Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 06, 2013

Syria: Assad's Speech

The Syrian president Bashar Assad held a great speech today. He talked for about one our in front of a full opera house in Damascus. The speech was interrupted by several standing ovations. At its end, when the president tried to leave the stage, he was practically mobbed by supporters trying to shake his hands.

Assad acknowledging the trouble his country is going through and renewed his offer for national reconciliation, including a new constitutional process, a referendum, new elections and a general amnesty. Meanwhile the fight against terrorism would continue.

He rejected any outer interference in Syria's political process. Foreign help was only needed to stop the weapons and fighters coming in from the outside.

He thanked and saluted the soldiers of the Syrian army for their sacrifice. He rallied the fence sitters:

Since the attack is launched against the homeland with all its human and material components, the mindful citizen has certainly known that passivity, waiting for time or others to solve the problem is a sort of pushing the country towards abyss, and not participating in solutions is a kind of taking the homeland backwards with no progress towards overcoming what the home is going through.
In what will irk the supporters of the insurgency against Syria, Assad renewed the commitment to resistance and the Palestinian cause:
Those who placed their bets on weakening Syria to forget Golan and its occupied lands are mistaken…Golan is ours and Palestine is our cause that we won't give up on…We will remain the supporters of resistance against the one enemy. Resistance is a culture, not individuals.
The "west" did not welcome this defiant speech and renewed calls for Assad to step down. But why should he? Military the conflict is at a stalemate but, in recent weeks, with slight and growing advantages for the Syrian army. All cities are still in the Syrian governments hands and the state institutions are still working.

The biggest problem now is the systematic looting by the foreign supported FSA of food and other necessities. The enemies of Syria have mostly given up on their aim to change its government and are instead, as first explained in September, trying to dismantle the country:

Destruction of the infrastructure, economy and social fabric of Syria is the [insurgents] and their supporters aim.
But there are also signs of an even further retreat from the original war aims. The neo-ottomans in Turkey are slowly changing their tact and the stream of weapons and money to the insurgency has somewhat deminished.

For now the most ardent supporters of a continued insurgency (last graph) and arguing against any negotiations are the "western" Zionists. But as they have little influence on the ground their support for the terrorism campaign against Syria might not matter. There is not a chance of a further "western intervention".

They key are still the Turks without who's support the insurgency would soon suffocate and die away. As more they become convinced that Assad will stay as sooner will they be willing to file for peace. Assad's speech today certainly helped in that regard.

As more trouble is coming back to Turkey from the trouble it is organizing in Syria as sooner will the Turks be pressed to withdraw their support for the terrorist. Here is where some renewed initiative, be it by the Russians, Iranians or Syrians, can achieve the most.

Posted by b on January 6, 2013 at 14:44 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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@ somebody #96, #97 : The analogy with East Germany is off-target because for one thing we have not seen massive popular disenchantment and defection from the Assadists in Syria -- nothing compared to the mass disenchantment and defection from the communists in Eastern Europe that happend circa 1990.

Here's a repeat of something I said on this board back in March 2012 about political alternatives in Syria and it's still true today:

The various Syrian opposition parties that will be competing in the elections are very weak today, they are only being born, their representatives are barely known or entirely unknown to the Syrian public, and they are not attracting much interest today from the more educated classes (nor from the less educated classes). The don't have a route by which they can make themselves a whole lot stronger by election day. Under the new Political Parties Law enacted in August 2011, eight new political parties have recently registered themselves and will be competing in the elections, but the bulk of the Syrian population including the better educated population don't even know the mere names of any of those new parties, never mind what their political platforms are. They are generating very little chatter; the population is exhibiting very little interest in alternative political parties at the moment....

The great majority of the people of Syria get the great majority of their political news and information about their country from information outlets that are based in their country. All of the widely circulating information outlets based in Syria are pro-regime. There isn't a single not-pro-regime information outlet based in Syria that gets even moderately wide circulation. Not-pro-regime and anti-regime information outlets are not illegal.... The fact that such media outlets don't have significant market share is an indicator of the strength of the regime's support. The track record in the Arabic countries of the Middle East over the past 15 years shows that barriers to new entrants are not high in Arabic media markets (including Syria). If a biggish market window for opposition media hypothetically existed for Syria, we would've seen it being filled by now....

More at:
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2012/03/open-thread-2012-07.html#c6a00d8341c640e53ef0168e90185c0970c

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 8 2013 12:40 utc | 101

Here's from Bashar's speech eighteen months ago on 20 Jun 2011:

There is indeed a [foreign] conspiracy. We should not waste time discussing it or being frightened by it. Rather, we should identify the internal weaknesses through which this conspiracy can infiltrate the country. Then we should work on correcting these weaknesses. The solution, at the end of the day, is for us to solve our own problems.... It is definitely a conspiracy, but again, we will not waste our time discussing it. I said this before in my speech before the People’s Assembly and at the Cabinet: “We must focus on domestics.” http://www.sana-syria.com/eng/337/2011/06/21/353686.htm

Bashar in his speech on 6 Jan 2013 said: "The solution should be comprehensive and must contain several axes: the political axis, combating terrorism, and the third axis that is very important which is the social solution." However, I can see no social solution. There is a social problem alright, which is that armed gangs of Syrians are running about the country destroying it, but this only has a military solution, not a social solution. I find the pro-government Syrians, and the government itself, are terribly reluctant to admit that there's a social problem. At the same time they are very quick and easy about pointing out the foreigners who are exacerbating the problem. That's the narrative that they have. It's misaligned with reality. Furthermore, they'd be better off with more of their focus on the internals, which are things they have the power to shape.

It is crystal clear that the majority of rebel fighters are Syrians, and that the Syrian government and its supporters (such as Harry #55 above) are overhypeing the presence of the non-Syrians among the fighters.

@ Harry #55 : The French doctor associated with "Doctors without borders" said more than half of fighters were foreign in the particular sample he met with. That's a whole lot different from talking about the nationwide body of fighters. That doctor in his visit didn't have a basis for talking about anything beyond the small sample he met.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 8 2013 13:38 utc | 102

@somebody

Trust is not the issue in an open debate, being factual and cohesive is.

Trust become an issue if you have a political agenda in mind.

Ideas and concepts like "Human Rights" and "democracy", when used as a political tool to promote power grab, are nothing more than what they are, ie. means of coercion.

In Syria today the problem at hand is not reform of the state's institutions but how to counter the assault on the integrity of the polity.

Posted by: ATH | Jan 8 2013 14:02 utc | 103

Pirouz_2 @ 92.

ATH
I am sorry but what you say is starting to sound like gibberish.

Pot calls kettle black?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 8 2013 14:07 utc | 104


Parviziyi, 98
sorry, there was disenchantment with the GDR leadership since the 1950's which led Bertold Brecht who gave the name to this blog to ask the rethorical question
"Why doesn't the party dissolve the people and elect another?"

And there has been disenchantment in Syria at least since the 1980's. It is not necessary to agree with the disenchanted people. Bertold Brecht's rethorical question applies here too.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 8 2013 14:10 utc | 105

100)

"In Syria today the problem at hand is not reform of the state's institutions but how to counter the assault on the integrity of the polity."

I would argue that as long as Syrians have the choice between pest and cholera that counter is futile. Actually Assad acknowledged as much when he said that reforms have to go hand in hand with security.

Realistically, I agree, no political system can reform in a time of war, even if it wanted to.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 8 2013 14:34 utc | 106

@somebody

"Actually Assad acknowledged as much when he said that reforms have to go hand in hand with security"

The way I understood the speech it was laying out a phased approach. The first stage re-establish the hold of the state. The second phase, obviously meant to be implemented after the first one, prepare the terrain for the reform.

