Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 10, 2013

Syria: Short Roundup

As I am busy so here are just some recommendations to read on Syria.

America's hidden agenda in Syria's war

"The US intelligence officer said, 'We can train 30 of your fighters a month, and we want you to fight Al Nusra'," the rebel commander recalled.

Opposition forces should be uniting against Mr Al Assad's more powerful and better-equipped army, not waging war among themselves, the rebel commander replied. The response from a senior US intelligence officer was blunt.

"I'm not going to lie to you. We'd prefer you fight Al Nusra now, and then fight Assad's army. You should kill these Nusra people. We'll do it if you don't," the rebel leader quoted the officer as saying.

Syria's protracted conflict shows no sign of abating
Firstly, the FSA - that you have been hearing so much about - does not exist.

A better title would be MWG, or men with guns, because having guns and firing them in the same direction is the only thing that unites them.

Wise man Zbig: Syria: Intervention Will Only Make it Worse
The various schemes that have been proposed for a kind of tiddlywinks intervention from around the edges of the conflict—no-fly zones, bombing Damascus and so forth—would simply make the situation worse. None of the proposals would result in an outcome strategically beneficial for the U.S. On the contrary, they would produce a more complex, undefined slide into the worst-case scenario.
The Syrian army continues its successful offensive. The insurgents seem to be losing on all active fronts. There seem to be lots of problems with their logistics. The arms flow has somewhat turned into a trickle. Following the U.S., France and Britain have agreed to the Geneva terms.

But don't bet on a turn around yet. I expect some nefarious things are being cooked up right now. There are lots of talks of "massacres" without any evidence that such happen. We may soon see one with "evidence" and then should be careful when attributing that to the responsible side.

Posted by b on May 10, 2013 at 18:18 UTC | Permalink


even better:

Moral expediency. The US, Israel and Al Qaeda in Syria.

Posted by: brian | May 10 2013 18:20 utc | 1

Off topic afa the target country goes, but worth reading:

Posted by: k_w | May 10 2013 18:25 utc | 2

Seems Zbig has had a "Damascus Road" conversion after helping create Al-Qaeda all those years ago.

Pun intended.

Posted by: revenire | May 10 2013 18:34 utc | 3

I'm sure this proxy war will turn out better than the last two. I thought juan cole told me a few months a go thing were just peachy here.

Then again those that do the same thing over the same way expecting different results, well we know what that's called.

Posted by: jo6pac | May 10 2013 20:16 utc | 4

The powers that be won't, can't allow the little people to win. They have to impede all efforts of countries and individuals to have true freedom. If Syria is allowed to just walk away, it would mark a huge turning point. It would be akin to the battle of Adrianople, for the Romans and Suez for the Brits and Dien Bien Phu for the French. The turning point of when America truly ceases to be a hyperpuisance. History before our very eyes.

Posted by: Fernando | May 10 2013 21:26 utc | 5

oh well,

Struggling to Adapt: The Muslim Brotherhood in a New Syria - The Carnegie Papers

Inside Syria, the Brotherhood is working hard to rebuild its networks, though the sheer scale of the revolutionary upheaval militates against these efforts. Social, religious, and economic factors complicate the Brotherhood’s attempts to keep pace with the growth of militant Salafism among the internal Syrian opposition.

Only time will tell how the sectarian and religious radicalization of Syria’s armed conflict will break for the Brotherhood. As the most cohesive and experienced force on the Sunni Islamist side, the organization’s relatively moderate attitude could eventually win favor among war-weary Syrians and international actors as a reasonable alternative to the Salafi surge. However, without a negotiated ceasefire, the real outcome of the Syrian conflict is likely to be determined on the battlefield, where the Brotherhood’s failure to establish a strong presence could significantly weaken its hand

5) Fernando, the US has been there before, they just do it again and again ...
"First, we didn't know ourselves. We thought that we were going into another Korean War, but this was a different country. Secondly, we didn't know our South Vietnamese allies... And we knew less about North Vietnam. Who was Ho Chi Minh? Nobody really knew. So, until we know the enemy and know our allies and know ourselves, we'd better keep out of this kind of dirty business. It's very dangerous."

