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20 February 2012

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Dan Gackle

TTG,

Based on your recommendation I read the two interviews with Nir Rosen, and then another more recent two. They are pretty extraordinary, and if what he's saying is true -- e.g. that he has personally been at 100 demonstrations -- he must surely be among the most authoritative of Western journalists on the Syrian uprising. This appears to be the complete series to date:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/02/201221315020166516.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/02/20122157654659323.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/02/2012218165546393720.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/02/2012220164924305314.html

As you say, the picture Rosen paints is of a genuine indigenous insurgency that has had few ties to foreign groups and has not been particularly sectarian till now. But he also implies that the conflict is becoming more sectarian as it continues and says flat out that he regards civil war as inevitable. I wonder what he would say about your stalemate idea.

One question. The forms of organization Rosen describes having observed among the protestors/insurgents struck me as surprisingly sophisticated for a spontaneous resistance with no central leadership. How true is that (and how significant)?

Tyler

TTG,

I see this as just another Sunni push to knock over another non Sunni government in the ME.

Personally I hope Asad triumphs over the rebels. I don't blame him for fighting to the drag down last after seeing the results of capitulation in Egypt and Libya. Perhaps I would be more sympathetic if the new majorities didn't turn to purging themselves of the Christian communities the minute the West moves on to the latest Kardashian scandal?

Let the rebels fall or stand on their own merits, or lack thereof. It seems the neocons and their creatures in DC incidentally purge the ancient Christian communities wherever they meddle. I wonder how much of that is a happy coincidence, considering the ethnic composition of the neocons (or whatever they call themselves nowadays).

The Twisted Genius

Dan Gackle,

I haven't read the Rosen interview about daily life in Syria yet. Thanks. Al Jazeera is doing an excellent job in structuring these Q&A features with Rosen. I look forward to the rest of the series.

The resistance organization within Syria does seem to be doing very well... relatively speaking. Take a look at a map of Syria and you will see that the distances between the towns and cities is not that great. I would imagine the resistance leadership is making use of couriers to augment, or even replace, any electronic means of communication they are using. I think the fact that the older and wiser protest movement leaders are in charge rather than the armed youth is a good thing. They are more cautious, prudent and security conscious. I'm sure they're using a variation of "Moscow rules" to stay alive and operate. I'm not sure who said it, but "the sight of the gallows tends to concentrate the mind wonderfully." The resistance either learns fast or ends up dead or in prison. Perhaps some of the old MB cadre passing on tips.

The Twisted Genius

Tyler,

The Christians are supportive of Assad because they fear a possible brutal persecution from a Sunni majority. Given recent history, this isn't an unreasonable course of action. At least the present Alawite regime has left the Christian communities alone. If the overwhelmingly Sunni resistance overthrows the Assad regime in a violent revolution, like in Libya, the Christians could very well face retribution... especially if they take up arms against the resistance. That's why I'd rather see a stalemate on the ground and a negotiated outcome. Probably just wishful thinking on my part.

You're right about the neocons. Why Santorum, Gingrich and their ilk are not raising hell about the threat to Christians in the Middle East is beyond me. They didn't seem to give a rat's ass about the Iraqi Christians.

Dan Gackle

TTG,

It's from Boswell's Life of Johnson: "Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

Lars

TTG makes many valid points about what is going on in Syria and from that and other sources, it seems there is increasing outside influence. Hopefully it will not require direct US action, but it would not surprise me if the Saudis start to ship US arms to the Syrian rebels soon. The price for that will of course be added oil on the world markets. That would certainly help Mr. Obama, as would panic selling of oil futures.

martinJ

There is a broader opposition group called Tayyar, or "Current" in Arabic. They are middle class, non-violent, and understand that any violent overthrow of the regime will be catastrophic for Syria.

The SNC are not credible inside Syria and echo calls from their backers in Qatar for the West to establish humanitarian corridors and no-fly zones.