Posted by: ATH | Jan 8 2013 14:57 utc | 107

"Such war is confronted through defending the homeland in parallel with a reform that is necessary to all of us, which may not change the reality of war, yet it strengthens us and reinforces our unity in the face of the war. Some may believe that herein lies the solution or that reforms will solve the problem, which is not true. Reforms is an influential factor but it is not all the solution.

Reform without security is like security without reform. Neither will be successful without the other. Those who keep parroting that Syria has opted for a security solution do not see or hear. We have repeatedly said that reforms and politics go in one hand and eliminating terrorism in the other. "

Does not sound phased. Actually they are going through the moves already.

It will mean nothing in terms of shifts of power if there is no deal backed by Iran and Russia.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 8 2013 15:07 utc | 108

@somebody

I can refer you to other parts of the speech with different tone... for ex.

"We will have dialogue with parties and individuals who did not sell the homeland to strangers, and with those who dropped weapons to have the genuine Arab Syrian blood running back in their veins. We will be real honest partners with every honest patriotic citizen who works for Syria's interest and for its security and stability."

The proposed political roadmap though is layed out when he talks about the 3 stages. Those are definitely ordered in a timeline which first will restore the authority of the current state before starting the process of reform.

Posted by: ATH | Jan 8 2013 15:27 utc | 109

@ somebody #102: You baldly make an assertion without supporting it with evidence. I counter-assert that you are wrong. This doesn't get us anywhere.

You can't get us anywhere without evidence. You ought to regard your analogies with Germany as utterly worthless to you (as they are to me), and seek evidence in Syria.

The future will tell us which of us is wrong. If you are wrong, the opposition won't win in forthcoming free and fair elections (just as they didn't win in the free and fair elections on 7 May 2012).

The Syrian government's unshakeable position is that the foundation of politics today is whatever's popular with the people of Syria as expressed in the results of free and fair competitive elections (with the exception that political parties based on religious or tribal affiliations are banned under Article 8 of the Constitution, although opposition parties can campaign to repeal that ban while complying with it). Meanwhile the biggest component part of the opposition have the unshakeable position that the foundation of politics must begin with the unconstitutional downfall of the government, and they refuse to compete against the government in the elections. What would happen if they competed against the government in the elections? The implication of your bald assertion is they'd win. You are wrong. They know it.

Bashar Assad, 8 Nov 2012: "Whether I stay or leave as president is a question for Syrian public opinion and the ballot box." https://rt.com/news/assad-interview-exclusive-syria-265/

Syria's foreign minister Walid Al-Moallem, 1 Oct 2012: "It is for the Syrian people alone to choose the shape of their own State... and to chose their own leadership through the ballot box.... The ballot box will have the final say." http://sana-syria.com/eng/22/2012/10/01/444720.htm

Syria's information minister Mohammed Al-Zoubi, 3 Sep 2012: "It is the ballot box that determines the legitimacy of presidents or parties." http://sana-syria.com/eng/21/2012/09/04/439409.htm

Bashar Assad, 10 Jan 2012: "...to the ballot box, which is the voice of law for everything in this country; this is the core of the issue.... When we differ, we go to the ballot box." http://www.sana-syria.com/eng/21/2012/01/11/393338.htm

Bashar Assad 7 Dec 2011: "The election, the ballot box, this is the only way." http://abcnews.go.com/International/transcript-abcs-barbara-walters-interview-syrian-president-bashar/story?id=15099152&singlePage=true#.T3-RyVHDVws

Syria's ambassador to China, 14 Feb 2012: "The Syrian people will decide what they want for Syria through... the ballot box in the forthcoming elections. The Syrian government and Syrian opposition must listen to the people’s demands. This can only take place through free elections." http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2012-02/16/c_131414691.htm . Ambassadors representing Syria, Russia, China and Iran on 15 Dec 2012 jointly endorsed popular democracy through the ballot boxes as the method for determining Syria's political future. http://sana-syria.com/eng/22/2012/12/15/457330.htm

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 8 2013 16:46 utc | 110

@ somebody #102: You baldly make an assertion without supporting it with evidence. I counter-assert that you are wrong. This doesn't get us anywhere.

You can't get us anywhere without evidence. You ought to regard your analogies with Germany as utterly worthless to you (as they are to me), and seek evidence in Syria.

The future will tell us which of us is wrong. If you are wrong, the opposition won't win in forthcoming free and fair elections (just as they didn't win in the free and fair elections on 7 May 2012).

The Syrian government's unshakeable position is that the foundation of politics today is whatever's popular with the people of Syria as expressed in the results of free and fair competitive elections (with the exception that political parties based on religious or tribal affiliations are banned under Article 8 of the Constitution, although opposition parties can campaign to repeal that ban while complying with it). Meanwhile the biggest component part of the opposition have the unshakeable position that the foundation of politics must begin with the unconstitutional downfall of the government, and they refuse to compete against the government in the elections. What would happen if they competed against the government in the elections? The implication of your bald assertion is they'd win. You are wrong. They know it.


Bashar Assad, 8 Nov 2012: "Whether I stay or leave as president is a question for Syrian public opinion and the ballot box." https://rt.com/news/assad-interview-exclusive-syria-265/

Syria's foreign minister Walid Al-Moallem, 1 Oct 2012: "It is for the Syrian people alone to choose the shape of their own State... and to chose their own leadership through the ballot box.... The ballot box will have the final say." http://sana-syria.com/eng/22/2012/10/01/444720.htm

Bashar Assad, 10 Jan 2012: "...to the ballot box, which is the voice of law for everything in this country; this is the core of the issue.... When we differ, we go to the ballot box." http://www.sana-syria.com/eng/21/2012/01/11/393338.htm

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 8 2013 16:51 utc | 111

Bashar Assad 7 Dec 2011: "The election, the ballot box, this is the only way." http://abcnews.go.com/International/transcript-abcs-barbara-walters-interview-syrian-president-bashar/story?id=15099152&singlePage=true#.T3-RyVHDVws

Syria's ambassador to China, 14 Feb 2012: "The Syrian people will decide what they want for Syria through... the ballot box in the forthcoming elections. The Syrian government and Syrian opposition must listen to the people’s demands. This can only take place through free elections." http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2012-02/16/c_131414691.htm . Ambassadors representing Syria, Russia, China and Iran on 15 Dec 2012 jointly endorsed popular democracy through the ballot boxes as the method for determining Syria's political future. http://sana-syria.com/eng/22/2012/12/15/457330.htm


Commentator ATH is very wrong when he claims that the thoughts of the majority of Syrians are largely impotent: (1) the thoughts of the majority of Syrians does decide who controls the army in Syria, and it decides whether the preponderance of the rank-and-file soldiers remain loyal to the institution, and (2) Syria's political future will be decided by the majority at the ballot boxes, and its political present has been largely determined by the elections on 7 May 2012, 26 Feb 2012, 12 Dec 2011, and earlier.

Why did the government win so big on 7 May 2012? Once again: http://www.moonofalabama.org/2012/03/open-thread-2012-07.html#c6a00d8341c640e53ef0168e90185c0970c

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 8 2013 16:54 utc | 112

106
Can't read that in your quote. It is stating the obvious. No state includes people it has declared terrorist. It fights them. Moaz al-Katib officially including Al Nusra which the United States has declared terrorist makes it very easy to dismiss Hillary Clinton's "legitimate representative of the opposition".

Stage 3 you mention has the word "immediately" in it
"Third: The current government immediately starts making intensive contacts with all the spectrums of the Syrian society with all its parties and bodies to conduct open discussion to pave the way for holding a national dialogue conference in which all the forces seeking a solution in Syria take part, whether they are inside or outside the country."

Either Iran and Russia are able to give guarantees for this process or it won't fly.


