“…The Jihadist show of force coupled with the absence of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition, the main grouping of the political opposition, could consolidate an Islamist sweep in the north and east of the country. But the experience of Raqqa, where there have been demonstrations and strikes, shows that Islamist rule has got off to a difficult start.The east, which accounts for all of Syria’s oil output and most of its grain production, borders Iraq’s Sunni Muslim heartland, where Sunni Jihadists opposed to the Iranian-backed Shi’ite government in Baghdad are also active.Since falling, Raqqa has been in effect run by Ahrar al-Sham, one of the best organized of hundreds of opposition formations fighting to oust Assad, and its Islamist allies, opposition campaigners in the area said.They said the al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front has a strong presence in the city and cooperates with Ahrar. The Iraqi wing of al Qaeda announced on Tuesday that Nusra was now its Syrian branch and the two groups would operate under one name — the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant…., … ,… A European diplomat said channeling aid to emerging local structures was more effective than what the grandiose plans of the provisional government.
“You have to start small. …”
Archive for the ‘SNC’ Category
Weekly information and analysis bulletin specialized in Arab Middle Eastern affairs prepared by neworientnews.com
Editor in chief Wassim Raad
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.
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.»
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.
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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
A ship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet during large-scale military exercises Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered while flying back from the South African Republic to Moscow. (Screen shot of a video of Zvezda TV channel).
Is there a connection between events in Syria (maybe even US tension with North Korea) and Russia’s impromptu Black Sea war games that started on March 28, 2013?While on his way from Durban in South Africa, where the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa —announced they were forming a new development bank to challenge the IMF and World Bank, Russia’s Vladimir Putin gave the go ahead for unscheduled war games in the Black Sea. By themselves the games mean little, but in a global context they mean a lot.
According to the Kremlin, the war games involved about 7,000 Russian servicemen, Russian Special Forces, Russian Marines, and airborne rapid deployment troops. All of Russia’s different services were involved and used the exercises to test their interoperability. Over thirty Russian warships based out of the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol in the Crimean Peninsula and the Russian port of Novorossiysk in Krasnodar Krai will be participating. The objective of the games are to show that Russia could mobilize for any event at a moments notice.
The war games surprised the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Who even complained the Russian war games started in the Black Sea without prior notice. In fact, NATO asked Russia to be more open about its moves and give NATO Headquarters in Brussels notice of its military movements in the future. Alexander Vershbow, the American Deputy Secretary General of NATO, even demanded “maximum transparency” from Russia. One may ask, why the rattled bones?
Russian response to war plans against the Syrians?
Is it mere coincidence that Russia is flexing its muscles after NATO revealed it was developing contingency plans for a Libya-style intervention in Syria on March 20? Two days later, Israel and Turkey ended their diplomatic row through a timely agreement that was supposedly brokered by US President Barack Obama in twenty minutes while he was visiting Israel. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that with Obama’s help a deal was made with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to end the diplomatic rift over the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara in 2010.
Days later, this event was followed by the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) — a phoney opposition organization constructed by the US, UK, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — being ceremoniously given Syria’s seat at the Arab League. In what appears to be an attempt at repeating the Libya scenario, the SNC is being recognized as the government of Syria. At the Arab League summit, the SNC’s leader Moaz Al-Khatib immediately called for NATO military intervention in coordination with Qatar’s call for regime change and military intervention in Damascus on March 26.
Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib.(AFP Photo / Karim Sahib)
In a stage-managed move, the puppet SNC has asked the US, UK, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and NATO to enforce a no-fly zone with the aim of creating a SNC-controlled emirate or enclave in northern Syria. Al-Khatib has announced that he has talked to US Secretary of State John Kerry to use the NATO Patriot Missiles stationed in Turkey to create the no-fly zone over northern Syria. Effectively what he is talking about is the balkanization of Syria. Kerry seems to be on top of it. Victoria Nuland, the spokeswoman of the US Department of State, said the US is considering the request about imposing a no-fly zone. Even earlier, Kerry made a surprise visit to Baghdad and threatened the federal government in Iraq to fall into line with Washington’s regime change plans against Syria. He said he wanted the Iraqis to check Iranian passenger planes heading to Syria for weapons, but much more was said.
The American Empire’s satraps are all on the move. Qatar and Saudi Arabia no longer hide the fact that they are arming and funding the insurgents in Syria. In February, the UK and France lobbied the rest of the European Union to lift its Syrian arms embargo, so that they can openly arm the anti-government foreign fighters and militias that are trying to topple the Syrian government. Israel and Turkey have been forced to mend fences for the sake of the Empires war on the Syrians.
Obama realigns Israel and Turkey against Syria
The Israeli and Turkish rapprochement conveniently fits the aligning chessboard. Obama’s visit to Israel was about imperial politics to maintain the American Empire. As two hostile neighbours of Syria, Tel Aviv and Ankara will have deeper cooperation in the Empire’s objectives to topple the Syrian government. All of a sudden, the governments in both countries started complaining in line with one another about how the humanitarian situation in Syria was threatening them. In reality, Israel is not hosting any Syrian refugees (and oppresses Syrians under its occupation in the Golan) whereas Turkey has actually neglected many of its legal and financial obligations to the Syrian refugees it hosts on its territory and has tried to whitewash this by labeling them as foreign “guests.”
A child watches a woman washing a bassin at the Syrian refugee camp 5km from Diyarbakir, on the the way between Diyarbakir and Mardin, after snowfall, on January 9, 2013.(AFP Photo / Stringer)
According to Agence France-Presse, the Israelis have even opened a military field hospital to help the insurgents topple the Syrian government. The military facility is located in an area named Fortification 105 in Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (originally referred to as the Syrian Heights in Israel). It is essentially a support base for anti-government forces and only the tip of the iceberg in regards to Israeli involvement in Syria. Israel’s January strikes on Syria were the fruits of the cooperation between the Israelis and insurgent militias.
