Posts Tagged ‘Latakia’

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

25 april, 2012

And the “ceasefire” continuous.

Al-Jazeera: Syrian forces killed 66 people Monday, activists say (April 23)

Regime forces killed at least 28 civilians with heavy gunfire in the central city of Hama on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. (April 23)

“Déjà Failed!

Another monitoring mission, another set of people from all over the world making excuses, trying to explain the unexplainable and getting frustrated and fired upon to boot. When will the world follow a plan that makes sense. To the world we say: Give us what we need to get the mission accomplished, not what you need to feel good about yourselves.”

Ammar Abduhamid a liberal democracy activist

To really show the absurdity of this UN “ceasefire” and their observers:

Two UN observers come under sniper fire from Assad’s forces in Homs April 21 and had to take cover and the civilian population protected the UN observers. The same civilian population that these UN observers were supposed to “protect”

That what I call a ceasefire a la UN!

I therefore suggest to the UN Security Council a new resolution with a “new” UN observation team that will “protect and observe the first team of observers”.

There are many videos showing this, here are two:

04/21/12  Assad’s Snipers shoot at UN Monitors in Homs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ININuKv5N5w&feature=player_embedded

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYxawA7ShMk&feature=youtu.be

And here is a news story about it:

UN delegation of the ‘terrified’ in Syria

http://arabnews.com/opinion/columns/article615427.ece

“We saw the Free Syrian Army (FSA) protecting the Blue Berets, particularly in Homs, where the head of the observer mission, Col. Ahmed Himmiche, was present.”

“A YouTube video-clip has appeared showing the international monitors being targeted and shot at by forces belonging to the tyrant of Damascus, whilst members of the FSA formed a human barrier to protect them as they were beset by panic. Indeed this video-clip shows one FSA member protecting one of the international monitors from gunfire, reassuring him by saying “don’t be afraid!” Of course, anybody who views this YouTube video-clip understand the extent of the irony inherent in this situation, and as the saying goes, the worst disaster is the one that brings laughter, particularly when we are looking at a UN monitoring delegation transform into a delegation of the “terrified.”

This represents a clear insult from the Assad regime toward the UN and international community, particularly as the targeting of this delegation took place on the same day that the UN Security Council took the decision to send more monitors to Syria! So after all of this, can we say that there is any expected benefit from sending international monitors to Syria? There can be no doubt that this is completely out of the question.

Assad’s shelling of Homs, Deraa, Hama and other cities is ongoing, and Syrian people are being killed on a daily basis, so after all of this how can we say that the delegation of international monitors will play an effective role, or confirm Assad’s compliance with the Annan initiative? The targeting of the international observers, and their being subject to gunfire in Homs, means that Assad has taken aim at Annan’s initiative, and this means that we cannot rely on this initiative, or wait another three months — which is the timeframe provided for the observer mission by the UN initiative — for Assad did not even wait a few days for his forces to fire upon the delegation of the “terrified.”

What is funny is that Washington is claiming that its patience has run out, and that it will not renew the observer mission in 90-days, in other words Washington has already begun to negotiate — from today — about renewing the observer mission, which should end in 3 months! This is the true definition of absurdity, whilst it also makes light of the Syrian blood that has been shed non-stop over the past 12 months, particularly as this delegation of the “terrified” — on Friday — refused to monitor the scene, despite the huge anti-Assad demonstrations taking place, with the head of the observer mission saying that his team would not undertake any field trips for fear that “our presence is used for escalation.”

Is this a joke? Must the FSA now also protect the international delegation of the “terrified” from the Assad forces? It is clear that the international delegation of the “terrified” will not accelerate or delay anything in Syria, particularly at their current level, therefore the Emir of Qatar was right when he said that the Annan initiative has only a 3 percent chance of success!

What everybody must be aware of is the fact that Assad only understands the language of force; anything other than this is nothing more than a license to kill, a waste of time and a deepening of the Syrian crisis.”

And these UN observers WILL NOT “OBSERVE” on Fridays when most of the protests are! Another glorious example of this great UN “ceasefire”.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/21/world/middleeast/syrian-protesters-mock-cease-fire-and-united-nations-observers.html?_r=3&partner=rss&emc=rss

“Col. Ahmed Himmiche, the Moroccan officer heading the advance team of United Nations observers in Syria, was quoted as telling reporters in Damascus that they would avoid Friday patrols, a statement that confirmed suspicions of many who have experienced the brunt of government oppression that the mission would be toothless. “We don’t want to be used as a tool for escalating the situation,” he said.

Those remarks were met with some disbelief, particularly in Damascus, where antigovernment protesters said they faced arrest, bullets, tear gas and a wide deployment of government security forces trying to suppress their demonstrations — all violations of the supposed cease-fire plan. One point of the six-point peace plan negotiated under United Nations auspices is that Syrians be allowed to demonstrate freely.

I have no hope in the monitors; if they don’t tour on Fridays, why did they come to Syria?” said Yaser, 30, a protester in Jober, not far from downtown Damascus, where an attack by government thugs wounded demonstrators. “For us nothing is changed — we are demonstrating, the Assad forces are killing and the monitors are watching.” Demonstrators in Homs, which has endured more than two months of shelling, were more sarcastic. At the beginning of every video from a demonstration, someone off camera held up a piece of paper indicating the place and the date. One from Homs on Friday in Arabic and slightly mangled English read: “Dear Observer. We are waiting. Note: Homs is a city in Syria (can u come please?”).

Abu Omar, 28, an activist reached by telephone, said sardonically that perhaps the Syrian government no longer considered the city part of the country since it evidently had no intention of respecting the cease-fire there or of withdrawing its forces, as the peace plan specifies. “Tanks are still deployed in every corner of the city, and checkpoints are everywhere,” he said. “So what is the meaning of this cease-fire?”

And of course, the shelling continues as usual during this “ceasefire”:

Just two out of many videos showing this continued destruction:

Syria, Homs city: Violent Shelling on Khaldiyeh area by the regime army

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=uZ5JWvufVlI

04/20/12 Syria Homs shelled despite ceasefire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGv-lHKPAyA&feature=player_embedded

And

Satellite images reveal ruined deserted Homs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUC_8airD6E&feature=player_embedded

“Government forces’ continued shelling of the Syrian city of Homs has left some neighbourhoods unrecognisable.

Satellite images taken this Mach reveal a deserted city centre, destroyed areas and heavy deployment of tanks across the city.

This contracts to the images shot in August, which showed a busy city of around a million.  The latest imagery, commissioned by Al Jazeera, provides a snapshot of what appears to be an increasingly dire situation. “

Remember that in Part 1 I wrote “But for the most part, most of the army stays out of this. They have “defected in place” And one example I gave was from Golan:

“From division level down to battalions and brigades level. Entire units from commander down defy orders from the General Staff in Damascus to fight the rebels without crossing the lines to the opposition. To keep the spreading passive mutiny, Assad keeps the defiant units supplied in their barracks with funds and food.

Another example of this passive mutiny by the Syrian army, was when the five Syrian divisions stationed on Syria’s Golan border with Israel and its frontier with South Lebanon; were told by their commanders in beginning of March to ignore orders from Damascus to join the crackdown on rebels because their mission was “to defend the Syrian homeland from external threats” – another form of “defection in place.”

