Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 26, 2013

Syria: Hizbullah Joins The Fight

Hassan Nasrallah announcement to use Hizbullah's full power on the side of the Syrian government brings a new quality to the fight. Hizbullah has a record of successful military operations against the most powerful and brutal enemies. When Nasrallah promises victory, as he yesterday did, the odds are that he will deliver. In his speech he justified Hizbullah's intervention by the danger the "western" supported takfiris pose to the resistance against Israel.

That Nasrallah defined the insurgents as takfiris is important. A takfiri is one who declares everyone who does not strictly follow his version of believe an unbeliever that should be punished and killed. As one of the Jabhat al-Nusra guys asserted in an interview:

There is a difference between the basic kuffar [infidels] and those who converted from Islam. If the latter, we must punish them. Alawites are included. Even Sunnis who want democracy are kuffar as are all Shia. It’s not about who is loyal and who isn’t to the regime; it’s about their religion. Sharia says there can be no punishment of the innocent and there must be punishment of the bad; that’s what we follow.
By defining the enemy solely as takfiris Nasrallah can justify his call to arms as a non-sectarian fight. Not every Sunni will buy it but many likely will. Following that announcement attacks were and will be mounted against Hizbullah in Lebanon but those will be more of a nuisance than a real danger.

The fight in Qasayr is ongoing. The Syrian military had some successes but the urban combat proves again to be a hard slog. Several of the opposition leaders have urged insurgents from other areas to join the fight in Qasayr. That was a mistake. Few of the reinforcements seem to have reached their target but were caught in the Syrian army cordon around Qasayr. Many of them (video) were killed. For some weeks now the Syrian Observatory's casualty count shows that about double as many insurgents are getting killed than troops on the government side. Some of the insurgents are killed in unnecessary conflicts with Kurds or other groups, some of them by missile fire and many in street combat. I doubt that the killing of 11 Chechen in Syria will lead to more Chechen joining the fight. The takfiris are training kids (video) but those will have little chance against Hizbullah's or the Syrian army's seasoned troops. At a certain point the general insurgency will die down for lack of manpower. When the Syrian government regains full control of the country a terrorist element will likely continue to exist. But it will no longer be an existential danger to the Syrian state.

Senator McCain claimed that the U.S. will create a no fly zone should, as is likely, the Geneva talks fail. I doubt this very much. It is just one of the scare points brought up by the U.S. to increase pressure on the Syrian government. Other such points are Jordan's request for Patriot missiles deployment and the announcement of a large scale multinational maneuver in Jordan.

Under international pressure to join the Geneva talks the exile opposition is in Istanbul again trying to unite but, like in every one of these events before, this attempt is likely to fail. The Muslim Brotherhood, supported by Turkey and Qatar, is unwilling to give up its (somewhat hidden) majority, does not stick to its earlier commitments and inserts new demands:

When [Al Sabbagh] was asked in front of the foreign ambassadors: "What is your priority? Especially that we are facing the challenges of Geneva 2. These demands will lead to the failure of the plan or even the fracture of the coalition which might consequently lead to Bashar Al Assad staying in power". He answered with this (literally): "My conditions are more important and urgent".
These are the people the U.S. wants to install in Syria? Do these exiles look like they would gain control of the takfiris? No and no.

The U.S may soon recognize that its Syria project has come to a dead end. There is no viable replacement for the Syrian government and the takfiris are a serious danger. If the U.S. were sure about a positive outcome should the insurgency win it would certainly do more to help them. Instead it presses European countries to deliver weapons to them. If one, like Nasrallah, is convinced of ones case, one will use all ones own might to win and not ask proxies for help. That the U.S. is doing such is telling

Posted by b on May 26, 2013 at 17:17 UTC | Permalink

Comments

I don't think we should go over the top about Hizbullah so-called joining the fight. The Angry Arab says most of the speech was not devoted to Syria, and all he says is that the takfiris are a great danger, not how far Hizbullah is going to go.

I would doubt that any intervention will be more than minor on the border. Protection of the Sayyida Zeinab shrine, for example. In any case, Hizbullah doesn't have the troops for a major action. Sometimes you see a figure of 2000 for their active fighting force.

The whole thing is being endlessly hyped in the western media, to justify action from the west, which will not happen anyway because the risks are too great, and the revolt is losing anyway.

Posted by: alexno | May 26 2013 18:04 utc | 1

If Hizbullah fighters amount to only 2000 their recruitment officers have been asleep on the job.

“Over half of the region’s population is below the age of 24. These demographic trends have intensified the pressures of labor supply on the economies of the region,” the study argued.

Posted by: somebody | May 26 2013 18:44 utc | 2

The Angry (and obtuse)Arab hears only what he wants to hear...I have been following him for more than ten years and wonder how he has been given an academic post.He derided yesterday Nasrallah who warned that the fall of Syria means the fall of Palestine and Lebanon e.g. the resistance and hope of all of us to see a liberated Palestine.If he was to guide any resistance,zion would be today sitting on every arab capital.The whole discourse was about Syria and the Resistance meaning the war for Palestine.In my humble view he targeted all the sunnis sitting on the fence and feigning that the West mercenaries e.g. the takfiris do not target and concern them.That is the public he tried to reach to yesterday with very convincing arguments.

Posted by: Nobody | May 26 2013 19:06 utc | 3

re 3

I have been following him for more than ten years and wonder how he has been given an academic post.

If you don't think much of what the Angry Arab has to say, why do you continue to read him? Me, I find he has interesting insights, and knows the Arab world and its personalities far better than any Western commentator. He is of course extremely egotistical; I heard him live once in San Francisco. Nothing wrong being being against everybody.

As to whether he deserves an academic post, why not? He only works in a minor Californian university, of which I had never heard before him. He will never be able to move up the scale; but that's mainly the Zionist mafia. And he would never have got tenure today either, for the same reason. Personally I think he serves an important function as a public academic, and we'd be worse off without him.

Posted by: alexno | May 26 2013 19:46 utc | 4

Instead it presses European countries to deliver weapons to them. If one, like Nasrallah, is convinced of ones case, one will use all ones own might to win and not ask proxies for help.
That the U.S. is doing such is telling

Precisely.
Impotent whining; one step from crossing one's fingers and waving a white flag.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 26 2013 19:50 utc | 5

Two, thoroughly contradictory, points:

1/ Many of the "takfiri" fighters are actually mercenaries and psychopaths in the employ of America's Arab middlemen, the Sauds etc. War is the only sector in the economy booming, these days.

2/ This sunni "jihadist" army that swirls around the region, from Iraq to Tunisia to Libya to Syria and elsewhere serves the purpose of distracting Arabs from the realities of life at home. The last thing the Sauds, the Jordanians and the GCC governments want is unhappy me with time on their hands and military ambitions. Much better to hire them out to Uncle Sam, the big boss, and call it God's work.

Asad is not always right but he is usually stimulating and never cowardly, that doesn't make him unique but he is rare enough to be cherished. And thanked, for burning a candle in the darkness of a University system that makes it difficult for anyone opposed to zionism to get work.

Posted by: bevin | May 26 2013 20:20 utc | 6

re Alexno,
why I continue to read him?because he is like a gossip aunty,he gives thread to stories or non stories in the arab world that I might have missed.The day he will deliver a single thoughtful analysis on any subject with a clear historical background and reasonable perspectives and conclusion then I will apologize for criticizing him.Plus he has a forked tong,one that speaks in arabic to a certain public and another that is targeting a western audience.Palestine is his fig leaf for calling the attention of everybody,the true believer of the Cause and the many western journalists who follow him with interest.

Posted by: Nobody | May 26 2013 21:00 utc | 7

#7 your explanation still does not make much sense. Angry Arab is fairly clear in his views. He is an atheist, a marxist, a supporter of Gamal Nasser and most centrally one who backs justice for the Palestinian people. He is a severe critic of the many Arab political movements that have compromised with Western Imperialism. As far as I can tell he does not have a political agenda that leads to the liberation of the Palestinian people or an agenda that will remove the many Arab puppets that support the Zionist and Imperialist forces. What he does best is shine a critical light on Western and Arab hypocrisy in its dealings with the Palestinian liberation movement. I can't blame him for his short comings here because, as far as I can see, there is no plan out there that will reverse the colonial expansion of Israel into Arab lands.

Posted by: ToivoS | May 26 2013 23:02 utc | 8

I picked up some interesting tidbits from a recent piece by Franklin Lamb at Counterpunch. Does anyone know of more background about the kind of training that was occuring before the Syrian conflict?

