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07 July 2012


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The secular vs non-secular angle of this uprising is underreported.

The Damascenes I knew look at pictures of the Free Syria Army in the rural areas and pause.

Think Hatfields-McCoys coming to DC to run the guvmunt for a parallel.

Alba Etie

Do the Russians still think Assad will survive ? Is that way they are still supporting him ? And the PRC too ?


There were other open defections from the Tlass family as early as 2011 winter.

"Lieutenant Abdul Razaq Tlass earned a popular
following in November and December 2011.
According to a CNN news clip filmed with
the Farouq Battalion in Baba Amr, Tlass was
the nephew of the long-time Syrian Defense
Minister Mustafa Tlass, a close Sunni confidant
of of Hafez al-Assad, also from Rastan. A pair
of videos in early November showed Tlass and his
deputy Lieutenant Walid al-Abdullah carried on
the shoulders of a crowd in Baba Amr, alongside
a pickup truck full of men under arms.In
February 2012 a French television station even
did a feature on Tlass, calling him “The Heart of
the Free Army.”

This is from Joseph Holiday's first open source report on Syrian opposition. There are actually two young Tlass junior officers actively and seems very effectively fighting on FSA side.

I provide the link below, this document helps put into context each news clip video and actual news from Syrian war.

and this is the updated report


This defection is significant both symbolically and materially. Its symbolism is obvious, but Tlass clan is rich beyond imagination and have influence in all surrounding countries. I expect now defections of whole Syrian Army units to the FSA side. The Syrian Army is Alawite controlled, sure, but the officers are the Alawites, foot soldiers are mainly Sunni. Alawite minority in the past did mot favor military service unless they had plush command positions. Why sould an Alawite young man choose to be a foot soldier,there were plenty of opportunity for them under Assads. Latest that I can glean is that lower ranks are completely demoralized and now that resistance control the country side and in fact have liberated free zones defections will become easier.


"If the Government of Syria is swept away, there will be a need for a Sunni leader..."

Maybe the early defector young Liutenant Tlass. Maybe an Ataturk figure will emerge in Syria and unite the country, it could happen. I don't think orientalism clouded Western exceptionalism is giving due credit to the Syrians. Following the trajectory of the insurgence, both political and military, it is remarkable what they have done in such a short time and under difficult conditions and against impossible odds. This is the reason for my optimism.

Allen Thomson

On a somewhat minor matter, is there any chance General Tlass will be able to shed light on the plutonium production reactor affair of a few years ago?


Allen Thomson

If you mean the facility on the euphrates that Israel bombed, it is not clear to me what that facility was. pl

Allen Thomson

That's it, and it is indeed unclear what it was and what larger story it might have fit into. But, that said and for the moment, I think that the somewhat bizarre official line -- that it was a production reactor the Syrians were building with North Korean help out in a wadi -- best fits what seems to be the evidence.

The epistemological situation is exceedingly unsatisfactory, which is why I keep hoping someone who actually knows what was going on will show up and talk.


The desricption of Gen Tlass as a true professional means he probably left with a nicely loaded zip drive.

The question I have is who is the true strategist, Maher al Assad, a Bathi Old timer, or perhaps a foreigner from aFar?

It appears Basher is a decider type who chooses from the selections provided by the Viceroy.


The Tlass defection is more of a hype for western media than the doom and gloom being portrayed on Assad's fall..

of course the hollywood hype always sells better than reality.

Syrian General Manaf Tlass: Neither Here Nor There


Patrick D

"If memory serves, he lived next door to the US Embassy in Damascus and was a good neighbor. He was a connaisseur of fine Kurdish antique carpets. I visited his carpets once. He also liked good Scotch (his, not mine)."

That triggered a memory. I wonder if he and Ambassador Eagleton got on well.


Patrick D

I remember Christopher Ross best. pl

Patrick D

I didn't know either of them, Colonel. I just recall entering a carpet shop in Suq al-Hamidiyya on a weekend in 1988 and seeing an older, Western gentleman. He saw us, said a quick goodbye to the shop owner in North American English, and headed out the door trailed by a younger, athletically-built Western gentleman.

It was odd because there weren't many Americans running around Damascus then. The first language touts tried was Russian. We asked the shop owner about him and he said he was the American ambassador and mentioned he was a Kurdish carpet collector. In fact, he "wrote the book".


Well I got my answer to the above question.

"The regime and Bashar al-Assad himself gave us illusions about reforms. We are now convinced that this regime will never do anything for the sake of the people. Lies are going on, the head of the regime is lying, it's mirage, it's illusion, killings everywhere, destruction everywhere and oppression everywhere .... He [Bashar-al-Assad] carries the genes of a dictator. His father killed people 30 years ago. Those who deal with him know that he is a liar ...

The Russian support, the Iranian support and the hesitation or the inability of the international community to protect the Syrian people are the main reasons why the regime is buying time and why the regime is staying for a longer period of time. But from inside, the regime is dead. Economically, socially, in all domains ...

Reforms could have given some fruits if applied at the very beginning of the revolution. But after waves of blood it's impossible for the Syrians to trust Bashar al-Assad again, to accept his existence in Syria even .... This regime is dead, it's just a matter of time."

Nawaf Fares, the former Syrian ambassador to Iraq

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