Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 24, 2012

Syria: Schwerpunkt Aleppo?

This is the Syrian opposition:


This abbreviation soup is from a recent policy paper: DIVIDED THEY STAND - An Overview of Syria’s Political Opposition Factions by Aron Lund from the Swedish Palme Center. Each abbreviation stands for a group or coalition involved in the Syrian opposition.

The various splits between these groups was today again on display when two different spokesperson of the umbrella organization Syrian National Council had a public spat about a possible transitional government:

"There was never any question of a national unity government led by a member of the regime," Bassma Kodmani told AFP, hours after another SNC spokesman, George Sabra, said the council was ready to agree to a transfer of President Bashar al-Assad's powers to a regime figure who would take power for a transitional period.

Sabra said on Tuesday that the SNC "would agree to the departure of Assad and the transfer of his powers to a regime figure, who would lead a transitional period like what happened in Yemen."

"We accept this initiative because the priority today is to put an end to the massacres and protect Syrian civilians, not the trial of Assad," Sabra said.

George Sabra is a secular Christian who belongs to to the SDPP, the socialist Syrian Democratic People’s Party. He recently left Syria after he was released from prison. Bassma Kodami, who rejected his transition offer, is a long time exile and a western agent:

Kodmani is not some random "pro-democracy activist" who happens to have found herself in front of a microphone. She has impeccable international diplomacy credentials: she holds the position of research director at the Académie Diplomatique Internationale – "an independent and neutral institution dedicated to promoting modern diplomacy". The Académie is headed by Jean-Claude Cousseran, a former head of the DGSE – the French foreign intelligence service.

A picture is emerging of Kodmani as a trusted lieutenant of the Anglo-American democracy-promotion industry. Her "province of origin" (according to the SNC website) is Damascus, but she has close and long-standing professional relationships with precisely those powers she's calling upon to intervene in Syria.

So we again have a real Syrian who calls for a peaceful solution and a western tool arguing for more killing.

My bet is still that there will be no outside intervention in Syria other than foreign support for the insurgents. That probably means another Algeria like fight:

The opposition needs radical changes if it is to be able to bring down the regime, while the regime resorts to operations aimed at exterminating (there is no more fitting word for it, unfortunately) its armed opponents so as to keep its grip on the state by force.

The insurgents have now brought the war to Aleppo. Today several tweets from the insurgent side pointed to videos that claim to show insurgent reinforcement going to Aleppo. The Syrian government was also said to have reinforcement coming in and there is now unconfirmed reporting of its use of air force assets against the insurgency. That might all be the fog of this war or it might be the buildup to the Clausewitzian Schwerpunkt of this conflict. The place where both sides concentrate their forces for a decisive battle.

But with the full capabilities of the Syrian army intact a battle in Aleppo would be a rather lopsided and destructive one but still not the end of the insurgency or a solution for the countries bigger problems.

With the recent moral boost from its victory in Damascus the Syrian army is unlikely to fold. To achieve peace it is the other side that has to give way. For that the outside support for the insurgency has to stop. Something that seems currently out of reach though some people somewhere are certainly working to achieve that. (Inducing Turkey to use armored vehicles (video) against Syrian refugees in Turkey is part of such work.)

Only when the insurgency comes down to a tolerable level will any talk George Sabra and other moderates in the opposition abbreviation soup prefer become possible.

Posted by b on July 24, 2012 at 15:45 UTC | Permalink

next page »

"We see that here, also, the result cannot be determined from general grounds; the individual causes, which no one knows who is not on the spot, and many of a moral nature which are never heard of, even the smallest traits and accidents, which only appear in history as anecdotes, are often decisive. All that theory can here say is as follows:—That the great point is to keep the overruling relations of both parties in view. Out of them a certain centre of gravity, a centre of power and movement, will form itself, on which everything depends; and against this centre of gravity of the enemy, the concentrated blow of all the forces must be directed.

The little always depends on the great, the unimportant on the important, and the accidental on the essential. This must guide our view.

Alexander had his centre of gravity in his army, so had Gustavus Adolphus, Charles XII., and Frederick the Great, and the career of any one of them would soon have been brought to a close by the destruction of his army: in States torn by internal dissensions, this centre generally lies in the capital; in small states dependent on greater ones, it lies generally in the army of these allies; in a confederacy, it lies in the unity of interests; in a national insurrection, in the person of the chief leader, and in public opinion; against these points the blow must be directed." Clausewitz, On War, Book VIII, Chapter 4

Posted by: Peter Hofmann | Jul 24 2012 17:32 utc | 1

Mao: On guerilla warfare

"There is also a unity of spirit that should exist between troops and local inhabitants. The Eighth Route Army put into practice a code known as 'Three Rules and the Eight Remarks', which we list here:


All actions are subject to command.
Do not steal from the people.
Be neither selfish nor unjust.


Replace the door when you leave the house.
Roll up the bedding on which you have slept.
Be courteous.
Be honest in your transactions.
Return what you borrow.
Replace what you break.
Do not bathe in the presence of women.
Do not without authority search those you arrest.

The Red Army adhered to this code for ten years and the Eighth Route Army and other units have since adopted it.

Many people think it impossible for guerrillas to exist for long in the enemy's rear. Such a belief reveals lack of comprehension of the relationship that should exist between the people and the troops. The former may be likened to water the latter to the fish who inhabit it. How may it be said that these two cannot exist together? It is only undisciplined troops who make the people their enemies and who, like the fish out of its native element cannot live.

We further our mission of destroying the enemy by propagandizing his troops, by treating his captured soldiers with consideration, and by caring for those of his wounded who fall into our hands. If we fail in these respects, we strengthen the solidarity of our enemy."

Posted by: somebody | Jul 24 2012 17:56 utc | 2

article comparing the phoenix assassination program during Vietnam war to the current drone assassination program

Posted by: nikon | Jul 24 2012 18:00 utc | 3

if this is how the majority of Syrians see the situation - and that might well be the case - I do not think the insurgents have much to negotiate on

though I assume that the damage on most of the houses was done by army shells ...
in in that case Syrians should leave their country

Posted by: somebody | Jul 24 2012 19:31 utc | 4

I won't be surprised if funding for all the above mentioned opposition groups come from US state department's NED...They waste American tax-payers money on power hungry idiots who find "democracy" as their way to loot a country..

Posted by: Ali | Jul 24 2012 19:51 utc | 5

seriously, would they fund these guys?

Posted by: somebody | Jul 24 2012 20:20 utc | 6

This is a bit off topic but thought I might share it here.. I couldn't stop laughing when I first saw it..

Afghan policemen defect to Taliban in Farah province

After 10 years occupation, they still can't assemble a standing army and police institution..

Having said that, the Taliban's been carrying out spectacular attacks against NATO forces lately..They've become more sophisticated in the method they use...Word out there is that the Taliban's now using sticky bombs attached to fuel tanks of NATO supply trucks..I wonder why.

And this is what they want for Syria? FAT CHANCE!!!

Posted by: Zico | Jul 24 2012 20:29 utc | 7

"though I assume that the damage on most of the houses was done by army shells ..."

You do make a lot of unwarranted assumptions though, dontcha?

No real crime I spose, since we all, at times, probably do similar. comes with the territory

But I often wonder do you actually pay attention to what b posts?

He certainly has posted enough evidence that the Mercenary
Army - you know, the one in the process of attacking Syria at the moment? - has been taking plenty of pot-shots at buildings all over Syria, and he also has shown plenty of evidence that they certainly DO have access to the weaponry necessary to create pretty large holes on these structures. Create enough holes in them and you can easily make a few pot-shots look, on camera at least, somewhat like the damage an artillery or tank round would cause.

Similar to the RT report you posted as 'evidence' of the Syrian Army's supposed killing of large amounts of civilians - all I saw were the charred remains of bodies, which certainly IS quite horrific to look at - - BUT I heard absolutely NO mention of any actual evidence in that video report as to WHO started the fires that killed those humans (I'm quite happy to accept that these charred bones were actually real human remains btw )

I also saw no evidence presented that the charred remains were in fact those of real actual 'civilians' - for all you or I know they could easily have been members of the Mercenary Army.

