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The Syrian Uprising & Bashar al-Assad

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  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    This is a thread about all things relating to The Syrian Uprising and Bashar al-Assad.


    I'll start with my understanding of the conflict and I definitely have a few questions as well.


    Okay.  This is a dense subject.  And, one that I'm just now seriously starting to really understand.  I am referring to the uprising in Syria, that is going on as we speak.

    From what I understand, the Syrian Uprise started late January of 2011, calling for the resignation of their President Bashar-al-Assad and an end to Ba'ath Party rule.  This is an internal conflict, a civil war.  It's being fought between the Syrian government-led army and common Syrian citizens alongside Syrian army defectors. 

    The citizens of Syria became increasing good at warfare and quickly formed their own make-shift army, dubbed the 'Free Syrian Army'.  Since the conflict began, thousands on both sides have died.  Hundreds of innocent women and children have been imprisoned and/or tortured.  It appears that the Syrian government is responsible for a majority of the senseless violence and killing.  However, the citizen led army also has much innocent blood on their hands.  Also, it's been reported that anywhere from 40,000 to 130,000 have fled Syria to take refuge in the neighboring countries of Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

    From what I can gather, this a conflict brought on by a corrupted Syrian government, initiated by a willing and able, angry citizenship protesting that they weren't going to stand for this kind of terrorist-like abuse any longer. 

    It's been said that the Uprisers (or citizens/defectors/etc) are mainly sectarian, or not necessarily banded together for religious or ideological reasons.  And, their opposition, their leaders and the Syrian government army are either largely Sunni Muslim or Shia Islam and Lebonese Hezbollah.

    Okay.  First, please, please correct me where I went wrong.  Because, I'm sure I did.  But, if I did not, let me get this straight:  The corrupt Syrian government with major influences from Sunni and Shia (Hezbollah) leaders is at war internally with their own citizenship, violenting protesting their government, while tens of thousands of the fray scatter out of the country?

    Is that a fair assestment?  Or is the citizenship also to blame?  Also, can someone please explain to me why Sunni and Shia are banded mostly together in the Syrian leadership roles?  I was under the impression Sunni and Shia were at serious odds.  But, perhaps that's just my Iraq cliff notes that I'm trying to apply to a completely different situation.  Someone please, if you can, enlighten me!
  • Independent
    Tennessee
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    OK, the reason you are confused is that you are buying into the official story, which is officially bullshit.

    http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2011/08/05/wikileaks-cables-the-us-strategy-to...

    "WikiLeaks Cables Show US Strategy for Regime Change in Syria

    As protests continue and the brutal crackdown on protests wears on, US State Embassy cables released by the media organization WikiLeaks provide a greater understanding of the Washington power politics that have led to this moment.

    For the past five to six years, the US policy toward Syria has used what could be called a two-pronged strategy to push for regime change. The US has supported “civil society” activists or external opposition organizations. It has also worked to delegitimize, destabilize and isolate the country through the application of sanctions and various other measures, which could be applied to exploit vulnerabilities.

    A cable from December 13, 2006, opens with the conclusion that the Syrian government has ended 2006 “in a position much stronger domestically and internationally than it did [in] 2005.” It features a collection of possible actions that could be taken to undermine the Assad regime.

    The vulnerabilities listed include: the Rafiq Hariri investigation and tribunal (Hariri was a Lebanese Prime Minister who was assassinated in a major car bombing); the alliance with Tehran; the regime’s “inner circle”; divisions in the military-security services; the corrupt Baathist elites; previous failures of reform; the economy; the Kurds; extremists and the “Khaddam factor” (Abdul Halim Khaddam is an exiled former Syrian Vice President, whose name appears in a number of the cables released thus far.)

    Some of the proposed actions for exploiting these vulnerabilities are outlined in the cable:

        ENCOURAGE RUMORS AND SIGNALS OF EXTERNAL PLOTTING:

        The regime is intensely sensitive to rumors about coup-plotting and restlessness in the security services and military.  Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with figures like Khaddam and Rifat Asad as a way of sending such signals, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards.  This again touches on this insular regime,s paranoia and increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction.