Khan al-Sheeh, whose residents are from tribes and clans in northern Palestine, and who lost 22 camp residents to Zionist occupier gunfire during the May 2011 Nakba Day events on the Golan Heights, will be a formidable foe if they take up arms which they have not done for the past 33 years. In January 2013, the Syria conflict entered into the camp when opposition forces – a combination of Free Syrian Army (FSA) and al-Nusra Front fighters arrived and insisted on recruits, offering $ 200 per month cash, free cigarettes, a uniform plus boots and an AK-47. ... Pressuring Lebanon’s camps to join Syria’s civil war

Lebanon’s widely respected independent leftist daily, As-Safir, has reported that veteran security and intelligence officers of the Lebanese security services are claiming to have information, but not precise details regarding number and location, of “organized Takfiri (Sunni) networks” in Lebanon. The head of one security service told As-Safir that “the monitoring of the terrorist networks cannot be very detailed since they are solely located in the Palestinian camps, mainly in Ain el Helweh.”

This statement, like others these days in the Lebanese sectarian media, appears intended to incite the public against the refugees forcing them to join the fighting. ...

Other calls are being heard from Beirut, Saida, Tyre and up north in Tripoli, for Palestinians to comply with the fatwas being issued for all Sunni to fight the Bashar Assad regime and to build a “Sunni army” patterned after the civil war era PLO forces. There is virtually not known significant sentiment favoring this dangerous call. However, in all of the above noted areas, some Palestinians, mainly unemployed youngsters have been lured by offers of cash to take part in training, much like occurred before the 26 month old Syria conflict.


Posted by: Rusty Pipes | May 26 2013 23:04 utc | 9

Why are war lovers like McCain and Graham always booked on the talking heads shows, especially those on Sunday mornings? Those two are leading a small minority yet they receive outsized and deferential coverage, and their views are seldom challenged. Why? Now they are bringing up Benghazi all over again as if those (regrettably) four lost lives are more important than all the thousands lost and permanently disabled in Iraq/Afghanistan. The current situation regarding Syria sounds like 2002 all over again. Why did Obama box himself into a corner again by using a provocative phrase like 'red line' regarding the use of chemical weapons? If it were not for Putin backing Assad, would we not already have our troops involved in yet another fiasco in the Middle East?

Posted by: Cynthia | May 26 2013 23:11 utc | 10

Fighting is so awesome. I sure do love it. Fighting is the best. Let's all continue fighting. YAY. I need guns!

Posted by: tsisageya | May 26 2013 23:14 utc | 11

#10 tsisageya. Well if you live the US then no problem. You can buy all the guns you want. And there are militia groups you can join that will show you how to use them and practice with their use in numerous "reinactments".

Posted by: ToivoS | May 26 2013 23:47 utc | 12

Hmm, it looks like my previous comment about a Franklin Lamb article has not posted. A clip from another Lamb article brought home to me the reality that an internship with AIPAC, if not a pre-requisite, is a major plus for getting a job as a congressional foreign policy staffer. Because this prominent West Coast Senator's aide sure claims to know what Obama (who plays his cards close to his vest) thinks and confidently and satisfactorily aligns it with Israel's goals. Wouldn't be surprised if this is the same prominent West Coast Senator who is sponsoring special visa rights for Israel:

According to one long-term Congressional aid to a prominent Democratic Senator from the West Coast, while the Amman gathering described Hezbollah’s armed presence in Syria as “a threat to regional stability”, the White House could not be more pleased that Hezbollah is in al-Qusayr.” When pressed via email for elaboration, the Middle East specialist offered the view that the White House agrees with Israel that al-Qusayr may become Hezbollah’s Dien Bein Phu and the Syrian conflict could well turn into Iran’s “Vietnam”. ..Quite a few folks around here (Capitol Hill) think al-Qusayr will remove Hezbollah from the list of current threats to Israel. And the longer they keep themselves bogged down in quick-sand over there the better for Washington and Tel Aviv. Hopefully they will remain in al-Qusayr for a long hot summer and gut their ranks in South Lebanon via battle field attrition and Israel can make its move and administer a coup de grace.”

The staffer followed up with another email with only one short sentence and a smiley face:

“Of course the White House and its concrete wall-solid ally might be wrong!”

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | May 26 2013 23:52 utc | 13

#12 rusty I once found Franklin Lamb's observations interesting but I think we should be aware that he makes things up. He is not to be trusted.

Posted by: ToivoS | May 27 2013 0:12 utc | 14

"concrete wall-solid ally"

Presumably a reference to the apartheid wall Israel has built... ;)

Posted by: guest77 | May 27 2013 2:44 utc | 15

7/8 - it is his blog i.e. by definition personal, he is not blogging academic work. He is doing an excellent job explaining to non Arab speakers how their - Zionist - media distorts Middle East realities.

Israel has been shrinking for quite a while now and the strategy is Iranian not Arab.

Posted by: somebody | May 27 2013 4:31 utc | 16

@12 I'm so grateful for the immense amount of incompetence in foreign policy circles in the US. While I also have concerns about Hezbollah's increased role in Syria, to think they and Iran will get bogged down in a Vietnam-style struggle is ludicrous. Far more likely is that Syria will go along a similar path to Algeria in its fight against Islamists. I doubt that Hezbollah is going to use all its resources in Syria but I wonder what Assad, Hezbollah and Iranians have in mind after they defeat the takfiris in Syria.

I'm sure that the Americans and other western countries will also be similarly delighted by the blowback they get too. Just what we need to justify the militarisation of domestic police forces and expanding the security state.

Posted by: Inanna | May 27 2013 4:47 utc | 17

@12 Rusty Pipes

That paragraph is hilarious. It's so typical of neocons to create pure fantasy worlds where their idiotic cruelties play out without intervention of reality.

Posted by: Crest | May 27 2013 5:00 utc | 18

re 12

the White House could not be more pleased that Hezbollah is in al-Qusayr.” When pressed via email for elaboration, the Middle East specialist offered the view that the White House agrees with Israel that al-Qusayr may become Hezbollah’s Dien Bein Phu and the Syrian conflict could well turn into Iran’s “Vietnam”.
It is clear that this is the reason for all the hoo-ha about Hizbullah. There are many people who would like Hizbullah to have a Dien Ben Phu at al-Qusayr.

There are two points:

1) I still haven't seen any factual evidence that Hizbullah is actually participating in the Qusayr battle. Many western journalists say it, without facts, and many Lebanese papers too, but they are all anti-Hizbullah.

2) Evidently the sources are forgetting that the French lost at Dien Ben Phu. More importantly they don't seem to understand military logic either. There is zero reason for Syrian (or Hizbullah) infantry to rush in and take casualties. Better to stand back, bombard, and starve the rebels out, while saving casualties.

Posted by: alexno | May 27 2013 9:36 utc | 19

There is zero reason for Syrian (or Hizbullah) infantry to rush in and take casualties. Better to stand back, bombard, and starve the rebels out, while saving casualties.

Take a look at this Interesting video from the Abkhazian Network News Agency

The role of hezbollah is to control the entry and exit, not fight!

Posted by: hans | May 27 2013 10:01 utc | 20

Do not listen to Russia and her Allies. Diplomacy is silent. Watch what they do.
Mr Putin is aware that Syria is a mistake by the west that will not arise again.
He knows that failing Syria, for rewards, will now make him a despised irrelevance .
He knows that winning will demand unbelievable courage .
Are the rewards worth the risk. Is he committed or just involved. (the Ham or the egg )
How should Mr Putin call ??.

Posted by: boindub | May 27 2013 10:26 utc | 21

Do not listen to boindub and it´s Zionazi Allies. Their Hasbara is deafening. Watch what these apes do.
boindub is aware that Syria is a mistake by the Zionazis and their western stooges that will retake Golan and occupied Palestine. Brooklyn and Poland among other should expect some 5 million Zionist squatters because of that.
It knows that failing Syria, for "greater israel", will now make it and the zionist abomination a despised irrelevance and ultimately, history albeit a very bloody one.
It knows that winning will demand what is impossible for itself and the Zionazi parasite´s western host .
Are the rewards worth the risk. It is committed and very much involved.
How should The Zionist abomination call ??.

Posted by: dubinbo | May 27 2013 10:58 utc | 22

I think Hezbollah is mainly training syrian shia and alawite militias, actual hezbollah military assistance only in special cases.

Posted by: clubofrome | May 27 2013 11:47 utc | 23

Hezbollah are now in the space between the hammer and the anvil

Posted by: wes | May 27 2013 11:48 utc | 24

Hezbollah isn't needed in Qasayr, the Syrian army can, did, and will handle that.

While the well trained Hezbollah fighters can, of course, fight everywhere their stronghold with a, that's important, well prepared theater is Lebanon and the South of Syria where they impressingly showed their capabilities and force in 2006.

b brings up, albeit more as sidenote, an extremely and quite possibly decisive point:

Unlike israel, Syria now has tens of thousands of battle hardenend, experienced soldier and a lot of critical know how such as the tested capability of communication in a harsh, hostile environment.