But let's for a moment anyway accept your unwarranted assumption that those charred bones represented actual 'civilians'.

The Mercenary Army - you know, the one in the process of attacking Syria at the moment? - certainly has shown that they are quite capable of burning civilians to death without thinking twice about it, and then claiming that their own barbarity is the work of the Syrian Army - and there's already been plenty of what seems to be reliable accounts of them carrying out similar atrocities both in Libya AND in Syria.

So your supposed RT 'evidence', of Syrian murder of large amounts of civilians really doesn't hold up to scrutiny, and in fact really really doesn't contain the so called 'evidence' that you in fact claimed it did

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 24 2012 20:40 utc | 8

whoops - wrong thread :)

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 24 2012 20:54 utc | 9

Ignore my last - it WAS the correct thread after all

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 24 2012 20:55 utc | 10

it does not matter Hubris, people in Syria would know ...

Posted by: somebody | Jul 24 2012 20:55 utc | 11

"One veteran Turkish journalist whom this author interviewed in Ankara in April, just back from an extensive tour of Syria, gave his eyewitness account of the capture of a small band of "opposition" fighters. The journalist, fluent in Arabic, was astonished as he witnessed the head of the rebels demand to know why their military captors spoke Arabic. When told that was their native language, the rebel leader blurted out, "But you should speak Hebrew, you're with the Israeli Army aren't you?"

In short, the mercenaries had been blitz-trained across the border in Turkey, given Kalashnikovs and a fistful of dollars and told they were making a jihad against the Israeli Army. They did not even know who they were fighting."

Posted by: nikon | Jul 24 2012 21:01 utc | 12

"it does not matter Hubris, people in Syria would know ..."

there you go with the non-seqiturs, again

Bit of a habit of yours - you make a statement that when someone points out how ridiculous/stupid/based-on-nothing-at-all (delete as appropriate) it is, you post some stupid reply that really isn't a reply at all, by helps you avoid having to actually backup any of your nonsense with something approaching evidence or even logic

Is it any wonder plenty of people here think you're a liar/propagandist (delete as appropriate)

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 24 2012 21:03 utc | 13

@ nikon and others mentioning this so-called 'veteran Turkish journalist' and his tales of stupid Mercenaries thinking they are fighting Israelis - seriously guys (and gal's I spose) I have this lovely bridge just out back, which I am prepared to part with for a rather modest sum of money. Honest

Sounds like just the thing you people need - you can all meet half-way on it to celebrate the good health of your mythic 'veteran Turkish journalist' and crack open a bottle of wine and reminisce about his tales of stupid Muslim-Mercenaries thinking they are fighting Israelis

Any takers?

Going cheap

One previous owner - a little old lady that was housebound and never even set foot on it - pristine condition and low maintenance

How bout it?

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 24 2012 21:11 utc | 14

Hubris somehow I do not believe the story of this "veteran Turkish journalist" who for some reason cannot be named either ...

I am pretty sure the rebels destroyed government buildings and possibly shops of owners who refused to be taxed by them. There are lots of reports of indiscriminate shelling of areas by the army though - it is the safest method for them.

As I said, it does not matter what we write here, Syrian people will know. And that will decide the political outcome.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 24 2012 21:35 utc | 15

@Hu bris, I doubt anyone here believes somebody is a liar/propagandist;

I still haven't decided if you are a troll, or you are exceeding the dose of pills the doctor prescribed against your depression, or you have an uncontrollable theatrical personality, or something else; but picking fights, labeling opponents (you picked on in the first place) and then trying to create factions calling for solidarity in your attacks, certainly is disturbing;

if I were an enemy of b and decided to disrupt this blog, I'd certainly try to employ you rather than somebody or www

Posted by: claudio | Jul 24 2012 22:40 utc | 16

CBS Evening News just now: The Syrian dictatorship is attacking rebels in Aleppo. Plus, OMG! Chem and bio weapons!! Surely of mass desruction!!!!

CBS is so in the tank for the US propaganda it's almost embarrassing. Not that NPR isn't as well. Geez, what's with this vaunted free press?

I'm sorta sorry I got one TV to function on the new digital signal....

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 24 2012 22:43 utc | 17

Can't help but wonder what the US Gov. response would look like if some outside foreign Gov. supplied arms to the OWS (occupy wall street) movement. Of all the questions asked about Syria, here in the US media, the hopes and dreams of the everyday Syrian are never mentioned.

Posted by: ben | Jul 25 2012 0:25 utc | 18

At this point, the best thing to do is to put nicknames ABOVE posts, so we can scroll & skip the low signal to noise ratio posts instantly & not endure useless pain ^^

Posted by: rototo | Jul 25 2012 1:18 utc | 19

@17, Absolutely embarrassing. NBC Evening News is no different!! The cry for WAR and intervention continues. Are there powers out there trying to destroy America???..

Posted by: georgeg | Jul 25 2012 1:47 utc | 20

Norwegian state TV too, are portraying matters in a way to prepare the viewers for the idea of a full-on NATO military strike at Syria, even outright lying, saying Russia are giving signals of accepting the US premise of needing to at some point support the rebels to create a Syrian 'liberated corridor'.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 25 2012 2:37 utc | 21

The Lenins Tomb phenomenon seems to be coming to an inglorious end as its author aligns himself and the British SWP more and more clearly alongside the United States, Israel and the Gulf tyrants, all of whom have academic jobs to offer.
Here is the latest.

"As Bashar al-Assad flees the capital, the armed segments of the revolution appear to be inflicting blows on sections of the security apparatus and taking over major cities: the revolution is turning a corner. Robert Fisk reports that a crucial dynamic now is the fracturing of an alliance between the Sunni middle class and the Alawite regime, signalled by the spread of the revolt to Aleppo. And defections from the state-capitalist power bloc continue. Indeed, Juan Cole has suggested that such divisions must run deep in the Syrian state for the opposition to be capable of planting a bomb that can kill a senior minister..."

Marx, it will be noted, has been replaced by, the more fashionable, Juan Cole, whilst analysis has been replaced by spinning imperialist propaganda and regurgitating Robert Fisk.

Lenins Tomb, with a fork in it.

Posted by: bevin | Jul 25 2012 3:03 utc | 22

@jawbone #17
CBS is so in the tank for the US propaganda it's almost embarrassing. Not that NPR isn't as well. Geez, what's with this vaunted free press?

This is nothing new.

Dan Rather, an iconic US journalist: "Look I'm an American. I never tried to kid anybody that I'm some internationalist or something. And when my country is at war, I want my country to win, whatever the definition of 'win' might be. Now, I can't and don't argue that that is coverage without prejudice. About that I am prejudiced." So Dan brought us through the criminal war against Vietnam and the Nixon presidency.
-- from Norman Solomon's "War Made Easy" -- How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. HIGHLY recommended reading, by the way. Basically, correspondents who don't toe the line become ex-correspondents.

NPR is no better. Listening to the local PBS station the other day -- "where news matters" -- they interviewed two propagandists for the insurgents and NOBODY from the Syria side.

That's another point. "Syria" normally means the government, but the U.S. has perverted this with their "Friends of Syria," implying that the insurgents are Syria. Chris Hedges: "The highjacking of language is fundamental to war."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 25 2012 4:43 utc | 23

As predicted would happen 3 weeks back by Meyssan when Ikhbaria-TV was bombed by the terrorists, hijacking of Syria's airwaves appears to have started. Same tactic was used by NATO in Libya to broadcast disinformation about the fall of the Libyan government before it actually happened. From RT yesterday:

" New spin in media war? Syria uncovers TV hijack plot

Syria has accused Western and Arab intelligence agencies of plotting to “hijack” its satellite channel frequencies in order to spread misinformation about the alleged advances of the rebels, ccmilitary defections or the fall of certain cities.

­“An Information Ministry source warned that Western intelligence are planning, in cooperation with some Arab parties, to hijack the frequencies of Syrian satellite channels,” state news agency Sana reported on Sunday.

The ministry said its goal would be to broadcast false news on an "alleged coup d'etat" and that for this purpose they could use “Syrian presenters and journalists who work for Arab and Western channels, or who might have been abducted.”