        THE KHADDAM FACTOR

        …We should continue to encourage the Saudis and others to allow Khaddam access to their media outlets, providing him with venues for airing the SARG,s dirty laundry.  We should anticipate an overreaction by the regime that will add to its isolation and alienation from its Arab neighbors…

        HIGHLIGHT KURDISH COMPLAINTS: Highlighting Kurdish complaints in public statements, including publicizing human rights abuses will exacerbate regime,s concerns about the Kurdish population.  Focus on economic hardship in Kurdish areas and the SARG,s long-standing refusal to offer citizenship to some 200,000 stateless Kurds.  This issue would need to be handled carefully, since giving the wrong kind of prominence to Kurdish issues in Syria could be a liability for our efforts at uniting the opposition, given Syrian (mostly Arab) civil society’s skepticism of Kurdish objectives.

        PLAY ON SUNNI FEARS OF IRANIAN INFLUENCE:  There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis.  Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business. Both the local Egyptian and Saudi missions here, (as well as prominent Syrian Sunni religious leaders), are giving increasing attention to the matter and we should coordinate more closely with their governments on ways to better publicize and focus regional attention on the issue."





    This is part of our overall strategy to destabilize the region, obviously in support of Israel's expansionist ambitions:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7e/BritishMandatePalestine1920....

    And some revisionist Zionists claim even more territory, from the Nile to the Euphrates.
  • Independent
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    Both sides are to blame for the problem...this "Arab Spring" is not the quest for freedom and rights that was touted when the uprising in Libya and Egypt started...it's ended up being a power struggle between exremist groups vying for political and thus religious control..in Syria you have influence and support both monetarily and weapons from Iran and Russia helping the regime (Russia was the main reason the U.N. could not pass a resolution to send in U.N. troops)while Hezbollah ,the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are the main players in opposition. I was reported that the syrian army had bombed an area killing many..when the footage was examined it was found out to be years old footage and never happened..both sides are looking for support from anywhere, and therein lies the danger
  • Independent
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    Here you go Schmidt, all your talk of the peaceful Muslims in egypt, your Arab Spring for democracy.....

    "Arab Spring" Egypt shuts down last Jewish synagogue

    Tolerance and pluralism in full flower in the new Muslim Brotherhood Egypt. "Egypt Shuts Down Last Jewish Synagogue," from the Jewish Press, September 1 (thanks to David):

    For the first time in 2,000 years, there will be no Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services at the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria in 5773, reports Daniel Greenfield in “In The Point.”

    This was the last active synagogue in Egypt. The Egyptian authorities’ excuse for the shut-down, effectively outlawing High Holiday services in the country, were “security” reasons.

    Levana Zamir, head of the International Association of Egyptian Jews in Israel, said: “It seems this is really the end of Jewish life in Egypt. The authorities have found a way to take over the last Jewish bastion, since all the remaining synagogues are already archaeological and tourist sites. It is very sad.”

    This is yet another example of the fact that Jewish life is becoming extinct in the Muslim world.

     

    Indeed. But remember, the real problem is "Islamophobia."

