBC correspondent Hilary Andersson said the visit was clearly intended to underline the Jewish claim to the city of Jerusalem and its holy sites. (My emphasis)

So, Israel's government has decided to throw a bomb into a mosque metaphorically. They know exactly what they're doing. Do they expect the world will be so caught up in the Olympics this won't be noticed? Whatever, they're playing with fire and people's lives.

Something is "clearly intended."

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 26 2012 18:27 utc | 15

My apologies for not closing the bold tags. Drat. Not all "My emphasis" was intentional....

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 26 2012 18:28 utc | 16

Pirouz @ 14 -- Do your have a link or other citation for this comment by Crooke? I googled for it, but I didn't find anything like that. But I do not have mad googling skillz.


Posted by: jawbone | Jul 26 2012 18:34 utc | 17

@7 Assad the liar? Who can say? But lies have consequences, especially when you're already backed into a corner. The "rebels" have lied plenty and no one denies it. Assad's "lies" are so far speculation.

Posted by: ruralito | Jul 26 2012 18:35 utc | 18

@ M-S & Dh

That could be it alright. The people of the West may not care for intervention but it would be embarrasing for the leaders. Obama, Cameron, Hollande, Erdogan, Netanyahu have all spoken publicly saying "Assad's days are numbered". If Assad were to survive, it would be an appalling reflection on all of them and the media, which have been predicting Assad's downfall for 17 months now. Best to have the excuse that Al Qaeda have now entered the picture and infiltrated the rebels as a reason for shifting positions.

@ AV

It is obvious that Al Qaeda are not being paid by the Syrian government. Firstly Al Qaeda would never work with an Alawite regime that they consider Takfiri and Apostates. This line that the Syrian government has been using suicide bombers and then pinning the blame on the rebels to give them a bad name doesn't make sense. However you are right that Al Qaeda are hired guns. Just more likely that they would be hired by Saudi Arabia (who have more money, share there Wahhabi views, have been linked to them since there creation, and are now fighting on the same side in Syria).

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jul 26 2012 18:38 utc | 19

muslims vs Israelis. meh, they're both wrong: the muslims because they depend on the Unknowable; the Israelis because they're miscreants.

Posted by: ruralito | Jul 26 2012 18:39 utc | 20

When one takes a look at the names listed at the bottom of the article linked below, by my reckoning approx 60% are Jewish Zionists, and most of the other are also Zionist - there are less than 10 names on that 62 name list that are not immediately recognisable as 'Zionist'. So the headline :

Conservatives call on Obama to establish ‘safe zones’ in Syria
isn't very accurate and IMO seems to be designed to obsure rather than enlighten

possiblty of no interest to anyone but myself . . . . .

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 26 2012 18:40 utc | 21

Since the Obama administration, following Bush/Cheney, proclaims that any spot in the work with "terrists" is subject to the US military actions as needed to fight the War on Terror (a term not used much anymore, eh?), of course raising the profile of Al Q in Syria means it's open season for the US alone or with NATO to enter Syria militarily in order to track down those pesky Al Qaeda terrists -- some of which the West encouraged to be there.

Carte blanche, babeeeee!

Except...I can't see Obama wanting to get into another active war, even in a supporting role, during his attempt to be reelected. Maybe there's an upside for him, but I'm not seeing it. Anyone?

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 26 2012 18:41 utc | 22

@ Colm

Correct. Huge embarrassment for the leaders and the media if Assad/Iran/Russia win. Not that I can define what a 'win' would look like. And it doesn't seem to matter what the general populace want these days. If you can stomach reading Yahoo comments it looks like most people are just happy to see Arabs killing each other.

Posted by: dh | Jul 26 2012 18:46 utc | 23

Re: somebody @ 11's link to repeated intrusions at the Al Aqsa mosque (first link):

I had no idea it had become that pervasive, but, then, things like this aren't covered very much even on leftish blogs.

Strengthening the Jewish presence

The study said that the Israelis are trying to strengthen the Jewish presence in Al-Aqsa, especially in the morning, by an average of 450 illegal settlers per month as well as 300 intelligence agents and soldiers in uniform, in order to create a "routine" stereotype for the Jewish presence in the Noble Sanctuary. It warned that if unchecked this could lead to a unilateral division of access to the Mosque between Muslims and Jews.

The Al-Aqsa Foundation report added that the need at this moment is for Palestinian Muslims to occupy Al-Aqsa in their thousands around the clock. It reminded Muslims that Jerusalem was the first Qiblah (direction of prayer) and has to be protected.

In a press statement the Foundation described the Israeli policy as "dangerous" and one step on the path towards the Judaisation of the mosque. It rejected outright the presence of even one Israeli settler or soldier anywhere in the Noble Sanctuary.

OK, checking tags. Now spelling. Then post.

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 26 2012 18:46 utc | 24

RT vid of Lavrov stating "the US is justifying terrorism"

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 26 2012 18:48 utc | 25

Israeli fail . . .
EU rejects Israeli request to blacklist Hezbollah

No consensus in the EU to blacklist Hezbollah. This was the stance stated by Cypriot foreign minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 26 2012 19:12 utc | 26

As a founding member of Cynics, Inc., I sniff a Made-in-USA connection between recent heightened AQ activities in Syria and Iraq since both countries are allied with Iran, while the USA is allied with Saudi Arabia. And yes, then make it a reason for intervention. A genuine World Power knows no limits.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 26 2012 19:22 utc | 27

"As a founding member of Cynics, Inc., I sniff a Made-in-USA connection between recent heightened AQ activities in Syria and Iraq since both countries are allied with Iran, while the USA is allied with Saudi Arabia"

Surely some mistake?