Well it seems that the situation has gotten worse, according to Israeli sources. Since Assad now have diverted food and supplies from these army units to his militia:

“The wretched plight of the troops manning Syrian defense divisions defending the Golan border and Mt.Hermon was clearly visible from lookout points on the Israeli side in the last two days. The regular water and food supplies to their bases, the backbone of Syria’s defense lines against Israel, were stopped and redirected to the units fighting anti-Assad rebels in other parts of the country. Large groups of armed soldiers have gone AWOL to hunt for food. For the first time in years, some have approached the border fence. They don’t ask Israeli soldiers for food, but parcels thrown across the fence vanish in a trice.

The 5th Division posted in the Golan town of Quneitra has suffered the largest number of desertions, estimated at more than 1,500 officers and men, around 15 percent of the full complement. But hundreds of dropouts occur daily from the 15th, 9th and 7th Divisions stationed in central and southern Golan.

The district commands have meanwhile lost control of the Syrian-Israeli border deployment. Military facilities are deserted with no one to guard against trespassers. Gangs, local and from across Syria’s eastern borders with Jordan and Iraq, were quick to realize the bases are unguarded and have begun stripping them of equipment and looting everything they can lay hands on.“

”For them the palaces, for us the coffins.”

And it seems that slowly the disaffection with Assad is growing among his main internal support the Alawites:

Disaffection, fear growing among Syria’s Alawites

http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/disaffection-fear-growing-among-syrias-alawites#full

“DAMASCUS // In the Alawite heartlands of Latakia and the mountainous rural hinterlands surrounding the city, the regime of President Bashar Al Assad still commands overwhelming support, buttressed by patronage networks and deeply entrenched fears of sectarian bloodshed.

But activists in the region say there are signs disaffection with Al Assad family rule is slowly spreading among those outside of privileged elite circles, a discord encapsulated in a new slogan, increasingly heard among ordinary Alawites: ”For them the palaces, for us the coffins.”

”People are saying, ‘how long will we have to bear this’, more and more army families are wondering what they are sacrificing their children for, they are starting to say ‘where are the martyrs from the Assad family?’,” said an Alawite activist from Latakia, a once bustling port and tourist resort on Syria’s verdant Mediterranean coastline.

Another influential Alawite opposition figure from a village in the Alawite mountains said dissent had become more pronounced since January, when an elderly Alawite widow buried her son, a soldier killed in the uprising. She had lost her husband and father in conflicts during the 1970s and 1980s under the former president Hafez Al Assad.

”She stood at the funeral and said: ‘You Assads have taken my whole family, and all for nothing,‘” the activist said. ”People sympathised with her. Since then there have been similar sentiments at other funerals – not all of them, but some of them, people are becoming angry, the pressure is rising.”

Nonetheless even opposition figures in the region acknowledge most of Syria’s Alawites – members of the same obscure Shiite sect as Mr Al Assad and his ruling faction – continue to side with the regime.

”Ninety per cent of the Alawite community in Latakia and the villages support Assad, either because they have direct interests with the regime or because they are terrified,” said a leading Alawite dissident.

”Alawites believe they are facing a jihad by Sunni extremists who are coming to chop off their heads, they are really sacred of that.”

”The regime has convinced the minorities it is their protector and it has succeeded in neutralising the Alawites though fear, through linking their destiny to the regime’s,” said a Christian protester from Latakia city.

”For that reason, the majority [in Latakia] are not involved in the revolution, while they are in many other places, if you go to Hama you have no doubt the revolution will win, but in Latakia it is like a different world compared to the rest of Syria,” he said.

Demonstrations, typically involving 100 to 150 young protesters and lasting up to 15 minutes, have stubbornly persisted in Latakia city, although they are confined to a few neighbourhoods and outlying villages, all where Sunnis are in the majority.

To keep public protests at that low level, security forces have been deployed in strength throughout much of the city. Activists say it takes just minutes for dozens of security cars to arrive at the scene of any dissent.

The Ramel neighbourhood, an impoverished Sunni ghetto that was assaulted by security units in August, remains sealed off by heavily fortified checkpoints.

In the heart of Latakia, the school where Hafez Al Assad was educated has been shut down and garrisoned by the army, with hundreds of soldiers and plainclothes security officers on hand to prevent it – or the statue of the former president standing on a plinth outside – from being defaced by opposition activists.

While the regime needs to hold Damascus and Aleppo if it is to remain in power, Latakia, as an unofficial capital for Syria‘s Alawites, is just as important.

”The regime hasn’t reached the point where it feels it is losing in Latakia yet, but it is not comfortable. It is working hard to keep the control it has,” said a local doctor who has been supporting protests.

A protest organiser from the city, a 40-year-old engineer, said the opposition was similarly working hard to keep going under immense pressure, including widespread detentions and pervasive surveillance of activists.

We were weakened by the arrests but we have reorganised and adapted,” he said.

As with other parts of Syria, numerous activists in Latakia confirmed an increasing tendency among anti-regime groups to favour taking up weapons, and they reported growing activity by the Free Syrian Army, including raids made from rural areas into the heart of the city to help soldiers trying to defect.

”The regime is weakening slowly, it is breaking up like an iceberg,” said another grassroots activist in the region. ”But as it has become harder to have peaceful demonstrations, the armed opposition has become stronger and everyone is saying the same thing now – a peaceful uprising alone is not going to topple this regime.”

A protester from Ramel, a 23-year-old Sunni, said he would stop peaceful demonstrations and join the armed opposition if it were being supplied with weapons from the West or Arab states.

It is our right to carry arms and to defend ourselves, don’t blame us if that is what we do,” said the protester, whose father and brothers have been arrested and held for months and who was himself detained for 50 days. ”We want any foreign air force over the skies of Syria to protect us from this regime, let them bomb the presidential palace, we would make a pact with the devil if he could help us get rid of the regime.”

”In the beginning I used to say there was no way a civil war could happen here, that the Syrian people would not do that but after one year, we cannot keep saying the same thing. What we saw in Homs [sectarian violence] is a worry because we have the same mix of sects here in Latakia,” the Christian activist said.

The young Sunni protester echoed that alarm. ”I’m afraid of a civil war with the Alawites,” he said. ”They have been fooled by the regime into taking its side and when the regime feels it has reached its end they will murder a lot of people in Latakia, there will be a lot of violence.”

A seasoned Alawite dissident gave an equally bleak assessment of the region’s, and Syria’s, immediate prospects. ”We will be dragged into a civil war by this regime, it will be like the Balkans, it will be Bosnia all over again.”

Arab League

There is a lot to be said about the Arab League and what is has done or mostly not done in the region. This post thou are about what the Arab League has done or not done regarding the civilian uprising inSyria.

A short background and timeline:

On November 3 2011, the Syrian government accepted an Arab League peace plan to halt its crackdown on protesters. The ceasefire quickly broke down, as government forces continued their suppression of protests. From 2 to12 November 2011, more than 250 people were killed.

The peace plan – to allow foreign observers from the Arab League to monitor Syria’s progress in removing troops from protest areas, free political prisoners and negotiate with dissidents.