Next to the question of weapons and possibly even more important (if the weapons difference isn't too steep) this is an immensely important factor. To put it (grossly simplifying) simple: Think Hezbollah 2006 multiplied and with better weapons.

Considering the situation on the ground it can be assumed that israel can not risk a ground offensive against Syria; they would pay an unberably high price in term of lost lifes (and material).
The other classical strong point of israel was zusa; yes, "was". Not only has shown zusa (cheap and basically automatic rhetorics aside) a strong reluctance to be drawn into yet another war for israel but, probably more important, zusa can and will not risk (or even finance) a war with Russia which has so far shown that it's words are followed by actions. Furthermore zusa would - and will not - risk tens, if not hundreds of thousands of (zusa) lifes in the gulf region nor can or will zusa risk to be involved actually in two wars because Iran has declared and would surely be involved if a war against syria was launched.

That's why the 2 (yes 2) S-300 factors are extremely important.

The only way for israel to at least have any chance (under ideal conditions) in a war against Syria were using their air (both missile and aircraft) superiority to "prepare the grounds" for their troups.

This was and is, more than zusa, israels ace; this gave them the possibility to attack other countries with almost impunity; this is what leveraged israels relatively weak army (and geostrategic position) above their neighbours.

And this is what Russian high tech (way more capable than anything zusa has) Air Defense systems can basically nullify.

I mentioned 2 S-300 factors (simplifying again because the S-300 is just one albeit a decisive AD system in an AD "orchestra"). One evidently is the S-300 installed in or soon to be shipped S-300.

Now, some (mainly british murdoch zio journal "sunday times") doubt that S-300 deal and others put the effective delivery into a not near future.
This is quite certainly nonsense (because, amongst other factors, Russia not or only (too) late delivering those systems would de facto tell any and all existing and future partner or client state not to trust them).

But even assuming those rumours has some credibility to them, the situation wouldn't change too much. Because of "S-300, part 2": the Russian flottilla and Tartus.
It would seem quite strange for the Russians not to have strong AD systems in Tartus. And, of course, a part of their ships is equipped with naval versions of S-300 (or better).Hezbollah isn't needed in Qasayr, the Syrian army can, did, and will handle that.

While the well trained Hezbollah fighters can, of course, fight everywhere their stronghold with a, that's important, well prepared theater is Lebanon and the South of Syria where they impressingly showed their capabilities and force in 2006.

b brings up, albeit more as sidenote, an extremely and quite possibly decisive point:

Unlike israel, Syria now has tens of thousands of battle hardenend, experienced soldier and a lot of critical know how such as the tested capability of communication in a harsh, hostile environment.

Next to the question of weapons and possibly even more important (if the weapons difference isn't too steep) this is an immensely important factor. To put it (grossly simplifying) simple: Think Hezbollah 2006 multiplied and with better weapons.

Considering the situation on the ground it can be assumed that israel can not risk a ground offensive against Syria; they would pay an unberably high price in term of lost lifes (and material).
The other classical strong point of israel was zusa; yes, "was". Not only has shown zusa (cheap and basically automatic rhetorics aside) a strong reluctance to be drawn into yet another war for israel but, probably more important, zusa can and will not risk (or even finance) a war with Russia which has so far shown that it's words are followed by actions. Furthermore zusa would - and will not - risk tens, if not hundreds of thousands of (zusa) lifes in the gulf region nor can or will zusa risk to be involved actually in two wars because Iran has declared and would surely be involved if a war against syria was launched.

That's why the 2 (yes 2) S-300 factors are extremely important.

The only way for israel to at least have any chance (under ideal conditions) in a war against Syria were using their air (both missile and aircraft) superiority to "prepare the grounds" for their troups.

This was and is, more than zusa, israels ace; this gave them the possibility to attack other countries with almost impunity; this is what leveraged israels relatively weak army (and geostrategic position) above their neighbours.

And this is what Russian high tech (way more capable than anything zusa has) Air Defense systems can basically nullify.

I mentioned 2 S-300 factors (simplifying again because the S-300 is just one albeit a decisive AD system in an AD "orchestra"). One evidently is the S-300 installed in or soon to be shipped S-300.

Now, some (mainly british murdoch zio journal "sunday times") doubt that S-300 deal and others put the effective delivery into a not near future.
This is quite certainly nonsense (because, amongst other factors, Russia not or only (too) late delivering those systems would de facto tell any and all existing and future partner or client state not to trust them).

But even assuming those rumours has some credibility to them, the situation wouldn't change too much. Because of "S-300, part 2": the Russian flottilla and Tartus.
It would seem quite strange for the Russians not to have strong AD systems in Tartus. And, of course, a part of their ships is equipped with naval versions of S-300 (or better). And we are not talking about 5 or 10 missiles; more in the (low) 3-digit range.

And we are not talking about 5 or 10 missiles; more in the (low) 3-digit range.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | May 27 2013 12:12 utc | 25

Apologies, it seems I somehow copied my last post into inmidst of itself.

When the repetition starts just skip to the last paragraph which is where the original post continues.

Again, I'm sorry.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | May 27 2013 12:18 utc | 26

I know "The The Angry (and obtuse)Arab" since his school days.
A mediocre student from a bourgeois family, unable of earning an honest living to maintain his bourgeois standards, was forced to sell himself to the only party that could make use of the tidbits of knowledge he has.

Think of him as Al Jazeera... in 2003 ;-)

Posted by: Fouad | May 27 2013 12:19 utc | 27

The current naval version of S-300 in the Russian navy is S-400 and are expected to be replaced by S-500 "Triumph" when the evaluation of that system is finished. The S-300 Syria already has (yes very much so, as hinted by Putin) are upgraded almost or near to the level of S-400.

In any case, as you rightly pointed out, west hasn´t still came up with any countermeasures to even the oldest version of S-300. Russia is 25-30 years ahead in missile technology and defensive systems...

Posted by: Mrs.Magma | May 27 2013 12:28 utc | 28

In zusa tenured professors were "stabbed" and pushed out for "racism" when stepping some inches outside the official line, for whatever when critically looking or, God beware, professionally (!) challenging darwinism, or for - the worst imaginable offense - "anti-semitic" positions, i.e. anything other than praising israel.

So, if anyone believes anything the angry arab utters he might as well believe that superman will save zusa or that gw bush acted following Gods will ...

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | May 27 2013 12:30 utc | 29

Mrs. Magma (28)

The current naval version of S-300 in the Russian navy is S-400 and are expected to be replaced by S-500 "Triumph" when the evaluation of that system is finished. The S-300 Syria already has (yes very much so, as hinted by Putin) are upgraded almost or near to the level of S-400.

Sorry, no.

The *actually installed* naval version is the S-300 (and those were already installed as major upgrades). The S-500 is somewhere in the not too near future and the S-400 is currently being installed/upgraded to in current new builds or upgrades.

You are right, however, insofar as the S-400 is not a radically and completely different system. Actually, there are, for instance, S-400 upgrades of the launchers and the respective new missiles which can enhance the system from 4 to 16 (new generation) missiles. Similarly, certain parts of the S-300 electronics and other control equpiment can be, and quite probably is, upgraded.

It is, however, not even strategically important to have all ships upgraded to or equipped with S-400. Actually even new frigates often (or always?) are still equipped with S-300 albeit with new launchers and missiles.

In any case, as you rightly pointed out, west hasn´t still came up with any countermeasures to even the oldest version of S-300. Russia is 25-30 years ahead in missile technology and defensive systems...

As much as I would like to agree, I tend to consider your numbers as being to high. IMO 10, maybe 15 years seems more realistic. But it's more than numbers that makes me think twice. The S-300 aren't Wunderwaffen; if one can and must afford to take them out, it almost certainly an be done albeit at an immensely high price.
And even that isn't certain; We have not yet seen zato in a major confrontation against S-300 or S-400, we can't be certain that there is not someone in the Russian system who has sold out critical information. Actually I personally (and subjectively) assume that certain and possibly not comletely unfounded worries in that regard are one of the major driving forces behind the development of S-400. After all, Russia has de facto been in zatos hands during the nineties. Last but not least there are even zato countries like greece who officially posess S-300 albeit an export version.

Don't get me wrong, Mrs. Magma, this post is by no means directed against you. I just happen to think that Russia has been served very well by Putins intelligence and quiet prudence.
"Hurray, supremacy" caterwauling should be left to the americans; largely missing substance they have developed a mastership in self-pleasantry and PR.

For israel though we can quite certainly reasonably assume (even) the S-300 a major game spoiler (if not killer).

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | May 27 2013 12:54 utc | 30

27)

a) to move to a place where your family connections do not count is honorable in itself ...
b) to teach at a university is hard honorable work
c) to get tenure is quite an achievement


Posted by: somebody | May 27 2013 12:58 utc | 31

Yes, i meant S-500. The numbers 25-30 are not mine but (former) General Leonid Ivashov´s (yes the very same "responsible" for the Pristina airport incident).

