Archive for the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ Category

LEBANON, ARABS AND SYRIA

April 11, 2013
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The Peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis have been set on track and HAMAS is to join these talks . But the collapse of the Syrian regime – expected in order to involve Syria in the peace process after setting aside the Lebanese Resistance- has not happened and the Syrian new government – headed by Ghassan Hitto- does not qualify for representing Syria and engaging in these talks . Some are even expecting this new government to resign. This has caused KSA to disengage itself a little bit from the Syrian involvement especially after the losses the opposition has witnessed on the ground and after the rising of the Qatari influence- – whether in the Arab League or in Tunisia or in Egypt where it is reaping almost all the fruits of the revolutionary spring .

KSA is shunning now the Muslim brothers in Egypt while Qatar has already poured 8 billions in the Egyptian banks to support the Egyptian government of the Brothers . Same goes for other countries where the Saudi role has been somehow marginalized in favor of the Qatari role . For this reason the rush to Lebanon to sponsor a new government to bring the country under Saudi custody and keep away the Qataris who are supposed to start manipulating again their puppet in Saida called Ahmed al Aseer.

On the ground, in Syria, the Syrian army has greatly improved its tactics and now is choosing its own battles and has brought the elite troops to protect Damascus . The Syrians succeeded also in spotting the headquarters of the opposition – where decisions are taken- and many of the officers who have defected, and whose names have been kept secret, have returned to Syria to play an Intelligence role which has boosted the Intelligence capacities of the Syrian Army .

The opposition is losing its support on the ground , and most people who opposed the regime and supported the opposition want order and peace to be restored which the opposition- with its many factions and conflicts- cannot guarantee. The undecided people which still form a majority are now standing with the legal state. .It is worthwhile mentioning that almost a million and half a million Syrians from the country side- mostly working the land- have been displaced , some of them have taken refuge in neighboring countries under very difficult conditions .

The true legal political opposition is not in linked to any fighting group on the ground and is exposing greatly the Muslim Brothers and Nusrat al Qa’ida and the Russians at a loss as whom to address from the opposition to set on the negotiations with the Syrian regime by gathering a group of the opposition who agree on starting unconditional talks with the Syrian authorities as wished by the US administration lately .

Escalation is expected on the Syrian front until the talks scheduled for June between Russia and US. Meanwhile the Jabhat al Nusra in the form of its leader – Abu Muhammad al Joulani – has recognized Ayman al Zawahiri as a leader . Heavy weapons are reaching the opposition among them anti air craft missiles and long ranged missiles .Car explosions are thus expected in major cities arranged by Jabhat al Nusra who coordinates closely with the CIA and was responsible for hitting the Security Syrian Head Quarters last year .

Turkey and Erdogan seem to be the major losers – until now – whereby the understanding with the PKK and Ocalan does not seem to stand and the Kurdish fighters in Turkey have not withdrawn to Kandeel Mountains, in Kurdistan Iraq, as agreed, after giving them freedom to move in the regions on the borders with Turkey in coordination with the opposition.

Information from Journalist Sami Kleib
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he views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

The Syrian Opposition’s Muslim Brotherhood Problem

April 11, 2013

Egyptian members of the Muslim brotherhoods group try to extinguish fire on one of their comrades who he was hit by a molotov cocktail thrown by protesters during clashes in the street in Cairo on 22 March 2013. (Photo: AFP – STR)
Published Wednesday, April 10, 2013
 
The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria is no stranger to negotiations with the Syrian regime, having engaged in talks with both Hafez al-Assad and Bashar. When the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria elected Ali Sadreddine al-Bayanouni as controller general in 1996, it initiated secret negotiations.

Nine years later, the Brotherhood endorsed the opposition’s Damascus Declaration, and took part in the creation of the National Salvation Front with former Syrian vice president Abdul-Halim Khaddam.

The alliance between the two hurt the Brotherhood’s credibility due to Khaddam’s erstwhile position in the top echelon of the Syrian regime. The Islamist group withdrew from the Salvation Front in April 2009 after a dispute with Khaddam.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood decided to suspend its anti-regime activities, as Ankara, then friendly to Damascus, sought to mediate between the two sides. However, Bashar al-Assad rejected the offer.

In July 2010, when Mohammed Riad al-Shaqfeh was elected in Istanbul to succeed Bayanouni, he announced that the group would continue to suspend its opposition activities.

Remarkably, the exiled group was late to participate in the Syrian uprising, and did not issue any statements in support of the “revolution” until late April 2011, about a month and a half after protests began.

Nevertheless, the Brotherhood, according to some in the opposition, went on to punch above its actual weight on the ground during the uprising. Analysts attribute this to Turkish-Qatari support, as well as to the myriad organizations set up by the group abroad and to its experience in organized political action.

The Brotherhood opted for a pragmatic approach, and propelled secularists and Christian f

igures to lead the opposition. Many observers believe the Brotherhood was able to influence the main opposition organizations to a large extent, and steer them in a direction favorable to its agenda, as seen with the Syrian National Council and subsequent Coalition.

Though the Brotherhood likes to claim that “Syria is for all Syrians,” some in the opposition itself fear the country will move from Assad’s to Shaqfeh’s control. However, Syria is a different than Tunisia and Egypt. The Brotherhood does not have a substantial popular base there, nor would it be able to assert control over the diverse groups of minorities spread throughout the country.

In light of this, the National Coalition seeks to create more of a balance within, having recently issued a statement calling to expand the alliance. The goal: to bring in representatives from outside factions and render the coalition truly representative of opposition’s spectra.

An “Authoritarian” Islamist Agenda

Recently, the joint command of the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a scathing attack against the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood for “riding on the coattails of the revolution.”
The FSA statement read, “The conduct of the group since the beginning of the revolution has gone too far, particularly with its domination of the National Council and then the coalition and its attempts to meddle in relief and military efforts.”

Similarly, prominent opposition figures have argued that the Islamist agenda, including the Brotherhood’s, is authoritarian. Other dissidents have also accused the Brotherhood of turning the fight into “a sectarian war just as the regime has done.”

Kamal al-Labwani, a prominent member of the Syrian opposition, recently proclaimed that the Brotherhood cannot be seen “as an alternative to tyranny, but instead as an attempt to reproduce it in a different form.” The Brotherhood, he said, is not “on the opposite side of violent Salafi movements, it’s the wellspring of their ideology.”

Brotherhood officials believe these allegations are meant to discredit their group, and are “a failed and absurd plan to obstruct the course of the revolution.” Shaqfeh recently told reporters that he did not know what motivated “the season of attacks” against his group, observing that the experiences of Islamist power in Egypt and Tunisia “have perhaps had an impact in this regard.”

Shaqfeh alleged that the detractors of the Syrian Brotherhood “do not include revolutionary figures or opposition leaders who have a real standing on the ground.” Yet the Brotherhood is on less than good terms with many other opposition groups, such as the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (NCC) and Kurdish groups represented by the High Kurdish Council.

With respect to the armed opposition groups, Brotherhood influence has grown steadily. The group takes part in coordinating attacks against regime targets, “with at least one representative of the Brotherhood present in FSA command and control centers.” The Brotherhood also supplies weapons to certain FSA brigades, in collaboration with the Turkish authorities.

