Posts Tagged ‘Ahmet Davutoglu’

How the Assad regime with the help of Russia, Iran, China and Hezbollah transformed peaceful protester to fighters

16 augusti, 2012

Our mistake was to ever believe there could be peaceful change in this country,” he said. ”We wasted time and sacrificed many lives trying to be peaceful. We should have just gone straight to an armed uprising.”

By taking such extreme steps against the moderate opposition the regime is pushing all of its opponents to join the armed rebellion; the regime is making it clear there is no place for the peaceful activists,” said a Syrian political analyst.”

”The cases of Mazen Darwish, Kifah Ali Deeb and Rami Hinawi show very plainly the regime is not fighting militant Islamists but is actually at war with any advocates of real reform in this country, even those who insist on peaceful methods.”

There are no more peaceful demonstrations, there’s no point, we’re not able to move a single metre before the security forces and army start shooting at us,” he says.”

“Liberal, secular, often well educated members of the opposition say their influence over the uprising has been undermined, both through widespread use of indiscriminate violence by the authorities and mass arrests of peaceful dissidents, taking them out of circulation and leaving the field open to more radical groups.”

Here in a nutshell is the description how a brutal dictator transformed peaceful protesters, who only wanted some freedom, to fighters.

In ALL of this, the Assad regime was helped by Russia, Iran, China and Hezbollah. With training, advisors and guidance, troops, snipers, material, spare parts, maintenance, weapons, ammunition, intelligence, money, political backing on ALL levels etc.

In ALL of this, the Assad regime was ALSO helped by USA, EU, UN, Turkey, and The Arab League who did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING during 12 months but talked and had meetings. And then they only sent “observers” who dutifully observed the slaughter and massacres taking place, day in day out .

And ALL the TIME the death toll of civilians keep rising, First it was a 1000, then 5000, then 10 000, then 15 000, then 20 000, and now 23 000.

Massacre after Massacre.

Torture, Slaughter, Summarily Executions and Rape.

A systematic assault on human dignity and civilian lives and freedom on a colossal scale.

Day in Day out.

And the TOTAL destruction of block after block, neighbourhood after neighbourhood in countless cities and villages. Using, aside from bombs and howitzers, tanks, rockets etc., the Russian 240mm F-864 high explosive mortar bomb to “fight” against these unarmed civilians.

The world’s largest high explosive mortar bomb designed to “demolish fortifications and fieldworks” according to a Russian arms merchandizing catalogue. It weighs 130 kilograms and contains 31.93 kilograms of TNT as an explosive charge.

This weapon system is notable for its capability to conduct a “plunging attack,” in which the munition is fired at a high angle and comes down nearly perpendicular to penetrate a building or fortification.

This is the same weapon that Russia used to destroy Grozny in 1994-96. And now they have passed on these “skills” to the Syrians.

By the way, the use of such weapons in dense urban environments is a war crime.

Here is just one small example from Friday August 10 of Cities and Towns under shelling and destruction by the Assad regime. And the list is not complete:

Harasta, Arbeen, Moadamiah, Harran Al-Awameed, Deir Al-Asafeer, Ain Terma, Zabadani, Madaya, Eltal, Dmeir, Hameh, Yelda, Rankous, Qarrah (Damascus Suburbs), Sit Zeinab, Al-Qadam, Midan, Tadamon, Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, Yarmouk, Kafar Sousseh, Mazzeh, Qaboun, Barzeh, Salhiyeh, Ruknaddine, Dafelshawk (Damascus City), Daraa City, Khirbet Al-Ghazaleh, Tafas, Bostra Al-Sham, Na’eemah, Mseifrah, Jimreen, Hraak , Saida, Tal Shihab (Daraa), Rastan, Talbisseh, Houla, Tal Kalakh, Al-Qusayr, Al-Hosn, Al-Ghanto, Al-Bouaydah, Old Homs (Homs Province), Hreitan, Elbab, Eizaz, Marei, Bayanoun (Aleppo Province), Haffeh, Jabal Al-Akrad (Lattakia), Deir Ezzor City, Mouhassan, Albou Kamal (Deir Ezzor Province), Kafar Zeiteh, Hawash, Shahshabo, Hama City (Hama Province), Jabal Al-Zawiyeh, Ma’rrat Al-Nouman, Saraqib, Maar Shoureen, Ariha, Kafroumah, Al-Rami, Khan Shaikhoon (Idlib).

An other example from yesterday August 15 when the “brave and courageous” pilots of Assads Air Force bombed a residential area in Azaz and obliterated a whole block:

The report here including video:

Syria: Fighter Jet Bombing Kills Over 40 Civilians

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/08/16/syria-fighter-jet-bombing-kills-over-40-civilians

“(Azaz) – A Syrian government fighter jet bombed a residential neighborhood, killing more than 40 civilians and wounding at least 100 others in the town of Azaz, including many women and children, Human Rights Watch said today after visiting the town.  In the attack on August 15, 2012, at least two bombs destroyed an entire block of houses in the al-Hara al-Kablie neighborhood of Azaz, in Syria’s northern Aleppo province.

Human Rights Watch investigated the site of the bombing two hours after the attack and interviewed witnesses, victims, medical personnel, and relatives of those killed.

This horrific attack killed and wounded scores of civilians and destroyed a whole residential block,” said Anna Neistat, acting emergencies director at Human Rights Watch.  “Yet again, Syrian government forces attacked with callous disregard for civilian life.”

What is left of the al-Hara al-Kablie neighborhood of Azaz after the bombing – NOTHING!

An another brave effort by Assads Air Force – They bombed the hospital in Aleppo

Syria: Fighter Planes Strike Aleppo Hospital

http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/08/15/syria-fighter-planes-strike-aleppo-hospital

(Aleppo) – Syrian government fighter planes fired rockets that struck the main emergency hospital in an opposition-controlled area of Aleppo on August 14, 2012, wounding two civilians and causing significant damage, Human Rights Watch said today after visiting the damaged hospital.

A rocket attack by government aircraft on the hospital two days earlier, on August 12, apparently killed four civilians and wounded three, Human Rights Watch said.

Fighter jet attacks on a hospital twice in three days indicate that this was no accident,” said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. “By firing rockets at a clearly marked hospital, the government shows blatant disregard for civilian lives.”

Dar al Shifaa Hospital in Aleppo after the attack

And by the way, these airplanes are provide by Russia, the pilots trained by Russia, the ammunition supplied by Russia, spare parts and maintenance done by Russia, air control and directions done by Russia, intelligence supplied by Russia etc.

Russian ammunition boxes used by the Assad army in Aleppo

They are SOOO HELPFUL these Russians wouldn’t you say?

And ALL of these politicians, governments, international organisations did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING during these 18 months but observed and talked and had meetings.

I say only one thing: You should be REALLY BE PROUD of yourselves and the children of Syria will remember you. Each one of you.

To the children of Syria!

See my previous post Russia’s solution for Syria – More Carpet Bombing and Total Destruction for links to my previous 18 posts on the situation in Syria.

The National hospital in Homs destroyed by Assad forces

Syria‘s youth found peaceful protest ‘became irrelevant’

http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/syrias-youth-found-peaceful-protest-became-irrelevant

Phil Sands

”DAMASCUS // No great soul-searching accompanied his transformation from peaceful demonstrator to rebel with the Free Syrian Army; it is a path many of his friends had already taken.

Arrested for protesting in the Damascus suburb of Dummar, Mohammed, 23, spent two months in an overcrowded military intelligence detention cell, and was released without charge to find demonstrations had been superseded by armed conflict.

”I wasn’t thinking about taking up a weapon and fighting the regime when I left prison,” he says.

”I went straight out to protest and saw the other opposition people in Dummar were now carrying rifles and I realised I had to do the same.”

Since the start of the Syrian uprising, Mohammed had been part of the Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists organising peaceful demonstrations and tracking civilian deaths.

While the LCCs are still operating and peaceful demonstrations do still take place, Mohammed and other rebels in Damascus say circumstances have rendered the unarmed protests irrelevant.

There are no more peaceful demonstrations, there’s no point, we’re not able to move a single metre before the security forces and army start shooting at us,” he says.

(The hospital in Qusier, Homs. destroyed by Assad forces. The sign reads – Smoking is Forbidden in The Patients Room)

Not all of those involved in the grassroots opposition movement agree, but a broad range of activists concede that those advocating peaceful revolt have been squeezed out by the demands of war.

Liberal, secular, often well educated members of the opposition say their influence over the uprising has been undermined, both through widespread use of indiscriminate violence by the authorities and mass arrests of peaceful dissidents, taking them out of circulation and leaving the field open to more radical groups.

On Sunday two prominent grassroots activists, Kifah Ali Deeb and Rami Hinawi, were detained by a Popular Committee – a pro-government armed militia – in their home neighbourhood of Sahnaya, south of Damascus.

Ms Deeb, an artist and author of children’s books, sits on the governing board of the opposition National Coordination Committees, a political bloc that has called for non-violent democratic change in Syria.

The NCC has been at odds with other opposition factions, including the exiled Syrian National Council, which has called for foreign military intervention to aid rebels.

Ms Deeb, 30, is a member of the Alawite sect, which forms the nucleus of Bashar Al Assad’s regime and dominates ultra-loyalist branches of the security forces and military.

Mr Hinawi, 33, who has long campaigned peacefully for democratic reforms alongside Ms Deeb, is a Druze.

Both are believed to be in the hands of air force intelligence, the most feared branch of the Syrian security forces, although, as with other detentions, no information has been released by the authorities in connection with the detentions.

Sectarian politics are complex in Syria but one of the key arguments made by supporters of Mr Al Assad is that his regime is all that protects Christian, Druze, Alawite and other minority groups from annihilation at the hands of the Sunni majority.

That has brought even sharper focus on members of those minorities who stand with the opposition, rather than the authorities.

                           (Ramadan in Aleppo)

Another influential advocate of a peaceful uprising in Syria, Mazen Darwish, also an Alawite, has been held by air force security for six months.

Although a civilian, he is facing prosecution in a military court usually reserved for army officers. There is no chance of appeal and no defence lawyer, proceedings are secret and the military judge can choose to issue a death sentence.

The human rights lawyer Anwar Al Bunni, a regular fixture at the Damascus courts of justice, said Mr Darwish and thousands of others facing special military courts had been thrown into a black hole, outside of Syria’s regular – and highly flawed – legal system.

”They have had all of their basic rights taken from them, we know nothing about their situation, all the files are kept secret. We are not even allowed to know the names of all of those facing military trials,” he said.

It emerged that Mr Darwish is facing a military court only when a judge summoned him to appear as a witness in another case, and air force security said they would not permit him to do so because he was being held for military trial.

Syrian officials do not talk about court cases but the authorities have long insisted they act in accordance with national laws and have dismissed evidence of widespread torture of detainees that has been compiled by the United Nations and rights monitors.

The use of draconian measures against advocates of non-violence has only accelerated the slide into an increasingly brutal conflict, one that rights monitors say has already killed upwards of 20,000 people, a majority of them civilians.

By taking such extreme steps against the moderate opposition the regime is pushing all of its opponents to join the armed rebellion; the regime is making it clear there is no place for the peaceful activists,” said a Syrian political analyst.

”The cases of Mazen Darwish, Kifah Ali Deeb and Rami Hinawi show very plainly the regime is not fighting militant Islamists but is actually at war with any advocates of real reform in this country, even those who insist on peaceful methods.”

In Dummar, Mohammed admits he has little idea of how to wage war as a guerrilla, never having been in the army or taught how to fire a weapon.

A shortage of arms and ammunition among rebels in Damascus means he is used as a runner to convey messages between fighters when they are in action.

Nevertheless, he believes that is a more productive way of trying to overthrow the Syrian regime than stinging street protests.

Our mistake was to ever believe there could be peaceful change in this country,” he said. ”We wasted time and sacrificed many lives trying to be peaceful. We should have just gone straight to an armed uprising.”

Hezbollah Mercenaries fighting for Assad in front of the Citadel in Aleppo

LEAKED VIDEO – Inside a helicopter gunship over Syria used to bomb and kill civilians in cities

(These videos where taken by Assad troops themselves to show how “good” they are at killing civilians, as trophies, to prove their loyalty etc. etc.)

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Annonser

Russia’s solution for Syria – More Carpet Bombing and Total Destruction

29 juli, 2012

Just a quick comment of the accelerated slaughter going on in Syria. And Russia’s continued role as the main weapons, ammunition, economic, personal, training, intelligence, diplomatic etc provider and support for Assad.

Here is what captain Konstantin Sivkov, a former strategist for the Russian General Staff between 1995 and 2007, now the first vice-president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, Doctor of Military Sciences, concluded after a “visit” in May and talks with the Assad’s gang:

http://world.time.com/2012/07/26/russia-and-syrias-assad-the-end-of-the-affair/

Sivkov was surprised, he says, with how “gentle” Assad has been in crushing the revolution. “Believe me, some of our guys have told Bashar to adopt much harsher methods, carpet bombing, total destruction,” Sivkov told TIME after returning to Moscow. “If that approach was chosen in Syria, there would be no rebels left after one week, and everyone would be happy.”

Yeah, that’s the Russian way – Total destruction and Carpet bombings of civilians. After all, they have a long experience in Afghanistan, Chechnya etc. And they taught their Syrian pupils well.

Here are just some pictures of the according to Russia “to gentle” Assad treatment of civilians in cities.

In this case from Homs, a major industrial center, and with a population of at least 652,609 people according to the 2004 census:

This is the guy who also told Izvestiya on March 22 this year regarding project 949A, were Antei nuclear-powered submarines will be completed and modernized and armed with new cruise missiles with range up to 1,500 km.

http://rusnavy.com/news/navy/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=14659

“In particular, the newspaper cites Capt 1 rank (retired) Konstantin Sivkov, vice president of Geopolitics Academy saying that Antei-class subs would be equipped with Caliber missiles in order to destroy missile defense assets deployed in Europe.”

That is in plain language EU. Who have done everything possible not to “irritate” Russia and have bent over backwards every time Russia raises its eyebrow.

And this is what he said on March 25 2010 “World War III Has Already Begun”

World War III Has Already Begun

http://english.pravda.ru/world/americas/25-03-2010/112718-world_war_three-0/

http://moodle.fhs.cuni.cz/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=4137

“A resource-poor countries and people, but rich in modern technology and weapons will also want their share. From this perspective, Russia has become the primary objective of aggression.”

“The only limiting factor at this moment is Russia’s nuclear arsenal. According to the experts they predicted that the West will attempt to remove the Russian nuclear shield. “

Yeah, these as always helpful and peaceful Russians.

This is the country, and the persons, that the Obama administration had a “reset” with and has given de facto veto power of the US foreign policy.

Here are my previous posts on Syria:

My first series:

Part 1 – Introduction

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 1

Part 2 – Reports

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 2

Part 3 – Russia

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 3

Part 4 – Iran

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 4

Part 5 – China

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 5

Part 6 – Turkey

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 6

Part 7 – Arab League

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 7

Part 8 – EU and NATO

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 8

Part 9 – UN and Kofi Annan

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 9

Part 10 – US and the Obama administartion

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 10

Part 11 – Paul Conroy and the targeting and killing of journalists

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 11

My second series:

It is now nearly one month since I finished my 11 parts series of background on what is going on in Syria (Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs  Part 1-11). So I thought it would be appropriate to give an update of what has happened or not happened since then. And here are some more updates.

The Houla Massacre and the Assad thugs

The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 1

Russia, Iran and China

The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 2

Turkey and EU

The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 3

NATO and UN

The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 4

USA and the Obama Administration

The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 5

What Does the Syrian Opposition Believe, The Shabiha and the armed opposition

The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 6

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The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 6

16 juni, 2012

Some observations:

We have come to the end of this follow up after my first series about what is going on in Syria. I could easily write 250 pages of observations but I am going to spare you that. Instead, I am just going to write about three things: the perception of the opposition in Syria, the Shabiha and the armed opposition.

First the perception of the opposition in Syria.

It has always amassed me that the “do nothing crowd”, (i.e. The Obama administration, NATO, EU, Turkey, Arab league etc), are actually the same ones that are ACTIVELY promoting and supporting the muslim fundamentalist i.e. SNC/The Muslim Brotherhood.

One of the excuses from the west (Obama administration, NATO, EU) has always been that they don’t want to give support to extreme/fundamentalist muslims. Which is quite “funny” if it weren’t so hypocritical because that is what you EXACTLY did in Libya. You armed, trained and fought with al-Qaida and other fundamentalist groups.

So the brutal fact, which so many don’t want to admit, is that most of the opposition are normal people how just want do defend themselves from the attacks of the Assad regime. And they also want a change for the better regarding basic freedoms and liberties.

I would say that these are very reasonable demands wouldn’t you say?

So instead of supporting this secular, civil opposition the Obama administration, NATO and EU is ACTIVELY supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, which literally hates these countries and what their societies stands for.

And if the Muslim Brotherhood came to power, with the help of the money and support of the west, their policy would be ANTI USA, ANTI EU, ANTI NATO and of course destroy Israel.

Seems like a VERY smart policy wouldn’t you say?

And our tax money goes to this madness!

And in the meantime the civilian population in Syria, including the secular, civil opposition, is getting slaughtered and massacred.

The big difference as I wrote in my original series is that after over 45 years of brutal dictatorship the FEAR IS GONE. If you don’t understand that you don’t understand very much of what is going on now.

Here is one of the very, very few opinion polls of what the opposition really thinks:

What Does the Syrian Opposition Believe?

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/what-does-the-syrian-opposition-believe

“There are increasing calls for international intervention inSyriaafter this weekend’s massacre in Houla, where Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces murdered more than 100 civilians. Obstacles to intervention remain, however, especially concern that the opposition to Assad’s regime is dominated by religious fundamentalists. Until recently, for example, the Syrian National Council, a group of exiled opponents of the regime, was led by Burhan Ghalioun, whose unwillingness to counter the Muslim Brotherhood was widely viewed in the West as a troubling sign of Islamist influence.

But a confidential survey of opposition activists living inSyriareveals that Islamists are only a minority among them. Domestic opponents of Assad, the survey indicates, look toTurkeyas a model for Syrian governance — and even widely admire theUnited States.

Pechter Polls, which conducts opinion surveys in tough spots in theMiddle East,AfricaandAsia, completed the Syria opposition poll in December 2011. Respondents were contacted over a secure Skype connection by someone they could trust — all native Syrians — who asked them to fill out a short questionnaire anonymously in Arabic. Interviewers were selected from different social and political groups to ensure that respondents reflected a rough cross-section of overall opposition attitudes. To ensure confidentiality, the online survey could be accessed only through a series of proxy servers, bypassing the regime-controlled Internet.

Given the survey’s unusual security requirements, respondents were selected by a referral (or ”controlled snowball”) technique, rather than in a purely random fashion. To be as representative as possible, the survey employed five different starting points for independent referral chains, all operating from different locations. The resulting sample consisted of 186 individuals inSyriaidentified as either opposition activists themselves (two-thirds of the total) or in contact with the opposition.

What do these ”inside” opposition supporters believe? Only about one-third expressed a favorable opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood. Almost half voiced a negative view, and the remainder were neutral. On this question, no significant differences emerged across regions.

Most of the survey’s questions asked, ”On a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 means the most negative and 7 the most positive, how would you rate your opinion of X?” Answers of 1 to 3 were considered negative, 4 as neutral, and 5 to 7 as positive.

While many respondents supported religious values in public life, only a small fraction strongly favored Shariah law, clerical influence in government, or heavy emphasis on Islamic education. A large majority (73%) said it was ”important for the new Syrian government to protect the rights of Christians.” Only 20% said that religious leaders have a great influence on their political views.

This broad rejection of Islamic fundamentalism was also reflected in the respondents’ views on government. The poll asked each respondent what country he or she would ”like to see Syria emulate politically,” and which countries the respondent ”would like to see Syria emulate economically.” The poll listed 12 countries, each with a scale of 1 to 7. Just 5% had even a mildly positive view of Saudi Arabia as a political model. In contrast, 82% gave Turkey a favorable rating as both a political and economic model (including over 40% extremely favorable). The U.S. earned 69% favorable ratings as a political model, with France, Germany and Britain close behind. Tunisia rated only 37% and Egypt 22%.

Iran was rated lowest of any country included in the survey, including Russia and China: Not even 2% of respondents had positive views of Iran as a political model. Fully 90% expressed an unfavorable view of Hezbollah, including 78% with the most negative possible attitude.

One of the surprises in the results is the scope of the opposition’s network inside Damascus, despite their difficulties in demonstrating publicly. One-third of the respondents, whether activists or sympathizers, said they live in the Syrian capital. (To protect their privacy, the survey did not ask for more precise identification.)

This ”inside” opposition is well-educated, with just over half identifying as college graduates. The ratio of male to female respondents was approximately 3 to 1, and 86% were Sunni Arab.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were ambivalent about Syrian Kurdish demands for ”political decentralization” (like autonomy). Views of ”Kurdish parties” were evenly divided among negative, neutral and positive. (Such feelings are evidently mutual: In the six months since the survey was completed, Syrian Kurdish organizations have increasingly decided to go their own way, separate from the other opposition groups.)

Based on a statistical analysis of the survey, most secularists among the respondents prefer weak central government, presumably as a way to safeguard their personal freedoms. On the other hand, the one-third of respondents who support the Muslim Brotherhood also tend to have a favorable view of Hamas, despite the latter movement’s previous association with the Assad regime.

The survey demonstrates that the core of the Syrian opposition inside the country is not made up of the Muslim Brotherhood or other fundamentalist forces, and certainly not of al Qaeda or other jihadi organizations. To be sure, a revolution started by secularists could pave the way for Islamists to win elections, as has occurred in Egypt. But the Syrian opposition is solidly favorable to the U.S. and overwhelmingly negative toward both Hezbollah and Iran.”

David Pollock is the Kaufman fellow at The Washington Institute and a consultant to Pechter Polls.

The Shabiha, the murderous thugs that do most of the massacres

Assad’s Pact With the Devil

Syrian Regime Using Hired Killers to Cling to Power

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/analysis-of-the-aftermath-of-houla-massacre-in-syria-a-836848.html

“The regime of Syrian ruler Bashar Assad has enlisted gangs of murderous thugs known as ‘Shabiha.’ No assignment is too brutal or bloody for these men who are free to kill, plunder and rape. Assad knows that outright victory over the opposition is his only remaining chance to stay in power.”

“Europe, the United States and perhaps even Kofi Annan are slowly realizing that there will be no compromise with Syrian President Bashar Assad, because there can be no compromise with Assad. Now that more than 10,000 people have died and tens of thousands have been tortured, the phase in which protesters were still staging peaceful demonstrations, and in which negotiations, transitional governments and compromises were possible is irrevocably over.

When the regime was still able to negotiate its own exit, it didn’t want to. Now it no longer has that option, because any sign of weakness would lead to its overthrow.

This realization hasn’t been triggered by the fact that the regime is massacring civilians to save itself. Similar bloodbaths have already taken place in the past. In April of last year, more than 60 people disappeared without a trace in Homs, after government troops had mowed down a group of peaceful protesters. In January, several families in a southeastern Homs neighborhood were massacred in a way that resembled the Houla killings. And when the Bab Amr neighborhood was captured by regime troops several weeks later, after having been almost destroyed by artillery fire, witnesses said that there were mass executions of those who hadn’t fled.

What was different this time was that on Saturday morning, only hours after the killing frenzy, a team of UN observers managed to reach Houla, where they saw and counted the bodies, heard what the survivors had to say and saw the tracks the tanks had made. ”The evidence is clear — it is not murky,” said German UN Ambassador Peter Wittig. ”There is a clear government footprint in those killings.” Whereas earlier massacres were only documented in reports by the Syrian opposition and video recordings that could not be corroborated, this was a different situation.

By failing, the UN mission appears finally to be having an impact. The roughly 300 unarmed observers cannot possibly monitor a nonexistent cease-fire, during which more than 2,000 people had been killed by the end of last week. The UN observers cannot prevent what is happening, but they can prevent it from being covered up. This isn’t much, and for angry Syrians who burned images of Annan, it’s far too little. ”We called the observers during the massacre,” a man from Houla who calls himself Abu Emad was quoted as saying, ”but they refused to come and stop the murders. Damn then, and damn the entire mission!”

“The men, some in civilian clothing and others dressed in army uniforms, went from house to house, reported survivors like 11-year-old Ali, who told CBS News: ”They came to our house at night. First they took out my father and then my oldest brother. My mother shouted: Why are you doing this? Then they shot both of them, and after that my mother. Then one of the men came in with a flashlight and saw my sister Rasha. He shot her in the head.Ali hid with his two little brothers. The man saw them and shot the brothers, but he missed Ali.

Other survivors who hid or played dead consistently gave the same accounts: The men combed through house after house and room after room, killing everyone, some with knives and some with guns. The massacre continued until the morning hours. When the UN observers arrived, they found nothing but corpses in the villages controlled by regime forces. The survivors had fled to neighborhoods held by the FSA, where they placed the bodies they had recovered on mats in the mosques before filming and burying them.

The regime in Damascus could not deny that the massacre had taken place. But Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi, parroting the government’s standard position, promptly blamed the killings on ”armed terrorists” and ”Islamists.” The Russian government, which had blocked every Security Council resolution condemning Syria, launched into a bizarre attempt to apportion the blame. The regime was apparently responsible for the assault by tanks and mortars, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. But the brutish murders, said Alexey Puchkov, chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, ”were definitely committed by the other side.”

Igor Pankin, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, agreed: ”We cannot imagine that it is in the Syrian regime’s interest to sabotage Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s visit to Damascus.” And he is right in one respect. In PR terms, a massacre of children cannot be helpful to the Assad regime. But he was wrong in another sense, inadvertently putting his finger on Russia’s growing frustration with its ally: Syria‘s leadership is no longer taking decisions that would make sense for a government hoping to reach a political solution to the crisis.

By gradually concentrating power in the hands of the Alawite minority, to which the Assad clan belongs, the regime is fomenting a religious war against the Sunni majority, the very conflict it claims it wants to prevent. Now Assad has backed himself into a corner from which he believes there is only way out: victory. This is why the latest proposal from Berlin and Washington to attempt the ”Yemeni solution,” which would be to depose Assad but keep the regime in power, will not work. The regime is relying solely on violence, accompanied by an outrageous propaganda narrative that blames foreign terrorists and al-Qaida for the uprising.

This conspiratorial obsession is nothing new. Starting in 2003, the intelligence services began secretly organizing the transfer of jihadists from Saudi Arabia, Libya and Kuwait across the Syrian border into Iraq, to deter the Americans from seeking regime change in Damascus as well. At the same time, the regime painted itself as a bulwark in the fight against al-Qaida. Foreigners who were later arrested reported how they had been kept in Syrian intelligence camps in Homs while waiting to be transferred into Iraq.

The attacks on several Scandinavian embassies in Damascus after the Danish cartoon controversy in early 2006 were blamed on an Islamist mob, but as it turned out, the regime had planted Islamists in the crowd. As a precaution, it also removed the guards from in front of a general’s house next to the Norwegian Embassy. Although there was no evidence that the regime was behind the major bombing attacks in Damascus, Aleppo and Deir al-Zor in recent months, they had several strange elements in common: The bombers had immense quantities of explosives, which they easily managed to get through all government checkpoints, and they detonated most of their bombs in front of empty buildings. When the regime published its death tolls after the first attack on Dec. 23, they included the names of men who had already died elsewhere. During the ostentatious burial service at the Umayyad Mosque, signs attached to many of the coffins read ”anonymous martyr.” On May 9, just before a bomb exploded near the convoy of UN observer mission chief Robert Mood, the vehicles were detained at a military checkpoint just long enough so that they would be nearby at the time of detonation.

“Murderous ‘Ghosts’

What happened in Houla followed the pattern of earlier attacks like the one in Homs. First, the target is bombarded with tanks and artillery from a great distance. Then the regular troops move in and drive out or shoot the last remaining rebels. Finally, the regime sends in its helpers, the Shabiha (”ghosts”), over which it has less and less control.

What were once gangs of thugs and smugglers from the hills around Latakia, the home turf of the Assad clan, have turned into an army of irregular troops numbering in the thousands. The gangs are backed by the beneficiaries of the regime, those who profit the most from Syria‘s façade of a market economy, and who now have the most to lose. It’s a Faustian bargain. As long as they are loyal to Assad, they are permitted to murder, loot and rape, as was the case in Houla, where the Shabiha came from neighboring villages to the south.

The Shabiha were also active in the capital Damascusin August 2011. Every evening during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, dozens of them stood in front of mosques in Sunni neighborhoods, prepared to bludgeon and drag off anyone who said anything derogatory about the regime after emerging from prayers. At about 8 p.m., swarms of Shabiha thugs emerged from the intelligence service quarters, were loaded into requisitioned buses and driven to their deployment locations, where they lay in wait until the faithful dispersed after leaving the mosques.