On December 19, Syria agreed to the Arab League peace plan, agreeing to let observers into the country.

On December 26, 67Arab League monitors arrive in Syria.

On January 22 2012 Saudi Arabia withdraws from the Syrian observers mission.

On January 24 Gulf Arab states announce that they are withdrawing from the Arab League’s observer mission in Syria.

On January 28 The Arab League suspends the monitoring mission due to ”the critical deterioration of the situation” .

Arab League suspends Syria mission as violence rages

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/28/us-syria-idUSTRE8041A820120128

“Reuters) – The Arab League suspended its monitoring mission in Syria on Saturday because of worsening violence, a move Damascus said was an attempt to draw foreign intervention as it struggles to quell a 10-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

The Arab League took the decision days after calling, unsuccessfully, for Assad to step down and make way for a government of national unity. It will take an Arab peace plan to the U.N. Security Council next week.

Given the critical deterioration of the situation in Syria and the continued use of violence … it has been decided to immediately stop the work of the Arab League’s mission to Syria pending presention of the issue to the league’s council,” Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said in a statement.”

UN resolution proposal

On January 31, the Arab League asked the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution, based on the League’s action plan for Syria, including a call for Assad to step down. Yet, on February 4, the resolution was vetoed by China and Russia.

Eventually, a non-binding resolution by the UN General Assembly was endorsed, with China and Russia voting against. The UN General Assembly resolution has no legal force, unlike the UN Security Council.

So the as always very “helpful” Russians and Chinese even voted against a non-binding resolution by the UN General Assembly. Just to show who is in control. They could have abstained but they didn’t want to “risk” anything.

So much for the Arab League peace plan.

”Arab observers- All the claims about Syria are lies. We saw nothing”

And who in their wisdom did the Arab League chose to lead the mission and obsevers in Syria?

The Sudanese general Mustafa al-Dabi.

Just a short reminder here that the Assad regime and Sudanese president Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir are “buddies”. And general Mustafa al-Dabi has been very close and loyal to president Al-Bashir

A short background general’s Dabi’s career:

1989 – Chief of military intelligence

1995-  Chief of Sudan’s foreign intelligence agency

1996 – Deputy chief of General Staff

2000 – Ambassador to Qatar

2005 – Commissioner of security arrangements in Darfur ceasefire monitoring committee

Syria mission a diplomatic coup for Sudan

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16349870

This has dismayed human rights groups, with Amnesty International warning that it could threaten the credibility of the entire mission.

”The Arab League’s decision to appoint as the head of the observer mission a Sudanese general on whose watch severe human rights violations were committed in Sudan risks undermining the League’s efforts so far and seriously calls into question the mission’s credibility,” it said in a statement.

Gen Dabi served as head of the Sudanese directorate of military intelligence when Mr Bashir seized power in a coup in 1989 – a period marked by ”arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance and torture”, Amnesty says.

Syrian opposition activists say they have little faith in the Arab League’s initiative His name was also linked with the summary trials and execution of 28 army officers who mounted a failed coup attempt against Mr Bashir in April 1990, an anti-government Sudanese news site, Alrakoba, reports.”

Syrian opposition groups have also expressed concern about Gen Dabi’s strong military background.

He won’t be neutral, and would sympathise with those in similar positions, thus it won’t be surprising if he supports and sympathises with the Syrian regime and its henchmen who are committing crimes against humanity round the clock in Syria,” said the head of the Syrian League, Abd-al-Karim al-Rayhawi.”

Activists alarmed over Sudanese head of Syria mission

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/28/us-syria-monitors-dabi-idUSTRE7BQ1DO20111228

“(Reuters) – The choice of a Sudanese general to head an Arab League mission in Syria has alarmed opposition activists who say Sudan’s own defiance of a war crimes tribunal means the monitors probably won’t recommend strong action against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

But some critics of Khartoum say it is all but impossible to imagine a Sudanese general ever recommending strong outside intervention, much less an international tribunal, to respond to human rights abuses in a fellow Arab state.

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, who studies Sudan and has written strong criticisms of its government, said the choice of a Sudanese general was a sign the Arab League might not want its monitors to produce findings that would force it to take stronger action.

”There is a broader question of why you would pick someone to lead this investigation … when he is part of an army that is guilty of precisely the sort of crimes that are being investigated in Syria,” Reeves said.

”I think a Sudanese general would be one of the least likely people in the world to acknowledge these findings even if they are right there before him… It doesn’t make any sense unless you want to shape the finding. They want it shaped in ways that will minimize the obligation to do more than they already have.”

Syrian opposition activists are reluctant to publicly criticize a monitoring mission in which they have invested high hopes. But several have privately voiced concern over whether a Sudanese military man would be willing or able to take a hard stance towards Assad.”

Amnesty International said Sudan’s military intelligence, at the time Dabi led it, ”was responsible for the arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, and torture or other ill-treatment of numerous people in Sudan.”

”The Arab League’s decision to appoint as the head of the observer mission a Sudanese general on whose watch severe human rights violations were committed in Sudan risks undermining the League’s efforts so far and seriously calls into question the mission’s credibility.”

“Jehanne Henry, Sudan researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch, said that as head of Sudan’s military intelligence in the 1990s, Dabi ”certainly would have been in a position to know what the security services were doing at that time.”

”As we and others have documented in reports from that period, the security services were implicated in serious human rights violations such as the arbitrary arrest and detention of political activists and their ill treatment and torture.…”

She said rebel leaders had accused Dabi of violations in Darfur, although Dabi was not one of the figures Human Rights Watch had linked to specific abuse documented in its research.

”He obviously does not fit the profile as a human rights monitor,” she added.”

“But that will not be enough to persuade rights groups. Omer Ismail from the Enough Project, an anti-genocide campaign organized by the influential U.S. think-tank the Center for American Progress, said the choice of Dabi was ”perplexing.”

”Instead of heading a team entrusted with a probe of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by Syria, the general should be investigated by the ICC for evidence of similar crimes in Sudan,” Ismail said in a statement.

”When he served as Sudan’s former head of Military Intelligence, and when he oversaw implementation of the Darfur Security Arrangement, alleged war crimes including genocide were committed on his watch.”

And his direct involvement in the Darfur genocide by the Arab Janjaweed:

(In Darfur the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court says the army carried out war crimes and the United Nations says 300,000 people may have died. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity.)

The World’s Worst Human Rights Observer.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/12/27/the_worlds_worst_human_rights_observer

“As Arab League monitors work to expose President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown, the head of the mission is a Sudanese general accused of creating the fearsome ”janjaweed,” which was responsible for the worst atrocities during the Darfur genocide.

”I am going to Homs,” insisted Sudanese Gen. Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, the head of the Arab League observer mission, telling reporters that so far the Assad regime had been ”very cooperative.”

But Dabi may be the unlikeliest leader of a humanitarian mission the world has ever seen. He is a staunch loyalist of Sudan‘s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide and crimes against humanity for his government’s policies in Darfur. And Dabi’s own record in the restive Sudanese region, where he stands accused of presiding over the creation of the feared Arab militias known as the ”janjaweed,” is enough to make any human rights activist blanch.