It´s due to the fact that Sovjet/now Russia (again Ivashov)stopped to compete in some degree with the west in conventional offensive weapons somewhere in the early 70´s and put most of their bet in defensive missile technology (such as S-300 and schkval) but also and not least, in offensive ballistic missiles. It took Pentagon until the last day´s of the 90´s to understand that and the full capacity of supersonic weapons and Torpedoes moving inside a gas-bubble hence the estimation. No they are not wunderweapons but there´s not much sitting ducks like American aircraft carrier fleets can do once a weapon at such a speed is fired, inevitably one (if not two) of two will hit and pretty much evaporate a smaller vessel and sink a carrier. Some of the Russian vessels in the aforementioned fleet also has P-700 Granit another technology west havn´t come close to yet:

"The missile, when fired in a swarm (group of 4-8) has a unique guidance mode. One of the weapons climbs to a higher altitude and designates targets while the others attack. The missile responsible for target designation climbs in short pop-ups, so as to be harder to intercept. The missiles are linked by data connections, forming a network. If the designating missile is destroyed the next missile will rise to assume its purpose. Missiles are able to differentiate targets, detect groups and prioritize targets automatically using information gathered during flight and types of ships and battle formations pre-programmed in an onboard computer. They will attack targets in order of priority, highest to lowest: after destroying the first target, any remaining missiles will attack the next prioritized target.[2][3]

The P-700 was derived from the P-500 Bazalt, replacing the earlier missile's liquid-fuel rocket propulsion with a turbojet. The P-700 was in turn developed into the P-800 Oniks, which uses ramjet propulsion, and the BrahMos missile, a joint-Indian/Russian modernization of the P-800.".

Posted by: Mrs.Magma | May 27 2013 14:43 utc | 32

These guys are so stupid ...

Syrian opposition shake-up falters ahead of peace conference

To the dismay of envoys of Western and Arab nations monitoring four days of opposition talks in Istanbul, the 60-member Syrian National Coalition thwarted a deal to admit a liberal bloc headed by opposition campaigner Michel Kilo.

The failure to broaden the coalition, in which Qatar and a bloc largely influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood has been playing the driving role, could undermine Saudi Arabian support for the revolt and raise the specter of a rivalry among Gulf powers that could further weaken the opposition.

Its Western backers have pressured the Coalition to resolve its divisions and expand to include more liberals to counter domination by Islamists. The plan also had support from Saudi Arabia, which had been preparing to assume a bigger role in coalition politics and has been uneasy about the rise of Qatar's influence, coalition insiders said.
...

Posted by: b | May 27 2013 15:25 utc | 33

Thanks for that Mrs.Magma and good info!

Although good comments, i don´t think Mr.Pragma is one of the developers of Brahmos or a military attaché or a Bhadrakumar of sorts but i know who General Ivashov is...

Posted by: brothihoo | May 27 2013 15:29 utc | 34

@all -

Mrs. Magma aka dubinbo - last warning before being banned for sockpuppetry

Posted by: b | May 27 2013 15:31 utc | 35

Thank you Mrs.Magma and good info!

Althoug good comments and somewhat informative, don´t think Mr.Pragma is one of the developers behind Brahmos or a military attaché or a Bhadrakumar of sorts but i know very well who General Ivashov is. I go for that.

Posted by: brothihoo | May 27 2013 15:33 utc | 36

Just an FYI

The Syrian journalist Yaara Abbas was killed, by sniper fire, in Qsair
http://pennyforyourthoughts2.blogspot.ca/2013/05/journalist-yara-abbas-killed-by-nato.html

She was in her mid 20`s
Her final report is available at my place
The western media will pay no mind to the death of this journalist
But, I do think it is sad for the Syrian people

Posted by: Penny | May 27 2013 16:37 utc | 37

Mrs. Magma (32)

Yes the Yakhont (and its predecessors and successors) history and explanation of capabiities is quite correct and yes, almost certainly the Russians have far advanced missile capabilities.

Nevertheless, zato *had* spies within Russias military industries (not even to talk about the 90ies) and one ugly example is to do with the Shkval torpedo you mentioned.
In short, it is neither wise nor in any way sensible or prudent to rest only or mainly on technological superiority. In the end wars are fought by men, not by weapons.

Your aircraft carriers being a sitting duck is an often mentioned but wrong image because zusa carriers always are embedded within a flottilla ("carrier group"), for a major part for protection of the carrier.
While these groups almost certainly have less advanced missile (and defense) capabilities that their Russian counterparts, it would be (IMO) dangerously arrogant to consider them irrelevant. In the same regard even the high-tech Russian defense systems can be rendered less (or even in-) effective e.g. by saturation.

The S-500, btw, is mainly a future unit. Don't forget that between design, prototypes, tests and admission into the military (and then becoming more or less standard issue) are typically years and even more than a decade. Confrontations, however, must be handled by what's available.

And in fact, looking at the last years, Russia made very major progress and is today in a position to effectively confront zusa/zato - however not due to/based on to this or that high-tech weapon system but rather thanks to very prudent, professional and intelligent politics, strategies and (among others diplomatic) maneuvers.

On a personal note: I experienced some "problems" since you arrived here with your screen name, up to the point that sometimes my postings were not published.
Maybe this was even meant as compliment, or you considered it funny, or whatever.
The consequences, however, of such "funny" actions are ugly for others, for your "victims", up to the point of a de-facto ban.

I think, you would do everyone, incl. yourself, a favour if you simply chose one (1) screen name for yourself and consistently and honestly wrote using that one name.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | May 27 2013 17:22 utc | 38

@33 -
too funny that Assad says he's willing to participate in peace talks with his opposition, except the opposition isn't defined.
this undefined "opposition" is being armed by a well-defined "west" and inflicting non-fictional casualties. the US is a brainless bully, and I guess if you have enough ammo to shoot every square inch around you, you can "win". then what?!

Posted by: anon | May 27 2013 17:42 utc | 39

Mrs. Magma aka dubinbo aka brothihoo is now banned from this site

Posted by: b | May 27 2013 18:40 utc | 40

@Penny @36 - There was a BBC Arabic report, Inside Syria: Reporting for Al-Assad (English subtitles), about Syrian media which also featured Yara Abbas at her work.

The BBC propagandist tries to shame the Syrians for "unfair reporting". They don't fall for it.

Posted by: b | May 27 2013 18:44 utc | 41

Presumably aiming to pressure the EU conference on military aid to the rebels, Le Monde has chosen this moment to come out with a very detailed (but I think technically problematic) eye-witness testimony by its reporters who claim to have spent weeks in the rebel front-lines and witnessed continuous chemical attacks. They have even provided an english translation, not a typically french consideration. In other words, this is a propaganda bomb:
http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2013/05/27/chemical-war-in-syria_3417708_3218.html

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | May 27 2013 19:28 utc | 42

thanks b
I will check that out
Imagine the BBC 'shaming' anyone for unfair reporting?!
shakes head

Posted by: Penny | May 27 2013 20:56 utc | 43

OMG. the first minute is chock full of unfair/overwrought reporting, I can imagine the rest

wait, let me get a barf bag!

Posted by: Penny | May 27 2013 20:58 utc | 44

Shouldn't we be fair in our judgements?

I mean, everyone has strong sides and weak ones. If the issue was to employ and protect a known serial child abuser, the bbc would have done lots better.

Another forte of bbc is praising israel. Although, now that israel is known for turning Gaza medical operation theaters into deadly gas chambers, that job might become somewhat tougher for bbc.

(Just in case you don't trust your eyes. Yes, israel now stands accused - on quite solid grounds - of having delivered poisoned gas for anesthesia in Gaza hospitals in order to kill innocent Palestinians in yet another infamous way. You will, of course, soon learn from bbc that indiscriminate murders by poison gas based on racial reasons - is completely different from - indiscriminate murders by poison gas based on racial reasons, depending on whether israelis claim to be victims or are accused to be the criminals doing it.)

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | May 27 2013 21:19 utc | 45

@ToivoS#14

You say regarding Franklin Lamb: "I think we should be aware that he makes things up. He is not to be trusted." Is this a joke or do you have evidence to back up your serious allegation?

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | May 27 2013 22:34 utc | 46

So the decision has been made to end the EU arms embargo. The Syrian Government will be expected to roll over and die at the peace conference in Geneva, or die later. Expect fresh footage of planes falling out of the sky and militants wailing Allahu Akbar whilst brandishing their shiny new MANPADS.

And Hezbollah are now right where Israel's Western lackeys want them.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | May 27 2013 22:57 utc | 47

@B#40

Thanks for the link to BBC Arabic report, Inside Syria: Reporting for Al-Assad. I found the BBC reporter insufferable. But could it have been planned that way?