The Shabiha are criminals and day laborers, mostly Alawites, but also Kurds with the PKK terrorist group, members of Sunni clans from Aleppo loyal to the regime, and some Christians. The Shabiha are the shadow force of a regime that no longer trusts its own army, but instead has created a monster that is taking on a life of its own, undermining the Syrian government long before it suffers a military defeat.

Months ago, the author and dissident Yassin al-Haj Saleh, who is in hiding in Damascus, wrote: ”The current heads of the security services may very well reform themselves into a mafia-type organization after the collapse of the regime and continue to practice the violence, theft and discrimination at which they are so adept.”Syria could eventually be controlled by marauding gangs, driven by greed and the fear of reprisal, which becomes more justified with each new wave of killings.”

The Shabiha: Inside Assad’s death squads

The Shabiha started off as racketeers and smugglers. But now, as ultra-loyal enforcers ofSyria’s brutal regime, they have taken on a far more bloodthirsty role, write Harriet Alexander and Ruth Sherlock.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9307411/The-Shabiha-Inside-Assads-death-squads.html

“The door to Dr Mousab Azzawi’s clinic, on the Mediterranean coast ofSyria, was always open to anyone who needed help. But, operating in the heartland of the feared Shabiha militia, there were some patients the doctor would have preferred not to treat.

They were like monsters,” said Dr Azzawi, who worked in Latakia. ”They had huge muscles, big bellies, big beards. They were all very tall and frightening, and took steroids to pump up their bodies.

I had to talk to them like children, because the Shabiha likes people with low intelligence. But that is what makes them so terrifying – the combination of brute strength and blind allegiance to the regime.”

As President Bashar al-Assad’s country continues its savage slide towards full-blown civil war, the violent, dark and secretive world of the Shabiha is coming out into the open.

Nine days ago, 108 people were butchered by the Shabiha in the town of Houla. The pro-Assad thugs went through the village, house to house, and slit the throats of anyone they came across – including 49 children. Exactly a week later, the Shabiha pulled 12 factory workers off a bus in the town of Qusayr, 40 miles to the south; tied their hands behind their backs, and shot them in the head. “

“The world is learning just how bloodthirsty the Shabiha can be. But insideSyria, their capacity for hideous brutality has long been known.

”Even before the revolution, any time there was unrest they would go out into the streets and stop it for the government,” said Selma, who comes from a prominent Alawite family – a Shia Muslim sect, into which the Assad family was born, and to which almost all of the Shabiha belong. Her cousins are Shabiha.

They would just break people’s arms and legs. They would fight for Bashar to the death. It is natural – they have to defend their sect.”

Her cousins wore civilian clothes, she explained – ”then the television can say that these are just civilians who love Bashar.”

President Assad, and his father Hafez before him, used the Shabiha to terrorise Syrians into obedience, brainwashing the militia into believing the Sunni majority was their enemy. “

“After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Syria’s French rulers needed soldiers willing to defend the regime from a Sunni uprising, so they incorporated large numbers of Alawites into the army, who were only too happy to fight their Sunni ”oppressors”.

They became the most politically powerful sect in Syria, and the vast majority of the country’s top intelligence and military officers adhere to the faith. It was from the army that Hafez al-Assad emerged to stage his coup.

Initially the Shabiha were a mafia clan, making money through racketeering. Selma, the Alawite with Shabiha family, said her cousins were ”filthy rich” through smuggling in diesel, milk and electronics. ”Anything toLebanon that is cheaper inSyria, and whatever is needed inSyria fromLebanon,” she said.

The ruling Assad family turned a blind eye to their criminal behaviour and violent methods. In return, the Shabiha became the Assads’ fiercely loyal defenders and enforcers.

”They are fuelled by this belief that they are fighting for their survival,” said Dr Azzawi. ”Assad tells them that they must defend the government or else they will be destroyed; it’s kill, or be killed.”

“An enormous man, identified on the video as Areen al-Assad – a member of the president’s family clan – posed with his gun, grinned from the steering wheel of his car, and flexed his muscles. His huge bicep bulged with a tattoo of the president’s face.

At the end of the video, the posturing Shabiha militants proclaim: ”Bashar, do not be sad: you have men who drink blood.”

”It is their motto,” explained Dr Azzawi, who said that many of the men were recruited from bodybuilding clubs and encouraged to take steroids. ”They are treated like animals, and manipulated by their bosses to carry out these murders. They are unstoppable.”

“The militia operated with blind devotion to the leaders, referred to as ”muallim”, meaning boss, or ”khaal”, uncle. And indeed, it was in many ways a family business.

Mr Assad’s cousin Numir has taken over as one of the key rulers of the Shabiha – even though the government is careful to avoid direct association with the militia and their murderous acts.

How the men are paid is unclear, although many claim the Shabiha is funded by businessmen tied into the Alawite clique that dominates the government.

What is known is that the Shabiha have a strong economic motives for backing the regime. Foot soldiers can earn up to £120 for a day’s thuggery – a fortune in Syria.”

“”If they know the whole area is against the regime they have no problem killing everybody,” she said. ”That is how it works.”

The armed opposition

It has been fascinating to watch the development during the last 15 months of the opposition’s developing from the first few demonstrations. How the demonstrations started spreading and got bigger and bigger.

To the first sporadic attempts from civilians to defend themselves and their families, villages, neighbourhoods etc. against the attacks by the Assad regime. Via the first appearance of the defectors from the Assad army. Until today where you have a lot of groups going from hit-and-run attacks to learning how to coordinate and organize more sophisticated attacks against stronger targets.

They are learning, and they are learning fast because they have to.

In addition, they have increased the pressure on the regime many times over, increasing attrition and increasing defections etc

Still the armed opposition desperately lacks weapons and ammunition, especially to defend against Assad’s tanks and helicopter gunships.

The rebels are also gaining confidence. “Every day we control more territory, every day we have more defections, and we are having better organization in our ranks,” said Maj. Sami al-Kurdi, a spokesman for the Homs Military Council, one of the new military structures that are being established around the country. “The regime now controls only the territory under its tanks, and the evidence is that they don’t dare step out of their tanks.”

And as I said, they are growing in effectiveness and strength.

After driving rebels from strongholds in the Baba Amr district of Homs and several Idlib towns in March, the government has since been unable to press home the advantage. Repeated efforts to dislodge the FSA from the provincial Homs towns of Rastan and Qusair have failed, and a major offensive launched last week against a rebel stronghold in the town of Haffa, northeast of Latakia, faltered despite intense shelling and the deployment of combat helicopters.

The Assad regime can go in and suppress an area with heavy weapons, but as soon as they leave it, it losses the control.

The result is that many parts of northern and central Syria have effectively fallen under the sway of the opposition,

Which also makes it really hard for the regime to move around, and for them to get out of their checkpoints that they are barricaded in. The Assad forces are in many cases pinned down.

Remember that I two months ago talked about how the Syrian army de facto had defected “in place”? Well, now the defections have started to increase and continues at a steady rate. And regular troops are weary after nearly 15 months of continuous deployment since no new conscripts have been called in.

One example – Of 400 soldiers originally stationed in the provincial capital of Idlib, just around 60 remained last week defending their base near the centre of the city, which has seen significant fighting. In the small city of Maraa, near Aleppo, 15 soldiers defected within the space of a weekas many as in the entire previous year.

The rebels also are starting to inflict heavy casualties on government troop’s security forces. It is likely to hit a record level in June for the second month in a row. As of Monday, June 11, the state news agency has announced the funerals of 259 soldiers and police officers who were killed in combat with rebels this month, a record 57 of them Saturday June 10 alone. Well ahead of May’s pace, when 404 such burials took place

Just during the period of June 10 to June 13, here are some of the main events:

– FSA Attacked the Taftanaz military airport.

– In Deir Ezzor several BMP:s and tanks where destroyed there alone. In Baba Amr, where the massacre occurred, well the FSA is back and on June 12 they destroyed two BMP:s.

– And on the same day three tanks where destroyed in Haritan,Aleppo

– The FSA captured the Deir Ezzor checkpoint operated by Army and shabiha. They captured lots of weaponry and ammunition after the attack

– FSA attacked a big regime convoy outside Latakia in operation ‘Cutting the snake’.

– Capture by FSA of shabiha and army in one of their strongpoints in Al Qusayr on June 10.

– Syrian rebels on June 11 briefly seized control of the strategic army base al-Ghanto (surface-to-air missiles are stationed there), close to the central town of Rastan before the army rained down artillery and forced them out of the station. They seized a lot of weapons and ammunition.

– On June 3, rebels attacked a Syrian Air Force As Suwayda air base east of the southern town of Deraa opposite the Israeli Golan border – their first such attack in the 14-month uprising,  Several rebel groups firing mortars set fire to fighter aircraft and assault helicopters in their hangars and ripped up runways.

Does this sounds like some “ragtag” wild bands on the lose?

Inside Syria: You will never guess who arms the rebels

In any revolution, getting weapons is a key challenge. Syria’s rebels have found an interesting solution.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/120606/syrian-rebels-weapons-arms-revolution

“JABAL AL-ZAWIYA, Syria— At the Free Syrian Army base here, a group of men led a nervous prisoner from his cell to a car waiting outside. A few hours later, the rebels returned alone, with a trunkload of weapons.

As they loaded the store room with new bullets and rocket-propelled grenades, Hamza Fatahallah, an army defector who joined the Free Syrian Army nine months ago, described the transaction that had taken place.

We have caught many army prisoners,” he said. “We send them back home for a small amount of money on the condition they do not return to the regime. We use the money to buy weapons.”

For the release of this prisoner, Ahmed Haseeba, the group received $500. With this money, Fatahallah said they were able to buy ammunition from their main supplier: Syria’s national army, also known as the enemy.

This strange cycle of exchanging prisoners for weapons has been playing out between rebel forces and President Bashar al-Assad’s army since the beginning of the revolution.

Fatahallah estimated that his village purchased 40 percent of their weapons from the regime. Prisoner exchanges have so far contributed almost $80,000 toward weapons purchases, he said. And they obtain an additional 50 percent of their weapons during battle. The remaining 10 percent are donated and smuggled from outside the country, or are purchased from private merchants, mostly from Iraq.

Occasionally, prisoners are also exchanged directly for weapons, Fatahallah said. They have received up to two Kalashnikov rifles in exchange for a prisoner in the past.

For the regime, or at least the duplicitous members of it, supplying the enemy is a big business. Government officers also sell Kalashnikov bullets, which typically sold for less than 40 cents before the uprising, for about $4 each, according to Ahmed Al Sheikh, the leader of the armed opposition in Jabal al-Zawiya. He leads about 6,000 men from eight battalions that are collectively known as the Sham Falcons.

Kalashnikovs are bought for about $1,000, he said. Rocket-propelled grenade launchers, complete with a set of four rockets, cost up to $4,000, as does a BKT machine gun.

“These officers sell to us not because they love the revolution but because they love money,” Al Sheikh said of his chain of suppliers. “Their loyalty is to their pockets only, not the regime.

While most of the sellers are corrupt officers, they said lower ranking soldiers have occasionally stolen supplies from government weapons storage and sold them to the rebel forces.

The relationship is not always a smooth one.

Back at the base, the men were relaxing after lunch when a loud explosion shocked everyone to their feet. As they feared, the previous night’s purchase of Kalashnikov bullets had been booby-trapped. This time their colleagues were lucky enough to survive the discovery.

The men had learned from prior experience — bullets acquired from the regime are sometimes emptied of their gunpowder and filled with TNT designed to destroy the Kalashnikov and its owner, rather than the enemy.

After several injuries and the loss of two rifles, the men had learned to spot the fakes. To everyone’s relief this had been a controlled explosion, by someone suspicious of the new batch. The damage inflicted was only a blackened hand, some singed hair and a hole in the table.

“These ones here are good bullets,” said battalion leader Asad Ibrahim, showing the red marking on the base of one of the bullets. Holding up another with a slightly darker red off-center mark he said, “These are Bashar’s bullets to explode our guns.”

The men said bullets like these have destroyed many guns and killed or seriously injured several of their fellow fighters. But desperate for ammunition, they take the risk.

Commander Al Sheikh said that half of the Sham Falcon arsenal are seized from the enemy. Most are taken either during battle, or after attacks on government checkpoints. And the rebels carry out organized raids on government weapon stores whenever they can.

During an attack on a checkpoint in Mughara last week, Al Sheikh proudly boasted that his men had managed a rare grab: a T62 tank along with anti-aircraft weapons.

Another source of arms is from the army defectors themselves, who bring their own weapons along when they join the rebel forces.

Sitting at the base, the men laughed as they recalled the story of two friends, both defectors, who told their superior they needed one of the gun-mounted vehicles and some heavy weapons to check on a call regarding rebel activity. Loading the truck with as much ammunition and weapons as they could find, they drove straight toward the rebels, checking in by radio with their boss with stories of hunting down “rebel traitors” hours after they had already betrayed sides.

While the Free Syrian Army has been adept at obtaining weapons, it has also proven skillful in manufacturing their own.

In a secret warehouse across town from the base, fertilizer and sugar were being boiled in a large pot. Everything from teapots to large metal pipes were being filled to make roadside bombs for attacks on tanks and army vehicles. 23mm bullet casings were filled with explosives with a small wick on top, looking more like an ACME special from a Loony Tunes cartoon than a deadly hand grenade.

We are using very simple weapons against the highly sophisticated weapons of the regime — tanks, rockets, missiles. What a government! What a regime. Doing nothing but killing their people,” Fatahallah said during a tour of the busy workshop.

The men from the battalion spoke constantly of the need, not for military intervention from abroad, but for international help in obtaining more weapons. But with or without this support, they vowed to continue the fight until Assad is removed.

“The Quran says to prepare whatever weapons you can to fight your enemy,” said Al Sheikh, the commander, as his local leaders discussed preparations for their next mission.

“Even if no weapons are available and all we have left to use are stones, we will go on with our revolution until Assad falls.”

Syrian rebels in Turkey doubtful over new Arab arms supplies

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/nationworld/sns-rt-us-syria-crisis-turkeybre85d10p-20120614,0,3789440.story

“ANTAKYA, Turkey(Reuters) – Syrian rebels resting and recovering from wounds in Turkeysay that far from receiving a host of heavy weapons to take the fight to government forces, they feel forgotten by their Western and Arab backers.

Some rebels and opposition figures inside and outside Syria say there has been an upsurge in recent weeks of heavier weaponry being smuggled into Syria via Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq from suppliers inSaudi Arabia and Qatar.

The weapons, which according to the rebels are being supplied by private sponsors, include thousands of shells, hundreds of sniper rifles, as well as anti-armor missiles.

But in the verdant hills, wooded mountainsides and languid refugee camps of Turkey’s southern Hatay province, Free Syrian Army rebels returning from the fight to rest and tend their wounds, said they had seen no sign of any new weapons.

One rebel said less than half the fighters in his unit even had a gun. What weapons they did have, the rebels said, came from inside Syria.

This is an absolute lie. We have not seen anything. If they are coming through Lebanon, maybe, but if they were, we would see these weapons. We don’t see them, where are they? said one rebel who gave his name only as Ahmad.

Every household has had one person killed or wounded. If we had weapons we could defend ourselves,” said Ahmad, clean-shaven and dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt, not fitting the typical image of a rebel fighter.”

“After the tanks push their way through the town and surrounding villages, Ahmad said, Assad’s soldiers, move from house to house rounding up young men and looting their homes. What they leave behind, they destroy, he said.

From a hospital ward in Hatay’s main cityAntakya, Ahmad becomes frustrated when speaking about weapons. He motions his hands emphatically to drive home his point.

By God, we don’t trust anyone. We don’t believe anyone anymore. The world has forgotten us,” he said.

Like most of the Syrians inTurkey, Ahmad would only give one name for fear of reprisals against his relatives at home.

As Ahmad spoke, the newest wounded arrival, 31-year-old Lutfi, was wheeled into the emergency department below. Lutfi, a Free Army fighter was shot in the leg during a clash with government troops in Jabal al-Krad near the western city of Latakia.

Lutfi said he and some 150 rebel fighters ambushed around 200-250 of Assad’s men who were on their way to occupy one of the surrounding villages. Two rebels were killed in the clash and another four were wounded.

The right leg of his camouflage military trousers has been ripped off, revealing a bandage covering his bullet wound. Lutfi laughed when asked whether new weapons had reached his men.

There are no new weapons. All we can do is attack and retreat. They are nothing against their weapons,” he said.

ONLY 40 PERCENT HAVE WEAPONS

Some 45 km (30 miles) south of Antakya only minutes from the Syrian border, Nasim, another rebel stands outside the Yayladagi refugee camp – tents erected inside an old, derelict tobacco factory that now serves as his temporary home.

Like at the others camps scattered around Hatay and further to the east, here fighters come to recoup with comrades or family members. Syrians are free to enter and leave the camp but access to the media is restricted.

Nasim says he regularly crosses back into Syriato smuggle food and blankets to fighters stationed inside but said he had not seen any new weapons cross from Turkey into Syria and that all the weapons he had seen had been acquired in the country.

”Three months ago I heard that Arab countries were going to send us money or weapons but I have not seen anything. Not one country has sent us money or weapons,” said Nasim, a short, stocky, scruffily dressed man in his 30s with a full black beard.

”The only weapons we get are by pooling our money together and buying them in Syria, or someone who supports us will come and give us their hunting rifle or something. Sometimes soldiers from the army sell us weapons,” he said.

Only around 40 percent of his unit even had a weapon, Nasim said, ”and these are light weapons. Assad is hitting us with tanks.”

Some 40 rebels and activists who spoke to Reuters this week all said that apart from a small number of light weapons which had been bought on the black market, they had not seen any weapons smuggled to Syria through Turkey.

While Turkey has thrown its support behind Assad’s opposition, has called for the Syrian leader to step down and given sanctuary to senior defected Syrian army officers, it has opposed any outside military intervention in its neighbor.

Turkish officials sayAnkara is not arming the rebels and have denied reports that weapons from other countries are being smuggled over Turkish territory.

Corroborating accounts of what is happening inside Syria is difficult because the government tightly restricts foreign media access. Most rebels also cross into Syria during darkness and Turkish security forces do not allow media near informal border crossings.

But for the rebels it does not matter where the weapons originate or how they get there, as long as they come.

Wherever they come from it does not matter. We want weapons. We want to be able to defend our women and our families. We don’t want money, just weapons,” said Omar, another rebel smuggler at Yayladagi.”

Syrian Army Unable to Stop Flood of Deserters

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/syrian-army-unable-to-stop-flood-of-deserters-a-838188.html

“Yet the cynical joke about the soldiers at the checkpoint reflects a reality that grows closer with each day, one which is welcomed by many Syrians: The regime is finding its soldiers slipping out of its grasp. One noncommissioned officer from the northwestern Syrian city of Idlib, just hours after defecting to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), relates breathlessly how he made his escape: ”The officer was sitting there, and when he was alone with me and a friend of mine, he demanded, ‘What are you still doing here? Go on and get out of here!’ The officer will issue the order to shoot them, the defector says, and he’ll call their families and threaten them, but all that is nothing but show. It’s over, he says, and it was time for them to disappear.

Shooting from a Distance

Of 400 soldiers originally stationed in the provincial capital of Idlib, just a couple dozen remained last week defending their base near the center of the city, which has seen significant fighting. In the small city of Maraa, near Aleppo, 15 soldiers defected within the space of a week — as many as in the entire previous year.

In Azaz, where Assad’s troops still control a checkpoint at the edge of the city, a heavily fortified city quarter and the minarets of the largest mosque, two soldiers defected a few days ago under the cover of a fake attack. They reported they had received hardly any supplies in weeks, and that they were living on dried out bread and brackish water. One earlier defector had taken with him the numbers of everyone in his unit who owned a cell phone. The FSA then contacted each of them, offering to help them escape. Many of the soldiers found it an attractive offer.

This is just one small insight into the situation in northern Syria, but deserters from other parts of the country who have managed to make their way back to their native villages near Aleppo tell of similar conditions in their own units. Reports of the types of attacks carried out by Assad’s troops also suggest the situation in the south, in the area around Damascus, in Deir al-Zor in the east and in Homs in the west is much the same as it is in the north: In many cases, the army no longer deploys its troops, but instead shoots from great distances using tanks and heavy artillery, or from helicopters, strategies which decrease the risk to the army.

One defector from Homs, a city that has also been the site of heavy fighting, describes a cycle of accelerating collapse. ”If I’d left sooner, state security would have arrested my family and burned down my house,” he says. ”But they’re not going to come now, certainly not just because of me.”

Diminishing Fear

With each bit of the country that slips from the regime’s control, the soldiers’ fear diminishes. That in turn increases the number of defectors, more and more of whom join the FSA. One officer, who defected to the FSA and has a precise mind for figures, estimates the group has around 40,000 former army soldiers in its ranks, although the proportion of soldiers and civilians varies among regions.

Outwardly, power dynamics in Syria have changed little in the past 15 months. The rebellion has gripped the cities, but unlike in Libya, here there is no still no large, contiguous region for the rebels to defend. But the appearance of stability is deceptive. While it’s true that soldiers are no longer allowed to travel by intercity bus without a permit, and that many of those who escape still risk being shot by the omnipresent intelligence service, the fact remains that the regime is no longer able to stay the gradual erosion of its army.

The impression of power and control emanating from the centers of Damascus, Aleppo and other major cities may also be deceptive. The Western half of Syria is a land of villages and small cities, which have joined together with the insurgency in the most densely populated provinces. The area around Aleppo, Idlib, Homs, Hama and Daraa together forms a zone in which the government’s troops may attack anywhere, at any time, yet are no longer able to control the area permanently. And in many places, the people living here have switched sides. Sunni Muslims have certainly done so, but so have most Druzes and Ismailis. And though Kurdish villages in the northwest, such as Basuta and Ain Dara, have started flying the Kurdish flag in recent weeks, rather than the revolutionary flag with its three stars, there’s no one left here who still defends the regime.

Around 50 soldiers are stationed on Sheikh Barakat Mountain near the Churchof St. Simeon, northern Syria’s famous late antiquity ruin, but for the past two months they’ve received supplies only by air, because convoys are no longer able to pass through the surrounding area, which is completely under the FSA’s control

‘We Don’t Get Orders’

The FSA itself is a peculiar entity. It’s clear that it’s effectively organized at the village level and in small cities, each group loosely connected with other districts and provinces, but without a set hierarchy or command structure. ”We have a good relationship with the FSA’s commander in exile in Turkey,” says one local commander, ”but we don’t get orders. We’re in charge of ourselves.”

This set-up isn’t enough to allow coordinated attacks on the regime’s centers of power, but it appears to be good enough to control the rest of the country. What’s sustaining the regime is its monopoly on heavy weaponry, as well as its tough core of 100,000 to 200,000 officers, secret police, elite soldiers and militia members, most of whom are Alawis and fear that the regime’s fall would spell their own end as well. These troops have their stronghold in the Ansariyah Mountains in the west of the country and control parts of the larger cities as well, but they no longer hold all the land between.

Everyone — the rebels, the hundreds of thousands of undecided currently fleeing through the country to wherever they feel they will be somewhat safer, even those who support the regime — are all dreading the ”next step,” in the words of Abu Ali al-Dirri, an officer who changed sides six months ago. The next step is the air force.

‘They’re Going to Bomb the Country’

Syria has made massive improvements to its air force in the past year, but so far, aside from the helicopters, hardly put it into action. ”But before the Assads go down, they’re going to bomb the country,” Dirri believes. For years, he says, the regime has made a point of ensuring the loyalty of the air force, the branch of the military where President Bashar Assad’s father Hafez began his career. ”They’ve increased the proportion of Alawi cadets at the military academy in Aleppo constantly, especially in the air force,” he says. ”They knew things would turn against them at some point.”

At most, Dirri says, the regime would face the problem that many older pilots have been discharged in recent years, while many newer pilots have only barely completed the number of flying hours necessary in order to fly a fighter jet. Dirri himself, as a Sunni, hasn’t even been allowed to carry a gun since the revolution began.

For years, the officer says, ”Russia didn’t want to supply replacement parts any more, because we never paid, but now Russia is providing enormous amounts of assistance, even sending over personnel.” He adds that more than 1,000 Russian engineers were present in the country this January. Many of them were officially there as agricultural consultants, ”but their work doesn’t have much to do with agriculture.” Iran has sent arms and ammunition, he adds, but not much in the way of personnel, while China has a group of air force specialists stationed at Aleppo‘s military airports.

Around half of the air force’s 360 fighter jets are fully operational, Dirri says. It’s roughly the same proportion with its 120 helicopters. Its French ”Gazelle” helicopters, equipped with armor-piercing weapons, are in the best condition, ”but not a single one of them has ever taken off — they’re all stationed at the presidential palace airport.”

Where Will the West Draw a Line?

As long as the West continues to declare every few days that it has no intention of carrying out a military intervention, says Colonel Dirri, the regime in Syria will continue to use everything at its disposal. ”Its strength rests in the fact that the whole world is saying, ‘We’re not going to get involved,'” he says. ”If this Rasmussen” — a reference to NATO’s secretary general — ”would just shut his mouth for once, that alone would do Syria a great service!”

At the very latest, after the massacres in Houla two weeks ago and in Mazraat al-Qubair last Wednesday, none of the rebels in northern Syrian still believe the UN’s peace plan will be successful. Instead, their greatest hope is little more than a rumor: that at some point the US must surely draw a line, and perhaps Russia too. What will it take to reach that line? The deployment of Syria‘s air force to carpet-bomb the country? Or perhaps the regime resorting to its arsenal of chemical weapons?

One thing is clear: With or without a vote from the UN Security Council, the rebels want an intervention.”

The T-HOMS 75

Finally the T-HOMS 75. It is a Toyota pickup fitted with steel plates to protect teams of three rebel fighters each behind the rockets and machine guns. Under the motto, “you take what you have”

This is what NATO and Anders Fogh Rasmussen probably would call “a serious proliferation of weapons in the region”.

And this piece from Haaretz on the left and very critical of Israeli policies. Regarding the deafening silence from nearly ALL Israeli Arab artists in Israel and Jewish radicals, the peace movement etc.

A deafening silence

Tolerance in the face of Assad’s bloody murderousness is liable to have the same effect on Arab-Jewish radicalism in Israel.

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/a-deafening-silence.premium-1.436292

By Ari Shavit

“Remember Deir Yassin? The number of innocent people murdered in Syriaover the past year is 100 times greater than the number of innocent people who were murdered in this Arab village at the edge of Jerusalem in 1948.

Remember the Qibya incident? The number of innocent people killed in Syriaover the past year is 250 times the number of innocent people killed in this pastoral village in Jordan in 1953.

Remember Sabra and Shatila? The number of innocent people butchered during the past year in Syria is 20 times the number of innocent people who were butchered in those Palestinian refugee camps in western Beirut in 1982.

Remember the bloody rioting in October 2000? The number of innocent people who were shot to death in Syria during the past year is 1,000 times the number of innocent people who were shot to death by the Israel Police in the Galilee and the Triangle area in central Israel.

Remember Operation Cast Lead? The number of innocent people who were felled in Syria during this past year is dozens of times the number of innocent people who fell in the Gaza Strip during that widely condemned Israeli military operation in the winter of 2008-09.

The picture is clear: During one year, the secular Arab nationalism of Bashar Assad has spilled more innocent blood than the Zionists have in decades. This Arab tyrant, who in the past was the darling of Arab Knesset members, is massacring his fellow Arabs in a way that Israel never did.

Arab cities are being bombed, Arab women are murdered, Arab children are slaughtered. An Arab society is being shredded, and an Arab state shattered into fragments.

Despite all this, the The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel is not demanding that the United Nations intervene to stop the bloodshed. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, is not petitioning the International Criminal Court in the Hague to put the war criminals on trial. Large Land Day type demonstrations have not been called. Protesters who take part in mass marches every October aren’t marching. Arab students who mark the Palestinian Nakba of 1948 aren’t coming out against the Syrian Nakba of 2012. Israel’s Arab minority and its anti-Zionist left are watching as thousands of Arab are massacred – and are standing idly by.

It’s crystal clear that the Syrian tragedy unfolding before our eyes has serious international ramifications. It is taking all meaning out concepts such as international community, international law and the idea of moral validity in international relations.

It’s crystal clear that the Syrian tragedy has serious pan-Arab ramifications. It is taking all meaning out of concepts such as Arab unity, Arab solidarity and the idea that the contemporary Arab world accords any real meaning to human rights.

But the Syrian tragedy has serious ramifications for Israel’s anti-Zionist community as well. The inability of this community to directly confront Arab evil undermines the moral basis for its battle against Israeli evil.