Dabi’s involvement in Darfur began in 1999, four years before the region would explode in the violence that Secretary of State Colin Powell labeled as ”genocide.” Darfur was descending into war between the Arab and Masalit communities — the same fault line that would widen into a bloodier interethnic war in a few years’ time. As the situation escalated out of control, Bashir sent Dabi to Darfur to restore order.

According to Julie Flint and Alex De Waal’s Darfur: A New History of a Long War, Dabi arrived in Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, on Feb. 9, 1999, with two helicopter gunships and 120 soldiers. He would stay until the end of June. During this time, he would make an enemy of the Masalit governor of West Sudan. Flint and De Waal write:

Governor Ibrahim Yahya describes the period as ‘the beginning of the organization of the Janjawiid’, with [Arab] militia leaders like Hamid Dawai and Shineibat receiving money from the government for the first time. ‘The army would search and disarm villages, and two days later the Janjawiid would go in. They would attack and loot from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., only ten minutes away from the army. By this process all of  Dar Masalit was burned.’

Yahya’s account was supported five years later by a commander of the Sudan Liberation Army, a rebel organization movement in the region. ”[T]hings changed in 1999,” he told Flint and De Waal. ”The PDF [Popular Defense Forces, a government militia] ended and the Janjawiid came; the Janjawiid occupied all PDF places.”

”[T]he army command finds the militia useful and fearsome in equal measure,” De Waal said.  ”So al-Dabi’s regularization of the Arab militia served both to rein them in, but also to legitimize their activities and retain them as a future strike force.”

Dabi’s role in Darfuris only one episode in a decades-long career that has been spent protecting the interests of Bashir’s regime. He has regularly been trusted with authority over the regime’s most sensitive portfolios: The day Bashir took power in a coup in 1989, he was promoted to head of military intelligence. In August 1995, after protesters at Khartoum University rattled the regime, Dabi became head of Sudan’s foreign intelligence agency — pushing aside a loyalist of Hassan al-Turabi, the hard-line Islamist cleric who helped Bashir rise to power but would be pushed aside several years later. And as civil war ravaged south Sudan, Dabi was tasked from 1996 to 1999 as chief of Sudan’s military operations. “

Doesn’t this sound like the prefect qualifications for leading a mission observing human rights violations?

And after this “promising” selection what happened during this mission? Well, surprise, surprise:

Arab League observers see ‘nothing frightening’ in Syria hotspot

http://worldnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/28/9762725-arab-league-observers-see-nothing-frightening-in-syria-hotspot

”Campaigners expressed alarm Wednesday after Arab League observers in Syriasaid they saw ”nothing frightening” during a visit to Homs, the city activists say is the epicenter of nine months of deadly clashes with government forces.

”Some places looked a bit of a mess but there was nothing frightening,” Sudanese General Mustafa al-Dabi, the chief of the monitoring contingent, told Reuters by telephone fromDamascus.

”The situation seemed reassuring so far,” he added after his team’s short visit to the city of one million people, Syria’s third largest.

Head of Syria monitors says ‘nothing frightening’ in Homs

http://maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=448397

”Yesterday was quiet and there were no clashes. We did not see tanks but we did see some armoured vehicles.”

Who could have guessed??

 And these astute observations was done during the most brutal onslaught against Homs by the Assad forces.

But not all was as blind as the head of the mission:

Arab League observer quits, slams Syria war crimes

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iOopJQLs2bnTmk3TRzytK_NIKcXg?docId=CNG.0fe739f1f49df34b937ed993417cb269.721

“An Arab League observer in unrest-swept Syria said Wednesday he has quit the mission, accusing the regime of committing a series of war crimes against its people and of duping his colleagues.

I withdrew from the Arab observers mission because I found myself serving the regime, and not part of an independent observer group,” Anwar Malek told the Doha-based news channel Al-Jazeera.

The Syrian regime is playing ”dirty,” charged the Algerian observer. ”It even began killing its supporters to convince the Arab observers that it is carrying out its duties and to gain their sympathy.”

The mission was a farce and the observers have been fooled. The regime orchestrated it and fabricated most of what we saw to stop the Arab League from taking action against the regime,” Malek said.

”What I saw was a humanitarian disaster. The regime isn’t committing one war crime but a series of crimes against its people, he said. ”Children are killed and they are starved and terrorised.”

But an official at the Cairo-based Arab League dismissed Malek’s accusations, saying they were all unfounded because he was bedridden and was never in the field.

”He was ill and bedridden at his Syria hotel. So how could he make those claims?” said the unnamed official.

The observer who said he spent 15 days in the flashpoint central city of Homs said it must be declared a ”disaster” zone. ”I saw charred and skinned bodies that had been tortured,” said Malek.

Soldiers ”attempting to flee or defect were executed,” said Malek. ”I saw three bodies of executed soldiers. They were shot from the back.”

In the interview, Malek said that there had been ”an assassination attempt on Monday as we were being taken by car from Homs to Damascus” via the restive Baba Amro district where the mission came under gunfire.

Malek accused the Syrian regime of plotting the attack on the road ”controlled by the army and pro-regime ‘shabiha’ militiamen.

Also on Monday, two Kuwaiti army officers in the observer mission were ”slightly hurt” in an attack by ”unidentified protesters,” the Gulf state’s defence ministry has reported.

The observers were attacked while heading to the coastal city of Latakia, said the ministry.

Malek accused the Syrian regime of sending ”spies and intelligence officers with our team to act as drivers and minders to get our information, and as soon as we left an area they attacked people.”

On the detainees, he said that ”none of the real prisoners on the lists of detainees the opposition has provided us with have been released.”

Aparently he was on another planet than the Sudanese general Mustafa al-Dabi.

But of course he was just hallucinating in his hotelroom as the official at the Cairo-based Arab League HQ said when he dismissed Malek’s accusations, saying they were all unfounded because he was bedridden and was never in the field.

Good job Arab League!

And more:

Observing the Observers

The Arab League’s monitoring mission in Syria has been a miserable failure, and no international white knight is waiting in the wings. Syrians are on their own.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/01/09/observing_the_observers

”In December, after months of stalling and facing enforced sanctions, the Syrian regime finally seemed to buckle under pressure from the Arab League and agreed to sign a ”protocol” ostensibly aimed at quelling the uprising. The agreement called for the regime to remove heavy artillery from urban areas, halt the use of force against civilians, release all political prisoners, and allow independent media into the country. Late last month, an advance team of 15 Arab League observers arrived in Syria on a one-month mission to monitor the regime’s compliance with the protocol. They have since increased to 153 observers; that number still falls far below the 500 observers that was part of the original agreement.

”Observe” is a banal word sucked of accountability, responsibility, action — a fitting way to describe an Arab League mission. Monitoring abuses of power is a function one would not expect from the Arab League, which, let’s face it, represents mostly dictatorships and absolute monarchies that have less-than-stellar human rights records. But observing Syria is an activity we have all become complicit in — observing the meetings, agreements, conferences, opposition groups forming and reforming, while Syrians are killed every day.

These discussions, devoid of action, build a cruel barrier between ruthless international power games and innocent people who are being played. This is why the Syrian people suspiciously view the Arab League as a protector of the regime and by extension its brutality.