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  • Other Party
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    It is time that the Yanks stopped interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. I worked in Syria in 1980/81 abd the place was stable and the local people were friendly and happy with Assad (The father) They did have trouble with Muslim fundamentalists but they kept them under control. Now both the USA and the UK have been messing with the middle eastern countries and have helped to overthrow the dictators in many places, but what they do not seem to realise is that the governments are controlled by fudamentalists after the dictators are gone. In the long term we will all live to regret this, the ordinary people will suffer most at first. But when as a result of our meddling the whole of the middle east starts to resemble Iran we will all live to regret it and probably Israel will suffer the most.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Yes, I wrote in several of my blogs that the US often has no clue of the culture nor internal structure of most of the countries of the world. The attitude of "we know it all" because we have the CIA etc. does not mean that they know the underlying issues which may be from centuries back and rivalary in a lot of countries. By meddling in these countries and trying to push them in a US wanted direction often backfires. In this case the "ears" are way to absorband of the Israel lobby who also wants to push things in their direction and uses the US as a tool. Since there are a lot of "strings" to be controlled this slowly but surely becomes an situation under which the US has no longer a clear idea on how this will develop; because of our meddling the mood will be probably change many times and in the end there may be an anti American outcome. May be on the "face" of it, it could look positive because of may be financial promises and "money" for a few, like Libya. However the population who will likely never see anything of the promised "money" and therefore will not be on our hand, because they do not benefit from our "presents" in most cases
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    This is the latest news I've seen regarding Syria. -----------------------------

    At least 40 Syrian soldiers and several Iraqis have been killed in
    western Iraq, officials in Baghdad say.
    They were among a group who fled across the border into Iraq at the weekend to escape an attack by rebel fighters.
    They were being driven back to the border in Anbar province when they were attacked by gunmen, officials said.
    Inside Syria, opposition activists said rebels had overrun the northern city of Raqqa, in what would be one of their biggest victories of the conflict.
    Unverified video footage was posted online, showing a cheering crowd pulling down a statue of Hafez Assad, the previous president and father of the current President Bashar-al Assad.
    The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the rebels had "near-total control" of Raqqa after days of fierce fighting.
    A police chief was killed and two government security officials were detained, SOHR said.
    Opposition fighters already control suburbs of the capital, Damascus, and parts of other major cities such as Aleppo and Homs.
    Raqqa has been a refuge for hundreds of thousands of Syrians who fled the violence in other parts of the country; many others have fled to neighbouring countries.
    Some 70,000 people have died in the conflict which began with the uprising against President Assad's rule two years ago.
    'Near-total control'
    The group of Syrian soldiers and government employees had entered Iraq through the Yaarubiyeh border in the northern Nineveh province over the weekend, as anti-government rebels launched an attack on the area.