Posted by: somebody | Jan 8 2013 16:59 utc | 113

@ Parviziyi

It is crystal clear that the majority of rebel fighters are Syrians, and that the Syrian government and its supporters (such as Harry #55 above) are overhypeing the presence of the non-Syrians among the fighters.

And you know the truth do you!

Posted by: hans | Jan 8 2013 17:00 utc | 114

107)
"What would happen if they competed against the government in the elections? The implication of your bald assertion is they'd win. You are wrong. They know it."

This exactly implies that Syrian elections are not "free and fair". Western democracies are imperfect but no analyst would dare to predict the outcome of elections here. As a matter of fact public opinion shifts from week to week from survey to survey.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 8 2013 17:06 utc | 115

Commentator ATH is very mistaken when he speaks of "restore the authority of the current state before starting the process of reform." This is because the process of reform in Syria is FINISHED! Looks to me that ATH wasn't paying attention to Syrian affairs in 2011 and the early months of 2012 when a slew of important new legislation was enacted and the process of reform was FINISHED! (Except the anti-corruption legislation is still not finished). Of course, the new legislation is open to review and amendments can be made. But the government has enacted the reforms in essentially the way it wanted them, and the legislation was well-received by the public, and any amendents will be of little consequence.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 8 2013 17:06 utc | 116

Also, worthwhile point I forgot to mention, the opposition doesn't have any agenda or proposals for legislative reforms.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 8 2013 17:12 utc | 117

Intriguing. Why might the Turkish Government be seeking reconciliation with the PKK now I wonder..?

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Jan 8 2013 17:13 utc | 118

#108

"Commentator ATH is very wrong when he claims that the thoughts of the majority of Syrians are largely impotent"

What I mean is that the opinion of the majority of the population won't help us ANALYZE the political context but the political positions at the extremes will.

On the other hand, for the political ACTORS on the scene, say Assad, foreign powers/insurgents, the army etc... the extent of their followers and the fervor they show is a really important factor.

We are trying to understand, their goal is political fight and power.

Posted by: ATH | Jan 8 2013 17:24 utc | 119

111

Is "somebody" pushing the line that Assad would loose an election in Syria right now if there were one?

Regarding the argument about what nationalities the Israeli-American terrorist force is composed of, it's unproductive. There is no way any of us can know this composition. What is clear, though, is that the terrorism is run by Israel-America, and their proxies, and that any Syrians among the terrorists are taking orders from these fascists, just like the rest of the goons they brought in.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 8 2013 17:24 utc | 120

#112

"Commentator ATH is very mistaken when he speaks of "restore the authority of the current state before starting the process of reform."

This is my read of the political speech given by Assad, the topic of this trend.

I will go back and read it again, but right now my understanding of the text put on the blog by "b" is that, Assad, the political figure representing the Syrian state, has proposed a roadmap in 3 stages, not starting in parralel but one after another in time:

First, restoring the state's sole control over the means of violence; second, the preparation for reform and national reconciliation; third the implementation of multipartism and political reform.

Posted by: ATH | Jan 8 2013 17:41 utc | 121

Another frank video from SyrianGirl. This time she discusses the al Qaida connections with the U.S. government and some CIA undercover agent named van Dyke openly working as a terrorist.

Your Tax Dollars Fueling 'Al Qaeda' Syrian Rebels Praise OBL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxIoiLLP0Kg

Posted by: вот так | Jan 8 2013 18:32 utc | 122

For some reason this comment I posted yesterday about the Israeli-American strategy behind terrorists in Syria disappeared for 24 hours after I posted it. Since it's buried on the earlier page, I'll repost it.

There really isn't much of a comparison between the Cuban revolution and what's happening in Syria. Cuba was a revolution from within, Syria is an insurgency from without. The attack on Syria is foreign sponsored and run and the real fighting is mostly being done by foreign mercs and intelligence/special forces types. Syrian people are not much involved in the fighting on the insurgent side, other than as sacrificial cannon fodder for PR purposes. The planning, the strategy, the tactics, the heavy lifting, the operations are all carried out and lead by the foreign insurgency.

Probably the Nicaraguan contra terrorists are the closest one can compare to the terrorists operating against Syria. Though there are major differences between the Nicaragua of the 1980's and Syria today, what the Israeli-American fascists are doing to Syria is essentially a revised "contra" insurgency, updated and remodeled to fit their goals in Syria.

The tactics are similar. There are no fixed lines or territories between the government and the insurgents as the insurgents don't operate as an army. They don't seek to hold territory. They don't seek to gain Syrian allies. Their purpose is to terrorise the Syrian people into a situation where they fear the consequences of being associated with the government side. Hence the gruesome executions, random bombings, sniping and other terror tactics the insurgents rely upon. It was the same with the contras against Nicaragua.

There being no fixed lines between the opposing sides means this Syrian insurgency operates more like criminal gangs and deranged psychotic mass murderers. Fighting these terrorists is a lot like fighting the psychotic shooters like that Norwegian guy or the recent American school shooter or fighting a criminal gang. The majority of the insurgent ops are like those, where a trained group of terrorists infiltrate a region and then use hit and run terror attacks. The places these insurgents actually act like an army are areas where there is no, or little, Syrian army presence. They cut and run as soon as the army shows up. It's these ops where the duped/bought Syrian recruits are mostly used. The zionist media hypes their presence and they hold "the line" while the mercs and foreign professionals scoot to the border.

The terrorists also mold their "attacks" to cater to the PR machine in the zionist western media. This is especially the work of the foreign intelligence types running these operations. Slaughter several dozen people, post a video claiming the government did it, and the zionist media takes it from there to make sure people in the west are misinformed.

This is why I am especially disgusted with progressive outlets that peddle this repulsive crap. One expects the mainstream media do the propaganda, it's their job as being part of the fascist establishment, so many have come to rely upon alternative, supposedly progressive media to provide a more accurate picture, but many of these are putting out the same propaganda rubbish as the zionist run mainstreamers are.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 8 2013 19:42 utc | 123

Incidentally, this terror strategy Israel-America is using against Syria was also used by the Americans against the people of S.E. Asia, and one can see similar tactics and strategy U.S. puppet Chiang Kai-shek used against the Chinese from the 20's on. I posted an article about the latter in the newer open thread, but will repost the link here also.

The USA’s decades long warfare against China

http://www.voltairenet.org/article177063.html

Posted by: вот так | Jan 8 2013 19:52 utc | 124

@ ATH : We agree that the opinion of the majority, expressed in the ballot boxes, is decisive; we agree that the government is a political actor which acts with intention to be the ballot-box winner of the mainstream majority, of the people situated in the big center of the normal curve. So, for that reason alone, I say, we must understand what the majority is thinking to ANALYSE the political context, and we must also ANALYSE what the majority is thinking in an evidence-based way. You say on the contrary that to ANALYSE the political context we should focus on the extremes or purest polarizations. I don't see what you're trying to get at with that, but even if I did see it, I still can't imagine why the big middle is not a vital part of the political context to ANALYSE.

The thing that Bashar proposed in his speech is another National Dialog Conference, like the one that was held in July 2011.

The Syrian government wants to be inclusive, and to be perceived to be inclusive. The top government officials believe that having a government that is a "big tent" will strengthen the government and the country. The vice president Al-Sharaa said it this way on 17 Dec 2012: "The current regime cannot achieve change and progress alone without new partners who can contribute to maintaining the fabric of the homeland."

The proposed National Dialog conference is one step towards this objective. Another step was already taken when the government brought some civil opposition politicians into the Cabinet last summer. The government would be willing to bring in others into the Cabinet future, if others came on the scene who were able to represent something bigger than themselves.

