Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 18, 2013

Syria: The Turning International Tide

There is a change in the global political position towards Syria. Here are three recent indicators. Via FLC we learn of a significant position change in Tunisia:
Tunisia wants to reopen its embassy in Syria which has been closed for more than two years and has sent a request in this vein to the government in Damascus. Tunis is yet to receive a reply from Syria’s foreign ministry and a diplomatic source said that the letter has been sent to the foreign ministry since “last week.”
...
Tunisia quickly closed its embassy when the uprising against the Assad regime began in 2011. It will become the first country to reopen its diplomatic office in Syria if its request receives a positive response from the foreign ministry.
Tunisia is especially significant as it is part of the Arab League and its government is led by the Ennahda party which is ideological affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Tunisia is threatened by the Ansar al-Sharia Salafist movement, some of who's supporters are fighting on the Syrian insurgency side, and the Ennahda government recently moved against that group.

Another sign that the international wind is changing was last weeks United Nation General Assembly vote on a nonbinding Qatari resolution against Syria. The resolution itself had to be rewritten some six times and while it gained the vote of 107 states a similar resolution last year was favored by 130 states.

A third sign is the seemingly changing position in Israel where a political mood is turning towards keeping the Syrian president Bashar Assad in power:

“Better the devil we know than the demons we can only imagine if Syria falls into chaos and the extremists from across the Arab world gain a foothold there,” one senior Israeli intelligence officer was quoted as saying.

A weakened, but intact Assad regime would be preferable for Syria and the Middle East, the Times reported intelligence sources as saying.

That view will likely later be reflected in Washington where the "Assad must go" crowd has yet to weaken its position.

While the above three indicators point to a change in position the Israeli change adds what can be understood as a new demand:

The situation that Assad survives, maintaining power in Damascus and in the corridors to the large coastal cities, would entail the breaking up of Syria into three separate states.
The Zionist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy have propagandized for such a breakup for quite some time:
[T]hree Syrias are emerging: one loyal to the government, to Iran and to Hezbollah; one dominated by Kurds with links to Kurdish separatists in Turkey and Iraq; and one with a Sunni majority that is heavily influenced by Islamists and jihadis.

“It is not that Syria is melting down — it has melted down,” said Andrew J. Tabler, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of “In the Lion’s Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington’s Battle with Syria.”

“So much has changed between the different parties that I can’t imagine it all going back into one piece,” Mr. Tabler said.

I do not believe that a split of Syria is going to happen. The Kurds in Syria may gain some additional cultural autonomy but they will not join any other state or create one of their own. The Jihadist insurgency will be beaten and most Sunnis in Syria, as well as the minority Alawite and Christians, will not want their state to split but want to rebuild it.

Israel does not have the power to break Syria into weak statelets and other states have no interest to do so. It would only invite more trouble.

In this recent interview Bashar Assad presents himself again as a self secure statesman. There is no way that man would let Syria get chopped up though he is still expecting some additional outright intervention:

"[Intervention] is a clear probability, especially after we've managed to beat back armed groups in many areas of Syria. Then these countries sent Israel to do this to raise the morale of the terrorist groups. We expect that an intervention will occur at some point although it may be limited in nature."
Any further intervention will only come after the Geneva conference fails as it will because the disunited Syrian opposition will not be able to guarantee that its side will adhere to any negotiated clause.

But that failure is still many weeks away and meanwhile the trend towards more international support of Syria and against the insurgency will gain speed. Without broad international support a U.S. or Israeli intervention is likely to fail.

Posted by b on May 18, 2013 at 16:50 UTC | Permalink

Comments

You'll remember that the same band of cutthroats advocated a similar fate for Iraq, namely Balkanization, the model being the former Yugoslavia of course.

But I fear that Syria has been so badly damaged by the Empire's not-so covert war, it may not recover.

Posted by: William Bowles | May 18 2013 17:24 utc | 1

More of this please: Activists: Rebel groups clash in northern Syria

A wave of tit-for-tat kidnappings between rival Islamic militant groups in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo risks sparking large-scale internal fighting between rebels after clashes killed at least four militants earlier this week, activists said Saturday.