Sensing the suspicious eyes gazing at the Turkish government and perhaps getting unnerved by the Kremlin’s muscle flexing, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has rejected he claims that Tel Aviv and Ankara were closing ranks against Syria. Davutoglu must have been unaware of what was said in Israel about their rapprochement. Even though Netanyahu vowed never to apologize for the killing of Turkey’s citizens on the Mavi Marmara, Tel Aviv’s apology to Turkey was publicly justified by the Israeli government on the basis of addressing Syria through coordination with Turkey. Many of the suspicious eyes that turned to look at the Erdogan’s government over the deal with Israel are Turkish. Davutoglu actually lied for domestic consumption, knowing full well that the Turkish public would be outraged to know that Prime Minister Erdogan was really normalizing ties with Israel to topple the Syrian government.
The message(s) of the Russian war games
The American Empire is arranging the geopolitical chessboard with is satraps in its ongoing war on Syria. Perhaps it plans on using Israel to do a re-play of the Suez Crisis. In 1956, after Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, the UK and France drew a plan with Israel to annex the Suez Canal by getting Israel to attack Egypt and then claiming to intervene militarily as concerned parties who wanted to keep the Suez Canal safe and open for international maritime traffic. A new assault against Syria under the banners of the Israelis is possible and could be used as an excuse for a Turkish and NATO “humanitarian invasion” that could result in the creation of a northern humanitarian buffer zone (or a broader war).
A pattern can be depicted from all these events. At the start of 2013, Russia held major naval drills in the Eastern Mediterranean against a backdrop of tension between Moscow and the US-led NATO and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) coalition that has been destabilizing Syria. After the US and its anti-Syrian coalition threatened to intervene militarily and deployed Patriot missiles on Turkey’s southern border with Syria, a Russian naval flotilla was dispatched off the Syrian coast to send a strong message to Washington not to have any ideas of starting another war. In turn, the US and its allies tried to save face by spreading rumours that the Kremlin was preparing to evacuate Russian citizens from Syria, because the Syrian government was going to collapse and the situation was going to get critical.
A ship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet during large-scale military exercises Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered while flying back from the South African Republic to Moscow. (Screen shot of a video of Zvezda TV channel).(RIA Novosti)
Paralleling the Russian war games in the Black Sea, the Russian Air Force held long-range flights across Russia. This included flights by Russian nuclear strategic bombers. On the other end of Eurasia, China also conducted its own surprise naval war games in the South China Sea. While the US and its allies portrayed the Chinese moves as a threat to Vietnam over disputed territory in the South China Sea, the timing of the naval deployment could be linked to either Syria (or North Korea) and coordinated with Russia to warn the US to keep the international peace.
In a sign of the decline of the American Empire, just before the Russian war games in the Black Sea, all the increasingly assertive BRICS leaders warned the US against any adventurism in Syria and other countries. The Russian and Chinese muscle flexing are messages that tell Washington that Beijing and Moscow are serious and mean what they say. At the same time, these events can be read as signs that the world-system is coming under new management.
|استمرار عودة اللاجئين السوريين الى بلادهم|
As a sign of his support for a political solution, Khatib recently suggested a televised debate with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Yet these types of suggestions are no longer viewed as litmus tests for the regime, like the time when Khatib called for the release of detainees from Syrian prisons prior to any negotiations.
He knew his requests would be rejected by the regime. A coalition member told Al-Akhbar that Khatib would often make impromptu suggestions “from outside the general consensus.”
Khatib is not a man of war and aspires for a solution to the Syrian crisis. He is busy knocking on doors and considers it a challenge. But he also believes it is a dead end, the coalition member added.
The majority of the coalition members have not commented on Khatib’s statements. They did not take their usual positions in front of the cameras and say monologues about how “Khatib’s initiative” is a personal one and that the coalition would meet to bring things back to normal.
After the latest “initiative,” the coalition did “bring things back to normal.” They met and decided that any call for dialogue can only happen through the general assembly.
It is unacceptable to enter negotiations unless their goal is a political transition to power, coalition member Hisham Mroue told Al-Akhbar.
However, Mroue believes that Khatib’s earlier proposal led to an important international breakthrough. It conveyed that the opposition could win the battle either politically or militarily, and that it is not afraid of dialogue.
Members of the coalition told Al-Akhbar that, though Khatib will officially end his duties on 11 May 2013, they will not disavow their president. “The remaining time does not warrant a political shock,” according to coalition member Khaled al-Nasser.
Khatib agreed to remain in his position while the coalition decides on another president. “It’s not worth it,” one of its members told Al-Akhbar. “He is only here for an additiona; one month and ten days.” Khatib’s pronouncements are, “by default,” more or less personal opinions, he explained.
However, Khatib “is the son of this revolution and we want him to remain with us, since the differences are not substantial,” he continued.
The National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change in Syria (NCC) praised his position on negotiations and his resignation.
An NCC official in Damascus said that the external opposition does not have any initiative, much like the regime. Both sides, in his opinion, are burning the political solution. He added that after witnessing 600 protests each Friday at the beginning of the revolution, they are now down to ten.
The forces who control the coalition want a Syrian Ahmad Chalabi, the NCC official added.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
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!
|Syrians dragging cart during their escape from the neighborhood of Sheikh Maksoud in Aleppo|
By: Mohammad Ballout Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon).
|اقرا المقال الأصلي باللغة العربية|
The pace of consultations within the coalition points to a lack of urgency in moving forward toward the next step of forming an “interim government,” following the appointment of Ghassan Hito as its head. The task of forming the government is hindered by an American and Qatari insistence on nominating people who would help restructure and expand its level of representation and legitimacy, so that posts and ministries are more equitably divided. It also awaits a Qatari-Saudi consensus on the manner in which Hito’s government would be run, and the nature of that government: technocratic or political.
The Saudis have put all their media and financial potential at the service of the Syrian opposition, with the aim of reducing Qatar’s monopoly over the opposition, to the point of encouraging and enlisting secularists in their fight with Doha. Furthermore, the Americans, in the last few days, have also requested that the formation process be put on hold, as a result of it becoming a great point of contention between the different political and military Syrian opposition factions.