Its unwillingness to demand that universal values be upheld in Hama and in Homs pulls the rug out from under its demands that universal values be upheld in Ramallah and Nazareth. Its silence when faced with the butcher of Damascus makes its condemnations of the State of Israel sound hollow.

The Syrian challenge is a moral challenge. There are some Israeli Arabs who are passing this test honorably. For example, Azmi Bishara, the former MK who fled Israel after being questioned on suspicion of aiding the enemy, who in the past was close to Assad, is today waging a brave and intensive campaign against him on Al Jazeera tv. Unfortunately, few of Bishara’s colleagues in Israel are following suit.

Israeli Arab artists in Israel and Jewish radicals in Israel are silent about what’s going on just over the border. This troublesome silence makes one wonder if their declared humanitarianism is authentic. When they spoke up – against Israel – about human dignity and freedom, perhaps they were simply fooling us?

Communism in the West was destroyed in the 1950s because it tolerated Stalin’s bloody dictatorship. Tolerance in the face of Assad’s bloody murderousness is liable to have the same effect on Arab-Jewish radicalism in Israel.

See Part 1 – Introduction in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 1

See Part 2 – Reports in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 2

Refusing to arm or help the opposition will not end the conflict or limit it; it will drag on as all the  examples of  like Rwanda, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Darfur, Bosnia (Srebrenica anyone?) etc. shows. Leading to more massacres and atrocities.

And by waiting the situation gets worse and much more complex, then “they” used its complexity as an excuse not to intervene while decrying the lost opportunity for intervention. And ALL this time the killing and atrocities committed by Assad’s regime just continues as nothing has happened.

On the contrary, the Assad regime has increased it’s attacks since Bashar al-Assad agreed to implement the “new” peace plan.

The international community’s response has been ludicrous. Syrians on the ground have felt forgotten and betrayed. A system that is supposed to protect civilians from brutal force has failed on a monumental scale.

And to ALL these countries, USA, EU, NATO, Turkey etc. that are supposed to defend and protect freedom, liberty and human rights.

To ALL these global government organisations (UN),and local ones like the Arab League etc.

To ALL the statesmen and politicians that talk so loudly about “responsibility to protect” (Samantha Power anyone?), freedom, liberty and human rights.

I say only one thing: You should be REALLY BE PROUD of yourselves and the children of  Syria will remember you. Each one of you.

                             To the children of Syria!

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The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 5

12 juni, 2012

Third, the countries and organizations that makes this possible (continuation):

USA and the Obama Administration

You can say much about the Obama administrations Middle East policies. But the easiest is to state the obvious – it is an utter and total failure. In fact, it is even worse than that.

Because what Obama has managed to do is to totally destroy US reputation and standing in the region. He has single-handed managed to alienate ALL the traditional allies in the region like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel.

The Saudis was so upset after the way Obama throw Mubarak under the buss that they decided that they could NO longer trust this man. After that, they strengthen the Gulf Cooperation Council, intervened in Bahrain etc.

And how Obama have supported the Muslim Brotherhood and the fundamentalist take over after Mubarak and the military regime.

And the Israelis, the way the have been treated regarding the fundamental and existential treat from a nuclear Iran.

Make no mistake; this is a fundamental strategic break. That America will suffer the consequences for many years to come.

Add to that the total failure inIraq where you now have a US installed government that is closely allied to Iran. And is helping Iran support Assad in Syria.

You can add to that the disintegration of Afghanistan. Yemen, where the Obama administration forced out the sitting president Ali Abdullah Saleh and now al-Qaidi controls large parts of that country.

Etc.

Etc.

Remember also that Obama and Hillary Clinton switched the policy 180 degrees compared to the Bush time. Assad was “their” man because he was a ”reformer”. And there was a parade of American politicians going toDamascus to shake the “reformers” hand and praising Assad for his “reforms”.

Even several months into this uprising and the slaughter, Obama and Hillary Clinton still vehemently defend him as a reformer refusing to condemn what was going on.

And Turkey, under his close personal friend Erdogan, witch Obama has hold up as a role model for the rest of the Middle East.

A Turkey under Erdogan which have, on purpose, slowly but very determined Islamized Turkey.  With hundreds of political prisoners like journalist, judges, layers, military, kurds etc. Who have spent years and years in prison without a trial.

And the latest example of how far this process have gone:

This Week, Turkey Went a Long Way Toward Becoming an Islamic Republic

http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2012/06/this-week-turkey-went-long-way-toward.html

“Hardly surprising; deeply upsetting; and geo-strategically catastrophic, it’s official. Turkey has now passed over toward being an Islamist state. That turning point is marked by a tiny event of gigantic importance. Fazil Say is an internationally acclaimed Turkish classical pianist. He has performed with prestigious symphony orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, Berlin, Israel Philharmonic, France, and Tokyo as well as being a European Union cultural ambassador. The Turkish state is now going to put him on trial.

An Istanbul court has accepted the prosecutor’s charge, which amounts to heresy. Specifically, he is accused of insulting Islam because of tweets he sent. Say suggested that since the Koran says there are rivers of drinks in heaven that makes it sound like a pub, while the beautiful women available there make it sound like a brothel. A number of his tweets are quoted here. That’s his crime, writing a couple of sentences to describe his thoughts.

We are not talking of someone criticizing Say or disagreeing with him. We are talking about the power of the Turkish state being used to charge a man with a crime and send him to prison for exercising free speech. True, they are only asking for a sentence of eighteen months in prison but once the precedent is set their ambitions will expand.

There are already hundreds of political prisoners in Turkey today who have been in prison for over three years without any trial at all. Now if criticizing Islam in Turkey is a crime, Turkey is not a secular state. And with all of those innocent people already thrown in jail by the regime on trumped-up charges of treason and terrorism, Turkey is no longer a democratic state either.

Yeap, that really sound like a good role model for the rest of the Middle East!

This is the same Turkey, with active American help, trying to make Syrian National Council (SNC, i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood) the sole “representative of the Syrian opposition. Thereby fuelling ALL resources to them and not to the rest of the more secular, democratic opposition inside Syria.

Doesn’t this also seems like another excellent policy by the Obama administration if you REALLY want to be sure of a democratic development in Syria in the future??

And this obsession of Obama and Hillary Clinton that the Russians has to “approve” everything before he actually do anything.

The Obama administration is actually, which is astounding, giving Russia de facto veto power over US foreign policy. A Russia, which literally hates everything USA stands for and it’s position in the world. And witch have done everything it can to interrupt, damage or sabotage US foreign policy.

Russia is the one that is supporting and protecting Assad, Iran etc. Russia is the one selling ALL these weapons to Syria and Iran etc.

And remember that Obama actually told outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on March 26 that he is going to be “more flexible” after the election in November.

MORE FLEXIBLE???

Just to give some recent examples of the “democratic development” in Russia:

This is the Russia that just raised the fines for participating in unsanctioned rallies or demonstration from 300 rubles to 300,000 rubles, a year salary for a normal Russian.

Putin signed the bill on June 8.

The Kremlin’s own Human Rights Council said in a statement the bill violates an article in the constitution guaranteeing freedom of assembly.

And oh by the way, the Russian authorities don’t very often give “permission” for demonstrations.

In March, a discriminatory ban on “homosexual propaganda” went into effect in St. Petersburg.

And on the same theme – Moscow Bans Gay Pride Parades For 100 Years

Yeas, you read right. Moscow city courts has banned ALL pride parades for the NEXT 100 years!

http://www.queerty.com/moscow-bans-gay-pride-parades-for-100-years-20120608/

“Yikes,Russia! A week after protestors for gay rights were arrested in Moscow, a district court upheld the decision by a Moscow city court to ban gay pride parades for 100 years. Yes, the government can now legally forbid gay pride for a century, from March 2012 to March 2112.”

And this how the Russian government defend it:

“The Russian government has said that rulings such as that of the Moscow City Council are not anti-gay but rather rulings that protect ”the majority’s rights.”

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2893357/posts

Not to mention the regular killings of journalist, layers, judges etc.

And just today some more “democratic” developments:

Russian Opposition Leaders’ Homes Raided

http://www.rferl.org/content/russia-opposition-leaders-homes-searched/24610215.html

“Russian police have searched the homes of leading opposition figures in an apparent crackdown on the eve of a planned mass protest against President Vladimir Putin’s third term as president.

The opposition figures have been summoned for questioning by investigators on June 12 — the same day as the planned protest.

Police, some armed with assault rifles, carried out searches on the homes of opposition figures including Boris Nemtsov, Ilya Yashin, Ksenia Sobchak, Sergei Udaltsov, Aleksei Navalny, and at least five others.

Udaltsov said police showed up at his door early in the morning.

Police and Investigative Committee officers started banging on my door early in the morning, at 7 a.m. At the same time, they searched my parents’ home,” Udaltsov said. ”They presented a search warrant as part of the criminal investigation of the events of May 6.”

Udaltsov said police confiscated his computer, a flash stick, his iPad, and mobile telephone.”

By the way “the criminal investigation of the events of May 6.”  was a demonstration against Putin.

I could continue another 3-4 pages with some more recent “democratic” developments inRussia. But I think you get the picture.

Doesn’t this also seems like another excellent policy by the Obama administration??

Begging Russia,  your enemy, to “help” you and de facto giving them veto power over your policies.

After ALL the “resets”Russia hasn’t moved one millimeter to help USA. On the contrary

Just a few examples:

US condemns Syria massacre and looks for Russian help to oust Assad Hillary Clinton harshly condemns Syrian president as Obama reportedly plans to urge Putin to back a transition of power

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/27/us-condemns-syria-massacre-russia?newsfeed=true

“The comments came amid reports that President Barack Obama is preparing to push Russia to back the departure of Assad under a scheme modelled on the transition of power in Yemen.

According to an article in the New York Times, Obama hopes to enlist President Vladimir Putin’s support over a transition of power in Syria during a meeting next month – the first between the pair since Putin’s return to the Kremlin.

Under the reported plan, the international community would broker a settlement in which Assad would leave, but remnants of the political structure would remain intact.

But for the plan to have a chance of succeeding it would need greater backing from Moscow, which to date has been strongly opposed to Assad’s removal.

Russia, as one of Assad’s few remaining allies, has long blocked tough sanctions against the regime proposed by the United Nations, claiming that it could lead to the bloody ouster of Assad.”

And more peddling of the same:

Clinton presses Russia to back political change in Syria

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ickPHmGjO2L1vDcfS4yInarU-gvw?docId=CNG.6b132c77c83405c53dd440d729dc1b73.c1

““STOCKHOLM — US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Russia Sunday to get behind a political transition in Syria, saying President Bashar al-Assad’s departure was not a precondition but should be ”an outcome”.

Clinton spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by telephone at the weekend to say that Washington and Moscow needed to work together on a plan that would halt the violence and bring about political change in the country.

”In my conversation with him, I made it very clear there would be no point to any meeting unless it included all elements of Kofi Annan’s (peace) plan, and that certainly means we have to focus on a path forward for a political transition,” Clinton told reporters Sunday during a visit to Stockholm.

”Assad’s departure does not have to be a precondition but it should be an outcome, so the people of Syria have a chance to express themselves,” she said.”

Russia has resisted UN Security Council efforts to sanction the Assad regime, a longtime ally of Moscow, questioning the effectiveness of sanctions and warning that outside meddling could lead to civil war.

Clinton has sharply criticised Moscow for ”propping up” the Assad regime with continued arms shipments, prompting President Vladimir Putin to defend Russia‘s stance in meetings with the leaders of Germany and France.”

“She said her message to Lavrov was: ”We all have to intensify our efforts to achieve a political transition, and Russia has to be at the table helping that occur. The Syrian people want and deserve change.”

U.S. Hopes Assad Can Be Eased Out With Russia’s Aid

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/27/world/middleeast/us-seeks-russias-help-in-removing-assad-in-syria.html?pagewanted=all

“WASHINGTON — In a new effort to halt more than a year of bloodshed in Syria, President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a proposal modeled on the transition in another strife-torn Arab country, Yemen.

The plan calls for a negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Mr. Assad’s government in place. Its goal is the kind of transition under way in Yemen, where after months of violent unrest, President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down and hand control to his vice president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, in a deal arranged byYemen’s Arab neighbors. Mr. Hadi, though later elected in an uncontested vote, is viewed as a transitional leader.

The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Mr. Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal.

In the past year, Russia has blocked any tough United Nations Security Council action against Mr. Assad, arguing that it could lead to his forced ouster and the kind of fates suffered by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi ofLibya, who was killed, or Hosni Mubarak ofEgypt, who was imprisoned and put on trial. ButRussia is facing intense international pressure to use its influence to bring about the removal of Mr. Assad as the killings inSyria continue unabated, including the massacre of more than 90 people in a village nearHoms that was reported by United Nations officials on Saturday. “

The Yemen example has been widely discussed in Moscow, so much so that the option has become known by its Russian term, “the Yemenskii Variant,” even in theUnited States. In part, that reflectsRussia’s desperation for a solution to the crisis in Syria, where, the United Nations says, thousands of civilians have been killed since protests began there in March of last year.

Mr. Obama, administration officials said, will press the proposal with President Vladimir V. Putin ofRussianext month at their first meeting since Mr. Putin returned to his old post on May 7. Thomas E. Donilon, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, raised the plan with Mr. Putin in Moscow three weeks ago.

When Mr. Obama brought it up with Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia at the Group of 8 meeting at Camp Davidlast weekend, Mr. Medvedev appeared receptive, American officials said, signaling that Russia would prefer that option to other transitions in the Arab upheaval. During the meeting, “Medvedev raised the example of Mubarak in a cage,” a senior official said, referring to Mr. Mubarak’s confinement at his trial. The official, who requested anonymity because of the delicacy of the discussions, said Mr. Obama had then “countered withYemen, and the indication was, yes, this was something we could talk about.”

And

“After the hopeless gridlock at the special UN session on the Syrian crisis Thursday, an American delegation headed by Fred Hoff, the Secretary of State’s special adviser on Syria, drew a blank in the talks it conducted at the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow Friday, June 8, with Syrian expert, Mikhail Bogdanov.

Moscow has flatly rejected President Barack Obama’s proposal to post 5,000 armed UN monitors in Syria, most of them Russian troops, as the core of a new plan to resolve the Syrian crisis. The Russians may consider convening an international conference, but only if its remit is limited to offering a basis for negotiations between the Assad regime and the opposition and new political reforms. On no account must it deal with Bashar Assad’s removal.

Moscow’s position has grown tougher in the last few days. After Russian officials stated this week that keeping the Assad regime in power was not a priority, Bogdanev said Friday: Moscow isn’t discussing ways to promote Bashar al-Assad’s ouster with Washington. “We aren’t holding such talks.”

He stressed that the only way forward on the Syrian issue was by expanding Annan’s peace plan.

However, the only thing that all the participants at the UN could agree on was that the Annan peace plan had failed. And now that the US mission to Moscow has run into another dead end, the violence in Syria will continue to run riot with no world power or body prepared to step in and stop it.

Adding to the complications, the Syrian conflict and the Iranian nuclear controversy are becoming inextricably intermeshed. The U Sofficial Hoff knew he was arriving in Moscow at a grave disadvantage after Iran indicated to the six world powers that it was seriously considering not turning up for their third round of nuclear talks in Moscow on June 18-19.

Its pretext: The West had failed to come up with “serious proposals.”

Most of all, Tehran took umbrage over US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s demand that Iran come to the talks prepared with “concrete steps to curb its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity.”

When she spoke, Clinton knew there was not the slightest chance of the Iranians accepting this demand.

Tehran also pulled in its horns at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters inVienna when confronted Friday, June 8, with demands to open up its suspect nuclear sites to international inspection.

These related developments all point in one direction: US President Barack Obama’s deep reluctance to intervene directly in Syria and preference for Russia and Iran to take over have run up against equally powerful reluctance in Moscow and Tehran to put their hands in the Syrian fire or take part in any international effort to quench its flames.

Indeed, the Russians and Iranians believe that as the flames of the civil war already raging there spread, the US president will be blamed by the American public and the Arab world for the horrendous sectarian bloodbath.

And if Obama and America’s European allies do decide on military intervention, they will be too late and find themselves pulled down into a bottomless quagmire.”

Here is yet another example of the utter folly of the Obama administrations policy:

How Can Obama’s Middle East Policy Possibly Get Worse? Answer: Look at Syria

http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/2012/05/29/how-can-obamas-middle-east-policy-possibly-get-worse-answer-look-at-syria/

“Some of my readers are unhappy that I keep criticizing President Barack Obama and his government. The problem is that this administration keeps doing terrible things in the Middle East. And the most damning evidence on these actions comes not from Obama’s enemies but from the administration itself and the supportive mass media.

Here’s the latest such item:

“U.S. Hopes Assad Can Be Eased Out withRussia’s Aid,” by Helene Cooper and Mark Landler, in the New York Times.

For almost three years, Obama insisted he would win over the Syrian dictatorship and make it America’s friend rather than Iran’s number-one ally. That was ludicrous. Forced by the uprising to back away from Damascus, the Obama administration has spent almost a year bumbling about what to do.

The U.S. government’s main activity was to entrust to the Turkish Islamist regime the job of forming an umbrella Syrian opposition leadership. Not surprisingly, Ankara pursued its own interest by assembling a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated group, the Syrian National Congress. Though several members resigned, complaining of the radical Islamist control, the Obama administration is still trying to force hostile oppositionists to join.

Now the administration has unveiled a new and equally terrible policy. I’ll let the New York Times’ reporters explain it:

President Obama will push for the departure of President Bashar al-Assad under a plan that calls for a negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Assad’s government in place. The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal. Obama, administration officials said, will press the proposal with President Putin ofRussia at their meeting next month. Obama’s national security adviser raised the plan with Putin inMoscow three weeks ago.

Good grief! There are four different acts of strategic insanity involved in this paragraph. They are…

1. “A negotiated political settlement that…could leave remnants of Assad’s government in place.”

The Syrian dictatorship is led by murderous thugs who know this is a case of kill or be killed. They aren’t going to give up any of their power. And why should they since they think they’re winning and may well be right? They know the outside world won’t do anything, despite the regime killing around 10,000 civilians.

2. “A negotiated political settlement that would satisfy Syrian opposition groups but that could leave remnants of Assad’s government in place.”

The opposition is not so foolish as a Washington pundit, policymaker, or politician. They know that their only hope is to destroy the regime entirely. The democrats want to do so in order to have a modern democracy. The Islamists want Islamism. The Kurds and Druze want autonomy. How could there possibly be a coalition? Both sides know that within days people would be murdering each other. How could anyone expect this kind of deal would work or that the opposition would accept it?

If anyone in Syria might favor such a plan it’s the Muslim Brotherhood. which has toyed with the idea of using such a transition period to strengthen its own hand. So the idea cannot succeed but reveals once again that the Obama administration seems to get many of its strategies from the Muslim Brotherhood. That’s an observation, not a conspiracy theory.

3. “The success of the plan hinges on Russia, one of Assad’s staunchest allies, which has strongly opposed his removal.”

Just think about that sentence! The Obama administration wants to depend on a country that’s disdainful of U.S. interests, wants to sabotage them, and is on the opposite side! The president wants to ask a country that is “strongly opposed” to Assad’s removal to remove Assad!

And finally, equally amazingly:

4. “Obama, administration officials said, will press the proposal with President Putin of Russia at their meeting next month. Obama’s national security adviser raised the plan with Putin in Moscow three weeks ago.”

It’s Obama, not Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is pushing this plan to put Russia in control! If your enemy tries to fool or cheat you, that’s a problem. If you beg him to cheat you and hand him the means to do so, that’s a betrayal of U.S. interests.

To summarize, the Obama policy shows three characteristics that have wider implications for the president’s strategies:

•It favors Islamist enemies.

It “leads from behind” by giving the initiative to those who wish America no good.

And it shows no interest in helping genuinely pro-American moderates who are fighting for their lives.

And that, friends, is why I spend so much time bashing Obama’s Middle East policy, because it is so very bad and dangerous.

Now a possible explanation for all of this would be that Obama doesn’t really want to do anything about Syria for other reasons. The United States doesn’t want to get dragged into direct intervention; it’s a lower-priority issue; there’s no great policy option; and his only concern is the American election.

But so what? It’s still possible to come up with a better policy than this, a policy that would make Obama look good as well as serve U.S. interests. He could call for Assad’s overthrow; back truly moderate oppositionists; subvert Islamist influence; and send arms and money, but only to the moderates. In order to portray himself as decisive, heroic, and a friend of democracy, Obama could take every possible overt and covert opportunity to weaken Assad, even helping at a low cost to create a no-fly zone and safe havens. None of this is going to happen.

Instead, though, he turns over dealing with the opposition to an Islamist regime in Turkey and subcontracts dealing with the regime to a pro-regime Russian government. I’d say that Obama’s policy in the region could not easily be worse, but who knows what’s next, especially if there’s a second term.”

More on the Kurdish question and Obamas push for them to join SNC:

Syrian Kurdish Dissident: BreakSyriaInto Pieces

http://www.gloria-center.org/2012/05/syrian-kurdish-dissident-break-syria-into-pieces/

“Sherkoh Abbas, a veteran Syrian Kurdish dissident, called on Israel this week to support the break-up of Syria into a series of federal structures based on the country’s various ethnicities.

Speaking from Washington, Abbas was also critical of US attempts to induce Syrian Kurds to join and work with the main opposition body, the Syrian National Council. Abbas, who heads the Washington- based Kurdistan National Assembly, said that dismantling Syria into ethnic enclaves with a federal administration would serve to “break the link” between Syria and the Iran-led “Shi’a crescent.”

Syrian Kurdish, Druse, Alawite and Sunni Arab federal areas, he suggested, would have no interest in aligning with Iran.

At the same time, a federalized Syria would avoid the possibility of a resurgent, Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Sunni Islamist Syria emerging as a new challenge to Israel and the West.

“We need to break Syria into pieces,” Abbas said.

The Syrian Kurdish dissident argued that a federal Syria, separated into four or five regions on an ethnic basis, would also serve as a natural “buffer” forIsraelagainst both Sunni and Shi’ite Islamist forces.”

And

Two Obama Administration Scandals on Syria?

http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/2012/05/17/two-obama-administration-scandals-on-syria/

“When a delegation of Syrian Kurdish rebels recently visited Washington, D.C., the State Department met them to ask for a favor. What was it? The Obama administration urged them to join the Syrian National Council (SNC), the organization created by the U.S. government through Turkey to lead the opposition movement and receive Western aid for all Syrian opposition groups.

But the Turkish Islamist regime, which Obama put in charge of forming the SNC, put the Muslim Brotherhood in control, a fact I pointed out within hours of the announcement of the SNC leadership’s names.

Now that several SNC leaders have resigned complaining about Brotherhood domination, followed by some Arab journalists pointing out the obvious Brotherhood domination at the SNC’s last meeting, that reality is clear. But the implications of such an incredibly foolish policy—America putting an anti-American, antisemitic group into the “official” leadership of Syria’s rebels — have never been properly examined as a case study for Obama’s disastrous Middle East policy.

The Kurds had walked out of the talks that formed the SNC last year when they saw how Islamists would be in control. Not only do they oppose Islamism itself but they also see the Brotherhood as an Arabizing and centralizing group that would impose a regime oppressing the non-Arab Kurds.

The new U.S. effort so backfired  that, with the Obama administration ignoring their concerns, the enraged Kurds in the delegation spoke for the first time of breaking up Syria altogether!

To sum up, Obama policy has strengthened the Islamist forces in the opposition and fragmented the rebels, thus helping preserve a radical anti-American Syrian regime that is an ally of Iran or helping make any revolution more likely to produce a radical anti-American Syrian Islamist regime that will be an ally of an Islamist Egypt.

Now comes a very peculiar story in the Washington Post with the headline, “Syrian rebels get influx of arms with Gulf Neighbors’ Money, U.S. coordination.” Let’s break this down logically:

–The Saudis and Qataris have been providing arms already.

–They know how to buy weapons, how to get them to the Syrian border, and how to give them to Syrian rebels.

What do they need American “coordination” for? What does the word “coordination” mean? I presume it means that the Obama administration, absolutely clueless about what to do regarding Syria, simply wants to take credit for others’ actions. It is part of the pre-election spin about what a great job Obama is doing.

Yet there is another problem here, a potentially devastating one. Who is getting the weapons? There are different people and groups in the Syrian opposition. Some are Salafists who feel comfortable with al-Qaida; some are Brotherhood men; some are ex-Syrian army officers, professionals and relatively apolitical; and some are liberals who really want democracy.

Whoever gets these weapons will be tremendously empowered. So what’s to say that the arms being “coordinated” by the United States aren’t going to revolutionary Islamists? While this is a complex subject, there is information that these arms supplies up until now have not been sufficiently discriminatory toward moderates and away from Islamist radicals. We will know more in the weeks to come if we can see and identify which opposition groups in what parts of Syria have become better armed.

And if it comes out that the U.S. government is “coordinating” the arming of such people with weapons — as it is already helping their political counterparts in the SNC — wouldn’t that be a tremendous scandal?

Let’s be clear here: A proper U.S.policy would help moderate Syrians overthrow the Assad dictatorship and make sure weapons went to the best elements in the Free Syrian Army’s decentralized forces. Such a policy would make sure to deny money, weapons, and power to the Islamists and Salafists, who are proportionately far weaker in Syria than in Egypt.

Obama policy follows the worst possible course. It minimizes U.S. help to the revolution while at the same time ensuring that a disproportionately large amount goes to Islamists.”

And

Will There Be Room for Kurds and Other Minorities in a Post-Assad Syria?

http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm/frm/115831/sec_id/115831

“New York Times reported that the US hopes that Russia, one of the Assad regime’s allies, along with the Islamic Republic of Iran and China, might offer some assistance to facilitate Assad leaving the embattled regime in Damascus. Prof. Eyal Zisser of the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University in a recent Israel Hayom article, “The Road to Damascus Runs Through Moscow,” noted the transition proposal of the Obama Administration:

The Americans pulled a new rabbit out of their hat in the form of Russian President Vladimir Putin. They suggested that Moscow and Washington jointly impose the ”Yemen solution” on Syria, which calls for Assad’s removal while keeping his regime in place to rule Syria until elections can be held; similar to what took place in Egypt and Tunisia. The Americans hope that such a solution will appeal to those inside Assad’s inner circle, who feel his end is near and will agree to abandon him in order to ensure their own futures.

However that may be a vain hope. Given US, Turkey, Saudi, Qatar and Gulf Emirate support for the Syrian National Council what might follow in Syria could be a Sunni Arab nationalist regime.  A regime dominated by a fundamentalist Islamist coalition. That would dash hopes of minority ethnic and religious groups for a secular democratic federal republic. A federal republic that might include secular Sunni and Alawi moderates, Christians, Druze, Turkmen and the country’s second largest ethnic group, the Kurds. Arabs constitute nearly three-fifths (57 percent) of the country’s 22 million population. That is the hope of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KURDNAS) leader Sherkoh Abbas. He has joined with US Syrian Sunni reformer Dr. M. Zhudi Jasser to advance this cause via the Syrian Democratic Coalition.”

“For Abbas and other Syrian Kurds, the past four decades witnessed socio-economic deprivations and Arabization of the Kurdistan Region by the Assad regimes – a virtual ethnic cleansing. An estimated 500,000 Kurds were denied Syrian citizenship following a special census in 1963. They lived as aliens in their ancestral lands in the northeastern border areas adjacent to Turkey on the north and Iraq to the east. Arable land and control of valuable oil resources in the Syrian Kurdistan heartland were seized to become the personal wealth of the Assad family. Instruction and schooling in Kurdish language and culture was stopped. This repression of Syria’s Kurds witnessed virtual starvation and usurpation of their national provenance. That led to the uprising in 2004. Dozens of Kurds were killed; more than 4000 were jailed and tortured. “

“Abbas demurs. He maintains that Syria post-Assad may not become another fundamentalist Sunni Arab post-revolutionary government. He noted in a recent Front Page Magazine interview with Joseph Puder, “Syria: An Alternative Choice”:

The Muslim Brotherhood, with the support of President Obama and Turkey, will not succeed in controlling all of Syria. The Alawis and Hezbollah backed by Iran, Russia and China, will not give up power easily.

Asked what the US role might be in the current struggle, Abbas asserted:

The US has a moral responsibility to insure freedom and democracy for all Syrians. .. an Arab nationalist or Islamist regime would lead to more violence and civil war.”

“Gordon:  Recently, the US State Department held meetings in Washington with the Syrian National Kurdish Council. What were the purposes of the session, who attended and what did the Obama Administration hope to achieve?

Abbas:  The U.S. Administration has asked the Kurdish National Council delegation to join the Syrian National Council, and wanted this meeting to directly hear Kurdish opinion. The interpretation of the U.S. Administration in support for the Kurdish political movement is premature. This was a positive event, but the US government should contact and meet various representatives of the Syrian Kurdish street, especially those that work for a federal Syria and want to bring down the Assad terrorist regime.