The director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul-Rahman, said a coalition of rebel groups known as the Judicial Council had accused another armed opposition faction, the Ghurabaa al-Sham, of plundering factories in Aleppo's industrial neighborhood. Aleppo, Syria's largest city and a former commercial center, is split between rebel and government control.
...
The two groups, the Judicial Council and the Ghurabaa al-Sham, clashed on Tuesday near Aleppo in fighting that left four members of the Judicial Council dead, Abldul-Rahman said. He added that the Judicial Council is now holding dozens of members of Ghurabaa al-Sham captive.
...
He added that the Judicial Council is an umbrella organization that includes the Tawheed Brigade, al-Sham Liberals and the al-Qaida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra — one of the most effective forces among the mosaic of rebel brigades fighting to topple Assad in Syria's civil war.

Posted by: b | May 18 2013 17:36 utc | 2

Syrian rebels unite to retake strategic town near Damascus

in a rare move, brigades operating in Ghouta, a largely agricultural region on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, have united under one command to wrest back the town of Otaiba, two miles northeast of Damascus international airport.

"This is a huge target no brigade can deliver on its own, even al-Nusra cannot do it alone, so we all agreed to unite to retake it," said a commander whose brigade is one of the 23 taking part in the battle.

"With God's will this will be a decisive battle in rural Damascus that will stop the advance of the regime army and reopen the supply route."

I am sure they will receive a warm welcome ...

Posted by: b | May 18 2013 18:16 utc | 3

"...but they will not join any other state or create one of their own."

b;

What makes you think so? In your opinion the Syrian Kurds do not want their own independent state or they want but they won't be able to get it? Which one?

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | May 18 2013 18:23 utc | 4

'Tunisia quickly closed its embassy when the uprising against the Assad regime began in 2011.'


as there was no 'uprising' the media hasnt changed

Posted by: brian | May 18 2013 18:43 utc | 5

Posted by: b | May 18, 2013 1:36:11 PM | 2

media continues to quote SOHRs 'director' ...SOHR is one man! who here is a 'director'

Posted by: brian | May 18 2013 18:45 utc | 6

@William Bowles

As long as Damascus/SAA is in charge, i.e. masters of own destiny they have chance. Human life can't be recovered, everything else is. Future generation's task is to rebuild the Syrian society, they can do that, only with as an independent state. Not subservient one, pliable to the West. No society has advanced aligned with them. Not a single one.

You mentioned Yugoslavia, they all all sham and utter failure.

Posted by: neretva'43 | May 18 2013 18:57 utc | 7

The break up of Syria is ZATOs wet dream. It seems to be failing - for now - She'll stay on the target list though.

Posted by: BillyBoy | May 18 2013 19:15 utc | 8

AT neretva'43
Absolutely! Of course and it reveals why great swathes of the so-called Western left, are on the side of the Empire. After all, it was the Western Left that turned its back on Yugoslavia so why should we be surprised when it turned its back on Libya and now Syria. 500 years of being top dog, that's why.

Posted by: William Bowles | May 18 2013 19:36 utc | 9

" After all, it was the Western Left that turned its back on Yugoslavia so why should we be surprised when it turned its back on Libya and now Syria. 500 years of being top dog, that's why."

What you say is very true. But this is a "left" completely divorced from the metropolitan victims of empire, the alienated proletariat, the urban poor and the landless peasants. It is a useless appendix of the unions, co-operatives and socialist movements which it led to defeat, despair and oblivion.

Now the horse that carried the "intelligentsia" and Trade Union bureaucracy is dead or dying and they are roaming the battlefield looking for mounts to carry them to power, influence and prosperity.

In the Academy and the peripheries of officialdom they are carving out a special niche promoting imperialism as the lesser evil, where for all its genocidal quirks and cannibalistic propensities, at least gays are allowed to marry and women to wear lipstick and high heels, dark skinned me can aspire to be president and even warmongers double as peaceniks. And it is permitted to enrol Marx, Lenin and Trotsky to justify Special Operations commando death squads in Syria.

Posted by: bevin | May 18 2013 20:57 utc | 10

@10 The old 'left' is trying to get it's mortgage paid off, put its kids through college, wondering if they will find jobs. That doesn't leave much time for battling the status quo. The new 'left' is social networking.