Posted by: MRW | May 27 2013 23:47 utc | 48

Pat Bateman (46)

I'm not so sure.

uk is traditionally very much pro zusa, so much so that many European - with good reason - perceive the brits as washingtons agent within the eu.

As zusa themselves seems to be rather split (between wh and congress) with the executive seeming to be tending to avoid further (costly and little promising but risking much) Syrian engagement, I'm actually wondering whether the british noise isn't partly stemming from obedience to their zio masters and partly from a desire to "smartly" fill the power void created by zusas hesitation.

As for the negotiation table and the facts on the ground, the uk is a rather insignificant entity.

And there is IMO another and widely overlooked factor: China.

Fact is that europe is economically unstable (to put it mildly) and sure enough can't (and probably doesn't want to) afford a wider war in Syria, which btw. would also permit the Syrian government a less cautious proceeding and, possibly more importantly, might trigger a far reaching mechnism throughout the region, risking at least very unwelcome changes in the already fragile oil-rich region (read: vital for the western nations) or possibly even a world war.
UK can't afford a major military engagement militarily, France can't afford it financially and Germany can't afford it in an election year (and quite certainly is very reluctant anyway). In short, hagues noise is just that, noise.

On the other hand China offers a very attractive package to Germany and indirectly to europe. zusa in a downward spiral Europe needs powerful economic (and hand in hand in the medium run strategic) partners anyway.

The only real "wild" factor I see is israel. But then, if they really dared to, they'd be confronted with three major hurdles: S-300/Syria (with a now battle hardened army)/Hezbollah - Iran (whose only "problem" would be whether just along the path to terminate the saudi diktatur, too) - and Russia.
While Putin has not shown any sign of anti-israelism he *did* show his readyness to differentiate between friend and foe but not between religions (or, put more bluntly, Putin showed that he has no qualms to hunt down and terminate criminals, jewish or not).

Russia has 3 supply ships in their flottilla of ca. 10 ships, which is way too much - unless, of course, they had to bring along a lot of "supplies".
Put another way I'm quite certain that, should israel strongly support the terrorists in Syria, Russian material (and quite probably marines) would be in Syria on very short notice and should israel dare to even attack Syria openly, they would find out how many Iskander systems can be transported on Russian supply vessels ...

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | May 27 2013 23:51 utc | 49

"If the issue was to employ and protect a known serial child abuser, the bbc would have done lots better.

Another forte of bbc is praising israel."

As Israel is a proven serial abuser of Palestinian children, it's easy to see that, at the very least, the bbc is consistent.

As for the shkval, they did sell several to Iran, who now, apparently, produces a home grown version. Though the rap on it (much of which comes from US cheerleaders talking down its capabilities) is that they are of questionable utility for use by an expensive nuclear submarine (see the Kursk, apparently, as well as claims - again by American "experts" - that the torpedo, once fired, is so loud as to instantly give away the attackers position) it seems the perfect weapon for use by the Iranians in an asymmetric conflict in the gulf. A few of those on some small pt boats would certainly keep the 5th Fleet on it's toes.

Posted by: guest77 | May 28 2013 1:49 utc | 50

@48 "Fact is that europe is economically unstable (to put it mildly) and sure enough can't (and probably doesn't want to) afford a wider war in Syria"

Ah, that's where I think you may have it backwards. I am quite certain that the Europeans - most especially the former major colonial powers France and the UK - see the wars in Libya ans Syria as money making ventures.

To me the fear is that they see these wars as necessary to their future economic well-being, especially in regards to China. Certainly the situation in Libya - where there were what, 60k Chinese workers before the "revolution" (barf) - looks far more amenable to the West than it did a few years ago.

Posted by: guest77 | May 28 2013 1:55 utc | 51

@50 guest77

it's future revenue for multinationals, sure, for the states themselves it surely will cost more than it generates.

Posted by: Crest | May 28 2013 5:50 utc | 52

The BBC (I know, right) provides a decent overview of what the EU arms embargo decision means. But we all know what we thought a "no fly zone" meant until NATO abused it to the nth degree in Libya, so I'm skeptical that this isn't a new green light.

I'm not naive enough to think that weapons aren't flooding in already under the auspices of the usual suspects, but I do believe that they have been holding back somewhat.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | May 28 2013 11:57 utc | 53

'Senator McCain claimed that the U.S. will create a no fly zone should, ;

McCain is no statesman or diploma (he broke syrian and international law by entering illegally into syria) and 'no-fly zones' mean NATO-only-fly-zones

Posted by: brian | May 28 2013 12:59 utc | 54

Russia says missile systems for Syria will deter 'hotheads'

Posted by: sajid | May 28 2013 13:31 utc | 55

guest77 (55)

As for Libya I agree. Libya is "far" away beyond Egypt.

Syria, however, is a direct neighbour of israel. Liting up Syria means liting up the mid-east core and shifting the power balance.

Don't forget that these "Shia vs Sunni" divergences are, to a large degree, artificially enlarged and ripped open and fired by western money. In the end they are all muslims; I saw an Afghanistan police commander using that term in a discussion with hesitant local farmers, torn between state and Taliban.
That whole large region is a multitude of ethnics, peoples, cultures, races, etc. - united by Islam. "united" meaning more than "having in common" but less than "coherent like 1 state".

Two other important factors are "puppetry" (I'll explain) and playing via a rail (rather than shooting directly). They are used to it, they have been satellites and underlings with, in some cases some local power, for so long. And the large part still is. Don't forget that israel could only come into existence because the puppet player great brittain "rearranged" its colonies.
Sure, officially uk has gone away and given them their land (which is a lie, to start with. They handed over the land as to their musings and usually to convenient families). But even believing the official fairy tale the reality is that whoever had some better education there had got it in english schools and colleges; how to run post offices, how to run schools, what and how to teach there - they learned everything from the brits, french, etc. And they still, to a large degree, act in those ways.

One major point in their (local dynasties like saudi arabia) planning for sure was that, should they one day need to turn against israel, they could still finance Syria to do the grunt work. And even their former (?) masters uk and france do it that way.

Keeping the oil flowing - and under western control - was and is the driving interest. You bet that this was even one of the real reasons behind the establishment and support of israel ("divide and control"). (They point that they - again - didn't get that it wouldn't be them to control the zionist interests but that they were mere puppets).

puppetry and playing via rails, that's the mid-east, that's how the western powers handle and control the mid-east since eternity and that's also how they wanted to take care of Assad. Well, they were wrong in 3 points: It became public that thay payed and used terrorists to do the dirty work. Assad wasn't a weak puppet without support from his people (like their own puppets in sa, bahrain, etc.). And Russia wouldn't grumble but accept whatever zato wanted.

That's btw. also why zato is bound to lose this game. They played it wrong and stupid from the planning phase on; their game is rotten, they don't control the situation - they do not even understand it.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | May 28 2013 13:50 utc | 56

Brian, I was thinking the same thing about McPain, he undermined the Secretary of State & he engaged on near criminal behavior in entering a sovereign state without permission & to foster a war of aggression against his host. There oughta be a law.

Posted by: Fernando | May 28 2013 14:01 utc | 57

Ad "mccain"

Isn't there someone, anyone, in zusa to explain the difference between a court jester (a rather smart guy who is valued and often enough the last advisor a stubborn king is listening to) and a plain idiot?

I can't help but think that the asians were smart and cruel by not killing him but sending him back to the west ..

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | May 28 2013 14:13 utc | 58

"I can't help but think that the asians were smart and cruel by not killing him but sending him back to the west .."

An intriguing idea. A real Manchurian Candidate. A man so catastrophically stupid that to repatriate him was an act of aggression.
Perhaps he was personally interviewed by the great strategist Giap.

Posted by: bevin | May 28 2013 14:48 utc | 59

I was in a taxi the other, Egyptian Sunni was driving. According to him the Shia are worse than Jews.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | May 28 2013 14:50 utc | 60

I don't think the French and the UK see Syria as a money making possibility for the future. What they see here and now is that they need Qatar and other Gulf states to bail them out and not to withdraw their assets from their rotten banks. This could lead in just one hour to France and the UK being exactly in the same position as Greece and Spain.

Posted by: Zeno | May 28 2013 15:14 utc | 61

you can still hold a negative opinion of Asad AbuKhalil, it's everyone's own choice, but today's blog is worth reading just for the entry showing McCain with "rebels" in Syria - to which the Angry Arab says it just proves they are all zionists.
I love it. he hit the nail on the head.

Posted by: anon | May 28 2013 16:31 utc | 62

The Syrian opposition is nothing but a fight between Saudi Arabia and Qatar

Syrian stalemate fuelled by opposition's bitter infighting

The second issue is the "blocking third", or the veto power held by a third of the members. This idea was advanced by the coalition's secretary general, Mustafa Al Sabbagh, and was clearly meant to maintain the monopoly of the current core group within the coalition.

