Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 08, 2012

Syria: From Regime Change To Regime-Led Change

Some tweets I collected during the day.

Sam Dagher Wall Street Journal

#Syria opposition leader tells @malas_n US diplomats told him: Forget no-fly zone, forget mil intervention, forget US will provide u w/ arms
Andrew Hammond Reuters
#Qatar PM, #turkey FM appealed in closed sessions for #syria opposition to unite but seems only a fig-leaf 'agreement' will emerge at most
Basma Al Jazeera English
The Turkish foreigh minister just walked out of the meeting in Doha and refused to give any statement
Shadi Hammid Brookings Doha
Just bumped into someone who just left the Doha #Syria talks. He had a look of resignation. "Its a mess," he said.
Blake Hounshell Foreign Policy
It's almost like the Obama administration deliberately sabotaged its own initiative #Syria

Could that indeed be intended?

No, Hounshell gets that wrong.

Yes, the U.S. does want to kill the SNC. But that is necessary to create a viable Syrian opposition that allows for a political solution for the situation in Syria. Largely because of Libya the aim and plan of the U.S. has changed from regime change in Syria to regime-led change.

Clinton made clear that she thinks the SNC is worthless. She used quite undiplomatic language to express her disdain about their disunity. The SNC reacted to that by including some more groups and by electing a new executive committee:

Syria's main opposition bloc elected an all-male leadership team early Thursday, undermining its own bid to showcase itself as a more diverse group that can represent all those trying to oust President Bashar Assad.

With 42 members the new executive committee includes 0 women, 0 Christians and 0 people from other Syrian minorities. It is still an exclusive Muslim Brotherhood shop. I doubt that this will win them Hillary's support.

The current SNC is adamant against a compromise solution in Syria in which president Assad keeps his job at least until the next Syrian presidential election. But for Russia and China keeping Assad will be the only acceptable political solution. Rejecting pressure from Britain, Turkey and the Gulf monarchies for the use of force the U.S. now also seems to want such a solution:

Another Syrian National Council official at the talks said [U.S. ambassador] Ford had emphasized that Washington is seeking a “political solution” to the 20-month-long national uprising.

Washington is no longer following the Brookings Doha Center advice. Shadi Hamid, the Brookings Doha man, is furious about this. He wants a military intervention and his most important issue now is to further arm the rebels. That is understandable for two reasons. The rebels can no longer hold ground and had to revert to terror tactics because they did not follow the steps of guerrilla warfare. They are likely to fail and the false hope is that more weapons would help them.

The other reason is money. Brookings Doha Center is a paid piper for the Emir of Qatar. Its director Salman Shaikh was: "Director for Policy and Research to Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned, the Consort of the Emir of Qatar". The center is largely financed by Qatar and: "The Brookings Doha Center International Advisory Council is co-chaired by H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of the State of Qatar."

What the Brookings Doha people now express shows a serious break between the U.S. and Qatar.

Qatar wants an armed overthrow of the Syrian government. It wants regime change at any price. It does not care about the day after. In principle the U.S. is not against a forceful regime change BUT, and that is big but, it wants to know, and if possible control, what happens after the overthrow. It does not want another Middle East war with U.S. troops on the ground and it does not want uncontrolled Syrian chemical weapons flowing around.

The experience from Iraq, and especially the fresh and personal experience from Libya, is that there needs to be a viable plan for the day after. One dead ambassador is enough. No one, including the SNC, Qatar or Brookings Doha, has a viable plan for Syria the day after Assad is gone. Any day after scenario the U.S. can now accept requires to keep the Syrian state intact. That requires an opposition that will accept a temporary continuation of Assad's rule.

As the unofficial spokesperson David Ignatius explained today:

What does [Obama] want to accomplish? My list: [...] a deal for a political transition in Syria (a shorthand Syria summary would be to organize the opposition so that it’s strong enough to bargain, then help win a Nobel Peace Prize for Vladimir Putin).

Clinton will soon leave her job. A usable Syrian opposition could be her last big achievement. It will be a better legacy than being remembered for starting another war.

The liberal-interventionist Susan Rice was poised to replace Clinton. But after her Benghazi blunder, claiming that no terrorism was involved, she is unlikely to get the job. Senator John Kerry now seems to be the favorite choice. It would be a very good one. Someone who personally experienced a real war is less likely to start more of them. My hunch is that it is he who is behind the change in the U.S. position and the new talk of a "political solution" and regime-led change in Syria.

Posted by b on November 8, 2012 at 16:45 UTC | Permalink

Comments

"Senator John Kerry now seems to be the favorite choice. It would be a very good one. Someone who personally experienced a real war is less likely to start more of them."

Hope you're right about this, but, time will tell.

Posted by: ben | Nov 8 2012 16:59 utc | 1

Surely, they would want someone specialized on Asia?

The US will get out of the Middle East for good. Some people have withdrawal symptoms, some people sigh with relief.

add these to your tweets, b.

Micah Zenko ‏@MicahZenko
Dear Turkey, UK, France, Gulf. Threatening to "do something" to remove Assad, not doing it, and then blaming US, is not working.

3h Micah Zenko ‏@MicahZenko
Rest of the world to Obama: Congratulations, now come solve our problems.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 8 2012 17:05 utc | 2

The center is largely financed by Qatar and: "The Brookings Doha Center International Advisory Council is co-chaired by H.E. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani, prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of the State of Qatar."