Posted by: dh | May 18 2013 21:11 utc | 11

Franklin Lamb has observations from inside Syria as well, UN General Assembly Vote Reflects Shift in Syrian Public Opinion.

I hope that this involves a turning, eventually, of all the nations of world against the program of permanent war now openly embraced by Barack the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Obama.

Posted by: john francis lee | May 18 2013 21:33 utc | 12

From new interview with Argentinian journalists:
http://sana.sy/eng/21/2013/05/18/482901.htm

We welcome the Russian-American rapprochement and support its potentiality of being a platform to facilitate the resolution of the Syrian crisis. We do remain skeptical of the genuine intentions of certain western administrations towards seeking a realistic political solution in Syria. This caution is based on their continued support of terrorist groups in Syria. We are dedicated to pursuing a political solution, yet there are powers who are pressing for the failure of such a solution. This is a two-way process; it needs commitment from all sides.

Posted by: neretva'43 | May 18 2013 23:39 utc | 13

Jordan to become Palestine. Compliments of arabisouri
http://youtu.be/NJcl5Y09HM8

Posted by: Hilmi | May 19 2013 8:57 utc | 14

14) He sounds as if he wants Syria to attack.

Posted by: somebody | May 19 2013 11:39 utc | 15

Two bits of news:

Syria army 'storms' rebel town Qusair

Syrian government forces have surrounded the rebel stronghold of Qusair and are storming it from several directions, says Syrian state TV.

Fighting has gone on around the town, near the Lebanese border, for weeks.

Opposition groups say militants from the Lebanese Hezbollah movement are fighting alongside government forces.

Correspondents say Qusair has strategic value for both sides. If the government retakes it, it would ensure access from the capital to the coast.

Russia, a key ally of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, has a small naval maintenance facility at the Syrian deep-water port of Tartus.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22586378

and:

EU decision to lift Syrian oil sanctions boosts jihadist groups

The EU decision to lift Syrian oil sanctions to aid the opposition has accelerated a scramble for control over wells and pipelines in rebel-held areas and helped consolidate the grip of jihadist groups over the country's key resources.

Jabhat al-Nusra, affiliated with al-Qaida and other extreme Islamist groups, control the majority of the oil wells in Deir Ezzor province, displacing local Sunni tribes, sometimes by force. They have also seized control of other fields from Kurdish groups further to the north-east, in al-Hasakah governorate.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/19/eu-syria-oil-jihadist-al-qaida

Posted by: johnf | May 19 2013 12:40 utc | 16

Why is it that anytime the Syrian army is on the offensive and winning, the BBC always attribute the army's success to Hezbollah???

From news coming out, the rebels are really getting pounded in Al-Qsir with no way out....

Posted by: Zico | May 19 2013 13:36 utc | 17

@15
I think that is the whole point of the Israeli bombings. They bomb, Syria retaliates, they go on a massive bombing campaign like in Libya (bombs manufactured and payed for by the USA).

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | May 19 2013 14:04 utc | 18

according to western propaganda, Hezbollah single-handedly turned the tide of the Syrian war.

Posted by: clubofrome | May 19 2013 14:15 utc | 19

Read somewhere that there are around 1,000 fighters holed up in Al Qusayr, mainly veterans of the former Homs strongholds. This Map shows the rough order of things (Al Qusayr is just under Homs on the Lebanon border). If Qusayr falls the common thinking is that all the rebels in Homs will lose there last supply line.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | May 19 2013 14:31 utc | 20

18) as then, they think, Obama would be forced to back them. I watched the whole discussion group now, it actually is quite funny. Avi Primor, who can say anything, as he is no longer official, also maintained that the Israeli attack was coordinated with the US, and the US passed on the coordinates (which somehow does not rhyme with bombing an institution twice plus a chicken farm).

I think they desperately try to sound powerful and relevant, Avi Primor in that discussion round also maintained that Egypt had lost control of Sinai ...

Posted by: somebody | May 19 2013 14:43 utc | 21

"...according to western propaganda, Hezbollah single-handedly turned the tide of the Syrian war."

Which is really marvellous publicity for the resistance strategy that Hezbollah not only practises but preaches. "The people united, can never be defeated."