The legislative and constitutional reforms are essentially finished. The government invites the participants at the proposed National Dialog conference to evaluate the reforms and make suggestions for further reforms. Anyone with a decent further reform proposal will get a fair hearing. But I haven't heard of any further reform proposals in the air. The reforms are finished.

The other thing that Bashar was doing in his speech on Sunday was clarifying Syria's interpretation of the language of the Geneva Agreement, which as Bashar said "had an ambiguous article which is the transitional stage article.... Any transitional stage must be through constitutional means. For us, what we're doing now, these [National Dialog etc.] ideas, for us this is the transitional stage."

The expression "restoring the state's sole control over the means of violence" is a bombastic and moronic expression for restoring elementary law and order.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 8 2013 20:21 utc | 125

#125

"I still can't imagine why the big middle is not a vital part of the political context to ANALYSE."

One main reason, as I said in several of my posts on the previous page, is that at a time of political crisis, like the one that Syria is in right now, it's not the mainstream majority which is defining the political direction of the polity but the activists and militants, or the true believers and diehards. The mainstream will just follow the strongest leadership. That's, I believe, in the nature of human societies and deeply ingrained in the essence of politic (i.e. power struggle.)

Although, it is true that the bulk of the force and energy to move the polity in one direction or another come from the mainstream majority but the analysis of this "big middle" become only meaningful when the times are calm and the extremes are subdued.

Regarding Assad's speech, I had a third reading of it and still think that the roadmap he's proposing consists of first securing the restoration of the state and then advancing national reconciliation and reform.

"restoring the state's sole control over the means of violence" is clearly the goal stated in stage 1.1 and 1.2 of the roadmap. I used this expression, borrowed from Max Weber, as one definition of State.

Posted by: ATH | Jan 8 2013 21:20 utc | 126

126, ATM ok, I understand, you developed your theory observing a pack of wolves. We are, however, related to monkeys.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 8 2013 21:54 utc | 127

@ ATH : You say, but I fail to understand what you're trying to say: "The mainstream will just follow the strongest leadership."

If you mean strongest political leadership, that'd be the party with the most political support, and that's the one that's most successful in getting itself in alignment with what people will accept, which'd mean that acceptance to the big middle is vital to the analysis. If you mean strongest military leadership, that'd be strongest military fullstop, or the winning military. If winning militarily is purely a matter pure military power it'd be a military power analysis not a political power analysis. If effective military victory depended on winning hearts and minds then we'd be back to wining political support in the big middle. I suspect you don't mean any of that. The problem is: you don't tell us what you have in mind by "strongest leadership". I also suspect I'd be disagreeing with you if I understood what you are wanting to say, from your term "leadership". My attitude is that strong leadership means being on the right side of reality and seeing reality correctly, and the factor of "leadership" is largely dispensible in the analysis, but indispensible are the factors of allegiance, affiliation and followership, especially those of the big middle, and including in times of sharp conflict. Bashar Assad said on 3 Jun 2012 regarding leadership: "Walk behind the people in order not to miss the road.... Learn from the people how we build the homeland.... The realist government official (الحقيقي) is the one whose heart beats to the rhythm of his people." You say you can go along with that attitude in normal times but not in times of sharp conflict, but you don't say why not.

@ ATH : Obviously 'somebody' #127 doesn't understand you either. Nor some other earlier commenters.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 8 2013 23:27 utc | 128

As b notes, a very informative article by Alex Thomson about the speech and about the concerns of a large percentage of the Syrian public:

...when President Bashar al-Assad spoke at the weekend he did two things above all else: raised the fear of foreign meddling and the spectre of a Syrian Somalia.

Both will play well in Sunni, Alawite and Christian communities.

Syrians find it rude even to mention someone’s religious ethnicity – they will whisper it. There remains deep pride in the checks and balances that have held the state together – not least in the army.

Two years of war and not a single unit if the vast army has yet defected en masse. The arms supply to rebels is dwindling as they readily admit.

The president’s friends in Moscow, Beijing and Teheran are far from disowning their man in Damascus.

So for many in the Syrian capital, his words over the weekend were not “beyond hypocritical”, as William Hague described them.

They don’t register the video of Assad’s officers apparently stabbing and stoning prisoners to death. They see al-Qaeda and al-Nusra and that little boy cutting at the neck of the POW.

They fear for their future and they may well be deluded in clinging to the regime content to slaughter its own Syrians – but they will tell you there is no choice.

While the public in general may not like having a Stasi-like security service and may want more democratic institutions and freedoms and a better economy, they support the culture and structure that they have in their society and fear having their country torn apart or having a fundamentalist Islamist regime replace it. As Thomson notes, no unit of the Syrian Army has defected. Further, Syria is not experiencing marked levels of draft resistance -- most Syrian young men report for their mandatory service, even if levels of reenlistment are not as high. In addition, some Syrian civilians in neighborhoods of major cities have formed neighborhood watches and some in the countryside have formed town militias. The presence of "shabihas" attacking neighboring towns may be exaggerated by the insurgents, but there are towns that have resisted rebel takeover. (Some of the news headlines about civilians fleeing government bombing reveal in the article that the town was stable while the troops were in the town, even as it was being bombed by rebels, and only after the rebels had taken the town did civilians flee.) Further, in a country with a culture of informants and mandatory service, civilians might consider it fulfilling their civic duty by alerting the government about rebel movements and letting the army do its job.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jan 8 2013 23:31 utc | 129


#128

I believe "somebody" understood what I was saying. Except maybe that he has to find out that democracy is a tool and not an ideal and therefore chimps, wolves and human have a common social behavior called politics (or power game).

You see, I think when you are looking (as a simple observer) into politics in crisis time, its all about leadership. In the early and mid 20 century, when the time was tumultuous and social unrest widespread, in Europe, and even in the prudent post-victorian England, your "middle majority" turned to totally opposite radical political ideas in different part of Europe. So, while the continent generally choose the extreme right wing, the periphery went with the left. In none of these polities the majority of the population had any clear understanding of the solutions. The political elites which was radicalized by prevalent ideologies, presented, in a process of "natural selection", the charismatic leader with clear and easily understandable ideas and the mass followed him (Hitler, Lenin, Mussolini but even Churchill, FDR or Changaychek).

That's the case with Syria today, obviously with some historical and social differences. The "middle majority", at this time of crisis, will look for a strong leadership to follow and this, right here, is the defining political battle being fought between foreign powers and Syrian state. I, personally, believe here and now that the majority will side, for a multitude of reasons, with the current holders of the Syrian state since the strongest, clearest and simplest solution for its woes are coming from Assad camp and not the foreign powers.

P.S. In case you wanted to continue this discussion, I propose to switch to the new trend.

Posted by: ATH | Jan 9 2013 2:35 utc | 130

130)
"chimps, wolves and human have a common social behavior"
it is not true. That is my point. Read up on behavourial biology. You can compare human behaviour and chimps, but wolves and chimps have completely different behaviour. Wolves are forced to form efficient hunting groups. The diet of chimps is more varied.

Or take part in an encounter group. It is very fascinating to find out who leads a group in what decisions. No, it is not the most extremist person. To the contrary, it is the person who can integrate everybody.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 9 2013 5:36 utc | 131

Syria starts preparations for implementing Assad's roadmap

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_01_08/Syria-starts-preparations-for-implementing-Assads-roadmap/

"The Syrian government has begun preparations for the implementation of the roadmap proposed by president Bashar Assad.

According to the Information Minister Omran Zuabi, organizing and holding national dialogue is important step on the way towards the implementation of the roadmap.

He said that the government had invited all the oppositional forces which are advocating for the country’s sovereignty and are against foreign interference into its home affairs to take part in the national dialogue.

The roadmap proposed by president Bashar Assad envisages the formation of an interim government in Syria which will comprise the representative of the current authorities and the opposition, holding parliamentary and presidential elections."