The delay in forming the government is not solely caused by the lack of answers to these issues; the coalition itself, which is considered the reference point for the government, will not be able to survive much longer if the Qataris continue running it in the same confrontational manner they used to force the appointment of Ghassan Hito as prime minister, and them imposing, with the help of their Muslim Brotherhood allies, on the Syrian opposition.
Additionally, the faction that endorses the quick formation of a government and calls for the northern part of Syria to be put under its control is nothing more now than an effective minority alliance comprising the Brotherhood and Doha. The Qataris, along with the Mustafa Al-Sabbagh and Brotherhood blocs, now possess approximately 40 votes, giving them the majority needed to impose their will on the coalition.
The list of oppositionists is composed of various factions, the most important of which being the Unified Military Councils, which rejected Hito’s appointment, and still refuse to move forward in the formation of any government until the coalition is properly expanded. The president of the coalition, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, and his vice president, Riad Seif, are also among them, along with a group of nine who froze their memberships in the coalition. These include Kamal al-Labwani, Walid al-Bunni, Marwan Hajj Rifai and Mohammed al-Assi al-Jarba. But this group of people lacks a common vision on contentious issues.
While Khatib espouses a forceful, nationalistic discourse and possesses a great deal of independence, allowing him to revolt against the Qataris to the point of demanding that a negotiated settlement be reached [for the Syrian crisis], and criticizing Qatari meddling in the opposition’s affairs; he seems reluctant to translate his positions into a real break with the coalition, the Brotherhood and the Qataris. Such a break would free the opposition from their domination, allowing him to form an alliance with internal opposition factions that support a negotiated settlement.
The aforementioned list of dissenters also includes newcomers representing different sectarian and ethnic agendas, which is unheard of in the Syrian political scene. For, in the past few weeks, many factions, both Western and Arab, have strived to include representatives of sectarian communities in conferences held in Cairo and Istanbul, purportedly representing Alawite, Christian or Turkmen interests, so that they may be included in the coalition and increase its legitimacy.
This gathering of sects represents the Western perception of what a solution for Syria might be. That perception assumes that toppling the regime requires that minorities desert it, and those afraid be reassured, by giving them important roles to play inside the coalition, without that affecting the situation on the ground — at least in relation to the level of influence and power that each of them would possess based on the assumptions being made at the British, French and American foreign ministries. Those supervising the Syrian issue at all three ministries have believed, ever since they created the coalition, that giving it legitimacy requires the inclusion of religious sects and minorities in its makeup. This notion was clearly expressed by former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, when she criticized and proclaimed the death of the National Council for its failure to attract minorities.
Opponents of Qatari and Brotherhood domination have no avenue but to try and infiltrate the coalition, overwhelming it from the inside with a new opposition bloc formed of minorities, women and representatives of civil society, while betting on those groups’ intrinsic animosity toward the Brotherhood. It is worth noting, however, that the Brotherhood was the first group to exploit political piety and hide behind secular facades such as Burhan Ghalioun, or Christian ones such as Georges Sabra, allowing them to assume the presidency of the National Council. As a result, those trying to contain the Brotherhood espoused the slogan of expanding the coalition and raising its membership from 66 to 100, thus putting on the back burner the issue of the formation of the government in order to prevent the Brotherhood from spreading its political and administrative control over the areas that would be administered by such an interim government. This would result in those areas being transformed into a Brotherhood entity.
The opposition says that the Brotherhood couldn’t care less about Syria being partitioned. They cite the deputy head of the group, Mohammed Farouk Tayfour, who said that he backs the establishment of a state in northern Syria with Aleppo as its capital, and the administration of whatever land can be conquered, without waiting for a military takeover of Damascus.
One Syrian opposition figure attributed the current state of affairs to the conflict mutating from a revolution to a struggle for power. He said that the coalition’s stance seems to emanate from the probability that Syria will be indefinitely ruled by two different governments, or maybe even partitioned. He stated that the peril lies in the fact that it might be difficult to reunite the different ensuing states. He conveyed Khatib’s belief that the real danger was not in separating the country’s north from its south, but in the refusal of some regions controlled by the opposition to submit to the authority of any new government.
The Syrian coalition Ambassador in Qarar seeking renewal of his Passport at Syria Embassy in Abu DhabiApril 4, 2013
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!
Weekly information and analysis bulletin specialized in Arab Middle Eastern affairs prepared by neworientnews.com
Editor in chief Wassim Raad
New Orient Center for Strategic policies
US meddling in Lebanon
By Ghaleb Kandil
The resignation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati is mainly due to the positions of the United States and the West vis-à-vis the Lebanese internal balance and its relationship with the new electoral law. This is a response to 8-March and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), which torpedoed the 1960 Act by preventing the formation of the Supervisory Commission elections.
The United States ambassador, Maura Connelly, gave the kickoff of escalation three weeks ago, insisting on the need to hold elections as scheduled, regardless of the electoral law.
Washington and the West are aware that any law other than that 1960 on will be subject to the determination of the Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai and General Michel Aoun to put an end to the injustice suffered by Christians in electoral matters since the Taif agreement. The U.S. and Western policy makers are convinced that the proportional electoral system and the Orthodox project (each community elects its own members) would put an end to the hegemony of their allies: a third of the seats would go to Sunni opponents of the Hariri clan; Christian representation would essentially goes to FPM. And if the blocks of the Lebanese Forces and Kataeb will increase, it will be at the expense of Christians elected on the lists of Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt.
The decline of the Western presence in Parliament will result in an automatic decline of its influence in the choice of the future President of the Republic, who is elected by the Chamber of Deputies.
All these issues are entangled with the determination of General Michel Aoun to reject all extension of the Parliament mandate, which expires in June, the President of the Republic mandate, which ends in May 2014.