Posted by: bevin | May 19 2013 15:38 utc | 22

I don't know b. Reading the NYT on May 16 about the hearing regarding reauthorization of the AUMF.

“So we can expect drone strikes into Syria if we find Al Qaeda there?” Mr. McCain asked. [Acting general counsel of the Pentagon, Robert S. Taylor] said he did not want to speculate.

Under questioning by Senator Joe Donnelly, Democrat of Indiana, Mr. Sheehan said he believed that the Nusra Front, a rebel group in Syria, was a Qaeda affiliate and that the executive branch could use lethal force against it if it believed the group threatened American security.

Warmonger #1 is gearing up for intervention.

Posted by: ess emm | May 19 2013 16:44 utc | 23

@20 that's a cool map, I can't make much of it w/o a key. Where did you find it?

Posted by: guest77 | May 19 2013 17:34 utc | 24

@24 The map is from Wikipedia, they update it a few times a month. The Interactive version can be found on the Free Syrian Army wiki page here just scroll down a bit.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | May 19 2013 22:06 utc | 25

Here's another recent information factoid on the international scene regarding the Syrian conflict:

18 May 2013. The US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel said that the US and Russia seek stability in Syria. Hagel said: "the US continues to work with Russia, as the two sides are doing their best to convince the powers in the region to be cautious against any escalation in military options or militarization.... What we do not want to see happening is Syria's implosion to the point that we might be faced with a regional war in the Middle East." http://sana.sy/eng/22/2013/05/18/482841.htm

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 19 2013 22:26 utc | 26

I'm sure Hagel wants stability in Syria. On his terms.

Posted by: dh | May 19 2013 22:33 utc | 27

As already linked to by #13 above, SANA on 18 May 2013 published a complete transcript in English of Bashar Assad's recent lengthy interview with the Argentinian newspaper Clarin at http://sana.sy/eng/21/2013/05/18/482901.htm . I found it worth reading in full.

From my viewpoint, the international indicators are secondary and peripheral to the primary indicators. The primary indicators are the internal indicators within Syria. Thus I do not agree with my friend Bashar Assad when he said in the Clarin interview that "numerous factors have influenced the Syrian crisis both internally and externally, the most significant of which is foreign interference." Me and Bashar have been in disagreement about that for more than two years.

Here's one item from the interview with which I fully agree with Bashar:

Bashar: "The Syrian people will decide whether I remain in office or not.... Through the Constitution and the presidential elections in 2014, the people will decide."...

Reporter's Question: "So, Mr President, you continue to reject talk of your abdication?" Answer: "I was elected by the Syrian people and therefore only the Syrian people have the authority to decide on this matter, through the National Dialogue process or the forthcoming presidential elections as I mentioned earlier. A notion that is totally unacceptable is that the Syrian President ought to abdicate because the United States wants him to, or because terrorists and certain foreign countries desire it. The matter solely depends on the electorate’s decision through ballot boxes.... The possibility of my leaving power is to be solely determined by the Syrian people: put simply, one stands for office at election time, he either wins or he loses. This is the mechanism in which a president may leave power.

Reporter's Question: "Will the forthcoming 2014 presidential elections be internationally monitored?" Bashar: "That decision will not be made by me. It is subject to the National Dialogue process which we are in the preparation stages of. Certain segments of Syrian society reject the idea of external monitoring and believe that it undermines our national sovereignty. These groups are skeptical of Western intentions in Syria and refuse any input from foreign parties on how to “rightly” conduct their own internal affairs. Differing segments feel that the topic of monitoring very much depends on the actual countries involved. If monitoring is to happen, they ask whether it shall be conducted by historically friendly countries - Russia or China for example. I reiterate, this is not my own decision."


Posted by: Parviziyi | May 19 2013 22:39 utc | 28

As already linked to by #13, SANA on 18 May 2013 published a full transcript in English of Bashar Assad's interview with Argentinian newspaper Clarin at http://sana.sy/eng/21/2013/05/18/482901.htm . I found it worth reading in full.

Here's one item from the interview:

Bashar: "The Syrian people will decide whether I remain in office or not.... Through the Constitution and the presidential elections in 2014, the people will decide."