Similar alarms about a new plot against Syria were also broadcast through other official national media sources such as Syria TV, al-Dunia TV, and Sham FM.

It is not the first time Syria's Information Ministry has warned of misleading media reports pretending to be coming from official Syrian TV sources.

On Friday, the ministry announced that a satellite channel was using the logo of the Syrian Satellite Channel and its frequency. The channel was reportedly broadcasting nationalistic songs in an alleged test run before a massive media attack against Syria.

The Information Ministry emphasized that the genuine Syrian channels can be recognized by the presence of well-known presenters and programs.

Earlier Sunday, some satellite channels reported on aerial bombardment of Damascus by government forces, but these reports were denied by the official state media.

Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 5:48 utc | 24

When I mentioned Aleppo a couple of days back, Hu Bris went into orbit. With hundreds of tanks, attack helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft used to attack the rebels fighting from civilian areas, some here still believe that civilians aren't getting killed in the government assaults. Here it's dicussed by Russia's RT:

"Fierce fighting in the Syrian commercial hub of Aleppo has entered its fourth day with reports of Assad’s warplanes striking opposition forces in the city.

Fixed-wing jets have bombed the eastern areas of Aleppo, says a BBC correspondent near the city. Syrian troops reportedly launched a massive counter-attack in the Tariq al-Bab area late on Tuesday afternoon. It began with intensive shelling before the planes joined the offensive, reports say.

RT’s correspondent in Syria, Oksana Boyko, confirms intensive fighting in at least four suburbs. Residents of the city have been taking cover all day long with some evacuated from the most dangerous sites, she says. They took refuge in several university campuses.

Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 6:16 utc | 25

(Reuters) - Syrian rebels will eventually control swathes of territory but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad still has time to negotiate an exit, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.

Syrian troops backed by helicopter gunships fought rebels trying to seize central Aleppo and pursued a campaign to regain full control of the capital Damascus, residents and opposition activists said.

U.S. intelligence officials see both sides in Syria as being in it for the long haul and that while the opposition since April has begun to be more effective against the Syrian government, the likelihood remains for a protracted conflict.

U.S. intelligence officials say the overall trend for Assad's government continues to be downward.

Earlier in a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Clinton said the Obama administration - which has previously said that it is providing communications equipment to the rebels - was now doing more, though she did not provide details.

"I have to say that we are also increasing our efforts to assist the opposition," Clinton said.

"It will be unfortunate if, indeed, the Assad regime and those around them decide that it's an existential struggle for them and they will maintain and even increase the level of violent response," she added.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2012 6:25 utc | 26

ok they lost it politically, too - this is tweeted by a guy who basically is sympathetic to them
Fadi Salem ‏@FadiSalem

Brother of FSA member killed in Salaheddin: You want to know why FSA killed my brother? 'cause they are clueless kids with guns #Aleppo #FSA

there is much much more in his tweets ...

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2012 6:35 utc | 27

This is getting weird. b points us to unconfirmed reports of a decisive battle looming in Aleppo. So, to refute this, somebody and www quote extensively from unconfirmed reports of a decisive battle looming in Aleppo, all of which confirm b's post!

Posted by: Bob Jackson | Jul 25 2012 7:22 utc | 28

Bob, who is refuting anything about a battle in Aleppo? The only variance in versions is beween b saying the big one is looming and those like me saying it's actually in progress. b is great at giving you the full story on the exposed portion of the iceberg. I'm sticking as much as possible to sources loyal to the Syrian regime, like RT, to not give slippery eels the excuse to discredit it. If you read the RT report, it tries passing on the attack by helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft as an unconfirmed BBC-sourced item. If the (we-love-Assad)Russian RT had any doubts about the BBC report, why would it even mention it in its own report? Furthermore, RT has people on the ground in Aleppo, why did it not say that they hadn't heard any aircraft over the city?

Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 7:56 utc | 29


THat's quite interesting, these FSA groups seem to be armed criminal gangs fighting beween themselves over territory to loot. That would be very bad if the government were to disappear, there would break out some extreme version of Libya quarrels. Not to mention the outright AlQuaida Terrorist factions, and the mercenaries who want pay when the support goes away.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 25 2012 8:23 utc | 30

and I am saying it has already been lost on both counts militarily and politically - if Syrian authorities do not make any more mistakes, that is a big if - as the survival of Assad's regime depends on how people in Syria perceive this fight and whom they ascribe the damage to.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2012 8:29 utc | 31

From the Telegraph today:

Syrian troops surge towards Aleppo as Turkey to close all borders

Syria sent thousands of troops surging towards Aleppo in the early hours of Wednesday, where its forces have been pounding rebel fighters from the air, as Turkey announced it would close all its borders with the embattled country.
Recent days have seen Syria's 16-month-old uprising transformed from an insurgency in remote provinces into a battle for control of the two main cities, Aleppo and the slightly smaller capital, Damascus, where fighting exploded last week.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces have launched massive counter assaults in both cities. They appear to have beaten rebels back from neighbourhoods in the capital and are turning towards Aleppo, a commercial hub in the north.

Turkish Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazici announced it would close its border gates with Syria on Wednesday, according to reports by broadcaster NTV, after a number of gates along the frontier were said to have been seized by Syrian rebels.

Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 8:37 utc | 32

Is it any wonder plenty of people here think you're a liar/propagandist (delete as appropriate)

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 24, 2012 5:03:28 PM | 13

>>> Who is "everybody", Hu Bris?

No idea matey - since I never used the phrase you are dishonestly attempting to attribute to me>>> (Hu Bris)

My apologies, Hu Bris, I mistakenly used the term "everybody" in lieu of the "plenty of people" that you actually used. Claudio in post 16 was just as perplexed by your wholesale declaration.

Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 8:47 utc | 33

the New York Times has reverted to calling Al Queida Al Queida

Al Qaeda Taking Deadly New Role in Syria Conflict

somewhere buried in the article ...

"Joseph Holliday, an analyst from the Institute for the Study of War who studies Al Qaeda and the Arab Spring, said, “The emergence of Al Qaeda-linked terrorist cells working against the regime poses risks to the United States and a challenge to those calling for material support of the armed opposition.”

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2012 9:30 utc | 34

BTW - I have no real general beef with Pepe - as 'professional' journalists go, he's clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the pack of squalling whores that call themselves journalists - I did have a few quibbles with certain aspects of his presentation of the Syrian FSA and the overall situation there - so for anyone that's interested, - the answer to the question of what I found wrong with Pepe's article is actually already contained within the comment I posted at the time

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 25 2012 9:30 utc | 35

""Joseph Holliday, an analyst from the Institute for the Study of War who studies Al Qaeda and the Arab Spring, said, “The emergence of Al Qaeda-linked terrorist cells working against the regime poses risks to the United States and a challenge to those calling for material support of the armed opposition.” "

Wow - maybe the Psychopaths of NATO will suddenly conclude after all that they have "No Other Option™" but to go git dem Al Q varmints!!

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 25 2012 9:33 utc | 36

no alqaeda terror cells in US none in israel....where are they in europe? no they are in....syria...

Posted by: brian | Jul 25 2012 10:26 utc | 37

Libya 2.0: Media Hysteria Over Syria "Bombing" City of Aleppo

July 24, 2012 - The Telegraph has reported (emphasis added), "fighter jets have reportedly launched bomb attacks on Syria's second city of Aleppo, which, if confirmed, would be the first time Assad forces had used war planes against citizens."

Image: A sole"tweet" from BBC's Ian Pannell, who has yet to provide any source, evidence, or details regarding his vague claim, immediately made headlines across the Western media.

The claim is based on a single "tweet" from BBC's Ian Pannell who, after hours of making his his claim that, "fighter jets have bombed eastern #Aleppo city. A significant escalation and perhaps the first time they've been used in #Syrian conflict," has failed categorically to cite his source, provide any evidence of his claims, or provide details of the targets and context of the attacks, if indeed they took place. Yet the Western media "echo chamber" began repeating the story seconds after it was posted, and through this alone it attempted to validate the claim while building momentum behind NATO insinuations

Image: Taken from an official Defense Department transcript, the US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Admiral Michael Mullen both concede they'd seen no confirmation "whatsoever" regarding claims by the corporate media that Libya's Qaddafi had used airstrikes against his own people. However, this fabrication would be used for very real airstrikes, not by Qaddafi, but by NATO under the guise of the "Responsibility to Protect."