Posted by: somebody | May 10 2013 22:05 utc | 6

The brotherhood of evil, is a non starter for most Syrians. I doubt that they will win in any election. The Ba'ath is the real player in Syria. The party has been reenergized, it had lost meaning right before the arab spring. It was no longer revolutionary enough, it had run out of gas. Now a grateful citizenry will invest there newfound patriotism in this once moribund entity.

Posted by: Fernando | May 10 2013 23:27 utc | 7

There's currently a lot of blog chatter about S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems that, with variances, seems to go generally like this:
--Syria has requested S-300, reported in WSJ
--Israel has complained
--Kerry called the missile sales "potentially destabilizing"
--Lavrov said that Russia would fulfill existing contracts but had no plans to sell S-300 to Syria

and then I found this:
IsraelNationalNews, Nov 24, 2011
Report: Russia Sent Syria Super-Advanced S-300 Missiles

A report Thursday said that Russia has supplied Syria with advanced S-300 missiles, and has sent advisers to help Syria run the system.

Russian warships that have reached waters off Syria in recent days were carrying, among other things, Russian technical advisors who will help the Syrians set up an array of S-300 missiles Damascus has received in recent weeks, a report in the London-based Arabic language Al Quds-Al Arabi said Thursday. Citing sources in Syria and Russia, the paper said that Moscow sees a Western attack on Syria as a “red line” that it will not tolerate.

--Which if true makes all this current S-300 chatter seem like disinformation. The missile systems have been delivered to Syria and Russia "has no plans" to send any more. Even if the 2011 report was false, Lavrov's statement seems less than definite. And since when do great powers have to report their weapons sales to wartime partners, anyhow. Putin doesn't care what Kerry thinks.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 11 2013 0:47 utc | 8

Fernando @ 5: "The powers that be won't, can't allow the little people to win. They have to impede all efforts of countries and individuals to have true freedom. If Syria is allowed to just walk away, it would mark a huge turning point."

That in essence, is the struggle. That's why in "Malooga's Manifesto," Nationalism is a possible solution to Globalism.

Posted by: ben | May 11 2013 0:49 utc | 9

@Fernando #5
"The brotherhood of evil, is a non starter for most Syrians. I doubt that they will win in any election. The Ba'ath is the real player in Syria."

Sorry, but I must say that you do not have deep insight in the matter.

Never underestimate stupidity of people...never. An history tells us that fascism and Nazism had found its the most staunch followers, and originated, in valley of river Po in Italy and in Schleswig-Holsteinn province in Germany, i.e. rural area. It is the exact same situation in the U.S. And, that what had happened in ex Yugoslavia.

Vast majority of people is simply driven by primitive instinct. Instinct of the herd - groupthink. MB would probably win in Syria as they did in Egypt. That the aim of the U.S - to have pliable regime in Damascus. The West doesn't recognize multi-confessional societies, such as ex Yugoslavia or Syria, and they should be destroyed. Any country which they consider the Hermit one (self-sufficient) are dangerous. Therefore they must be "Opened" in good tradition of Liberal ideology. And all western liberal philosopher were racist, including Marx, as well. Western Liberalism is the most lethal of all -isms, and the most murderous ideology ever introduces in human history.

Secondly, Ba'ath party isn't what used to be, actually it have never been "people's" party. By adopting "reforms" in a country he alienated lot of people, in rural area in particular thus paving the road to sectarianism at street level. That's the failure of Bashar al-Assad, huge one, next to failure of an intelligence. We can see that huge amount of weapon in smuggled into Syria despite vast security apparatus.

Posted by: neretva'43 | May 11 2013 2:38 utc | 10

9) just that it is not, or you ignore what has been happening in Yougoslavia, in the Caucasus or in the Middle East.
What do you suggest to base nationalism on - language, tribe, ethnicity? artificial borders? past kingdoms? religion?

Posted by: somebody | May 11 2013 4:30 utc | 11

@10, Marx, a racist? First time I heard this. Care to share some examples?