I shouldn't think the co-chair means much; it's just a necessary politeness. The Qataris have paid, and Brookings is in their country, so it's normal to name someone like the PM, even if he does nothing.

In any case, Brookings Doha has to maintain close relations with the regime, or they'll be out on the ear. They cannot be "independent".

Posted by: alexno | Nov 8 2012 17:08 utc | 3

It's very hard to see Clinton, Rice & Powers letting Assad win after investing so much venom.

Posted by: dh | Nov 8 2012 17:31 utc | 4

I guess it was not just Netanyahu who bet his house on the wrong side

“There is a widespread sense in the region that Obama is a weak, somewhat feckless leader,” Mr. Hamid said, citing Mr. Obama’s acquiescence in confrontations with Israeli leaders over settlements and with Egypt’s generals over the prosecution of American-backed nonprofit groups.

“People think that if you are in a standoff with Obama and you hold your ground, he will eventually back down,” Mr. Hamid said.

The contrast between the candidates is so stark they sometimes appear to be on opposite sides of the Arab Spring itself. President Obama, his advisers say, began with the premise that the old American-backed order of secular autocracies was already crumbling from within and could no longer promise stability, while the Arab demands for self-governance accorded more with American values.

“The president made a decision to side with democratic change,” said Benjamin Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, “and we made it clear that it is not our place to dictate the outcomes in any given country.”

Mr. Romney has emphasized the risks of uprisings. Eliot A. Cohen, a foreign policy adviser to his campaign, said he questioned the concept of an Arab Spring altogether. “It is not clear to me what is germinating,” he said.

Where the president says he is supporting new democracies, Mr. Romney argues that the Obama administration has, in effect, abandoned the region to forces hostile to American interests. “If you don’t even try to shape events,” Mr. Cohen said, “then for sure you are going to get a bad outcome.”

Posted by: somebody | Nov 8 2012 18:12 utc | 5

Above Mr. Hamid is from Brookings, Doha, sorry here the full quote

If Mr. Obama’s soft touch is popular in the region, however, it may not be in America’s best interest, argued Shadi Hamid, research director of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 8 2012 18:41 utc | 6

dh I have to agree, the Mean Girls are'nt going to let this one die.

Posted by: L Bean | Nov 8 2012 19:44 utc | 7

A fall-out among thieves?

It would sure be nice if it happened and Israel-USA lightened up on the people they are murdering and maiming. I've become too jaded about those fascists to think this is any more than an adjustment of strategy now that the American [s]elections are over. The terrorists have been failing, and they've acquired a whole lot of "bad rep", they need to be given a new make over (new eye make-up, some rouge to cover up those grey, sallow cheeks, a bra with more padding, different colour lipstick...).

Posted by: вот так | Nov 8 2012 19:58 utc | 8

Bashar Assad: Price of invasion more than world can afford

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/11/08/271152/syria-invasion-not-affordable-by-world/

“I do not think the West is going [to intervene], but if they do so, nobody can tell what is next. I think the price of this [foreign] invasion if it happened is going to be more than the whole world can afford,” said Assad in a Thursday interview with Russia Today TV network.

Assad praised Syria as the “last stronghold” of “stability” and “coexistence” in the region, warning that the domino effect of any military strike against the country “will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific and you know the implication on the rest of the world.”

“I am not a puppet. I was not made by the West to go to the West or to any other country. I am Syrian, I was made in Syria, I have to live in Syria and die in Syria,” he pointed out.


Syria has been the scene of unrest since March 2011 and many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the turmoil.

The anti-Syria Western states have been calling for Assad to step down, but Russia and China oppose the Western drive to oust the Syrian president.

On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Western countries are seeking a UN Security Council resolution that will aggravate the situation in Syria in order to pave the way for the establishment of another government in the Arab state."

The new Israeli-American UNSC ploy may be behind the Israeli-American attempt to revamp the their terrorist's depraved image. The Turks may be upset at the inclusion (or increased role) of Kurdish terrorists, such as the PKK, in that mix of contras.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 8 2012 20:09 utc | 9

Iran warplanes fired on U.S. drone over Gulf: Pentagon

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/08/us-usa-iran-drone-idUSBRE8A71C520121108

"Iranian warplanes fired multiple rounds at an unmanned unarmed U.S. surveillance aircraft in international airspace over the Gulf last week, but the craft was undamaged and returned safely to its base, Pentagon spokesman George Little said on Thursday."

Ah...thank God the drone wasn't hurt! The poor, sweet innocent American drone picked on by those bad, bad Iranians.

Here we go again with the Israeli-American pretext for war set-ups.

(BTW, I'll bet George's surname is a running joke among the DC posh prostitute set.)

Posted by: вот так | Nov 8 2012 21:12 utc | 10

Well, on the ground they seem to be more flexible than in Doha :-))

JAVIER ESPINOSA ‏@javierespinosa2

Rebels took control of missile base near #Damascus,interesting,1 of the groups involved is Katiba Virgin Mary #Syria https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0ge4iLFhUh0

:-))

Posted by: somebody | Nov 8 2012 21:55 utc | 11

Q: I doubt that this will win them Hillary's support.