Consultations for the selection of a new Prime Minister and for the formation of the next government are related to these political issues. Thus, despite discreet contacts made between the different political forces to try to reach acceptable scenario, the situation remains unclear. Political circles say that the Lebanese have to get used to the idea of a long period of current affairs government, as it is difficult for the various actors to reach agreement on a new electoral law. And if the American auxiliaries in Lebanon try to attempt a move on the ground, it will result in a new balance that will certainly not be in their favor.
U.S. limits and divides opposition
The latest developments have proved that the U.S. plan which is to mobilize and send terrorists in Syria and weapons to rebel groups has reached its peak. The decision of the Arab League arming terrorists has retroactive effect, which seeks to justify actions already undertaken. It is no longer a secret that 3500 tons of weapons, transported aboard 130 aircrafts were sent to Syria in the last three months. And despite all forms of support, Syrian opposition is undermined by divergences and traversed by outside influence. France-Press Agency sheds light on this aspect:
Divisions within the Syrian opposition have brought to light the extent of a regional struggle led to blows money, media propaganda and weapons between the Qatar-Turkey axis and Saudi Arabia, close to American politics. “Our people refuse any supervision. Regional and international disputes have complicated the situation”, said the president of the opposition coalition, Moaz Ahmed Al-Khatib, in a speech to the Arab summit in Doha.
Simultaneously, some 70 opposition figures denounced in a message to the Arab summit a policy of “exclusion” followed by the Coalition, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, and a “scandalous Arab and regional hegemony ” on opposition, referring to Qatar.
“There is a struggle between two main axis that do not represent the entire opposition but are essential for material aid and military aids. Qatar/Turkey axis supports the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudi axis in harmony with the United States”, said Ziad Majed, a political science professor at the American University of Paris. “This has an impact on the internal composition of the political opposition and the affiliation of various military groups”, he added.
At the meeting of the Coalition in Istanbul, the participants expressed their divisions between supporters and opponents of an “interim government” to manage the “liberated zones”.
Some critics have denounced Ghassan Hitto, elected head of the government, as “Qatar’s candidate,” and others have suspended their group membership.
For Mr. Majed, “Saudi-American axis preferred to postpone the formation of the interim government and the axis Qatar/Turkey wanted to form it quickly and would have pushed to choose Hitto.”
The rivalry between the rich oil monarchies of the Gulf and neighboring Turkey, seeking a regional power, is also reflected in the military.
After the meeting in Istanbul, Riyadh has hinted that it was “unhappy with the choice of Hitto, leading the Free Syrian Army (SLA) to reject this choice”, told AFP an opponent who requested the anonymity.
Daraya rebel fighters in the province of Damascus tell AFP that because the lack of arms and ammunition, they were on the verge of losing the city, besieged by the regime for more than three months. But, says one of them, “when Mr. Khatib made his offer of dialogue with the regime, weapons flowed quickly. This means that the weapons were stored at the border”.
According to an Arab specialist, weapons sent by Qatar are arriving to groups close to the Muslim Brotherhood via Turkey.
However, he adds, the Saudis prefer to fund and arm the military councils led by army dissidents “for fear of the increasing role of radical Islamists”, an approach supported by the United States. Saudi deliveries now arrive by the Jordanian border.
As for Salafi, including Al-Nosra Front they are funded based NGOs including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, according to the specialist on Syria, who does not want to be named.
Regional rivalry is also played in the media, especially television Al-Jazeera in Qatar and Al-Arabiya, a Saudi-owned chain, competing to provide a forum for various opposition groups (AFP).
Michel Sleiman, Lebanese president
«We agreed with Patriarch Rai that elections should be held as scheduled at any price. The duty of government is to organize elections, to ensure peace and security in Lebanon and reduce the impact of the Syrian crisis on the country. Most Lebanese do not want the 1960 Electoral Act, but all the Lebanese want the elections to take place on time. Not organizing elections is a great sin and come to a political vacuum is a mortal sin. I will not sign the extension of Parliament mandate. Political parties are responsible for the current situation. They must agree on a new electoral law as soon as possible.»
Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president
«I called Brics leaders to work together to stop immediately the violence in Syria to ensure the success of the political solution. This requires a clear international commitment to dry up the sources of terrorism, to stop its funding and its equipment. You who seek to bring peace, security and justice in today’s troubled world, put all your efforts to stop the suffering of the Syrian people, caused by unfair economic sanctions, contrary to international law, and which affect directly the lives and daily needs of our citizens. I express the desire of the Syrian people to work with Brics countries as a force just trying to bring peace, security and cooperation between countries, away from the hegemony and injustice imposed on our peoples and our nations for decades.»
Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement
«The Electoral Orthodox project is the only legitimate one. This is our only chance to ensure a fair and balanced representation of the Christian community. The Taif Agreement provides a balanced representation of all communities. Lebanon has already gone through a similar situation. We want a new electoral law before the formation of a new government, it is our priority. Mikati did his best and he was very cooperative. I would participate in a meeting of the dialogue if the discussion focuses on the electoral law. »
Samir Geagea, Leader of the Lebanese Forces
«One government can save Lebanon, a government formed from Mars-14 personalities and centrists. Thus, we could adopt a new electoral law in Parliament. Hezbollah has tried his luck in trying to govern, and then we were opponents. He should do the same today. The proposal to form a national unity government is not possible.»
Sergei Lavrov, Russian minister of Foreign Affairs
«We received with deep regret the outcome of the Arab League summit in the capital of Qatar. Decisions adopted at Doha mean that the League has waived the peaceful solution. Recognizing the Syrian opposition coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people destroyed all settlement efforts, including Arab League. The mediator of the UN and the League for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will no longer pursue its mission. There will be no possible negotiation between the government and the opposition in Syria, I really do not see how Mr. Brahimi will be able to fulfill its mandate as a mediator.»
François Hollande, French president
«Paris will not send any weapons to the Syrian opposition fighters until it has a tangible proof that these weapons will not fall in the hands of any terrorist group.»