Shaqfeh refused to link al-Nusra Front to terror, and said the groups receiving support from the Brotherhood included al-Farouq Brigade in Homs, Liwaa al-Tawhid in Aleppo, Suqur al-Sham in Jabal al-Zawiya, and Ahrar al-Sham in Idlib.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
 

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ORIENT TENDENCIES: MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD CRITICIZED BY WESTERN MEDIA

April 10, 2013

Posted on April 8, 2013 by Alexandra Valiente

Monday April 8, 2013, no126
Weekly information and analysis bulletin specialized in Arab Middle Eastern affairs prepared by neworientnews.com
Editor in chief Wassim Raad
wassimraad73@gmail.com
New Orient Center for Strategic policies
 

Tammam Salam problems begin with the formation of the government

By Ghaleb Kandil

MP Walid Jumblatt drew on the culture of consuls, which was in use during the nineteenth century, the traditional concept of the Lebanese mentality: the inability, for Lebanon, to live without foreign or regional tutelage. In his television interview Thursday, April 4, he said sadly, “we were left to ourselves”, before telling how a Saudi royal “will” offered the name of a new prime minister after the resignation of Mikati, which had also intervened following a Saudi “will”. Many analysts have said that the Wahhabi kingdom wants to inherit the role of Syria. Meanwhile Walid Jumblatt was presenting its new guidelines with a record level of hatred and resentment against the Syrian state, repeating what he heard from his mentor, Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the past two years.

The decision of 8 March and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) to support Tammam Salam’s candidacy as Prime Minister was a blow to Hariri clan, the United States and Saudi Arabia, who were planning to form a non-political government under the pretext of organizing the elections, or a cabinet formed by March-14 and its centrist allies. But the smart maneuver conducted by Speaker Nabih Berry, under the title of meeting in the middle of the road the “consensual approach” of Jumblatt has imposed another agenda: a consensual government.

The fact that the 8-March and its allies have finally decided to support Tammam Salam, and abandoned the idea of ​​offering their own candidate, helps to lower the political and security tension, which was maintained over the past two years by Salafist and extremists groups, coached and supported by the Hariri clan and March-14 coalition.

But the real difficulties will begin after the appointment of the Prime Minister, because the real issue is the allocation of portfolios, the characteristics and tasks of the next government.

Differences will appear in the debate concerning the Electoral Act and the Ministerial Declaration. Probably the Washington-Riyadh axis will ask Tammam Salam to continue on the same path as the pseudo-centrists (Michel Sleiman, Mikati and Jumblatt), which formed after the retreat of March-14, the US-Saudi political tool in Lebanon. But the counter-strike of the Syrian state on the battlefield will change the equation.

Raids and bombing the terrorist camps located in Lebanon will become an instrument of the Syrian offensive. And this will force the Lebanese government to take serious and concrete measures on the ground, like Jordan, which has hindered its interference and its support for extremists after the ultimatum of Damascus.

In this context, the period of the current affairs expedition by Najib Mikati’s government could last long if the formation of the new cabinet will be complicated.

Muslim Brotherhood criticized by western media

A long Agence France-Presse (AFP) sheds light on the hegemony of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Syrian opposition and suspicion between the various components of this opposition, as well as the vagueness surrounds the real intentions of the Islamist Brotherhood.

Muslim Brotherhood may be President Bashar Assad’s best-organized political adversaries, but they are also loathed by some dissidents who accuse them of trying to dominate the opposition, backed by funds from Qatar.

The accusations date back to the start of uprising against Assad more than two years ago, but came to a head on March 19 after the election of rebel prime minister Ghassan Hitto, with some activists saying his selection was “pushed” by the Brotherhood.

In late March, some 70 dissidents sent a letter to the Arab League criticizing “the dictatorial control exercised by one of [the opposition’s] … currents over its decisions and actions, and the flagrant hegemony of diverse Arab and regional players.”

Immediately after Hitto was elected in a meeting of the key National Coalition grouping in Istanbul, a dozen prominent opponents froze their membership in the organization.

Among them was Kamal al-Labwani, an influential liberal and one of the Brotherhood’s most outspoken critics. “The Brotherhood leads all the decision-making in the coalition. They control the committees linked to arming [the rebels] and humanitarian assistance,” Labwani told AFP.
“They appear to be just a few in the coalition, but they buy the other members out thanks to the money they receive from Doha and Ankara. They are trading in influence,” he said.

London-based Ali al-Bayanouni, the Brotherhood’s deputy political chief, rejected the accusations.
“Our role in the coalition has been greatly exaggerated, and we are not financed by any state,” he told AFP, saying the group’s funding comes from “members and supporters, from Syria and elsewhere.”
“We represent just 10 percent of the coalition. How can they say we control everything?”

Critics of the Brotherhood fear the group may harvest the fruits of the anti-regime revolt as they have in Egypt.

“In all the Arab Spring countries, the revolution was stolen by the same people: the Muslim Brotherhood. We are dying on the front lines, while they take the influential positions,” a rebel fighter in the coastal province of Latakia told AFP.

Founded in Egypt in 1928, the Brotherhood seeks to spark an Islamic renaissance and challenge the Western political model.

The movement emerged in Syria in the 1930s, and later spearheaded a revolt against Assad’s father and predecessor, Hafez Assad, who brutally crushed the uprising in the city of Hama in 1982. Between 10,000 and 40,000 people were killed, according to rights groups.

The group is outlawed in Syria, with members subject to execution.

“They believe that they are the natural leaders of Syria, they believe … their time has finally come and that they represent the nation better than anybody else,” said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.

“That self-assurance is resented of course by all the other groups. … The Brotherhood are the presumed winners, and that is why they are targeted.”

Analysts and dissidents admit that the Brotherhood are Syria’s best-organized opposition group. They have a hierarchy, offices, a website and even a newspaper.

“Qatar and Turkey support them because they are the only institutional party that has any chance of organizing Syria” should Assad fall, Landis told AFP.

“They are well-organized politically, militarily and financially. That’s why they are taking over,” said a rebel fighter in the northern city of Aleppo.

Damascus accuses the Brotherhood of acting as instruments of Qatar and Turkey, where their chief, Mohammad Riad al-Shaqfa, is based.

And though the group pays lip service to a civil state based on human rights, among anti-regime activists “there is a deep suspicion that they are using democracy to come to power, and then once they come to power, they will use the laws in order to suppress their critics as we see today in Egypt,” Landis added.

The West may also prefer to work with the Brotherhood, which is more moderate than jihadists loyal to groups such as the Nusra Front, opponents say.

Statements

Tammam Salam, Lebanese prime minister

«I start from the necessity of taking Lebanon out of divisions and political tensions that were reflected in the security situation. I want to mitigate threats from the catastrophic situation next door. I’ll do my best to form a national interest government. I start from the point of uniting national visions and to quickly reach an agreement on a new elections law that gives justice of representation.»

Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president

«The whole world knows that if Syria is partitioned, or if terrorist forces take control of the country, there will be direct contagion of the surrounding countries. Then there would be a domino effect on countries perhaps far from the Middle East, to the west, east, north and south. This would mean instability for many years, even decades. I live in Damascus as usual and not on board a Russian warship or in Iran. The rebels brandish sectarian slogans. Erdogan is recruiting fighters thanks to funding provided by Qatar. Turkey will be burned with fire Syria. Unfortunately, he does not see this reality. Erdogan did not utter a single word honest since the beginning of the crisis in Syria. Arab League lacks legitimacy. It is an organization that represents Arabs and non Arab people. It lacks legitimacy long time because these Arab states themselves do not represent the will of the Arab people. France and Britain have committed massacres in Libya with the support and coverage of the United States. The Turkish government has Syrian blood to the knees. Is that these states really care Syrian blood?»

Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement

«Lebanon has lived in the shadow of a constitutional vacuum since Michel Sleiman was elected. Mikati, considered that the extension of the mandate of General Ashraf Rifi at the head of ISF is more important than the fate of the government. As for Mr. Jumblatt, he is mentally unstable. I have met in my life many Druze, they were all polite, except Walid Jumblatt. I do not know who he looks like. Lebanon has a battle between good and evil. And humbly, I represent well.»

Vladimir Putin, Russian president

«We do not think that Assad should leave today, as our partners suggest. In this case, tomorrow we will have to decide what to do and where to go. As an example, Libya has already split into three parts. We don’t want a situation that is just as difficult as in Iraq. We do not want to have a situation of the same difficulty as in Yemen and so on. We believe it is necessary to sit everyone down at the negotiating table, so that all warring parties could reach an agreement on how their interests will be protected and in what way they will participate in the future governance of the country. First of all, there are no bans on arms supplies to incumbent legitimate governments. Secondly, only recently the opposition received 3.5 tons of arms and ammunition through airports near Syria. There are international legal norms stating that it is inadmissible to supply arms to armed groups that strive to destabilize the situation in a certain country with the use of weapons. I think he has some interesting ideas that can be implemented, but it requires some diplomatic work. We are ready to support these ideas. We need to try and put them into practice.»

Ahmad Fatfat, Lebanese MP, member of Future movement bloc

«March-14 Forces refuse to take the equation army-people-resistance. A parliamentary majority wiped out this formula and speaks now of the Declaration of Baabda. Circumstances do not permit the formation of a government by an alliance between March-14 and MP Walid Jumblatt. Mars-14 is in favor of a government including all parties, even if they are not directly represented.»

Events

Ø Army Intelligence fought overnight with a group of arms’ smugglers caught red handed while trying to unload a cache of arms and ammunitions into an Ein-Zhalta arms’ depot, Yarzeh-based Army Command Directorate of Guidance spokesman disclosed today. Gunmen opened fire first on an Army Intelligence unit which fired back killing one gunman. An army vehicle was hit and one soldier hospitalized for injuries he’d sustained during the firefight, same spokesperson said. Upon searching the area for further arms and explosives, army patrol laid hands on an illicit munitions and arms’ depot where soldiers uncovered heavy, medium and light caliber weapons along with large quantities of assorted ammunitions. Eight suspects presently under interrogation were arrested pending their handing over to the Military Tribunal for prosecution the military spokesperson concluded.

Ø Lebanese General Security (GS) said that since last October, 340,000 new Syrian refugees entered Lebanon. “Lebanon cannot handle alone the refugee crisis in Syria. He will need the help of Arab countries and the international community”, said a source from the GS.

Ø The Chief Technology and logistics Officer of the Israeli army, Coby Barak said yesterday that “the land will tremble in Israel if Hezbollah rockets will be drawn in case of war with Lebanon” .
Ø The U.S. State Department has advised its citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon, involving sectarian violence, kidnappings and the voltage at the Syrian border. “U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should be aware that they are taking risks by staying in this country and should be carefully reassessed”, the State Department said in a statement. The State Department indicates that a sudden blaze of the situation is not excluded and that the Lebanese government will not be able to guarantee the protection of citizens and visitors in the event of conflict. “Access to borders, airports, roads and ports can be interrupted without notice, and events often take place and may escalate,” it added. Washington also warned against sectarian clashes and confrontations with the Lebanese-Syrian border. ” U.S. citizens in Lebanon are encouraged to monitor events in Syria.

Press review

As Safir (Lebanese daily, close to the majority, April 4, 2013)

Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, who overthrew the table, was the spearhead of the action taken by the Christians of the majority and the opposition to bury the 1960 Act, when Walid Jumblatt supporters were preparing to submit their candidacies on the basis of this law. Jumblatt finds himself in a quandary: the submission of candidacies will result in a face-to-face with all Christians, and most importantly, the Maronite Patriarchate. After the “funeral” of the 1960 Act, a chance was given to reach a consensual act within a period of a month during which “we cut the engine of orthodox project”. This simply means that the elections were postponed because even if a new electoral law was passed tomorrow, the Ministry of the Interior will need six months to finalize the preparations for the elections. Patriarch Rai made contact during the meeting with President Sleiman and told him that he would dispatch him with a delegation of the Assembly of Bishops to inform him about the content of the discussions.

An Nahar (Lebanese Daily, close to march-14 coalition)

Rosanna Bou Moucef (April 4, 2013)

Many political sources do not hide their fear of a long and open crisis in Lebanon, partly due to the Syrian crisis, which itself is long and open. In addition, no majority in Lebanon can impose its vision light of the opposition expressed by a political camp. Discontent displayed by 8-Mars, who argued that the resignation of Mikati was ordered by embassies, or intended to impose new balance of power in Lebanon, raises the following questions: Does March-8 authorize the emergence of new balances of power in the country? This camp is not weakened to the point that it agrees to make concessions on issues that are at the heart of its political discourse.

March-8 bathed in confusion. The conditions laid down by Hezbollah to repeat the formula army-people-resistance face obstacles, this equation no longer had a majority after President Michel Sleiman and MP Walid Jumblatt expressed their commitment to the “Declaration of Baabda.”
In this context, 14-March seems to have taken over one of the essential keys of the political game in Lebanon. But this does not mean that the coalition is not facing challenges because it may be unable to impose the holding organization of elections as scheduled in accordance with the 1960 Act, or to form a neutral government, as it wishes.

Al Akhbar (Lebanese Daily close to the Resistance, April 5, 2013)

Yahya Dbouk

Recent Israeli reports have placed remarkable – and repeated – emphasis on Hezbollah’s military capabilities and its unprecedented potential for inflicting harm on Israel in the event of war. The reports mark a departure from Tel Aviv’s approach to the issue throughout 2012.

Large-scale devastation and a high number of casualties on the Israeli side, the reports reckoned, should be expected in any war with Lebanon, both in occupied Palestine and along the frontlines. The conflict would not spare Israeli infrastructure, including communications, transport, and power plants.

Israel would also have to cope with a practical naval blockade, while offshore oil and gas facilities may come under fire, as they are considered relatively easy targets.

The latest warning in this direction was issued by the head of the Israeli Technological and Logistics Directorate ‘Atal’, Brig. Gen. Kobi Barak. Barak said that Hezbollah had the military capacity to “shake the ground” beneath Israel, on account of its arsenal of powerful and precise rockets.

Previous reports emphasized something else entirely, and claimed that the Israeli army had completed its preparations for a conflict on the northern front. The Israeli army was now even more prepared than 2006 for war with Lebanon, those reports alleged, while steering clear as much as possible from discussing Hezbollah’s capabilities.

In the Israeli view, the Lebanese and Syrian fronts are highly flammable, and one stroke of a matchstick is enough to ignite them. A high-ranking military source recently told Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth that those who are privy to classified information realize that the current lull is but a “time-out” before war breaks out with Lebanon and Syria.

At the same time, several internal developments in Israel itself have contributed to the warnings over Hezbollah. For instance, the newly formed government led by Benjamin Netanyahu intends to scale back the defense budget for this year and the next. The Israeli army fears its readiness and training programs for future conflicts could be affected.

The threat of war and defense budget cuts also explain the recent shift in the Israeli approach, from glorifying the Israeli army, to emphasizing the strength of the opponent, namely, Hezbollah.
But simultaneously, this exposes the real estimates – and concerns – of the security establishment in Israel as regards the coming war, and also Israel’s powerlessness to prevent its damages.