Posted by: ruralito | May 11 2013 4:40 utc | 12


I would be very surprised if the MB could win an election in the near future in Syria. I don't even think that would be ZATO's strategy. The MB is now attached to all the suffering. A more appropriate strategy for ZATO would probably be to find a telegenic outsider who was not involved in the war. He could be "a uniter, not a divider". This character would gradually help liberal economic influences spread, and those are really part of the Western empire.

Posted by: Paul | May 11 2013 6:05 utc | 13

A brief aside on an important event:
Known as “Brother Efraín,” a fundamentalist convert of the California-based “Church of the Word” (Verbo), Rios Montt thanked his God in heaven for anointing him as Guatemala’s president, but on earth he thanked Israel for establishing his March 1982 military coup. Israeli press reported that 300 Israeli advisors helped execute the coup, which succeeded so smoothly, Brother Efraín told an ABC News reporter, “because many of our soldiers were trained by Israelis.”

Posted by: Maracatu | May 11 2013 6:11 utc | 15

13) That's it, they have ended up with no strategy and no viable horse to bet on.

Posted by: somebody | May 11 2013 6:12 utc | 16

China view of Israel and Middle East -
excerpted from original article
Creative Israel good for Bejing’s Goals……………
The development of Israel-China ties so far and the changing situation in the Middle East both present an opportunity for the two countries to boost their ties.
Netanyahu has often said that he wants to boost Israel's trade with China, and even double it from the around $8 billion in bilateral trade last year.
The focus of the visit is the signing of agreements in areas like agriculture and water, Israel's strengths. China's ambassador to Israel, Gao Yanping, recently said the China-Israel relationship is in its best-ever shape. Israel cherishes its ties and long friendship with China, and Netanyahu's visit aims to demonstrate this.
Israel and China enjoy fruitful cooperation in many areas. Israel, the "start-up nation," is well known for its innovation and technological prowess, whereas China offers a huge market, strong manufacturing capabilities, and highly trained and diligent work force.
China would benefit by encouraging its enterprises to establish research and development centers in Israel, and by investing in Israeli companies, like numerous world-leading technology companies have done.
There are signs that this is gradually happening. There is already a leading Chinese technology company that has set up a R&D center in Israel by investing in a local company, though the firm is keeping a low profile for now.
Another large Chinese company, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co., Ltd recently said it would buy a 95.6 percent stake in Israel's Alma Lasers Ltd for $240 million. This is Fosun's first acquisition since its public offering.
Israel is also especially strong in areas where China's needs are greatest: food, water, and clean energy. For instance, Israel's milking technology has improved yields worldwide, and most of Israel's drinking water is desalinated from seawater. ……
Tourism is another area where there's further potential to expand bilateral ties, with more direct flights needed to meet the demand. ………….
The recent turmoil in the Middle East provides China and Israel many opportunities to cooperate.The entire region is in the middle of the most sweeping changes since the 19th century, and Israel is one of China's most stable partners in the Middle East. .
Israel is constantly striving to achieve peace with its neighbors. China's good ties with Arab countries can play a positive role in this regard

Posted by: curious | May 11 2013 6:13 utc | 17

Following Kerry, Hollande and Cameron look who now changed his mind:

Davutoğlu says Turkey not opposed to dialogue in Syria

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said dialogue between the opposition and the Syrian regime is welcome as long as it is aimed at political transition in line with the “legitimate demands” of the Syrian people.

Davutoğlu's remarks, made late on Thursday during a press conference in Ankara, are significant given Turkey's previous calls for the outright removal of the Bashar al-Assad regime. Ankara has been skeptical over calls for dialogue between the regime and the opposition in the past, saying that such initiatives benefit the regime.

The foreign minister said dialogue between those elements of the regime that “do not have blood on their hands” and the opposition is “always possible” but insisted that such dialogue should not result in giving legitimacy to the regime or ensure its survival. “We have never opposed such dialogue,” he said during a news conference with Burkinabe Foreign Minister Djibril Yipene Bassole.

“What is essential is the establishment of a transitional government that will represent the will of the Syrian people, and that anyone with blood on their hands is not part of such a government,” he said.

Still wonder how long it will take for Erdogan to blame Davutoglu for the mess he is in and to fire him.