The observers’ arrival changed the rules of the game. The regime sends spies to take pictures of the protesters who dare speak to the observers. Before every excursion, the streets are secured in any way necessary, by bullets or arrests (for the safety of the observers or to preserve what’s left of the regime’s tarnished image?). The streets of Deraa have to be scrubbed clean of its people, silencing their voices and erasing any sign of dissent, to present an image of control, safely guarded by snipers lurking on rooftops.

(You can se a video here on what was going on

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX8lBxEy7z4&feature=share )

”When the observers first arrived, the people were extremely optimistic,” he tells me. ”On the first day the team met with the mayor, so we couldn’t do anything. The second day, we invited them to a protest at a martyr’s funeral. They said, ‘We don’t have cars for transportation.’ We asked, ‘How could the team of observers not have cars?‘ So we postponed the protest. The third day, we asked them to come and observe the protest, but the regime took them somewhere else. Their work is not even at 1 percent. Nothing is happening. They aren’t gathering testimonies from the families. They are witnessing the snipers and the army on the streets. They see this with their own eyes. A stranger walking in the streets would know.”

So far, the regime has freed 3,500 prisoners, but an estimated 30,000 more still remain imprisoned, and according to Syrian activists, 5,700 people have been detained since the Arab League mission began. One week before the observers arrived, the regime escalated the crackdown, killing at least 250 people in four days. Since then, the casualties have gone down to an average of a couple of dozen people a day, according to numbers tallied by various human rights groups and local coordination committees.

The Arab League mission has been declared a failure for multiple reasons: the insufficient number of observers to cover all the ”hot spots”; the questionable integrity of the head of the mission, Sudanese Lt. Gen. Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi; and the observers’ heavily monitored movement by security forces, which limits their ability to ”observe.” As Qatar’s prime minister and head of the Arab League committee on Syria, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, admitted last week, ”There are mistakes, but we went there not to stop the killing, but to monitor.” He cited the Arab League’s inexperience with leading this type of mission as one of the main concerns.“

“One of the most important shifts in the revolution during the Arab League mission has been its coverage, not by the media but by citizen journalists. Protesters who have been filming demonstrations and atrocities for months have turned their lens to film the observers filming the regime’s atrocities. Their powerful YouTube clips feature the monitors in their bright orange vests surrounded by the sounds of gunfire, confronted with dead bodies of children, and bombarded by protesters’ complaints and grievances. Observing the observers has emerged as the people’s powerful media weapon against the regime and its propaganda.

(The video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9FG8gGUAqI)

Khaled Abu Salah, a prominent activist in Homseven confronted Dabi. ”Our problem is not with you as individuals,” he told him. ”Our problem is with the protocol itself. The first article of the protocol is ‘stop the killing.’ When 15 people die in one day while you’re here, then what have we benefited from your presence?” (The Russian Foreign Ministry later said Dabi’s remarks about the situation inSyria were ”reassuring.” He has since claimed the statement as ”unfounded and not true.”)

“On Sunday, Arab League ministers met in Cairoto discuss the mission’s progress. Opposition groups and activists hoped the league would admit the mission’s failure to stop the continuing violence and refer Syria’s case to the U.N. Security Council. Instead, Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby confirmed the mission would carry on as planned. Another Arab League meeting has been scheduled for Jan. 19 to re-evaluate the observers’ progress. On the rejection of any kind of assistance from the United Nations, Elaraby said, ”We do not live in an ideal world, and there is no country in the world that is willing to use force.”

“Turning a strategically blind eye has become the norm to Syrians. Once again, the headlines tell the same story: ”Arab League Asks Syria to Halt Violence” on a day when activists claim 26 people were killed, and the Syrian regime insists, observed or not, it’s going to be bloody business as usual.

”Instead of seeing reality, observers watch movies by the regime”

And

Arab League observers in Syria labelled a farce

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2011/s3399762.htm

“Human rights activists now fear the Arab League mission is turning into a farce, as shootings and killings take place almost under the observers’ noses in places like Homs, Hama and other trouble spots.

There are also questions about the head of the mission – a Sudanese general who is himself accused of human rights abuses.”

“Local witnesses claim tanks had been removed from the streets just ahead of the mission’s arrival only to be hidden nearby, where they could supposedly be redeployed as soon as the monitors were gone.

Soazig Dollet from the organisation Reporters Without Borders says the Syrian regime is simply exploiting the observers’ visit for its own ends.

(Soazig Dollet speaking)

”This visit is totally biased,” she says. ”It’s a farce. The Syrian regime is making a mockery of respecting the Arab League agreement by accepting the presence of observers.”

She also claims that Syrian authorities are engaged in an elaborate game to show the observers what they want to see.

(Soazig Dollet speaking)

Some prisons in Homs were emptied and detainees transferred to other places,” she says. ”Fake armed soldiers were shown to observers in order to demonstrate that the Syrian resistance is an armed one. It is armed, but that is not the only kind of resistance. It’s obvious that it has all been staged for the observers of the Arab League.”

And the final humiliation.

To recapitulate:

After having Assad making a mockery of the Arab League peace plan. And their observers mission in Syriaa total failure. The Arab League took the same peace plan to the UN Security Council only to be vetoed by the as always helpful Russians and Chinese.  And to REALLY rub it in the Russians and Chinese even voted against a non-binding resolution by the UN General Assembly.

So what did the humiliated Arab League do after that? Eehhh… they went to one of the powers behind their humiliation, Russia, and literally “begged” the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov for ANY kind of a deal.

So in the end the Arab League got a new, even more watered-down deal dictated to them by Russia,  which then became the UN/Annan peace plan. And as a result got even more humiliated.

Because when they tried (Qatar) to make some amends to the total sellout, as they well know, they were literally repriminded by Lavrov like naughty/misbehaving school children.

“Lavrov lords it over the Arab League foreign ministers

Assad’s victory has therefore vindicated Putin and awarded Russia a political and military achievement on a scale that has eluded Moscow for many years. Putin proved he could win over an Arab country to Russian influence, shut doors to the Obama administration’s interference and wind up calling the shots in Damascus. The Russian Foreign Minister arrived in Caro Saturday, March 10, ready collect kudos..

It was strange to see Lavrov sitting in a place of honor at the 22-member Arab League foreign ministers’ meeting Saturday, March, 10. Stranger still, they let him talk the Arab ministers down and dictate Russia’s five-point plan for the Arab world to follow for resolving the Syrian crisis.

It called for a complete cease-fire, monitoring procedures, no foreign interference, humanitarian aid supplies and “firm support” for international envoy Kofi Annan’s mission to promote dialogue between the government and opposition.

Russia will be there for Iran at nuclear talks too

Aware of the true situation in Syria the Arab foreign ministers bowed to the Russian plan although it was clearly tilted in Assad’s favor.

And when the Qatari prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Hamad Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani tried later to undo some of the damage by demanding military intervention to stop the bloodletting in Syria after he had despaired of a Libyan-style Western-Arab operation, he was publicly rebuked from New York by Lavrov.