In its latest assessment of a future conflict, Israel concluded that 1,200 rockets, of various types would hit Israel on each day of fighting. Furthermore, 5,000 warheads are currently pointed towards Tel Aviv, each carrying an explosive payload of between 300 and 880 kg.

Cities and population centers in Israel have no real protection from the rockets of the Resistance. The Iron Dome missile shield system would be mainly used to protect the army’s combat operations, meaning the batteries would be deployed around military airports – and even then it is doubtful they can offer much protection.

Ultimately, Israel’s implicit recognition of the prohibitive costs of any coming war with Hezbollah lends credence to the following equation: While the threat Hezbollah poses is a strong motivation for Israel to wage war, it is also sufficient to deter it from starting the conflict.

Al Akhbar (April 5, 2013)

Hyam Kosseify
How did Lebanon and Saudi Arabia’s power brokers decide on Tammam Salam as the country’s next prime minister? Al-Akhbarexplains how former prime minister Mikati’s calculations failed him and paved the way for Salam’s rise.

When former prime minister Fouad Siniora delivered his speech to the massive crowds at the funeral of Wissam al-Hassan, the assassinated intelligence chief, standing next to him was none other than Tammam Salam.

Last night, Siniora and Salam were side-by-side once again, this time at Saad Hariri’s downtown mansion. The Arab and international signal had been given to begin negotiations on a new prime minister. With that, MP Salam is now the next prime minister in waiting.

Today is the beginning of a new phase in a path that was plotted months ago. Riyadh had to choose one of two names: Salam or Brigadier General Ashraf Rifi, head of the Internal Security Forces. The latter had been asked two months ago, but he nominated Rafik Hariri’s sister and Saida MP Bahia Hariri. She preferred to run for parliament.

In those two months, the situation took a different turn. Rifi was slated for an extension in his position, but fell into the quarrel between Hezbollah and MP Michel Aoun, on one side, and Mikati, on the other.

In the last few days, the Saudis proposed Rifi’s name to its visitors. The last such visitor was MP Walid Jumblatt, who found it difficult to defend a character who is “confrontational” with Hezbollah.
Like they did with Mikati, however, the Saudis wanted to push Jumblatt into a final and decisive position. Then, they put Salam’s name in the negotiation basket.

Rifi was picked by both Hariri and the Saudis for several reasons. His security abilities would be useful to control the situation in Tripoli and Saida. He has good ties with the Arab (read: Saudi) and Western intelligence communities.

Salam is a purely Saudi suggestion. Hariri was unhappy with the choice until the last moment. However, Hariri did not want to give back the clout to someone who had kept a distance from the Future Movement.

But the Saudis spoke and Hariri met the son of former prime minister Saeb Salam. Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Sultan met with Hariri and, all of a sudden, Salam became the opposition candidate. The Saudi ambassador to Lebanon went around Beirut informing all those concerned of Riyadh’s position.

Jumblatt chose the easiest of the two names, Salam, as a candidate for consensus, given first by March 14, before March 8 had announced its position.

Mikati’s Sin

When Mikati threatened to resign for the “umpteenth” time, there was no one to stop him this time. He committed a serious error in an appropriate time and situation. He thought he was indispensable; everyone will come back to him or Arab and Western capitals will call for his return. But his political calculations failed.

The capitals demonstrated that their support for the current government was weak. They were primarily concerned with the question of Lebanon’s stability. As Paris told Mikati on the eve of his visit in February 2012, they will receive the Lebanese prime minister, no matter who he is.
This was repeated yesterday. Mikati is a guarantee for Lebanon’s stability only as long as he is head of government. Otherwise, a replacement is ready and all governments will be willing to deal with his successor.
When he resigne
d, Mikati could not find anyone to support him. Hezbollah and Aoun owed him nothing. Only Jumblatt remained at his side until he was accused of politically burning him.
Mikati, the MP from Tripoli, had come to power in alliance with the Future Movement and then turned against them. Hariri has declared a veto on Mikati as prime minister and as MP in the next elections.

Al Akhbar (April 2, 2013)

Nasser Charara
Following the Lebanese prime minister’s resignation, Saudi Arabia has been working behind the scenes to boost its presence in Lebanon. Here’s a look at how the kingdom views a future Lebanese government.

During the two-year tenure of Najib Mikati’s government, Saudi Arabia, to some extent, kept its distance from Lebanese affairs. Yet one question remained largely unanswered: Did Mikati take office with a green light from Saudi?

Throughout the lifespan of the previous Lebanese government, all attempts by Sunni Lebanese leaders to get answers failed miserably. Today, as the country searches for a new government to replace Mikati’s outgoing cabinet, Lebanon is once again a hot topic in Saudi Arabia’s corridors of power.

Despite all the reported affirmations that Saudi will let Future head Saad Hariri name a candidate for the post, Arab and Lebanese sources say that Riyadh has a special agenda.

As part of that agenda, Saudi has resolved to make a comeback in Lebanon, in accordance with a formula that mimics the former role of Syria. In other words, the kingdom would not act as a party to the internal conflict, but rather as a “referee,” managing and helping resolve crises among Lebanese factions.

According to the sources, it is possible that in the coming days Lebanese figures from different sects will visit Saudi to discuss solutions to the present crisis. The same sources maintain that though it was Riyadh – in addition to Washington – that instructed Mikati to resign, Saudi Arabia is in favor of him returning to preside over the future government. The goal, the sources claim, is to form another government led by Mikati, but under a different set of alliances and conditions.

In short, Riyadh wants Mikati to return to lead a government not dominated by the March 8 coalition, especially with the Free Patriotic Movement controlling the lion’s share of cabinet portfolios. From the Saudi point of view, Mikati would help safeguard the moderate-centrist ground in the political spectrum.

Designating Mikati to form a cabinet again would also alleviate the March 8 and 14 polarization. This would produce a “moderate” and religiously diverse bloc, bridging the gap between Hezbollah and the Future Movement – the source of most Sunni-Shia tension.

To successfully see its bid through, Riyadh is betting, among other things, on President Michel Suleiman adopting a strong stance in favor of its scheme. Furthermore, Riyadh is acting based on the assumption that Hezbollah wishes to defuse Sunni-Shia tension.

While leaving the door open to discussions, Saudi prefers to see Mikati form a government that is neutral in appearance. In this vein, Suleiman reportedly intends to stand his ground on several issues, like holding the 2013 general election within the constitutional deadlines.
Behind closed doors, Suleiman shares Riyadh’s view that Mikati is the best choice for prime minister, as he has shown an ability to manage the political game despite its complexities.

Another item on the Saudi agenda, which also happens to be Mikati’s signature stroke, is the dissociation policy over the conflict in Syria. The policy remains desirable internationally, despite recent reservations.

More than ever, Riyadh is enthusiastic about Lebanon’s dissociation approach. For one thing, Saudi is rumored to be planning a gradual withdrawal from the quagmire in Syria. The same sources reckon that Damascus is aware of this recent shift in Saudi attitudes, but that it remains cautious.
It is worth noting that Riyadh, throughout the previous phase, had postponed tackling the situation in Lebanon, waiting instead for the dust to settle in Damascus. But the sources believe that Saudi has finally decided to stop putting its Lebanon policy on hold.