Posted by: b | May 11 2013 6:48 utc | 18

From the Gülen folks: Assad is winning war in Syria

Once Idlib is recaptured -- and there is no reason why the military won’t be able to retake it -- the Aleppo assault will start, and that will also virtually erase most opposition victories over the past 15 months.

The turning point of the revolution was the opposition’s decision to stage attacks on Aleppo and Damascus, as that only consumed the energy of the fighters. With only slight gains in Aleppo, the opposition lost too many fighters and arms over taking control over the city. In Damascus campaign, the opposition failed to secure any of the suburbs and waged a war that did not help move forward the uprising aimed at toppling the Assad regime.

Opposition fighters were able to control Raqqa, Rastan, Hassakah, Ras al-Ayn and Qamishli, but they meant so little to Assad that he abandoned these areas long before, except for Raqqa.

If this pace of army gains continues in coming months, the Syrian uprising will be dead for a long time to come. The Western nations will not tolerate Assad taking cities back in tandem and putting an end to the uprising. Their policy so far has been to allow the war to take place and to see a clear victor out of the fighting. Exhausted by months of fighting, opposition fighters are now losing their battles.

The West’s first step will be to arm the opposition fighters. It may help in tilting the war in favor of the opposition. If this fails to work, intervention will be inevitable. No matter what Assad does, he will not survive.

Well, they have been wrong before.

But as I stated above I still suspect some nasty "western" surprises.

Posted by: b | May 11 2013 7:14 utc | 19

On the Golan Heights the people are mostly with Assad -Haaretz

I do not expect surprises, I have been wondering why success is possible for the Syrian army now when that has not been possible before.

I assume the Syrian regime knew if they were winning too much that would spark intervention. They are not afraid of that now. I suppose they did change the balance of power with Israel, so if there is intervention without boots on the ground Israel would be faced by another effective non-state actor on its borders.

Those Israel - Syrian opposition - buffer zone plans seem to have come to nothing.

Posted by: somebody | May 11 2013 7:57 utc | 20

this here is Saudi's take

Russia and America also know that the regional conflict will not allow the crushing of Al-Assad’s oppositionists ....

Israel has ended the disengagement agreement in the Golan ....

Posted by: somebody | May 11 2013 9:06 utc | 21


"Today's Zion", the Gulen paper, can always be counted on to be wrong. It's a good indicator of what isn't, or won't, be. It's a joke to say "if the pace of Army gains continues in coming months". There won't be any opposition after another month or two. So the opposition that matters is NATO and Israel. They may pull something, as you speculate, but the risk of this is that their position gets worse. It is widely reported that Putin told both the Turks and Israelis that they were making a big mistake trying to smash Syria. If ZATO backs down, Hezbollah will have more powerful weapons, and Syria will have Russians hanging around with their more powerful weapons. The whole PR campaign about an Arab Spring will be over, and the political fallout for Erdoghan and Netanyahu will probably be substantial. It's also fairly predictable that the hawks in the Israeli army will come under fire for doing something stupid. It's possible that Obama or Clinton will face real heat over the events in Benghazi and helping al-Qaeda in Syria.

Would you escalate in their shoes?

Posted by: Paul | May 11 2013 9:22 utc | 22


Perhaps the buffer zone and UN troops will be needed on the Israeli side of the border, not inside Syria.

By the way, a lot of the spin from ZATO papers is just to help confuse their readers or make it seem like it isn't the stupidity of the country's leaders for going down a dead end.

Posted by: Paul | May 11 2013 9:26 utc | 23

It isn't beyond the realm of possibility (not in my head, anyway) that an agreement has been made whereby no further weapons are to be sent to the opposition, thereby facilitating a Syrian Army victory, provided that Assad ultimately steps down. Assad can be seen to lead his country to victory, make a triumphant speech to his supporters, but then explain that his job is done and that a transitional Government is needed to unite all Syrians - before stepping down graciously and heading to the mountains of Latakia where he retains his demi-God status across Syria.

Seems too neat and tidy, though. I also expect a nasty surprise

Posted by: Pat Bateman | May 11 2013 9:42 utc | 24

more fun from Saudi Arabia - How Saudi Arabia’s ‘Plan B’ became a game-changer in Syria

ending with

In the meantime, Al Arabiya sources say Assad’s fall is imminent. How long will it take? “A couple of months, and if it doesn’t happen within a couple of months, then I’m afraid it might be a very long time,” said the source with access to a prominent Saudi official.