Mr Al Sabbagh was directly appointed by Qatar and its allies in the Muslim Brotherhood when the coalition was formed in Doha in November. Shortly after his appointment, he unsuccessfully tried to bypass the coalition's leadership through ad hoc power grabs.
...
One member of the coalition told me Mr Al Sabbagh has been pushed by Doha to block any changes to "give the impression that the new sponsors of the Syrian dossier have failed". By new sponsors, he meant Saudi Arabia, which has assumed responsibilities of sponsoring the Syrian opposition, pushing Qatar aside.


Posted by: b | May 28 2013 16:44 utc | 63

@Zeno I don't think the French and the UK see Syria as a money making possibility for the future.

You may want to read this (its free subscription) before judging such.

Changing prospects for natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean


Exploration in the east part of the Mediterranean Sea proved to be very successful. In the so called Levant Basin several huge resources have been found in different areas and therefore also belonging to various countries in this region. Although the final quantities still have to be determined there is enough for export to other surrounding and adjacent countries. Of course a smooth progress is requiring stability in a region known for its tensions. Dr. Sohbet Karbuz, Director of the Hydrocarbons Division at the Mediterranean Energy Observatory (OME) sheds his light on the situation.

Posted by: b | May 28 2013 16:45 utc | 64

Now look who also joins the fight (machine translation from Russian): The war in Syria will leave Russian-Ukrainian volunteer corps

In the Russian-Ukrainian volunteer corps, to be sent to Syria to help tamoshnem leadership in the fight against extremists already signed up several thousand people. On this, as the "New Region", said the initiator of the volunteer units, the veteran intelligence Ukrainian Sergey Razumovsky.

Former Ukranian/Russian officers going as volunteers to fight in Syria. Now that would be spectacular ...

Posted by: b | May 28 2013 17:07 utc | 65

b
Pepe Escobar has already written everything one needs to know about the energy politics at stake in the Syrian conflict. Even for Lybia where Qatar has started to sell oil even before the elections, I doubt France and the UK have been able to make a lot of profit out of it, and it will take years if they ever could. But they please their current bailers, no doubt.

Posted by: Zeno | May 28 2013 17:09 utc | 66

Can't see what McCain's visit actually achieves. thinking about it, really all it does is shore up "his sticking with our allies while the democrats wring their hands" credentials.

Posted by: heath | May 28 2013 17:12 utc | 67

Re Hizbullah.

There appears to be a basic misunderstanding about Hizbullah's nature. It is, first and foremost, a guerrilla and intelligence-gathering entity. Hizbullah doesn't 'do' pitched battles and head-to-head confrontation, apart from small skirmishes. Anyone expecting Hizbullah's presence in Syria to be obvious, or even detected and reported upon, will be disappointed, imo.

The reason 'Israelis' hate Hizbullah is that in 2006 (lightly-armed) Hiz traded casualties 1 for 1 with the (hardware-burdened) IOF because the IOF are even dumber than Yankees and believe even more of their own bs than Yankees do.

Even if Hiz could only spare 2000 (well-trained and highly disciplined) 'fighters' in Syria, each one is worth between 5 and 10 of each amateur 'rebel'. Syria has plenty of mean and smart dudes of its own but help from Hizbullah will undoubtedly speed up, and help shorten Syria's pest-control phase & mop-up ops.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 28 2013 18:10 utc | 68

These are interesting times.

b's post (#63) clears a lot of things. Together with the oil in the Golan Heights these could very well be the rewards they hope to reap but the main target is still removing or crippling Iran's ally and paving the way to bombing/"liberate" Iran.

FSA threatens Hezbollah
Apparently they are getting more desperate by the hour. BS Chemical weapons claims, the international outrage of Hezbollah joining the fight, etc etc. Now the general without an army is threatening Hezbollah.

Qusayr is still a battleground but they've definitely been dealt the harshest blow until now. So now they're crying and all the news I see is the same mantra: chemical weapons, more weapons, no flyzone. Apparently Aleppo is up next. More harsh justice coming for the terrorists.

Question is what will happen next. The SNC is locked in bitter infighting (which shows what kind of foreign supported scum they are) and so far I don't believe they will pose a respectable talking partner at the "peace talks". Russia forced the peace talks and I think America will demand unacceptable terms. I think it will end in nothing so that America can finally impose the no fly zone. (hopefully not before the S300 is installed). Does anyone see a possible good ending for the talks?

Posted by: Gehenna | May 28 2013 19:35 utc | 69

A little nugget about the EU lifting of arms embargo: it is spun as a "compromise" so that the economic sanctions against the Syrian government (which was set to expire on Friday) could continue:

The European Union finally agreed Monday to lift its embargo against arming Syrian rebels, after tough talks that exposed sharp differences between Britain and France, champions of the move, and their more reluctant partners.

After a grueling 12 hours of talks, British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced the deal to lift the arms embargo against the rebels, while maintaining the remainder of a far-reaching two-year package of sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

However none of the 27 European member states intends to send any arms to the rebels in the coming months, for fear of endangering a US-Russia peace initiative for Syria.

Without such a deal, the entire set of sanctions, including an assets freeze on Assad and his cronies, and restrictions on trade in oil and financial transactions, would have lapsed at midnight on Friday.

But the agreement reached by EU foreign ministers in Brussels failed to come underpinned by a tight range of safeguards demanded for both ethical and political reasons by opponents of the long-running Franco-British push to arm Syria's rebels.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | May 28 2013 20:50 utc | 70

Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah gave a long speech on 25 May 2013 on the annual occasion of "Resistance Day". The comments by 'b' at the top of this thread about Hezbollah are based on misunderstanding and misreading (or not reading at all) what was said in Hassan Nasrallah's speech. The full text of the speech in English translation is at http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/speech-of-hezbollah-secretary-general_28.html .

The news website Moqawama.org is very pro-Hezobllah. It is based in Lebanon, most of its writers are members of Hezbollah, and it publishes Hezbollah-related news in Arabic and English. An interpretation and summary of Nasrallah's speech by Moqawama.org is vastly more reliable than an interpretation and summary by a Western news source such as CSMonitor.com. Moqawama.org's report in English on what Nasrallah said in his long speech on 25 May 2013 is at http://www.english.moqawama.org/essaydetails.php?eid=23208&cid=385 .

In short, Nasrallah said in his speech on 25 May 2013 that a political solution is required in Syria, and he did NOT say that Hezbollah would send fighters into Syria. The report at CSMonitor.com that 'b' linked to at the top of the thread is a piece of rubbish. What 'b' himself said at the top of this thread is likewise rubbish.

If you read the full text of the speech you'll see that commenter alexno #1 above is correct when he says "most of the speech was not devoted to Syria, and all he says is that the takfiris are a great danger, not how far Hizbullah is going to go." Furthermore, as a totally separate point, I know of no intelligent basis for disagreeing with alexno when alexno at #19 above said: "I still haven't seen any factual evidence that Hizbullah is actually participating in the Qusayr battle. Many western journalists say it, without facts, and many Lebanese papers too, but they are all anti-Hizbullah."

We all make mistakes and I can assure you I've made mistakes myself, but still I say that any reporter who relies on CSMonitor.com as a source for what Nasrallah says is an unsophisticated reporter.

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 28 2013 21:59 utc | 71

@Parviziyi#70:

In March, the editor of AlAkhbar gave a reasonable assessment of Hezbollah's limited role in Syria:

There have been many questions and claims about the role Hezbollah is playing in Syria. Its detractors say it is heavily engaged in the ongoing military operations. The facts of the matter do not need much explanation:

– Hezbollah trains, arms, and provides sufficient logistical support to Lebanese inhabitants of border villages.

– Hezbollah took over the task of protecting the Sayida Zainab shrine south of Damascus after its Iraqi guards left. Party members are deployed there under a plan that restricts their responsibility to the immediate vicinity of the shrine.

– Hezbollah received delegations from a considerable number of Druze, Christian, Shia, and Ismaili groups who felt their minority communities were under serious threat. It did not comply with their training and arming requests, but provided them with the means to prevent their displacement.

– Hezbollah, which has security and military ties to the regime, assists Syrian forces in providing protection to scientific academies and missile factories that were built over the past decade largely with aid from Iran.

– Hezbollah operates a major scheme, perhaps the biggest, to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon and even inside Syria. This is not aimed at repaying the Syrians for taking in refugees from Lebanon in 2006. It is done quietly, out of conviction that refugees and displaced people are entitled to all possible humanitarian aid regardless of political views.

Attitudes to Hezbollah are linked to a whole host of calculations. Yet some are desperate to not just drag the party into the Syrian crisis, but into a similar battle in Lebanon. The party is conscious of this. It appears to be discussing procedures for an operation aimed at putting sectarian strife back into a coma, though its leaders fear much blood will flow before that happens.