After all has the US not frequently clearly STATED it's aim to wipe-out Al Q wherever it finds them?

And has Al Q not also STATED it's aim to attack the US infidel wherever it finds them?

Are you suggesting that there is some disconnect between what both claim their stated aims are and their ACTUAL aims are ?

Surely they would not lie about such things, would they?

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 26 2012 19:32 utc | 28

@ Hu Bris #28
I did have some help in founding Cynics, Inc. from The Chimp, who as we know benefited mightily from OBL & AQ.

George W. Bush, Mar 13, 2002
Q Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive? Final part -- deep in your heart, don't you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won't really eliminate the threat of --

THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he's alive at all. Who knows if he's hiding in some cave or not; we haven't heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing on one person is -- really indicates to me people don't understand the scope of the mission.

Terror is bigger than one person. And he's just -- he's a person who's now been marginalized. His network, his host government has been destroyed. He's the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match. He is -- as I mentioned in my speech, I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death and he, himself, tries to hide -- if, in fact, he's hiding at all.

You can't make this stuff up. I mean about The Chimp having a heart, among other things.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 26 2012 19:49 utc | 29

@Colm O' Toole 19, Why is it "obvious that Al Qaeda are not being paid by the Syrian government"? If you agree that at least some fighters labeled "Al Qaeda" are hired guns, by definition they don't care who they work for as long as they get paid, even if their paymasters have a smaller account than the paymasters of their colleagues.

Posted by: A V | Jul 26 2012 20:08 utc | 30

HuBris @ 21

Edelsibergoldsteinman all the way. Jewish zionists and Zionists indeed. Clearly there is a Israeli incentive in the works there.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 26 2012 20:29 utc | 31

@colm This idea that the West is now admitting to the presence of AQ in Syria because it wants to walk back all of the provocative statements against Assad is a good one. If that is happening, poor Hillary will find herself high and dry with that stupid statement yesterday advocating that the rebels seize some territory inside Syria so they can form a government.

In any case, interesting times. I have no idea how things are developing but am watching them unfold eagerly.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jul 26 2012 20:31 utc | 32

You can't make stuff like this up. This is history gold.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 26 2012 20:39 utc | 33

I guess we have a new (or 'new') resident troll that likes speak about sophisms.

The US State Department is now saying that Bashar (as if the guy was Hitler on his bunker directing the Third Reich military and not just a figurehead for the ruling family/group) is preparing a massacre on Aleppo.

A massacre are they preparing for sure. Of terrorists. I was fearing the Syrian army would just rush and let them flee back to the protecting arms of old uncle Erdogan. Much better to hole them there and finish them for good. A few hundred foreigner prisoners wouldn't hurt as a propaganda coup either.

Posted by: ThePaper | Jul 26 2012 20:47 utc | 34

I guess Al Queida works for its own ideology but gets used (the enemy of my enemy ...)

The Muslim Brotherhood is a movement with a social base, Al Qeida is something different.

So yes, Syria's secret services might see Al Qeida as antidote to the Muslim Brotherhood, same as Saudi Arabia ... ironically. The ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood threatens both.

Maybe this report of the release of a leading Al Qeida member from a Syrian prison is true.
That leaves the question how come he ended up in a Syrian prison in the first place.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 26 2012 20:57 utc | 35

Well hired gun within reason. Blackwater as you mentioned are hired guns but if Russia offered them money to attack a US military base they wouldn't do it. Why? Because Blackwater at the end of the day are American mercenaries.

Back in the 1980's members of the PLO hired themselves out to the Shia resistance groups in Lebanon. But they still had the political goal of fighting Israel in mind. It was just another battleground to fight them. Al Qaeda are against everything that Assad represents. He is a member of a religious sect that Salafists consider an apostate to Islam (worse than Christians in their mind because these are fellow Muslims who have willfully splintered from the flock). On top of that he leds a secular regime. He has a history of perscuting Jihadists as has his father. They are willing to be hired guns but only to advance there cause of rebuilding a caliphate. If someone wants to pay them to fight the Syrian regime they will gladly.

You claimed that the suicide bombings early on were staged by the Syrian regime to discredit the rebels. Tell me what sort of Jihadist would be willing to blow himself up in order to defend a secular government?

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jul 26 2012 20:59 utc | 36

Abu Mus’ab al-Suri is supposedly plotting a terroist attack on London olympics.

Posted by: nikon | Jul 26 2012 21:44 utc | 37


This is one of Crooke's earlier articles. He clearly pointed out over a year ago that Al-Qaeda is deeply involved in Syria.

Posted by: Amar | Jul 26 2012 21:51 utc | 38

Colm @ 36

Good point well made. Nobody blows themselves up as a prank.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 26 2012 22:31 utc | 39

@ Amar, #38
Thanks for that. Very perceptive of Crooke, including:
"The Syrian army lacks experience in counter-insurgency; it was groomed in the Warsaw Pact school of grand maneuvers and heavy brigades, in which the word ‘nuance’ forms no part of the vocabulary. Tanks and armored brigades are wholly unsuited for crowd control operations, especially in narrow, congested areas. It’s no surprise that such military movements killed unarmed protestors that were caught in the middle, inflaming tensions with genuine reformists and disconcerting the public."

So the military heavy-handiness which is also a feature of the Western armies in "counter-insurgency."* Gen. Stanley McChrystal: “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.”