I doubt the Israeli-American al Qaida, Syria Division representatives will be getting an invite...

Posted by: вот так | Jan 9 2013 7:07 utc | 132

Meanwhile, the Israeli-American terror campaign continues:

Palestinian refugees urge Syria militants leave Yarmouk camp

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/08/282505/yarmouk-residents-urge-militants-exit/

"Palestinian refugees in the Syrian capital have demanded militants to withdraw from the Yarmouk camp as fresh fighting flares at the Damascus-based refugee site.

Four residents died when a shell fired by the foreign-backed militants struck the camp on Tuesday. Another person was shot dead by a sniper.

Meanwhile, new footage posted on the Internet shows militants shooting down a civilian airplane in the eastern Deir ez-Zor governorate.

There were no immediate reports on the number of casualties.

Militants from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front have also reportedly executed three Syrian soldiers kidnapped in the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor.

In the northwestern governorate of Idlib, militants attacked the Taftanaz military airport.

According to Syria's official news agency, SANA, army units in Idlib's provincial capital managed to kill all the members of two militant groups with the assistance of locals, and seized their weapons."

Posted by: вот так | Jan 9 2013 7:25 utc | 133

Yeah, continuing #131, Assad as a matter of fact seems to be unable to integrate anyone, not even this group.

And somehow his "no partner" complaint reminds me of the Israelis very willing to negotiate with the Palestinians ...

Posted by: somebody | Jan 9 2013 8:17 utc | 134

'In what will irk the supporters of the insurgency against Syria, Assad renewed the commitment to resistance and the Palestinian cause:'

pity the palestinians are supporting the FSA...thanks to their getting their info from Aljazeera: ungrateful and stupid

Posted by: brian | Jan 9 2013 10:46 utc | 135

#134

The political battle is between Assad, representing the sovereign state of Syria, and the insurgent lead by foreign powers. You yourself, in several occasions have stated that your preference goes with Assad, lacking any better choice. I translate this, politically, into:

"if I was a simple Syrian citizen I would have followed the leadership of Assad in the current situation"

Am I correct?

Posted by: ATH | Jan 9 2013 14:02 utc | 136

Hey guys, how can free and fair elections take place in a war torn country with millions displaced, etc.?

Assad’s appeal to a political process (pretty much the same as the previous one) is completely hollow and simply ignores the situation on the ground.

He may talk of negotiations and the like (see Kofi Annan previous, but he is outside the country, a soft international figure, etc.) but who is going to sit down at the table with him? There is nobody there.

The rebels - both home grown or foreign, that is another topic - have no other demand (afaik) besides that he and his clique, his Gvmt. have to be ousted, disappear. This is a struggle for ultimate power, and this demand is central (the only demand all can agree on) and can never be given up. Only when all the adherents are dead or locked up, defeated.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 9 2013 15:37 utc | 137

135

"pity the palestinians are supporting the FSA...thanks to their getting their info from Aljazeera: ungrateful and stupid"

It's more than corrupt media. The Palestinians are not being lead by the brightest of lights right now. The Israelis work to get the groups fighting each other, instead of Israel, so they are kept divided. What leaders Israel cant buy, they are assassinating. This is turning Hamas into another Fatah. The recent changes in the Palestinian politics has been quite a coup for Israel. The Palestinians are not being helped much by a lot of their western advocates, either, as many of these are either knowingly, or unknowingly, supporting the Israeli puppets and giving these stooges credibility to people seeking to help the Palestinians.

137

"Assad’s appeal to a political process (pretty much the same as the previous one) is completely hollow and simply ignores the situation on the ground.

He may talk of negotiations and the like (see Kofi Annan previous, but he is outside the country, a soft international figure, etc.) but who is going to sit down at the table with him? There is nobody there."

LOL, Assad is really in China, isn't he. Kool-aide isn't exactly a healthy drink...

Posted by: вот так | Jan 9 2013 18:14 utc | 138

Those 3 again. AIPAC and their fascist allies are still hard at work trying to engineer a Libya style war on Syria:

Senators urge White House to impose no-fly zone over Syria

http://www.examiner.com/article/senators-urge-white-house-to-impose-no-fly-zone-over-syria

"The U.S. must implement a no-fly zone over Syria to prevent further bloodshed and end a conflict that has claimed over 40,000 lives, Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) argue in an op-ed piece published in The Washington Post on Sunday."

Posted by: вот так | Jan 10 2013 22:48 utc | 139

Post-Assad plans: US focuses on Syrian chemical arms

http://rt.com/news/syria-us-chemical-weapons-758/

"Painting a picture of a post-Assad Syria, Washington has voiced concern over how it can secure the country's chemical weapons stockpiles in case the regime falls while under attack. Some experts warn that this is only a new pretext for meddling.

Middle East commentator and blogger Karl Sharro believes the talk about such stockpiles is just another pretext for Washington to get involved in Syrian affairs.

“There is a process of planning for the day after Assad, as Western powers are imagining it,” he told RT. “They are piling up different reasons for them to step in and take control of the country.”

He stressed that there are multiple forces engaged in this process, saying that “it is really shocking that the fate of Syria can be decided from outside this blatantly.”

Brahimi ‘flagrantly biased’

Meanwhile, Damascus has slammed UN and Arab League envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi as “flagrantly biased,” casting doubt on his role as a mediator in the crisis that has claimed over 60,000 lives since March 2011.

The international peace envoy told the BBC that he didn’t see Assad as a part of a transitional government, and called for him to step down. Brahimi added that “ruling for 40 years is a little bit too long,” referring to Assad, who inherited the presidency from his father, whose tenure lasted 30 years.

The pro-Assad al-Watan newspaper referred to Brahimi as "a tool for the implementation of the policy of some Western countries."

Like I wrote previously, these people are like ants confronted with a cube of sugar. They can't let it go.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 11 2013 7:25 utc | 140

Looks like another israeli-American plot exposed:

Syrian opposition allies plan provocation involving Slavs

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_01_11/Syrian-opposition-allies-plan-provocation-involving-Slavs/

"The countries that side with the Syrian opposition are preparing a provocation involving Slav mercenaries in a bid to deprive Russia of its role of mediator in the talks between the Bashar al-Assad government and the opposition, a military-diplomatic source has told reporters in Moscow.

According to the source, the interested States of the West and the Middle East are recruiting Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian citizens who should play the role of Russian “mercenaries”, allegedly fighting for al-Assad.

Under the scenario, they will be taken prisoner by rebel fighters of the so-called Free Syrian Army and will then testify on camera.

Plots to that end are due to be filmed in Turkey and Jordan, where large-scale scenery of allegedly destroyed Syrian cities has long since been built and has been actively used for misinformation purposes.

This will enable the interested nations to create the necessary conditions for overthrowing al-Assad."

Ants...bloody ants.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 11 2013 8:02 utc | 141

Compare - Iranian news vs western msn news:

Militants claim to have captured military airbase in Idlib

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/11/283046/militants-claim-to-have-captured-airbase/

"Foreign-backed militants fighting the government claim to have taken control of a military airbase in Idlib but Syrian government forces reject the capture claims, saying they abandoned the premises."

And:

Syria rebels seize base as envoy holds talks

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/11/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE90A0NH20130111

"Rebels seized control of one of Syria's largest helicopter bases on Friday, opposition sources said, in their first capture of a military airfield used by President Bashar al-Assad's forces."

No mention in the Reuters article that the Syrians abandoned the base and that their "heroes" "captured" a derelict facility that was no longer in use or occupied. What is funny is the photo Reuters used shows the "heroes" in a building that has obviously been derelict for a while. The rest of the zionist article is devoted to regurgitating the standard propaganda lines that just about all western media under zionist control regurgitate every time they publish an article that mentions Syria.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 12 2013 1:05 utc | 142

A snowman? Seriously? Only thing missin's Santa's ho.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Jan 12 2013 3:02 utc | 143

"A snowman? Seriously?"