Arriving there to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Russian foreign minister said: “I was amazed …that while I was in the air my colleague, with whom we agreed on these principles, the prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar, called publicly for dispatching Arab or international forces to Syria. It absolutely contradicts what we agreed on and announced publicly.”

Lavrov’s tone strikingly demonstrated Moscow’s utter confidence in its ability to dictate the course of events in the Arab world in contrast to Washington’s withdrawal from the scene.

Not exactly one of the proudest moments in the Arab Leagues history. And as usual the ones paying the price the people of Syria.

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

17 april, 2012

“What will the monitors do?” Asked one banner. “Make sure that it’s real blood they are seeing and not Ketchup?”

The six unarmed U.N. military observers have arrived in Damascus. It started “well” as you would have expected:

In Syria, U.N. observers face tough task

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/un-observers-face-tough-task-in-syria/2012/04/15/gIQAlRWXJT_story.html

“The extent to which the monitors would be able to work independently was also called into question Sunday, as Syrian officials insisted that they take an active role in the work of the observers.

Government spokeswoman Bouthaina Shaaban told reporters Sunday that the government could not be responsible for the safety of the monitors unless it was involved in “all steps on the ground.” She added that Syria reserved the right to reject observers according to nationality. “

Ehhh, maybe I have misunderstood something here but that’s called discrimination and racism. In addition, it is wildly condemned and outlawed according to various UN charters. So the same UN that outlaws and forbid discrimination and racism is allowing the Syrians regime to pick and chose which colour and country the observers come from.

“But an activist outside the city of Hama said that demonstrators had been chanting against the presence of U.N. monitors.We don’t want more people to watch us be killed,” said Mousab Alhamadee via Skype, calling instead for practical help for the opposition, including arming rebel forces. “

We don’t want more people to watch us be killed,” I would say that that is a reasonably demand wouldn’t you?

And wasn’t there supposed to be a truce with the observers in place and all?

“Al-Arabiya: Syrian security forces killed 45 people Monday, activists say”

And the destruction and shelling of block after block, neigbourhood after neigbourhood continues as if nothing has happened from the Syrian regime.

One example of this “ceasfire” and destruction from the Syrian regime you can see here:

“Homs (Khalidiyeh): Apr 15, 2012 – Unbelievable level of destruction. Five (5) shells land in the span of 54 seconds on this small area alone.”

And in this video, also from Homs, you can litterally hear one shell a second.

“SO MANY SHELLS HIT THIS NEIGHBORHOOD, YOU CAN COUNT ONE EVERY SECOND Homs (Qarabis): Apr 15, 2012 – Assad’s forces are literally blanket-shelling the city of Homs. They are erasing the entire city and wiping off the map of Syria. There are no military targets in the city – only Syrian residents.

The world pats itself on its back for every shell that lands – after all, Assad ‘agreed’ to the so-called ‘ceasefire’ …. no response was thought of when he broke it … “

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XNxOB0U7i0&feature=player_embedded

And an Assad minister have built a “modest” palace:

“At a time when pro-Assad troops and death squads are busy pounding towns and villages all over the country, the country’s Minister of Economy (note: I had earlier said Interior, which was a mistake of course), a George Washington University Alumnus, Nedal Alchaar, was busy putting the final touches on his villa in Aleppo City. Work was “finally” done, to use his own words, and he posted pictures of the villa on his Facebook page earlier yesterday, before he removed it when people began chatting about it on the net. Too late. It’s this kind of impunity by Assad officials that paved the way to the revolution. It’s this kind of impunity that will continue to fuel it, until the whole regime is brought down.”

Ammar Abduhamid a liberal democracy activist

Russia, as always “helpful”, announced on Friday, April 13, “A decision has been made to deploy Russian warships near the Syrian shores on a permanent basis.”

Russian Warships to Patrol Syrian Coast

http://en.rian.ru/world/20120413/172799962.html

Russian warships will be continuously deployed for patrol duty off the Syrian coast in the Mediterranean, a high-ranking source in the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday.

A decision has been made to deploy Russian warships near the Syrian shores on a permanent basis,” the source said. The Russian Kashin-class guided-missile destroyer Smetlivy is currently deployed near the Syrian coast.

“Another Black Sea Fleet ship will replace the Smetlivy in May,” the source said, adding that several Russian warships were on their way to the Mediterranean.”

It is the first time that Russia officially has announced the permanent deployment of naval vessels in the eastern Mediterranean and off Syria. Thus extending a protective shield over Assad and his regime against outside military intervention.

IRAN

Like Russia, Iran’s strategic interest and massive support forSyria in all shapes and form goes way back, to the 1979 revolution in Iran.

For Iran, Syria plays a vital roll in it’s ambitions to control parts of the Middle East. And Syria is crucial for Iran’s support and control of Hezbollah and Lebanon.  And Hamas in Gaza.

Syria was the first Arab country to recognize the provisional government of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan after the shah’s ouster. Syria also provided invaluable diplomatic and military support to Iran after Iraq’s 1980 invasion.

Both countries worked together against their mutual foe Saddam Hussein and Iraq, Syria was also a channel for arms shipments to Iran during the Iran-Iraq conflict.  Etc

The alliance was first formalized in March 1982 with a series of bilateral agreements on oil, trade and a secret pact on military cooperation.

They cooperated on everything from development of ballistic missiles. To arming, training and supporting Hezbollah and Hamas. To influence events in Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Etc.

Both also provided significant aid to internal and foreign forces in Iraq, challenging the U.S. military and the new government in Baghdad.

Interestingly the balance of power in the Syrian-Iranian alliance has shifted since 1979. Syria was the dominant partner in the 1980-90s. Today Iran is the stronger partner and Assad depends on Iran (together with Russia) for his survival.

One example: From 1976 to 2005, Syria was the more dominant player in Lebanon due to its military presence. But its leverage weakened after Damascus was forced to pull out troops in 2005. Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian party and militia, has since become the most influential ally in Lebanese politics even if Syria still has a very strong influence there.

Another interesting aspect is that they cooperate very well even if they have very different ideological and political goals.

For example,Syria and Iraq were intense political rivals, and often came close to military blows, because they shared the same Baa’thist ideology. The political elites in Tehran and Damascus were never competing.

Iran has vied for leadership of the Islamist bloc in the Middle East and beyond, a role in which secular Syria has no interest. Syria has long sought to be ”the beating heart of Arabism,” a role in which Iran, a non-Arab country, has no interest. Except for a brief period of rival ambitions in Lebanon, the two countries have never been in competition — ideologically, economically, or militarily. Neither has tried to upstage the other.

But enough of background, lets go to present times.

As I said above, today Iran is the stronger partner and Assad TOTALLY depends on Iran (together with Russia and China) for his survival.

Iran has spent many billions on shoring up the survival of the Assad regime and the Syrian economy against the uprising. It has sent thousands of Iranian military, intelligence, cyber warfare and drone warfare personnel and civilian experts to fight on its behalf.

Iran thinks that by backing the “winning horse” in Damascus they have empowered their Russian partnership as well as the pro-Iranian bloc embracing Assad’s Syria, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Hamaz on the Gaza Strip.

Iran is de facto the banker of last resort for Assad. So far, every time Assad has asked the Iranians for more money he got it. Although Iran is enduring hard times itself.