Narratives of "brutal dictators" bombing civilians with aircraft have been used before, most notably in Libya where verified lies were told regarding Qaddafi's use of aircraft against the city of Benghazi. These fabrications were used to justify foreign military intervention and regime change under the guise of a "no-fly zone" to "protect civilians."

However, the US Department of Defense itself noted that none of these accusations were founded in fact or confirmed in any way, and the Russian government went as far as providing satellite imagery of sites allegedly bombed to show no such strikes were made.

Ironically, NATO's subsequent "protection of civilians" flattened several cities across the country, slaying thousands of civilians. "

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 25 2012 10:55 utc | 38

further down that page :

<>Image: See here -

The West’s “lightly armed” FSA. ABC (Australia) claims this is a picture taken this week of an FSA-seized tank on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria. One wonders if this tank was rolling along the outskirts of Washington in the middle of a war, whether or not the US would use airstrikes to neutralize it.

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 25 2012 11:03 utc | 39

and yet another image for the persistent liars and/or propagandists (delete as appropriate) here trying to pretend that the FSA couldn't knock large holes in Syrian buildings

"Image: Al Jazeera was running this picture - - along with the description, "Syrian rebels near Aleppo city, as they took much of the formerly loyalist city from the government [EPA]." Heavy weapons can be seen mounted on several of the trucks, and images like this are increasingly common as militants attempt to enter cities like Damascus and Aleppo where there are more cameras, and hiding these weapons from the general public becomes increasingly difficult."

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 25 2012 11:06 utc | 40

Intense Anti-[Syrian] Propaganda (my edit, after all it's the Syrian people that are being killed by the NATO/Israel/Saudi etc financed Mercenary Army)

Western propaganda is relentless. Media scoundrels regurgitate official misinformation and bald-faced lies. Truth and full disclosure are verboten.

Judith Miller is back. In fact, she never went away. Earlier she fell from grace for shilling for Bush 43′s Iraq war. She wrote daily propaganda pieces. She was a Pentagon press agent. She still is. She’s not a legitimate journalist.

After Syrian officials were killed last week, she called its defense apparatus “decapitated.” In fact, those killed were quickly replaced. Syrian forces routed Western death squads in Damascus and elsewhere. It’s battling them in Aleppo. It’s the nation’s largest city and commercial hub. Expect a similar result there. Assad’s government remains in control overall. Miller did what she does best.

She lied and never says she’s sorry."

sounds a LOT like certain individuals here,

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 25 2012 11:26 utc | 41

(German) Das neue Syrien kommt aus Wilmersdorf

The think tank's director emphasises that it is not their job to select the new Syrian Government, hence all participants have "recruited themselves". Wonder how that works.

Posted by: lux | Jul 25 2012 12:13 utc | 42

Those pickups mounted with AA guns look like a 'brand new' Libyan import product line. I doubt AA guns are that freely available inside Syria (much less likely to be on the normal weapon market that RPGs, assault rifles or light machine guns), or that Turkey would allow workshops building such 'artifacts' on their side of the frontier. So the photos could be fake or those are Libyan pickups (and may be even Libyan crews).

Pickups with AA guns, technicals, have a long tradition in Africa wars. Not so much in this area with proper well equipped armies. They seem to be a new introduction. And of course US 'special' forces love them.

Posted by: ThePaper | Jul 25 2012 12:18 utc | 43

Thierry Meyssan's latest video from Damascus from a couple of days back. In a nutshell, he describes how the insurgents that included nationals from 9 different countries tried to take over Damascus and failed. At about the 3:16 mark, he mentions that the planes and helicopters are "no longer in the skies of Damascus" as things have returned to normal. He also mentioned at the end of the video that the fundamentalist insurgents promised to return to Damascus to pray at the Great Umayyad Mosque on the 15th of Ramadan (in 2 Fridays-Aug 3rd). He described the heavily defended national broadcast center that NATO is desperate to destroy.

Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 12:29 utc | 44

they are definitely preparing for intervention ...

ok, WWIII then ...
SYRIA CRISIS BRIEFING: A Collision Course for Intervention
Free Syria Army Idlib February 2012 - Photo by tinyccSyriaFreedomThe Syrian crisis took a decisive new turn on 25 July. President Bashar al-Assad’s own future is now significantly less relevant to whatever will happen next in the country and external intervention, in some form, is now significantly more likely.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2012 12:34 utc | 45

Google translate version of lux's link @#57

First paragraph has interesting use of language

. The secret project called "Day After" is organized by the SWP, in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), as the participants learned from TIME. The German Foreign Ministry and the State Department to help with money, visas and logistics. Direct government involvement is not it wisely, so that participants can not be denounced as puppets of the West.

so we now know that they must be fine decent upstanding humans because they have the word 'Peace' in their title - I mean what else could they be but promoters of 'Peace'? - it's right there in the title!

They have clearly stated their main aim - 'Peace' - and after all who am I to dare question such an obviously open and honest self-assessment of their aims? To even suggest that their may be some slight disconnect between their stated aim - 'Peace' - and their actual aims would of course be totally delusional, . . . . . . . . . obviously

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 25 2012 12:43 utc | 47

So the photos could be fake

absolutely - but I have only presented it as the MSM has presented it - and THEY are the ones claiming these photos come from Syria - I'm just passing it along -

or those are Libyan pickups (and may be even Libyan crews).

Not sure what you mean here -

1) Libyans pictured in Libya (and therefore a fake description of the photo by Al J i.e: more of the usual lies then?)


2) Libyans actually fighting with the FSA in Syria? (more likely IMHO)

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 25 2012 12:49 utc | 48

"Ironically, NATO's subsequent "protection of civilians" flattened several cities across the country, slaying thousands of civilians. "

anyway - those ain't my words you're quoting there, you silly little man - if you want to demand sources from me then please DO try and use something I actually said. Makes you look at little more intelligent when you do it that way, I've always found

But certainly one might surmise, and note that this is just my opinion/guess ;), that Sirte may have been one of those that the person you quoted had in mind - though 'flattened' in ref to a WHOLE city is possibly a little hyperbolic - flattened sections of would certainly be a better description IMHO - but then as I said, those ain't my words so I really wouldn't be the 'go-to' person when it comes to interpreting the words of the gentleman in question -

Perhaps you could email him and ask him exactly what proof he has, and then return here with his reply, if any? I'm sure many here would be as eager as I to learn the results of your intrepid investigation 3w

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 25 2012 12:58 utc | 49

>>> more - they want intervention>>> (somebody 61)

Lots of well-known Irish-sounding names among the signatories that want a safety zone inside Syria. The US has been angling to set one up in Lebanon for a couple of years and consistently running up against a brick wall since one would be a casue for a civil war. It almost succeeded since half the 370-km Lebanese-Syria border is in a pro-US area that's leaking like a sieve with arms and Salafist fighters while the other half is controled by Hezbollah and nothing is going through.

Hu Bris, if you want to know more, Google is your friend.

Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 13:15 utc | 50

>>> But certainly one might surmise, and note that this is just my opinion/guess ;), that Sirte may have been one of those that the person you quoted had in mind - though 'flattened' in ref to a WHOLE city is possibly a little hyperbolic - flattened sections of would certainly be a better description IMHO - but then as I said, those ain't my words so I really wouldn't be the 'go-to' person when it comes to interpreting the words of the gentleman in question; Perhaps you could email him and ask him exactly what proof he has, and then return here with his reply, if any? I'm sure many here would be as eager as I to learn the results of your intrepid investigation 3w >>>

Which gentleman is that, Hubris? Could be the same cab driver that told me about what was happening in Aleppo a couple of days back.

Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 13:23 utc | 51

Video of Sirte before and after NATO bombing:

Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 13:54 utc | 52

Rules of Engagement - a debate in Afghanistan

Global Post, July 12, 2010
. . .[General] McChrystal said the strategy would require specifically tightening the use of airpower, artillery and “lethal force” in population centers such as Kandahar, where insurgents live among the population. McChrystal explained that the increased risk to American soldiers was part of the price that the United States and its allies would have to pay for a counterinsurgency strategy intent on winning hearts and minds.

The revised rules of engagement have been applauded by many Afghan leaders. Human rights activists say they contributed to a reduction in the number of Afghan civilian casualties killed by foreign troops, which according to a U.N. report, reached a total of 2,412 last year. But these stricter rules have been disparaged by American military analysts and returning veterans. Sen. Joe Lieberman, who recently toured Afghanistan and studied the issue, went so far as to say they “hurt morale.”

Stories of troops waiting for air support and being prevented from firing unless they are shot at first have been rippling through the military for months. Many soldiers in the field complain that the Taliban is keenly aware of these rules and has become expert at firing on U.S. positions and then melting back into the civilian population.

Now that Gen. Petraeus has taken the reins of power in Afghanistan, he has vowed a “hard review” of these guidelines for troops in the field. Petraeus said he would look to ensure that they are implemented more consistently in the filed and that confusion is minimized through better briefings of field commanders on what is expected of their troops. In a memo to troops in the field issued on July 4, the first day he formally assumed command, Petraeus seemed to be striking a new chord: “Protecting those we are here to help nonetheless does require killing, capturing or turning the insurgents. We will not shrink from that.”

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 25 2012 14:16 utc | 53

Now in Syria, the government is not fighting for "hearts and minds" -- it's trying to put down a foreign-supported insurgency -- fighting for its very existence.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 25 2012 14:18 utc | 54

The Syrian army will win in Aleppo but the victory will come at a great cost of lives and property. The army won in Damascus but the battle is just begining in Aleppo.

Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 14:48 utc | 55

- from an article in le Temps 24.07.12 by Florence Aubenas (french journo, kidnapped in iraq, huge ransom paid), parts freely abstracted by me. (no link.)

Jibrine. About a year ago, the first demo took place.

Five masked men with one lit torch stood in a field for all of 6 minutes, at night, before scampering. At midnight news of the demo had flown around the village, and the inhabitants begged the fellows not to ever do anything like it again. Ppl were very divided, some shouting The Revolution Has Arrived. The next week, there were 8 of them.

To escape arrest, they hid, slept outside. One closed his shop and left, another fled to London.

The police reacted - badly. They beat up a man who was smoking in the street, threw a woman to the ground, and on one occasion shot into a crowd.

The first to die was a mason, during a march in Marea. In Marea 28 inhabitants have been killed. 50 in Tal Rifat, and almost 70 in Azzar. Mostly sunnites, as that is what they are; the few alawites left for Damascus or Aleppo when things started to turn ugly.

A witness: “Ppl became radicalised when they saw the police killing them simply because they were out in the street.” The inhabitants beat up some shabibas, kidnapped and killed a few.

In this northern region (1) today: there is very little petrol, electricity intermittent, prices of meat have tripled, the dollar has (roughly) doubled in value. There is no cell phone coverage at all. One third of houses are empty. Schools are closed, no trains, no administration, and no police.

3 helicopters turns in the sky. Last week, they shot a child, a man on a motorbike and destroyed some farming equipment.

Administrative buildings, the army recruitment center, the hospital (etc.) are bombed out or seriously damaged. Inhabitant: “They are afraid we would install ourselves in them, take them over.”

Ppl are on the move. Families departing, in trucks filled with furniture and children, cross families returning after 20, 30 years, from Yemen and KSA. The greet each other: “We will never return!” and the others reply “We will never leave!” They cry, salute, hug.

In Tal Rifat, the ppl have chosen a ‘mayor’ and 19 ‘deputies’ to administer and organize. These are local notables. They have opened up a law court, local services are working again, e.g. garbage collection. When asked what they think of the Syrian National Council, they laugh, some are angry, scornful.

The only checkpoints or army on the ground are the FSA. (Aubenas interviewed a commander, I leave that out.)

1. the article does not describe geography clearly.

I can’t see any ‘instituted’ Gvmt., here Assad, surviving something like this, independently of who exactly bombed the hospital and City Hall. The description may be slanted, in various ways, either by her or her informants, of course.

Others may know more re. this region, or disagree, I’d be happy to hear. I rarely view videos with violence, I miss a lot. These last two sentences should not be necessary....sigh.

So one outcome is moving towards regions / zones, a fractioning of the country, as I also can’t see the ‘insurgents’ taking over the Two Big Towns. Not that I’m predicting that. No. I think the Gvmt. will just collapse and some ‘transition’ will be set up.

@bevin 22. lenin’s tomb, richard seymour, is a regular, top!, brit ‘marxist’ leftist, that is imho a startingly odd special breed, i was banned on there after 3 very mild respectful comments. ;)

Posted by: Noirette | Jul 25 2012 14:51 utc | 56

74 Don Bacon, yep and that is why they might still lose in a big way.

76 Noirette, if the location was important in any strategic way, i.e. to establish safe zones, there would be a fight, I guess there are many places in Syria that have never really been under government control ...

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2012 15:28 utc | 57

to clarify, to taunt the Syrian army to react and kill the civilian population standing in the way has been the strategy of the rebels from the start, either to be able to cry for help from outside or to get the authorities hated ...

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2012 15:31 utc | 58

Oops! There goes another comment thread, busted to hell by a URL breaking the right margin.

C'mon, commenters -- either check with preview or use the embed HTML tags.

(I'm assuming preview will reveal whether the margin gets I wrong?)

I realize it takes precious time, but, hey, it takes a lot more to keep scroll down to the move
the bottom slide back and forth to just try to read comments.

Guess what? It's not worth it, so, while I hate to miss good comments, this is ridiculous.

Posted by: jawbone | Jul 25 2012 15:35 utc | 59

"Die syrischen Flüchtlinge fürchten die Rebellen, der "Freien Syrischen Armee" (FSA) und nicht Bashar al Assad!" - Syrian refugees are fearing rebels, not Assad!

for info purposes only - can't vouch for the veracity of the translation, nor the content -

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 25 2012 15:39 utc | 60

From BBC's Ian Pannell -FSA tanks are positioned in or around Aleppo, according to BBC. The myth that NATO-backed militants are "lightly armed" is unraveling as they attempt to take on large cities flush with cameras and media from both sides. Eager propagandists attempting to portray victories have more than once shown "captured tanks" in the hands of militants. Heavy militant weapons beget heavy government weapons.

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 25 2012 15:47 utc | 61

With a long URL it's common courtesy to go to and shorten it.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 25 2012 15:48 utc | 62

In another Aubenas article in LM yesterday, she reported that people in Aleppo woke up on Tuesday to find the FSA all over the city and the army caught unpreprared. Whole areas of the city were under rebel control with 2 helicopters shot down, 2 tanks destroyed and a third tank captured and parked in front of a downtown school where the FSA set up its HQ. Like at a fair, people from the neighborhood are getting their photo taken in the tank. 4 army trucks out of a total of 14 were destroyed in an ambush.


Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 15:49 utc | 63

swaths of territory and safe havens

Global Post, July 4
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian rebels now control large swaths of territory along Syria’s northwest border with Turkey

NPR, July 23
The Syrian government still has the upper hand in the country's largest cities, but rebels now hold large swaths of territory in rural areas.

Clinton, July 24
And we have to work closely with the opposition because more and more territory is being taken, and it will eventually result in a safe haven inside Syria, which will then provide a base for further actions by the opposition.

State news briefing, Jul 24
MS. NULAND: Well, I think the Secretary this morning was simply stating a fact, which is that the Assad regime is increasingly losing control of swaths of territory, and clearly the opposition is trying to consolidate so that it can have a base from which to operate.. . . .Well, again, I think we have to see how the situation develops. She was making clear that what we see is increasing control of territory by the opposition, their effort to consolidate so that they have regular bases for operation. Our goal all along has been to try to help them to be unified so that they have a clear message to the Syrian people.

"Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." -- Lewis Carroll

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 25 2012 15:49 utc | 64

Images: (Top) From BBC's Ian Pannell - BBC and other Western media outlets have claimed "MIGs" are bombing Aleppo's civilian populations. This all based on a single "tweet" made by BBC's Ian Pannell. Pannell now reports this video depicts what he saw - which in reality is either an anti-tank SU-25 or Aero L-39 deploying machine guns, not bombs, verses what Pannell already admits are FSA heavy weapons, not civilian populations. Several orthographic views of the SU-25 and Aero L-39 for comparison.

Cartalucci again - BBC Rides with Al Qaeda in Aleppo, Syria

July 25, 2012 - When big lies must be told, BBC is there. From Iraq to Afghanistan to Libya and now Syria, BBC has paved the way for Western disinformation meant to mange public perception around a war the public would otherwise never support or tolerate.

The BBC, caught on record producing entire "documentaries" on behalf of corporate-financier interests, has already been caught in immense lies regarding the NATO-fueled destabilization of Syria. This includes the disingenuous use of photos from Iraq, to depict a so-called "massacre" in the village of Houla, Syria.

Now, as NATO's Al Qaeda mercenaries operating under the banner of the so-called "Free Syrian Army" flow over the Turkish-Syrian border in an attempt to overrun the city of Aleppo, BBC is there, attempting to manipulate the public's perception as the conflict unfolds.

BBC's Ian Pannell admits he rode with a convoy of milatnt fighters into Aleppo at night. He claims many are desperate for the FSA to succeed, "clamoring for freedom denied by their president," but concedes many others fear an "Islamic takeover" and sectarian "division and bloodshed." The latter of course, is self-evident, while the former is the repeated, unfounded mantra of the Western media used to cover up the latter.

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 25 2012 15:52 utc | 65

Clinton better get some bear spray --
Jul 25, 2012
US position on Syria directly endorses terrorism - Lavrov
Washington’s reaction to blasts in Damascus is a downright justification of terrorism, slams Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. US State Department announced that terror acts in Syria are not surprising in light of the Assad regime’s actions.

“This is direct endorsement of terrorism. How are we supposed to understand that?” Sergey Lavrov shared his astonishment at a press conference in Moscow. “This is a sinister position, I cannot find words to express our attitude towards that.” [He's doing pretty well.]

Lavrov also expressed his surprise that the UN Security Council refused to condemn acts of terror in Syria. The US permanent representative to the UN Susan Rice has stated that terror acts in Damascus contribute to speeding up the adoption of a resolution on Syria according to the Chapter 7 of the UN Statute, which implies harsh sanctions, including resorting to force.

“In other words this means ‘We are going to support such acts of terrorism until the UNSC does what we want’,” Lavrov commented on the US representative's actions.

Russia is implicitly calling the U.S. a state supporter of terrorism. My, my, what does that do to the "War On (Of) Terror?"

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 25 2012 15:56 utc | 66

@www, @hu bris

STOP the fucking pissing contest or you both will be banned.


I deleted a bunch of comments by those two above. The comment numbering has therefore changed


learn how to make a proper link!!!
- Do not just throw in loooong links - some browsers can't handle them and make the page unreadable
- Make proper links with a href=" as described next to the comment box
- Using the URL as linktext in the a href=" is NOT a proper link

Posted by: b | Jul 25 2012 16:20 utc | 67

@noirette - those reports by Florence Aubenas sound like a lot of hearsay brushed up to propaganda to me. Same for the Aubenas piece linked by www.

Two helicopters down? And none of the dozens of other journalists in the city has seen that? And no video of the downed helos?

Sorry, but that is nonsense

Posted by: b | Jul 25 2012 16:23 utc | 68

The le Monde sounds like fantasy. The New York Times has this

"But a United Nations diplomat familiar with the thinking of the rebels said they had suspended the safe-haven idea until foreign allies agree to provide air cover. So far the West considers that a step too far.

The insurgents fear that without such cover, they would be vulnerable to attacks by Syria’s formidable air force. They also feel more secure living amid the mosaic of ethnic villages in central and northern Syria — with hamlets of Mr. Assad’s Alawite sect rubbing shoulders with those of his government’s mostly Sunni Muslim opponents. Despite occasional massacres, that proximity forces some restraint on the part of the government, the diplomat said.

Instead, the fighting in Aleppo and Damascus appears to indicate that the insurgents want to annoy the government — kind of like a mosquito, pricking it constantly and wearing it down before flitting away.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2012 16:33 utc | 69

>>> kind of like a mosquito, pricking it constantly and wearing it down before flitting away.>>>

Somebody, this and the taunting you mentioned is a dangerous game; they are playing with a party that the last time it was taunted was in 1982 and it resulted in a scorched earth operation that took many lives. Thanks for the good discussions.

Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 17:56 utc | 70

>>> @www, @hu bris

STOP the fucking pissing contest or you both will be banned.>>>

It won't be necessary; Hu Bris's welcome to my space.

Posted by: www | Jul 25 2012 17:59 utc | 71

www is now banned

Posted by: b | Jul 25 2012 18:03 utc | 72

It's interesting that with Defense's Panetta mostly silent on Syria (since he said it was 'spinning out of control' a week ago), State's Clinton has stepped up to become an expert on military matters in Syria: ". .more and more territory is being taken, and it will eventually result in a safe haven inside Syria, which will then provide a base for further actions by the opposition." (Rather presumptuous, given her lack of military background, as is true for diplomacy too.)

Is this what Panetta meant by 'spinning out of control?' This lack of qualified military perspectives on military matters in Syria? Where are the Joint Chiefs with their huge staffs? General Dempsey, JCS Chairman, has not participated in a press conference nor said a word about Syria this month. Last month Panetta said “We continue to be concerned about developments in Syria."

Maybe (big maybe) the Pentagon actually knows what it's doing. Could it be a calculated move to leave Clinton twisting slowly in the wind in yet another US foreign policy fiasco, complete with fictitious swaths of territory and safe havens?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 25 2012 18:08 utc | 73

The pronouncement by the Russia foreign secretary about US support for armed groups in Syria shouldn't be taken lightly..Russia has effectively accuse the US of being a state sponsor of terror and rightly so.

The "war on terra" died when the US became the chief terrorist...

Posted by: Zico | Jul 25 2012 18:32 utc | 74

Don Bacon @ 74

The US or more to the point Clinton and Pannetta have no idea/clue on what's going on in Syria..They've adopted the fake it till you make it approach..So they come out sometime to make a old claim, and then wait for it to "happen".What they say have no basis in reality. If one's been paying attention, they've been predicting Assad's fall since last year and we're still here today. There was a time where they gave him only weeks to survive.

If the CIA is getting their intelligence from "activists" then they've been seriously duped..The fsa will sell the Saudi kings sand if that's what it takes to get more cash handout..They've been proven liars over and over again but for some strange reason, their backers seem to have faith in them..

Posted by: Zico | Jul 25 2012 18:41 utc | 75

It sounded like good news when Egypt's president Morsi announced the opening of Gaza. But it seems it happened only because Hamas was willing to sell out.

Well at least one of Hamas’s news outlets is hitting the sectarian anti-Alawite button…hard.

Here in a commentary by Dr Isam Shawir in the Hamas controlled Filastin al-An he says: “The situation was under control for more than 16 months in spite of the death of around 10,000 Syrian civilians. But in the wake of the killing of the ministers of defence and interior and the deputy chief of staff, the leaders of crime in the Al-Asad regime, the United States announced that the situation is no longer under control. Is it no longer under Al-Asad, the United States, or the UN Security Council’s control? The White House spokesman said at his news conference that President Bashar al-Asad is quickly losing control and the international community must expeditiously interfere to prevent a civil and sectarian war while the US Secretary of Defence, speaking at Congress said in a more accurate manner “that the situation in Syria is quickly getting out of control,” that “the crisis in Syria has reached the point of real escalation,” and that “the international community must exert the utmost pressure to have Al-Asad step down.”

recall that Assad was under enormous pressure to close down Hamas offices in 2004-2008 and he wouldn't budge. I guess that's Hamas' way of saying thank you.