Nasrallah's recent speech seems to indicate the same resistance to having Syria's battle dragged into Lebanon. Individual Hezbollah members, especially those with relatives in the Assi river basin, may be involved in the fighting in Syria. Hezbollah's hierarchy does not appear to want to be engaged in Syria in a more extensive role than they had been in March. Using Hezbollah's power to support the Syrian government does not necessarily involve putting more Hezbollah people in Syria Proper (however, there's no telling what actions they'll commit to on behalf of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights).

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | May 29 2013 1:03 utc | 72

@59

Let this "Shia/Sunni" fake conflict be a lesson to anyone who indulges in the foolishness called racism.

These Al Qaeda monsters deserve the hell they are building for themselves. It's only a shame that others will suffer at the hands of the cannibal demons and their enablers like John McCain.

Posted by: guest77 | May 29 2013 1:14 utc | 73

I believe that this Wikipedia entry is germane to the EU decision, and brings into question exactly where the loyalty of these people lies. While specific to the Conservatives in this instance, it should be noted that the LibDems and Labour also have such an organization. My opinion is that a Foreign Secretary who is a member of this "club" has compromised his position irreparably, and can not be seen as working for the best interests of his domestic constituency.
It must be asked "Cui bono"? Certainly not the British, Americans, any North Atlantians at all, definitely not the Syrians, not the Turks or Lebanese. In fact, only one national entity stands to gain from the violent overthrow of a secular state by barbaric zealots, and of course that would be Israel. In a true democracy, the will of the people would be taken into account. In light of the recent incident in Woolwich, if the question were to be asked - "Should we arm and support al qaeda in their effort to destroy a secular society?", I suspect the answer would be a resounding "are you out of your fucking minds!?"
The USA, UK, and France have beyond any doubt been exposed as countries that serve Israeli agenda to the detriment of their national interests. Their leaders (as well as my own dear Harper in Canada) should be themselves be "regime changed" and tried for Treason as well as War Crimes for all the mayhem they've wrought throughout the Muslim world in the service of Israel. The punishment should, but won't be, an agonizing death through a knife in the arse.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservative_Friends_of_Israel

Posted by: Sasha | May 29 2013 4:00 utc | 74

70) thanks for the link of the translation of the full speech. Of course Nasrallah does not explain what Hezbollah is doing in Syria. However, he says

"From this stance, we today consider ourselves defending Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria."

He also says
"Now we come to the second note. We renew our call for sparing Lebanon any internal clash or conflict. We disagree over Syria. You fight in Syria; we fight in Syria; then let's fight there. Do you want me to be more frank? Keep Lebanon aside. Why should we fight in Lebanon? There are different viewpoints, different visions, and different evaluation of obligations. Well so far so good. However, let's spare Lebanon fighting, struggle and bloody confrontations. We are committed to this, and every day we assert this commitment in action and in practice. What took place in Sidon in the past couple of days is very bad; however, we kept aside as we do not want to make a problem. We care for Sidon, the people of Sidon, and the security of Sidon. What is taking place in Tripoli must be stopped by all means. "

and

"There is not anything called the US project in the region other than the Israeli project. AlQaeda and other Takfiri groups got enrolled in this axis. They were paid for that and they were offered facilities from all over the world. Let no one convince us that these tens of thousands of fighters from the various Takfiri and extremists groups – who refuse everything but themselves – came stealthily to Syria. They were given visas and offered facilities. The gate was opened before them to come to Syria. A media, political, diplomatic, economic, and financial war was launched on Syria. Tens of thousands of fighters from all over the world were funded, armed and then exported to Syria. Tens of thousands of fighters did not annoy so called Syria's friends in Amman a couple of days ago. However a small group from Hezbollah entered Syria; that was considered foreign intervention."

So yes Nasrallah implicated Hezbollah in the fight in Syria. However, what the Western press deliberately does not talk about is that in the same speech he claimed the moral high ground of defending Islam - Sunnis, Shiites, Alawis, - and Christianity alike - from murderous Takfiris.

He also insisted that there is legitimate opposition to the Syrian regime.

In other news McCain got himself photographed with known kidnappers.


Posted by: somebody | May 29 2013 6:43 utc | 75

@somebody - I wonder if McCain asked about the Syrian bishops they kidnapped, or does he only care about Jews and Wahabis?

Posted by: Sasha | May 29 2013 7:20 utc | 76

how is it a US senator can enter a sovereign state illegally, meet with known terrorists and STILL be a senator, with not even token criticism let alone a criminal prosecution?


easy the politico-legal system allows him to do so. So he and his like do it again and again

Imagine if after 9-11 a senator was to meet with Alqaeda


meanwhhile, the legal system dose punish real journalists: this yemenese journalists interviewed terrorists in Yemen and was on Obams orders thrown into prison

http://www.salon.com/2012/03/14/obamas_personal_role_in_a_journalists_imprisonment/

when na man

Posted by: brian | May 29 2013 8:17 utc | 77

Commenter somebody at #75 is inviting you to misinterpret Nasrallah's words. I don't accept. Rusty Pipes at #72, Parviziyi at #71 and alexno at #1 have it right.

An extra point is that pro-government people in Syria do not want Hezbollah militias fighting in Syria. The Hezbollah organization could not get the approval of the Syrian government to enter the fight in Syria, even if it were true that Hezbollah wanted to enter. One reason why is that if Hezbollah entered it would fan the embers of sectarianism within Syria to the detriment of all Syrian minority sects and to the detriment of all Syrian Sunnis who support the government. Another reason was mentioned by alexno, and there are further other reasons.

Alexno and Rusty Pipes mentioned the Zeinab shrine, a Shia shrine in Syria. In case you're unfamiliar with the Zeinab shrine situation: it is a different kettle of fish. There is a Turkish shrine in northern Syria that is the burial monument of a Turkish hero who lived in some long bygone century. Longstandingly before 2011 the security service for this Turk-related shrine has been a part of the Turkish government's security forces; i.e. the sovereign State of Syria has longstandingly granted Turkey the privilege of being the provider of the security and management of the shrine due to the special value the shrine has for Turks. That continues to be true today. In a similar spirit the Syrian government allows the Zeinab shrine to be protected by Shia.

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 29 2013 14:06 utc | 78

Bashar Assad has done an interview with Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV which is to be broadcast tomorrow Thursday at 9:00 pm (ref). In all likelihood an English-language translated transcript of this interview will be published by SANA on Friday. The Syrian government's policy is that Hezbollah militias are unwanted and unwelcome in Syria. I expect Bashar will say so in this interview. I hope he says it loud and clear.

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 29 2013 14:47 utc | 79

"commenter somebody at #75 is inviting you to misinterpret Nasrallah's words"

Why, I'm shocked, shocked to find that such a thing is going on in here!

Posted by: nobody | May 29 2013 19:36 utc | 80

SANA's English-language transcript of Bashar Assad's interview with Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV is at http://sana.sy/eng/21/2013/05/30/485037.htm . Unfortunately Bashar is ambiguous and even self-contradictory on the issue of Hezbollah militias fighting in Syria. You can find what he says by searching for the word "Hezbollah" in the transcript.

To my disappointment, Bashar does not say that Hezbollah militiamen are unwanted inside Syria.

One thing Bashar does say is something that was also said by alexno at #1 above in this thread: (emphasis added by me)

If Hezbollah or the resistance wanted to defend Syria by sending fighters, how many could they send - a few hundred, a thousand or two? We are talking about a battle in which hundreds of thousands of Syrian troops are involved against tens of thousands of terrorists.... The number of fighters Hezbollah might contribute in order to defend the Syrian state in its battle would be a drop in the ocean compared to the number of Syrian soldiers fighting the terrorists.

That language from Bashar is in the subjunctive or hypothetical tense, with the word "if". Overall in the interview he neither confirms nor denies that Hezbollah fighters are in Syria. At one point he asks himself: "Why is Hezbollah deployed on the borders inside Lebanon or inside Syria [near Qusayr]?" That sentence neither confirms nor denies that Hezbollah fighters are fighting inside Syria.

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 30 2013 22:37 utc | 81

81) Parviziyi. this is guess work, but looking at the map I would assume Qusayr is strategic to Hezbollah's military installations in Lebanon - and that presumably has been one of the reasons rebels fortified there as their backers meant the fight in Syria to be the end of Hezbollah ..
so I suppose Hezbollah took the lead in the fighting in Qusayr because they intend to remain there ...
I do wonder though about the sudden success of the Syrian army and suspect it might have something to do with part of opposition fighters having dropped out, so there may be some kind of deal that has nothing to do with the SNC and nothing to do with Geneva.

