“What will the monitors do?” Asked one banner. “Make sure that it’s real blood they are seeing and not Ketchup?”
The six unarmed U.N. military observers have arrived in Damascus. It started “well” as you would have expected:
In Syria, U.N. observers face tough task
“The extent to which the monitors would be able to work independently was also called into question Sunday, as Syrian officials insisted that they take an active role in the work of the observers.
Government spokeswoman Bouthaina Shaaban told reporters Sunday that the government could not be responsible for the safety of the monitors unless it was involved in “all steps on the ground.” She added that Syria reserved the right to reject observers according to nationality. “
Ehhh, maybe I have misunderstood something here but that’s called discrimination and racism. In addition, it is wildly condemned and outlawed according to various UN charters. So the same UN that outlaws and forbid discrimination and racism is allowing the Syrians regime to pick and chose which colour and country the observers come from.
“But an activist outside the city of Hama said that demonstrators had been chanting against the presence of U.N. monitors. “We don’t want more people to watch us be killed,” said Mousab Alhamadee via Skype, calling instead for practical help for the opposition, including arming rebel forces. “
“We don’t want more people to watch us be killed,” I would say that that is a reasonably demand wouldn’t you?
And wasn’t there supposed to be a truce with the observers in place and all?
“Al-Arabiya: Syrian security forces killed 45 people Monday, activists say”
And the destruction and shelling of block after block, neigbourhood after neigbourhood continues as if nothing has happened from the Syrian regime.
One example of this “ceasfire” and destruction from the Syrian regime you can see here:
“Homs (Khalidiyeh): Apr 15, 2012 – Unbelievable level of destruction. Five (5) shells land in the span of 54 seconds on this small area alone.”
And in this video, also from Homs, you can litterally hear one shell a second.
“SO MANY SHELLS HIT THIS NEIGHBORHOOD, YOU CAN COUNT ONE EVERY SECOND Homs (Qarabis): Apr 15, 2012 – Assad’s forces are literally blanket-shelling the city of Homs. They are erasing the entire city and wiping off the map of Syria. There are no military targets in the city – only Syrian residents.
The world pats itself on its back for every shell that lands – after all, Assad ‘agreed’ to the so-called ‘ceasefire’ …. no response was thought of when he broke it … “
And an Assad minister have built a “modest” palace:
“At a time when pro-Assad troops and death squads are busy pounding towns and villages all over the country, the country’s Minister of Economy (note: I had earlier said Interior, which was a mistake of course), a George Washington University Alumnus, Nedal Alchaar, was busy putting the final touches on his villa in Aleppo City. Work was “finally” done, to use his own words, and he posted pictures of the villa on his Facebook page earlier yesterday, before he removed it when people began chatting about it on the net. Too late. It’s this kind of impunity by Assad officials that paved the way to the revolution. It’s this kind of impunity that will continue to fuel it, until the whole regime is brought down.”
Ammar Abduhamid a liberal democracy activist
Russia, as always “helpful”, announced on Friday, April 13, “A decision has been made to deploy Russian warships near the Syrian shores on a permanent basis.”
Russian Warships to Patrol Syrian Coast
“Russian warships will be continuously deployed for patrol duty off the Syrian coast in the Mediterranean, a high-ranking source in the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday.
“A decision has been made to deploy Russian warships near the Syrian shores on a permanent basis,” the source said. The Russian Kashin-class guided-missile destroyer Smetlivy is currently deployed near the Syrian coast.
“Another Black Sea Fleet ship will replace the Smetlivy in May,” the source said, adding that several Russian warships were on their way to the Mediterranean.”
It is the first time that Russia officially has announced the permanent deployment of naval vessels in the eastern Mediterranean and off Syria. Thus extending a protective shield over Assad and his regime against outside military intervention.
Like Russia, Iran’s strategic interest and massive support forSyria in all shapes and form goes way back, to the 1979 revolution in Iran.
For Iran, Syria plays a vital roll in it’s ambitions to control parts of the Middle East. And Syria is crucial for Iran’s support and control of Hezbollah and Lebanon. And Hamas in Gaza.
