Today is the 39th anniversary of the ‘Tishreen liberation war’ or the 1973 October war between Syria and Egypt on one side, and Israel on the other. Syrian state today is celebrating the victory of this liberation war.
As the Syrian revolution turned violent, comparisons of the situation there have been made to every possible recent regional conflict. The Syrian conflict has gained some sectarian momentum which guaranteed its resemblance – according to many analysts (to different degrees) – to the Iraqi, Lebanese or former Yugoslavian conflicts.
Now, for us the Lebanese, we can very much relate to the sequence of events in Syria. It’s déjà vu for us. We can tell what comes after bombings for example; kidnappings, revenge killings, sectarian mobilisation, rise of local warlords are always on the menu. Continue reading »
The state of denial of the Syrian regime’s orchestra has reached unprecedented levels. Denial of everything was what characterized the regime’s response to the uprising from its start in March 2011. The regime denied ‘anything’ happening at first, then denied the peacefulness of the protests, then theydenied the of existence of army defectors (but not so of armed gangs).
They even denied the fall of Tripoli and Qaddafi in summer 2011 saying everything was pre-recorded in Qatari studios and Aljazeera fooled us by airing the film which led later to the actual fall of Qaddafi.
Al-Akhbar has close links with Hezbollah, with Al-Amine considered the unofficial spokesman of the Party of God. I am not talking about the portrait of Imad Mughniyeh behind his desk, but rather his editorials.
He is a staunch supporter of Bashar Assad’s regime, but he goes out of his way sometimes, mostly in the wrong way, but I can’t fault him this time. This is what he gave us this time:
There was a lot of talk recently on Hamas’ position on Syria. The position is almost available in the public domain now which is summed up as Hamas sympathizes with the internal legitimate demands of the Syrian people, and doesn’t tar the whole Syrian crisis with the ‘foreign conspiracy’ denial line as Hezbollah does.
Today the Syrian revolution is one year old, and the day is featuring a frenzy in the main and social media over the leaked emails of Bashar Al-Assad and his wife Asma Al-Akhrass, published yesterday by The Guardian. The emails were obtained by The Guardian via some activists who were monitoring the Assads email accounts since last year. The emails are full of luxurious shopping lists, iTune downloads, games, music, Harry Potter and other silly YouTube video links exchanged between the couple themselves and with others.
When I read How Israel Could Remove Assad Diplomatically and Bring Peace to Syria, I thought it’s kind of science fiction. I thought Bruce Riedel, [another] veteran former CIA officer and senior fellow in the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, to be going the extra non-reasonable and non-needed mile. He was basically proposing to offer the Golan Heights back to Bashar Al-Assad as the carrot, in return for Assad moving on, and allowing a democratic post-Assad Syria to start and flourish, away from the influence of Iran and Hezbollah.
The theory goes like that: if you suspect a foreign conspiracy against your country, then the conspirators would be funding their locals agents with the foreign country’s currency. Well, this is at least what the Syrian TV and Iranian Al-Alam Channel think, who are in the same league with Addounia TV.
Every time I discuss the Syrian tragedy with an anti-revolution or pro-Assad person, I would be faced with these questions: how do you know the numbers of killed people are right? Can you verify them? Why not count the killed soldiers too? Obviously, these people try to muddle the core problem and cover (unintentionally sometimes) for the Syrian regime atrocities. This is exactly what blogger Sharmine Narwani did in a long article in Al-Akhbar English. From a previous conversation with her on twitter, Sharmine might not be a pro-Assad person, but she is doing her best to doubt the genuine outcome and intentions of the peaceful uprising (yes peaceful, that’s how it started, ok).
In her mentioned piece, she asks:
Perception is 100 percent of politics […] How then does one count 20, 40, or 200 casualties in a few hours while conflict continues to rage around them?
Despite the rumours that there are anti-regime protests in the country for the past 11 months, and rumours that they are being fired at, and persecuted, and that parts of the country are not the under the government rule anymore, and that some of these parts are under siege and heavy bombardment, Syrians are heavily turning up today to the ballot boxes to say YES to the new draft of the constitution.