Reporter's Question: "So, Mr President, you continue to reject talk of your abdication?" Answer: "I was elected by the Syrian people and therefore only the Syrian people have the authority to decide on this matter, through the forthcoming National Dialogue process or the forthcoming presidential elections as I mentioned earlier. The notion is totally unacceptable that the Syrian President ought to abdicate because the United States wants him to, or because terrorists and certain foreign countries desire it. The matter solely depends on the electorate’s decision through ballot boxes.... The possibility of my leaving power is to be solely determined by the Syrian people: put simply, one stands for office at election time, he either wins or he loses. This is the mechanism in which a president may leave power."

Reporter's Question: "Will the forthcoming 2014 presidential elections be internationally monitored?" Bashar: "That decision will not be made by me. It is subject to the national dialogue process which we are in the preparation stages of. Certain segments of Syrian society reject the idea of external monitoring and believe that it undermines our national sovereignty. These groups are skeptical of western intentions in Syria and refuse any input from foreign parties on how to “rightly” conduct their own internal affairs. Differing segments feel that the topic of monitoring very much depends on the actual countries involved. If monitoring is to happen, they ask whether it shall be conducted by historically friendly countries - Russia or China for example. I reiterate, this is not my own decision."


Posted by: Parviziyi | May 19 2013 22:48 utc | 29

I was expecting the battle for al Qusayr to take a couple of days but most of the whahabi rats have already fled the scene or got caught in the crosshairs. youtube link

According to this excerpt and also in SANA most of Al Qusayr has already been swept clean.

Hope they encircle the rest of the rats and make sure none of them makes it up north (towards Homs/Aleppo).

Posted by: Gehenna | May 19 2013 22:55 utc | 30

Another item from Bashar's interview with the Clarin newspaper:

Bashar: "The Wahhabi states in the region are looking to spread extremist ideologies to the broader society, and not just at the government level. In Syria our [mainstream or most prevalent] notion of Islam is very moderate. We do not have [a lot of popular following for] any extremist Wahhabi orientations or Wahhabi schools of thought. We [the mainstream] reject and resist these extremist ideologies that they are trying to instill into Syrian society. We do this by fighting it politically and through the teaching of proper religion, of the moderate Islam that is Syria is well known for."

In free and fair elections in Syria, the Wahhabis, Salafis, Takfiris and Muslim Brotherhooders would lose by a wide margin. And the Assadists would win by a wide margin. But there isn't going to be such a free and fair election coming up, because under Article 8 of the new Syrian Constitution "no political activity shall be practiced nor political party or group formed on a religious basis." The new Constitution was approved by public referendum in 2012. Most Syrians support that provision in Article Eight.

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 19 2013 23:08 utc | 31

@ Gehenna: What happens in Qusayr last week or next week is of very little consequence unless the army is able to maintain security in Qusayr after initially restoring security. Note the foreboding point that SANA is saying today that the army has restored security "to most of" the town. The army has initially restored security in lots of places without being able to maintain it, including in Qusayr. The army has been fighting against rebels in Qusayr on and off for over a year and is still fighting them today. Despite the army having huge advantages in number of men, weapons, and organization systems. The army also has the support of many or most of the locals in hinterlands around Qusayr. (The town itself has been largely depopulated for a long time now, due to the rebel presence and the insecurity).

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 19 2013 23:26 utc | 32

@ Colm O'Toole #20, #25: That map is a damn lie and a piece of shit.

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 20 2013 0:09 utc | 33

@32 How so?

Posted by: guest77 | May 20 2013 0:40 utc | 34

Yeah. Just noticed, by coincidentially skimming the "Spiegel"-Comment Section, that, for the first time, maybe since the propaganda started, they're writing of a "syrian president" (as opposed to "dictator" or the like) in their article.
The "Spiegel" being the main propaganda outlet, maybe this is even more meaningful than the actual content of the article.
For those german readers among you: http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/syrische-armee-stuermt-rebellenhochburg-a-900753.html

Posted by: peter radiator | May 20 2013 2:50 utc | 35

@Parviziyi #31
I thought there'd be a whole lot more rebels there and that this would be a huge battle. From what I gather there aren't that many and they've retreated to some parts of the town (others try to flee). I just expected a more prolonged battle. All in all this is just good news.