Well, one's gotta have the photo op appeal to the right crowd.

Meanwhile, Santa's little helpers took another loss, but that didn't stop them from sniping a 3 year old girl. Maybe Santa had determined she had been naughty...

Syrian troops capture town of Daraya from militants

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/12/283212/syrian-troops-capture-most-of-daraya/

"Syrian troops have captured most of the town of Darya outside the Syrian capital Damascus after it was taken by militants fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Damascus says the town could be fully captured in the next few days, after government troops seized much of the town on Saturday.

Earlier in the capital, two people were shot dead by militants’ sniper fire near the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, one of whom was a three-year-old child.

Yarmouk refugee camp has borne the brunt of the turmoil in Syria over the past months. In September 2012, 20 people were killed in a mortar attack by militants on the camp."

Posted by: вот так | Jan 12 2013 23:38 utc | 144

The "Syrian Opposition" seem determined to shred their declining credibility when they release photos like this as "proof" of something:
http://niqnaq.wordpress.com/2013/01/12/could-be-anywhere-anywhen-but-its-a-good-photo/

This is a photo of the shell of an old helicopter which has reached the end of its useful service life and been stripped of everything of value/usefulness by its owners; and now awaits recycling as scrap metal. All it proves is that Syria's "rebels" are so desperately ignorant and incompetent that clutching at straws makes more sense to them than risking their sorry asses 'opposing' the Syrian Army.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 13 2013 2:51 utc | 145

It is crystal clear that the majority of rebel fighters are Syrians, and that the Syrian government and its supporters (such as Harry #55 above) are overhypeing the presence of the non-Syrians among the fighters.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 8, 2013 8:38:48 AM | 102

sorry but this is not crystal clear. Not when the war on syria began on the borders....if the majority were syrian, youd expect this wear to have erupted first in the heartland.
Itd be helpful if the nationalities of the terrorists(not 'fighters') were identified, but samples show many if notmost are non-syrian...libyans afghans chechens saudis turks even jihadis from european and australia

Posted by: brian | Jan 13 2013 3:06 utc | 146

France Time and hypocrisy

January 11, 2013 (LD) - A deluge of articles have been quickly put into circulation defending France's military intervention in the African nation of Mali. TIME's article, "The Crisis in Mali: Will French Intervention Stop the Islamist Advance?" decides that old tricks are the best tricks, and elects the tiresome "War on Terror" narrative.

TIME claims the intervention seeks to stop "Islamist" terrorists from overrunning both Africa and all of Europe. Specifically, the article states:
"...there is a (probably well-founded) fear in France that a radical Islamist Mali threatens France most of all, since most of the Islamists are French speakers and many have relatives in France. (Intelligence sources in Paris have told TIME that they’ve identified aspiring jihadis leaving France for northern Mali to train and fight.) Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), one of the three groups that make up the Malian Islamist alliance and which provides much of the leadership, has also designated France — the representative of Western power in the region — as a prime target for attack."
What TIME elects not to tell readers is that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is closely allied to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG whom France intervened on behalf of during NATO's 2011 proxy-invasion of Libya - providing weapons, training, special forces and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya's government.
etc
http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/france-displays-unhinged-hypocrisy-as.html

Posted by: brian | Jan 13 2013 3:23 utc | 147

In one respect it doesn't matter if Parviziyi is right or not. Taking up arms against ANY govt is a good way to get yourself exterminated; especially if you're also butchering civilians who, in a 'popular' uprising, are the people you'd be relying on to shelter you.

In Afghanistan, for example, anyone looking for shelter before or after killing an American, or two, can knock on any civilian door and be warmly welcomed. Syria's reckless "rebels" on the other hand, have become their own worst enemies by acting like thugs and focusing too much on soft targets - mimicking their sponsors.

My guess is that a big majority of Syrians are acutely aware of what befell Libya (and Iraq) after all that "help" from the West...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 13 2013 5:49 utc | 148

Brian no 146,
I kind of agree. Real internal active dissent would have started in Damascus. If it was regional it would have started in Aleppo. A rural uprising would have been all over the place.
So yes, what happened was not spontaneous but planned for supply, escape routes and a no fly zone. And it was much too weak to endanger the Syrian government without outside help.
If the opposition had been deeply rooted in Syrian society, the army would have stepped down or split.

As Syria does not have natural borders but lines drawn by colonialists, a high amount of refugees and emigration, and a very diverse confessional and ethnic makeup, internal and external does not mean that much though.

It is obvious that the outside plan was to weaken and split the country, not to replace an oppressive authoritarian secular central government with a tolerant democratic secular central government. That would have been a dangerous model for most of Syria's neighbours.

And obviously the - naturally existing - internal dissent was used as a fig leaf for getting involved.

It is also obvious that support for the Syrian government does not reach far internally and across borders either. Otherwise the pacification process would not have been that painful and Turkey would not have been able to act that much as staging ground. And it would not be that difficult to coopt the non violent opposition.

An exclusively outside conspiracy could not have lasted for two years.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13 2013 8:07 utc | 149

Brian no 146 - thought experiment

Do you think arming French banlieues via the Mediterranean using Marseille as a bridgehead, plus the Alpes and Pyrenees as adventure training grounds was feasible? Why not?

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13 2013 8:25 utc | 150

149

Fairly reasonable thumbnail sketch, though the last sentence is debatable:

"An exclusively outside conspiracy could not have lasted for two years."

It wouldn't need very many "inside" supporters to last that long provided it was heavily supported from the outside and there were aspects in the geography, population and government's ability to fight back that could be exploited. Syria has all three.

Lots of territory that cant be patrolled without splitting the military too thin. A large variety of cultures, including many refugees, both recent and long term, who don't necessarily view Syria as "their country". Syria has a relatively small military and not the best equipped to fight a guerrilla war. The country is also relatively open, with the "police state" infrastructure and abilities not being all that great. For example: they have nothing like internal dissent control infrastructure built up in Israel, the USA and in European countries like Britain.

Under these circumstances, given a constant gravy train of generous, outside support, an outside insurgency, and given they are ruthless enough, which the death squads fielded by Israel-America in Syria have shown they are, can run ops almost indefinitely.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 13 2013 9:11 utc | 151

151
"The country is also relatively open, with the "police state" infrastructure and abilities not being all that great. For example: they have nothing like internal dissent control infrastructure built up in Israel, the USA and in European countries like Britain."

Make that they do not have the ability to coopt, integrate and institutinalize opposition like US and Europeans, and I agree (Israel is trying to survive as a colonialist, that is something else ...)

The Syrian state has tried to weave a fabric with an axe.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13 2013 11:04 utc | 152

вот так #151 said: "Syria has a relatively small military and not the best equipped to fight a guerrilla war." I say on the contrary Syria's military is relatively big (in comparative international terms, and in terms of its size against the rebels) and it is well equipped hardware-wise to fight a guerilla war. The great majority of the soldiers are loyal to the government and have been fighting against the rebels with good morale, with a sense of good purpose. And the Syrian army has the support of most of the civilian population. The Syrian security forces have been performing poorly in this fight, in view of those advantages. They have not been able to put down an rebellion by poorly organized, poorly equipped, poorly trained, gangs of armed hooligans. The hooligans have the advantage that they are willing to be viciously destructive, and it's not easy to subdue anyone who goes on a rampage like they have. Nonetheless, the Israeli security forces were more successful in putting down rebellions by Palestinians. The American security forces in Iraq were more successful at maintaining security in Iraq than the Syrian army has been in Syria. The number of daily casualities suffered by the Americans in Iraq circa 2006 was a whole lot less than the daily casualties suffered by the Syrian army during the last year and the last six months. I don't know why. In any case it's not true that the Syrian army is too small or too ill-equipped.