R: Must depend on what Chelsae's in-laws have to say/think of it...? To think .gov cares about .ppl is to assume Count Dracula would be the best CEO to head the Red Cross/Crescent Blood Banks.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Nov 8 2012 22:07 utc | 12

probably not enough for Hillary but they are trying ...

JAVIER ESPINOSA ‏@javierespinosa2

Katiba is "Son of Virgin Mary",sorry,still I wonder if this is a christian group or just allusion to Jesus,also a sacred figure in Islam

6h Fadi Mqayed ★★★ Fadi Mqayed ★★★ ‏@DSyrer

@javierespinosa2 It is obviously Islamic. "Isa Ibn Maryam" is the most common name of Jesus (as a prophet) in Islamic theology.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 8 2012 23:03 utc | 13

Seems like Iran is pulling out of the Middle East, too.

A planned meeting of the foreign ministers of Turkey, Iran and Egypt on the Syrian crisis has had to be postponed after the Iranian minister said he would be unable to attend.

The three foreign ministers were expected to meet in Ankara on Saturday, the Anatolia news agency reported, citing diplomatic sources. But the meeting had to be postponed to a later date after Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi informed Ankara that he would not be attending. Salehi told Ankara that he plans to accompany President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on a two-day visit to Vietnam that starts on Friday, according to private broadcaster NTV.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 8 2012 23:11 utc | 14

Kerry? He backed NATO's attack on Libya. Not sure how he can be described as wary to start wars after enabling that.

Posted by: revenire | Nov 8 2012 23:57 utc | 15

If Assad survives, he will certainly take revenge against Qatar's royal family.

Posted by: nikon | Nov 9 2012 0:12 utc | 16

"If Assad survives, he will certainly take revenge against Qatar's royal family."

What about the Israeli and American "royal families"?

Posted by: вот так | Nov 9 2012 0:56 utc | 17

Israel-America on the move, again:

Gunmen kill two Chinese workers in Nigeria

"This is the second attack on the yard by gunmen in just two weeks. Last month some gunmen attacked the same yard, killing two mobile policemen guarding the place," the official added.

Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, authorities usually hold the Boko Haram militant group responsible for such attacks.

The group has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly gun and bomb attacks in various parts of Nigeria since 2009.

Human rights groups report that violent actions by Boko Haram have claimed more than 1,000 lives since mid-2009, including over 300 this year alone."

Syria is one of many places Israeli-American terrorists are running amok. The terrorism against Syria by these fascists is part of a worldwide operation of destabilisation to secure Israeli-American "full spectrum" dominance.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 9 2012 2:01 utc | 18

Forgot the article link, again.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/11/08/271164/gunmen-kill-two-chinese-in-nigeria/

Posted by: вот так | Nov 9 2012 2:02 utc | 19

"What about the Israeli and American "royal families"?"

obviously Assad doesn't have the capability to retaliate against America, or Israel, or turkey or Saudis, but Qatar is small and close by.

Posted by: nikon | Nov 9 2012 3:36 utc | 20

Follow-up on the latest Israeli-American "Tonkin Gulf" incident.

Iranian jet fires on US drone in Gulf: Pentagon

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_11_09/Iranian-jet-fires-on-US-drone-in-Gulf-Pentagon/

"Asked whether the Iranian jet was firing warning shots, Little said the jet "fired to take it down." He would not speculate on whether this constitutes an act of war."

It's likely this is all totally made up. And it's a rather inept example of Israeli-American propaganda, there is no way a pilot would miss a drone if they shot at it.

The Americans should have downed their drone and then claimed Iran shot it down. That's what a professional would have done.

But, given the rep of drones, probably 9 out of 10 people think the only good drone is a crashed drone, so to be really professional, and really tug those revenge seeking emotions, they should have used some rookies in a manned flight (preferably some obsolete trainer crate ready for the scrap heap - to save a few bucks) as the inspiring "fallen heroes". Like they did earlier this year with a couple of Turks in an obsolete F4 (in Syria).

Posted by: вот так | Nov 9 2012 3:52 utc | 21

Kerry know Assad well. He visited Damascus and the Assads three time at leat with his wife between 2008 and 2010.

Posted by: Sophia | Nov 9 2012 4:07 utc | 22

Kerry knows Assad well. He visited Damascus and the Assads three time at leat with his wife between 2008 and 2010.

Posted by: Sophia | Nov 9 2012 4:08 utc | 23

"obviously Assad doesn't have the capability to retaliate against America, or Israel, or turkey or Saudis, but Qatar is small and close by."

He actually does. Anyone with a few mil could hire the assassins needed for the job. My original comment was made in jest, but just about anyone could be assassinated by a government determined to kill them. The important distinction here between Assad, and those opposed to him, is that he is the one not doing those sorts of crimes. They are. Or trying too.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 9 2012 4:09 utc | 24

#7 dh I have to agree, the Mean Girls are'nt going to let this one die.

L Bean you might be right but the trio of Hillary, Rice and Powers are on their way out of power so it doesn't matter what they might believe. Anne-Marie Slaughter and Dennis Ross were removed from state in the last two years. I saw those two removals as some sort of realization inside the Obama admin that those two fools were leading the US into another war. If the above trio are removed, then it should be possible for Obama to move his administration towards a more peaceful ME policy.

We will know in a few months. If my conjecture is accurate we will see two things:

1) The US will withdraw its support from the Syrian War as b has been suggesting for the last few months.