Ø A British report indicates that hundreds of Muslims, with British, French and other countries of the European Union passports, are participating in hostilities in Syria in the ranks of radical groups, and may return to Europe. According to the document, the radical extremists are able to carry out terrorist attacks and acts of sabotage. “It would be foolish to believe that radical Islamists decide one day that Europeans are their friends, says Sergei Demidenko, a Russian political analyst. The West will always be their potential target”. Sources give different figures – from 3-10000 mercenaries. All agree that they are part of al-Nosra Front linked to Al-Qaeda.
Ø A delegation of national and Islamic parties, led by the head of international relations at Hezbollah, Ammar Moussawi, visited China at the invitation of the Chinese Association for International Understanding. The members of the delegation met with officials of the Chinese Communist Party and parliamentary personalities.
Ø Turkey has expelled hundreds of Syrians refugees after clashes with military police, said a Turkish official. “These people were involved in violence. They were seen by surveillance cameras in the camp”, the official said. “From 600 to 700 people were expelled. Security forces continue to review video footage and if they discover other people, they will be deported”, he added.
As Safir (Lebanese daily, close to the majority, March 29, 2013)
Dialogue between the President of the Chamber, Nabih Berry, and the head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Michel Aoun is blocked due to differences relating to the convening of a Parliament plenary to vote the electoral law and the extension of the mandate of the security institutions. Hezbollah has not lost hope. In a final attempt, the political assistant of the secretary general of Hezbollah, Hajj Hussein Khalil, met with president Nabih Berry in the presence of Minister Ali Hassan Khalil. There were reports of a possible intervention of Marada leader, MP Sleiman Franjieh, to mediate between the two ” forced allies.”
The last hours of consultations show that the former prime minister, Saad Hariri, has not yet decided over the issue of his candidacy to succeed Najib Mikati, although Saudi Arabia is not enthusiastic about the idea, while Qatar, Turkey and Britain, as well as other capitals, would support the continuation of the outgoing Prime Minister. The position of these countries aroused reserves of the Future Movement who believes that if we had a process of elimination, it should start with the name of Mikati which should be deleted of the list of potential prime ministers, because the “man is undesirable.”
At this point, MP Walid Jumblatt is embarrassed after he had provided guarantees to President Nabih Berry and Hezbollah. The leader of the Progressive Socialist Party now arises the following questions: How will I do if Saad Hariri is a candidate? Can I deceive him again? What price should I pay? What will be my attitude if he proposes another candidate? How do I act with Najib Mikati to whom I promised to stay with him? Could I disappoint Hezbollah and Nabih Berry in consultations for the choice of prime minister?
An Nahar (Lebanese Daily, close to march-14 coalition)
Sabine Oueiss (March 25, 2013)
The Syrian crisis will worsen and pressure against Hezbollah will intensify. Which would have deprived the Lebanese government of the international recognition, under the pretext that the distinction is no more possible between its president and the Hezbollah. As well as the assumption that the government is guaranteeing the stability of Lebanon lapses, especially that Lebanon is in the eye of the Syrian storm and warnings about the need to keep it away from this crisis are now ineffective. At the same time, the countdown began for constitutional deadlines.
Najib Mikati’s resignation is a way out for all, including Hezbollah. A current affairs government, where the minister is the only master on board of his ministry, is preferable to an cabinet that has become a burden for the party, especially since it lost productivity and became the hostage of external commitments of the Prime Minister.
Government sources give a reading at the post-resignation. They said the resignation came at the right time after the government had reached the limit of what he could do and that the need for change has become more urgent. The slogans of yesterday are no longer valid.
These sources draw the following scenario: In a first step, Najib Mikati is reappointed as prime minister after parliamentary consultations. Then the Speaker Nabih Berry convene a parliamentary session to discuss the electoral law. In the proposed agenda are the Orthodox project and other drafts. Consultations for the formation of the government will take time and go through shocks.
Al Akhbar (Lebanese Daily close to the Resistance, March 29, 2013)
To get to the Sayyida Zainab shrine from central Damascus, one must take the Airport Road. Until recently, this route was considered too dangerous because of flying rebel roadblocks and falling mortar shells. Yet following an army offensive into the capital’s suburbs, access has become easier.
Once you pass the army checkpoints and fortified military positions, you are almost to the gold-domed shrine that is the burial place of Zainab Bint-Ali, granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad and a revered figure for Shia Muslims.
At the entrance to the nearby market is a checkpoint manned by members of the local Popular Committees. Once inside, the alleys are lined with signs in Farsi. Many of the shops cater to the busloads of Iranian pilgrims who used to make pilgrimages to this area on the southern outskirts of Damascus.
In the market, business does not seem booming. Trade has dwindled since pilgrims have become targets of kidnappers. Unsold goods are piled up in the stores. Most shops display portraits of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah alongside Bashar al-Assad. Shia religious slogans are plastered on all surfaces. Banners call for the shrine to be defended until martyrdom.
To enter the actual shrine, you must first undergo a search conducted by the Abul-Fadl al-Abbas Brigade, the main protectors of the site. Young men, their badges identifying them as members, smile before searching visitors, and apologize to them afterwards, explaining that it is due to the security situation.
Inside, calm prevails. Three young boys converse in a language that turns out to be Baluchi. They have come from Pakistan with their parents to visit the shrine, explained their father Hassan. His niqab-covered wife refused to speak, but when asked why they chose to make the journey at this time, Hassan explained that he made a vow and is fulfilling it.
Elsewhere, a man in his sixties from Bint Jbeil, Lebanon clasped the silver lattice-work that encloses Zainab’s tomb. He kissed it and recited religious entreaties for the well-being of his family, he said, and for Syria to overcome its crisis.
Barely half a kilometer to the west of the shrine lies the small village of Jiera, where rebel groups operate. They sometimes trade fire with members of the Abul-Fadl al-Abbas Brigade, mostly at night. Recently the gunmen have become less active thanks to the brigade, and the area has become relatively safer, but not entirely.