Gordon:  Do you believe that the Obama Administration has played a productive role in fostering Syrian dissident opposition during this crisis?

Abbas:  Unfortunately, the Obama administration played a role in the mismanagement of the Syrian crisis. It did not encourage a clear and supportive policy toward democratic groups. If the Syrian Revolution fails, the current U.S. administration will have had a key role. This policy is producing harmful results for the Syrian people and encourages the system to continue to commit crimes against humanity. The question for President Obama is what is his Administration’s goal? Is the goal either keeping the Baathists in power in Damascus or bringing Muslim Brotherhood Islamists who control the SNC to power? Both cases do not serve the interests of either the majority of the Syrian people or the international community.”

And the Obama administration stopped a France and Saudi plan to in one strike take out the top Assad leadership:

“US President Obama recently vetoed a detailed Franco-Saudi plan for ending President Bashar Assad’s rule by means of a massive air strike against his palace that would at one fell swoop wipe him, his family and top leadership circle out,

Their plan was for the presidential palace situated atop Mount Qassioun northeast of Damascus to be devastated by French warplanes taking off from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier off Syria’s Mediterranean coast and Saudi and United Arab Emirates bombers flying in through Jordan.

They would bomb the palace for 12 hours in several sorties while at the same time American fighter jets launched from a US aircraft carrier cruising in the Mediterranean or Red Sea would shut down Syria’s air defenses, which are considered among the most sophisticated and densely-arrayed in the region.

US warplanes would also keep the Syrian Air Force grounded and prevented from repulsing the incoming bombers.

This plan was presented to President Obama separately by Nicolas Sarkozy before he was voted out of office and Saudi Defense Minister Prince Salman, who arrived at the White House on April 12 for a personal presentation. The prince maintained that there is no end in sight for the Syrian conflict; it would only spread and ignite the rest of the Middle East. The peril could only be rooted out at source by a single, sharp military strike that would remove Assad and his close clan for good. This would be the only acceptable kind of Western-Arab armed intervention in Syria and it had the added advantage of being effective without bringing foreign boots to Syrian soil.

In early May, Sarkozy was still trying to talk Obama around to the plan. He spent his last days in the Elysée Palace in long telephone conversations with the White House in which he drove home three points:

1. Because Assad has concentrated his family, top military command and intelligence chiefs at a single nerve center behind the fortified walls of the Qassioun Palace, the snake’s head can feasibly be cut off at one stroke.

The case of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi was different because, unlike Assad, he never stayed long in one place and was constantly on the move.

2. Once that nerve center is destroyed, Syrian army and intelligence would be bereft of their sources of command. Their troops may remain in their bases and wait for news, while their officers may use the sudden political vacuum inDamascus to try and seize power. In either case, the Syrian military would be free of its orders to crush the anti-Assad revolt.

3. The French, Saudi and UAE air forces lack a central command center capable of coordinating a major combined air operation and therefore depend on the United States to provide this essential component. American military input is also vital for paralyzingSyria’s air defenses by applying its cyber warfare capabilities to disrupt the radar systems ofSyria’s anti-air missile batteries.

Our Washington sources report that Obama consistently resisted repeated French and Saudi efforts to jump aboard their initiative.

The Saudi defense minister at one point in their conversation told the US president harshly that it was time for the Americans to stop talking and start acting. But Obama remained unmoved.

These events, provide the background for Presidents Barak Obama and Francois Hollande’s divergent responses Tuesday, May 29, to the al-Houla atrocity and its 108 brutally murdered victims.

The White House repeated its objection to military intervention in Syria “at this time,” because it would only “increase the carnage.” A military option was left on the table.

That was standard Obama-speak for the crisis in Syria, behind which he remains determined to stay out of armed action for unseating President Assad and instead seek a deal with the Russians on the Syrian ruler’s fate as part and parcel of a comprehensive accord on Syria and Iran’s nuclear program.

President Hollande was at first quoted as saying he does not rule out armed intervention in Syria. Elysée sources later watered down this statement with the qualifier: …”only with UN Security Council approval.”

On top of the American hurdle, Moscow and Beijing rushed Wednesday, May 30, to reiterate that they would oppose (veto) any Security Council resolution authorizing military intervention in Syria, so effectively nipping the French intention in the bud.

Bashar Assad accordingly had no qualms about sending UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan off empty-handed from a final bid to salvage his peace mission: The world powers have left him sitting pretty in his palace, unconcerned about his future and free to pursue one of the most vicious anti-opposition campaigns of modern times.”

I wrote six weeks ago:

“Samantha Power, a prominent advocate of humanitarian intervention and the principle of ”responsibility to protect”, is considered to be the key figure within the Obama administration in persuading the president to intervene militarily in Libya.

Power, was a senior foreign policy adviser to senator Obama, and now a Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director of the National Security Council.

But on Syria? NOT A PEEP!

And the same Samantha Power, Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director of the National Security Council, mentioned above just got apointed by Obama to head the new White House Atrocities Prevention Board.

But still on Syria? NOT A PEEP!

So apparently she is Very SELECTIVE in which atrocities to “prevent”.”

And now over a month later, the White House Atrocities Prevention Board hasn’t said one letter or peep about Syria.

So apparently the slaughter of over 15 000 civilians, many of them children, in the most barbaric ways imaginable are not apparently considered by Samantha Power, The White house, Hillary Clinton or Obama; to be atrocities.

So the next time these people in their usual pompous ways start talking about human rights, peace, the UN Charter,  ”responsibility to protect”, prevention of atrocities etc. ; you know it’s utter crap and a lie.

Their hypocrisy is so staggering that it is sickening. Literally. And they are the enablers of this crime against humanity.

I have to stop here because this is way too long already. I could continue for another, say 30 pages. to describe the folly of the Obama administrations Middle East policy. But that I leave for another day.

See Part 10 – US and the Obama administartion in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 10

The final part in two or three days

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The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 4

9 juni, 2012

Third, the countries and organizations that makes this possible (continuation):

NATO

NATO is becoming more irrelevant and hypocritical by the day. Here is one of the latest masterpieces:

NATO action in Syria not on the table, US envoy says

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?ID=403578

NATO military action in Syria was not on the table despite the massacre of civilians by the regime, the US envoy to the alliance said Thursday.

NATO allies have neither discussed an intervention in Syria nor made any military planning to stop the relentless crackdown by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad against dissidents, said US ambassador Ivo Daalder.

Daalder noted that the alliance launched its air war in Libya last year after three conditions were fulfilled: a ”demonstrable need” to intervene, support from nations in the region, and a UN Security Council mandate.

”With respect to a demonstrable need, clearly when government forces are attacking civilians with artillery and tanks, there is a need to bring that to an end. That was true in Libya and that is true in Syria,” he said.

But there is neither regional support nor a UN mandate to act militarily in Syria.

”So under those circumstances, the NATO countries understand that the issue of military intervention, which is also always complex, is not right now on the table when it comes to Syria,” Daalder said.

All NATO members, notably Syria‘s neighbor Turkey, are watching the situation ”very carefully and that is where things stand right now,” the ambassador added.

”How it will evolve in the future is anyone’s guess,” he said.

”But the point is that for now there is no active planning in NATO for a military intervention and there is no agreement among or even within the NATO members for moving in this direction at this point.”

This is interesting to say the least. Ivo Daalder just TOTALLY rewrote the NATO doctrine and reason d’être.

In Libyat here was only some “support” from nations in the region”. And the mandate from UN was very different for what they actually used it for.

And in Afghanistan the same thing, only some nations in the region supported that.

But in either case, it didn’t stop NATO from intervening.

So now suddenly when it comes to Syria, and NATO don’t want t do anything because there is “no” support from nations in the region. Well, there is A LOT OF SUPPORT IN THE REGION FOR THAT. So that’s not the real reason.

It seems that NATO is changing it’s doctrine to fit the circumstances and as an excuse for not doing things when it so chose.

In NATO: s new doctrine, the “New Strategic Concept” adopted in Lisbon in November 2010, there is no mention that a prerequisite for any NATO action is to have “support from nations in the region”.

If NATO doesn’t want to do anything in Syria, fine. But be straightforward and say so instead of hiding between “grand principles” and inventing excuses that is not in their doctrine.

It is sad to see an organisation that played such a crucial role for the protection of the Western European countries become what it now have become.

And it’s getting even more ridicules as I have written about before. NATO pretends that doing ANYTHING in Syria  “would fuel a proliferation of weapons in the region”.

So on one side Russia, Iran and China literally pouring in all types of heavy weapons (remember the 240 mm Russian mortar bomb), personal, training etc for the Assad regime.

On the other unarmed civilians and a resistance with some light arms.

And NATO is apparently very worried that if the civilians get anything more than Kalashnikovs and the odd RPG, so they at least can defend themselves and offer some resistance to the Assad forces, that that would constitute “a proliferation of weapons in the region”.

NATO opposes arming Syria rebels

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=382781

“NATO’s chief on Monday said the alliance was opposed to providing arms to the Syrian opposition seeking to counter a regime crackdown, warning that it would fuel a proliferation of weapons in the region.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen called for a diplomatic solution and reiterated that NATO, which led the Libya air war that contributed to Moammar Qaddafi’s downfall last year, had ”no intention whatsoever to intervene in Syria.”

And to top it off:

We monitor the situation closely,” Rasmussen said, adding that the situation in Syria could impact neighboring Turkey, a NATO member.

It’s absolutely outrageous what we have witnessed in Syria,” he added.”

This must be one of the most hypocritical, cynical and ridiculous statements ever made by NATO.

The people of Syria will “thank you” for your “deep concern” as they are being slaughtered by the Assads forces.

So according to this superb NATO logic, the Russian 240 mm mortar bomb, supplied by the as always helpful Russia, used to destroy block after block, neighbourhood after neighbourhood in CIVILIAN Syrian cities, is NO PROBLEM WHATSOEVER.

It is the largest mortar bomb known to be in production and use. It weighs 130 kilograms and contains 31.93 kilograms of TNT as an explosive charge.

But giving this to the resistance so they can defend themselves is a serious “proliferation of weapons in the region”

Really good work there NATO!

By the way, the use of such weapons in dense urban environments is a war crime.

This is the same NATO that without any hesitation went in full scale in Libya. Then it wasn’t any talk about “that it would fuel a proliferation of weapons in the region”.

See Part 8 – EU and NATO in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 8

UN and Kofi Annan

As for the do nothing as usual UN, it “proudly” upholds its tradition of doing ABSOLUTLY NOTHING when it really maters, like Rwanda, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Darfur, Bosnia (Srebrenica anyone?) etc.  And now Syria.

Remember that the UN observers are now there in full “force” and all the slaughtering going on is happening on their watch.

Just to show the total and utter failure of this latest UN and Kofi Annan peace plan:

After the latest massacre, number XX in order, the UN observers where stopped by Assads troops from reaching the place of massacre. And then Assad troops shot at them.

Doesn’t it really seems that Assad is fulfilling EVERY POINT OF THE PEACE PLAN HE FORMERLY AGREED TO?

It’s pathetic and the people of Syria is, as usual, paying the price.

Heavy weapons, drones, gunfire used against UN monitors inSyria, Ban says

http://www.myfoxdfw.com/story/18731532/heavy-weapons-drones-gunfire-used-against-un-monitors-ban-says

Source: AFP

”NEW YORK– Heavy weapons, armor-piercing bullets and surveillance drones have been used against UN observers in Syria to hamper their efforts to monitor the worsening conflict, UN leader Ban Ki-moon told a Security Council meeting Thursday.

Diplomats inside a closed council briefing on Syriaquoted Ban as saying the tactics had been used to try to force the unarmed monitors to withdraw from areas where government forces have been accused of staging attacks.

Ban said the heavy shelling had been used to deter a UN Supervision Mission in Syria convoy, drones had monitored the movements of observers and the armor-piercing bullets had been fired at UN vehicles.

According to UN officials, UN vehicles are shot at almost every day in Syria.

Ban told the 15-nation council that UN observers had seen Syrian military convoys approaching villages and tried to stop tank assaults against populated areas but had been ”ignored.”

UN observers unable to reach Syria massacre site

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=406496

Syrian troops and local residents are preventing UN observers from reaching a site where 55 people were reported killed by pro-regime militants, the head of the UN mission in Syria said Thursday.

”The UN Supervision Mission in Syria dispatched UN observers to Al-Kubeir early Thursday morning to verify reports of large-scale killings in the village,” Major General Robert Mood said in a statement.

He said the observers were stopped at Syrian army checkpoints and in some cases turned back. He said civilians were also stopping the monitors.

”We are receiving information from residents of the area that the safety of our observers is at risk if we enter [the]village of Al-Kubeir,” Mood said.

”Despite these challenges, the observers are still working to get into the village to try to establish the facts on the ground,” he added.

Mood said he was concerned that the restrictions imposed on the movement of the monitors will impede their ability to carry out their mission.”

UN monitors shot at trying to get to Syria massacre, Ban says

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=406566

UN monitors trying to get to the scene of a new massacre in Syria were shot at, UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Thursday, calling the latest atrocity ”shocking and sickening.”

Ban discussed the attack on the UN monitors in a speech to the UN General Assembly hours after the reported slaughter of dozens of people in the village of Al-Kubeir.

”UN monitors were initially denied access,” Ban told the 193-country assembly.

They are working now to get to the scene and I just learned a few minutes ago that while trying to do so, the UN monitors were shot at with small arms.”

A UN spokesperson, Farhan Haq, later gave more details of the attack.

”The mission reports that, around 3:00 pmlocal time today, a four-vehicle convoy from the mission was hit by small arms fire in Hama, while en route to investigate yesterday’s alleged killings,” Haq said.

”No UN military observers were injured, but one vehicle was slightly damaged. The patrol was forced to withdraw to a nearby government checkpoint.”

Al-Kubeir is close to the protest city of Hama.

The monitors were not able to enter Al-Kubeir today. They will try again tomorrow,” Haq added.

Ban again strongly condemned President Bashar al-Assad’s government, saying it had ”lost all legitimacy,” with its record further tarnished by the massacres in Houla last month and in Al-Kubeir.

”The trail of blood leads back to those responsible,” he said. ”Any regime or leader that tolerates such killing of innocents has lost its fundamental humanity.”

Ban called the reports coming from Al-Kubeir ”shocking and sickening.”

We condemn this unspeakable barbarity and renew our determination to bring those responsible to account,” he said.”

On Friday, the observers finally managed to get to al-Qubair:

UN’s Syria monitors sift through debris of al-Qubair attack Scenes of burned-out houses and charred human remains in village where up to 78 people were reportedly killed in cold blood

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/08/un-syria-monitors-al-qubair?newsfeed=true

“UN monitors on Friday entered for the first time the Syrian village where up to 78 people were reportedly killed in cold blood on Wednesday, the latest in a series of atrocities that have underlined the gravity of the escalating crisis.

The observers were met with scenes of burned-out houses, charred human remains and the clear impression that a ”terrible crime” had occurred in Mazraat al-Qubair near Hama, according to a BBC correspondent following the UN team. On Thursday the monitors were fired at and their access blocked by Syrian forces.

”It is not hard to verify. As soon as you walk into the first house, you are hit by the stench of burnt flesh,” reported Paul Danahar. ”You can see that a terrible crime has taken place. Everything has been burnt, houses have been gutted. The most distressing scenes were at the house next door. I walked in and saw brains lying on the floor. There was a tablecloth covered in blood and flesh and someone had tried to mop the blood up by pushing it into the corner, but it seems they had given up because there was so much of it around.”

In a video clip posted on the internet, a Syrian woman named Lathat calmly described how the hamlet had been attacked by ”regime forces and Shabiha” (government militia) who killed children, including two of her daughters, with knives and axes. ”The army came with the Shabiha with a tank,” she said. ”May God take revenge on Bashar al-Assad.” Like much material emanating from Syria, it was impossible to verify independently.”

And

UN observers reach Syria massacre village, activists say

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=407010

“United Nations observers on Friday reached the Syrian village of Al-Kubeirwhere dozens of residents were massacred two days ago, activists told AFP.

The monitors on Thursday were fired at by gunmen and forced to turn back as they tried to reach the village located in a farming region in the centralprovince of Hama.

”The observers first headed to the village of Maarzaf where the victims were buried and then to Al-Kubeir to survey the damage from army shelling,” activist Abdel Karim al-Hamwi said.

He said soldiers at a checkpoint in Maarzaf ordered residents not to speak to the observers or face reprisals.”

“Paul Danahar, a BBC correspondent travelling on Friday with the UN convoy, reported seeing gutted buildings in Al-Kubeir and no sign of life.

”The largest of the two houses on a hilltop in Al-Kubeir has been gutted by fire. The stench of burnt flesh is still strong,” he wrote in a post on the social networking website Twitter.

He quoted activists as saying that government forces had removed the bodies of the victims on Thursday while the observers were being hindered from reaching the village.

Danahar said Al-Kubeir consists of just a few single-story flat-roofed buildings set in the middle of corn fields.”

And what do they do about these in their own words barbaric acts? – Nothing as usual!

Only more of the same, i.e. doing nothing:

Annan says Assad must face “consequences”

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=406593

Expressing horror at the latest massacre in Syria, UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan told the major powers on Thursday that it was time to threaten ”consequences” if President Bashar al-Assad does not act to halt the strife.

Annan and UN leader Ban Ki-moon condemned the reported slaughter of dozens of people in the villageof Al-Kubeir on Tuesday and told the 193-nation UN General Assembly it was time to increase pressure.

Annan expressed ”horror and condemnation” at the Al-Kubeir killings. Ban said the massacre reports were ”shocking and sickening.”

”The trail of blood leads back to those responsible,” Ban said, in describing how UN monitors trying to get to Al-Kubeir were shot at. ”Any regime or leader that tolerates such killing of innocents has lost its fundamental humanity.”

The international envoy, who secured Assad’s agreement to a six-point peace plan, grimly told the assembly: ”I must be frank and confirm that the plan is not being implemented.”

Yeah, it took him over two months to discover that witch was obvious to anyone with eyes and more than one brain cell after only the first week..

And AS USUAL what do the UN/Kofi Annan recommend? MORE OF THE SAME TOTALLY USELESS “measures”. While the slaughter is going on.

Annan called for stronger international action to back his peace plan, which includes demands for Assad to pull troops and guns out of cities and halt violence so that political talks can start. But a cessation of hostilities that officially started on April 12 has now all but collapsed.

Annan said the international community had united behind the peace planbut it now must take that unity to a new level.”

”We must find the will and the common ground to act—and act as one,” he said.

”Individual actions or interventions will not resolve the crisis. As we demand compliance with international law and the six-point plan, it must be made clear that there will be consequences if compliance is not forthcoming.”

He warned that without change in Syria, ”the future is likely to be one of brutal repression, massacres, sectarian violence and even all-out civil war”

The future???

 IT IS ALREADY HAPPENING SINCE 15 months!

“UN leader Ban also expressed grave concern at the growing death toll, which Syrian activists say has now surpassed 13,000 in 15 months of conflict.

”In view of the deteriorating situation, I would welcome further international discussion on how we can act more effectively,” Ban said.

”No one can predict how the situation in Syria will evolve. We must be prepared for any eventuality. We must be ready to respond to many possible scenarios.”

As I said before what do the UN/Kofi Annan recommend? MORE OF THE SAME TOTALLY USELESS “measures”. While the slaughter is going on.

The most recent example: Annan now wants to create a new “contract group”.

It is to be composed of the five permanent Security Council members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) plus Iran,Turkey,Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

IRAN???

So it is NOT ENOUGH THAT RUSSIA and CHINA IS BLOCKING EVERY MOVE against Syria. Now that “genius” Annan wants IRAN, which together with Russia is the biggest supporter of Assad and made sure that he has survived so far, to be on the group that is supposed to make all the decisions regarding Syria.

And of course the Obama administration immediately approved of this plan. At least the French had the sense to demand that Iran be excluded from this group..

As for the rest of the countries on that list, they are the countries that have managed to do absolutely nothing during these 15 months of the slaughter and uprising,

Remember also that Iran have been trying for the last year to kill Saudi Arabian diplomats all over the world, including in USA. And Iran also want to overthrow ALL the Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia. That’s what behind the troubles in Bahrain.

And Saudi Arabia on it’s hand is doing everything to thwart and overthrow the Iranian regime.

Doesn’t this sounds like a “lovely, peaceful and harmonious” group that is going to solve everything regarding Syria??

Only a “genius” like Annan and UN could come up with a so derailed plan. Because in their perverted world view it is ONLY diplomacy that MATTERS. If one plan fails, ok so we try another and another in all endlessness regardless of how useless or ridicules the plans are.

They change a comma here, add an asterisk there, change a word or the ending of a word here etc. in their “peace plans”.

And voila – everything is magically fixed and solved forever!

In the meantime, as we have seen time and time again ALL OVER THE WORLD, the civilian populations are getting killed and slaughtered year in and year out.

While the UN “observes” and condemns.

And do nothing in the name of the high charter they were founded on.

The contract group:

Iran stalled the US Secretary and UN-Arab League Envoy Kofi Annan’s plan to present the world body’s special session Thursday, June 7, with a plan for a contract group based on five permanent Security Council members and Iran to handle the Syrian impasse. Tehran refused to join the group as long as it faces nuclear conditions, after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Istanbul that Iran must come to the nuclear talks in Moscow “ready to take concrete steps” to curb its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity.

Discussion of the plan was therefore abandoned in the hall and confined to UN corridors. By forcing the pace at the special general assembly crisis session, Tehran once again demonstrated its refusal to play ball with the international community until its major power status in the Middle East is recognized.

Iranian sources have insisted in recent days that the six power talks with Iran were not just about its nuclear program but affected a wider spectrum, because the nuclear issue could be settled at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Tehran has made it clear that the continuation of nuclear diplomacy is contingent on the general recognition of Iran’s major power status.

Kofi Annan warned that if nothing changes in Syria, the future holds all-out civil war. His words attested to the helplessness of the world body to put a stop of the bloodshed in Syria, combined with the Obama administration’s refusal to intervene in the crisis in the expectation that Russia and Iran would step up. That expectation has faded.

Israel remains dormant despite the serious consequences to its strategic and security situation threatened by the new proposal the UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan is to present to the UN Thursday, June 7, for saving his peace plan. The nub of his proposal, is the creation of a “contact group” for handling the hot Syrian potato. It is to be composed of the five permanent Security Council members (US, UK, France, Russia and China) plus Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The proposal has won the blessing of the Obama administration, meaning its consent to letting the two powers that will dominate the contact group, Russia and Iran, determine the course and outcome of the Syrian crisis.

Washington believes that only they have the clout in the Syrian army for bringing about Bashar Assad’s removal and his replacement in Damascus by a provisional military regime. Washingtonalso hopes, according to our sources, that this gesture will give Moscowa strong incentive to lean hard onTehran for concessions at the next round of its talk with the six world powers on June 13.

Neither Iran nor Moscow have promised the US anything of the sort, but the administration hopes Iran will start being forthcoming on its nuclear program after being permitted to assume a central role in Damascus.

There is less optimism outside administration circles and inIsrael. They expect from Tehran nothing more at the next round of talks than token nuclear concessions, and none at all toward curtailing its work on a nuclear weapon.

However the Obama administration appears to have opted for this course, even though it is the first time since the outbreak of the Arab Revolt in December 2010 that the United States is willing to let go of a major Middle East crisis and allow its foremost Middle East rivals, Moscow and Tehran, to take charge.

President Barack Obama had proposed to President Vladimir Putin the creation of a large force of 5,000 international monitors for Syria, most of them Russians, to safeguard Assad’s stock of biological and chemical weapons against falling into the hands of al Qaeda or Syrian rebels. This team consisting of thousands of Russian troops would be the operational arm of the future “contact group.”

As far as Israelis concerned, the plan has disastrous connotations. Instead of containing the spread of hostile Iranian influence in the region, as Obama promised Israel, he is opening for the door for Iran to extend its influence squarely in the countries neighboring on – and still at war with – Israel, while at the same time moving back from a focused effort to draw the sting of Iran’s nuclear bomb program.

Israel’s political and security tacticians never took into account that a consequence of the Syrian revolt would be the establishment of full-blown Iranian sway over Damascus in partnership with Russia. Indeed, for 15 months, they insisted that the Syrian uprising was proof ofAmerica’s success in breaking up the dangerous Tehran-Damascus-Hizballah axis.”

France backs new Syria “Contact Group,” says Foreign Ministry

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=406957

“France backs UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s bid to bring key powers into a contact group on the Syria crisis, but it opposes bringing Iran into the group, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

”We are favorable to any initiative that can help put into operation the Annan plan,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero told reporters.

But he noted that Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius had already stated two days ago that Iran, an ally of the regime led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, could in no way be involved in such a group.

Setting up a new contact group on Syria was not incompatible with the Friends of Syria group meeting on July 6 in Paris, said Valero.

That group seeks to co-ordinate Western and Arab efforts to stop the violence inSyria.

Annan is under pressure to revive his six-point peace plan, which the international community has accused Assad of flouting. A series of massacres of civilians have heightened international outrage over the conflict.

Annan’s proposal for a contact group however risks setting off new tensions over Syria.

The United States quickly made it known that it considered Iran to be a ”spoiler” in the worsening Syria crisis.

Russia, Assad’s last major ally, has offered to host an international conference on the situation in Syria.”

And this is the UN that wants to be a “world government” and a words power.

See Part 9 – UN and Kofi Annan in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 9

And finally some perspectives from the Israeli side after their talks with Russia and China:

Syria atrocities to go on

Op-ed: Condemnations of Assad meaningless as long asChina,RussiaandIranthink he’s legitimate

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4239906,00.html

“The Russians have no problem telling the truth: They have no idea of the direction the Syrian crisis is heading to. In ongoing diplomatic contacts amongIsraeland senior Russian officials, the Russians admit that their policy is determined from one week to the next.

In fact, they’re not alone. The Russian policy, which the Chinese share, is no different in essence than Europe’s and America’s policy towards Syria. In Mideastern terms we can say that both sides are making their decisions from one massacre to the next.

A few weeks ago, the head of Israel’s National Security Agency, Major-General Yaakov Amidror, visited Moscow in a bid to convince the Russians to end their support for Assad and stop pouring weapons to his regime. The Russians made it clear that they have no intention of doing so, and never had such intention.

It’s not as though they are clinging to Assad the man; they would have no trouble endorsing someone else, as long as he will be able to preserve Russia’s regional interests the way Assad can. They also have no trouble, alongside the arms shipments, to prepare the immediate evacuation of their people should Assad fall.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz heard the same mantra, more or less, when he visited China recently and the Syria issue came up.

The Foreign Ministry’s political research center, which is an intelligence agency in every way, has been drafting detailed lists of the civilians killed in Syria since the crisis erupted: The total stands at 12,500 people. The killing rate at this time stands at 50-60 dead civilians per day, on average.

See you in next massacre

Yet despite this, the conclusion of Foreign Ministry researchers is that the state of Assad’s regime today is essentially no different than it was six months ago. There is indeed gradual erosion, yet one cannot yet see the great crisis that will prompt its collapse.

Indeed, all the talk about Assad’s de-legitimacy is meaningless as long as the Chinese, the Russians, the Iranians and the Lebanese think he’s legitimate. He also maintains his legitimacy for now in large sectors of Syrian society.

So the US State Department publicizes yet another plan referring to the need to invoke the UN’s Chapter 7 and accuse Assad of undermining the global order. Big deal. The Americans are talking about 3,000 monitors – instead of the current 300 – who would also engage in enforcement. They are again talking about buffer zones along the Syrian border and about humanitarian corridors deep in Syria to be protected by gunships. For the time being, it’s all talk.

So what did we have in Syria this week? Two brutal massacres, more horrific pictures, and a meeting of world leaders in Turkey that produced numerous declarations on the Syrian question and zero actions.

We’ll see you in the next massacre. Under this state of affairs, President Assad can survive for a long time. “

Next part in two or three days

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The Slaughter in Syria and the countries that make it possible – 3

8 juni, 2012

Third, the countries and organizations that makes this possible (continuation):

TURKEY

There are reports that Turkey has switched side again (for the fourth time). Remember that up to last summer Erdogan was Assads (and Iran’s) buddy and ally. Then Turkey switched to “neutrality”, sort of. Then last winter Turkey switched to sort of support for the opposition.

It is now reported that Ankara had secretly notified leaders of the rebel Free Syrian Army on Thursday, May 31 that it had withdrawn permission for them to launch operations against the Assad regime from Turkish soil.