Syria was the first Arab country to recognize the provisional government of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan after the shah’s ouster. Syria also provided invaluable diplomatic and military support to Iran after Iraq’s 1980 invasion.
Both countries worked together against their mutual foe Saddam Hussein and Iraq, Syria was also a channel for arms shipments to Iran during the Iran-Iraq conflict. Etc
The alliance was first formalized in March 1982 with a series of bilateral agreements on oil, trade and a secret pact on military cooperation.
They cooperated on everything from development of ballistic missiles. To arming, training and supporting Hezbollah and Hamas. To influence events in Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Etc.
Both also provided significant aid to internal and foreign forces in Iraq, challenging the U.S. military and the new government in Baghdad.
Interestingly the balance of power in the Syrian-Iranian alliance has shifted since 1979. Syria was the dominant partner in the 1980-90s. Today Iran is the stronger partner and Assad depends on Iran (together with Russia) for his survival.
One example: From 1976 to 2005, Syria was the more dominant player in Lebanon due to its military presence. But its leverage weakened after Damascus was forced to pull out troops in 2005. Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian party and militia, has since become the most influential ally in Lebanese politics even if Syria still has a very strong influence there.
Another interesting aspect is that they cooperate very well even if they have very different ideological and political goals.
For example,Syria and Iraq were intense political rivals, and often came close to military blows, because they shared the same Baa’thist ideology. The political elites in Tehran and Damascus were never competing.
Iran has vied for leadership of the Islamist bloc in the Middle East and beyond, a role in which secular Syria has no interest. Syria has long sought to be ”the beating heart of Arabism,” a role in which Iran, a non-Arab country, has no interest. Except for a brief period of rival ambitions in Lebanon, the two countries have never been in competition — ideologically, economically, or militarily. Neither has tried to upstage the other.
But enough of background, lets go to present times.
As I said above, today Iran is the stronger partner and Assad TOTALLY depends on Iran (together with Russia and China) for his survival.
Iran has spent many billions on shoring up the survival of the Assad regime and the Syrian economy against the uprising. It has sent thousands of Iranian military, intelligence, cyber warfare and drone warfare personnel and civilian experts to fight on its behalf.
Iran thinks that by backing the “winning horse” in Damascus they have empowered their Russian partnership as well as the pro-Iranian bloc embracing Assad’s Syria, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Hamaz on the Gaza Strip.
Iran is de facto the banker of last resort for Assad. So far, every time Assad has asked the Iranians for more money he got it. Although Iran is enduring hard times itself.
It is estimated that Iran has sent more than two billion dollars into the Syrian treasury emptied by Western sanctions.
Iranian financial and banking agents also act for Syriain overseas transactions. Iran arranged for Syrian oil to reach buyers, putting to work the sanctions-busting measures it had developed to overcome the sanctions imposed on Iran itself by the US, Europe and Arab countries.
Iran helps Syria ship oil to China
“Iran is helping its ally Syria defy Western sanctions by providing a vessel to ship Syrian oil to a state-run company in China, potentially giving the government of President Bashar al-Assad a financial boost worth an estimated $80 million.”
Iran covers the payroll for the military and security personnel and the government departments that’s keep the regime functioning – to the tune of more than half a billion dollars a month, according to estimates.
Assad’s biggest problem now is to keep the money flowing to buy fuel for the Syrian war machine. All the Russian tanks, self-propelled artillery, trucks etc. are constantly on the move from one rebel flashpoint to another, reinforcing units and ferrying troops, equipment and ammunition.
But the embargo on fuel sales to Syria puts Assad in the hands of Lebanese merchants. He has run out of funds to meet their exorbitant charges for petrol and diesel, without which his military crackdown would grind to a stop. So now, Russia and China have therefore been asked for the necessary funding since Iranis already paying for so much.
Assad has survived so far thanks to massive Russian and Iranian backing and cooperation.
Another example of this cooperation and High-level Iranian-Russian coordination:
As I wrote in my previous post:
“Russia knew exactly what Assad needed after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov had paid a visit to Damascus on February 7 and talked to Assad.