Posted by: Lysander | Jul 25 2012 19:01 utc | 76

Hamas has found new, rich friends in Qatar. Why should Syria (or Iran) care? It merely puts the GCC in a pickle.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 25 2012 19:29 utc | 77

Lysander @ 76

Hamas's about-face backstabbing of their long time ally is nothing new..Palestinians are known to be sellouts when the price is right.Even Arafat was eventually colluding with the Israelis...Why do you think the Israelis have been able to control them for decades now? The Israelis simply know which Palestinian tribe to buy at the right time..In the West bank, they have Abu Mazen(the Shah of Palestine and the most successful double agent in history) to do the repression for them...You see, Arabs are a very tribal/clan society and one group is always competing to be the top dog. They don't mind colluding with their sworn enemies if that's what it takes to be the top dog.

Hamas' spat with the Syrian government started when the cash from Iran stopped flowing..I don't know what the Iranians detected but I'm sure something was amiss..Khaled Meshal's made a number of trips to Tehran recently. I don't know what went on there but could've been him trying to smoothen things..There's rumours that Hamas had a hand in the unrest in Syria with their collusion with the Syrian MB.

Anyway, that's history. Hamas seem to be in good company these days..They're now based in Doha and a Hamas leader will be having dinner with Erdogan in Turkey to break fast..

I guess Money talks.

Posted by: Zico | Jul 25 2012 19:38 utc | 78

it'd be interesting to have an in-depth view of what's going on within Hamas right now, from some informed source

Posted by: claudio | Jul 25 2012 20:17 utc | 79

Don Bacon I think they have no plan left.
Hillary Clinton is trying to put a brave face on it. She cannot very well say we surrender.

Russia and China say no to intervention. China has financial leverage and Russia has got the supply lines to Afghanistan. Russia's installations are in the way, to attack Syria would be to attack Russia.

Safe havens only work with a no fly zone. The SNC whose members know how to talk to western audiences is not consulted by the fighters on the ground. The fighters on the ground do not know what to say to western audiences and tell reporters stuff like

Jon Lee Anderson ‏@jonleeanderson

#Syria Today a rebel chief in Aleppo told me wants an Islamic state of Syria. His ideal: the 8th century Caliphate of Omar ibn Abdelaziz.

Everyone invested in the Syrian "Uprising" wants the US to act, whilst the US wants to "lead from behind"

It is a perfect mess. They are warning now of the "Algerian scenario" ... well ...

And yes, I am pretty sure, the Obama administration had it all planned for 2 years as a smart way to deal with Iran.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 25 2012 21:49 utc | 80

assessment from a group of anonymous commentators I highly esteem (Italians), at; they don't have much faith in Putin's resolve; I translated, paraphrasing, the main parts of their last newsletter

- there are only two big powers in Russia today, Gazprom and the Army, which are basically the same as 30 years ago, since Gazprom is the heir of the KGB reconverted in business agency
- Putin isn't a "czar", but is anyways a strong man, mediator between Gazprom and the Army, but tilted towards Gazprom
- compared to Libya, Putin's stand over Syria seems really tough, but if such toughness was real, NATO wouldn't dare insist in such open aggression
- Putin leaves the door open to the possibility that after a ceasefire, negotiations might bring to the ousting of Assad: this very possibility incites NATO to intensify its efforts to oust him

the bigger picture:

- the IMF is the financial arm of NATO, and/or NATO is the military arm of the IMF, anyways they always act in concert
- BRIC countries, through Putin's voice, instead of playing an autonomous role, ask for more representation in the IMF in exchange for 75 billion dollars: this gives the measure of Putin's ambiguous position towards the institutions that guarantee Us global dominance: asking for IMF reform is a way of recognizing and accepting this dominance
Russia's Putin urges action on IMF reform


NATO has already almost encircled Russia, and its aim is to dismember it, as Brzezinski, Obama's advisor, openly advocates; if Assad were removed, on the basis of what guarantees would Putin think to keep the naval base at Tartus? the same guarantees the Us gave Gorbaciov that the ex-Warsaw Pact countries would never become NATO members?

Posted by: claudio | Jul 25 2012 23:21 utc | 81


All that is possible, but Putin is playing a weaker hand. Russia simply is weaker than NATO, even with China's help. Threatening to cut off NATO in afpak this would be a huge, huge step that would cause NATO to go berserk. For the west, they are.calculating that this is their chance, not only to topple an Iranian ally, but also to force Russia to submit in plane view of the whole world. This is also a domestic issue. Does Putin want to tuck his tail in front of a domestic audience? How will the russian orthodox church view his abandonment of syrias orthodox community? In short, I don't think Putin can afford to back down at this point.
Even if he wanted to.

Posted by: lysander | Jul 25 2012 23:42 utc | 82

lysander, I hope so too; but politicians today, the whole world over, seem so ... pragmatic?

Posted by: claudio | Jul 25 2012 23:56 utc | 83

Indeed they are nauseatingly 'pragmatic' in fact treasonously so. The Greek government should be hung for not defaulting two years ago. Same with the rest of the bankster pawns.

If Russia wanted to sell out in Syria, it would have been a lot easier to do so months ago. The west seemed to think they would. I thought they would too. Now Russia will follow events on the ground. Yes, if the Syrian government is beyond saving, then Russia will have to move on without them. But until then, I don't see any reason why they would. The two power bases you mentioned both have an interest in Syrian government survival. I'm sure gasprom would love a stake in any Iran Iraq Syria pipeline. I'm sure the military wants Syria as an ally. There is no incentive for Russia to give up unless it seems the situation is lost and there's
nothing they can do about it.

So far, we are far from that. Lavrov's statement more like escalation than backing down. And Russia didn't seem phased at all by last Weeks shock and see campaign.

There is just no percentage in backing down now.

Posted by: lysander | Jul 26 2012 0:17 utc | 84

Damned auto correct. "" should be lavrov's statement today seems...

Shock and see should be shock and awe.

Posted by: lysander | Jul 26 2012 0:22 utc | 85

"I'm sure gasprom would love a stake in any Iran Iraq Syria pipeline"

Russia lost out financially big time in Libya - though you'd never know it from reading the media. I vaguely remember a few years back a report that Gazprom execs had courted Ghaddaifi and arranged a deal that when many current Libyan gas supply contracts ended, that Gazprom was supposed to become the new customer for ALL Libyan Gas that became newly available - i.e. out-of-contract existing sources

As to Syria - Russian Navy needs a warm water port from which to operate, one whose access to/from cannot be hindered by NATO allies such as turkey for instance, and Syria supplies that in Tartus

from a Military pov Russia stands to lose a lot strategically if Tartus suddenly becomes out-of-bounds to them - they're not going to back down on this - which suits the psychopaths of the US/Israel/Saudi axis of evil just fine because they can use this to blacken Russian reputation by associating Russian support for the Syrian Govt with the indiscriminate slaughter of Syrian civilians that the US/Israel/Saudi axis of evil are actually themselves initiating, through their mercenary army in Syria, the FSA

Posted by: Hu Bris | Jul 26 2012 0:39 utc | 86

@lysander, #84+85

Actually, I found 'shock and see' more appropriate, if the current tactic is to 'fling spaghetti and see what sticks.'

Posted by: Dr. Wellington Yueh | Jul 26 2012 2:40 utc | 87

Russias base in Tartous is even more Important than USAs stakes in Israel. Don't dis Russia yet, they're not backing down on Syria.

Posted by: Alexander | Jul 26 2012 2:53 utc | 88

I find it difficult to see anything positive in the news coming out of Syria -- many here think it likely that the Assad regime will survive. Doesn't look good from this perspective:

Yes, yes I know that BBC is part of the propaganda campaign designed to bring down Assad, but it looks like they are succeeding. At least if the Syrian army is unable to drive the rebels out Aleppo then Assad is done. We will likely know in a day or two.

Posted by: ToivoS | Jul 26 2012 3:42 utc | 89

I dont think Russia is weaker than NATO especially if Russia has the support of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

NATO has reached breaking point supposedly because The Washington agreement on Gold

note that
"The signatories to this agreement have agreed not to expand their gold leasings and their use of gold futures and options over this period."