So the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has double-crossed Western/UN/Arab Syrian policy and moved over to help prop Assad up at the very moment his regime was partly on the point of buckling under international after-shocks from the systematic massacres of his own people

That day, Foreign Minister Davutoglu announced over Turkish NTV: “We have never advised either the Syrian National Council or the Syrian administration to conduct an armed fight, and we will never do so.” He added: “The Syrian people will be the driving force that eventually topples the Syrian regime. Assad will leave as a result of the people’s will.”

This was precisely what Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the day before when he spoke out against violent rebellion, military intervention and sanctions to topple the Syrian ruler.

Obama and his administration have built their whole Syrian policy by letting Erdogan in practice be in the driving seat. Remember also that Obama repeatedly have said that he consider Erdogan to be a “close personal friend” and one of the five top international friends.

To be fair, Turkey had some proposals how to support the opposition and what to do, But they were ALL turned down by the Obama administration, And Turkey didn’t dare going at it alone.

See Part 6 –Turkeyin my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 6

EU

The joke that is called EU and its “united” foreign policy (EEAS) is now at round 15 of sanctions against Syria.

Just one example of the steady stream of UTTER MEANINGLESS BABBLE AND PRATTLE that’s coming from EU:

EU: Syria massacres ‘unforgivable’

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=406621

“European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Thursday condemned the ”horrendous” and ”unforgivable” massacres of citizens in Syria.”

Just a hint – if they are SO ”horrendous” and ”unforgivable” why don’t you DO SOMETHING FOR A CHANGE!

”It is totally unacceptable and unforgivable that any party to the Syrian conflict, either government or opposition forces, continues to commit these heinous acts of violence against innocent Syrian citizens,” she said.”

So let’s se if I get this right – The Syrian civilian population are in effect, according to this “brilliant analysis of EU: s Foreign Minister, slaughtering themselves in the most barbaric way??

Yeah, that sounds right.

”I strongly condemn the brutal violence and killing of dozens of civilians yesterday” in the villages of Al-Kubeir and Maarzaf in Hama province, she added in a statement.

The Syrian government has the responsibility to protect its people,” the statement also said. ”I call for a full investigation of the horrendous crimes and support all efforts to this end.”

Well, the Assad regime doesn’t want to “protect” its people. It wants to slaughter ALL the opposition, which is most of the country.

“Ashton said the EU also condemned efforts to obstruct the implementation of Special Envoy Kofi Annan’s six point plan and called on the international community ”to unite behind a political process leading to a democratic transition.”

It is time for us to agree on a united way forward. There is no time to lose. The UN Security Council must continue to support Kofi Annan and use all its influence to stop the violence.”

“There is no time to lose”  Eehh – the slaughtering has been going on for over 15 months by now. With over 15 000 dead. And the brutal dictatorship has been going “on” for over 45 years.

After all this talk, what do they propose? More of the same that has failed all this time. And time and time again before Syria.

Another meaningless sanction.

Another condemnation.

Another meeting or conference.

Another “peace plan”.

Another “observation” mission.

Etc.

See Part 8 – EU and NATO in my original series for more info

Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 8

And some news from Syria- Nothing new here:

A new Massacre (number XX) – now in al-Qubeir. In the all too familiar pattern. First, the army begins by a merciless barrage of artillery on a village, town or neighborhood. Second, the   Shabiha goes in and literally slaughter EVERYONE. From the youngest child to the oldest pensioner.

Syria: full horror of al-Qubeir masacre emerges

The voice of Laith al-Hemary’s brother whispered on the mobile phone: ”There are shouts and screams coming from outside,” he said. ”They are killing everyone they find.” Then the line went dead.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9317692/Syria-full-horror-of-al-Qubeir-masacre-emerges.html

“This was the last time that Mr Hemary, 30, spoke to his brother before he was killed inside the family home in the Syrian hamlet of al-Qubeir on Wednesday.

He was among 78 victims who are believed to have died in a frenzied onslaught in this village in a farming district some 15 miles from the city ofHama.

The full horror of the atrocity was betrayed by bloody videos of mutilated children’s bodies and charred corpses.

In a few hours, almost the entire population of al-Qubeir was massacred in what appears to have been one of the bloodiest incidents since the start of the Syrian uprising.

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad were responsible, according to opposition activists. They said that regular forces were working in tandem with a pro-government militia, known as the Shabiha, recruited largely from Mr Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

The regime’s troops began the attack on Wednesday afternoon with a heavy artillery barrage, said the activists. Then Shabiha militiamen entered the hamlet armed with sticks, guns and knives. They attacked homes and farmhouses, shooting and slaughtering all the inhabitants they could find.

Mr Hemary and his cousin were among only a handful of survivors of the massacre. ”I could see thick smoke rising from al-Qubeir,” he said. ”I called my brother constantly on the mobile. He was hiding in our home. He told me cars full of Shabiha had come to the village and were attacking everyone and burning houses.”

At 5.10pm, three hours after the attack began, Mr Hemary’s brother’s voice died away and he stopped answering his calls. Pushing open the door of his home several hours later, Mr Hemary found the bodies of his mother, three sisters and three brothers lying bloodied on the ground.

They had been beaten on the head by sticks and stabbed with knives,” he said. ”I went to other homes. I saw family after family slaughtered by knives.”

After the militia departed and al-Qubeir fell quiet later that evening, people from nearby villages ventured into the stricken hamlet. ”I saw a two-month-old child without a head,” said Abou Hisham al-Hamouli, who lives in a village just over a mile from al-Qubeir. ”I saw the burnt corpse of a woman. Her two children were wrapped around, hugging her. They died like that. There were two many burnt bodies.”

Other eyewitnesses reported how the militiamen sang songs in praise of Mr Assad.

A former soldier who joined the rebel Free Syrian Army said that he reached the village within hours of the massacre, but left quickly because Syrian government troops were still in the area. ”I went into houses and saw children without a head, and others without arms. Some were burned and some were without eyes,” he said.

There were only five known survivors, he added. The exact number of victims could not be confirmed, but people from the nearby village of Maarizab said they had buried 57 corpses. A further thirty bodies were missing and had not yet been buried, said activists.

With almost no foreign reporters inSyria, the accounts of what happened in this remote farming village cannot be independently verified.

The massacre comes less than two weeks after an atrocity in the town of al-Houla in Homs province, where eyewitnesses blamed the killing on the same Shabiha milita.”

Or as EU:s Lady Ashton said: ”It is time for us to agree on a united way forward. There is no time to lose”

Yeah sure, You are going to hit Assad with a 16th round of sanctions and he will be “so scared” that he stops the slaughtering don’t you think?

And the as always helpful Russians are as usual blocking EVERY ACTION:

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=406647

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Thursday vowed there would be no UN Security Council mandate for outside intervention in Syria, indicating Moscow would use its veto to block any military action.

There will not be a Security Council mandate for outside intervention, I guarantee you that,” Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of a trip toKazakhstan by President Vladimir Putin.”

This piece from Amal Hanano sums up the desperation inside Syria quite well:

Houla: Not a Game Changer

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/5853/-houla_not-a-game-changer-%20#Syria

“Confession: the images of the carnage in Houla did not move me like they seem to have moved the rest of the world. Yes, they were tragic, horrific acts of violence against the most innocent of victims. But they didn’t break anything inside of me that was not already broken, nor did they raise the level of outrage or sorrow I feel everyday over what is happening in Syria.

Maybe it was because in the twenty-fours hours before hearing about the Houla massacre, I had heard that a friend’s relative had been killed, I had heard that another friend’s elderly relative had been kidnapped by gangs for ransom, I had received desperate Skype messages from an activist in Homs, crying, “my precious ones are gone, my precious ones are gone,” referring to three Shaam News Network media activists who had been shot dead by Assad forces, I had spoken with the brother of a martyr in Aleppo, who told me that since his older brother was killed one week ago, he was trying to act normally but the truth was, his “heart was burning.” By late afternoon, when I watched the first video of the children of Houla, with their tiny throats slit open below their ashen, angelic faces, all I could feel was yet another heavy thud of dread. One we had felt many times before.

The days after Houla brought the news of the death of Basel Shehade, the brilliant, young filmmaker who was killed by the shells falling over Homs. (Will the shells ever stop falling over Homs?) The days after Houla brought news of continued shelling and burning of Aleppo’s and Idleb’s countryside, and the deaths of another a dozen men — their eyes blindfolded and hands bound — executed in Deir al-Zor. The days after Houla brought news of thousands of Syrian refugees inEgypt who found themselves stranded with empty homes, empty pockets, and a bleak, uncertain future.

The days after Houla continued as all the days had before. But the world’s eyes halted on the massacre.

Houla’s images instigated the world’s outrage in its predictable forms: in heart-wrenching eyewitness accounts of children watching their families being murdered; in sectarian-tainted op-eds that cynically questioned who had perpetrated the crimes; in dry-eyed, canned statements by regime mouthpieces complaining about the media’s “tsunami of lies” which painted the regime as criminal when in fact it was a “victim.” There was outrage over the images themselves andoutrage over the decision to exposing the international public to the violent images (as not to upset an innocent British boy or girl).

And the outrage moved from analysis and narrative to questions: Is the UN plan working? Is a regime-led investigation a fair way to proceed? Who committed the crimes? Is killing by shelling (by the regime) as bad as killing by close-range (by unknown “monsters” according to Bashar al-Assad)? Is it pronounced Houla or Huli? Were the slaughtered people Sunni or Shite (or Sunnis who had converted to Shiism)? Are we with or against foreign intervention? Who will replace Assad? Who will arm the rebels? Who are the rebels? Why is the Syrian opposition still fragmented?

And of course the debate: Will Houla be Syria’s Sabra and Shatila, Syria’s Srebrenica, Syria’s game changer?

What exactly is the “world” responding to? The graphic images? The sheer brutality? The number of dead? The gruesome stories?

Over the last fifteen months we have seen Houla and variations of Houla happen over and over. We witnessed slaughtered bodies in February in the Karm al-Zeitoun massacre. We have seen men and boys dripping with blood, with half their face blown off, still struggling to breath. We watched while an entire city was destroyed, missile by missile. We watched a man flattened by an Assad tank, over and over, into human road kill. We have seen dead children, not only slaughtered but bombed, burned, and mutilated. We know in addition to Houla’s fifty-two dead children, there are hundreds of others; in addition to Houla’s murdered men and women, there are thousands of others. Our dead have been left to rot on the streets of Homs. Our dead have been buried in the public parks ofHama. Houla’s mass grave is just one more to add to the others, inHoms,Hama, Rastan, and Jisr al-Shoughour. And let’s not forget the unknown thousands of Syrians buried under the concrete foundations of a luxury hotel inHama by Assad the elder.

Houla was tragedy. But it was not a game changer. Not even close. Not to us, at least. Maybe it was to those who have been hedging bets on Syria’s future. Or to those who keep a secret, magic “number” of how many Syrians are allowed to die before it’s too much.

How many more gruesome violent videos can we watch before we really can’t stomach it any more? How many people have to die before the world either says enough is enough, or turns away from their screens? How long before the daily death toll in Syria is no longer on the front pages and becomes an invisible battlefield, like Iraq, like Afghanistan, like Libya?

How long before you are desensitized?

How long before you forget?

The cynics still claim that the majority of the Syrian people still back the murderous regime, (although by this time the regime and its “silent majority” should be irrelevant like it would be anywhere else in the world in face of such violence, includingBahrain). When a regime decides to kill thousands of its own, its supporters have become accomplices not neutral citizens.

Why the empty debates? Because the cautiously-watching (yet horrified) world has not decided yet on our “so-called” revolution. They claim it has changed from its romantic (and just) beginnings and has become armed, violent, and sectarian. While the world doubts, we watched the “sectarian” Abd al-Basset Sarout and his “bloodthirsty Salafi” FSA brothers sing in a room to a gleaming wooden coffin with a cross, that held their friend Basel Shehade’s shrapnel-ridden body. We witnessed the regime shut down Basel’s memorial service last Thursday in Damascus to the peaceful thousands who wanted to join the church service and light a candle in his honor. We watched last Friday in mosques across Syria, as Muslim men performed an “absentee” prayer for their martyr,Syria’s martyr,Basel. These are the Syrian people too, whether the world wishes to see them or not. Or perhaps they only tolerate seeing them as shrouded corpses.

Those who still argue searching for game changers in Syria should stop exerting themselves. Those who wait for Assad to change his ways and stop the killing, don’t hold your breath. For those who have been waiting for their magic “number,” it’s too late. The number is too high and has passed the threshold of forgiveness.

The game changed months ago while you were turned away.

Whether your eyes decide to confront or slide away from the images of our slain children makes no difference. Because we have already moved on, to face tomorrow, which holds only one Syrian certainty: there will be blood.

I, along with thousands of Syrians, made a decision from the moment the first fingernails were torn from the innocent hands of Bashir Abazid and his schoolmates in Daraa. After decades of our own silence, we had two words for the Assad regime: Game Over.

As for the world, across the spectrum, from the ones fretting anxiously to the ones claiming Houla was a “hoax,” and everyone else in between: we have one question: What’s your number?”

That is a good question.

What is the number of dead and slaughtered civilians the world “accept”? It now stands at over 15 000 dead.

Next part in one or two days

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Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 11

8 maj, 2012

As usual, I start with some recent news and developments:

The “ceasefire” is “on track”:

Annan plan for Syria“on track,” spokesperson says

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?ID=392546

”UN mediator Kofi Annan’s plan for Syria was ”on track,” though progress in implementing the ceasefire is slow, his spokesperson said Friday.

”The Annan plan is on track and a crisis that has been going on for over a year is not going to be resolved in a day or a week,” Ahmad Fawzi, the UN and Arab League envoy’s spokesperson, told journalists in Geneva.

There are signs on the ground of movement, albeit slow and small,” he added.

Some heavy weapons have been withdrawn, some heavy weapons remain. Some violence has receded, some violence continues. And that is not satisfactory, I’m not saying it is.”

Overall, Fawzi said, the plan and the UN observers who are on the ground overseeing its implementation—a team he reported had grown to about 50 by Friday—have had an impact.

But he decried continuing violence between President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and opposition forces in a conflict that has killed more than 11,000 people since flaring in March 2011.

”This is a difficult and complex mediation effort. There are days when things are progressing in a satisfactory manner and there are days where we feel that it’s a rough ride,” he said.

”However having said that, even on the days that we feel there is satisfactory progress… we are horrified by the extent of the violence that we see on the ground.”

So let’s see if I get this right: UN is horrified by the extent of the violence even on “good” days but STILL the Annan plan IS ON TRACK!

That in a nutshell is UN/Kofi Annan “ceasefire” and peace plan and logic for you.

International diplomacy at it’s best.

So here are some examples of the UN peace plan and how on “track” it is:

Remember that these leaked videos were filmed by the Assad militia, thugs, intelligence people etc. to show how “good”, loyal and efficient they are:

“GRAPHIC LEAKED VIDEO – ASSAD’S FORCES FILM THEIR LATEST MASSACRE. Another macabre ‘trophy’ for their collection of murdered Syrians. All in the name of their master, Bashar Al Assad.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hQKC3g_umeM

“GRAPHIC LEAKED VIDEO – ASSAD’S FORCES MURDER TWO YOUNG MEN THEN STRAP THEIR BODIES TO THEIR TANK TO PARADE THEM. (Date & Location Unknown) This is what Assad’s forces do. This is who they are. Animals.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Cu2QjMQlyNA

“VERY GRAPHIC LEAKED VIDEO – ASSAD’S FORCES FILM THEIR LATEST MASSACRE AND CONGRATULATE THEMSELVES. The cameraman says at one point (about the dead men) “hahaha, they were making coffee!, they even drink coffee” … Assad’s forces say this because it helps them de-humanize their victims .. using words such as “them” and exclaiming such facts as “they even drink coffee (like us)”.

This has been the key element to Assad’s hodl on power, his ability to convince his mercenaries that the people they murder are not human and deserve a brutal death. No matter if they are men, women or children.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/verify_controversy?next_url=/watch%3Fv%3DHaMqPH-I0Oo%26feature%3Dplayer_embedded

The thugs arrive:

”LEAKED VIDEO – THIS IS HOW ASSAD’S FORCES ENTER A NEIGHBORHOOD – THE GUNFIRE IS DEAFENING AND THEIR CHANTS ARE DISGUSTING. Damascus (Eastern Ghouta): They chant “Shabeeha (Thugs) Forever, For Your Eye’s Oh Assad!” which is a variation of the Pro – Revolution chant “Freedom Forever Despite You Oh Assad” (both slogans rhyme in Arabic.

Listen to the deafening sound of the the gunfire as these animals announce their arrival into the neighborhood, firing into thee air and at the surrounding buildings – spreading terror and fear.”

Syrian state TV in action – a case of literally shotgun journalism.

“LEAKED VIDEO – SYRIAN STATE TV REPORTER CONDUCTS AN ‘INTERVIEW’ THEN HAS ‘FUN; WITH ASSAD’S FORCES & FIRES GUNS WITH THEM. Homs (Baba Amr) – As he conducts a fake interview with a ‘local citizen’ who proclaims that he was happy to see the army come into Baba Amr (the district that was flattened by Assad’s forces over a one month period and where hundreds if not thousands were killed), this Syrian State TV reporter then puts on his coat and starts firing off a mercenaries gun for fun …”

These are Assad’s reporters

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlXlas6l7Jw&feature=player_embedded

And I found this appropriate quote:

The Hitlers or Assads of this world cannot personally collect taxes, torture citizens, shoot into crowds of protesters, operate public transport or fix roads by themselves. They need obedience and co-operation to do so. And if enough people deny obedience and withhold their co-operation—even after credible threats—rulers simply cannot rule.”

Srdja Popovic, one of the leaders of the Serbian Revolution and member of Otpor

(Otpor=resistance was a civic youth movement that existed from 1998 until 2003 in Serbia, employing nonviolent struggle against the regime of Slobodan Milošević. They were credited for their role in the successful overthrow of Slobodan Milošević on 5 October 2000.)

And the protest go on. Here a whole village is out demonstrating.

“THE SPIRIT OF THE REVOLUTION WILL NEVER BE CRUSHED – AN AMAZING PROTEST. Daraa (Mia’rbah): May 4, 2012 – In a tiny village which measures no more than 2 blocks wide and 4 blocks across in Daraa, the whole village emerges to protest aginst Assad’s rule and for freedom and dignity.”

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYA_PGuayWo&feature=player_embedded

The protest are spreading and taking new and bolder forms:

‘Pop-up protest’ leaves Damascus shoppers’  jaws agape

http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/pop-up-protest-leaves-damascus-shoppers-jaws-agape

“DAMASCUS // The protest came out of nowhere, a holiday afternoon in central Damascus busy with shoppers interrupted by lofted banners demanding freedom and democracy.

With surprising calmness given the risk of dire consequences if they were caught by security forces, a dozen or so activists emerged from the crowd outside the historic Hamediyeh market.

Most were young, some teenagers. A majority were women, evidently secular, dressed casually in jeans and T-shirts. There were no chants or songs, no words, just the banners, most in Arabic, one in English, calling for freedom, calling for an end to regime killings, reminding the hundreds of onlookers that in Syria doctors can pay with their lives for helping wounded civilians.

The audience at first seemed to have little idea of what was happening: Damascus is full of banners and posters for candidates in forthcoming parliamentary elections.

But when reality began to sink in, they stood mute, eyes wide, watching.

A delivery boy on an old-fashioned bicycle stopped and stared, mouth agape. Drivers leaned out of their car windows or ducked their heads for a better view through the windscreen.

In a country that for decades has brooked no public dissent, scenes like this are hard to comprehend and, even after 13 months of an uprising that has thrown entire cities into an anti-regime revolt, somehow unimaginable and shocking.

The very heart of Damascus is still not used to such blatant shows of rebellion. On Fridays people expect protests and, as a result, many who prefer to turn a blind eye to the uprising simply stay at home, doors locked, windows shuttered, televisions tuned into the propaganda and soap operas on state-run channels

A midweek May Day protest seen by hundreds of ordinary people is a different matter, however. It is much harder to ignore, dismiss or defame, especially when it doesn’t fit with the government’s insistence that the opposition are Islamist terrorists waging a campaign of violent intolerance.

This protest was peaceful and well organised, carried out with a smooth confidence by young men and women who could be the sons or daughters of almost any modern, middle-class Damascene family.

From the pavement, a smattering of applause rose – perhaps from other activists among the shoppers. A few drivers honked their horns in frustration at the blocked traffic. But mainly there was silence. No one hurled abuse at the protesters. There were no spontaneous shouts of loyalty to the president, Bashar Al Assad.

As if time had slowed, the demonstration moved across the road, leaving the way free for the cars. It resumed on the central reservation, banners held aloft again.

Walking casually, some smiling, some serious, the protesters crossed a busy road junction. They stopped in front of the justice palace, which houses the courts where scores of political dissidents have been sentenced to long jail terms over the years. The banners were again thrust into the air.

One of the protesters, a man in his thirties with grey hair, smiled broadly as if enjoying a simple day out with friends. Another, face stern, held his fingers up in the universal signal for victory and peace.

Ten minutes after the protest started, there was still no visible response from the security forces. Traffic police made no move to intervene, carrying on with their endless labour of keeping the traffic moving.

Then a siren wailed. Soon afterwards, the protesters melted away, disappearing quickly in small groups down side streets, hidden by their ordinariness.

A minute or so later, the Shabbiheh, burly men in olive drab trousers and T-shirts emblazoned with Mr Al Assad’s face framed inside a heart, were running towards the justice palace.

They were too late to catch their quarry, arriving at the main entrance to Hamediyeh market with everything ostensibly back to normal.

But everything had already forever changed.”

More on the atrocities in the Idlib area. This time from Amnesty:

Inside Syria’s crackdown: ‘I found my boys burning in the street’ Amnesty International reports the harrowing testimonies of the people of Idlib and nearby villages terrorised by regime forces

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/04/inside-syria-crackdown

“Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s senior crisis adviser, was in Syria for 10 days during the second half of April. Rovera has worked at Amnesty International for 20 years and has extensive experience of working in conflict zones, including Libya, South Sudan, Ivory Coast and Gaza. Here she reports some of the first-hand accounts of the brutal crackdown by the Syrian regime against its people.

”Soldiers came to our home and took my son. Later, as I was peering out of the window I saw soldiers line up eight young men standing facing the wall with their hands tied at the back and shoot them. Then they put the bodies in the back of a pick-up truck and left. I don’t know if the men were all dead or injured. At that point I did not know that one of the men was my son. His body was found with other bodies at a school not too far from our home.”

“In several villages and towns around Idlib the scars of the recent army incursions are very visible. Hundreds of houses have been burned down and everywhere I met families whose relatives were killed. Many were killed in exchanges of fire, in what seemed rather futile attempts by hopelessly outgunned armed opposition fighters to prevent scores of army tanks from entering the towns and villages. Others, both opposition fighters and people not involved in any fighting, were extra-judicially executed after they were arrested at their homes and those of their relatives.”

“In Taftanaz I met the families of two 80-year-old men who were killed in their homes during the army incursion into the town on 4 April. One was burned in his home. His wife told me: ”I had been staying with relatives across the street and my husband was at home. When I went back home I found it burned down but did not find my husband. I went out and asked the soldiers outside where they had taken him. I thought they had arrested him. A soldier replied ‘Go back in and look for him’. I went back and found his remains in a pile of ash.”

“In addition to the human loss, families are having to cope with the loss of their homes and livelihood. Those whose homes and businesses have been burned down or destroyed and who have been left with nothing other than the clothes on their back are relying on the charity of relatives and friends. Some are trying to repair or salvage what they can from their wrecked properties but many are beyond repair. There is no doubt that the burning down of so many homes and businesses – and including medical facilities such as field hospitals and pharmacies – was deliberate, seemingly a combination of revenge and collective punishment.

The extra-judicial executions, the shooting and shelling of residential areas, and the deliberate destruction of homes, businesses and other properties in the Idlib area, are consistent with the pattern of violations inflicted by Syrian forces on the population in other parts of Syria where there have been opposition protests and/or armed opposition. Soldiers, members of the security forces, and the civilian leadership up and down the chain of command should know that such abuses constitute crimes against humanity and the claim that ”I was just carrying out orders” will not keep them from being brought to justice – either in Syria or in other countries around the world.”

Say Cheese the UN observers are here!

“Syria‘ Moving Scuds to Israel, Turkey Borders”

All this of course in full agreement with the UN/Annan peace plan. Especially that part that Syria will not hesitate to fire missiles at Israel and Turkey in order to ignite a large scale regional war.

Sounds like a real peace loving government doesn’t it? Fully intent of following ALL points in the peace plan and ceasefire.

In Arabic here:

http://www.baladnanews.com/more-32918-8-سوريا%20تستعد%20للحرب%20..%20مئات%20صواريخ%20سكود%20الى%20حدود%20تركيا%20وإسرائيل

“Jordanian news site Ahbar Baladna reports that western spy satellites have recently spotted movements of Syrian heavy missile launchers northward and southward, toward Syria’s borders with Turkey and Israel.

The site says hundreds of high-caliber launchers are being moved, and that these could only be long range Scud missile launchers.

Syria has threatened in the past that in the event of foreign military intervention on its soil, it will not hesitate to fire missiles at Israel and Turkey in order to ignite a large scale regional war.

Turkish and French officials said ten days ago they were mulling a potential military intervention inSyria, where civil war has been raging for 14 months.

“In the face of developments in Syria, we are taking into consideration any kind of possibility in line with our national security and interests,” Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu told parliament during a briefing to lawmakers.”

More on the US non-policy on Syria

U.S. Syrian Policy: A Massacre in Progress; A Disgrace in the Making

http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/2012/05/us-syrian-policy-massacre-in-progress.html

U.S. policy toward Syria is turning into a scandal on both strategic and humanitarian grounds. The next three months will be wasted in a toothless observer effort during which time the Syrian regime will go on massacring people and mopping up the rebellion. In addition, U.S. policymakers admit that they have no real back-up policy and what they should do next.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been gaining more power in large part because instead of financing and helping the moderate opposition, U.S. policy has combined being soft on the regime with helping the Islamists, especially in the absurd exercise in which an American initiative produced an anti-American, Brotherhood-dominated Syrian opposition leadership in exile.

And then to show how ridiculous the whole thing is, Syrian troops opened fire at oppositionists trying to talk to the UN monitors, forcing the observers to flee for their lives and injuring eight demonstrators. The UN responds by proposing a few dozen more, equally helpless, observers.

This is the same UN that in 2006 promised Israel that it would intercept Syrian weapons being smuggled to Hizballah in Lebanon and stop that radical group from reoccupying its pre-war positions in the south of the country. In six years, not a single weapon has been intercepted and not a single Hizballah terrorist stopped. On the contrary, with Syrian backing, Hizballah has terrorized the thousands of soldiers in the UN forces in Lebanon.

There should be no question as to what should be done. Along with Iran, North Korea, and Cuba, the Syrian regime is the most anti-American government in the world. It has done everything possible to sabotage U.S. interests, to sponsor terrorism, and to block peace. That regime is also Iran’s main ally.

Any conceivable president who cared about or understood U.S. interests would make the overthrow of the Syrian regime a top priority for the United States. I’m not talking about sending troops or going to war but about every conceivable other means. This should be blindingly obvious.

In addition, any competent president would work hard to help the moderate pro-democratic forces in the Syrian opposition so that they can gain power in the country. Instead, the Obama Administration that subcontracted dealing with the Syrian regime to the UN has subcontracted dealing with the Syrian opposition to the Islamist regime in Turkey. Not surprisingly, the Turkish regime has pushed Muslim Brothers and other Islamists and their clients into the ”official” leadership of the Syrian opposition, the Syrian National Council. This has led to a fracturing of opposition leadership.

And the Syrian regime is being rewarded with no more pressure and being given the ability to stall for time even though it has already violated the ceasefire. This is not merely a bad U.S. and Western policy; it is the worst possible policy, lacking any strategy to undermine the radicals and help the moderates.

After 2.5 years of the Obama Administration treating this enemy as a friend we have seen almost a year of dithering over the opportunity to get rid of that regime. It is like when the administration ignored the stealing of the election in Iran and the opposition movement there, as if it wanted to coddle, not confound, the Tehran regime. It also came to the rescue of the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip, pressingIsrael to minimize sanctions.

In contrast, the administration has not hesitated to overthrow an ally in Egypt and come close to doing that in Bahrain.

The pattern is that the radical side breaks every agreement, rejects compromise, and escalates aggression and the Obama Administration takes it all with a smile on its face and a song in its heart.

But back to Syria. Even the pro-Obama CNN network is amazed by U.S. policy. It admits the UN mission will fail, agrees that the Syrian government is the aggressor in shredding the ceasefire–using heavy weapons aimed at civilian targets, and adds:

“Monitoring missions can only work when the parties to a conflict have had enough of fighting or can be coerced into negotiation by outside powers. The Arab League mission members in Syria earlier this year were little more than bystanders, unable or unwilling to operate amid the government crackdown….The [Syrian] government has made it clear that the observers won’t have free rein.”