2) The US will enter into legitimate negotiations with the Iranian government and will accept that Iran has the right to enrich U235 to 5% and will acknowledge Iran as a legitimate state. This will be difficult but there must be some US diplomats that can spin such acknowledgments as victories for our sanctions policies.

I am convinced that Obama does not want to be known as another US president that is leading the US into wars that it cannot win.

Bush lost the war in Iraq. That is without doubt. Why would Obama want to leave office and be in Bush's current position? Hasn't anyone noticed -- no one wants to have anything to do with that moron today? He is a total pariah. I am convinced that Obama wants to leave office as a respected personage, unlike his predecessor.

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 9 2012 4:17 utc | 25

Syrian insurgents open fire on protestors

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_11_09/Syrian-insurgents-open-fire-on-protestors/

"On Thursday a car bomb exploded on the outskirts of Damascus near a Shiite mosque. The blast killed three people and injured dozens more.

Despite their efforts security forces failed to prevent two more roadside bomb blasts in the same area.

In Aleppo demonstrators gathered in Marjah Square, the main square of the city, demanding the withdrawal of armed groups from the city and asking the Syrian Army to come to their aid.

In response armed insurgents opened fire on the unarmed street protestors.

Preliminary reports say there are dead and wounded. However no accurate information about the exact number of victims has been released."

Posted by: вот так | Nov 9 2012 4:27 utc | 26

``Someone who personally experienced a real war is less likely to start more of them''.

Mr B appears to have overlooked John McCain, whose appetite for warmongering and destruction appeared undiminished by his Vietnam war experiences and five-star from VietCong @ Hanoi Hilton.

Posted by: nakedtothebone | Nov 9 2012 4:35 utc | 27

Correction:Five-star treatment from Vietcong @ Hanoi Hilton

Posted by: nakedtothebone | Nov 9 2012 4:36 utc | 28

If memory serves, McCain and Kerry acted in concert to give Obama carte blanche in Libya. Kerry backed the illegal war with "Hand Grenade" McCain is how I remember it

Posted by: revenire | Nov 9 2012 5:58 utc | 29

John Kerry, "Someone who personally experienced a real war is less likely to start more of them." Yeah, right!

John Kerry is the scoundrel who sacrificed everything he learned in Vietnam and left it on the alter of political opportunism. Where was Kerry's voice of reason on Iraq? Libya? Afghanistan?

Kerry couldn't be bothered with the meekest opposition.

I was in Lebanon and was shocked to see Kerry on Lebanese TV announcing to the Lebanese people that the decisions of the Special Tribunal Lebanon were out of Lebanon's hands and there was nothing they could do about it. This after revelations about false witnesses and Israeli video surveillance of Hariri's motorcade as it exploded. It was clear that the STL process had been compromised, and there was nothing Lebanon could do about it, because the US supported the kangaroo court!

Kerry, what a mensch!

Posted by: JohnH | Nov 9 2012 6:10 utc | 30

Say what? The US supporting regime-led change?

If anything brought the US to its senses, I suspect it was the vulnerability of its "smart power" command and coordination system. First, Chris Stevens went down and the Benghazi CIA operation got exposed and shut down. Then Wissam Hasan, who is reported to have coordinated the flow of arms to Syria through Lebanon, got rubbed out.

Could it be that a pattern of insider attacks from Afghanistan, Libya and Lebanon is finally making the US question its ability to manage the chaos it unleashed? If not, I suspect that other insider attacks will ensue, since it's pretty clear that US' opponents have exposed its Achilles heel.

Posted by: JohnH | Nov 9 2012 6:21 utc | 31

somebody @ 11

That video couldn't been an old video posted recently..The fsa terrorists have a very media savvy branch,trained and financed by non other than US state department and the democratic powerhouse of Al Thani Qatar, that post these kinds of videos to attract more dumb fighters..

That video could've been from Libya as Qaddaffi also had S200 anti-air defence systems..

Posted by: Zico | Nov 9 2012 7:13 utc | 32

Zico, I do not believe the videos, I was making fun at the son of virgin mary brigade name proving tolerance towards Christians (that probably means the video was produced in Qatar).
The Syrian "rebels" have been attacking Syrian defence installations for a while now though. Assad in his latest interview calls them "inside proxy forces" which is an accurate description I assume, though I do not buy his denial of genuine inside Syrian conflict. His definition though that it is not a civil war as it is not religious/ethnic is interesting though. I assume official analysis makes the uprising socio-economic.

Assad is very clear that Syrian institutions and constitution will remain the way they are, i.e. the regime will stay, whilst who is president is not the issue. And that the president will have to be chosen through the ballot box.

I think the only pressure on the "West" to solve the Syrian conflict are the refugees. And that is not much of pressure except for Turkey, so presumably the conflict will go on until the US finds an agreement with Iran. Maybe the Gulf kingdoms jump the fence, hedge bets, switch sides before than, let's hope so. Al Jazeera features China a lot recently.

John H. I agree, plus the threat to Israel of a destabilized Syria, as they will be unable to fight non state actors on three (or four) borders.

Though I think the main factor for the US will be that Republicans want revenge for Libya (Gaddafi was their business partner). And that the Syrian fighters are so obviously disreputable.