*I put it in quotes because in Iraq and Afghanistan they were not truly insurgencies, unlike in Syria which is an insurgency.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 26 2012 22:35 utc | 40

The above link is a pro-Syrian-government Youtube User Channel that has an emphasis on video footage of army operations against rebels. This evening I watched some of its recent videos. It does not have any videos from current fighting in Aleppo. Here are notes about some videos it does have:

25 Jul 2012: In this video the Syrian army goes into a neighborhood containing rebels in Outer Damascus and we can see that some of the soldiers are carrying big yellow-colored bottles on their backs. I believe or speculate the bottles contain a chemical substance stronger than tear gas that can be used to flush the rebels out of garrisons in buildings. The footage was recorded and broadcast by Addounia TV, and the bottles are seen at time 1:26 to 1:40: . Regarding the bottles, crossref the photo at time 0:15 at . Additional footage of soldiers moving into this particular Damascus neighborhood recorded by Syria's Al-Ikhbaria TV:

25 Jul 2012: The Syrian soldiers have retaken control of Homs city Khaldiya neighborhood by going house-to-house. The soldiers chant to the camera "with soul with blood we sacrifice for you Bashar" and "God Syria Bashar and that's the whole formula". .
PS: Graphic footage of soldiers saying the same chants over the bodies of dead rebels, dated 20 Jul 2012:

26 Jul 2012: Fancy seeing a rebel getting shot dead? Time 2:50:

26 Jul 2012: Syrian soldiers painlessly dig up an IED that was placed buried in the gound on a street:

24 Jul 2012. Two weeks ago I saw footage where the rebels were in full control of Salqeen town in Idlib province, with no sign of the Syrian army or other security forces in the town. The Syrian army has since retaken control and it seems all the rebels have left the town. To the best of my limited knowledge, the Syrian army intentionally allowed the rebels in Salqeen to escape without a fight. Addounia TV has footage of soldiers dealing with IEDs found on the outskirts of the town after the rebels had left: .

22 Jul 2012: Al-Ikhbaria TV reporter and cameraman embedded with the army has footage of army operations in Damascus (in a neighborhood called بساتين الرازي ). The morale of the soldiers looks good.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jul 26 2012 22:55 utc | 41

Are you suggesting that there is some disconnect between what both claim their stated aims are and their ACTUAL aims are ?

Surely they would not lie about such things, would they?

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 26, 2012 3:32:46 PM | 28


Posted by: Susan | Jul 26 2012 22:57 utc | 42

SUPER NAIVE (exclamation mark exclamation mark exclamation mark) ;-)

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 26 2012 23:13 utc | 43

Syria: Washington’s Latest War Crime

"Obama has not said why his government is so desperate to overthrow the Syrian government.

Washington is reticent about its real motives, which it masks with high-sounding humanitarian rhetoric, but Washington’s motives are transparent.

One motive is to get rid of the Russian naval base in Syria, thus depriving Russia of its only Mediterranean base.

A second motive is to eliminate Syria as a source of arms and support to Hizbullah in order that Israel can succeed in its attempts to occupy southern Lebanon and acquire its water resources.

Hizbullah’s fighters have twice defeated the Israeli military’s attempts to invade and to occupy southern Lebanon, and [steal] its water resources.

A third motive is to destroy the unity of Syria with sectarian conflict, as Washington destroyed Libya and Iraq, and leave Syria to waring factions to dismember the country, thus removing another obstacle to Washington’s hegemony."

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 26 2012 23:40 utc | 44

Possibly this was posted elsewhere om this site at some earlier stage

Syria Assassination Plot: 1957 Intel.
Documents Reveal How Eisenhower and Macmillan Conspired against Syria

The "preferred plan"adds: "Once a political decision is reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS [MI6] will attempt, to mount minor sabotage and coup de main incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals.

"The two services should consult, as appropriate, to avoid any overlapping or interference with each other's activities... Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus; the operation should not be overdone; and to the extent possible care should be taken to avoid causing key leaders of the Syrian regime to take additional personal protection measures."


The report said that once the necessary degree of fear had been created, frontier incidents and border clashes would be staged to provide a pretext for Iraqi and Jordanian military intervention.

Syria had to be "made to appear as the sponsor of plots, sabotage and violence directed against neighbouring governments," the report says.

"CIA and SIS should use their capabilities in both the psychological and action fields to augment tension." That meant operations in Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon, taking the form of "sabotage, national conspiracies and various strong-arm activities" to be blamed on Damascus.

The plan called for funding of a "Free Syria Committee", and the arming of "political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities" within Syria.

The CIA and MI6 would instigate internal uprisings, for instance by the Druze in the south, help to free political prisoners held in the Mezze prison, and stir up the Muslim Brotherhood in Damascus.

1957 remember

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 26 2012 23:47 utc | 45

I really like Amal Saad Ghorayeb's takedown of Angry Arab's Al Akhbar post.

And just when you thought Angry Arab’s analysis on Syria couldn’t get any sillier, he surprises you with more simplistic and infantile analysis here. He argues:

-“Hezbollah has decided that his enemies (US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel) have basically took over the cause of ridding Syrians of the Assad regime from the Syrian armed and unarmed opposition.”

Really? Hizbullah “has decided”? Because the Israeli-GCC-NATO role in steering the proxy militias otherwise known as the “armed Syrian opposition” is a figment of their imagination. Right. I urge him to read, not alternative media, but mainstream media for a reality check.

-“The alliance with the regime and the extraction of political and military benefits exceeded other humanitarian considerations.”

Other “humanitarian” considerations? What is more humanitarian than protecting Syria and the region as a whole from the colonizers’ grip? What is more humanitarian than rejecting the sectarian bloodshed that the agents of destruction have sown? What is more humanitarian than defending Lebanon and Palestine from the cancer in our midst, Israel? What is more humanitarian than pursuing the liberation of Palestine?