Ad Diyar (Lebanese daily, close to March-8 Coalition)

(April 4, 2013)
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) begins to accelerate organizing its ranks in Tripoli, where it has deployed its elements in apartments in Malloulé, Bab el-Tebbané, Zahiriyé, Kobbe, al-Mina al-Tall. The headquarter of the FSA in the city is Bab el-Tebbané. The new leader of the FSA, which has never yet appeared in public, is a general who calls himself Abu Mohammad. Coordination between the Syrian rebels and Salafist groups in Tripoli began and Lebanese security services are aware of all these activities, as well as Hezbollah, which has its own intelligence services in the region. Command of FSA began to register the names of recruits wishing to join the military units deployed in Denniyé and Akkar, which could be used by the Americans if they want to put pressure on the government and the Lebanese Army. Washington has also requested the Lebanese authorities not to suppress or limit the scope of the FSA, stressing that his attitude towards the Lebanese government will depend on the actions of the latter with FSA. Similarly, the Gulf States felt that the facilitation of the activities of FSA in Lebanon is a major issue for them.

The elements of FSA are mainly grouped in the plain of Wadi Khaled and Akkar. The flags of the Syrian opposition began to appear, including in Halba, in the former headquarter of the Syrian intelligence service. FSA also erected flying checkpoints to verify the identity of passers-by and motorists and monitors comings and goings in Syria. To this end, it has set up observation posts near the border in Abboudiyé and Arida.

The Daily Star (Lebanese Daily, April 5, 2013)

David Ignatius

As the battle for Damascus approaches, the array of Syrian opposition forces facing President Bashar Assad appears to share one common trait: Most of the major rebel groups have strong Islamist roots and backing from Muslim neighbors.

The Free Syrian Army has developed a rough “order of battle” that describes these rebel groups, their ideology and sources of funding. This report was shared last week with the State Department. It offers a window on a war that, absent some diplomatic miracle, is grinding toward a bloody and chaotic endgame.

The disorganized, Muslim-dominated opposition prompts several conclusions: First, the U.S. will have limited influence, even if it steps up covert involvement over the next few months. Second, the post-Assad situation may be as chaotic and dangerous as the civil war itself. The Muslim rebel groups will try to claim control of Assad’s powerful arsenal, including chemical weapons, posing new dangers.

Although the Syrian revolution is 2 years old, the rebel forces still haven’t formed a unified command. Gen. Salim Idriss, commander of the Free Syrian Army, has tried to coordinate the fighters. But this remains a bottom-up rebellion, with towns and regions forming battalions that have merged into larger coalitions. These coalitions have tens of thousands of fighters. But they lack anything approaching the discipline of a normal army.

Even though the rebels have only loose coordination, they have become a potent force. They have seized control of most of Aleppo and northern Syria, and they are tightening their grip on Damascus, controlling many of the access routes east and south of the city, according to rebel sources. Free Syrian Army leaders believe that the battle for Damascus will reach its climax in the next two to three months.

Rebel shells have hit landmarks in central Damascus, such as the Sheraton Hotel and the neighborhood of Abou Roummaneh, where many diplomats are based. To the east, rebels now appear to control Ghoutha, which commands eastern access to the city, and are firing on the Damascus airport. To the west, they are reportedly shelling the neighborhood of Mezzeh.

The lineup of opposition military groups is confusing to outsiders, but rebel sources say there are several major factions.

The biggest umbrella group is called Al-Jabha li-Tahrir Souriyya al-Islamiyya. It has about 37,000 fighters, drawn from four main sub-groups based in different parts of the country. These Saudi-backed groups are not hardcore Islamists, but are more militant than the political coalition headed by Sheikh Moaz al-Khatib, who last week took Syria’s seat in the Arab League.

The second-largest rebel coalition is more extreme and is dominated by hardcore Salafist Muslims. Its official name – Al-Jabhat al-Islamiyya li-Tahrir Souriyya – is almost identical to that of the Saudi-backed group. Rebel sources count 11 different brigades from around the country that have merged to form this second coalition. Financing comes from wealthy Saudi, Kuwaiti and other Gulf Arab individuals. Rebel sources estimate about 13,000 Salafist fighters are gathered under this second umbrella.

A third rebel group, known as Ahfad al-Rasoul, is funded by Qatar. It has perhaps 15,000 fighters.
The most dangerous group in the mix is the the Nusra Front, an offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. By one rebel estimate, it has grown to include perhaps 6,000 fighters. But this group, perhaps fearing that it will be targeted by Western counterterrorism forces, is said to be keeping its head down – and perhaps commingling with the Salafist umbrella group.

Idriss and his Free Syrian Army command about 50,000 more fighters, rebel sources say.
Realistically, the best hope for U.S. policy is to press the Saudi-backed coalition and its 37,000 fighters, to work under the command of Idriss and the Free Syrian Army. That would bring a measure of order – and would open the way for Idriss to negotiate a military transition government that would include reconcilable elements of Assad’s army.

Ria Novosti (Russian press Agency, April 5, 2013)

Moscow believes the United Nations is disrupting an investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria under pressure of “certain states,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday. “We cannot but make a conclusion that under the pressure of certain states the UN Secretariat has adopted an unconstructive and inconsistent stance and is basically disrupting the investigation into particular reports of the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria on March 19, which could be verified at this stage,” the statement said. The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized the UN move as “unacceptable and intolerable” and called on the organization to act on the principles of “impartiality.”

Syria’s authorities accused opposition militants of deploying chemical weapons in an attack near the northern city of Aleppo on March 19 that state media reports claimed at least 25 lives and seriously injured more than 100.

The rebels have denied the allegation and instead accused the Syrian military of launching a Scud missile with a chemical warhead.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on March 21 that the United Nations will open an independent investigation into the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria as soon as possible.
However, later Ban Ki-moon, “under pressure from Western members of the Council,” took an “unjustified step” of broadening the mandate of the mission in an effort to set as its task the investigation of all other alleged cases of chemical weapons use in Syria, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement last week.

Lukashevich described Ban’s approach to the issue as “counterproductive,” saying there is no information regarding any other incidents of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Echourouq (Algerian Daily, April 4, 2013)

A Syrian government delegation arrived in Algeria to discuss the possible participation of African countries in mediation efforts to end the conflict in Syria. Algeria seeks to play the role of mediator between the regime of Bashar al-Assad and the rebels to stop the war. The delegation consists of five members, including members of the ruling Baath party, officers of the security services and a representative of the administration of the province of Aleppo, theater of heavy fighting between the army and anti-Assad.

Unlike the Gulf countries that have recalled their ambassadors from Syria, Algeria has maintained its representative in Damascus and continues to provide humanitarian assistance to Syria
 

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Egyptian Brotherhood Violates Rights Using ‘Divine Mandate’

April 8, 2013

 

A protester in Cairo holds a sign reading, “If Brotherhood controls Al-Azhar, Morsi will beat us, Brotherhood has no religion” during a protest in support of Al-Azhar Mosque’s assertion of independence from the Muslim Brotherhood, April 5, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh )

By: Alaa al-Aswany Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon).
اقرا المقال الأصلي باللغة العربية
 
In 1492, the city of Granada — the last stronghold of Islam in Spain — fell when Abu Abdullah, the last of the Arab kings, was defeated by the army set up by the Catholic monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Although the king and queen had signed a convention in which they pledged to respect the country’s Muslim and Jewish citizens, it was never followed. They decided to expel the Jews from Spain (something Spanish King Juan Carlos apologized for five centuries later), while Muslims were given the choice of converting to Christianity or death.
 
Thousands of Muslims who refused to convert were killed; men, women and children alike were beheaded. Many Muslims embraced Christianity, fearing for their lives. These converts were degradingly referred to as “Los Moriscos” [baptized Moors].
 
However, forcing Muslims to embrace Christianity was only the beginning of their agony, as authorities then took a number of severe measures to oppress and impoverish these citizens. Their efforts to annihilate Islamic culture and traditions led these converts to rebel multiple times. Later, authorities realized that many of these converts were still practicing Islam secretly.
 