Ahmad Fawzi, spokesman for the UN envoy Kofi Annan, whose past record hardly inspires confidence, says two truly shocking things;

”The United States is leaving it in the hands of Kofi Annan, as is the rest of the world.…We’re the only path in town. There is no alternative.”

But why should the United States turn over its policy to the UN, especially since a number of members are pro-Syrian regime and blocking any serious action? And have we really reached a point in time when the UN can present itself as the only channel for international action?

In other words it is assumed that theUnited Statescan have no independent policy. CNN accepts that view, adding, “That in itself illustrates how few options there are for the West to influence events inSyria.”

That’s nonsense. There are many other options. But how can there be hope for any alternative when a U.S. official actually admits:

”Our allies were coming back to us and saying, ‘What’s your next move?,and we were forced to admit we didn’t have one.'”

The U.S.economy is merely hopelessly in debt, but U.S. foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, is hopelessly bankrupt.”

                         Russian 240mm Mortar bomb

And there was “elections” on Monday May 7:

Heavy fighting rocks eastern Syria ahead of poll

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-syriabre84507e-20120506,0,6639855,full.story

“The authorities are touting Monday’s parliamentary election as a showcase of these reforms.

However, the opposition says it will change little in a rubberstamp assembly that has been chosen by the ruling Assad family, backed by the powerful secret police, for the past four decades.

The assembly currently does not have a single opposition member and official media said half the seats would be reserved to ”representatives of workers and peasants”, whose unions are controlled by Assad’s Baath Party.

”Nothing has changed. Syria‘s political system remains utterly corrupt and election results will be again determined in advance,” said opposition activist Bassam Ishaq, who unsuccessfully ran for parliament in 2003 and 2007.

There are effectively very few seats for independents, and these will go to the highest bidder.”

A plea for help from long-time hum rights lawyer and judge Haitham Al Maleh:

Dying for democracy in Syria

http://all4syria.info/web/Archive/39775

Syrians feel forgotten and betrayed by an international community whose support has been poor compared with that given Libyan rebels.

By Haitham Al Maleh

Syria yearns for freedom from the brutality of the Assad regime. For four decades, thousands upon thousands paid the price for their opposition to Bashar Assad and his father, Hafez Assad. We have been intimidated, arrested, tortured and killed. Since the uprising began in 2011, opposition forces put the death toll at more than 10,000, with many more imprisoned. And all because we want a free, fair Syria.

I am 81; I have dedicated my life to advancing democracy, constitutional principles and an independent judiciary in my country. I have been arrested on many occasions for having resisted the dynastic family rule of the Assads. I hope this awful period of Syria‘s history will end with the demise of this murderous regime, and I call on the international community to do more to bring that about.

I started my law practice in 1957, and in 1958 I became a judge. That lasted only until 1966, when the Baath Party, which had come to power in 1963, issued a special law that dismissed me. The excuse? I did not ”fit” with the revolution

It did not take them long to imprison me. Accused of ”spreading false news that could weaken the national morale,” I was sent to jail from 1980 to 1986 along with other activists by Hafez Assad, who had taken control of the government in 1970. During my time in jail I started a hunger strike that nearly ended my life.

When I was released, I returned to my work as a lawyer in private practice. But life was never easy; I was constantly monitored by the Mukhabarat, the military intelligence service, and its many branches.

In October 2009, I appeared on Barada TV — an opposition satellite channel — to speak out against government abuses, in particular the regime’s unjustified perpetual declaration of martial law and its suspension of the Syrian Constitution, actions that had enabled it to use unfair prosecution and imprisonment procedures since the 1960s.

Two days after my television appearance, Syrian authorities took me into custody, and on July 4, 2010, I was once again sentenced to prison for ”spreading false news that could weaken the national morale

When I was released this time, in 2011, the uprising had begun, and soon after, the regime’s violent crackdown.

The international community’s response has been poor at best. Syrians on the ground have felt forgotten and betrayed. A system that is supposed to protect civilians from brutal force has failed on a monumental scale.

We hear excuses for why intervention cannot happen in Syria as it did in Libya. The longer it takes, the more it looks as if the international community acted in Libya only because of oil, despite the much-trumpeted rationale of protecting civilians. Compared with Libya, many more Syrians are dying at the hands of their own government, and more still will perish as a result of international inaction.

One of steps that the international community could take to end the suffering and speed the demise of the Assad regime would be arming the Free Syrian Army. As it stands, the FSA can only fight what will be a losing battle. The government forces are heavily armed; the FSA has only small arms. If the international community does not want to arm the FSA, another option is to enforce no-fly and heavy-armor-free zones.

For now, however, the international community is putting its faith in the peace plan mediated by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. While I commend Annan’s work in trying to halt the slaughter of innocent civilians — and I hope it works — the violence continues. Even if a truce were to be honored, I cannot help but wonder what will happen when the people again take to the streets — as I know they will — to peacefully demand the downfall of the regime. My sources say that more than 1,000 civilians, including 34 children, have been killed by the Assad regime since the cease-fire.

Syria has been ruled ruthlessly by one party for nearly 50 years. Sooner or later the Assad regime will end. The international community must help the opposition by funding various opposition leaders to build political parties, so we can be ready to govern. It must help build democratic institutions and educate the population about political accountability, an alien concept to most Syrians, who have known only the anti-democratic Assad regime.

In short, we need all the help we can get to build a free, fair nation, one that represents all Syrians and respects human rights, the judiciary, international law and human life.

Syrian lawyer and former judge Haitham Maleh has been awarded many prizes for his human rights activism. He lives part time inEurope and part time in theMiddle East.”

Through Assad’s boots

How the naiveté and carelessness of western journalist put the lives of the opposition and civilian population at risk:

The spy who came in from the code

How a filmmaker accidentally gave up his sources to Syrian spooks

http://www.cjr.org/feature/the_spy_who_came_in_from_the_c.php?page=all

“Last fall, “Kardokh,” a 25-year-old dissident and computer expert in the Syrian capital of Damascus, met with British journalist and filmmaker Sean McAllister. (Kardokh is his online pseudonym, used at his request.) McAllister, who’s made award-winning films in conflict zones likeYemen and Iraq, explained that he was shooting a documentary for Britain’s Channel 4 about underground activists in Syria, and asked if Kardokh would help him.

At the time, the situation in Syria was deteriorating rapidly, as protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s repressive regime turned violent following a vicious crackdown by security forces. The Syrian government had drastically curtailed visits by foreign journalists, but McAllister had managed to get in undercover. Kardokh was grateful for a chance to tell his story. “Any journalist who was making the effort to show the world what was happening, that was a very important thing for us,” he told me in February.

At the time, Kardokh was providing computer expertise and secure communications to the resistance. He agreed to be interviewed about his work on camera by McAllister, who filmed his face, telling Kardokh that he would blur it out before publishing the footage. McAllister also asked Kardokh to put him in touch with other activists.

But some of McAllister’s practices made him uneasy, Kardokh said. He worried that the filmmaker didn’t realize how aggressive and pervasive the regime’s surveillance was. Kardokh and his fellow activists took elaborate measures with their digital security, encrypting their communications and using special software to hide their identities online. “I started to feel that Sean was careless,” Kardokh told me. He said he had urged McAllister to take more precautions in his communications and to encrypt his footage. He was using his mobile and SMS, without any protections.”

Then, in October, McAllister was arrested by Syrian security agents. He wasn’t harmed, but was held for five days and said that he could hear the cries of prisoners being tortured in nearby rooms. Eventually, he was released and returned to the UK. I didn’t realize exactly what they were risking until I went into that experience,” McAllister said in an interview on Channel 4 after his release.

The Syrians had interrogated McAllister about his activities, and seized his laptop, mobile phone, camera, and footage. All of McAllister’s research was now at the disposal of Syrian intelligence. When Kardokh heard that McAllister had been arrested, he didn’t hesitate—he turned off his mobile phone, packed his bag, and fled Damascus, staying with relatives in a nearby town before escaping to Lebanon. He said that other activists who had been in touch with McAllister fled the country as well, and several of those who didn’t were arrested. “I was happy that I hadn’t put him in contact with more people,” Kardokh said.

Rami Jarah, a Syrian activist based in Cairo, said that he tried to help another activist, known as Omar al-Baroudi, get out of the country after McAllister’s arrest. “He was terrified,” Jarrah said. “His face was in those videos. He said that his number was on Sean’s phone.” The next day, Baroudi disappeared, and Jarah said that he has not been heard from since.

Officials at Channel 4 say they took action to help McAllister’s sources after his arrest. “We have been in contact with everyone who felt at risk because they spoke to Sean,” said Amy Lawson, the channel’s head of communications. “He is an experienced filmmaker and took steps to protect his material.Syriais an extremely difficult environment to work in, so we continue to look for ways to minimize that risk whilst ensuring we tell this important story.”

It’s easy to argue that McAllister should have taken stronger precautions, but what, exactly? How many reporters are familiar enough with the technical aspects of digital security that they could protect their computers and phones from the Syrian intelligence service? The fact that McAllister, an experienced and committed journalist, jeopardized his sources with inadequate digital precautions is indicative of a broader problem in journalism today: We haven’t kept pace with technological advancements that have revolutionized both information-gathering and surveillance.

After researching the subject of digital security, I realized that there have been occasions in my own work as a freelancer covering the conflicts in Libyaand Afghanistanwhen I’ve exposed myself and my sources by carrying unencrypted data or e-mailing sensitive information over insecure channels. It’s unclear what, if anything, major news organizations are doing about it. When CJR’s Alysia Santo recently tried asking outlets like The New York Times, she got a firm “no comment.” Curious, I e-mailed an informal survey to journalist friends and colleagues, and several who’ve worked as senior correspondents in Afghanistan for major US news outlets said they’d had little-to-no formal training or assistance from their organizations in digital security.

“I think that the journalism community in the US, and to some degree elsewhere, is just beginning to grasp the fact that they need to protect their information and, by extension, their sources,” said Frank Smyth, who is the senior adviser for journalist security at the Committee to Protect Journalists and also runs a private company, Global Journalist Security. “It’s just too easy to get in and lift their information or monitor their communications without them ever knowing they were compromised.”

“He wished, though, that journalists would better inform themselves about the risks before visiting. “I think Western journalists can’t imagine the power of the regime here.”

Paul Conroy and the targeting and killing of journalists

Paul Conroy, a Sunday Times photographer was together with other journalist in the makeshift “press centre” in Baba Amr in Homs reporting on the slaughter going on.

That “press centre” was in reality, a four-story family home converted to this use as it was one of the few places that had a generator. It was also fortified. But its location was maintained by the rebels in tight secrecy.

Some of the journalists were using secure channels of communications protected by anti-jamming and anti-tracking devices.

But the Assad regime determined that they (the journalists) should be taught a lesson and deterred from ever coming back. And put a stop to this embarrassing reporting of the massacres inHoms.

So together with Russian satellite tracking and Iranian intelligence personal on the ground, on that Wednesday morning the building took a direct hit by a rocket and was totally erased.

The Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin and the French Figaro video-photographer Remi Ochik was killed. Three other Western journalists were injured. And Paul  Conroy was badly wounded in the legs.

Also many people were killed when trying to get the wounded journalist out of Homs.

Now Kill the witnesses

Syrian activists killed in Paul Conroy rescue mission

Up to 13 activists died smuggling the Sunday Times photographer out of the country, it has emerged

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/28/syrian-activists-paul-conroy-mission

“Paul Conroy, the Sunday Times photographer wounded in the leg in an attack in the besieged city of Homs, has been smuggled out of Syria in a dramatic and dangerous rescue in which up to 13 activists lost their lives, it has emerged.

Conroy survived the attack last week that killed his colleague Marie Colvin. Three other western journalists, including Edith Bouvier, who was badly injured in the same incident, were reported to be still trapped in Homs on Tuesday night. A claim by the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, that Bouvier had also been evacuated was later retracted by his office.”

Paul Conroy: Syrian activists killed during rescue• Volunteers die while getting photographer out toLebanon• Three other journalists remain trapped in Homs • UN human rights chief calls for immediate ceasefire

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/28/paul-conroy-syrian-activists-killed-rescue

“Paul Conroy, the British Sunday Times photographer who was wounded in the besieged city of Homs, has been smuggled out of Syria toLebanon in a dramatic rescue.

According to those familiar with his escape a number of Syrian opposition activists died during the rescue effort after they came under artillery fire while leaving the city.

The evacuation party came under fire twice. Three activists were killed on the first occasion while more were reportedly killed when they came under fire again.

A spokesman for the paper said: ”The Sunday Times can confirm that the photographer Paul Conroy is safe and inLebanon. He is in good shape and good spirits.”

According to the Times, the sister paper of the Sunday Times, Conroy’s rescue took 26 hours from the moment he was carried out of his hiding place in Homs on a stretcher.”

”Despite the successful rescue of Conroy – whose colleague Marie Colvin was killed last week in Homs along with French photographer Rémi Ochlik during an attack on the makeshift media centre in the suburb of Baba Amr – three other journalists remain trapped in the city. They are Edith Bouvier of Le Figaro, who sustained a broken femur, French photographer William Daniels and the Middle East correspondent of El Mundo, Javier Espinosa.

The dramatic nature of Conroy’s evacuation underlines the high level of risk being faced by those who have been trying to run medical, food and other supplies into the besieged suburbs ofHomsand evacuate the injured, including foreign journalists.

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which has recently moved the elite 4th Division commanded by his brother Maher into the battle for Homs, has been using a foreign-supplied drone to target its artillery and mortar fire into the city.2”

Here is an interview with Paul Conroy on BBC’s Newsnight March 2 from the hospital were they had taken out Russian shrapnel

“A present from the Russians”

Paul Conroy: Homs is comparable to Srebrenica or Rwanda

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-17241897

Kill the Messenger

What Russia taught Syria: When you destroy a city, make sure no one — not even the story — gets out alive.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/02/kill_the_messenger

“It was a star-filled night in Chechnya’s besieged capital of Grozny. The snow crunched under my feet as I walked with the Chechen rebel commander away from the warmth of our safe house. When we entered a bombed-out neighborhood 15 minutes away, I put the battery in my Iridium satellite phone and waited for the glowing screen to signal that I had locked on to the satellites.

I made my call. It was short. Then the commander made a call; he quickly hung up and handed me back the phone. ”Enough,” he said, motioning for me to remove the battery.

As we walked briskly back to the safe house, it was exactly 10 minutes before the cascade of double wa-whumps announced the Grad rocket batteries pounding the vacant neighborhood we had just left.

It was December 1999, and the Russian assault on Grozny was unfolding in all its gruesome detail. After the dissolution of so much of the former Soviet empire, Chechnya was one country that the newly minted prime minister, Vladimir Putin, refused to let go of. His boss, Boris Yeltsin, and the Russian army had been defeated and then humiliated in the media by Chechen forces in the first war. Five years later, Russia was back. And Putin’s new strategy was unbending: silence, encircle, pulverize, and ”cleanse.” It was a combination of brutal tactics — a Stalinist purge of fighting-age males plus Orwellian propaganda that fed Russians a narrative wherein Chechen freedom fighters were transformed into Islamist mercenaries and terrorists. More than 200,000 civilians were to die in this war, the echoes of which continue to this day.

This time, journalists were specifically targeted to prevent sympathetic or embarrassing reports from escaping the killing zone. As such, you can’t find a lot of stories about the second Chechen war. One of the few and best accounts was written by Marie Colvin, who described her terrifying escape from Grozny for the Sunday Times. Last month, Colvin thought she could roll the dice and enter the besieged Syrian city of Homs to defy yet another brutal war of oppression. This time she lost.

It’s impossible to know whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — a longtime ally of Russia– studied the success of the last Chechen war before launching his own assault on the restive city of Homs. However, his Russian military advisors surely know the tactics well. The crackdown in Homs carries a grim echo of Grozny, both in its use of signals intelligence to track down and silence the regime’s enemies and in its bloody determination to obliterate any opposition, including Western journalists.

Assad’s ability to lethally target journalists using satellite-phone uplinks could well have cost Colvin her life. Multiple reports have suggested that Syrian forces used phone signals to pinpoint her location and then launched a rocket barrage that resulted in her death on Feb. 22, along with that of French photographer Remi Ochlik and multiple Syrian civilians. “

Russia has spent a long time perfecting these techniques. On April 21, 1996, Chechnya‘s breakaway president, Dzhokhar Dudayev, was speaking on a satellite phone with Russian envoy Konstantin Borovoi about setting peace talks with Yeltsin. During the phone call, he was killed by a signal-guided missile fired from a Russian jet fighter. The warplane had received Dudayev’s coordinates from a Russian ELINT (electronic intelligence) plane that had picked up and locked on to the signal emitted by the satellite phone. It was Russian deception and brutality at its finest.

It should have been clear even back then that there was a benefit and a distinct penalty to modern communications on the battlefield. “

“These past few weeks, under a barrage of mortar, tank, and artillery shells, their plaintive calls for help from inside the besieged Baba Amr neighborhood of Homssparked international outrage. But without Western journalists filing for newspapers and television outlets, these videos — mostly shaky, low-resolution footage of corpses and artillery strikes — wouldn’t have had the impact they deserve.

In a welcome resurgence of non-embedded journalism, brave reporters like Colvin and many others risked their lives to enter Homs and report from the ground. What they showed us was moving, horrific, and embarrassing. Once again, Western governments were caught doing nothing — while women, children, and innocents were murdered by their own government. It’s a playbook the Syrians are good at: The shelling of Homs began on Feb. 3, 2012 — exactly 30 years after the Hama massacre, in which Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, killed up to 15,000 civilians over three weeks in a similar program of wanton destruction.

What we haven’t seen as clearly is the extent to which the Syrian regime (thanks to its Russian advisors) now has the tools of electronic warfare to crush this popular uprising — and anything that happens to get in the way. Syria is one of Russia’s biggest clients for weapons, training, and intelligence. In return for such largesse, it has offered the Russian Navy use of Tartus, a new deep-water military port in the Mediterranean. Moscow sold Damascus nearly $1 billion worth of weapons in 2011, despite growing sanctions against the oppressive Assad regime. With these high-tech weapons comes the less visible Russian-supplied training on technologies, tactics, and strategies.

The sounds of rockets pulverizing civilians should have brought back memories and warnings to Colvin. She would have recognized all the signs from her previous reporting in Chechnya, where she and her escorts were hunted relentlessly by Russian domestic security agents who sought to arrest, silence, or kill any journalist attempting to report on the slaughter of civilians.

My time in Grozny included being surrounded three times by the Russian army, numerous direct bombardments, and frequent close calls. I paid attention to the safety warnings of the Chechen rebel commanders who kept me alive. These rebels were once part of the Soviet military and intelligence apparatus and were fully schooled in Russia‘s dirty tricks. They taught me much. Chief among them was not communicating electronically while in country, not trusting ”media guides,” and never telling people where I was going. If captured by Russian troops, they urged me — for my own safety — to say that I had been kidnapped by Chechen forces.

Just as I exited Chechnya, I met Colvin, who was heading in. She wanted to know as much as she could. I warned her of the duplicity and violent intent of the Russian military and their Chechen proxies. Despite my warnings, she bravely entered Chechnya and wrote riveting, award-winning stories that now sound almost identical to her coverage from Syria.

I was distressed to read of Colvin’s death in Syria, and even more distressed to think she might still be alive now if she had remembered some basic warnings. Her first error was that she stayed inside the rebel ”media center” — in reality, a four-story family home converted to this use as it was one of the few places that had a generator.

The second was communication. The Syrian army had shut down the cell-phone system and much of the power in Baba Amr — and when journalists sent up signals it made them a clear target. After CNN’s Arwa Damon broadcast live from the ”media center” for a week, the house was bombarded until the top floor collapsed. Colvin may have been trapped, but she chose to make multiple phone reports and even went live on CNN and other media channels, clearly mentioning that she was staying in the bombed building.

The third mistake was one of tone. She made her sympathies in the besieged city clearly known as she emotionally described the horrors and documented the crimes of the Syrian government.

Unsurprisingly, the next day at 9 a.m., a barrage of rockets was launched at the ”media center.She was killed — along her cameraman, Remi Ochlik, and at least 80 Syrian civilians across the city — targeted with precision rocket barrages, bombs, and the full violence of the Syrian army.

In Grozny, Russian forces decided that they would eliminate everything, everybody, and every voice that stood up to the stateincluding journalists who tried to enter. Syria has clearly made the same determination in Homs. This military action is intended to be a massacre, a Stalinist-style lesson to those who dare defy the rulers of Syria.

The United Nations estimates that more than 7,500 Syrians have so far been killed in the yearlong spasm of violence there. Perhaps this ghastly toll would be even higher now if brave reporters like Colvin had not entered. With the recent news that the rebels have retreated from the bombardment of Baba Amr to safer territory, Assad’s forces, as well as their Russian advisors, are claiming victory. According to official news reports from the Syrian Information Ministry, ”the foreign-backed mercenaries and armed terrorist groups” have fled, the corpses of three Western journalists have been ”discovered,” and Homs is now ”peaceful.”

Despite what Damascus claims, this fight is not yet over. And we need more brave and bright journalists who will shine a light in places like Syria, where a regime works diligently to plunge its people into darkness. But let’s not forget whose callous playbook they’re using. “

By California-based Robert Young Pelton wrote The Hunter, the Hammer, and Heaven about his experiences inChechnya in 1999 to 2000. He is currently publisher of Somalia Report, a 24/7 news source that works with over 100 Somali reporters. His book The World’s Most Dangerous Places contains survival tips from what he has learned in over a dozen conflicts.”

by Paul Conroy on Facebook

The Butcher of Homs

“Last Tuesday I was asked to join a panel discussion at the House of Commons. I readily agreed as it was to screen Jonathan Miller’s fantastic and ground breaking film ‘Syria’s Torture Machine. One of the most insightful and inspiring pieces of filmmaking I have seen in many years.

The event was hosted by Anne Clywd MP with representatives from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, a Syrian torture victim, a representative from theRussian federationand me.

After an introductory round of speeches we watched Jonathan’s superb film and the panel then opened for answers. By this time I had moved back to the audience as my leg injuries were not ideal for sitting up front. Still wishing to take part in the panel discussion and perhaps do a little Q&A I asked if I could have a microphone. My colleague asked one of those media study, large red glasses and tight jeans assistant producer types if this was possible “It’s not going to happen” he was told in a rather bolshie and self-important way. “I think you will find he’s doing it anyway” my colleague Miles Amoore from the Sunday Time grinned.

The point in this is that all week I had been trying, unsuccessfully, to get a comment from the Russians regarding arms supplies to Syria. Now, right there in front of me, was a real life, in the flesh card carrying representative of theRussian federation and a Channel 4 work placement fruit bat wouldn’t give me a microphone.

I was reduced to putting up my hand and rather grumpily waiting my turn. In the event the wonderful Ann Clywd chairing the proceedings saw my rather desperate outstretched hand, similar to that of a child at school who finds he miraculously knows the answer to a question and is desperate not to go unnoticed.

Given that I had had a large piece of Russian shrapnel removed from me a few days previously I was eager to ask about the Russians continued supply of arms to Syria. I started by reminding him that it was a piece of a Russian made shell that had just been removed from my back. He looked suitably embarrassed but said nothing.

My main question I said was a three part yes or no question which he agreed to have a pop at

Q Is it true that Russia is supplying arms and heavy artillery munitions toSyria

A. Yes

Q. Are you are aware that these weapons and munitions are being used against civilians

A. Yes

Q. Knowing this will Russia stop selling weapons and heavy munitions to Syria

A. No (brief gasp from me and others) if we don’t do it somebody else will.

Now excuse me but that seems like an answer that a crack dealer would resort to when caught outside of a primary school with a huge bag of class A drugs he has been peddling to pre-teens, not the answer of a representative of one of the most powerful (and dangerous) nations on the planet.

So there we have it, direct from the horse’s mouth. Vladimir Putin ‘The Butcher of Homs’ as he so fondly known on the streets of Babr Amr is indeed supplying the Assad regime weapons, munitions and who know what else on the solid conviction that ‘If they don’t sell it someone else will’.

It’s little wonder we live on such a peaceful and harmonious planet.”

And more from Facebook

“Stop Assad’s Massacre #Syria

18/03/12Paul Conroy

Ok, thanks firstly to Bonnie for getting this page up and running.

In all my years as a war photographer I have never seen such systematic slaughter as I personally witnessed in the very small neighbourhood that is Babr Amr. Men, women and, most abhorrently, children have been massacred in their hundreds if not thousands.

Forget the phoney propaganda that is now a trademark of the Bashar- al-Assad regime. As an eye witness I can assure you that what is being reported is fact. There is no need to embellish or hype the slaughter that is taking place. It’s real, it’s happening now and it chills me to the bone.

I pay tribute to every man woman and child murdered by this regime. I salute the people who kept me alive whilst I was wounded in Syria. To the Free Syrian Army, The Farouk Brigade, Avaaz and to the all the Martyrs who died helping me escape. I can never repay you. I am forever in your debt.

Marie and Remi gave their lives to bring you the truth. Please don’t forget them; they were both devoted people who had a mission to bring you honest reporting, they gave their lives doing so. To the people of the media centre, who lost six cameramen in the line of duty and daily risked their lives to bring you what was happening whilst Bsahar-al -Assad tried in vain to crush the souls of the people of Syria. I salute you also.

In stark opposition to the likes of Remi and Marie there is a plethora of armchair pro regime activists who are vainly trying to back the regime. Please, these people have neither the tenacity, the courage nor sense of honour needed to go into Syria and report fact. My advice is to ignore them. Please let them have their say and fade into oblivion. They mean harm but mean nothing if ignored.

People who read this fight on. This regime can be broken, your spirit cannot. I will do all I can to fight for the cause. I have spoken to my Prime Minister, foreign secretary and other American politicians. I hope my words have an impact. In the dark hours that will follow please have the strength to continue. Too much blood has been spilt, to many lives destroyed for it all to be in vain.

I hope my leg gets better after the Russian missile blew a hole in it. Putin, the real ’Butcher of Homs’ abandoned you all in your hour of need. Never forget this. The Chinese stood by and watched you being murdered. Never forget this. When you regain control of your country do not forget those who stood by and allowed the massacres to continue

People of Syria we know you are not Al Quaeda, or terrorist groups. Have no fear we understand propaganda. I know the FSA well; they are not nor ever will be terrorists. We understand

To the People of America we know you can help, please, even though its election year and Obama has to win votes he must stand up as a man and disregard party politics. You have the power to stop men women and children dying. DO IT. Forget basketball, forget the opinion polls and start saving lives. NOW.

Vladimir Putin. You don’t seem as much of a man as the photographs make you out to be. We see you as a Judo black belt, tiger hunter and bare chested man of action. Is this just a myth? Why do you sit and supply weapons to a regime that slaughters its own people. Maybe you are just a Stalinist who never worried of such matters. To us all you appear ridiculous and week. I appeal to the ‘Butcher ofHoms’ help stop the slaughter. If not then your image will remain a vacuous myth

As I write the slaughter continues. Bombard your embassies, protest, scream and shout and demand answers!!! NOW. Every second of every minute is precious. Don’t waste a moment. We have been here before. Disregard Kofi Annan, he provides cover while Assad continues to kill. The time for talking is long gone. Now we must all demand action.

I would like to thank every person involved in my rescue. The Farouck Brigade. To Neil my dead brother who has given me strength, my parents. All at News International. Hm government. To Kate who kept my profile high. Max Kim and Otto, I love you. To Bonnie, thank you so much for all. Tom, the British Ambassador and his beautiful family. To Joss Stone who stands by me through the worst of times and through the best of times

To everyone I missed I’m sorry but pain kicking in now

Thank s

Paul Conroy”

And more

Opinion: World must not forget Syria’s missing activists By Paul Conroy, special to CNN

April 2, 2012

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/04/02/opinion/opinion-conroy-syria-missing-citizen-journalists/index.html?hpt=hp_c1&is_LR=1

“Editor’s note: Paul Conroy is a British photographer and cameraman who has worked in troublespots around the world. While working inSyriaearlier this year forBritain’s Sunday Times newspaper, he was seriously wounded in the attack which killed his colleague Marie Colvin, and fellow photographer Remi Ochlik.

London(CNN) — The situation in Syriaposes a seemingly unending series of new challenges: Challenges that can either stun you into silence or propel you deeper into the steaming cauldron of propaganda, murder, misery and ultimately death that is now life in Syria.

Over the last few days the authorities have opened a new front in their mission to suppress the flow of information coming from Syria.

The house which I and other international journalists used as a base in Homs was destroyed in a rocket attack that killed my friends and colleagues Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik.