Russia is calling the shots here and the only hope for a political solution must come with their initiative and blessing.

Paul Escobar

Tyler,

I agree with your sentiment.

Unlike Iraq, where the minorities can count on outside US & Gulf funding/intervention for protection over the Shia majority...Syrian minorities have no such outside benefactors.

It's obviously true for the Alawites. Once it's clear they've lost the throne, they'll revert to being heretic scum to even their Iranian "allies".

And as you pointed out, if the Syrian Christians serve as blips of discussion in our media today...I imagine they'll be treated like a flat-line tomorrow.

The Sunnis will be smart about this. They're not going to round people up into gas chambers. They'll just make life so miserable, the only sane options will be to convert or enjoy poverty.

Having said all that, I still think the Sunni's taking over is inevitable. The Sunni states have disposable income. The Syrians Sunni's have disposable man-power. They can keep chipping away for years until they break through.

That's why I sincerely believe evacuating the minorities is the only rational option left in this situation. The Alawites can go to Venezuela, which has the largest Syrian ex-pat population in the world. The Christians can come to America, certainly testing the Republican party in the process.

mo

The issue of Western intelligence involvement may be exaggerated but the GCC has been involved from the start. The GCC mounted a counter-revolution to the Arab Spring soon after the fall of Mubarak; In Tunisia and Egypt it has used its cash resources to fund the election campaigns of the parties most sympathetic to them. In Libya the Qataris were so heavy handed in their attempts to control the outcome of the revolution they were publicly told to back off.
There have been a number of arms shipments intercepted by the Lebanese Army going to Syria (The irony of that!). Someone is supplying and paying for those arms.

Perhaps one of the main reasons the Syrian uprising hasnt had the support of the other Arab uprisings in the Arab world is because it has been hijacked and driven by the GCC nations and the Arab and more importantly Syrian people do not look forward to the Syria these people want to bring them.

(The most remarkable result of all this influence is that an Islamist govt in Egypt is willing to break ties and withdraw its amabassador from Syria while maintaining its peace treaty and ambassador in Israel.)

mo

Forgot to add,
In regards to evidence of Salafi/Wahabi/Al Qaida involvement esp. in regards to "foreign" fighters I think the rumors are becoming evidenced rather than exaggerated. The car bombings, which the USG and the Syrians agree have the hallmarks of Al Qaida, the recent forming of the al-Bara ibn Malik Martyrs Brigade by the "Free Syrian Army" with the Al Qaida flags in the video and the symbolism of the name itself and the Uk's Independent running a story of how members of the Anbar Awakening in Iraq are now in Syria, all point to many of Assads assertions to be true.

And as I have warned before, if these guys along with Saudi money, become entrenched or take over, Lebanon will be on the precipice of something major.

Charles I

Why Santorum, Gingrich and their ilk are not raising hell about the threat to Christians in the Middle East is beyond me.

You have forgotten about the need for "creative destruction"

Besides, if they're really "Christians" they'll be ultimately be fine come hell, high water, Democracy or Revelations.

lally

mo.

The Israelis, according to Amir Rapaport, may do their part to push Lebanon over the precipice:

"If this wasn't enough, there might be a northern conflagration (as a result of preemptive Israeli action) along the Israel-Lebanese border in parallel to the fall of Assad’s regime in Syria."
http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=55762

Sagae

Why is it a "massacre" when the Syrian government uses force but its A-OK and commendable "restraint" even when Israel kills 1400+ in Operation Cast Lead (over 900 civilians)? Israel used airstrikes; the Syrians aren't bombing from the air.

For that matter, the US kills "insurgents" at will, many of whom turn out not to be insurgents at all.

Tyler

Why aren't they making a fuss over the white genocide going on right now in South Africa, for that matter?

Because the tribe that cannot be named controls the media, and the media knows that Christians and Whites are simply getting the cultural justice that the Left goes on about.