Here the issue became complicated, for these converts — from a legal standpoint — were Catholic Christians like all other residents, yet from a practical standpoint they were secret Muslims. Authorities feared that they would teach their children the principles of Islam, something that would create a new generation of Muslims that officials did not want. Furthermore, the Roman Catholic Church had serious doubts about the converts’ beliefs. Would Christ accept their faith, or would they remain outside the fold of the church?
 
Then a strange and mysterious figure emerged who would play a key role in the evolution of events. He was a monk from the Dominican Order named Jaime Bleda, famed for his piety and eagerness to maintain pure Catholic doctrine. After much thought, Bleda became convinced that it was impossible for the church to know for sure if the converts truly believed in Christ or were merely pretending to be Christians for fear of their lives. Thus, the only solution was for these converts to face Christ so that he himself could decide whether they were sincere in their faith or hypocrites. Of course, they could only face Christ in the afterlife, so Bleda proposed killing all of the converts so that their souls would ascend to Christ and he could judge whether or not they had faith.
 
The strange thing is the church agreed to Bleda’s plan and was enthusiastic about it. Clergymen were ready to kill hundreds of thousands of converts so that they could be closer to God and maintain the purity of Catholic doctrine. The Spanish government, however, objected to killing such a large number of converts, anticipating resistance that could exhaust the authorities. Thus, the government decided to finally expel all of the converts from Spain. Bleda accepted this solution, although he preferred the idea of killing the converts. The French historian Gustave Le Bon (1841-1931) describes these events in his book The Civilization of the Arabs:
 
“In 1610, the Spanish government issued an order to expel the Arabs from Spain. Many of the migrants were killed during the journey. Bleda expressed his satisfaction that three quarters of these migrants were killed in the process. Nearly 100,000 migrants from a single convoy consisting of 140,000 Muslims were killed on their way to Africa.”
 
 Here one must wonder: How could a religious man agree to the killing of such a large number of innocent people merely because they disagreed with his beliefs, without feeling the slightest sense of guilt? How can one reconcile faith in Christ — who taught humanity peace and love — with this bloody temperament shown by Bleda? The answer is that faith in any religion does not necessarily make us more humane. The manner in which we understand religion is what determines our behavior. Our interpretation of religion is what teaches us tolerance, justice and compassion, yet it also can push us to fanaticism, hate and aggression.
 
If we believe that all religions are merely different ways of getting to know our Lord Almighty, then we must realize that we’re not better than anyone else regardless of whether we’re Muslims, Christians or Jews. The majority of people inherit their religious beliefs from their parents, and we must realize that God will judge people based on their actions, before judging them on their religious convictions.
 
If this were our understanding of religion, then we would be tolerant of those who have other religious beliefs. We would defend the rights of all humans, regardless of their religious beliefs. However, if we believe that our religion is the sole absolute truth that transcends all other religions, then we would feel that we alone are the pure believers and those with differing religious beliefs are impure infidels living in delusion. If this is the case, then — logically — we would not acknowledge that those who differ from us have the same rights, and our fanaticism could push us to believe that we are authorized by God to elevate his word and implement his will.
 
This false divine mandate could push us to feel that we are above all others and abuse their rights. It could result in us committing the most heinous of crimes without feeling any guilt, for we believe that we are carrying out God’s will. Bleda had a clear conscience when he agreed to killing innocent people, because he felt that he was carrying out God’s will, which was for Spain to be a Catholic country in which there was no room for Muslim and Jewish infidels.
 
This belief in a divine mandate repeated itself many times throughout Spanish history, and often led to heinous crimes committed in the name of religion. Here there is no difference between the monk Bleda and the terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Although there are differences in time and circumstances, they have the same train of thought and the same vision for the world. They both believed that they had a mandate from God to implement his will and defend religion, and that those who differed from them in religion were less human. They also both believed in collective responsibility. Bleda believed that all Arabs were responsible for the actions of any Arab, while Bin Laden believed that all Westerners were responsible for the crimes committed by US and Israeli soldiers against Arabs and Muslims.
 
When it comes to the concept of a divine mandate, there is no room for personal responsibility. It was impossible to persuade Bin Laden that there were millions of people in the West who repudiated the crimes of the American army, just as it would have been impossible to convince Bleda that there were Muslims he had killed who could have been good citizens. The value of others’ lives and their rights are totally absent in the mind of people who believe they have a mandate from God.
 
Bin Laden wasn’t concerned with the lives of non-Muslims, just as Bleda wasn’t concerned with the lives of Arabs. Both of these men killed thousands of innocent people believing that they were doing something good that would get them into heaven.
 
When you believe that you have a mandate from God, you will never allow others to criticize your actions or judge you. Regardless of what you say, you would never respect those who differ from you nor acknowledge their rights. You would feel as though you were always correct, for you are carrying out the will of God. You would never be able to see reality correctly; you would live in a closed virtual world that never develops or changes. You will deny the truth, regardless of how obvious it is, and you would treat anyone who questioned your virtual world with hostility. You live inside this world, and if you lost it your life would be destroyed.
 

The Simple Act of Tying Shoes Reveals Brotherhood’s Program

This idea may help us to understand the Muslim Brotherhood and many others who are affiliated with political Islam. Months after the Brotherhood came to power, Egyptians are asking: How can the Brotherhood claim that it represents religion, while at the same time continually lying, breaking all agreements it has signed, and colluding with other parties to achieve their own interests, even if the price for this involves the blood of martyrs and the collapse of the state itself?
 
Why do Brotherhood members not feel any guilt as they attack, degrade and kill those who disagree with them? The answer is that Brotherhood members do not see themselves as politicians who have made mistakes or are hurting others; they believe that God has sent them to save Egypt from infidels and delusion. They believe that they are carrying out the will of God, and thus cannot be held accountable in accordance with the same standards applied to ordinary people, who act solely based on their ideas. The Brotherhood believes that God has given it a mandate to elevate his word and carry out his rule. Accordingly, anyone who criticizes it or argues with its politics, in the Brotherhood’s view, is an enemy of Islam. The Brotherhood is Islam, and no one else can represent the religion.
 

Acts of Torture Reveal True Nature
Of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Brotherhood members believe that everything happening today is reminiscent of Islamic history — they are the Muslims and their opponents are the enemies of God. A few days ago a Brotherhood member wrote an article in which he compared the clashes in Moqattam to the Battle of Uhud. Naturally, in this comparison they were the companions of the Prophet Muhammad and their adversaries were the infidels. This is how the Brotherhood views this political dispute. Brotherhood members are true believers who want to carry out Islamic law, while their opponents are remnants of the Mubarak regime, Western or Zionist collaborators, or infidels who hate religion.
 
What is happening in Egypt is quite clear. An elected president has turned into a dictator for his group; he has trampled on the law and imposed the will of the Brotherhood’s supreme guide on all people. He has used an illegitimate attorney general to punish all who oppose him, while his security services have killed hundreds of citizens and tortured thousands.
 
The Brotherhood, as a result of its belief in a divine mandate, is unable to see the truth. It is always prepared to deny, argue and deceive. There is no use in trying to convince the Brotherhood of the truth. Even if the Brotherhood’s supreme guide killed thousands of Egyptians and the group’s politics brought about major catastrophes, Brotherhood supporters would still defend everything the organization does. Its members believe that they are carrying out the will of God. The Brotherhood’s supreme guide is exactly like Bleda and Bin Laden. He is a man who feels he represents the will of God. He is ready to violate the rights of others without blinking an eye, for he believes that God has enabled his group, and thus the will of the people worries him.