So everyone involved in the US from now on will be extra careful for their reputation. I do not see Cameron being able to act legally.

b. the Syrian regime is not in the mood to change. By now they will have the majority of frightened Syrians still in the country solidly backing them. On the political front "the West" has lost.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 9 2012 8:06 utc | 33

Two or three days ago Bashar Assad did a 25 minute interview in English with Russia Today TV. The 25-minute video is now available at youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdH4JKjVRyA

I'm a longstanding Bashar supporter and of course I found a good bit of what he said in this interview to be fine. But I hated how he responded to the question "Why aren't government forces able to crush the enemy like they were expected to?" As far as I'm concerned it's the only important question at the moment.

In his answer, and in another related question, Bashar emphasized the foreigner support for the rebellion. He said that if the foreigners were to stop supplying the terrorists, he thought the rebellion could be suppressed in weeks. But, when directly asked, he admitted that he had no true knowledge of any foreign government giving any armaments to any rebels! He also acknowledged that all of Syria's neighboring countries except Turkey were ernestly trying to prevent weapons and armed men from entering Syria. He could've acknoweldged that Turkey to a very significant degree trys to prevent it too: Right now it is illegal under Turkish law for weapons or armed men to pass from Turkey to Syria. The law is enforced to a very substantial degree (even though there is room for making it more effective more comprehensively). If Turkey were to legalize the presence of Syrian armed men in Turkey, and legalize transfer of weapons into Syria from Turkey, it would be a far bigger problem for Syria than what the current reality is.

In answer to the major question about why the army is failing to restore law and order, and keep it restored, Bashar whined about the non-major problem Syria has with the foreign cheerleaders of the rebellion, and he didn't try to get seriously into the question about what the fighting problems are on the ground.

Recently the Syrian armed forces have increased the caliber and firepower of the weapons used against the rebels. They're using heavier artillery. Good. Hopefully this will yield better results for them that what they've been getting with the small-bore approach.

The thing that keeps bothering me about Syria is that I continue to fail to understand why it's proving to be so very difficult for the Syrian armed forces to put down this rebellion.

A couple of days ago I came across a commenter who said the Syrian armed forces are not weakening and instead are becoming more battle-hardened, more experienced, more capable of putting down the rebellion. I don't disagree with that but underneath it the commenter had the same failure as I have in comprehending why progress has been so slow. Moreover the rebel side doesn't look to be weakening either, and is becoming more experienced.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 9 2012 9:09 utc | 34

Parviziyi

several reasons come to my mind

1) that Syria does mind international law just like the surrounding countries. It is difficult to kill moving terrorists surrounded by civilians
2) that they do not have the special forces able and willing to enter civilian neighbourhoods to hunt for terrorists
3) that there obviously are large parts where the Syrian army feels like the US army in Afghanistan i.e. being surrounded by hostile civilians, just not enough for the "rebels" to win
4) that obviously the "proxy forces" are internal parties Assad does not wish to aknowledge as legitimate for fear of alienating his own base
5) that the Syrian government has forced the country into a foreign policy that is bad for business, losing critical support of an important part of their citizens

It is obvious from the interview that the Syrian government intends to sit this out.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 9 2012 10:00 utc | 35

Parviziyi, another reason I can think of

Baath party having a kind of socialist tradition presumably still have quite a few state run / planned sectors and the accompanying traditional smuggling/black market. In an economy like that all you have to do is hand over money and the smuggling and weapons transfer gets done.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 9 2012 12:26 utc | 36

Syrian for Peace ‏@syrian4peace
#FSA terrorists admit bombing pro-government village in Homs & killing the civilians there while FSA supporters deny it http://youtu.be/9tum3BQ2LTI
a breakdown in communications?

Posted by: brian | Nov 9 2012 12:44 utc | 37

Transcript of the Assad interview

---

@ Parviziyi - 34 - He could've acknoweldged that Turkey to a very significant degree trys to prevent it too: Right now it is illegal under Turkish law for weapons or armed men to pass from Turkey to Syria.

Yeah, so illegal that western reporters have observed Turkish soldiers delivering weapons to the insurgents. So illegal that Turkish red cross cars deliver weapons into Syria when they haul out the wounded insurgents.

Posted by: b | Nov 9 2012 13:06 utc | 38

Somewhat funny and showing the incompetence of the SNC: Syrian Opposition Meets to Seek Unity

Mazem Arja, the head of the Revolutionary Council in Idlib, in northern Syria, [...] also noted that the Syrian National Council had appointed a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in his 60s as the youth envoy for Idlib.

“The guy had not been there for 32 years,” he said. “If you dropped him at the edge of town, I doubt he could find his old house.”

Posted by: b | Nov 9 2012 13:17 utc | 39

somewhat funny on the incompetence of the US

The opposition groups that are receiving the most of the lethal aid are exactly the ones we don’t want to have it,” said one American official familiar with the outlines of those findings, commenting on an operation that in American eyes has increasingly gone awry.

The United States is not sending arms directly to the Syrian opposition. Instead, it is providing intelligence and other support for shipments of secondhand light weapons like rifles and grenades into Syria, mainly orchestrated from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The reports indicate that the shipments organized from Qatar, in particular, are largely going to hard-line Islamists.

b. I think the Turkish weapons supply is undercover and not official, so much the harder for the CIA or anybody to control it.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 9 2012 13:46 utc | 40

on Kerry - he is not different

Look who decides Syria policy in the US

Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today convened a hearing in Washington focused on next steps in Syria, which has descended into near-civil war as the Assad regime attempts to hold onto power.