Posted by: somebody | May 11 2013 9:56 utc | 25

24) These wars are driven by election cycles,neither Netanyahu or Obama has that problem now. Wait for the Iranian elections and there will be a grand bargain.

Posted by: somebody | May 11 2013 9:58 utc | 26

conservative media is already preparing the public for a change of perceptions

Don't blame Iran, blame the NPT

The highest level of enrichment being carried out in Iran is to 19.75 percent, a level considered low enriched uranium by the International Atomic Energy Agency, not “medium” enriched uranium as even the august New York Times misstated.
In fact, the IAEA’s International Fuel Cycle Evaluation working group has emphasized, “Proliferation resistance can be increased by enrichment reduction preferably to less than 20 percent, which is internationally recognized to be a fully adequate isotopic barrier to weapons usability of 235U”
Of course, it would be a nice gesture for Iran to offer greater transparency for its nuclear program, but it is not legally bound to do so. Both the unilateral sanctions as well as the U.N. Security Council sanctions are a disincentive for Iran to cooperate with the West since they require Iran to stop enrichment — something Iran is entitled to do.
Even if Iran provides more transparency, it will likely still be sanctioned for enriching — so why should it cooperate with the West?
Individual states may feel threatened by and even take unilateral action against Iran. But they ought to stop politicizing the IAEA or claiming that Iran is in violation of its safeguards agreement — when it is not.
Unfortunately, as long as the most IAEA funding comes from the West and Japan, the agency is likely to have biases and be susceptible to such politicization.
It should be said that the oft-touted military “option” is not really an option – at least, not an option in compliance with the UN Charter. Since they strengthen the hands of hawkish political elements in Iran who favor nuclear weaponization, such military threats are counter-productive and should be shelved.

Posted by: somebody | May 11 2013 10:08 utc | 27

language of propaganda: Frenchnewsagency reports SyrianArabarmy “are preparing for an imminent attack on the city...

'attack on the city'?????

havent the french heard of human shields?

Posted by: brian | May 11 2013 11:33 utc | 28

My presumption on the brotherhood of evil not being able to hold a candle in Syria is based on the fact that some of the countries that have been hostile to Damascus are brotherhood oriented in some way. Egypt, Tunisia, Libya; Jordan, Turkey. Then we have the Gulf cooperation council countries with their funding. The actions of all these brotherhood led countries would make the Damascus able to spin the narrative in favor of the Ba'ath. Damascus would state, we are a secular arab country; we fought and won the war being united under the Ba'ath.
Remember the good times we had before the war caused by the imperialists and the brotherhood of evil?
The Ba'ath party will make sure that it's going to take place again.
Your premise is also very good chere neretva. However if Assad can do away with the neoliberalist cancer and run the country the right way. Then maybe the brotherhood of evil will once again be vanquished from active participation in Syrian politics.

Posted by: Fernando | May 11 2013 17:10 utc | 29

@17 "Israel is constantly striving to achieve peace with its neighbors." LOL. That's a joke presumably.

As for this whole "nationalism vs. globalism" I don't see that that is even a possible debate. Globalism is a fact, there is no stopping the progress of the internet any more than there would be the possibility (or desire) of reversing the gains made throught he steam engine. The questions isn't "globalism vs. this" or "globalism vs. that" but what kind of globalism are we going to have.

The question is whether "globalism" means global rule out of Washington DC and its corporate sponsors, or it means a true global system of shared power.

Nationalism and autarky are not good models. A "nation" is an indefinable entity, especially as people migrate and interact. Nationalism is subject to devolving into violent tribalism. It is the incubator to paternalistic rule, as the powerful of the nation proclaim "threats" to the nation and proclaim to "protect" the rest of the nation. Groups so defined - as we saw in Nazi Germany, and in the inability of the United States to integrate its various populations - are constantly trying to "purify" themselves based on a definition that is prone to co-optation by the most powerful and ruthless (ie., worst) elements of society.