Richard Hack

Lally: You're absolutely correct. The ENTIRE point of this Syria "crisis" is to weaken Syria and Hizballah in Lebanon so they will not be effective actors in the upcoming Iran war.

Netanyahu does not want to attack Iran and have to deal with 1) Iranian missiles, 2) Syrian missiles, and 3) Hizballah missiles all at the same time... That's a recipe for getting kicked out of office after the war because most of the Israeli population spent every day in a bomb shelter and the economy collapsed as a result...

The main goal is to defang Hibzallah. To do this, as Colonel Lang once pointed out, Israel has to attack Hizballah in the Bekaa Valley. To do THAT Israel has to engage Syrian military forces. While Israel COULD do that, it would be easier if those forces were already pinned down by a US/NATO air bombardment.

Once that is achieved, Israel will, under some excuse, push an armored division into Southern Lebanon a la 2006. But in addition, a second armored division will push into Syria and engage Syrian troops in assistance with the Syrian insurgents to cover the flank of a third armored division which will go north along the Lebanon/Syria border and then cut left into the Bekaa Valley in a pincer movement with the first armored division.

The goal is to either crush Hizballah (preferred but I suspect not likely to be achieved) or at least to push Hizballah forces far enough north that their longer range missiles will not be able to hit most of Israel's larger cities, especially Tel Aviv.

After that is achieved (assuming it is), look for Israel finally to attempt to attack Iran.

It won't matter that the upcoming Syria bombing campaign is illegal without a UNSC Resolution. The US and NATO will just ignore that little fact. Claim both "humanitarian" reasons and also the resurgence of the "Syria has WMDs" argument (see the news today about alleged Syrian "chemical weapons" and "nerve agents" and "suspected nuclear facilities", i.e., "the usual") and there'll be plenty of excuses for the war.

And anyone who thinks it's "conspiracy theory" that the French and British have trainers on the ground in Turkey for the FSA, and that the US is supporting the operation from Incirlik, needs to go check out Sibel Edmonds blog. She has good contacts in Turkey who assure her all this is quite true. The Syrian opposition has already admitted publicly that the West is "turning a blind eye" to the smuggling routes from Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan into Syria.

Sooner or later Qatar will be sending the same antitank weapons they sent to the Libyan rebels to the Syria rebels, if they aren't already. Syrian tanks will be useless in an urban environment against Milan antitank weapons. This is why Syrian forces have been forced to use ranged weapons already.

And Obama has just said the US will not be "bystanders". And just how do you do that without deliberate military intervention? There ARE NO OTHER options given the situation on the ground.

And as long as the insurgents have a safe haven in Turkey, they will continue the chaos in Syria. The US claims the right to bomb the Taliban in Pakistan because of "safe havens", but doesn't complain about the same "safe havens" for insurgents in Syria.

There will be an air campaign against Syria by or during summer. Count on it. And that will be followed by an Israeli attack on Lebanon AND Syria.

William R. Cumming

Agree with Richard Hack's comments except uncertain about links to Iranian attacks and USA attacks and Israeli attacks on Iran. That looks down the road. But did predict USA intervention in Syria this AM on my blog at http://www.vacationlanegrp.wordsmith.com and see discussion on HLSwatch.com re: Syria.

US Navy and US Air Force hoping to demonstrate that while the role of manned piloted aircraft has not ended even though diminished it could be effective in Syria. DoD refers to drones as RPV [remote piloted vehicles] and use of term UAV prohibited.

And DoJ has signed on to use of drones domestically for LE [law enforcement] and other purposes and deployments considered authorized under newly signed into law FAA Reauthorization after 7 years of piecemeal extensions.

Can weaponization of domestic drones be far behind?

Dan Gackle

TTG,

NPR did an interview this morning with a reporter who has spent time with the Syrian opposition. What he said seemed pretty consistent with Rosen.

http://www.npr.org/2012/02/26/147442465/syria-on-the-brink-of-civil-war

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