When the muezzin belts out the call to prayer, the shrine is transformed into a beehive. It is as though the entire neighborhood has congregated. At nightfall, the shrine is locked, security is heightened, and the adjoining streets become a virtual military zone. Brigade members are deployed in substantial numbers since clashes occasionally break out.
One member explained that gunmen take advantage of the densely built-up neighborhoods to the west of the shrine to stage hit-and-run attacks and fire mortars. They are invariably beaten back, he said, and have failed to reach the shrine itself, although they managed to damage an outer wall with a mortar shell.
Al Akhbar (March 29, 2013)
With the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt has become Lebanon’s political kingmaker once again. He reveals to Al-Akhbar his conditions for the next government.
Walid Jumblatt rejects the idea that he has regained his role as a kingmaker, a figure who is able to both shape the next government and determine which election law will be adopted for the parliamentary elections. “I cannot accept any side being left out,” he says, suggesting that he does not plan to back a particular bloc as he did in 2011 with the previous government. “This is a very dangerous period.”
He’s pleased that Hezbollah is not pressuring him this time around, adding that the situation has changed since then, particularly when it comes to Syria. He maintains that Lebanon’s policy of dissociation from the crisis next door has collapsed, blaming Hezbollah, Lebanese Sunni armed groups, and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) of violating it.
So what do you think should be done? “The return to dialogue,” he answers. “We really should stay away from the kind of criticisms that the Future Movement directed against the National Dialogue Roundtable. We’ve made a lot of progress on how to benefit from Hezbollah’s arms in confronting the Israeli enemy, so let’s use it to get them out of Syria.”
He refuses to name his candidate to head up the next government, insisting that the selection be made collectively by the main political forces. If it is going to be a government of technocrats, as some are proposing, then he would name businessman and head of the Arab Chamber of Commerce Adnan Kassar.
Jumblatt denies reports that he had already proposed the return of Mikati to head up a national unity government. He reaches for a piece of paper on which he wrote his main conditions: a return to disassociation from the Syrian crisis, making sure Lebanon’s sources of wealth are not “controlled by destructive political forces,” and administrative reform.
His second condition stands out most. Jumblatt doesn’t want Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement to control the lucrative energy and telecom ministries as they have in previous governments, thus firing the first salvo in the ministerial selection process.
He insists that Mikati’s resignation had nothing to do with external pressures as many had suggested – “he was barred from appointing a first-category civil servant,” he says, referring to the refusal of the previous cabinet to endorse Mikati’s proposal to extend the term of the commander of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), Ashraf Rifi.
He refuses any quid pro quo between extending for Rifi and the new election law, particularly the Orthodox Gathering proposal which he strongly opposes, denouncing the Christian political leaders who are supporting it.
Jumblatt says categorically that his MPs will not participate in any parliamentary session that will consider the Orthodox law. He is only willing to consider what is being called a “mixed law” that combines both proportional and majority representation.
Al Akhbar (March 28, 2013)
The three Lebanese governments formed during President Michel Suleiman’s five-year term have all been forced into existence due to external pressures.
The 2008 Fouad Siniora government was the result of the Doha Agreement. The 2009 Saad Hariri government saw the light of day due to a Saudi-Syrian reconciliation. The 2011 Najib Mikati government emerged after the collapse of this regional understanding.
After Mikati’s recent resignation, however, it is unclear what circumstances will force the formation of a new government, particularly given the fact that the constitution does not impose time limits on either the president to name a new prime minister, or the prime minister to form a government.
It seems clear that most of the political parties, which are divided between March 8 and 14, are not in any rush to form a new cabinet for a variety of reasons.
First, the president prefers to wait until the contending political forces come to some sort of agreement on the shape and role of the new government before initiating consultations to name a prime minister.
It doesn’t matter that there is a majority that supports a particular candidate – without the agreement of both March 8 and 14, the new prime minister will hit a wall and be forced to step down.
Since the Taif Agreement, presidents have generally moved rather quickly to name a prime minister as soon as a government collapsed. Suleiman has decided to break this practice this time around, particularly as the political parties have come to play a role in the formation of recent governments that is equal to the designated prime minister.
Second, given that the preparations for parliamentary elections are due to begin on April 20 (two months before its term expires), no prime minister alone is capable of dealing with the contradictory demands that will be placed on any new government. The likely result will be an extension for parliament before the formation of a new government.
Third, both March 8 and 14 will not rush the formation of a government before determining what role it is meant to play internally and externally, in addition to what their position will be within it.
It is telling that neither side has put forward any names despite the fact that it has become customary since the time of Syrian rule to designate a prime minister almost immediately before or after the government resigns.
Even if a cabinet is formed, it cannot last long as it will expire with the onset of the March 2014 presidential elections, thus making any new government a transitional one at best.
Fourth, both sides are now dealing with Mikati’s resignation cooly after some initial negative reactions from March 8 and celebration on the part of March 14.
His resignation does not appear to have changed the balance of power between the majority and minority in parliament. Rather, it appears that there will be two large minority blocs – March 8 and 14 – with a much smaller group of MPs headed by Mikati, and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt standing in the middle.
Al Akhbar (March 27, 2013)
Suddenly, the Arabs became men. They awoke to the fact that they possess military capabilities ready for use. But where? In an Arab land. And against whom? An Arab people. Their rationale is that there are killings and death in Syria. They decided that the culprit is a segment of the Syrian population, and it must be fought with every means at their disposal.
Suddenly, the Arabs became men. But instead of feeling disgraced by the constant sight of death in Palestine, they decided to kick up as much dust as possible in the name of Palestinian reconciliation. They resolved to hold summits to ensure Palestinian reconciliation. They hope the dust-cloud will be thick enough to conceal their big crime in Syria. Suddenly, the Arabs have all been exposed. There are no major countries left in the Arab world.
In Egypt, the government is busy ingratiating itself with the whole world in search of loans to exchange for what is left of the public sector. Algeria faces daily threats of it being added to the list of Arab countries in urgent need of an Arab Spring.