Posted by: somebody | May 30 2013 23:08 utc | 82

@ somebody #82: I can't agree with your impression that the Syrian army has recently been having major victories. One reference point about the general security situation is: on 17 May 2013 the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) said that 4.25 million Syrians are now displaced from their homes within Syria and a further 1.5 million or more have gone into the neighboring countries. This means that a quarter of the whole population is displaced from their homes. Those numbers I've just quoted are much higher than they were a few months ago. A UNHCR spokesman said 17 May 2013: "Over the past four months, we have seen a rapid deterioration compared to the previous 20 months of this conflict." http://www.dp-news.com/en/detail.aspx?articleid=146519

One example is Raqqa city, which I've been following. Until a few months ago it was entirely peaceful and orderly. Today it's a mess because of the fighting and the absence of public security. The army has used Artillery guns in Raqqa city over the past month on many days, including on May 29, 26, 25, 20 and on other days earlier in May, and in April on 29, 28, 26, 22 and earlier in April. Another town in Raqqa province shelled by the Syrian army many times over the past couple of months is Al-Tabaqa. Besides ground-based artillery shelling, the Syrian army has also used Air Force bombardments against rebels in Raqqa province and on the outskirts of Raqqa city during May and April. Despite the army's superior firepower, the rebels are still present and shooting in Al-Raqqa city and Al-Tabaqa city today.

Regarding Qusayr town, although I haven't been paying as much attention to it, it's my understanding that the army is still not in control of some parts of Qusayr right now today.

The pro-government news outlets are always talking up their side's successes and ignoring the failures. The pro-government sources tell the truth, strictly speaking, but it's a terribly selective and one-sided set of truths that they report, when it comes to the fighting on the ground. The anti-government news outlets on the other hand are utterly unreliable about the truth -- you just can't believe anything they say, because half of what they say is true and half is false and it's not possible to discern the true from the false with a high success rate. This is "the fog of war". As far as I can see through the fog, I do not see major successes by the Syrian army recently. Perhaps successes have happened somehow, and aren't visible, but I must doubt it. I'll start to believe it when the UNHCR announces that its refugee figures are decreasing significantly, and I'm able to see at Youtube a good sample of neighborhoods returning to normalcy.

PS @ somebody #82: In my view, your notion or guess that Qusayr is "strategic to Hezbollah" is ridiculously false, but I won't take the time today to explain why I think you're so badly wrong.

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 31 2013 2:24 utc | 83

83) I guess, we have to define what victory is. Refugees might be an indicator but for what exactly?
Ethnic cleansing or fighting taking place in the neighbourhood? My guess is they are an indication for the Syrian army fighting in areas they used to leave alone.

What the Syrian regime (or government nowadays :-)) ) might consider victory sure is not a victory for the Syrian people neither would be a victory of the rebels be a victory for the Syrian people - a cease fire would be.

Do we know what the Syrian army considers strategic? Raqqah sure is not, especially an al Nusra, al Qaeda Raqqah, as Turkey will not wish to keep supply lines for Al Nusrah open.

A clear indicator for the Syrian regime holding and gaining ground is that Russia is still supporting them.

Posted by: somebody | May 31 2013 8:41 utc | 84

What the Syrian regime (or government nowadays :-)) ) might consider victory sure is not a victory for the Syrian people neither would be a victory of the rebels be a victory for the Syrian people - a cease fire would be.

Do we know what the Syrian army considers strategic? Raqqah sure is not, especially an al Nusra, al Qaeda Raqqah, as Turkey will not wish to keep supply lines for Al Nusrah open.

A clear indicator for the Syrian regime holding and gaining ground is that Russia is still supporting them.

Posted by: somebody | May 31, 2013 4:41:28 AM | 84

theres no such thing as the 'syrian regime' or do you also talk of the US or UK 'regimes'?

Victory for syria govt and people is to rid syria of the scum of the invading jihadis...what can be simpler?

Posted by: brian | May 31 2013 10:36 utc | 85

Bashar Assad has done an interview with Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV which is to be broadcast tomorrow Thursday at 9:00 pm (ref). In all likelihood an English-language translated transcript of this interview will be published by SANA on Friday. The Syrian government's policy is that Hezbollah militias are unwanted and unwelcome in Syria. I expect Bashar will say so in this interview. I hope he says it loud and clear.

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 29, 2013 10:47:02 AM | 79

whats unwelcome in syria are not hezbollahs fighters but FSA terrorists.The latter are the ones destroying syria NOT hezbollah
You must welcome the foreign FSA.

Posted by: brian | May 31 2013 10:38 utc | 86

That sentence neither confirms nor denies that Hezbollah fighters are fighting inside Syria.

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 30, 2013 6:37:52 PM | 81

whos side is Parviziyi on: syrias or the FSAs?

Posted by: brian | May 31 2013 10:39 utc | 87

It is called English Brian

re·gime
/riˈZHēm/
Noun
A government, esp. an authoritarian one.
A system or planned way of doing things, esp. one imposed from above.
Synonyms
regimen - order - government - diet


Posted by: somebody | May 31 2013 11:56 utc | 88

If even Today's Zaman says it, it must be true ...

"Western allies of the opposition, particularly the US, strongly urged the Syrian government to attend the peace talks in Geneva. US Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier this month that it would be a big mistake on the part of the Syrian regime not to attend the Geneva talks. US diplomats have said the allies are even ramping up the arms supply for the Syrian opposition to push the regime in Damascus to the negotiating table.

In a surprising decision, the opposition said on Thursday after seven days of political bickering in İstanbul that it won't attend the Geneva talks.

The Syrian opposition is a boiling pot of rivalries of many countries. But one thing is true about it: They don't represent most of those fighting on the ground in Syria. The opposition does not only have difficulty in representing fighters under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, they also have no say over the increasing number of radical groups who would balk at any deal the opposition signs with the regime. The Syrian opposition leaders have no idea on whose behalf they are talking.

To earn a modicum of legitimacy among locals in Syria and tackle this problem, the opposition refused to attend the talks in an apparent show of power that they have the capability of making their own decisions.

In addition, there is almost nothing the Syrian opposition could discuss in Geneva. Their first demand that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should leave will be rejected outright. The Syrian regime is slowly winning the fight and won't accept the removal of Assad."

Posted by: somebody | May 31 2013 12:02 utc | 89

Bashar Assad in an interview on 19 May 2013 was asked "Some would argue that fighters from Hezbollah and Iran are fighting alongside the Syrian army. What do you say on that?" Bashar's reply: "We are certainly not utilizing any external fighters in Syria from any Arab or foreign nationality.... If there is ever a need or a requirement, we will be transparent and announce it formally." http://sana.sy/eng/21/2013/05/19/482901.htm . In the two weeks since that statement was made, the Syrian government hasn't announced it formally. I trust the Syrian government to be honest. Plus, there are independent other evidences supporting the view that it's not happening. Including "Hezbollah's hierarchy does not appear to want to be engaged in Syria" (#72). Therefore I'm comfortable in presuming that it's not happening.

A minor exception is that individual Hezbollah members may be involved in the fighting in Syria on their own initiative, along the border between Lebanon and Syria in northern Lebanon near the Syrian towns of Qusayr and Tal Kalakh, unauthorized by both Hezbollah and the Syrian government, and targeting rebels who are crossing back and forth on that part of the border. The local Lebanese population along Lebanon's northern border is mostly pro-rebel. Whereas along nearly all the length of Lebanon's eastern border with Syria, the local Lebanese population is mostly pro-Syrian-government (and mostly non-Sunni in religion) with the result that the Lebanon's eastern border is easier to police and hasn't been as troublesome as the Lebanon's northern border, for both the Lebanese and Syrian security authorities.

By the way, I just said that I trust the Syrian government to be honest. Let me add that I also keep an eye out all the time for dishonesty, and I've been keeping an eye out for dishonesty for over two years now, and I haven't seen it.

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 31 2013 21:04 utc | 90

UPDATE. Bashar Assad, 17 Jun 2013, answering a question about Hezbollah and Quseir: "There was a lot of exaggeration, but there were also a large number of arms and militants [in the Quseir area]. These terrorists started attacking the bordering towns loyal to Hezbollah, which warranted Hezbollah's intervention alongside the Syrian army.... There are no [Hezbollah] brigades [fighting in Syria]. Hezbollah have sent fighters who have aided the Syrian army in cleaning areas on the Lebanese borders that were infiltrated by terrorists. They did not deploy forces into Syria." (SANA). An alternative translation of the same statement by Bashar: Journalist's Question: "How large are Hezbollah’s units in Syria? Bashar's Answer: "There are no units. Hezbollah has sent individual fighters along the border, in places like those where the terrorists near Qusair were. They have supported the Syrian army in a mopping-up operation along the Lebanese border." (FAZ).

Posted by: Parviziyi | Jun 18 2013 16:45 utc | 91

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