I Like ASG's blog. Definitely worth a look. As for Angry Arab. He's contributed a lot so I don't want to dis him. I truly admire his unabashed hatred of Zionism. I find it refreshing when so many hem and haw. But he always has to be the consistent leftist. Not just on Syria, but the guy had a special dislike for Ron Paul and said Arab Americans shouldn't support him. A stupid proposition since Arab Americans should have supported him if only for his vigorous defense of civil liberties and attack of the total surveillance state.

Posted by: Lysander | Jul 27 2012 1:04 utc | 46

So far at least, Russia doesn't sound like it's backing down anytime soon.

“We are not going to engage in an arms race, but no one should doubt the efficiency and reliability of our nuclear potential and our aerospace defense,” RIA Novosti quoted Putin as saying at a meeting on the country’s defense program on Thursday.

“Nuclear weapons remain the main guarantee of Russia’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity, it plays a key role in maintaining global and regional stability and balance,” Putin added.

Posted by: Lysander | Jul 27 2012 1:13 utc | 47

I can see the headlines now....'Putin Threatens Nukes!'

Posted by: dh | Jul 27 2012 1:18 utc | 48

a couple days ago--
July 24, 2012
A Russian naval flotilla of warships destined for the Syrian port of Tartus has entered the Mediterranean, Russia's defence ministry said today. "The Russian ships today passed the Strait of Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean at 1200 GMT," said a defence ministry spokesman, quoted by Itar-Tass agency.

Led by the Admiral Chabanenko anti-submarine destroyer, the three landing craft left their home port of Severomorsk in the Arctic Circle earlier this month. They are due to be joined in the Mediterranean by the Russian patrol ship Yaroslav Mudry as well as an assistance vessel. The ships will perform "planned military manoeuvres", said the ministry. Earlier in the month a military source said the ships would be topping up on supplies of fuel, water and foodstuffs.

Russia has denied that the deployment is linked to the escalating conflict in Syria.

They don't amount to much, just symbolic. There's nothing new on CVN-72 Abraham Lincoln, US carrier. Somewhere in the Med.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 27 2012 1:21 utc | 49

@Lysander #47

“Nuclear weapons remain the main guarantee of Russia’s Iran's sovereignty and its territorial integrity, it plays a key role in maintaining global and regional stability and balance,”

Posted by: hans | Jul 27 2012 3:28 utc | 50

Pentagon downplays Qaeda influence in Syria

WASHINGTON — Islamist militants are probably active in Syria but they wield less influence on the ground than the other rebel forces fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The main Islamist element is likely being provided by Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), said Defense Department spokesman George Little.

"I can't rule out the possibility that there are some extremists in Syria but no one should think that AQI has a significant, major or particularly strong footprint in Syria," he told reporters in Washington.

"The people who are getting a true foothold in Syria are those who are opposing the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad. I wouldn't want anyone to overstate the concern over AQI in Syria," Little said.

Posted by: Calig | Jul 27 2012 3:53 utc | 51

@Colm O' Toole, 36. The "Al Qaeda" people who blew themselves up in Damascus may not have known they were being paid by Assad (to make the rebels look bad). In their eyes, they were killing Assad supporters. So what would be the moral conflict for them?

BTW, I didn't claim this, I linked to a quote from a defector who claimed it. I'm making the point that it's a plausible story.

Posted by: A V | Jul 27 2012 4:59 utc | 52

Every terror-attach Al-Quaida comitted in Syria, the rebels have pinned on the government. It's not at all likely that the government would persue such a strategy, even in a single instance, as it never panned out to benefit the government anyway, and most - if not all targets have been government sites, from where security and the counter-insurgency have been based.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 27 2012 5:24 utc | 53

Posted by: A V | Jul 27, 2012 12:59:31 AM | 52

plausible? sorry but NO

Posted by: brian | Jul 27 2012 8:49 utc | 54

Syria bombing its own intelligence buildings? It's like a boxer constantly punching himself in the face or the US bombing the CIA and the Pentagon.

Western regimes knew from the start that Al-Qaeda was involved in the bombings but they tried to hide the truth through media propaganda.

Posted by: Amar | Jul 27 2012 9:09 utc | 55

"BTW, I didn't claim this, I linked to a quote from a defector who claimed it. I'm making the point that it's a plausible story. "

Look up the definition of Plausible

1: superficially fair, reasonable, or valuable but often specious (a plausible pretext)
2: superficially pleasing or persuasive (a swindler… , then a quack, then a smooth, plausible gentleman — R. W. Emerson)
3: appearing worthy of belief (the argument was both powerful and plausible)

Note the use of the word 'superfical' in two of those definitions and the use 'appearing' in a 3rd

So it may be 'plausible' - but that don't make it believable - just becasue a defector/US-agent said it, does not immediately make it 'believable' - only a particularly gullible person would even consider it as a possibility, let alone a probability

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 27 2012 9:14 utc | 56

The very nature of a suicide-bombing makes it unlikely that the perpetrator isn't genuinely ideologically committed. You don't kill yourself for money.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 27 2012 9:22 utc | 57

Russia preparing contingency plans for Syrian pull-out soon, or just a smart move to diversify so as not to be hostage to NATO machinations in the future?
Russia seeks to set up naval bases abroad
"Naval chief confirms talks with Cuba, Vietnam and the Seychelles about setting up overseas facilities for Russian ships"

Certainly The Guardian would like us to think that it is the former, but I suspect that it's much more likely to be the latter, given that it probably takes a fair bit of time to set-up a functioning Naval Base

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 27 2012 10:37 utc | 58

and Russian talks with Cuba may not end well anyway
Cuban president Raúl Castro willing to hold no-limits talks with America

26 Jul 2012: Bid to mend fences made in impromptu remarks at the end of a Revolution Day ceremony in Guantánamo

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 27 2012 10:41 utc | 59

this idea of the Syrian regime bombing itself, while confronting a dangerous insurgency that wants to destabilize it, and while being surrounded by an "international community" looking for *any* excuse to intervene, and while anxious to show the people he is in control - well, this idea is utterly implausible and unbelievable

Posted by: claudio | Jul 27 2012 10:48 utc | 60

"well, this idea is utterly implausible and unbelievable

and more than a little retarded to say the least

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 27 2012 11:01 utc | 61

Alexander 57

No doubt AV can point you to hundreds of Telegraph interviews with suicide bombers who blew themselves up for money up to make their cause look bad.