It is estimated that Iran has sent more than two billion dollars into the Syrian treasury emptied by Western sanctions.

Iranian financial and banking agents also act for Syriain overseas transactions. Iran arranged for Syrian oil to reach buyers, putting to work the sanctions-busting measures it had developed to overcome the sanctions imposed on Iran itself by the US, Europe and Arab countries.

One example:

Iran helps Syria ship oil to China

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/30/us-china-iran-syria-idUSBRE82T0D420120330

Iran is helping its ally Syria defy Western sanctions by providing a vessel to ship Syrian oil to a state-run company in China, potentially giving the government of President Bashar al-Assad a financial boost worth an estimated $80 million.”

Another:

Iran covers the payroll for the military and security personnel and the government departments that’s keep the regime functioning – to the tune of more than half a billion dollars a month, according to estimates.

Assad’s biggest problem now is to keep the money flowing to buy fuel for the Syrian war machine. All the Russian tanks, self-propelled artillery, trucks etc. are constantly on the move from one rebel flashpoint to another, reinforcing units and ferrying troops, equipment and ammunition.

But the embargo on fuel sales to Syria puts Assad in the hands of Lebanese merchants. He has run out of funds to meet their exorbitant charges for petrol and diesel, without which his military crackdown would grind to a stop. So now, Russia and China have therefore been asked for the necessary funding since Iranis already paying for so much.

Assad has survived so far thanks to massive Russian and Iranian backing and cooperation.

Another example of this cooperation and High-level Iranian-Russian coordination:

As I wrote in my previous post:

“Russia knew exactly what Assad needed after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Foreign Intelligence Service Mikhail Fradkov had paid a visit to Damascus on February 7 and talked to Assad.

While the visit was billed as a Russian bid to persuade him to accept political reforms, “They were seeking to find ways for stabilisation in Syria through democratic reforms.” http://www.itar-tass.com/en/c142/337363_print.html, it actually focused on the ways and means in which Russia could help the Syrian ruler quickly stamp out the armed revolt against his rule.

Moreover, this move was coordinated with Iran. Iran and Russia have a division of labour so to say between themselves. They have divided who does what in a high-level coordination.”

Well guess what,

Iran’s al Qods Brigades commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani was there February 5-6 at the head of a large military-intelligence delegation. And when the Iranians left, the Russians arrived.

Their combined missions: to finalize Russian-Iranian-Syrian collaboration in Syria and the Middle East after the regime finally suppresses the revolt.

So while the Obama administration was working through Moscow to bring Iran to the negotiating table with the Six Powers on its nuclear program, Russian and Iranian clandestine agencies were busy working together in Syria to undercut US and Western positions.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei put two top officials in charge of the Save Assad mission and the cementing of Iranian-Syrian ties: Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi and Al-Qods Brigades’ commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

The pair operated in close sync both with the Syrian leadership and their Russian colleagues, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Foreign Intelligence Service chief Mikhail Fradkov and Mikhail Margelov, the Kremlin’s ambassador-at-large in Arabia, whose formal title is Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation.

The Quds Force is normally Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) special department tasked with furthering the Islamic revolution outside of the country’s borders, and is also responsible for arming and training Hezbollah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad – as well as supporting Iran-backed terror operations around the world.

As the Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi claimed with some justification on March 27 “Iran has the most powerful intelligence service in the region”

http://irna.ir/ENNewsShow.aspx?NID=80053141

The ‘men’ in the house are: Bashar Al Assad, Vladimir Putin, Ayatollah Khaemeni and Hassan Nasrallah.

Another area where Iran has really helped Assad is in controlling and suppressing civilian uprising in the cities and social media.

Iran sent Syria thousands of military, intelligence and security strategists and riot dispersal experts, surveillance equipment for guidance and training in cracking down on the uprising in the cities. Cyber warfare specialists to help the work of Syrian security and intelligence services. It has also shared techniques on Internet surveillance and disruption. Etc.

The Iranians become masters of this during the crackdown on the Green Revolution witch started June 13 2009. And they are now passing on this lessons to Assda’s regime.

(You can see some of the names of the killed and detained here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2009/jun/29/iran-election-dead-detained)

And by the way, Obama did nothing to support that uprising either. Except some platitudes of course.

On example:

It was the Iranians agents and special operations units that disabled the Western logistical intelligence network in beleaguered Homs and helped Syrian intelligence block Syrian rebel arms smuggling routes incoming fromIraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Etc.

Remember the killed journalist in Homs? A “successful” cooperation of Russian SIGINT satellite tracking and Iranian special forces on the ground.

They have been so successful that Assad has lifted restrictions on social networking web sties to lure dissents out into the open.

Iran reportedly aiding Syrian crackdown

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/iran-reportedly-aiding-syrian-crackdown/2011/05/27/AGUJe0CH_story.html

Iranian-assisted computer surveillance is believed to have led to the arrests of hundreds of Syrians seized from their homes in recent weeks” (May 2011).

“In the account provided by the diplomat and the U.S. officials, the Iranian military trainers were being brought to Damascus to instruct Syrians in techniques Iran used against the nation’s “Green Movement’’ in 2009, the diplomat said. The Iranians were brutally effective in crushing those protests.

Officers from Iran’s notorious Quds Force have played a key role in Syria’s crackdown since at least mid-April (2011), said the U.S. and allied officials. They said U.S. sanctions imposed against the Quds Force in April were implicitly intended as a warning to Iran to halt the practice.”

“The Obama administration mentioned the role of the Quds Forces in announcing two sets of sanctions imposed against Syrian government officials in the past month. A White House executive order last week that targeted Assad and six other top government officials also included a little-noticed reference to Mohsen Chizari, an Iranian military officer who is the No. 3 leader in the Quds Force in charge of training.”

Imagine how EASY it is to track the opposition if they use Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc, In an INSTANT you have hundreds of names and contact details. YUM for any dictator.

And by the way, that “warning” one year ago from the Obama administration to Iran to halt it’s “practice” seems to have fallen on totally deaf ears.

Iran helping Assad to put down protests – officials

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/03/24/uk-iran-syria-crackdown-idUKBRE82M16H20120324

“Iranian security officials have also travelled to Damascus to advise Assad’s entourage how to counter dissent, the official said. Some Iranian officials have stayed on inSyriato advise Assad’s forces, he added.

A European official said that the Iranians were providing Syrian security agencies with hardware and software that would help them disrupt efforts to organize protests inside Syria and efforts by anti-government elements to spread their message to supporters outside the country.

Officials said that Syria had also obtained some surveillance technology from European suppliers.

The Treasury imposed U.S. economic sanctions on Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam and Ahmad-Reza Radan, chief and deputy chief of Iran’s national police force, because their agency had ”provided support to the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate and dispatched personnel to Damascus in April to assist the Syrian government in suppressing the Syrian people.”

The Treasury alleged that Radan had travelled to Damascus to meet with Syrian security agencies, to whom he allegedly provided ”expertise to aid in the Syrian government crackdown on the Syrian people.”