 

So, what can we do?

 
History teaches us that there is no hope in coming to an understanding with religious fanatics who see themselves as God’s instruments for achieving his will. There is no point in talks and negotiations. The solution is to apply pressure until this fascist regime is toppled. The revolution should not get lost in corridors of politics or sterile negotiations.
 
We are demanding early presidential elections, the dismissal of the illegitimate attorney general, the cancellation of the invalid constitution and the prosecution of those responsible for murder and torture — first and foremost President Mohammed Morsi and his interior minister and executioner Mohammed Ibrahim. These are the just demands of the revolution, which should not give up on them or accept compromises of any kind. The revolution will continue to victory until it triumphs over fascism and achieves all of its goals.
 
Democracy is the solution.
 

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Activist Ahmad Spider on Brotherhood and the crisis in Syria and Egypt

April 5, 2013

 احمد سبايدر‎ على الفضائية السورية لقاء‎

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Ignoring western propaganda , who exactly is Bashar Al Assad ?

April 4, 2013

Syria: Democracy vs. Foreign Invasion. Who is Bashar Al Assad?

A Syrian’s Perspective: Bashar al-Assad’s Democratic Movement

by Arabi Souri

 

ASSADBashar al-Assad has recently been demonized by the mainstream and so-called alternative media who claim that he is a brutal dictator(?). Actually Bashar is a reformer who has done much to further the causes of democracy and freedom.

It is the opposition and their foreign supporters who represent the most repressive elements of the former ruling party in Syria. To fully understand this its is helpful to look at the historical context of the current crisis. The so-called “spontaneous popular uprising” started in Daraa on March 15th, 2011. The court house, police stations, governor’s house, and other public buildings were looted and torched by the “peaceful protestors” in the first week of the crisis. The people in Homs then began to protest in solidarity with Daraa, but this was uncharacteristic of peaceful Homs and many Syrians knew that it was a fake revolution.

About 110 unarmed police officers were murdered in Daraa and Homs, sparking anger against the “revolutionaries.” There was an incident in the city Baniyas where an Alawite truck driver was attacked by an armed mob, skinned, and paraded through the city. This disgusted almost all Syrians and since then not a single major city actually rebelled against the government. The foreign backed “revolutionaries” would attack a neighborhood, police station, or army base, from across the borders of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. Then they would claim that the city was in rebellion.

But the Syrians, seeing the same lies in all the western and Arab news stations, and the exiled rotten officials adopting the ‘revolution’, mostly took an anti-revolution stance. That is why whenever the rebels would infest a town or city you would immediately hear of a massacre to punish the residents for not supporting them. Of course the mainstream media would claim that it was Assad forces punishing the town that dared to oppose him!

Assad took advantage of the revolution to introduce his packages of reforms, putting aside those in the old guards who opposed them. Many of the old guard then joined the opposition abroad.

The opposition demanded the removal of article 8 from the Syrian constitution making the Baath Party head of the government. Instead of just deleting it Bashar Assad had the constitution re-written buy a specialized committee of Syrian experts from all parties in Syria and with input from all Syrians.

A referendum was held and the new constitution was approved with almost 90% of a voter turnout of 60%. Assad then enacted a Media Law that would allow more freedom of expression and the establishment of new independent media outlets. Assad eased requirements on the formation of political parties, excluding sectarian based parties. We now have at least nine new political parties.

Municipal elections were held in December 2011. Many of those who won seats were assassinated or threatened throughout the country by the same revolutionaries who claimed to want democracy. Parliamentary elections were held in May 2012 with no eligibility restraints on the candidates. Many new members of parliament have also been assassinated by the FSA including the wife and three daughters of parliament elect trustee Abdulla Mishleb in the infamous Houla massacre.

 
 
Historical Context: Syria in the 1980s
 
MASSACRE

Recent events can be better understood in the context of Syrian history. Bashar al-Assad is the son of late president Hafez al-Assad. Hafez was described by western mainstream media as a tyrant and oppressor but he was not nearly as bad as any other leader in his time like Thatcher, Reagan, or any of the region’s rulers including Turkey’s military rule.

The current anti-Assad opposition often refer to the 1982 Hama ‘massacre’. They claim that Hafez besieged the city and then bombed it killing up to 40,000 civilians. I lived in Damascus at that time and you must understand the conditions in the country at the time to know what really happened.

1) The Muslim Brotherhood was engaged in a war of terror at that time, nothing less than what the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is doing now. The Muslim Brotherhood’s forces were called the ‘Fighting Vanguard’ (Arabic “Al Taleea Al Muqatleh”). Many of the present leaders of the FSA are the same men who led the Fighting Vanguard in the 80s; and they were as savage as their sons now. One of the Fighting Vanguard’s bombings included the Azbakiyeh Bombing in Damascus which took the lives of over 175 civilians and injured hundreds more, and there were many other terror attacks.

2) The entire Hama episode was led by Hafez al-Assad’s younger brother (Bashar al-Assad’s uncle) Rifaat Assad. Rifaat was heading the Saraya Difaa (later to become the Republican Guard). At that time the Syrian minister of defense was Mustapha Tlass, and the Syrian minister of foreign affairs was Abdul Halim Khaddam. All three of them: Riffaat al-Assad, Mustapha, and Abdul Khaddam are leading and financing the political opposition against Bashar from abroad right now.

In the current conflict Mustapha’s son Manaf Tlass was sent to negotiate a settlement with his cousins who were rebelling in Rastan. But instead of negotiating he gave them weapons from the Republican Guards caches and leaked secrets causing the deaths of many Republican Guard soldiers at the hands of the FSA.

Thirty years after the fighting in Hama a report by US intelligence was declassified revealing that the death toll didn’t even reach 2,000. That number included 400 Muslim Brotherhood Fighting Vanguard militants; many Syrian Army soldiers and officers; Baath Party and other state officials; and a number of civilians who were caught in the fire.

3) At the same time the Syrian Army was fighting the Israeli, US and French Armies in Lebanon.

4) Syria was under harder sanctions than it is now. Syria has been under increasingly severe western sanctions since 1956, 15 years before Hafez Assad took power.

 
assad5


Bashar al-Assad’s Damascus Spring: Syria in the 2000s

Late Hafez Assad followed a more complex policy regarding foes and foreign agents in his government than Bashar does. Hafez would keep his foes in their posts but under his watchful eyes. When Bashar was selected by the Syrian Parliament to succeed his father in 2000 he removed all of the treasonous foes and foreign agents that Hafez had maintained in office.

Bashar’s first reform was to ease some political restrictions, allowing politicians to move more freely. In June 2000 the Damascus Spring was started. It lasted until Autumn 2001 by which time most of the treasonous opposition’s foreign funding, and relations with the US Department of State and corporate think tanks had been exposed. The corrupt officials and their families were expelled from Syria and settled in foreign countries. They used their massive accumulations of wealth to mount political opposition to Bashar from abroad.

 
assad03


In 2003 the US was occupying Iraq. US Secretary of State Collin Powell visited Bashar and handed him a list of demands including: 1. Cutting all ties with the five main Palestinian factions in Syria, 2. Severing Syria’s relations with Iran in exchange for a promise of better relations with some Arab states.
3. Signing a peace treaty with Israel similar to one Syria had already refused.
4. Removing books from schools with any enmity towards Israel. 5. Allowing western banks and companies unhindered access to Syrian markets and resources along with other neo-liberal reforms.