Posted by: Bob Jackson | Jul 27 2012 11:20 utc | 62

In other words, utter nonsense, but that doesn't stop the mainstream press from claiming so, or even most westerner audience believing it. Unfortunately, half of the public has an IQ below 100.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 27 2012 11:23 utc | 63

Bob, Oh I'm sure, he doen't even have to point me to the links, I've seen it all.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 27 2012 11:25 utc | 64

USA State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on 26 Jul 2012: "We're working in non-lethal ways to support the Syrian opposition.... The vast majority of Syrians continue not to want... more weapons flowing into their country."

It's universally acknowledged as fact that the vast majority of rebels want more weapons flowing into their country. It follows that Nuland's words are in effect saying that the vast majority of Syrians do not support the rebels. The words are also saying that the USA is not and does not intend to provide arms to the rebels.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jul 27 2012 12:43 utc | 65

They are just providing intelligence as to where the rebels should strike, and telling GCC which groups to give weapons to.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 27 2012 12:53 utc | 66

yes that might be what they are saying but so what?

but since their actions so rarely correspond with their words, why would anyone pay it much attention?

Seems much more likely that her words are a side-swipe at the Russians anyway, rather than an indication that she gives a damn what the syrian people might or might not want

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 27 2012 12:55 utc | 67

And the US has ALREADY provided a LOT of weaponry to their Mercenary Army, is it likely that they need a lot more from the US when they aslo have a host of other Arab Kingdoms, turkey etc to supply them?

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 27 2012 12:57 utc | 68

Reuters: Exclusive: Secret Turkish nerve center leads aid to Syria rebels

Turkey has set up a secret base with allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to direct vital military and communications aid to Syria's rebels from a city near the border, Gulf sources have told Reuters.
"It's the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main co-ordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom," said a Doha-based source.

"The Americans are very hands-off on this. U.S. intel(ligence) are working through middlemen. Middlemen are controlling access to weapons and routes."

I bet that the U.S. is more involved than the Reuters source in the Gulf lets us know.

Tony Karon: As Aleppo Braces for a Bloodbath, Syria’s Regime is Far From Beaten

Western and Arab powers that have backed the rebellion are increasingly mindful of the dangers of Syria (and its Arab neighbors) breaking up into a bloody civil war if Assad’s regime is precipitously toppled, and of a protracted war that might see the leadership of the rebellion passed to more radical elements. They’re also aware of the lack of legitimacy and authority on the ground enjoyed by the exiled leadership of the Syria National Council, which they have tried, largely in vain, to cultivate as a credible government-in-waiting. Hence reports that Western and Arab powers are putting less faith in the SNC and are considering proposals to engineer an outcome in which Assad is replaced by a general or generals acceptable to the opposition, but capable of holding the security forces together and overseeing a military-led reform along the lines of Egypt’s transition.

There’s also reportedly a belief among Western officials that such schemes might be more appealing to Russia than sticking with Assad. Such schemes seem wildly improbable for all manner of reasons, right now, but the fact that they’re even reportedly under consideration is a reflection of a growing awareness that the current military stalemate isn’t going to be broken any time soon.

Two days ago I asked if Aleppo was the Schwerpunkt Pat Lang is now joining with that Decision at Aleppo?

IMO the Syrian command knows that time does not favor it and therefore seeks decisive battles in large cities where they hope to pin the rebels against the built up areas where they can be surrounded and will make good targets. There are only so many people willing to die for revolution in Syria.

IMO, the Syrian government has decided to roll the iron dice to seek a clear victory in Aleppo as they seem to have done in Damascus.

Posted by: b | Jul 27 2012 13:28 utc | 69

I bet that the U.S. is more involved than the Reuters source in the Gulf lets us know.

b, re Erdogan.. from yesterdays WH press briefing

QUESTION: He also said that Syria has ceded some land for the PKK to use as bases perhaps to attack Turkey and that Turkey does deserve the right to strike deep into Syria. Do you agree with that analysis?

MS. NULAND: I have not seen those comments. As you know, there is a vibrant Kurdish population in Syria. Our efforts with the opposition, both inside and outside, has been to encourage those Kurdish Syrians to work with the rest of the opposition on a common transition plan, to encourage non-Kurdish members of the opposition to welcome Kurds in, because at the end of the day, unity in Syria, pluralism in Syria, a voice for all the different groups and colors of the country, will be essential if they’re going to have a true democracy. So we are encouraging the Kurds of Syria to work in a harmonious way with the rest of the opposition and the rest of the opposition to work well with the Kurds.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that this may morph into a conflict between the – a conflict that spills over to Turkey between the Kurds and Turkey from all sides?

MS. NULAND: The entire international community is concerned....

Posted by: annie | Jul 27 2012 13:39 utc | 70

Pat Lang spent most of last year as an advocate for NATO/US intervention in Syria on the side of the rebels. Then, maybe about 6-8 months ago, I can't remember exactly when, he turned very anti-rebel. I've always wondered what it was he learned at that point to turn him 180 degrees.