While the visit was billed as a Russian bid to persuade him to accept political reforms, “They were seeking to find ways for stabilisation in Syria through democratic reforms.” http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c142/337363_print.html, it actually focused on the ways and means in which Russia could help the Syrian ruler quickly stamp out the armed revolt against his rule.
Moreover, this move was coordinated with Iran. Iran and Russia have a division of labour so to say between themselves. They have divided who does what in a high-level coordination.”
Well guess what,
Iran’s al Qods Brigades commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani was there February 5-6 at the head of a large military-intelligence delegation. And when the Iranians left, the Russians arrived.
Their combined missions: to finalize Russian-Iranian-Syrian collaboration in Syria and the Middle East after the regime finally suppresses the revolt.
So while the Obama administration was working through Moscow to bring Iran to the negotiating table with the Six Powers on its nuclear program, Russian and Iranian clandestine agencies were busy working together in Syria to undercut US and Western positions.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei put two top officials in charge of the Save Assad mission and the cementing of Iranian-Syrian ties: Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi and Al-Qods Brigades’ commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
The pair operated in close sync both with the Syrian leadership and their Russian colleagues, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Intelligence Service chief Mikhail Fradkov and Mikhail Margelov, the Kremlin’s ambassador-at-large in Arabia, whose formal title is Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation.
The Quds Force is normally Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) special department tasked with furthering the Islamic revolution outside of the country’s borders, and is also responsible for arming and training Hezbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad – as well as supporting Iran-backed terror operations around the world.
As the Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi claimed with some justification on March 27 “Iran has the most powerful intelligence service in the region”
The ‘men’ in the house are: Bashar Al Assad, Vladimir Putin, Ayatollah Khaemeni and Hassan Nasrallah.
Another area where Iran has really helped Assad is in controlling and suppressing civilian uprising in the cities and social media.
Iran sent Syria thousands of military, intelligence and security strategists and riot dispersal experts, surveillance equipment for guidance and training in cracking down on the uprising in the cities. Cyber warfare specialists to help the work of Syrian security and intelligence services. It has also shared techniques on Internet surveillance and disruption. Etc.
The Iranians become masters of this during the crackdown on the Green Revolution witch started June 13 2009. And they are now passing on this lessons to Assda’s regime.
(You can see some of the names of the killed and detained here:
And by the way, Obama did nothing to support that uprising either. Except some platitudes of course.
It was the Iranians agents and special operations units that disabled the Western logistical intelligence network in beleaguered Homs and helped Syrian intelligence block Syrian rebel arms smuggling routes incoming fromIraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Etc.
Remember the killed journalist in Homs? A “successful” cooperation of Russian SIGINT satellite tracking and Iranian special forces on the ground.
They have been so successful that Assad has lifted restrictions on social networking web sties to lure dissents out into the open.
Iran reportedly aiding Syrian crackdown
“Iranian-assisted computer surveillance is believed to have led to the arrests of hundreds of Syrians seized from their homes in recent weeks” (May 2011).
“In the account provided by the diplomat and the U.S. officials, the Iranian military trainers were being brought to Damascus to instruct Syrians in techniques Iran used against the nation’s “Green Movement’’ in 2009, the diplomat said. The Iranians were brutally effective in crushing those protests.
Officers from Iran’s notorious Quds Force have played a key role in Syria’s crackdown since at least mid-April (2011), said the U.S. and allied officials. They said U.S. sanctions imposed against the Quds Force in April were implicitly intended as a warning to Iran to halt the practice.”
“The Obama administration mentioned the role of the Quds Forces in announcing two sets of sanctions imposed against Syrian government officials in the past month. A White House executive order last week that targeted Assad and six other top government officials also included a little-noticed reference to Mohsen Chizari, an Iranian military officer who is the No. 3 leader in the Quds Force in charge of training.”
Imagine how EASY it is to track the opposition if they use Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc, In an INSTANT you have hundreds of names and contact details. YUM for any dictator.