Follow @TheZakoAgain today, on Marie Colvin’s death yesterday in Homs; I did speculate that her death could have been a result of a direct intentional hit by the Syrian army. My confidence in this speculation has shot up now; this is an interesting but strange piece of intelligence by The Daily Mail: Continue reading »
Just in the last week, several main witnesses of the atrocities being committed in Syria has died or been killed. The famous New York Times journalist Anthony Shadid died due to an asthma crisis when he was being smuggled into the country – due to restrictions on journalists. Citizen journalist Rami Al-Sayyid was killed by the bombardment of Homs. Rami was responsible for uploading the YouTube videos and securing the live feed from Homs. He replaced his cousin Basel who was doing the same role, and got killed too by the Syrian regime. This morning, journalist Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik have died in Homs due to the indiscriminate shelling by the Syrian army, if not an intentional due to reportedly the fact they were present in a known ‘Press Centre’, which was directly hit. The regime knows how to silence journalists who oppose it.
Follow @TheZakoJeffrey White, the former American veteran senior intelligence officer and the current defense fellow at The Washington Institute, wrote yesterday about the importance of the indirect intervention in Syria in his point of view. He wrote a couple of month ago as well on the subject, assessing the different options available for intervention available, concluding that something must be done.
This caricature from Aamouda in Syria is one of the smartest, if not the smartest caricature I have ever seen from and/or about the Syrian revolution: A drilling rig trying to reach the sea of the freedom at the bottom, drills through the different layers above it.
Continue reading »
I never do copycat on Lebanon Spring, but there is a first for everything; posting the speech this afternoon (GMT), which could be marked as ‘historical’ in future, by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Syria.
Pillay previously encouraged the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. The full text was obtained by UN reporter for the Washington Post and Turtle Bay blogger at Foreign Policy Magazine Colum Lynch. I post it here with his permission, because it’s a MUST-READ.
As Bashar Al-Assad clings onto power, not only sectarianism within the Syrian society will increase but also the political divisions within the revolutions (you can argue this is could delay them). The radicalisation of the revolution is a work-in-progress outcome as well. This is what a TIME report on Free Syrian Army (FSA) published yesterday has showed. The article was a record of a meeting between some of its members in Turkey. It also shows how wary FSA is of the Syrian National Council and Muslim Brotherhood, and other politicians. They want to reap the reward of success of the revolution (which is not unexpected!).
Bashar Assad considers any efforts to stop the current killing in Syria as a “conspiracy” and “foreign intervention”, despite the fact that Syria intervened in Lebanon for donkey’s years, participated with the United States in the first Gulf war in 1991 against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, and sent fighters to Iraq in the post-2003 era.
Now Russia is undergoing just the same self-denial position, and adopting the same double standards for their assessment to the situation in Syria. Russia does not only oppose any military threat to Assad, but also any proposal that lead to a peaceful transition of powers. Apparently their current position, including their arms sales and their only military base abroad in Tartous are not classified foreign intervention.
Hence, why I liked this week’s cartoon from The Economist.
The theory stating that turning the Syrian peaceful uprising into a violent insurgency will start a civil war is treated as a matter of fact now. Signs of Islamization of the revolution recently surfaced, and coincided with the loss its peacefulness – due to the brutal regime crackdown. Syrian activists always interpreted the Quraan background or Allah ow Akbar chants in some YouTube videos as spontaneous representations of the personalities in some rural areas. This might be true, and quite irrelevant but it doesn’t mean that AlQaeda won’t enjoy the fertile ground of chaos, and may attract some local followers.
Since the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, the Syrian regime has faced all the accusations of human rights breaches with pure denial. They denied the existence of protests and the lack of support to its leader Bashar Al-Assad. Bashar Al-Assad claimed instead that protesters were saboteurs and armed gangs, and the Syrian people wanted Assad in power (no mention of the 97% anymore though).
As if the Syrian uprising is not living enough surrealism at these times. To muddle the picture even more, Israel said that it’s getting ready to receive Syrian refugees, or to be more precisely – only Alawites. The remarks were made by Israel’s army chief of staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz to the Knesset committee on foreign affairs and defence:
On the day the Assad regime falls, it is expected to harm the Alawite clan. We are preparing to receive Alawite refugees on the Golan Heights
If there are any experts in the ‘zoom-in-zoom-out’ strategies to manipulate crowd images, it’s surely the Lebanese politicians who impressed us in the last decade or so with these technologies. In recent years, both the pro-western (March 14) and anti-western (March 8/Hezbollah) camps spent a bulk of their political airtime discussing the ‘zoom politics’ as I call it.
After 10 months of an internal uprising, the Syrian TV has ‘mastered’ fabricating news tricks, but today we discovered its skills in zooming. These below two videos are footage of the same event: the attendance of the Bashar Assad at supporting rally usually called a ‘spontaneous rally’ with a ‘Nasrallah style’ entrance; the top one was directed by the Syrian TV, in which Assad said @04:00: ‘Allahu Akbar for this crowd’. The bottom one was taken by an amateur/activist.