The panel heard testimony from three experts, Martin Indyk, director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution and a former US ambassador to Israel; James Dobbins, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corp.; and Andrew Tabler, senior fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

And yes, they are planning for the transition.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 9 2012 14:05 utc | 41

Syrian forces seize US-made weapons from insurgents in Damascus

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/11/09/271284/syrian-forces-seize-usmade-weapons/

"Syrian forces have seized a large supply of weapons and ammunition, including US-made sniper rifles, from the insurgents fighting against the government in the capital, Damascus.

According to Syria’s official news agency, Syrian troops confiscated two vehicles loaded with arms following clashes with insurgents in the capital’s al-Tadamun neighborhood on Friday.

Government forces also clashed with foreign-backed insurgents near al-Zubir mosque in al-Tadamun, killing and wounding a number of terrorists.

Syrian troops further seized a large quantity of weapons after they stormed an insurgent hideout in the Damascus suburb of Harasta.

Meanwhile, at least eight insurgents were killed in clashes between the Syrian army and armed groups in the northern city of Aleppo. Syrian troops also foiled a terrorist car bomb attack in Aleppo's al-Midan neighborhood.

Many insurgents were also killed in security operations in the cities of Hama, Homs and Dayr al-Zawr."

U.S. made sniper rifles...

Posted by: вот так | Nov 9 2012 18:04 utc | 42

No official request for NATO missiles: Turkey

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_11_09/No-official-request-for-NATO-missiles-Turkey/

"Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday Ankara had not made an official request to NATO to deploy Patriot missiles on its soil to counter a potential threat from Syria, but discussions were continuing.

"So far there has not been an official request but of course within contingency plans all risks will be considered. An official request has not been made but talks are continuing as part of contingency plans," Davutoglu told a news conference."

Are the Turks backing off, or did somebody pass on rumours or speculation as an official pronouncement for propaganda effect?

Posted by: вот так | Nov 9 2012 18:09 utc | 43

They have fixed the new SNC now and have now elected a Christian figurehead:

"We hope that these free and transparent elections will be a model for free elections in Syria," Sabra told the AFP news agency, stressing that the new executive represents all sectors of society, including for the first time the tribes.

Can't see any women though.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 9 2012 19:58 utc | 44

Qatar did not convince activists on the ground, it seems

1h Fadi Salem Fadi Salem ‏@FadiSalem

Aleppo demo today against "FSA shabbiha" & to "reform FSA". just as early demos against regiem started!

3h Fadi Salem Fadi Salem ‏@FadiSalem

LCC withdrawal from the SNC will probably be a final straw. The MB are on their own with no window dressing now #Syria #SNC #Doha

4h Fadi Salem Fadi Salem ‏@FadiSalem

LCC joins a growing number of respected activists and withdraws from the SNC, according to Omar Idelbi #Syria #SNC #Doha

Posted by: somebody | Nov 9 2012 21:51 utc | 45

'b' at #38 said "Turkish red cross cars deliver weapons into Syria when they haul out the wounded insurgents." I read that newspaper story too -- it was some months ago. A difference between 'b' and me is that 'b' believes it and I don't. Our difference in ability to believe comes from differences in underlying assumptions. One of my underlying assumptions is that it is illegal under Turkish law to deliever weapons. (Which part of the word illegal do you not understand?) Another is that the Red Cross does not deliever weapons. (Which part of the word "Red Cross" do you not understand?)

Another is that Turkish opposition parties are looking for an opportunity to sue the personnel of the ruling party for violations of Turkish law, and such suits, if based on high-quality evidence, would be very well supported by Turkish public opinion and would be a scandal and a political loss for the government. If the government were to violate Turkish law to give covert armed support to the Syrian rebels, there would be enough disapproving Turkish individuals involved in the operation that whistle-blowing would be inevitable. It would end up being self-destructive for the government. Furthermore the government has the power to change the law but they haven't proposed doing so. They like the law the way it is.

'b' also says, "western reporters have observed Turkish soldiers delivering weapons to the insurgents." I heard that story some months ago. I haven't heard it since. Certainly, it's not happening today above-board; it could only be happening secretly. Once again, I didn't believe the story when I came across it some months ago, not if the delivery was above-board, and not if it was below-board either. But 'b' believed it. I don't know what his underlying assumptions are that makes the story credible to him.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 9 2012 22:09 utc | 46

Turkey is up to their neck in supplying the terrorists with weaponry - and a whole lot of other thing. The Turkish government obeys their own laws in the same manner their Israeli and American masters do.

Journalist Almost Assasinated for Exposing Turkey Delivering Weapons to Syrian Insurgents

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

Posted by: вот так | Nov 9 2012 22:21 utc | 47

@ somebody #45 passes on the report that the LCC is withdrawing from the SNC. My reaction: that sort of stuff is impotent and irrelevant; the LCC's affiliation or non-affiliation with the SNC does not affect the fighting between the rebels and the army. The fighting is what matters. If the army wins the fight, Syria will have free and fair elections at the scheduled dates (2014, 2016, 2020, 2021). If the army does not win the fight, the country will stay in a state of violent disorder.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 9 2012 22:34 utc | 48

Presumably it would be the Red Crescent, and presumably the Red Crescent would not drive those cars ... anyway the word is "ambulances"
A rebel fighter falls in Aleppo - but this one was from Istanbul

Opposition politicians from Turkey's border region say the lawyer was one of several hundred non-Syrian fighters, many of them Islamist militants, who entered Syria via Turkey in recent months.