And by the way, that “warning” one year ago from the Obama administration to Iran to halt it’s “practice” seems to have fallen on totally deaf ears.
Iran helping Assad to put down protests – officials
“Iranian security officials have also travelled to Damascus to advise Assad’s entourage how to counter dissent, the official said. Some Iranian officials have stayed on inSyriato advise Assad’s forces, he added.
A European official said that the Iranians were providing Syrian security agencies with hardware and software that would help them disrupt efforts to organize protests inside Syria and efforts by anti-government elements to spread their message to supporters outside the country.
Officials said that Syria had also obtained some surveillance technology from European suppliers.
The Treasury imposed U.S. economic sanctions on Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam and Ahmad-Reza Radan, chief and deputy chief of Iran’s national police force, because their agency had ”provided support to the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate and dispatched personnel to Damascus in April to assist the Syrian government in suppressing the Syrian people.”
The Treasury alleged that Radan had travelled to Damascus to meet with Syrian security agencies, to whom he allegedly provided ”expertise to aid in the Syrian government crackdown on the Syrian people.”
“WITHDRAWL OF THE CITIES FROM ARMY (HELD) AREAS” … Assad’s army has not withdrawn from all cities as agreed to in the UN brokered ‘Ceasefire’ plan. So, the people of Kafranbel have anther suggestion…
How Iran Keeps Assad in Power in Syria
“The Iranian regime has also provided Assad with technology to monitor e-mail, cell phones, and social media. Iran developed these capabilities in the wake of the 2009 protests and spent millions of dollars establishing a ”cyber army” to track down dissidents online. Iran’s monitoring technology is believed to be among the most sophisticated in the world — second, perhaps, only to China. Shortly after Iran shared its know-how with Syria this summer, Assad lifted restrictions on social networking Web sties, presumably to lure dissents out into the open.
In addition to sharing weapons and surveillance tools credible reports from Syrian refugees indicate that Tehran sent its own forces to Syriato quash the protests. A number of revolutionary guards from the elite Quds Force are also reported to be there, presumably to train Syrian forces. On May 18, the U.S. Treasury Department mentioned the role of the Quds Force directly, asserting that Mohsen Chizari, the Quds Force’s third-in-command, was training the security services to fight against the protestors”
In really desperate situation for the Syrian regime the Iranians “come out of their shadows” and take directly part:
Syrian refugees say Iranian forces involved in crackdown
“Mostafa, an injured Syrian refugee, said: ”There were both plainclothes and uniformed Iranian soldiers. I saw them with my own eyes. We asked them not to attack us, but they didn’t speak Arabic.”
The 23-year-old man added that his attackers wore black shirts, which is uncommon in Syria, and wore beards. He added that the Syrian military is forbidden to wear beards.
A 17-year-old Syrian student named Akram reported: ”Most of these people are snipers. They do not speak Arabic and, most significantly, they carry weapons that are unfamiliar to us.”
Guardian correspondent Martin Chulov on Iranian soldiers inSyria
And Iran is also helping with surveillance drones:
Iran helping Assad to put down protests – officials
”Over the past year,Iran has provided security assistance to Damascus to help shore up Assad. Tehran during the last couple of months has been aiding the Syrian regime with lethal assistance – including rifles, ammunition, and other military equipment – to help it put down the opposition,” a U.S. official said.
”Iran has provided Damascus (with) monitoring tools to help the regime suppress the opposition. It has also shared techniques on Internet surveillance and disruption,” the official continued.
He added that Iran had also provided Assad’s government with ”unarmed drones that Damascus is using along with its own technology to monitor opposition forces.”
The more advanced drones Iran supply directly to Syria. But Syria’s military industry manufactures some less advanced Iranian drones. The drones are manufactured at Syria’s Scientific Research Center, where rockets and advanced missiles are also manufactured.
And then there is the Iran-Iraq-Syria and of course Lebanon axis.
As it is now Iran has a massive leverage in Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s is considered by the Saudis and the Gulf States to be just a Iranian agent or at least committed to a very pro-Iranian policy.