There is no need to even mention Tunisia, Libya, or Yemen. They have become centers for the production of terrorist groups to fight beyond their borders, while takfiris terrorize the folks back home.
In Lebanon, all contracted services are being delivered on demand. The government resigns, and courts chaos and civil war, to keep the plunderers of Arab wealth happy.
In Jordan, meanwhile, they are told they have two choices: civil war, or signing up for the global alliance against the Syrian regime.
As for Palestine, it can continue to be ignored, as there’s no tragedy there that merits action.
This has left the institution of the Arab League under the control of the madmen of the Gulf, and transformed Qatar, from one moment to the next, into a megalomaniac that thinks it is the leader of the Arab nation.
Thus, without shame, Qatar wants to persuade the world that the cause of Syria is top priority. They want to persuade us that they are qualified to champion a people, while they shackle their own peoples, and their wretched ruling families indulge in the theft of an entire nation’s resources.
America’s Gulf clients found that Palestine warrants no more than a few million dollars and some reconciliation efforts. They have never heard of a popular uprising going on in Bahrain for the past two years. And they certainly face no protests at home for a fair distribution of wealth. All that really troubles them is Syria.
Once again, these people seem confident that they are all-powerful. They are equally confident that American and Western armies will forever protect them..
The one thing that preoccupies them is an obsession that has become very personal. What they worry about the most is being caught vulnerable as they stand transfixed before their TV screens, waiting for just one item of news: the announcement that Bashar al-Assad has fallen.
Al Akhbar (March 28, 2013)
An Israeli decision to transfer its military brigades from the Syrian border to the Lebanese suggests that Israel is preparing for a new war in the north.
Israeli military sources told Haaretz that war exercises are currently focused on its northern front. With a Syrian army weakened, claimed Haaretz, the Lebanese border preparations are informed by a “redefinition of the real threat represented currently in Hezbollah.”
The newspaper reported that Yair Golan, head of the Israeli Northern Command, has stressed the need to work on dismantling the aura that has developed around Hezbollah in order to highlight the possibility of its defeat in the next war.
Golan emphasized that Hezbollah is creating a strategic balance with Israel and “part of it is trying to get surface-to-sea missiles to eliminate our naval superiority, surface-to-air missiles to eliminate our aerial supremacy, and perhaps even trying to acquire chemical weapons to eliminate Israel’s supreme strategic capabilities.”
Golan pointed out that “the pressure faced by Hezbollah as a result of Syria’s disintegration is quite evident and it is expressed not only through its support for Assad, but also through developments in Lebanon.”
Golan said, “It is believed that instability in this country will further take root, but that Hezbollah will succeed in facing it with Iran’s help. I have a feeling that Hezbollah will overcome this challenge, but its control over Lebanon will be more obvious than before.”
This, according to Golan, means that “we will have a Hezbollah state, but it will be behind the Alawite state expected to emerge in Syria. In other words, Iran is here.”
AL Joumhouria (Lebanese daily, close to March 14 Coalition) (March 27, 2013)
Military sources reported that the plan of the army to control the situation on the ground in Tripoli is still in force, but a possible explosion is not excluded. These sources mention a well studied plan by the militia, including Salafists and supporters of the Free Syrian Army to transform the city into a center for operation and logistics.
The same sources added that Al-Qaeda, in cooperation with the Salafists in Tripoli, want a sanctuary. The organization works to route militants from Syria, Mali, Iraq, Sudan and Jordan towards Lebanon. To ensure the success of his plan, the Emir of Al-Qaeda in Lebanon, Houssam Sabbagh, strives to undergo brainwashing to Sunni sheikhs in the city, and pushes them to proclaim an Islamic emirate in Tripoli. This option had been already considered by the Group of Mohammad Zein al-Abidine Ben Nayef Ben Srour, who arrived in Lebanon on the eve of Nahr al-Bared war, in 2007.
Military sources add: “The Srour affiliated groups are present today in the streets of Tripoli. They include Libyans, Algerians, Syrians, Kuwaitis and Palestinians. They coordinate their action directly with Houssam Sabbagh and Kuwaiti Yaacoub Choummari. Their goal is to create a broad Salafi Religious Council, which attract other Salafist groups to unify the gun and put the Salafist plan to proclaim an Islamic emirate in North Lebanon. In addition to the religious council, these groups want to form a council of war.”
The Lebanese security services are aware of these plans and know that these ideas are deeply rooted in the minds of Salafists and their supporters.
Yediot Aharonot (Israeli Daily, March 29, 2013)
According to former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit (1989-1996), Qatar played a “historic role in Israel’s favor larger than Great Britain.” Referring to the role of Doha in the implementation of policies of the United States and Israel in the Middle East, Shavit added that the services rendered by the Qatar to Tel Aviv are “more decisive than the services rendered to Israel for many years in other countries. “
According to former Mossad chief, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, had always sided with the U.S. and “Israel” in regional issues. “The foreign policy of Qatar as Arab political lever in Tel Aviv and Washington,” said Shavit.
Haaretz (Israeli Daily, March 30, 2013)
Home Front Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Eisenberg expected for future conflict between Israel and Hezbollah that the latter will rain down 10 more times rockets than those dropped on the central of Israel during July war. “Hezbollah is able today to rain down on the central of Israel 10 more times rockets than those dropped in 2006. It will be massive rockets and missile fire”, Eisenberg said. “Before 2006, Hezbollah was able to launch 500 rockets but this did not happen because Israel destroyed the rockets during the war first nights”, he pointed out.
“Now Hezbollah has around 5 thousand rockets, of 300kgs to 880kgs. First days will be very difficult and I am preparing myself for a scenario when the interior front will be rained down by more than one thousand rockets every day”, he added.
However, Eisenberg considered that Israel is not looking for such military confrontation. “This war is useless also for the second party and Israel’s know how to harm widely its enemy, far much more than the latter could do thanks to our Air weapons”, he stated.