No, globalism is coming. Nations are disintegrating, both geographically, and within people's minds. The struggle isn't to fight against the growing closeness and interaction of people, but to make sure that it isn't defined by a single pole of power dominating the rest.

Posted by: guest77 | May 11 2013 18:21 utc | 30

McCain: "The question for another President today, and for all Americans, is whether we will again answer the desperate pleas for rescue that are made uniquely to us, the USA."

Truly barf worthy. I can't tell if these guys just like to fight (er...send others to fight) or are completely delusional. He claims we should go in based on our "vital interests" yet I can't find one "vital interest" mentioned throughout the whole piece.

Posted by: guest77 | May 11 2013 18:29 utc | 31

@14, there's nothing at that link suggesting Marx had misgivings about Lafargue's complexion. I did a quick search of Marx's letters and am none the wiser. Do you have a link?

Posted by: ruralito | May 11 2013 20:17 utc | 32

32) not everything is on the internet - try Enzensberger, Gespräche mit Marx und Engels

it is not a big deal, though funny - he was basically telling him he did not think he could keep his daughter the way she was accustomed ...

Posted by: somebody | May 11 2013 20:51 utc | 33

"Israel is constantly striving to achieve peace with its neighbors."

lol, the peace of the grave.

Posted by: ruralito | May 11 2013 22:06 utc | 34

Good Syria analysis here.

Syria - Good Intentions and the Road to Hell
by InAntalya

. . . .Now almost one year later we have:

a new but not improved Western recognized political opposition with which the Friends of Syria Group is saddled even though the groups efforts to establish a better organization were constantly thwarted and outmaneuvered,

a new but unpalatable military command with which the Friends of Syria Group is also saddled - unpalatable to the West because most of its members are people who Western leaders would not want to be seen in the same room with, and unpalatable to many donors and rebel groups because one of its main purposes is to unify and centralize command and control and to keep radicalization in check,

an in-name-only interim government for which the Friends of Syria Group now has only indirect responsibility, but the Sharia legal code which has been prepared for this interim government, with Western support, may become a political liability for Western governments in the future,

a generally secular and liberal opposition in Syria with which the Friends of Syria Group continues to refuse to establish a dialogue, and

a growing number of people in Syria who have seen what the Western recognized political opposition and the rebel groups have done and are doing and are saying "Thanks, but no thanks."

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 12 2013 14:38 utc | 35

Thought this was worth sharing:

Qatar intelligence chief dies of wounds in Somalia

Qatar’s intelligence chief has died of his wounds after the Sunday car bomb blast in Somalia, Lebanese ad-Diyar newspaper reports.

"This person worked as a coordinator recruiting Yemenis and sending them to Syria after being trained by U.S. Special Forces in Qatar," the newspaper added.

Around 11 people were killed in Somalia's capital Sunday when a suicide attacker from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shebab insurgents rammed a car laden with explosives into a convoy carrying officials from Qatar, police said.

"Several people have been killed, the blast was big ... the number of those killed is around 11," police official Mohamed Adan said.

The blast is the latest in a string of bloody attacks in the seaside capital, where al-Qaeda linked al-Shebab insurgents have vowed to topple the government and have set off several bombs and launched guerrilla-style strikes.

The car exploded close to a police station at the central K4 roundabout, a busy part of Mogadishu where many people gather to drink tea at roadside stalls.

"I saw eight bodies including a woman, some of them were burned very badly by the fire from the explosion," said eyewitness Ali Yusuf. "It was a terrible sight."

Reports say that the armored car hit in the attack had been damaged with its back windows blasted out. Other police officials said that at least 10 people had been killed.

A second bomb hidden by the roadside and remotely detonated was set off around the same time in the Daynille district of Mogadishu targeting passing security forces, but injured no one, police added.

The attack on Sunday comes after a week-long major security operation in the capital, with police closing down roads and searching cars for explosives.

Posted by: William Bowles | May 12 2013 21:46 utc | 36


This is good news. It's time that the Saudi's and Qatari's started getting a serving of what they've been dishing out the last few years. A small country like Qatar can't have a deep bench of competent loyalists. It's time somebody starts going to work on them.

Posted by: guest77 | May 12 2013 23:29 utc | 37

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