They accuse the government in Ankara of turning a blind eye to the militants and to arms shipments for Syrian rebels, with weapons and ammunition sometimes smuggled in Turkish ambulances.

Turning a blind eye is not doing it, right?


Posted by: somebody | Nov 9 2012 22:35 utc | 49

It is official now - there will be no Western recognized Syrian opposition

Posted by: somebody | Nov 9 2012 23:52 utc | 50

@ somebody: One of the claims you made at #35 was: "obviously the "proxy forces" are internal parties Assad does not wish to aknowledge as legitimate for fear of alienating his own base." I say on the contrary that Bashar's attitude is alienating his own base, when Bashar doesn't tackle the reality intelligently. Here's an analogy about how I myself and much of the rest of his base is feeling about this. Suppose there is a soccer game between two teams, where one of the teams is inherently much stonger than the other. Absolutely everybody who supports the stronger team thinks before the game that the weaker team is inherently much weaker. The outcome of the game is a win for the weaker team, 4 goals to 3. Then the head coach of the stronger team is asked: "Why didn't your team crush the opposition like they were expected to? How did your defense cede four goals?" The coach in his reply he spends almost all his time whingeing that the second goal for the opposition was clearly offside and should never have been awarded. The coach bangs on about poor refereeing, and does not acknowledge or discuss the reasons for weakness of his team's performance. I suppose some supporters of the stronger team will go along with the coach's attitude uncritically, but for most supporters it will alienate them: The coach needs to acknowledge that the team has got problems and that these problems need to be analyzed and fixed.

@ somebody: I also disagree with some of the other claims you made at #35 but won't take them up.

@ somebody: The link you provided at #50 gives no grounds for the claim you made at #50. (I am not suggesting your claim is wrong or not).

Posted by: Parviziyi | Nov 10 2012 1:53 utc | 51

I agree with you Parviziyi "The coach needs to acknowledge that the team has got problems and that these problems need to be analyzed and fixed."
However if it is clear correct analysis would involve a change in the corrupt owners of the club who put the money in their own pockets and are not investing in the players this is a no go for the coach ....

Posted by: somebody | Nov 10 2012 4:36 utc | 52

Having said that, I do think the "weaker" team tried the strategy Italy versus France when the Italian players provoked Zidane into getting himself out of the game.
I.e. goad the Syrian regime into a massacre that could legitimately be prosecuted in international courts.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 10 2012 5:53 utc | 53

Jordan bribed into providing weapon to Syrian insurgents

Jordan Said to Help Arm Syria Rebels

AMMAN, Jordan—Jordan has stepped up its support for neighboring Syria's political and military opposition, including allowing some light arms to flow across the border, according to Syrian rebels and an Arab official familiar with the operation.

Several shipments of arms—including assault rifles, Russian-designed antitank missiles and ammunition—have been delivered to the border in Jordanian military trucks and then taken into Syria by rebel brigades, according to Syrian rebel fighters. Dozens of other shipments have been smuggled to Syria with the covert support of Jordanian border officials, these people say. Saudi Arabia and Qatar pay for these arms and transport them to Jordan, say rebel fighters based along the Syria-Jordan border and a person involved in arms procurement for the rebels.
...
Jordan has also cultivated ties with more secular-minded rebel military leaders in Syria's southern cities near its border. That is part of an effort, broadly described by U.S. and Arab officials, to mitigate an increasingly Islamist undercurrent in the rebel movement. U.S. and Jordanian officials have extended their antiterrorism cooperation to try to identify al Qaeda-linked elements in the Syrian antigovernment insurgency, officials in the region say.

That, they say, has driven their effort to funnel funds and arms to Syrian military defectors sanctioned by Jordan and its Western allies.

"I wouldn't say there's a black list. But there is definitely a white list," said a senior member of the opposition Syrian National Council, describing rebel groups that Jordan and its Western allies are comfortable supporting.

Jordanian intelligence officials routinely host meetings with these Free Syrian Army leaders, helping facilitate their movement back and forth from Syria and discussing military strategy, people familiar with the meetings say. Jordan also allows American intelligence officials to question and cultivate contacts with defected Syrian military officials, these people add.

By late summer, Syria's conflict was exacerbating Jordan's own deepening economic crisis. Entrenched front lines around Aleppo in northern Syria had blocked Jordan's trade routes with major export partners in Syria and Europe, exacerbating a budget deficit and pushing up the cost of caring for the escalating number of Syrian refugees.

That was when the kingdom loosened restrictions on providing military aid to the Syrian rebels, according to a person familiar with the policy decision.

"They [Jordanian officials] have received guarantees for economic aid and security aid—that there will be decisive Arab action to back Jordan up if Syria seriously threatens its security or retaliates in some way," said a person involved in negotiations with regional countries on the supply of arms to Syrian rebels.Jordan has also cultivated ties with more secular-minded rebel military leaders in Syria's southern cities near its border. That is part of an effort, broadly described by U.S. and Arab officials, to mitigate an increasingly Islamist undercurrent in the rebel movement. U.S. and Jordanian officials have extended their antiterrorism cooperation to try to identify al Qaeda-linked elements in the Syrian antigovernment insurgency, officials in the region say.