Posted by: Lysander | Jul 27 2012 13:59 utc | 71

"...and Russian talks with Cuba may not end well anyway
Cuban president Raúl Castro willing to hold no-limits talks with America.."

Cuba has been trying to get the US to talk for decades. Nobody should read anything very much into what Raul has said.

On the other hand it may be significant that the tightly controlled MSM (think Pravda in the old days) reports this latest suggestion of sanity from Cuba. The truth is that Washington is almost as scared of the fascist Cuban lobby as it is of AIPAC.

Entirely off topic but it is interesting that none of the Syrian "defectors" has yet confessed to killing Hariri. Or knowing that Hizbollah did it. Or revealing that Syria was behind 9/11 or Pearl Harbor.

Posted by: bevin | Jul 27 2012 14:03 utc | 72

What are we to make of this?

Assad hands control of Syria’s Kurdish areas to PKK, sparking outrage in Turkey

ISTANBUL — President Bashar Assad, facing a growing rebel presence in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its commercial hub, has turned control of parts of northern Syria over to militant Kurds who Turkey has long branded as terrorists, prompting concern that Istanbul might see the development as a reason to send troops across its border with Syria.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in comments late Wednesday, said that Turkey would not accept an entity in northern Syria governed by the Iraq-based Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has long waged a guerrilla war against Turkey, and its Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party.

He said the two groups had built a “structure in northern Syria” that for Turkey means “a structure of terror.”

I'm not an expert on Turkey and the Kurds. The article suggests Assad wants to free up more troops to fight rebels. Possible but I think it could mean Assad wants to smack Erdogan across his smirking face. Now the PKK can launch attacks into Turkey and Syria can pretend to have nothing to do with it. If Turkey invades Syrian Kurdistan, they are in for a nasty guerrilla war. If they don't they will get a taste of the medicine they have been dishing out to Syria.

I wonder how this plays in the local media and in Turkish public opinion? Will they manage t put two and two together and pin the blame on Erdo where it belongs? If so, it would be a double front hand smack then a second slap with the back of the hand.

Posted by: Lysander | Jul 27 2012 14:13 utc | 73

Didn't see Annie's comment before I posted mine. Looks like Assad is also managing to split the opposition.

Posted by: Lysander | Jul 27 2012 14:15 utc | 74

@71 Probably because of the mess in Libya. He liked that rebellion too. Mainly an anti-Ghadaffi thing I think.

Posted by: dh | Jul 27 2012 14:17 utc | 75

@dh 75. Yeah that could be it. But he still brags about Libya like he got it right from the beginning. Maybe deep down he thinks otherwise.

Posted by: Lysander | Jul 27 2012 14:23 utc | 76

At the top of this thread, 'b' said "the Syrian Kurds after a deal with the Syrian government have taken control over their cities and villages". As his source for that, 'b' cites a highly unreliable and throughly unobjective Kurdish nationalist news website based in Iraq named

I haven't seen Syrian sources confirming this report.

I have seen second-hand sources in Turkey who've said a handful of Kurd-dominated towns in northern Syria have been taken over by rebels (e.g.). Perhaps their source is the very same RUDAW site. I have not seen the second-hand Turkish sources taking the extra step, as 'b' does, of saying that these alleged takeovers were "after a deal with the Syrian government".

I confidently presume it is a complete and utter falsehood that the Syrian government made an agreement with Kurd nationalists in northern Syria whereby Kurd civilians were to take over the security of the towns. I know enough about the mindset and spirit of the Syrian government to know that, with extremely high probability, the rumour being disseminated by 'b' has not even the slightest shred of truth to it. Until you see verification from dependable witnesses, you should presume the item is pure rubbish.

As reported by SANA yesterday, the Syrian army during the past few days has been fighting rebels in Qamishli, the largest Kurd town in northern Syria. (No doubt the rebels in Qamishli are Kurds). No doubt that's the truth.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jul 27 2012 14:25 utc | 77

Talking about Libya. Did the results of the elections get published already or not? I remember reading about the results for party lists which were triumphantly reported because the current NATO puppet won the Muslim Brotherhood party. But most of the positions were for independent candidates and I haven't read anything yet about those.

Posted by: ThePaper | Jul 27 2012 14:38 utc | 78

I confidently presume it is a complete and utter falsehood that the Syrian government made an agreement with Kurd nationalists in northern Syria whereby Kurd civilians were to take over the security of the towns. I know enough about the mindset and spirit of the Syrian government to know that, with extremely high probability, the rumour being disseminated by 'b' has not even the slightest shred of truth to it. Until you see verification from dependable witnesses, you should presume the item is pure rubbish.

I have seen several videos where Kurds were driving around with the PKK flag (and weapons) in those Syrian towns. There were also reports, not by, that those towns have been given to the Kurds. The government troops simply retreated (there was one tiny clash but seems to have been a mistake). What the kurds did was to keep the FSA out.

You can read, for example this piece by Milliyet: Kurds Take Control As Regime Retreats From Northern Syria or Al Hayat: Northern Iraq Steps Up Effort To Contain Syria Conflict

I have suggested quite some time ago that Assad would unleash the Kurds to go after Erdogan. It seems that he has done that at least to a certain degree. It makes sense, both for the Kurds as for the Syrian government, to not get into a fight now. The Kurds would be crazy to join the fight on the side of the Turkish sponsored FSA. Let them mess up Turkey for a while. And that is what they are doing. There are daily clashes in east Turkey with a helo coming down last week and two Turkish soldiers killed by an IED yesterday.