“WITHDRAWL OF THE CITIES FROM ARMY (HELD) AREAS” … Assad’s army has not withdrawn from all cities as agreed to in the UN brokered ‘Ceasefire’ plan. So, the people of Kafranbel have anther suggestion…

How Iran Keeps Assad in Power in Syria

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/68230/geneive-abdo/how-iran-keeps-assad-in-power-in-syria

“The Iranian regime has also provided Assad with technology to monitor e-mail, cell phones, and social media. Iran developed these capabilities in the wake of the 2009 protests and spent millions of dollars establishing a ”cyber army” to track down dissidents online. Iran’s monitoring technology is believed to be among the most sophisticated in the world — second, perhaps, only to China. Shortly after Iran shared its know-how with Syria this summer, Assad lifted restrictions on social networking Web sties, presumably to lure dissents out into the open.

In addition to sharing weapons and surveillance tools credible reports from Syrian refugees indicate that Tehran sent its own forces to Syriato quash the protests. A number of revolutionary guards from the elite Quds Force are also reported to be there, presumably to train Syrian forces. On May 18, the U.S. Treasury Department mentioned the role of the Quds Force directly, asserting that Mohsen Chizari, the Quds Force’s third-in-command, was training the security services to fight against the protestors”

In really desperate situation for the Syrian regime the Iranians “come out of their shadows” and take directly part:

Syrian refugees say Iranian forces involved in crackdown

http://www.payvand.com/n ews/11/jun/1103.html

“Mostafa, an injured Syrian refugee, said: ”There were both plainclothes and uniformed Iranian soldiers. I saw them with my own eyes. We asked them not to attack us, but they didn’t speak Arabic.”

The 23-year-old man added that his attackers wore black shirts, which is uncommon in Syria, and wore beards. He added that the Syrian military is forbidden to wear beards.

A 17-year-old Syrian student named Akram reported: ”Most of these people are snipers. They do not speak Arabic and, most significantly, they carry weapons that are unfamiliar to us.”

Guardian correspondent Martin Chulov on Iranian soldiers inSyria

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MSalUBcGqs&feature=player_embedded

And Iran is also helping with surveillance drones:

Iran helping Assad to put down protests – officials

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/03/24/uk-iran-syria-crackdown-idUKBRE82M16H20120324

”Over the past year,Iran has provided security assistance to Damascus to help shore up Assad. Tehran during the last couple of months has been aiding the Syrian regime with lethal assistance – including rifles, ammunition, and other military equipment – to help it put down the opposition,” a U.S. official said.

”Iran has provided Damascus (with) monitoring tools to help the regime suppress the opposition. It has also shared techniques on Internet surveillance and disruption,” the official continued.

He added that Iran had also provided Assad’s government with ”unarmed drones that Damascus is using along with its own technology to monitor opposition forces.”

The more advanced drones Iran supply directly to Syria. But Syria’s military industry manufactures some less advanced Iranian drones. The drones are manufactured at Syria’s Scientific Research Center, where rockets and advanced missiles are also manufactured.

And then there is the Iran-Iraq-Syria and of course Lebanon axis.

As it is now  Iran has a massive leverage in Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s is considered by the Saudis and the Gulf States to be just a Iranian agent or at least committed to a very pro-Iranian policy.

In 1979, al-Maliki fled Iraq after he was discovered to be a member of the outlawed Islamic Dawa Party. He left Iraq via Jordan and to Syria. He then left Syria for Iran in 1982, where he lived inTehran until 1990, before returning to Damascus where he remained until U.S. coalition forces invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam’s regime in 2003. While living inSyria, he worked as a political officer for Dawa, developing close ties with Hezbollah and particularly withIran, supporting that country’s effort to topple Saddam’s regime.

Why is this important? Well most of the massive Iranian aid and support for Assad goes via or over Iraq.

In February this year, Iran organized the biggest airlift with aid to Assad. The biggest Iran had ever organized and it was critical in helping Assad win out over the revolt.

As OC US Central Command Gen. James Mattis explained March 3 to the Senate Armed Services Committee: They (Iranians) are working earnestly to keep Assad in power. They have flown in experts. They are flying in weapons. It is a full-throated effort by Iran to keep Assad there and oppressing his own people.”

And this heavy airlift was made possible by Baghdad’s permission to fly over Iraq directly to Syria. Obama tried interceding with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to block the Iranian transport flights to Syria only to be turned down.

US concerned about Iranian flights over Iraq to Syria

http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArchiveDetails.aspx?ID=376918

The United States said Friday it is concerned about Iranian cargo flights over Iraq to Syria, saying it has warned Iraq they might contain arms that could be used by Damascus to crush protests.

”Without getting into intelligence matters, we are concerned about the over flight of Iraq by Iranian cargo flights headed to Syria,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters.

We are consulting with Iraq about them and we are making the point that any export of arms or related materials from Iran, frankly, to any destination would be a violation of UN Security Council resolution 1747,” she said.

Nuland said the Iraqis were also being told ”that any arms sent to the Syrian regime at this time would obviously be used in the brutal repression that the regime is exacting on its own people.”

She added: ”So we are in consultation with Iraq… encouraging the government of Iraq to be absolutely sure about any cargo that is overflying its territory.”

Iraqi Premier Nuri al-Maliki insisted Friday that all items transported through Iraq to Syria were humanitarian goods, after a US newspaper reported Iran was moving weapons to Syria via Iraqi air space.”

Very strange “humanitarian goods” since it’s sole purpose is to kill people.

And Obama was turned down by Nouri al-Maliki and this exceptionally heavy airlift by the Iranian military was just “humanitarian goods”.

Yeap, that was a VERY good return for overthrowing Saddam and installing Nuri al-Maliki as premier in Iraq.

Was it worth ALL these allied lives??

Killed in Iraq

US    –   4486

UK     –    179

Other  –  139

And the ENORMOUS money you spent??

Total cost for US around $2 Trillion.

And by the way, Iran now ALSO have a permanent naval base in Latakia  inSyria.

On February. 25, an Iranian-Syrian naval cooperation accord was signed providing for Iranto build its first Mediterranean naval base at the Syrian port. The base will include a large Iranian Revolutionary Guards weapons depot stocked with hardware chosen by the IRGC subject to prior notification to Damascus. Latakia harbor will be deepened, widened and provided with new “coastal installations” to accommodate the large warships and submarines destined to use these facilities.

Quiet a coup for Iran. It has acquired its first military foothold on a Mediterranean shore and its first permanent military presence on Syrian soil. Tehran will be setting in place the logistical infrastructure for accommodating incoming Iranian troops to fight in a potential Middle East war.

Syrian Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Ali Mohammad Habib said:” At a ceremony in honor of the Iranian Navy Commander Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, Habib said: ”Iranian warships’ presence in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time after 32 years is a great move that is going to cripple Israel.”

So for the first time in 32 years two Iranian warships were allowed to pass through the Suez Canal (the Egyptians have stopped them before), and they are now building a permanent naval base in the Mediterranean.

And the as always very helpful Russians have said that they are willing to contribute towards the Iranian port’s defenses and looking forward to cooperation between the Russian, Iranian and Syrian fleets in the eastern Mediterranean opposite the US Sixth Fleet’s regular beat.

I think I stop here.

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