This building was the hub from which many local activists bravely transmitted the images that have kept an open window through which the world has viewed the onslaught of the Assad military against the men, women and children of Baba Amr. The house is now a pile of rubble, the activists dispersed.

Having removed the operational center of the citizen journalists, the regime is now engaged in a manhunt to track, capture and destroy the remnants of that network.

Tough talk from anti-Assad coalition The regime fear these people for good reason: They have provided the most compelling documentary evidence of crimes committed by the state. The sustained and systematic use of heavy artillery against an unarmed population isn’t a rumor or urban myth. It is well documented and, thanks to courage of the activists, we now posses a large body of video and eye witness evidence.

Crimes against humanity are a serious charge against any state. To know that such evidence exists and continues to be collected will doubtless be causing concern to some in Damascus. For all their apparent willingness to engage in the bombardment against a civilian population there must be those within the regime pragmatic enough to realize that such evidence can, and almost inevitably will, be used against them if the regime falls and justice prevails.

The case of Ali Othman highlights perfectly this ongoing fear of the state.

Ali Othman, a vegetable seller by trade, is now in the custody of the feared state security services. He was arrested on March 28, near the town of Aleppo, and — according to well placed sources — is now being tortured.

Despite international pleas for his release, there are reports that other activists have been receiving calls from Ali asking them to meet him, regardless of the fact that he is now in custody. Those who have responded to his calls and arrived at the meetings have been immediately arrested by state security. It is unlikely that Ali voluntarily made these calls.

Ali Othman never smuggled international journalists into Syria. He was one of the first citizen journalists to film the peaceful protests. His only crime was to record the abuses committed by his own government. The world should keep up the pressure on the Syrian government to pay heed to the calls for his release.

Another prominent figure who disappeared this week is Noura Aljizawi, one of the first activists of the revolution. Her work involved humanitarian aid, handing out medicines and medical help at field hospitals and to those with long-term illnesses who could no longer find the drugs they needed. She visited them at home and offered them help on where to find medical advice and assistance.

Noura left home last Wednesday, March 28, and has not been seen since.

Injured journalist tells of Syriahorror Her sister reports that six of her cameras and a laptop have disappeared and that since her disappearance seven other female and five male activists have also gone missing. I have received reports that she too has been making calls to other activists urging them to meet up — making calls from captivity that is. Hardly encouraging news for those concerned for her well being.

The fear among the activist network is that Noura, who was so well connected and involved, could well be the key that allows the regime to deal a decisive blow to those struggling to keep open that window onto the activities of the Syrian state.

Meanwhile, the Assad regime continues to have a free hand in the systematic and murderous destruction of those involved in the uprising.

The world response has been lamentable and few world leaders have dared raise their heads above the parapet. The UK’s foreign secretary showed good leadership when he issued a statement calling for the release of Ali Othman. We need more of the same from others in power.

While Assad and his inner sanctum believe they can act with impunity we will continue to see more stories similar to those of Ali and Noura. This regime continues to murder and crush opposition figures while hiding behind the six point plans of the likes of Kofi Annan.

Meanwhile the world continues to watch in horror as men, women and children die at the hands of a regime seemingly unaffected by world opinion.

I was asked the other day in an interview if I had crossed the line between being a journalist and being an activist. I answered, somewhat incorrectly, that I was a humanist. What I meant to say was that I was — that I am — a human being.”

From Facebook:

Stop Assad’s Massacre in Syria

Paul Conroy

“The situation in Syria continues to slip rapidly, and even more violently, out of control. The ceasefire, if it could ever be realistically be called that, now lays in tatters and the death toll continues to mount. The regime though has little to fear. The presence of a few unarmed observers on the ground is hardly likely to have Assad and company trembling in their boots and with no plan B on the table to actively put an end to the killing of civilians, we can be pretty sure they will sleep well in their beds tonight.

And what of the Annan plan if the ceasefire fails? Well, look at it for yourselves, apart from the non existent ceasefire, all of the points of the plan seem based on the people of Syria placing their trust in a government that has systematically, shelled, sniped and tortured a large portion of the population for over a year now. Doesn’t seem too likely, when all things are considered, that anyone is likely to lay down there arms and go home.

So what happens next? Mr Annan will continue to be ‘optimistic’ that his plan has a few teething problems but will ultimately succeed. Why? On what grounds does he go to bed thinking, ‘should be ok tomorrow?’ Well, I guess because it’s the only game in town right now. While Russia stills supplies the arms and munitions that are causing the mass casualties, Iran supplies advisors and specialist help and China continues to be China, the Annan plan is the only thing the west, and the Arab league, can point to and say ‘look, we are doing something.’ The only problem is it’s achieving little and the death toll steadily mounts.

Lives cannot be saved by goodwill and optimism alone. Time for the world to start thinking of safe havens, yes, I can hear people scream, that will involve troops on the ground. Troops on the ground, or more dead men women and children. It’s a big choice, but one I fear needs making. And making soon.”

Some we have come to the end of my 11 parts series on what’s going on in Syria.

As I said in part 1 of this series: There is so much to be said about the uprising in Syria and the extremely brutal suppression by the Assad regime. And as usual, most of it is not said in the mainstream media.

So I thought I give you some pieces that are to the point and that give you some perspective of this slaughter of civilians. In other words, some insight into the world of real politics. This is a different universe that the normal platitudes and declarations our political elites are so good at excelling at.

The focus is therefore going to be on some countries and international organisations and what they have done or not done in 11 posts.

So I hope I have given you some insight into this extremely brutal suppression of a popular uprising by the civilian population. And the world of real politics behind the declarations.

As I said, there is so much more to be said.

This Syrian uprising started little over a year ago with spontaneous demonstrations that demanded that the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad reform Syriato a free and democratic state. Assad responded, as usual, with relentless force and a brutal crackdown. Which led to the people to call for the president to step down, and heed to his people’s will to relinquish his power. And for a peaceful transition to democracy.

All reasonably demands wouldn’t you say?

And from this start the Assad’s regimes force and a brutal crackdown have just intensified and widened. The death toll is now over 12 000. Mostly civilians: children, women, families, elderly etc. Many of them executed in the most barbaric way.

On top of that, the deliberate destruction of WHOLE blocks of cities, Block after Block, Neighbourhood after Neighbourhood.

Turning of electricity, water, telecommunications etc for cities and neighbourhoods. Destroying hospitals and preventing medicine and food to reach these areas etc.

I can add systematic rape to that mix of systematic violation of human rights.

Wouldn’t you say that this regime seems utterly barbaric and worthy of world condemnation?

And wouldn’t you have thought that the world would have done something by now?

And the sad answer to these questions is of course – YES ands as usual NO.

NOTHING have in realty been done except some cheap and empty rhetoric. A lot of grandstanding as usual with these people. And of course a lot of meetings, summits, conferences etc. Usually in very nice places very far from the reality they are supposed to talk about.

And yet Assad, hangs on, slaughtering his own people, destroying and despoiling whole neighbourhoods, calling the bluff of the Arab League, Turkey, UN, USA and EU/NATO.

Helped to a very large degree by the enormous material support, weapons, training, intelligence, troops,  personal etc. from Russia, Iran, China and Hezbollah.

And by a traditional policy of dived and conquer the different ethnic and religious groups in Syria. And of course by terror and fear.

Nonetheless, this is a regime, with an enormous arsenal of heavy weapons, which in a year has not been able to dispatch a divided, badly organized, having hardly any weapons, and disparate opposition. It can be defeated and it will implode from the inside.  The slaughter would end much faster if the people got some, any support, from abroad.  And the fear is gone.

As for the do nothing as usual UN, it “proudly” upholds its tradition of doing ABSOLUTLY NOTHING when it really maters, like Rwanda, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Darfur, Bosnia (Srebrenica anyone?) etc.

Refusing to arm or help the opposition will not end the conflict or limit it; it will drag on as all the above examples shows. Leading to massacres and atrocities.

And by waiting the situation gets worse and much more complex, then “they” used its complexity as an excuse not to intervene while decrying the lost opportunity for intervention. And ALL this time the killing and atrocities committed by Assad’s regime just continues as nothing has happened.

On the contrary, the Assad regime has increased it’s attacks since Bashar al-Assad agreed to implement the “new” peace plan.

The international community’s response has been ludicrous. Syrians on the ground have felt forgotten and betrayed. A system that is supposed to protect civilians from brutal force has failed on a monumental scale.

And to ALL these countries, USA, EU, NATO, Turkey etc. that are supposed to defend and protect freedom, liberty and human rights.

To ALL these global government organisations (UN),and local ones like the Arab League etc.

To ALL the statesmen and politicians that talk so loudly about “responsibility to protect” (Samantha Power anyone?), freedom, liberty and human rights.

I say only one thing: You should BE REALLY PROUD of yourselves and the children of Syria will remember you. Each one.

To the children of Syria!

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Syria and Vladimir Putin: The Butcher of Homs – Part 6

23 april, 2012

And the “ceasefire” continuous.

“Al-Arabiya: Friday’s death toll in Syria rises to 45 people, activists say” (April 20)

Five, yeap you read right, five UN observers today made a BRIEF visit toHoms.

UN monitors visit Syria opposition stronghold

http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/3d281c11a96b4ad082fe88aa0db04305/Article_2012-04-21-ML-Syria/id-70fb3cdd81e24521b702a39149379c59

“But the situation was relatively calm as the five observers toured rebel-held areas in Homson Saturday. Activists said fighting and government shelling stopped and troops hid tanks in advance of the visit by U.N. cease-fire observers, their first to the city.”

“In the Jouret el-Shayah neighborhood of Homs, the observers were quickly thronged by residents who chanted, ”The people want military intervention,” according to video broadcast on the Al-Jazeera satellite TV station.

In amateur video from the same neighborhood, posted online Saturday, observers are seen walking silently through rubble-strewn deserted streets lined by heavily damaged apartment buildings.

A man in military uniform, apparently a rebel, pointed to the destruction, telling the team that ”it’s all destroyed buildings.” Dozens of residents chanted, ”The people want to execute the president,” and ”Freedom forever, against your will, Assad.”

As reported before by HWR and others (se my post 2), rape is useed as a weapon by Assad’s forces.

Rape as a weapon in Syria

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=388100

“On April 1, a Syrian doctor named Moussa al-Kurdi told Al-Jazeera that he received a report regarding the rape of two girls, aged 10 and 14, by government forces in southern Syria, which resulted in their being impregnated.

According to Kurdi, these two girls are part of a group of around 260 child refugees, boys and girls, whose parents were killed or arrested and who live in a hotel provided by a charity. Intelligence services in Syria prevented doctors from documenting the rapes and filing an official report about it. Kurdi said that the children are being threatened.

This story is a sample of the horrors committed against the Syrian people. For more than a year now, the Syrian regime has been fighting a war against its own people to regain control of the country. Rape may be the best means to destroy the morale of the enemy, not only in the present, but also for the future, as victims, especially those who became pregnant as a result of the rape, have to live with it for the rest of their lives, according to writer Hazem Saghiyeh. “

“However, according to a HRW researcher who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak on the subject, it has been confirmed that rape is being used as a method of torture against men and women in Syrian prisons. The researcher also mentioned reports of sexual assault against women when the army raids houses in search of wanted men or weapons. “

And the Iraqis have a problem:

Central Bank of Iraq: $10B Siphoned Off in Support of Iranian and Syrian Currencies

http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/6293.htm

“The deputy governor of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), Mudhhir Mohammad Saleh, has revealed that Iraq’s foreign currency reserves, estimated at $54 billion, have declined by $10 billion since last November, and that the money was used by banks, money-changers and money-transfer companies in support of the Iranian and Syrian economies, which are subject to sanctions. He asserted that speculators have exploited the monetary crisis in the two neighboring countries to make a quick profit. The rush to buy dollars has caused the Iraqi dinar to lose 11% of its value against the dollar, despite considerable foreign currency reserves available to support it. “

Same old same old:

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice wrote on Twitter April 18 that the “Syrian regime lied to the world, lied to its people & the biggest fabricator is Asad himself. Words are meaningless. Actions are what matter.”

http://twitter.com/#!/AmbassadorRice/status/192446044200648706

Ok, after this “great” and “sudden” insight after more than a year keeping up appearance while Assad was killing unarmed civilians, what then??

Well, who could have guessed – MORE OF THE SAME! I.E. doing nothing.

“Ambassador Rice’s interview with CNN the other day. When asked the most pressing question – what next? – Rice replied that the “next step really is for those who have maximum influence on Assad to continue to use it,”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1204/17/ampr.01.html

That is of course the very helpful Russians and Iranians. And if you have read any of my previous post, you know how “helpful” they have been. So this is the “great” Obama and Clinton plan – The two countries that has done the most to prop up and secure the Assad regime, with all means possible, are supposed to put “pressure on him???

Really???

Assad a “mafia bacteria”.

This is quite interesting. The people inside Syria has made some contacts withIsrael before. Like when the put the same message on the IDF Facebook site.

Syrian opposition leader, in unprecedented interview with Israel Radio, says Syrians want peace with Israel Speaking from Paris, Nofal Al-Dalawibi, son of a former Syrian PM, calls Assad a ‘mafia bacteria’ and says opposition will not negotiate with him

http://www.timesofisrael.com/syrian-opposition-leader-in-unprecedented-interview-with-israel-radio-says-syrians-want-peace-with-israel/

“In an unprecedented interview with Israel Radio, Nofal Al-Dalawibi, a Syrian opposition leader and son of former two-time Syrian prime minister Maarouf Al-Dalawibi, said that the Syrian people want peace, including with Israel, and seek stability after the ongoing bloodshed.

The interview comes against a background of decades of overt Syrian hostility to Israel, and shatters a taboo of Syrian representatives in any forum talking openly with Israelis. At international events, Syrian leaders have always sought to ensure that Israeli journalists are kept out of their press conferences, and ignored questions from Israeli reporters on the rare occasions when Israelis did manage to address them directly. Israeli journalists are never granted visas to enterSyria.”

”Dalawibi’s interview marked the potential beginning of a change from that mindset, should the Syrian opposition struggle prevail. When asked about the “fear that many Israelis have” that Islamic forces may occupy the political vacuum in Syria if Assad falls — and what effect that would have on Syria’s relationship with Israel — Dalawibi replied that the Syrian people do not want any more fighting. Syrian civilians have been left out of the political process for over 40 years and they only want peace, he added.

“Dalawibi also commented on the “long struggle” of the Syrian opposition. “We are not interested in negotiating with Assad,” Dalawibi told Zinger, and referred to the Syrian president as “mafia bacteria.”

Turkey

Recep Erdogan and his Islamic AKP party have ruledTurkeysince 2002. Their slow, but gradual, islamization of Turkish society has progressed. AKP has very effectively neutralized all the secular parties and organisations.

Including the military which was supposed to be the last guarantee of Ataturks legacy – a civilian society with separation of mosque and state.

Erdogan was imprisoned in 1998 for his involvement with the banned Welfare Party, which the Turkish government considered Islamist. Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy describes the Welfare Party as the “motherboard of Turkish Islamists since the 1980s,” saying it was inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 2001, he founded the AKP, which took a more moderate line, portraying itself as committed to separation of mosque and state but “faithful governance,” as Dr. Essam El-Erian, the chief of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political bureau, described the AKP’s “moderate Islamist” ideology.

Dr. El-Erian praised Erdogan’s victory, saying that it was the result of the “exposing of the failure of the secular trend.” El-Erian confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood had close ties to the AKP, but the West treated Turkey as if nothing had changed. It wasn’t until Turkey steadfastly refused to allow U.S. soldiers to transit their territory to overthrow Saddam Hussein that the West began questioning the allegiance of Erdogan’s government.

As Erdogan said in the beginning of February this year, “We want to raise a religious youth”:

Erdogan resurrects debates of Islamization

http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/02/09/193621.html

We want to raise a religious youth,” said Erdogan, himself a graduate of a clerical school and the leader of the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), during a parliamentary address last week.”

“Secular quarters argue Erdogan’s conservative government is also step by step imposing religion in every aspect of life, saying many restaurants already refuse to serve alcohol during Ramadan.”

“But since then the influence of the military, considered as guardian of secularism, has waned.

Dozens of retired and active army officers, academics, journalists and lawyers have been put behind bars in probes into alleged plots against Erdogan’s government.

Critics accuse the government of launching the probes as a tool to silence opponents and impose authoritarianism.

Secular quarters argue Erdogan’s conservative government is also step by step imposing religion in every aspect of life, saying many restaurants already refuse to serve alcohol during Ramadan.

They also criticize recent changes to legislation under which religious school graduates will now be able to access any university branch they like, while in the past they had only access to theology schools.

Birand expressed fears that the changes would not be confined to this and would lead to censorship in television broadcasts.

The Turkish television watchdog RTUK “will restrict all kissing scenes; they will confuse pornography with explicit broadcast and all television screens will be made pious,” he added.

Then will come religious foundations. After them, it will be municipalities. All kinds of Koran teaching courses, legal or illegal, will mushroom.”

As Turkish Penal Code specifies, ”Anyone who openly denigrates the religious values of a part of the population shall be sentenced to imprisonment of from six months to one year, where the act is sufficient to breach public peace.”

In the referendum 2010 26 amendments where made to the constitution. One example: It now permits the parliament to select who sits on the Supreme Board of Prosecutors and Judges. Previously, the judiciary was independent, choosing its own leadership free of political influence. And since the AKP holds a majority in the parliament, its allows the party to oversee the judiciary without any significant checks and balances.

And a quote from Erdoğan:

Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2270642.stm

The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”

Another example:

Paul Auster refuses Turkey visit over jailed scribes

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/paul-auster-refuses-turkey-visit-over-jailed-scribes-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=12523&NewsCatID=339

“Renowned U.S. author Paul Auster said he refused to visit Turkey because of the number of journalists and writers that have been jailed in the country.

Speaking to daily Hürriyet’s Buket Şahin, Auster said he had protested the Turkish and Chinese governments for their treatment of journalists.

I refuse to come to Turkey because of imprisoned journalists and writers. How many are jailed now? Over 100?” Auster said, adding that Turkey was the country he was most worried about.“

Erdogan and the Decline of the Turks

When I asked the prime minister about stories alleging a U.S.-Israeli murder and organ selling scheme in Iraq, he could not bring himself to condemn them..

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704875604575281392195250402.html

“To follow Turkish discourse in recent years has been to follow a national decline into madness.”

“For example, while there was much hand-wringing in our own media about ”Who lost Turkey?” when U.S. forces were denied entry to Iraq from the north in 2003, no such introspection was evident in Ankara and Istanbul. Instead, Turks were fed a steady diet of imagined atrocities perpetrated by U.S. forces in Iraq, often with the implication that they were acting as muscle for the Jews. The newspaper Yeni Safak, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s daily read, claimed that Americans were tossing so many Iraqi bodies into the Euphrates that local mullahs had issued a fatwa ordering residents not to eat the fish. The same paper repeatedly claimed that the U.S. used chemical weapons in Fallujah. And it reported that Israeli soldiers had been deployed alongside U.S. forces in Iraq and that U.S. forces were harvesting the innards of dead Iraqis for sale on the U.S. ”organ market.”

The secular Hurriyet newspaper, meanwhile, accused Israeli soldiers of assassinating Turkish security personnel in Mosul and said the U.S.was starting an occupation of (Muslim) Indonesia under the guise of humanitarian assistance. Then U.S. ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman actually felt the need to organize a conference call to explain to the Turkish media that secret U.S. nuclear testing did not cause the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. One of the craziest theories circulating in Ankara was that the U.S.was colonizing the Middle East because its scientists were aware of an impending asteroid strike on North America.

The Mosul and organ harvesting stories were soon brought together in a hit Turkish movie called ”Valley of the Wolves,” which I saw in 2006 at a mall in Ankara. My poor Turkish was little barrier to understanding. The body parts of dead Iraqis could be clearly seen being placed into crates marked New York and Tel Aviv. It is no exaggeration to say that such anti-Semitic fare had not been played to mass audiences in Europe since the Third Reich.

When I interviewed Prime Minister Erdogan (one of several encounters) in 2006, he was unabashed about the narrative.

Erdogan: ”I believe the people who made this movie took media reports as their basis . . . for example, Abu Ghraib prison—we have seen this on TV, and now we are watching Guantanamo Bay in the world media, and of course it could be that this movie was prepared under these influences.”

Me: ”But do you believe that many Turks have such a view ofAmerica, that we’re the kind of people who’d go to Iraq and kill people to take their organs?”

Erdogan: ”These kind of things happen in the world. If it’s not happening in Iraq, then its happening in other countries.”

Me: ”Which kind of things? Killing people to take their organs?”

Erdogan: ”I’m not saying they are being killed. . . . There are people in poverty who use this as a means to get money.”

I was somewhat taken aback that the prime minister could not bring himself to condemn a fictional blood libel. I should not have been. He and his party have traded on America and Israel hatred ever since. There can be little doubt the Turkish flotilla that challenged the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza was organized with his approval, if not encouragement. Mr. Erodogan’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, is a proponent of a philosophy which calls on Turkey to loosen Western ties to the U.S., NATO and the European Union and seek its own sphere of influence to the east. Turkey‘s recent deal to help Iran enrich uranium should come as no surprise.”

‘Muslims Don’t Cause Genocide, especially in Sudan:

Erdogan: Israel Worse than Sudan, ‘Muslims Don’t Cause Genocide’

Turkish PM Erdogan says he would rather talk to Sudanese leader al-Bashir than to Israeli PM Netanyahu, because “Muslims cannot commit genocide.”

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/134297

“Erdogan claimed to know that Bashir is innocent, and that there is no genocide taking place in Sudan. “A Muslim can never commit genocide,” he said in explanation. “It’s not possible.”

The Turkish PM added that he had visited Darfur and did not see evidence of genocide during his trip.”

Much more can be said about AKP andTurkeybut that’s maybe for a later post.

So lets move on to Turkeysr elations with Syria, Iran and its foreign policy ambitions.

Yes, we are the New Ottomans

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/12/09ANKARA1717.html

“SUMMARY:  In a recent speech before the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) retreat, Turkey‘s Foreign Minister Davutoglu appeared to embrace the concept of  Neo-Ottomanism as a framework for Turkish foreign policy.”

“Twice yearly, AKP party leaders and members of  parliament meet at Kizilcahamam for a consultative retreat to go over party policies and the state ofTurkeyin a relaxed, informal environment.  At the most recent retreat, held November 21 and 22, FM Davutoglu co-opted his critics’ derisive term for his personalized foreign policy, saying,

”Yes, we are the New Ottomans.”  In so doing, he made coherent the past six years of Turkish foreign policy, which has seen an intensive interest in being part of peace negotiations stretching from Bosnia through Palestine to Afghanistan, the opening of embassies throughout much of  Africa, and rapprochement with previous rivals, such as Iran, Syria, andArmenia.

Davutoglu had previously hinted at such a policy in a speech made in Sarajevo on October 16, in which he envisioned an economically and culturally integrated Balkans and Middle East as the driver of a peaceful, affluent civilization, and not the crisis-ridden periphery it is perceived to be today. In his estimation, the Ottoman Empire is the ”only positive exception” to have created such an entity, and Turkey, as successor to the Ottoman state, should be the focus of the re-establishment of a strong Eastern Mediterranean.”

“Borrowing from Western rhetoric that Turkey is a bridge between the East and the West, Turkey is aspiring to broaden its horizons to include not just Europe but the

Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia in its strategic considerations as well.  The policy also attempts to promote two popular trains of thought among conservative Turkish intellectuals:  the concepts of a global Islamic solidarity (previously promoted by former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan) and the concept of a Turkish-Islamist synthesis (popular in nationalist circles and also among members of the Fethullah Gulen religious community).

AKP’s domestic detractors, however, see the policy as more evidence of Turkish society slowly turning away from the West; embracing regional autocrats, such as Bashar al-Assad, Mahmud Ahmedinejad, and Omar al-Bashir; and Islamization of the populace as part of their plan to one day install Sharia law ”overnight.”  Turkey’s choice of regional friends does at times highlight its religious outlook more than cultural ones:  estranging historical trade and military partner Israel over the Gaza crisis sits unsteadily when Turkey comes to Sudan’s defense.”

I think that sets the tone.

And then there is all the treats and demands on it’s “allies” in NATO, EU:

Erdogan issued a direct threat on NATO when he warned on September 27, 2011:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/09/27/v-print/125417/bellicose-talk-as-turkey-debuts.html

“ISTANBUL—Turkey officially accepted delivery of its first domestically manufactured warship Tuesday at a ceremony that underscored the country’s push to become a regional power.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the occasion to criticize oil drilling in the eastern Mediterranean by Greek interests. He pointedly noted that the ceremony took place on the 473rd anniversary of the Battle of Preveza in northwestern Greece, where a fleet from the Ottoman Turkish empire defeated a much larger Christian force.

”I recommend the international community take the necessary lessons from the Preveza victory”, Erdogan said. ”Turkey’s national interests in the seas reach from its surrounding waters to the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean.”

The battle of  Preveza 1538 was a” decisive Turkish/Ottoman naval battle against a Papal “Holy League” Pan-Christian Alliance”.

And

‘Turkeywill never share intelligence from NATO radar system with Israel’

http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=3173

Turkey will never share intelligence gathered by a NATO radar system stationed on its soil with Israel, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday, during a joint news conference with visiting NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Ankara.

Turkey agreed late last year to deploy the early warning radar system after seeking guarantees from the U.S. that Israel would not have access to intelligence gathered by it. NATO also agreed to post a high-ranking Turkish general at its headquarters in Germany, where intelligence gathered through the radar system would be processed, according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.

The radar system has been up and running since January, and has already drawn criticism from Tehran. “The U.S. radar stationed inTurkeyis no good for any Muslim country,” Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said at a mid-January press conference. “But we have confidence in our Turkish friends,” he said, adding that Iran would request more information on the matter.”

US senators voice worry over radar deal with Turkey

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ib10aqtbTnD_aXypBfZG3lTWYJmg?docId=CNG.0ab2ac77281cfe1c695dd46990421301.d11

“Two key US senators expressed concerns Tuesday about a possible agreement to base a missile-shield radar in Turkey, citing the NATO ally’s strained ties with Israel and relations with Iran.

Republican Senators Jon Kyl and Mark Kirk wrote Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seeking reassurances on the possible deal, which was described in a news report last week.

The lawmakers asked for ”written assurances” that data collected by a so-called X-band radar ”will be made available, in real time” to staunch US ally Israel to be ”fully integrated into its battlement management and control.”

They also sought a guarantee that ”Turkish entities are not engaged, or suspected of engaging” in activities that fall afoul of various US laws aimed at curbing suspected nuclear weapons programs in Iran and Syria and keeping sensitive know-how from North Korea.

And President Barack Obama’s administration must also certify that the powerful radar will only be operated by US personnel, and for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for maintenance breaks, the senators said.

Kirk and Kyl, the number-two Senate Republican, also questioned whether the reported decision to locate the radar in Turkey would ”ensure the best defense of the United States against the Iranian long-range ballistic missile threat.”

They cited a US Missile Defense Agency study that found that the South Caucasus to be ”the optimum placement” if the system is designed to defend against an eventual Iranian ballistic missile attack.

”The administration’s plans for missile defense will require the cooperation of the Congress; the prospects for such cooperation are jeopardized if the Congress is not provided the information it requests,” they warned.”

And

Turkey blocks Israeli bid for opening NATO office

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&n=turkey-blocks-israeli-bid-for-opening-nato-office-2011-09-18

“Turkish objections have thwarted Israel’s attempt to open a NATO office, says Turkish FM, stressing determination to also keepIsrael out of data-sharing after a high-powered US radar system is deployed inTurkey.

Turkey has blocked an Israeli move to open a representation office at NATO headquarters, its foreign minister said Sunday, adding that data collected by a radar system in eastern Turkey would not be shared with Israel.

“Israelrecently made an attempt to open an office at NATO [headquarters] in Brussels. We said we would veto this attempt and the issue was not even put on the agenda,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in an interview with the CNNTürk “news channel.

Turkey refused to allowIsrael to participate in annual military exercises also involving Italyand the U.S. Instead Turkeywill hold military exercises withSyria:

After snubbing Israel, Turkey to hold defense drills with Syria

Syrian defense minister says two nations to hold drills days afterTurkeynixed maneuvers withIsrael.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/after-snubbing-israel-turkey-to-hold-defense-drills-with-syria-1.6129

“Syriasaid on Tuesday it would hold military exercises with Turkey, shortly after Turkeycanceled maneuvers with Israel.

Ankara’s decision, which was commended by Syria, revived fears of cooler relations betweenIsrael and NATO memberTurkey.

We held our first joint land military exercise (with Turkey) last spring. And today we have agreed to do a more comprehensive, a bigger one,” said Syrian Defense Minister Ali Habib, speaking at a news conference. “

“In Washington, the U.S. State Department on Tuesday objected to Turkey‘s last-minute decision to exclude Israel from the exercise.