PS: I don't know why the national soccer team of Denmark or Croatia is better than Egypt's or Algeria's. I know that the masses in Egypt and Algeria are keen on playing soccer.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 13 2013 12:47 utc | 153

@ somebody #149: I heartily agree with this bit from you: "the opposition was much too weak to endanger the Syrian government without outside help. If the opposition had been deeply rooted in Syrian society, the army would have stepped down or split." We also agree that the rebellion is mostly indigenous; the rebels are mostly Syrians. We disagree when you say: "support for the Syrian government does not reach far internally". I've said before you are wrong about that. Examples of where I've supported myself with facts on this board include the ones I linked to earlier in this thread. But right now I'd like to ask you one question. You stated at #149 that you have concluded that the Syrian opposition factions, both militant and non-militant, do not have broad support. Why is the preponderance of the population unattracted to any of the political alternatives to the Assadists? If the population isn't attracted to the Assadists politically as you claim (and I deny), then why isn't the population embracing an alternative? Why hasn't the Middle Class produced a credible, viable political party and leadership to compete against the Assadists at the ballot box?

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 13 2013 12:54 utc | 154

154) disenchantment with politics and inner resignation? lack of motivation and chance to participate in the first place? catch 22?

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13 2013 14:05 utc | 155

The Böll Foundation is the think tank of the German Green Party. Here their assessment of the state of the Syrian opposition (no I do not think that means Syrian Baath Party is popular, and no, I do not think this state of affairs is "natural" because of the great leadership of the Baath pary):

The Dire State of the Opposition After Years of Repression Whether from the Syrian National Council, the National Coordinating Committee or elsewhere, opposition political organizations in Syria are in a wretched state. Most traditional parties, such as the Labor Party, the Arab Socialists Movement, the Democratic People Party (formerly the Syrian Communist Party-Political Bureau) and the Revolutionary Workers Party, have no more than one hundred members apiece. The only group to enjoy any kind of genuine popular support is the Democratic Arab Socialist Union, which boasts around two thousand members.

New political organizations, which have sprung up since the start of the revolution are often poorly represented and appear to be unstable and unlikely to last. Even the Muslim Brotherhood has no real organizational structure within the country: in almost twenty-three years of political activism inside Syria I have yet to meet someone who introduces themselves as a member of the Brotherhood. While this may be understandable, given the risk such self-identification entails, it remains the case that there is little sympathy for the Brothers in most urban centres.

Neither do I have a clear picture of the organizational capabilities of the Kurdish parties, whether those from the Coordinating Committee, the Damascus Declaration or the Kurdish bloc within the National Council. However, I do detect a gulf between the parties themselves and the Syrian Kurdish population they claim to represent, and moreover, that these parties and groups were primarily formed to deal with the Kurdish problem within Syria, rather than the wider Kurdish issue. T

he Damascus Declaration, originally a political alliance that was one of the founding groups in the Syrian National Council, is now no more than a single party—the Democratic People Party—with a few unaffiliated nationalist political figures in tow, since the Declaration’s Kurdish parties realigned themselves within the National Council as the Kurdish Bloc. The same is true of the Democratic Assyrian Organization.

Of the political parties that make up the National Coordinating Committee, suffice it to say that the majority comprise no more than the party’s name and a handful of individuals.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13 2013 14:31 utc | 156

And you can compare the BBC report of the decline of party membership in Britain - 1% of the population with the BBC profile of the Syrian Baath party membership

During nearly five decades in power, Syria's Baath Party has evolved from an Arab nationalist movement into a vast organisation that has infiltrated every aspect of public life ... Many posts in the public sector, the military and government were generally reserved for Baathists, which helped boost party membership. By 1981, some 375,000 people had joined the party. By 2010, this number had reportedly risen to 1.2 million - nearly 10% of the population.

Sure, in a system like that, if you do not join, you lock yourself out of any influence.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13 2013 15:48 utc | 157

@ somebody #157: These past 22 months the government has been strenously (even too strenuously) trying to elevate and honor all opposition factions who support Constitutional political processes. To repeat what I already said at #125 above, "The Syrian government wants to be inclusive, and to be perceived to be inclusive. The top government officials believe that having a government that is a "big tent" will strengthen the government and the country." Such inclusiveness is not new. In the years when the Baath Party had a guaranteed number of seats in Parliament, there was also a guaranteed number of seats in the Parliament for opposition parties and independents. When that system was done away with last year, and free and fair parliamentary elections were held with no quotas for anyone, the Baath Party's number of seats in parliament INCREASED.

Why? You say apathy. I say:
الشعب يريد سوريا الأسد
الشعب محبي العظيم الدكتور بشار الأسد وبس

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 13 2013 16:28 utc | 158

158 |:-))
I guess you did not translate this as you realize that in English this would be considered to be the expression of a brainwash ...

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13 2013 17:11 utc | 159

@ somebody #159: Not a "brainwash". The Syrian goverment has a lot of supporters in Syria and you should try to find out why. Your thinking that they're "brainwashed" and stupid is itself an expression of a brainwash.

To repeat to be clear, (1) you appear to be clueless about why the people support the government and this is a very important blindspot you have, and (2) as long as you have that blindspot and you smugly call the supporters brainwashed, it is you who is the brainwashed one in my opinion.

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jan 13 2013 17:53 utc | 160

:-)) I reserve love for some special people I know closely and do not extend that emotion to a guy on a poster, correct. And I am quite certain Syrians do the same.

I expect politicians to work for me and people like me as they are paid by me and people like me and not the other way round.

Sure, Assad won this, but did Syrians win? And are you sure, Assad did not use the culture of fear?

Posted by: somebody | Jan 13 2013 18:23 utc | 161

152

"Make that they do not have the ability to coopt, integrate and institutinalize opposition like US and Europeans, and I agree (Israel is trying to survive as a colonialist, that is something else ...)"

Israel is actually more of a police state than the USA is. The people there are much more closely watched and supervised than either Americans or Europeans are. Also the "coopt, integrate and institutinalize" aspect is much more effective in Israel, and has resulted in a population that is more indoctrinated than the people of the USA (if one can believe that such were possible) and Europe. In fact Israel is the world leader in this sort of population control and their methods, and people, are exported to other countries to institute the same kind of control. Especially in the USA, where both media and the security establishment rely heavily upon Israelis and Israel loyals, to the point where the media is rightfully considered to be an extension of Israeli state relations, and American security agencies (such as Homeland Security) are thought of as part of an Israeli occupation police/military force.

153

The Syrian military cannot prevent outside terrorists entering the country as the Syrian border is too large to patrol effectively. The Syrian government also do not have the technology, either to monitor the population or their extensive borders. The Syrians have been very good at fighting this insurgency with what they do have, but these are not rag tag amateurs they are up against. They are professional mercs and terrorists given training that utilises several generations of practice at that sort of terror warfare. The Israeli-Americans vastly out fund and out tech the Syrians and they have put this discrepancy into fielding this terrorist war. The rag-tag aspect are extra. They do not lead nor carry out the important ops. They are there as cannon fodder and to mount ops of little importance to draw away the Syrian military from the merc ops and keep the Syrians spread out.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 13 2013 20:29 utc | 162

Sanctions as WMD

http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/01/sanctions-as-wmd/

"...Sieges now extend to entire countries, they have become the torture before the destruction. And they are not counted in long days, but in long years. Iran thirty three years, Iraq thirteen-plus years. Ironically the disparity in the deaths in Iraq resultant from that siege, mirror near exactly what was considered a “genocide” in Leningrad.