Ria Novosti (Russian press Agency, March 30, 2013)
The Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday posted a statement on its website slamming the US State Department’s stated intent to continue funding non-governmental organizations in Russia as “interfering.”
“We view the declaration made by the official representative of the State Department, Victoria Nuland, that the United States will continue financing individual NGOs within Russia via intermediaries in third countries, bypassing Russian law, as open interference in our internal affairs” the statements reads.
This statement responds to comments Nuland made during Thursday’s State Department presse briefing in which she highlighted US concern that the latest wave of spot-checks on NGOs in Russia was “some kind of witch hunt.” The Russian Foreign Ministry statement singles out the use of that term in particular as “nothing other than cynical and provocative.”
On Thursday, Nuland also said “we are providing funding through platforms outside of Russia for those organizations that continue to want to work with us, understanding that they have to report that work now to their own government.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry criticized Nuland as inciting Russian NGOs and public bodies to violate Russian regulations.
On Thursday, President Vladimir Putin warned the Kremlin’s human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin that the raids should be monitored to ensure there were no “excesses” by the officials carrying out these spot checks.
Earlier this week, Russian NGO Agora, which has provided legal support to numerous political activists and which itself was also subject to a spot check, said that this latest wave of inspections has affected over 80 organizations across Russia.
Reuters (British press agency, March 30, 2013)
Saudi Arabia may try to end anonymity for Twitter users in the country by limiting access to the site to people who register their identification documents, the Arab News daily reported on Saturday.
Last week, local media reported the government had asked telecom companies to look at ways they could monitor, or block, free internet phone services such as Skype.
Twitter is highly popular with Saudis and has stirred broad debate on subjects ranging from religion to politics in a country where such public discussion had been considered at best unseemly and sometimes illegal.
Early this month, the security spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s Interior Ministry described social networking, particularly Twitter, as a tool used by militants to stir social unrest.
The country’s Grand Mufti, Saudi Arabia’s top cleric, last week described users of the microblogging site as “clowns” wasting time with frivolous and even harmful discussions, local newspapers reported.
“A source at (the regulator) described the move as a natural result of the successful implementation of (its) decision to add a user’s identification numbers while topping up mobile phone credit,” Arab News reported.
That would not necessarily make a user’s identity visible to other users of the site, but it would mean the Saudi government could monitor the tweets of individual Saudis.
The English-language news outlet did not explain how the authorities might be able to restrict ability to post on Twitter. The newspaper belongs to a publishing group owned by the ruling family and run by a son of Crown Prince Salman.
Internet service providers are legally obliged to block websites showing content deemed pornographic.
One of the big investors in Twitter is Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of King Abdullah who also holds significant stakes in Citi Group, News Corp and Apple through his Kingdom Holding Company.
The country’s telecom regulator, Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) did not immediately responded to requests for comment on the report. Last week it did not comment on the report it was seeking to restrict Skype use.
A spokeswoman for Kingdom Holding said Prince Alwaleed was not available to comment.
“There are people who misuse the social networking and try to send false information and false evaluation of the situation in the kingdom and the way the policemen in the kingdom are dealing with these situations,” said Major General Mansour Turki, the security spokesman, at a news conference on March 8.
In a separate interview with Reuters this month, Turki argued that a small number of supporters of al-Qaeda and activists from Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority used social media to stir wider sympathy for their goals and social unrest.
Two weeks ago one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent clerics, Salman al-Awdah, who has 2.4 million followers on the site, used Twitter to attack the government’s security policy as too harsh and call for better services. He warned it might otherwise face “the spark of violence.” Two leading Saudi human rights activists were sentenced to long prison terms this month for a variety of offenses including “internet crimes” because they had used Twitter and other sites to attack the government.
Some top princes in the monarchy now use Twitter themselves and Crown Prince Salman, King Abdullah’s designated heir and also defense minister, recently opened an official account
By Daniel Mabsout,
This goat called Ma’az al Khatib working for the prince of Qatar in the coalition of the opposition is known for not changing his trousers without consulting the US administration . This person has lately come up with the idea , or probably has been fed the idea, of debating the president of Syria Bashshar al Assad openly and directly in Syria itself if not elsewhere .
This person who is on the payroll of Gulf princes has been drawn by his ear by his master-the prince of Qatar- to attend the 24th Conference of the Arab League in order to occupy Syria’s chair in the conference. The troll called Ma’az al Khatib has been threatened that- if he does not do so- everything about his finances will be revealed , as well as other money scandals related to him .
Too bad that the goat -who is supposed to be a respectable Sheikh- feared the scandals and made us miss the opportunity to know more about his successful business . But scandal or no scandal, Ma’az al Khatib is a scandal by himself and like a goat – he seems to be an unstable person that jumps from place to place and cannot make up his mind whether what is happening in Syria is a revolution or a bloodbath or a foreign assault .
The goat has not figured out this yet and keeps alternating between one position and another for the reason that –having the misfortune of being self conscious- he wants to keep the image- that has been greatly damaged -of a clean honest person . But – unfortunately- keeping this image proved difficult and our troll is definitely short of ideas. In all cases, his fear from occupying Syria’s chair in the Arab League Conference seems justified since that he ended up thinking – after the conference -that he is a par to Bashshar al Assad if not Bashshar al Assad himself!
It is a well known fact- of course- that the goat -who gets his orders from the US administration- via the stooge of Qatar- cannot be on par with the ruler and the leader who is confronting the whole World Establishment and challenging the whole World Order with its stooges and mercenaries and thugs of whom Ma’az al Khatib is part. Therefore our troll has to get this truth into his head : that he is not a par to Bashshar al Assad and never will be, and that he is doomed to the condition of pet , this if he is lucky enough not to degenerate into something even lower…
And -as the image of the president Al Assad will shine with more intensity and glory – the image of the goat will continue its descent into the lower conditions of existence until it reaches its destiny in the dustbin of history …It is this much that money can buy Mister Ma’az
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
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