I know that with insurgents it's hard to maintain security. But now they can leave a small presence to monitor the roads and make sure they don't sneak back in.

With the Lebanon border "secure" (it's still porous) my best guess is that they turn their attention to Homs. Quite some brigades there that need an early retirement (to the grave).

Posted by: Gehenna | May 20 2013 9:26 utc | 36

FSA Attacks Are Rampant in Pro-Syria Turkey Covered Up by Erdogan http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=d6d_1369006475

Posted by: brian | May 20 2013 11:03 utc | 37

@ #33 guest77: The map claims the eastern half of Aleppo city is controlled by the opposition, which is completely false. It claims the whole area of the outlying eastern suburbs of Damascus is controlled by the opposition, whereas it's only some pockets of that area that are controlled by the opposition. It claims all the thinly populated semi-desert rural areas of north central Syria are controlled by the opposition, whereas very very few rebels are in that open country and they can control nothing in it. Many other places claimed as "controlled by opposition" are controlled by the government. In addition, there are places with serious security problems, where the government security forces cannot be said to be in control, but the rebels cannot be said to be in control either, and yet the map claims them as controlled by the opposition.

Regarding the word "control", here's from Bashar Assad's interview with Clarin newspaper a few days ago:

"We are dealing with terrorists who have infiltrated specific areas. They could be occupying a certain building in an area. This does not mean they have full control over that particular area. Since they are not a typical army, they have the ability to hide and escape from one place to another relatively quickly. As for the Syrian Army, there has not been any instance where they have planned to enter a particular location to control the area and have not been able to do so. This is where we can use the term control. There are areas where terrorists are able to maneuver more easily." http://sana.sy/eng/21/2013/05/19/482901.htm

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 20 2013 11:20 utc | 38

Israeli spy truck with Jamming equipment found in Homs by the Syrian Army http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ1w6dufU_Ehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ1w6dufU_E

Posted by: brian | May 20 2013 11:26 utc | 39

brian @ 38

Which is why Israel was freaking out when the army started the Al-Qusir offensive..In fact, the strike in Damascus was Israel's way of distracting the Syrian army from the Homs operation..It seems it didn't work and there're reports of captured Israeli, French, Brits and Turkish agents...


Interesting times...

Posted by: Zico | May 20 2013 12:05 utc | 40

Assad says he has no intention of fleeing the ship, regardless of US regime desires
interview with argentine journalist
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keU2k3TRLIE … …

Posted by: brian | May 20 2013 14:07 utc | 41

Parviziyi has the correct tack -- in an unconventional war characterized by guerillas and snipers on the one hand and an organized government and army on the other, one has to be careful about use of the word "control." It's not difficult to produce chaos with car bombs and snipers, but it is difficult to achieve complete control.

And Gehenna there won't be (typically) any "prolonged battles" and lack of such isn't "good news." Guerillas don't fight that way. From the battles of Bunker Hill to Mao Zedong in China, they hide and snipe and try to live to fight another day.

So this will go on for a while, no doubt. As General Petraeus said and testified, many times, about Iraq: The situation is fragile and reversible.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 20 2013 14:14 utc | 42

More militarily minded folks can comment on this, but general figures of 10 government soldiers to 1 guerrilla have been used at times in past insurgencies to keep the fight going. The problem for ZATO is that they have been taking serious losses, so the ratio might be more like 20 or 30 to 1 now. The other problem is with supply lines. The insurgents have very little public support, and it's not like jungle areas to grab food from. With poor supply lines, they essentially run out of oxygen. So don't be surprised if the insurgency falls apart fairly quickly. Terroristic attacks could go on for a long time, but not a real insurgency.

Posted by: Paul | May 20 2013 16:33 utc | 43

Reuters has an "exclusive" report on Iran's "sanctions-busting":

Exclusive: Iran flouts U.N. sanctions, sends arms to Syria: panel
(Reuters) - Syria remains the top destination for Iranian arms shipments in violation of a U.N. Security Council ban on weapons exports by the Islamic Republic, according to a confidential report on Iran sanctions-busting seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

However I have looked at the UNSC sanctions resolutions and I have found no basis for any claim that while the UNSC has sanctioned arms imports to Iran, it has not banned arms exports from Iran. Perhaps somebody could evidence this, since Reuters hasn't provided any basis for their "exclusive" claim.