In 1979, al-Maliki fled Iraq after he was discovered to be a member of the outlawed Islamic Dawa Party. He left Iraq via Jordan and to Syria. He then left Syria for Iran in 1982, where he lived inTehran until 1990, before returning to Damascus where he remained until U.S. coalition forces invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam’s regime in 2003. While living inSyria, he worked as a political officer for Dawa, developing close ties with Hezbollah and particularly withIran, supporting that country’s effort to topple Saddam’s regime.
Why is this important? Well most of the massive Iranian aid and support for Assad goes via or over Iraq.
In February this year, Iran organized the biggest airlift with aid to Assad. The biggest Iran had ever organized and it was critical in helping Assad win out over the revolt.
As OC US Central Command Gen. James Mattis explained March 3 to the Senate Armed Services Committee: They (Iranians) are working earnestly to keep Assad in power. They have flown in experts. They are flying in weapons. It is a full-throated effort by Iran to keep Assad there and oppressing his own people.”
And this heavy airlift was made possible by Baghdad’s permission to fly over Iraq directly to Syria. Obama tried interceding with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to block the Iranian transport flights to Syria only to be turned down.
US concerned about Iranian flights over Iraq to Syria
“The United States said Friday it is concerned about Iranian cargo flights over Iraq to Syria, saying it has warned Iraq they might contain arms that could be used by Damascus to crush protests.
”Without getting into intelligence matters, we are concerned about the over flight of Iraq by Iranian cargo flights headed to Syria,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters.
”We are consulting with Iraq about them and we are making the point that any export of arms or related materials from Iran, frankly, to any destination would be a violation of UN Security Council resolution 1747,” she said.
Nuland said the Iraqis were also being told ”that any arms sent to the Syrian regime at this time would obviously be used in the brutal repression that the regime is exacting on its own people.”
She added: ”So we are in consultation with Iraq… encouraging the government of Iraq to be absolutely sure about any cargo that is overflying its territory.”
Iraqi Premier Nuri al-Maliki insisted Friday that all items transported through Iraq to Syria were humanitarian goods, after a US newspaper reported Iran was moving weapons to Syria via Iraqi air space.”
Very strange “humanitarian goods” since it’s sole purpose is to kill people.
And Obama was turned down by Nouri al-Maliki and this exceptionally heavy airlift by the Iranian military was just “humanitarian goods”.
Yeap, that was a VERY good return for overthrowing Saddam and installing Nuri al-Maliki as premier in Iraq.
Was it worth ALL these allied lives??
Killed in Iraq
US – 4486
UK – 179
Other – 139
And the ENORMOUS money you spent??
Total cost for US around $2 Trillion.
And by the way, Iran now ALSO have a permanent naval base in Latakia inSyria.
On February. 25, an Iranian-Syrian naval cooperation accord was signed providing for Iranto build its first Mediterranean naval base at the Syrian port. The base will include a large Iranian Revolutionary Guards weapons depot stocked with hardware chosen by the IRGC subject to prior notification to Damascus. Latakia harbor will be deepened, widened and provided with new “coastal installations” to accommodate the large warships and submarines destined to use these facilities.
Quiet a coup for Iran. It has acquired its first military foothold on a Mediterranean shore and its first permanent military presence on Syrian soil. Tehran will be setting in place the logistical infrastructure for accommodating incoming Iranian troops to fight in a potential Middle East war.
Syrian Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Ali Mohammad Habib said:” At a ceremony in honor of the Iranian Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, Habib said: ”Iranian warships’ presence in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time after 32 years is a great move that is going to cripple Israel.”
So for the first time in 32 years two Iranian warships were allowed to pass through the Suez Canal (the Egyptians have stopped them before), and they are now building a permanent naval base in the Mediterranean.
And the as always very helpful Russians have said that they are willing to contribute towards the Iranian port’s defenses and looking forward to cooperation between the Russian, Iranian and Syrian fleets in the eastern Mediterranean opposite the US Sixth Fleet’s regular beat.
I think I stop here.
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