We think it’s inappropriate for any nation to be removed from an exercise like this at the last minute,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. “

And in a ironic twist when one consider what Turkey has “done” or not done regarding Syria, Turkey blocked in the beginning the US/NATO intervention in Libya.

Turkey Blocks NATO Mission in Libya

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,752222,00.html

“So far, the NATO alliance has been unable to reach an agreement on participation in the military implementation of the no-fly zone. Turkey is resisting the measure and is calling for a new review of other possible measures the alliance could take in Libya. Ankara has also called for an immediate Western cease-fire, with Turkish officials calling on NATO to give greater consideration in its discussions to the possibility of civilian deaths, a NATO diplomat told the news agency AFP under the condition of anonymity. Ankara has rejected any NATO intervention against Libya, including the implementation of a no-fly zone.

Another example:

Turkey to freeze EU ties if Cyprus gets EU presidency

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/18/us-turkey-cyprus-idUSTRE78H20L20110918

“Reuters) -EU-candidate Turkey will freeze relations with the European Union if Cyprusis given the EU presidency in 2012, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay was quoted as saying by the state-run news agency Anatolian late on Saturday.”

Another:

Turkey warns Greek Cyprus on oil drilling ahead of Israeli PM visit

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-warns-greek-cyprus-on-oil-drilling-ahead-of-israeli-pm-visit–.aspx?pageID=238&nID=13894&NewsCatID=338

“Turkeywarned Thursday that it will not allow under any circumstances foreign oil companies to conduct unauthorized oil and natural gas exploration and exploitation activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and will take all necessary measures to protect its rights in the areas within its continental shelf.

Turkey’s strong worded warning came after an announcement published in the EU Official Journal dated11 February 2012 that the Greek Cypriot administration has called for a new international tender for off-shore hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation within its so-called economic exclusive zone.”

“This situation would bring those international companies  that might be interested in bidding for this illegal tender  into confrontation with the TRNC (TurkishRepublicof NorthernCyprus) and the TPAO (Turkish Petroleum Corporation) , and thus would lead to an  undesired tension in the region,” the statement said. “

Greek PM calls Erdogan to calm Cyprus gas tension

http://www.globalenergyworld.com/news/1845/Greek_PM_calls_Erdogan_to_calm_Cyprus_gas_tension.htm

“Greece’s prime minister called his Turkish counterpart Monday in a bid to calm a spiralling dispute over energy resources off Cyprus as a Turkish ship began explorations under military protection.

George Papandreou ”called for calm and restraint” and reiterated that Cyprus ”was entitled to decide what it wants to do”, said Greek government spokesman Elias Mossialos.

Papandreou also told Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey has to ”avoid unilateral acts”, referring to Ankara‘s decision to retaliate in kind for the Greek Cypriot government’s launch of offshore energy exploration.”

“Cyprus government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou on Monday told reporters Nicosia was monitoring the situation closely.

”Where necessary it will make representations and form a political and diplomatic shield for Cyprus‘ right” to explore and exploit possible deposits, he said.

Stefanou also accused Turkey of violating international law and causing tension in the region.”

Etc. Etc.

But lets move on to Turkeys policies an actions regarding Iran and Syria. They have shifted drastically. First, as part of this “ottoman” expansion I talked about above, Turkey became very friendly with Iran and Syria. And cooperated on ALL matters with both of them building a strategic alliance. Including helping Syria and Iran fight their internal opposition and uprising.

That policies only started to change last summer and even more so at the beginning of this year.

Lets start with Iran

Turkey has never accepted any of the official EU and US sanction against Iran:

Gates Criticizes TurkeyVote Against Sanctions

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/12/world/europe/12nato.html?_r=1

“Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressed frustration withTurkeyon Friday over its refusal to support a new round of United Nations sanctions against Iran, but he suggested that the alliance betweenWashington and Ankara remained robust.”

“I’ll be honest, I was disappointed in Turkey’s vote on the Iranian sanctions,” Mr. Gates said at the end of a two-day meeting of defense ministers at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels. “Allies don’t always agree on things, but we move forward from here.

The Security Council on Wednesday approved its fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Twelve of the 15 nations on the Security Council voted for the measure, while Brazil and Turkey, which had negotiated a deal with Iran to swap some of its nuclear fuel, voted against, and Lebanon abstained. “

“Among other things, the sanctions took aim at military purchases, trade and financial transactions by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which controls Iran’s nuclear program and has taken a more central role in running the country and the economy. “

And

Turkey: Not bound by US sanctions against Iran

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-not-bound-by-us-sanctions-against-iran-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=11309&NewsCatID=338

“Turkey, which imports oil and gas from Iran, says it is only bound by U.N. sanctions against its eastern neighbor, despite the U.S. campaign to sanctionIran further over its nuclear program.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said Turkey would evaluate the content of the U.S.sanctions but it ”does not feel it is bound by any other sanctions.” Unal spoke during a weekly news conference, which followed a meeting between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Iran’s parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani.”

Ads the Turkish trade with Iran keeps growing, in direct contradiction of US and EU supposed strategy!

And as I said in my previous posts, Turkey too has its hands deep in sanctions-busting transactions with Iran: Its seventh largest bank, the state-owned Halkbank, is a conduit for Iran’s oil-related earnings. To facilitate Iran’s international oil sales

Turkey import large quantities of Iranian oil, and Iran use Turkish banks to facilitate its international oil sales.

Turkeyis also deeply involved in an effort to have the new Iranian and Iraqi pipelines to Europe routed through Turkey, reducing the Strait of  Hormuz’s crucial importance as a primary route for the world’s oil supplies. This pipeline would also hurt Saudi Arabiaand the other Gulf oil producers, all of whom are dead set against Erdogan’s hegemonic aspirations in the Middle East.

Turkey and Iran’s military alliance:

Turkey Forms Alliance With Iran Against Kurds

http://www.newsmax.com/KenTimmerman/turkey-iran-/2007/10/15/id/337383

U.S.  ally Turkey and U.S. arch-enemy Iran have formed a military alliance to drive opposition Kurds from bases in northern Iraq they have used since 2004 to launch guerrilla operations inside Iran, rebel leaders told Newsmax at a secret base in the Qandil mountains.

Both Iran and Turkeyhave vowed to send troops into northern Iraq, but until now evidence of active military cooperation between them has remained a closely-held secret.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stepped up political and diplomatic threats in recent days, telling the United States he would cut off U.S. access to the strategic Incirlik airbase in eastern Turkey if the U.S. tried to prevent Turkey from sending troops against the Kurdish bases in northern Iraq.

Leaders of the Party of Free Life of Iranian Kurdistan, known as PJAK, provided Newsmax with extensive evidence of the Iran-Turkey alliance in two days of exclusive interviews at a secret guerilla base deep in the Qandil mountains. An Iranian Revolutionary Guards outpost was visible on a nearby mountain peak.

“Iran and Turkey attacked jointly on August 16 against our forces inside Iran and against Turkish self-defense forces in northern Iraq,” a PJAK commander using the nom de guerre Xerat told Newsmax at the Iranian rebel base.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards “attacked us across a broad front in the areas of Sardasht, Piranshahr, Shaho, Urmieh, and along the border line,” Xerat said, citing the names of major cities in Iranian Kurdistan where PJAK rebels have been operating.

While those ground operations were underway, Iranian and Turkish artillery simultaneously began shelling civilian villages inside Iraqi Kurdistan from Metina, Zaab, Haftani, and Hakurke in the north, to Haji Oumran, Qalatdizza, Zeh, Marado, and Xinera in the south, he added.

Turkish artillery hit the northern villages, while Iranian gunners hit the southern ones.

Iranian troops attempted to cross into Iraq through the mountain passes, but PJAK fighters held the line.

The goal of the Iranians is to drive us from the border area,” rebel leader Biryar Gabar told Newsmax. “They want to turn this area into a no-man’s land, so they can use it to smuggle weapons and Islamist guerillas into Iraq to fight the Americans.”

He called the Iran-Turkey entente “an anti-American alliance,” not just an anti-Kurdish agreement, and said that it resulted from deliberate decisions from the ruling Islamist AKP party of Prime Minister Erdogan to transform Turkey into an increasingly Islamist state.

A senior European official, who was involved in talks to bring Turkey into the European Union, told Newsmax recently he had been “stunned” by the hard-line toward the Kurds taken by AKP party leader Abdullah Gul, now Turkey’s president.

He was totally uncompromising,” the official said. “He took a harder line than the Turkish military.”

Iran has been offering Turkeyan economic agreement with Iran in July to build a strategic pipeline that will bring Iranian natural gas to Europe, in defiance of a U.S. led effort to increase the economic squeeze on Iran.”

“Since the liberation of Iraq by the Coalition, PJAK has maintained control of the Iran-Iraq border in this area, and prevented infiltration by Iran or al-Qaida-related terrorists.

The U.S. military sent liaison officers to meet with PJAK in 2003 and again in 2005 to discuss Iranian efforts to infiltrateIraq, but have not pursued discussions further, PJAK officials said.

“From August 16-24, the Iranians tried to cross the border along the mountain ridge line, but we pushed them back,” Biryar Gabar said.

During the Iranian ground attacks, PJAK learned from its operatives on the ground inside Iran that Turkish officers were acting as military advisors to the Iranian troops, he told Newsmax.”

“Since the failed ground offensive by the Iranians, Turkish officers have begun training Iranian Revolutionary Guards troops in counter-insurgency operations at the Soleiman training camp near the Iranian city of Urmieh.

“The Iranians had little experience in counter-insurgency operations, so the Turks are training them,” guerilla leader Xenat said.

Our friends saw Turkish officers coordinating the operations of the Iranian army in the Kelaresh area,” he added. Kelaresh is in the border region outside of Salmas andUrmieh,Iran.

An exclusive Newsmax source in Iran reported in late August that eight Turkish officers were then in Urmieh, coordinating the anti-Kurdish military campaign with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

At the command level, Iranian and Turkish military officers have held monthly coordination meetings in the Turkish cities of Harakeh, Van, Bashakale, and in the Iranian cities of Urmieh, Mahabad, and Salmas, PJAK officials said.

The Iranian government sent a 12-member delegation to Hakkari, Turkey, for a summit meeting with Turkish officials on Sept. 10, PJAK officials said.”

“PJAK guerilla leaders also pointed to the recent creation by Iran of civilian village guards, known as “jash,” in the Iranian Kurdish areas, as another sign of Turkish military cooperation with Iran.

The Turkish army used a similar tactic when fighting the PKK in the 1990s,” said Xenat, a former PKK fighter who is originally fromTurkey but joined PJAK once the PKK dissolved its military wing in early 2000.

The “jash” village guards act as spies for the Revolutionary Guards to identify PJAK guerilla fighters., he said. They are also dressing up in Kurdish guerilla uniforms and attacking Iranian villagers, pretending to be PJAK fighters.

The Turks have been fighting a dirty war in anti-guerilla operations for 30 years. Now they are teaching this to the Iranians,” Xenat said.”

And Turkey supports Iran’s nuclear program

Turkey voices support for Iran’s nuclear program

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=381390

The government and nation of Turkey has always clearly supported the nuclear positions of the Islamic republic of Iran, and will continue to firmly follow the same policy in the future,” Erdogan was quoted as saying in the statement issued by Ahmadinejad’s office.

Ahmadinejad thanked Turkey for its ”clear and frank” stance on the issue, the statement added.”

Another interesting fact, in October 2011 the Chinese air force was in Turkey and took part in joint exercise with the Turkish air force. Before arriving inTurkey, the Chinese air force had been in Iran and had a similar joint exercise there.

And Israel was very concerned with what was going on inTurkeyand its relations with Iran:

If there is not a change in personality, then Turkeywill become Iran No. 2

http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/WTARC/2010/me_turkey0896_09_15.asp

Israel‘s defense community has assessed that Turkey was moving toward becoming a radical and nuclear Islamic state.

Officials and leading analysts asserted that the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was rapidly dismantling the secular Turkish state. They said Erdogan could turn Turkey into another Iran, a radical Muslim state with nuclear weapons.

There could be a deep strategic change,” Amos Gilad, a senior Defense Ministry official, said.

Officials cited Turkey’s referendum that would revise the secular constitution. They said the 26 amendments approved by 58 percent of voters on Sept. 12 would significantly increase the authority of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party while marginalizingTurkey’s military.

Leading officials expressed concern over Erdogan’s growing power in Turkey and his success in intimidating the once-powerful Turkish military. They said Erdogan could use his referendum victory to expand Turkey‘s alliance with neighboring Iran and Syria while fomenting another crisis with Israel.

If there is not a change in personality, then Turkey will become Iran No. 2,” former National Security Council director Uzi Dayan said.”

And most devious at all: Turkey has allowed Iran to supply Syria with arms to crush the civilian uprising through its territory. It only stopped in January this year.

Iran army supplies to Syria via the Turkish Dogubayazit route

In the middle of January, Turkey reported halting five Iranian trucks loaded with weapons for Syria at the Killis Turkish-Syrian border crossing and impounding its freight. Actually, the Iranian convoy was not really stopped at Killis but at the eastern Turkish Dobubayazit border crossing with Iran, near Mount Ararat. This supply route for Syria had been going strong for months. Ankara‘s decision to suspend it has reduced its volume by 60 percent.

The Turks kept very quiet about the Dogubayazit route because disclosure would have exposed them as working two sides of the Syrian conflict – letting Tehran set up a clandestine arms route for helping the Assad regime crack down on protest, while publicly posing as the leading champions of the Syrian protest movement – even to providing the Free Syria Army with bases and training facilities.

The influx of Iranian arms supplies via Turkey gave the Syrian army a major boost in quelling the uprising especially in the restive towns of Hama, Homs and Idlib, where demonstrations have dwindled. Now Ankara is worried about the consequences. Thursday, President Abdullah Gul raised fears of the Syrian uprising mutating into civil war.Ankara is concerned that sectarian conflict inSyria could spill over intoTurkey.

With “friends” like this how need enemies?

Over to Syria

A year ago Turkey’s prime minister Erdogan addressed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus as “my brother”.

And Hakan Fidan (very pro Iranian), chief of Turkish MIT intelligence service, has on Erdogans orders gone frequently to Damascus to update Assad’s regime on Syrian opposition activities. One of Assad’s key sources of information about what the opposition is up to.

This stopped on May 24, and even more so in August,  2011 when Erdogan finally realised that after three months of unstinting support for the Assad regime, the Turkish government circles seek to shun finding themselves ”backing a regime which shoots to kill Muslims in the street.” After the number of Syrian deaths rose past 1,100, one high-ranking official commented, ”Turkey is a Muslim democracy. It must not lend support to dictators who murder their citizens.”

So at least then Erdogan stopped to openly supporting Assad. It would take longer for Turkeyto actually start doing something. That happened in January this year.

And the rhetoric of setting up “safe” or “buffer zone” has been talked about by the Turks for nearly a year buy now and nothing has been done.

Turkey recalibrates its approach to Syria

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/03/21/uk-turkey-syria-idUKBRE82K11Y20120321

(Reuters) – Just over a year ago, Turkey’s prime minister addressed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus as “my brother”. Today, illusions of kinship are long gone and the region’s rising power finds itself marshalling efforts to press him from power, but increasingly wary of being pitched into military action.

The falling out between Assad and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan grew personal as well as diplomatic as Syria’s president ignored Turkish calls for restraint and pressed his attacks on protesters. Erdogan drew a comparison with Nazi Germany in some of the strongest words of any major leader onSyria.

In one email, intercepted and published in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Assad’s wife Asma is asked if she would pass her email address to Erdogan’s wife. “I use this account only for family and friends,” she replies. “It would be difficult for me at this stage to consider her in either category after the insults they have directed towards the president.”

The Syrian insurrection has tested the limits of Turkish regional diplomatic power that has grown markedly under Erdogan’s stewardship. For years Ankara invested heavily in relations with Syria and Assad, calculating closer ties could foster both trade and reforms in its southern neighbour, as well as weaken its reliance on Iran, for centuries Turkey’s main regional rival.

“They thought that because of the personal relationship that had developed between Erdogan and Bashar, the Syrians would be a pushover,” said Philip Robins of Oxford University.

“There was a complete misunderstanding based on an assumption that they had manoeuvred the other side so that they would do their bidding, and that absolutely was not the case.”

Syrian protests escalated from March last year. Assad failed to heed ever more insistent telephone calls from Erdogan and visits from Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu appealing for reform. By August, Ankara had had enough.

TURKEY SEES RED LINES

Having seen the rapid revolution in Egypt and with the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi seemingly imminent, Turkey sharply turned against its erstwhile ally in Damascus.

They wanted to position themselves on the right side of history, expecting the Syrian regime to fall in weeks as in Tunisia and Egypt,” said Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.

Turkey now hosts Syria’s main opposition groups and shelters the rebel Free Syria Army on its side of the common frontier. On April 1, it will be the venue of a meeting of Western and Middle Eastern officials and groups involved with Syria.

Assad has shown himself to be impervious to verbal assault and resilient to increasingly violent protests and guerrilla attacks. He is also for now at least largely insulated from strong United Nations-backed action due to the vetoes of China and his backer Russia on the Security Council.

“Right now there is a disappointing situation for Ankara,” said Salem. “What they banked on didn’t happen. Their bluff and bluster was met by bluff and bluster from the Syrian side and now we are certainly in a bit of a stalemate.”

Without backing from the U.N., or at least the Arab League and NATO, Turkey is unwilling to go it alone in Syria. But with a 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria, more than 16,000 Syrian refugees on its soil and hundreds more arriving each day, it is not a problem from which Ankara can simply walk away.

Turkey has signalled a huge flood of refugees or massacres on its door-step would be red lines that would force it to act, but short of military intervention, there are few effective options available, analysts said.

Erdogan said last week setting up a “safe” or “buffer zone” along the border was one of the options under consideration, but that would mean troops going into Syria to seize and secure territory which the rebel Free Syrian Army has failed to do.

“We need to consider maybe to have a buffer zone inside Syrian territory, but without Syrian consent this may lead to some kind of military conflict … and this may escalate the situation,” said Kamer Kasim of the International Strategic Research Organisation (USAK), Turkish think-tank.

Like it or not, Turkey finds itself centre stage of diplomatic efforts to dislodge Assad, and would be on the front line of any military intervention, whether an Arab peace force or arming the Free Syrian Army, both measures the Arab League could discuss when it holds a summit in Baghdad next week.

REGIONAL REALITIES

But there are very good reasons why Turkey should be wary of intervening in Syria, given its strategic backing by Turkey’s neighbour and regional power Iran, and the closeness to Iran of Ankara’s other Middle Eastern neighbour, Iraq.

Turkey has got itself into a position where it has a major foreign policy issue with its three Middle Eastern neighbours,” said Robins. “This is really not clever, especially in a part of the world where power politics is still the name of the game.”

“If it were just Turkey versus Syria then the Turks if they were minded to could probably just pile in,” he said. “But when you factor in the presence of other regional powers … and you also have Israel which is getting closer to Cyprus and Greece, and then of course you have the Russians to the north who are supporting Syria, it suddenly becomes much more complex.”

Some in Turkey see a Western attempt to pushAnkara into taking the leading role, and a large part of the risk, inSyria.

Parliament speaker Cemil Cicek, from Erdogan’s AK Party, blamed what he called “Western cunning” for trying to push Turkey into action. “Everyone is on the sidelines as if they are watching a match and saying ‘let Turkey sort it out’.”

That at least was how many observers saw last week’s visit to Ankara of CIA Director David Petraeus.

“It seems Turkeyhas been left holding the baby,” said Ali Nihat Ozcan, a security analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey.

The Americans, he said, “are probably trying to encourage Turkey to get more involved. Turkey is having second thoughts.”

Turkey has not yet rowed back, but much of the rhetoric has been replaced by a determined attempt to forge more consensus on Syria, hosting a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Istanbul on April 1 to try keep it high on the international agenda.

There Turkey will do what it diplomatically does best, bringing together the West and the Middle East where it uniquely has a foot in both camps.

“I would have thought the thing to do is to get back in the pack as far as NATO and the Western alliance is concerned; you are not exposed in the way that Turkey has been,” said Robins.

“You can have your own perspective on what is happening. You are still deeply alarmed at the loss of life and devastation in Syria, but you can only really move in tandem with the alliance more generally and with the Americans in particular.”

What really turned the Turks to doing something was when Assda played the PKK card in January this year. And opened a direct route fromIraq via Syria to Turkey for PKK.

Remember that Turkey nearly invaded Syria in 1998 for sponsoring Kurdish terrorism.

On October 20, 1998, Syria and Turkey signed the Adana Agreement under pressure from Iran and Egypt. The agreement was for Syria to keep the PKK from threatening Turkish sovereignty from Syrian bases.

After that PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was expelled by Syrian authorities. Abdullah Öcalan then bounced around the capitals ofEurope, only to be captured in Kenya and handed over to the Turks by the CIA.

After the undeclared war between Turkey and Syria, Syria placed restrictions on PKK activity on its soil.

Idlib Binnish -”The People Who Represent Us are Those Fighting in the Trenches Not The Ones Sleeping in Hotels (SNC Members)”

And then there is the Turkish effort, with the Obama administrations backing and collaboration, to make SNC the sole voice of the opposition. So the SNC can receive all money and all supply toSyria must be funneled and coordinated through them so they are in full control.

Only one problem, SNC is in reality a Muslim Brotherhood controlled organization even if it pretends to be “neutral”.

See this video which shows Muslim Brotherhood leader Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni claiming that the Brotherhood chose Birhan Ghalioun to be the SNC leader as a front man because he would be more appealing to the West than an open Islamist.

Video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FWi7Rnpemkg

But the Syrian National Council (SNC) has failed. The people of Syria has seen trough this and rejected SNC as “a sole voice of the opposition”.

In fact, several SNC members, including Kamal al-Labwani and Haitham Maleh, have announced their resignations. They are both elderly veteran dissidents who are not Islamists. The reason being given most often for this crack-up is that the group’s leadership is “autocratic,” excluding most of the membership from any role in decision-making.

 Leaving aside the element of personal ambition, however, why is it autocratic? Because it is imposing the Muslim Brotherhood line rather than responding to the preferences of the activists within Syria, that’s why.

As the New York Times admits, al-Labwani, “accused Muslim Brotherhood members within the exile opposition of `monopolizing funding and military support.’” Yet there is not a word about how the Obama Administration pushed this Brotherhood-dominated leadership onto the Syrian opposition.

Most of the Kurds involved in the original talks angrily walked out of the negotiations because of their objection to Islamist leadership. The Obama Administration’s choice of  Turkey to coordinate this operation made it even harder to bring in Syrian Kurds, who play an important role in the revolution, since Turkey has fought a long war against Kurdish nationalism at home. Another issue of conflict is the SNC’s bad relationship with the FSA (Free Syrian Army) and its rejection of armed struggle to overthrow the dictatorship.

The opposition inside Syria say that this is because the Islamists hope to make a deal with the regime that would empower them (and they hope would eventually bring them to power in the longer-term) rather than fight it out.

Of the nineteen announced members of the top leadership of SNC, ten of them were Islamists, (Muslim Brotherhood or Salafist). A reliable Syrian opposition source tells that two more members are secretly Islamist tools.

In short, the U.S. government was helping to turn Syria’s revolution over to the Islamists. If this group had succeeded, the West would be facing still another radical Islamist regime that hated the West, wanted to go to war with Israel, and would be imposing a new dictatorship on its country.

That’s one of the reasons why there are more than a half-dozen other opposition groups have developed as rivals to the SNC.

And by the way, Erdogan is close personal friend of Obama which have made Turkeya key cornerstone in his Middle East policy.

Or as Barry Rubin puts it:

http://pjmedia.com/barryrubin/2012/03/26/obama-hearts-turkish-leader-erdogan-as-he-oppresses-his-own-people-and-stabs-america-in-the-back/

“President Barack Obama is continuing his love affair with Turkish Islamist leader Recep Erdogan. As Erdogan continues to undermine Turkish democracy, throw hundreds of moderates into jail, destroy the nation’s institutions, help Iran, throw hysterical tantrums about how much he hates Israel, promote Islamism in the region, and is fresh from still another meeting with Hamas leaders, Obama continues to use Erdogan as his guru.

When the two men met at the Seoul, South Korea, Nuclear Security Summit on March 25, Obama practically slobbered over the anti-American ruler, calling Erdogan his “friend and colleague….We find ourselves in frequent agreement upon a wide range of issues.”

When Erdogan goes to elections or is criticized by the opposition he uses statements like this to “prove” that his policies aren’t radical or anti-Western at all. Here’s a man whose regime can help terrorist groups organize a violent confrontation with Israel, preside over a virulently anti-American media, insist Iran isn’t seeking nuclear weapons and has a wonderful government, and then be lionized by the president of the United States.

Obama adds:

“I think it’s fair to say that over the last several years, the relationship between Turkey and the United States has continued to grow across every dimension.  And I find Prime Minister Erdogan to be an outstanding partner and an outstanding friend on a wide range of issues.”

What did the two men talk about? Well, they first discussed Syria, an issue on which Obama praised Erdogan’s “outstanding leadership.” In fact, Turkey has helped to engineer an Islamist leadership in the Syrian National Council that wrecked any chance that the opposition could unite.Turkey’s rulers did this not to promote democracy but to promote the Muslim Brotherhood.

Now, according to reliable sources, Obama is discouraging Erdogan from advocating a no-fly zone and safe haven in northern Syria because the U.S. government has basically decided not to help the opposition, which will ensure that the Syrian dictatorship crushes it and continues to be Iran’s main ally in the region.

Instead, Obama is opting, in his words, for “a process whereby a transition to a representative and legitimate government in Syria takes place.” In other words, Obama advocates a deal between the opposition and the dictatorship of President Bashar al-Assad  If this sounds like a contradiction, remember that this is also the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood line but is opposed by both the Free Syrian Army and the moderate oppositionists.

Of course, however, this strategy will merely buy time for the regime to achieve a bloody victory.  Erdogan is now headed to Tehran where he will try to convince his friends there to stop helping their friends in Syria. Does that sound like a mission likely to succeed?”

“Erdogan can well be delighted. He can do whatever he wants, trample on human rights at home; court radicals abroad including Hamas, Hizballah, and Iran; subvert U.S. interests, and still have Obama sit worshipfully at his feet.”

And to further prove that point that the Obama administration is ACTIVLY discouraging and opposing ANY small step Turkey wants to take regarding Syria:

US tells Turkey to back off  Syria

http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?ID=378866

”In a previously unreported turn of events, it has now come to light that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu last month, emphatically dismissed a number of forward leaning options on Syria that the Turkish top diplomat proposed to the Obama administration.

What this means is that Washington, which at one point subcontracted its Syria policy to Ankara, has now called the Turks off the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

According to well-informed Turkish and US sources, during his meeting with Secretary Clinton, Davutoğlu put forward a set of measures, including, among others, creating a buffer zone and/or a humanitarian corridor, as well as organizing and equipping the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The secretary of state responded in no uncertain terms that the Obama administration had no interest in pursuing any of these options. In fact, according to one account, Clinton told her Turkish counterpart no less than three times, “We are not there.”

This conversation fits well with the administration’s message to other regional allies, namely Saudi Arabia, against arming the FSA and pushing Washington’s preferred policy of going through the Russians, in an attempt to reach a “political solution” to the Syrian crisis.”

“Apparently, the Turks, much like the Saudis, were looking to the first Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis as a possible forum to bypass the Russians and begin a more muscular effort, with US backing. The Saudis found out at the meeting that no such action was forthcoming, and withdrew in frustration, while publicly voicing their preference for arming the Syrian rebels.

The Turks got their answer from Secretary Clinton well before the Tunis gathering, and, according to the Turkish sources, were dismayed at the Obama administration’s extraordinary passivity and refusal to lead.

The message conveyed to the Turks was the same one made clear to the Saudis. According to one US source, when Davutoğlu ended up asking Clinton where the administration was on the issue, her response simply repeated the mantra about the Arab League initiative and going to the Security Council again for another go at the Russians. In other words, it was more of the same.”

“As a result, the administration has found itself in the surreal position of siding closer with Assad’s Russian ally and at cross-purposes with its own regional allies – and, most significantly, in contradiction with its own stated policy of regime change in Syria.”

With “allies” like this who need enemies?

And finally some FSA comedy:

THE FREE SYRIAN ARMY COLLECTS DONATIONS FOR THE TURKISH ARMY – The FSA, who barely have enough weapons and supplies for themselves, conduct a charity drive for the Turkish Army.

Assad’s forces attacked a refugee camp in the town of Kilis on the Turkish side of the border and injured a couple of Turks in addition to wounding a dozen Syrians and killing two.

The Turkish Army has yet to respond to the attack, so the FSA conducted this donations drive for them.

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