Here's more on Iran arms exports to Syria, from Brown Moses. Good for Iran, I say.

More on the many UNSC Iran sanctions here.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 20 2013 17:14 utc | 44

Jun 9, 2010
UN Security Council Resolution 1929

. . .all States shall prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to Iran, from or through their territories or by their nationals or individuals subject to their jurisdiction, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in their territories , of any battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large calibre artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems as defined for the purpose of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, or related materiel, including spare parts, or items as determined by the Security Council or the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1737 (2006) (“the Committee”), decides further that all States shall prevent the provision to Iran by their nationals or from or through their territories of technical training, financial resources or services, advice, other services or assistance related to the supply, sale, transfer, provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of such arms and related materiel, d, in this context, calls upon all States to exercise vigilance and restraint over the supply, sale, transfer, provision, manufacture and use of all other arms and related materiel;

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 20 2013 17:33 utc | 45

@Don Bacon #42
I was under the assumption that the rats in Qusayr were surrounded and there was no escape whatsoever. Hence my assumption of it going to be a prolonged battle since there would be nowhere to retreat. They'd be forced to fight or surrender. Parviziyi and Don Bacon: I stand corrected.

We'll have to wait and see the figures as they leak out. Unofficial figures can be found: here

Posted by: Gehenna | May 20 2013 18:48 utc | 46

@Gehenna -- no worries.

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 20 2013 18:51 utc | 47

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 20, 2013 1:14:06 PM | 44


reuters continue to show on which side its bread is buttered

Posted by: brian | May 21 2013 9:31 utc | 48

"I was under the assumption that the rats in Qusayr were surrounded and there was no escape whatsoever. Hence my assumption of it going to be a prolonged battle since there would be nowhere to retreat. They'd be forced to fight or surrender."

To the extent that the battle is conventional:

I had read that the SAA achieved tactical surprise by attacking before controlling all of the villages to the North, ones between Qusayr and Homs. The opposition had known an offensive was coming, but didn't expect it until Qusayr was surrounded. The value of Qusayr is that it links Lebanon and Homs, and Homs is one of the central transportation nodes of the country (the other being Hamah, already under SAA control). (Rebels in multiple videos cited surprise as the reason for their loss of control (if the translation is correct, of course). I'm not sure what they're biased to want to say. In American culture, it is probably most self-flattering to blame the highest level of command for a defeat, whether it's true or not.)

Later youtube videos, purportedly from some hours after the invasion of Qusayr began, showed the SAA attacking (again, supposedly) the northern villages. (The videos were from both sides, some claimed to be of the same events but showed the FSA defending). It's an impressive battle plan: choosing to take the northern villages first was the conventional and expected thing to do because that would have surrounded opposition forces, but sequencing the assault as the SAA did has a fairly low risk and high upside. The government attack gains the element of surprise, the SAA still has the opportunity to cut off the opposition forces by seizing those villages and surrounding Qusayr if they can manage it in time, and if they can't, the rebels don't have an easy avenue of escape and are merely pushed to Homs, the place the Qusayr offensive cuts off from easy resupply. Very impressive planning.


"there're reports of captured Israeli, French, Brits and Turkish agents..."

How plausible is that, really? If I were coordinating a counterinsurgency coalition, I'd divide the area I wanted to undermine into sectors and give each special operations agency authority in one sector.

Posted by: sme | May 21 2013 10:30 utc | 49

"Without broad international support a U.S. or Israeli intervention is likely to fail."

Depends on your definition of "failure"...

If the goal is merely to wreck Syria like Iraq and Libya were wrecked - and if the goal is merely to degrade the Syrian missile arsenal - along with Hizballah's in Lebanon - so that they aren't effective actors in an Iran war, then a foreign military intervention is downright simple and cannot "fail".

If you don't know what the strategic purpose of the Syria crisis is, then you can't make predictions about what can happen.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 23 2013 5:33 utc | 50

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