Bashar refused these demands in the face of the nearly 200,000 coalition troops across the Syrian border in Iraq. Instead Bashar sought to hinder the occupation of Iraq and demanded that the occupying forces withdraw. Because of the proximity of Damascus to the western boarder with Lebanon Syria has the strategic need to secure this border. None the less in 2000 Bashar started withdrawing Syrian troops from Lebanon where they had battled Israeli forces. The troops were reduced from 35,000 in the year 2000 to 14,000 in early 2004.

In 2005 Lebanese Prime Minster Rafic Hariri was assassinated with the help of members of the Lebanese Future Movement party and likely the help of the US and France. This was a political blow to Assad within Lebanon, and he was also blamed for the assassination using media manipulation and prepared activists. Tens of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets to condemn the killing of Hariri including members of Syria’s closest allies Hizbullah and Amal. The media claimed that the crowds were against the Syrian Army presence in Lebanon. US and France tried to pressure Assad into reinforcing the Syrian Army in Lebanon to stabilize the country but Bashar withdrew all Syrian troops from Lebanon. This background gives the context accompanying president Assad’s reform attempts in Syria, where he had to face foreign powers from abroad and their agents from within. The current crisis is not a civil war or rebellion, but a foreign aggression against a sovereign nation.

 
Syria-is-a-Battle-for-Palestine0
 

1- “No word of truth from Erdogan”: Al- Assad

2- “Syria is a Battle for Palestine”

3- Arab League working for Whoms?

4- The Whys Enemies of Palestine are the enemies of Syria at the same time

 

Related posts:

 

 
About the author:
 
The author was born and lived in Damascus, Syria. He moved to Germany ten years ago and runs a company that organizes tourist groups to Syria. Before the conflict he went to Syria often to stay for days and months. He has been an outspoken defender of the Syrian government and has been targeted by the Free Syrian Army who destroyed his property and threatened his life, and so writes under the name Arabi Souri. This article was edited by Seth Rutledge
 

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Sudden Syrian military warning for Jordan: You got 14 days to clean up your borders from strangers and terrorists, otherwise…

April 4, 2013

إنذار عسكري سوري مفاجئ للأردن : أمامكم 14 يوماً لتنظيف حدودكم من الغرباء والإرهابيين وإلا سنضربكم دون أنذار!!

دام برس:
عبر مسؤول عربي رفيع المستوى في إتصال هاتفي مع موقع “أخبار بلدنا” الأردني وحسب تقرير الموقع عن دهشة عواصم عربية عدة في الإقليم من توقيت وطبيعة إنذار عسكري وجهته القيادة السياسية السورية للأردن عبر القنوات الدبلوماسية، وتضمن تحذيرا للأردن من عواقب رد عسكري سوري صارم داخل حدود الأردن، إذا لم تعمل القوات العسكرية الأردنية بشكل فوري خلال أسبوعين على تطهير المنطقة الحدودية من آلاف المقاتلين التابعين للمعارضة السورية الذين يتسللون الى داخل سوريا، ثم يجدون داخل الأراضي الأردنية ملاذا لهم، إذ تضمن التهديد السوري أيضا والذي لم يعرف طبيعة الرد الأردني تجاهه تحذيرا من أن إنقضاء مهلة الأسبوعين بدون أي تحرك أردني يعني أن سوريا سوف تضرب تشكيلات مسلحي المعارضة على الأرض الأردنية أيا تكن النتائج السياسية والعسكرية.
وفي تطور مفاجئ بقي مكتوما في الأيام القليلة الماضية، فقد سمع مسؤول أردني مهم زار العاصمة الأميركية واشنطن مؤخرا لفتح نقاش سياسي وأمني عميق حول الأزمة السورية المندلعة منذ أكثر من عامين بدون أي أفق سياسي، أن أميركا لا يمكن أن تنفذ تدخلا عسكريا في سوريا، وأنها حائرة بين تصميم حل سياسي يبقي الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد في السلطة، وهو أمر يمكن الإعتماد في تنفيذه على الدبلوماسية الأردنية، أو الإستعاضة عن تدخل عسكري بتنفيذ سلسة عمليات إستخبارية معقدة على الأراضي السورية، لكن أميركا تخشى صراحة إذا ما سلكت الخيار الثاني أن تكون كمن يشد حبل الإعدام على رقبته، إذ تتهيأ التقديرات الأميركية لعمل إنتقامي ماحق من الجانب السوري ضد إسرائيل إذا ما شعر الأسد أن نظامه قد هوى فعلا.
ووفقا للمسؤول الأردني الزائر للولايات المتحدة الأميركية، فإن واشنطن لا تخشى على حليف سياسي مثل الأردن من إنتقام مماثل، وهو أمر أزعج عمّان بشدة، إذ بدا التركيز الأميركي على كيفية المواءمة بين سعي محموم لإسقاط نظام الأسد، وكذلك ضمان عدم تنفيذ أي هجمات عسكرية إنتقامية ضدها، إذ سمع المسؤول الأردني تحديدا من نظراء له في الإدارة الأميركية أن سلسلة غارات صاروخية سورية تجاه محطات إسرائيلية لتوليد الكهرباء وتحلية المياه، يمكن أن يبقي الإسرائيليين أشهرا عدة بلا كهرباء أو ماء للشرب


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Qaradawi war on Syria clerics continues: Terrorist Behead Aleppo Cleric, Drag His Body through Streets

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الشهيد السعيد البوطي يبيع بيته ويتبرع بالمبلغ لخالد مشعل وخالد مشعل ينضم إلى القرضاوي قاتل البوطي , حسبي الله ونعم الوكيل ..على أدعياء الإسلام ….د. يحيى ابوزكريا

 

Insurgents Behead Aleppo Cleric, Drag His Body through Streets

 
Sun Mar 31, 2013 9:48AM
A prominent Sunni Syrian cleric has condemned the assassination and mutilation of a pro-government cleric by the foreign-backed militants in the northwestern city of Aleppo.

Militants in Syria (file photo)Speaking at a Saturday TV interview, Abdul-Qadir Shehabi, who is the head of Aleppo Endowment Office, said the murder of Sheikh Hasan Seifeddine showed that the terrorist groups in Syria did not scruple to perpetrate any sort of crime against the Syrian nation.

The Aleppo-based cleric noted that the terrorist groups seek to devastate and plunder Syria and kill its people in an attempt to curry favor with the United States and its allies.

Shehabi argued that while the terrorists boast of freedom and democracy, they attack the people merely for their love for their country.

According to Syria’s Al-Ikhbariya TV, the militants, who are said to be members of the terrorist group al-Nusra Front, beheaded Seifeddine and hanged his head on the minaret of Al-Hassan Mosque, where he used to lead the prayers.

The official Syrian news agency SANA said Seifeddine’s body was “mutilated” after the “assassination.”

Meanwhile, Shehabi said that terrorists also kidnapped Seifeddine’s son six months ago and that his fate remained unknown.

The Syrian cleric denounced massacre of people, destruction of mosques and using youngsters in terrorist operations as “unacceptable” and noted that the Syrian nation did not want the West’s definition of freedom.

Shehabi pointed out that those who issue the Fatwa for killing the people and staging war in Syria were not Muslims and they sought to harm Islam by disseminating a US-Zionist portrait of Islam and religion.

The killing of Seifeddine comes nearly 10 days after a terrorist blew himself up inside al-Iman Mosque in the capital, Damascus, killing prominent Sunni cleric Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Bouti and 40 others, while injuring more than 80 people.

ASH/HSN

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