Posted by: Nikon | Jul 26 2012 3:56 utc | 90

Europe as a whole is not militarized, after the end of the cold war there was no justification for government on defense spendng.
There are many different files in US Russian relations e.g. there is this

Hillary Clinton: Trade With Russia Is a Win-Win

By making Moscow a normal trading partner, Congress would create American jobs and advance human rights.

Hillary Clinton basically hit a policy block - a reset in US - Russian relations conflicts with her Syria policy.

Europe is dependent on Gazprom. The Nabucco pipeline was officially buried this year. War between Russia and the US would probably split NATO. Iran sanctions already went against European interest.

The struggle to reduce dependence on Gazprom

Ian Traynor, Europe editor
The Guardian, Friday 2 January 2009

The fresh eruption of the gas wars between Russia and Ukraine exposes Europe's vulnerability to the Kremlin's energy policies and highlights the dilemmas posed by Europe's attempts to wean itself off dependence on Gazprom. The giant Russian monopoly is the world's biggest producer and exporter of gas while Europe is the world's biggest market and Gazprom's biggest buyer, with Germany taking the lion's share.

On gas, Europe and Russia are locked in an umbilical relationship. But for years European policymakers have been trying to devise strategies that would diminish the dependence on Russia, which supplies about a quarter of Europe's gas and about half of its imports, some 80% of that via Ukraine.

The problems raised by Europe's need for Russian gas are compounded by Gazprom's almost total control of the delivery systems, principally pipelines."

Posted by: somebody | Jul 26 2012 6:09 utc | 91

no surprise Turkey under Erdogan is repressive to journalism:

Posted by: brian | Jul 26 2012 7:24 utc | 92

b, @rototo's idea at #19 is quite good, IMO

Knowing who is writing a comment beforehand will make easier to skip serial posters.

Thanks for all the good reporting!

Posted by: citizen x | Jul 26 2012 12:38 utc | 93

The USA risked Nuclear war to stop Russia from operating in their near area of Cuba. Cuba and IRAN were never forgiven by a revengeful state for not yielding.
Now Russia will risk a nuclear war to stop the USA in Russias near area of the Middle East. A public defeat and humiliation for russia in public is unacceptable. This is a schwerpunkt as B uses the term.
The future is energy. Oil and Gas (and water are worth in Israel) are the only things worth a nuclear war. We are there now. USA be very carefull.

Posted by: boindub | Jul 26 2012 13:31 utc | 94

@ ToivoS

The BBC link is showing up 404 not found.

As for Syria and Assad's chances. I'd still bet that he won't fall militarily (unless there is some game changing outside intervention). The Aleppo fighting hasn't even begun yet just a few skirmishes. This is what the Al Akhbar liveblog had to say within the last hour.

Rebels are awaiting an attack in Aleppo, and a government source has told AFP that tomorrow or Saturday there could be a big assault. The special forces were deployed on Wednesday and Thursday on the edges of the city, and more troops have arrived to take part in a generalised counter-offensive on Friday or Saturday," a source close to the Syrian security apparatus said. The source said rebel fighters had brought in their own reinforcements, estimating between 1,500 and 2,000 opposition fighters had arrived from outside Syria's largest city to reinforce some 2,000 already fighting in Aleppo.

Source: Al Akhbar Syria Liveblog

So don't take the fact that Aleppo still hasn't been secured as a sign that the Syrian Army is struggling. The last few days have been more likely just the setting up of the pieces for a big weekend confrontation.

My reading of the facts is that the 300,000 strong Syrian military is still intact and working fine. The rebels haven't been able to hold any territory outside of rural backwater towns, they couldn't even hold their "stronghold" in Homs. The big rebel offensive in Damascus failed fairly rapidly and politically they are a mess.

If they cannot take and hold Homs, I doubt that they are in a position to take the country. That is not to say they cannot bleed the Syrian Army like AQI bled the US forces in Iraq. Only way I see Assad losing is if Russia/China/Iran think he has become to much of an anchor and decide to ditch him. That's to say he could be ousted politically as part of a deal, but I don't see him losing militarily.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jul 26 2012 13:47 utc | 95

b. Aubenas is a mainstream and so-called respected French journo, which is not a recommendation.

The F media are absolutely shameless. According to the Press Freedom Index, F is 38th, below Mali, Uruguay, the UK, Surinam, Cape Verde, Germany, etc. -wiki.

One can make appealing tales out of any scraps.

Facts, or ‘true’ observations on the ground can be spun this or that way, and journos take sides. Yes.

Nevertheless, if it it so that some regions are self organizing, which means also defending themselves, as best as they can, guess who they will turn to, bad news for Assad and his Gvmt.

if the location was important in any strategic way, i.e. to establish safe zones, there would be a fight, I guess there are many places in Syria that have never really been under government control ...

No. The region - n of aleppo to azzaz, as far as I could make out from place names in that article I took time to type out - was very centrally controlled, as *everywhere* in Syria.

The schools, the hospitals, social assistance, the police, the courts, agri (stipends, land laws, inputs and outputs, etc.), the banks (loans) were run - or rigidly organized from the Center, by the Assad Gvmt.

A W example might be France, with its heavy centralization.

Children go to school, their teachs are paid by the Gvmt. and they follow a national Gvmt. program, with teachers being sent anywhere on the territory. (Many disagree w this policy.) The police, similar picture. Young men from the 'regions' - rural, small town - are sent to police Parisian sub or ex burbia, thrown into worlds they knownot facing ppl they 'hate'...

When in Syria, - court clerk, nurse, policeman, janitor in the museum, judge, tax collector, army recruiter, top surgeon who has no patients, and on and on - decamp to Damascus or London, or quietly give up, retire, or ‘join the opposition’ to ‘stay close to the ppl’ you see the collapse of the State. The void is first filled with self-organization, as the article pointed out. What happens next is anybody’s guess.

Nothing like this took place in Tunisia or Egypt.

Posted by: Noirette | Jul 26 2012 14:22 utc | 96

the fact remains that for the second time in a row, the army hasn't been able to intercept and preempt an insurgents' show of force

in a big city, the Army can't destroy the rebels without provoking a large number of collateral victims, so it has to let them escape, as they did in Damascus, and then they will be able to regroup elsewhere, and the game might get wearing for the regime

Posted by: claudio | Jul 26 2012 14:32 utc | 97

... unless the army decides to take its gloves off ... in that case let's hope civilians will have the time to escape and won't be used as human shielsd

Posted by: claudio | Jul 26 2012 14:33 utc | 98

Noirette, I think Tunisia and Egypt were to a large part real protest by real citizens i.e. people who are connected with their conscript armies, who would not destroy their own infrastucture and would not risk causing people to flee from their homes.

Syria possibly is different because the Syrian police state has been worse and because much more hatred has accumulated over the years. It is probably different because the Syrian Muslim brotherhood is different, and did not shy away from violence. They dominate the SNC and they could have come out against it.

The countryside is always a different matter as any movement can dominate any village with a hundred people or less. Neo Nazis are doing it in German countryside much to the disgust of the villagers, you buy a house and make it a meeting place ... Most villages do not have a police station and if they had the two policemen would not stand a chance.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 26 2012 14:42 utc | 99

ok, what comes around, goes around ...

Dubai top cop warns of Islamists ‘plot’ against Gulf govts

"There's an international plot against Gulf States in particular, and Arab countries in general…This is preplanned to take over our fortunes,” Khalfan told Reuters.

"The bigger our sovereign wealth funds and the more money we put in the banks of Western countries, the bigger the plot to take over our countries,” he said.

The comments come just one day after eight people were arrested in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly “opposing the country’s constitution” and plotting “crimes against state security.”

At least 20 dissidents, most of them Islamists, have been detained in the UAE since April, according to activists.

Human rights activists say those detained are believed to be linked to al-Islah, an outlawed Islamist group in the UAE.

Suspected members were targeted amid fears that they may be allies of the Muslim Brotherhood – a group which Abu Dhabi has accused of trying to destabilize the region.

"I had no idea that there is this large number of Muslim Brotherhood in the Gulf States. We have to be alert and on guard because the wider these groups become, the higher probability there is for trouble," said Khalfan.

Posted by: somebody | Jul 26 2012 14:54 utc | 100

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