Posted by: b | Jul 27 2012 15:42 utc | 79

It is most likely the Iran which unleashed Kurds. Assad at the moment doesn't have a leverage.

Iran is sending an evil message to Turkey; a message saying it is willing to take action against the PKK in return for concessions by Turkey regarding the Syrian issue. The message that this false report seeks to send can be read as follows:

To Turkey, you have a dominant role in the uprisings in Syria, which is an indispensible ally to us in the region. If you try to put pressure on Syria or start an operation against the Syrian regime, we will be strongly involved in the game with the PKK.

"The behavior of Turkish statesmen toward Syria and Iran is wrong and, I believe, they are acting in line with the goals of America," Major-General Yahya Rahim-Safavi told Mehr.

"If Turkey does not distance itself from this unconventional political behavior it will have both the Turkish people turning away from it domestically and the neighboring countries of Syria, Iraq and Iran (reassessing) their political ties."

Both articles are almost a year old, nevertheless, it appears they are more relevant now than before.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jul 27 2012 16:04 utc | 80

It's Barzani's work, apparently, with a "Treaty of Erbil." (Barzani and Maliki are feuding, while Assad is busy with other matters.)

Jul 25, 2012
Liberated Kurdish Cities in Syria Move into Next Phase
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region -- Syrian governmental forces have retreated from the Kurdish regions of Syria without a fight; the liberated cities are now being ruled evenly by the People's Council of Syrian Kurdistan (PYD) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC).

The KNC and PYD agreed to jointly control the liberated Kurdish cities in a deal made in Erbil on July 11, under the supervision of Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani.

“According to the treaty of Erbil which was signed by the KNC and PYD, any administrative vacuum in the Kurdish cities of Syria will be occupied evenly — 50/50 — by these two signatories. These two groups will continue ruling the Kurdish regions until an election is carried out,” said Nuri Brimo, a spokesperson of the Democratic Kurdish Party of Syria

The national flag of Kurdistan and the flag of the PKK – which the PYD is affiliated with — are now being raised over the majority of government and public buildings.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 27 2012 16:11 utc | 81

Parviziyi #77, you should consider the idea that Assad simply had a hard choice to make: the Kurdish areas are the part of Syrian territory the rebels could have established safe haven in, if they had managed to bring the Kurds on board

I also doubt Assad has the leverage to "unleash" the Kurds against Turkey, but it isn't needed; Turkey's policies towards the Kurds naturally make it their enemy number one

it's sure some deal with the Syirian government has been made, otherwise the vacuum would have been filled by the well-founded FSA

Posted by: claudio | Jul 27 2012 16:48 utc | 82

No need for an explicit deal between the Kurds and the Assad government. The events followed their own momentum. The Syrian Army retreated from the Kurd area, the Kurds wouldn't surrender their area to FSA. That's really all the government needed to do, and the following development would naturally occur. Of course there were some form of understanding between the government and the Kurdish groups, but this doesn't have to be a verbal agreement. It still is very clear what the government and the Kurds expect of eachother, as long as both fulfill their part.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 27 2012 17:07 utc | 83

The Syrian government are planing to crush the rebellion in Damascus and more importantly, in Aleppo, this weekend. Robert Mood, back in Norway in an interview with NRK, the state TV, say "the Syrian Army have large army-forces that still hasn't been deployed. They have many armored vehicles, they have many tanks, many battle-helicopters, many planes. So the military force that can be deployed, if they really want, if they want to use the sledgehammer, is a lot bigger than what we have seen so far."

Regarding the government statement on chemical weapons, Mood says, what the spokesperson really meant in that statement was as a guarantee against such weapons being used. Mood himself has been present in meetings between the Syrian foreign minister and Kofi Annan, where there has been given explicit guarantees that chemical weapons will not be used.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 27 2012 17:30 utc | 84

Victoria Nuland, Spokesperson for the United States Department of State, is the spouse of Robert Kagan. Robert Kagan is a prominent neoconservative writer based at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. He cofounded, with Wiliam Kristol and other likeminded figures, the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a successor to their now defunct advocacy group, the Project for the New American Century. Kagan serves on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Foreign Affairs Policy Board.

Yesterday, at the State presser--
MS. NULAND: Well, again, this is the concern, that we will see a massacre in Aleppo, and that’s what the regime appears to be lining up for.

and this has been reported as--
--Syria crisis: US fears Aleppo ' massacre' (Guardian)
--US: Syrian Forces Preparing for a 'Massacre' in Aleppo' (VOA)
--US concerned Syria planning massacre in Aleppo (Reuters)

So I guess we can expect another bogus "massacre."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 27 2012 17:50 utc | 85

My introductory sentence @ 84 was derived as opinion by NRK. Probably as an echo of the US warning of an Aleppo massacre.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 27 2012 18:02 utc | 86

You can find videos where armed rebels are driving around in a Kurdish-majority town in northern Syria, and waving a Kurdish flag (not necessarily the PKK's flag). Those rebels are Kurds who are violating Syrian law and trying to instigate broader armed rebellion against the government. There is absolutely no way that it would make any sense for the Syrian government to do any "deal" with them, neither explicit or implicit, nor to do any "deal" with any other Kurds under which Kurd tribalists | sectarians were suffered to take over the management of public security in those towns. Any tolerance or sufferance they might currently be getting from Syria's security forces is because the security forces are currently preoccupied with putting out fires elsewhere.