Syria has been subject to EU “restrictions” since 2011, ever more strangulating, with near every kind of financial transaction made impossible by May 2011 when “restrictions” were also placed on President Assad himself, all senior government officials, senior security and armed forces Heads. The list of that denied is dizzying. By February 2012, assets of individuals were frozen, as those of the Central Bank of Syria.

Cargo flights by Syrian carriers to the EU were also barred, as was trade in gold, precious metals and diamonds – anything which might translate in to hard cash, without which neither individuals or countries can purchase the most basic essentials.

By July 2012 Syrian Arab Airlines and even Syria’s Cotton Marketing Organisation had joined the EU’s victims.

America of course, had been way ahead of the game, with the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Act signed in to law on 12 December 2003, the year of Iraq’s comprehensive US-led destruction. Thus the mighty USA’s personal siege on under twenty one million people, is now entering its tenth year...."

War crimes.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 14 2013 3:00 utc | 163

No outside groups know the exact percentages of Foreign vs. Domestic for armed opponents of the Syrian Government. The UN and Arab League took the broadest survey of the situation across Syria, but they did not get a precise picture and breakdown of numbers and nationalities. Foreign journalists who have embedded with "rebels" only get a sampling of a few rebel factions, not an overall picture. If Western or Syrian intelligence agencies have an accurate picture of the makeup of the various opposition groups, even if they released the numbers, would we take their word? What we do know is there are some Syrian mostly Muslim Brotherhood aligned groups. Whatever the state of their armaments, aside from some army defectors, most of their membership is not well-trained. Unemployment and malnutrition in rural Syria has been exacerbated by the sanctions and the conflict, which may attract some rural Sunnis to the insurgency. Whatever, their numbers and their percentages among the fighters, the foreign salafist fighters are having a bigger impact in the conflict. They are better trained and better armed (and apparently more coordinated in their attacks on Syria's infrastructure). They have claimed responsibility for the majority of car bombings.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jan 15 2013 3:11 utc | 164

Interesting how when an attack on civilians was likely committed by the insurgents, the MSM reports it as "he said/she said," whereas most other events, they just report as the unvarnished account of "activists." Today, an attack on civilians in a government-held area of Aleppo was covered thus on NPR. Here's Al Akhbar:

Each side blamed the other for the attack. Opposition activists said missiles fired by government jets were responsible for the blasts, but a military source said the explosion resulted from a stray surface-to-air missile fired by rebels.

The explosions struck an area near the university dormitories and the architecture faculty, both opposition and government sources said.

State television said "terrorists launched two rockets" at the university complex, which lies in a government-controlled area of the battleground city.

In addition to the students, the campus houses some 30,000 people who have fled homes in areas of the city ravaged by fighting since July last year.

Rebels have used car bombs and carried out suicide missions in government-controlled areas targeting civilians. Government air strikes on residential buildings have also killed civilians.

What's the most likely scenario for 30,000 civilians who have taken refuge in a government-controlled area: They are attacked by forces of a government that is a control-freak in general and working overtime to maintain a sense of normalcy for its urban citizens. They are attacked by Al Nusra-aligned groups and/or trained mercenaries who have perpetrated the majority of car bombs on civilians. They are attacked by amateur Muslim Brotherhood groups who misfired some weapons they captured from the Syrian Army.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jan 15 2013 22:38 utc | 165

80 killed in two explosions at Aleppo University

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/15/283701/blasts-hit-aleppo-university-15-killed/

"At least 80 people have been killed and scores of others injured after two explosions hit Aleppo University in Syria’s second largest city, Press TV reports.

An opposition watchdog said one of the explosions has hit an area between the university dormitories and the Faculty of Architecture. It was not immediately clear where the second blast had happened.

State television said "terrorists launched two rockets" at the university complex.

Press TV has learned that women and children are among the dead.

"The explosion caused casualties among both students on their first day of exams, and people displaced from areas of the city damaged by terrorist attacks and who have sought refuge in the university complex," state news agency SANA reported."

Over 80 dead in two rocket explosions at Aleppo University as students take exams

http://rt.com/news/aleppo-syria-blast-university-040/

"Rebels have previously previously carried out bomb attacks against government targets in the city.

At least 34 people were killed last October after a string of blasts ripped through Aleppo's main square."

Posted by: вот так | Jan 16 2013 0:53 utc | 166

Parviziyi, you are a propagandist, I don't have to prove it. You've done that yourself. phttttt!

Posted by: stephan williams | Jan 16 2013 1:42 utc | 167

*To Save Congo, Let It Fall Apart.* hehehehe
http://nilebowie.blogspot.sg/

Posted by: denk | Jan 16 2013 3:37 utc | 168

168 was meant for the pizza thread !!

Posted by: denk | Jan 16 2013 3:38 utc | 169

SyrianGirl video on the Aleppo Uni terrorist attack:

Bombing of Aleppo University - What Happened

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDv4-WvioEk

"Published on Jan 16, 2013

Over 80 people have died in two bomb blasts in Aleppo university . The blast radius was huge and the type of bomb is still not known, IED or rocket. The mainstream media has been falling over itself trying to implicate the Syrian government in the strikes even the Aleppo university is a government controlled area, the following footage and discussion hopes to reveal the truth about what happened in Aleppo university."

The Israeli-American terrorists told the people to boycott the university the day before the attack. Since the students didn't, the terrorists attacked. Pure terror tactics to instil fear and kill as many as possible. The same thing they do in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 16 2013 10:00 utc | 170

Syria condemns attack on University of Aleppo

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/16/283815/syria-un-envoy-condemns-aleppo-attack/

“A cowardly terrorist act targeted the students of Aleppo University,” which killed “82 students and wounded 162 other students,” Bashar Ja’afari told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

“The terrorist armed groups in my country always take advantage of a Security Council meeting to perpetrate a terrorist attack inside Syria and this is indeed what happened today perhaps for the 10th or 20th time since the crisis in my country began,” Ja’afari stated."

Posted by: вот так | Jan 16 2013 10:04 utc | 171

Russia blames "terrorist" foes of Assad for Aleppo blasts

http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report_russia-blames-terrorist-foes-of-assad-for-aleppo-blasts_1789537

"Russia on Wednesday condemned blasts that killed 87 people in the Syrian city of Aleppo and blamed the explosions on "terrorist" it said were seeking revenge for losses in the conflict with government forces.

"We condemn the latest mass killing in most decisive way," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement about the blasts on Tuesday at an Aleppo university.

It called the explosions "revenge by terrorists for significant losses they have sustained in the confrontation with government forces."

Posted by: вот так | Jan 16 2013 15:23 utc | 172

14 Jan.

Syrian demonstrators in Idlib support army, government

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/14/283546/syrians-in-idlib-back-army-government/

"Syrian people have taken to the streets in the northwestern city of Idlib to express support for the Syrian army in its operations against foreign-backed militants.

The demonstrators also chanted pro-government slogans on Monday in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad."

So what do the Israeli-American paleo-zio-fascists do?

16 Jan

Triple car bombs in Syria leave 24 dead

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/16/283897/bomb-blasts-in-northern-syria-kill-24/

At least 24 people have been killed in three coordinated car bombings in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, reports say.

The incident took place on Wednesday after three car bombs exploded in the province, killing 24 people, including security forces, and injuring dozens others.

"The first explosion took place in Al-Ziraa Square and the second explosion took place in Al-Mutlaq Square,” the SANA News Agency reported, blaming foreign-backed militants for the deadly bombings."

This is the planning and work of people who are no longer human. If they ever were.

Posted by: вот так | Jan 16 2013 15:41 utc | 173

@173 What do they do? Move it off the front page of course.

Posted by: dh | Jan 16 2013 15:51 utc | 174

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