That, they say, has driven their effort to funnel funds and arms to Syrian military defectors sanctioned by Jordan and its Western allies.

"I wouldn't say there's a black list. But there is definitely a white list," said a senior member of the opposition Syrian National Council, describing rebel groups that Jordan and its Western allies are comfortable supporting.

Jordanian intelligence officials routinely host meetings with these Free Syrian Army leaders, helping facilitate their movement back and forth from Syria and discussing military strategy, people familiar with the meetings say. Jordan also allows American intelligence officials to question and cultivate contacts with defected Syrian military officials, these people add.

By late summer, Syria's conflict was exacerbating Jordan's own deepening economic crisis. Entrenched front lines around Aleppo in northern Syria had blocked Jordan's trade routes with major export partners in Syria and Europe, exacerbating a budget deficit and pushing up the cost of caring for the escalating number of Syrian refugees.

That was when the kingdom loosened restrictions on providing military aid to the Syrian rebels, according to a person familiar with the policy decision.

"They [Jordanian officials] have received guarantees for economic aid and security aid—that there will be decisive Arab action to back Jordan up if Syria seriously threatens its security or retaliates in some way," said a person involved in negotiations with regional countries on the supply of arms to Syrian rebels.

Posted by: b | Nov 10 2012 6:43 utc | 54

What happens to all those areas that the rebels claim to have captured and to control?

One example: The border crossing "Abu Kamal", also sometimes referred to as "Bukamal". Since July 20th, it was claimed that the rebels overran this crossing and routed the army:
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/07/201272099425353.html

But then today, after almost 4 months I read: "Free Army militia use anti-aircraft and heavy machinegun in attacking the military security building in al-Bukamal city of Deir Ezzor countryside"
http://www.documents.sy/videos.php?id=2788&lang=en

Given that the army is busy fending off rebel attacks in Idlib and Damascus, while holding the stalemate in Aleppo, not to mention ongoing fighting in Homs, I wonder why the "military security building" in Bukamal is not long in rebels hands...

Posted by: KerKaraje | Nov 10 2012 22:55 utc | 55

re 55 KerKaraje

Abu Kamal, on the Iraqi frontier on the Euphrates, 125 km from Deir al-Zour.

If there's still an army garrison there, it is a sign that the rebellion is not as strong as it claims.

Posted by: alexno | Nov 10 2012 23:39 utc | 56

Assad: Erdogan thinks he's Caliph, new sultan of the Ottoman (EXCLUSIVE)

http://rt.com/news/assad-interview-exclusive-syria-265/

"‘Erdogan thinks he is a Caliph’

­RT: Why has Turkey, which you call a friendly nation, become a foothold for the opposition?

BA: Not Turkey, but only Erdogan’s government in order to be precise. Turkish people need good relations with the Syrian people. Erdogan thinks that if Muslim Brotherhood takes over in the region and especially in Syria, he can guarantee his political future, this is one reason. The other reason, he personally thinks that he is the new sultan of the Ottoman and he can control the region as it was during the Ottoman Empire under a new umbrella. In his heart he thinks he is a caliph. These are the main two reasons for him to shift his policy from zero problems to zero friends."

Syrian opposition: new leader - old slogan

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_11_10/Syrian-opposition-new-leader-old-slogan/

"Also this week there have been reports in the Turkish mass media saying that Ankara with the help of Washington planned to create a no-fly zone on the Syrian border. For this purpose the US is to supply its Patriot missiles to Turkey. The no fly zone will stretch to 60 km up to the Syrian city of Aleppo. These steps may create serious problems first of all for Turkey, political analyst Stanislav Tarasov says.

"This happens without any sanctions from the UN. By taking such a decision they ruin the whole system of the international law. Turkey’s policy of adventurism may put Russia, as well as some European and Middle Eastern states against Ankara. It may lead to conference similar to the one which was held in Versailles during the first world war where Turkey’s fate was defined. Turkey may end up being divided especially considering the Kurdish factor."

Indeed Ankara wanted to used the uproar over Syria for solving its Kurdish issue but so far it has not managed to succeed. On the contrary Kurds who kept neutrality are now taking the side of Damascus."

Somebody is being warned here...

Posted by: вот так | Nov 11 2012 9:40 utc | 57

Israel gets drawn in

Posted by: somebody | Nov 11 2012 16:16 utc | 58

Nice to see "billmon" is still whittling several hundred year old redwoods down to mere single toothpicks via "process" and "policy" discussion.

Remember, readers: process and policy, and "intel" debate, are the real meat of government. If you don't spend all your time discussing process, policy, and intel then you're just a dumb rube, a knuckledragging reactionary. Reality is a process analysis with a meta-analysis of policy based on dissected intel.

All that stuff about profiteering, and about distracting people's view away from Israel's murder of innocents? Irrelevant. We need to get to the nitty gritty of what Petraeus really was bum-rush'd over, because the Petraeus "scandal" is serious business.

That stuff about Israelis killing their neighbors un-provoked? Not newsworthy. No process analysis there. Policy is irrelevant. Intel is questionable.

Let's stick to Petraeus. And his girlfriends.

Posted by: Mille Bonne | Nov 15 2012 20:08 utc | 59

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