Also, any would-be rebel takeovers of any Syrian Kurdish towns are a waste of time and energy for the Kurdish rebels if they can't takeover Qamishli. The town of Qamishli (year 2004 pop = 232,000) is the "capital" of Syrian Kurdistan. I mentioned that the Syrian army is currently clashing with Kurdish rebels in Qamishli (10 rebels killed and 12 captured in Qamishli on 25 Jul 2012, said SANA). Qamishli has had many anti-government Friday street protests over the past year. In those protests the Kurdish flags take a bigger place of prominence than the general Syrian rebel flag, as in this example from Friday 27 Jan 2012: . Qamishli has also had sizeable pro-government street demonstrations, in which most the attendees are Christians (example from 14 Jan 2012: ). The Qamishli region is ethnically Kurdish and Christian; while Arab Muslims are only a small minority there. In common with other localities that had sizeable street protests around Syria last year, some of the Kurdish protesters of Qamishli have taken to armed uprising. The same goes for the troublesome Kurdish town of `Ayn al-`Arab in Aleppo province on the Turkish border. The Syrian security forces have had fatalities on a number of occasions in `Ayn al-`Arab, which is called Kobane in the Kurdish language.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jul 27 2012 18:39 utc | 87

@ Alexander #84: Thanks for that info from Robert Mood. Mood proved himself to be a good professional in Syria.

At the cost of repeating myself, on the chemical weapons question we must make a distiction between large-scale chemical weapons that could poison a whole town, and small-scale chemical weapons that could poison a building in which a few snipers are holed up; see #41 above.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jul 27 2012 18:50 utc | 88

Parviziyi, would you say then that the absence of significant Syrian Kurd armed factions in the insurgency simply means that the Kurds are largely loyal (perhaps in the absence of better alternatives) to the regime? They certainly must have been heavily courted (not by Turkey, of course ...)

Posted by: claudio | Jul 27 2012 20:04 utc | 89

Robert Mood says also this

The former head of the U.N. observer mission in Syria, Robert Mood, said Friday that President Bashar Assad's fall was only a matter of time but that his exit might not end the conflict.

"Sooner or later, the regime will fall," said the Norwegian general, whose mandate to lead a 300-strong mission ended last week amid a sharp spike in violence.

"The spiral of violence, the lack of proportion in the regime's reactions, its incapacity to protect the civilian population, mean that the regime's days are numbered, but will it fall in a week or in a year? That is a question I do not dare answer," he told Agence France Presse.

The fragmented rebellion, which remains militarily weaker than the regime, is still engaged in the fight of "David versus Goliath," Mood said, adding that any rebel success may not necessarily mean the end of the conflict.

"Many think that if Bashar Assad falls or that if he is given an honorable exit... the problem will be solved. That is an over-simplification one should be wary of," Mood told a news conference.

"The situation could even get worse," he cautioned.

"On the other hand, it is important to say that it is impossible to imagine a future Syria with the current power holders still in place."

Mood has been replaced by Senegalese Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, who has taken over a drastically reduced mission with just 150 observers and a mandate of only 30 days.

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jul 27 2012 20:38 utc | 90

Not knowing who Robert Mood is, one might think that behing this anglicized name (and that speaking something about him) is someone from an Anglo-Saxon world. But the NATO's General is from Norway a country socio-economically absorbed into Western para-national institutions. Common knowledge is that country had awarded current US President The Nobel Peace Prize, nobody, so far, has figured out for what? And than we have him in mission, and expecting objective view to the crisis and further toward anything, in this case Syria. Plain and simple it is exercise of mental futility. Or perhaps, masochistic from naïve observer. The truth, the fact doesn't matter for him, even less for his mentors. As someone who is coming from liberal-consumer-democracy (described downbelow), or serving them as Anan, you are automatically entitled in opinion that matter about sovereign country and its head. Just as is in good ol' days of Livingstone and Lawrence of Arabia.

I've seen them before: The Merchant of Death, on different place, in different bloodbath which NATO and its generals and envoys caused.

I hold all those Americans and all those Turks, both Americanized or Turkified, all of them I hold responsible. You cannot escape this death, this murder, committed under the pretense of fighting for freedom. To the extent that you all fill the air, Facebook and otherwise, with the magnificence of your vacations to exotic places, your shared recipes, your automobiles, your tastes in music, the wondrous feats of your children, the thrilling pictures of beloved household pets, your dashing profiles, your adored restaurants, your beloved sports idols, singers, actors, actresses, celebrities and other household plants . . . to the extent that this is all you have to offer this bleeding world, then you too are responsible.
rest is here...

Posted by: neretva'43 | Jul 27 2012 21:45 utc | 91

A member of the secretariat of the National Council of Kurds, which is an anti-government but peaceful Kurdish political group based in northern Syria said on 27 Jul 2012 that Kurdish flags had been raised on govenment building in certain Kurdish-majority towns over the past few days but have since been taken down. The placement of the Kurdish flags was contrary to the peaceful politics of Kurds, he said, and their removal was supported by his organization. He also said that the Syrian army has a strong presence in Hasaka province (the province with the highest concentration of Kurds). The Kurdish flags were not raised in Qamishli. In Arabic at

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jul 28 2012 10:29 utc | 92

I hope that Russia brings in the full force of their military to deal with these US NATO backed Al Qaeda terrorists! I recently posted an article about this very topic on my blog.
In Syria - How to `Liberate` a Pro-Army City? VILE: Vatican Illuminati Lies Exposed

Posted by: DjOsiris | Aug 6 2012 22:25 utc | 93

the US supporting the syrian rebels reminds me of a couple decades ago when we got involved with the mujahideen fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Many believe when that conflict was over, the muji become the basis of Al Qaeda.

mistake to let it happen again. we are not the world's police!

Posted by: Austin James | Aug 13 2012 23:21 utc | 94

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