    They were being taken to the al-Waleed border crossing further south in Anbar when they were ambushed at Akashat, a senior Iraqi official told Reuters.
    "Gunmen set up an ambush and killed 40 of them, plus some Iraqi soldiers who were protecting the convoy," he added.
    The identity of the gunmen is not known.
    They appeared to have been well-prepared for the assault, having with them roadside bombs, automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, officials said.
    Iraq and Syria share a 600km (372 mile) border, and the government in Baghdad has often expressed concern that the violence in Syria could spill over into its own territory.
    Anbar is a province dominated by Sunni Muslims who have been protesting for more than two months against the Shia-led government they accuse of trying to marginalise them.
    The province has seen the formation of the Free Iraqi Army, a group openly supporting its fellow Sunnis in the rebel Free Syrian Army which is fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad, whose own Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shia Islam.
    A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister told AFP news agency that the attack in Anbar "confirms our fears of the attempt of some to move the conflict to Iraq", but, he added, "we will face these attempts by all sides with all of our power".
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    Reuters) - Syrian opposition fighters captured the northeastern city of Raqqa on Monday and crowds toppled a statue of President Bashar al-Assad's father, opposition sources and residents said.
    The fall of Raqqa on the Euphrates River would be a significant development in the two-year-old revolt against Assad. The rebels do not claim to hold any other provincial capitals.
    Rebel fighters said loyalist forces were still dug in at the provincial airport 60 km (40 miles) from Raqqa and they remained a threat. A resident said that a Syrian military intelligence compound in the town was not in rebel hands but was surrounded by anti-Assad fighters.
    On Monday the civil war burst into neighboring Iraq, where officials reported that gunmen had killed at least 40 Syrian soldiers and government employees as they headed home after fleeing a Syrian rebel advance last week.
    Around 65 Syrian soldiers and officials had handed themselves over to Iraqi authorities on Friday after rebels seized the Syrian side of the border crossing at the Syrian frontier town of Yaarabiya.
    Iraqi authorities were taking them to another border crossing further south in Iraq's Sunni Muslim stronghold, Anbar province, when gunmen ambushed their convoy, a senior Iraqi official told Reuters. No group has claimed responsibility.
    "The incident took place in Akashat when the convoy carrying the Syrian soldiers and employees was on its way to the al-Waleed border crossing," a senior Iraqi official told Reuters.
    "Gunmen set up an ambush and killed 40 of them, plus some Iraqi soldiers who were protecting the convoy."
    A member of Anbar's provincial council, Hikmat Suleiman Ayade, put the number of people killed at 61, including 14 Iraqis who were protecting the convoy.
    The ambush inside Iraq illustrates how Syria's conflict has the potential to spill over its borders and drag in neighbors.
    Iraq's Anbar province is experiencing renewed demonstrations by Sunnis against the government of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki over what they see as the marginalization of their minority and misuse of terrorism laws against them.
    Maliki boycotted Assad and pulled the Iraqi ambassador from Damascus before the Syrian revolt erupted in March 2011 for what he described as Syrian support for Sunni extremists and foreign jihadists responsible for deadly attacks on Shi'ite civilians.
    THREATS TO REGIONAL STABILITY
    But the Iranian-backed Iraqi premier has not sided with other Arab states backing the Sunni-led uprising in Syria, saying that the upheaval threatened regional stability.
    At the United Nations on Monday, Israel warned that it could not "stand idle" as the Syrian conflict spilled over borders. Israel's U.N. ambassador complained to the 15-member Security Council about shells from Syria landing in Israel.
    Syria's rebels are mostly Sunnis fighting to topple Assad's government, dominated by Alawites, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that has controlled Syria since the 1960s.
    Some 70,000 people have been killed in Syria and nearly a million have fled the country, the United Nations says.
    In what could be a new danger for the millions of Syrians who have fled their homes but remain inside the country, rebels pushed into Raqqa, a city known as the "hotel" of the country after thousands of displaced families fled there.
    Some residents of the northeastern city, home to half a million people, had pleaded with rebels not to enter Raqqa, fearing that Assad's war planes, artillery and missiles could target residential areas.
    "The fear now is that the regime will hit Scud missiles indiscriminately at Raqqa to punish the population," said Nawaf al-Ali, the Raqqa representative in the Syrian National Coalition, an umbrella of the main opposition groups.
    Video footage taken by opposition activists showed youths climbing on the Hafez al-Assad statue in Raqqa's central square and tying a rope around its head.
    "A crowd of hundreds braved the fighting and marched on the main square and took down the statue," said one of the residents, himself a refugee from the city of Deir al-Zor.
    One video showed rebels guarding the city's museum, housed in a French colonial era palace, which, along with the city's horseshoe shaped wall, give a glimpse of Raqqa's past.
    Raqqa, founded by Alexander the Great, once acted as a Byzantine front line against Persia. It was designated by Al-Mansour, the founder of the Abbasid empire, as the second Arab capital after Baghdad.
    It has long been in decline. A water crisis before the revolt resulted in the internal displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from Raqqa and the rest of Syria's east and prompted the United Nations to send food aid to the region.
    Assad's father, the late President Hafez al-Assad, who ruled Syria with an iron fist for 30 years, used a carrot and stick approach to build alliances between the ruling hierarchy and Sunni Muslim tribes in Raqqa and the neighboring province of Deir al-Zor. These alliances have broken down.
    NO GUARANTEE
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said the Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra and other rebel groups launched the offensive on Saturday and large parts of Raqqa were now under rebel control.
    Video footage posted on the Internet by rebel groups showed an abandoned prison in what they said was the centre of the city, 100 miles east of Aleppo.
    The Syrian National Council, a large bloc within the umbrella Syrian National Coalition, said the capture of Raqqa would prove "a decisive victory in the struggle for the downfall of the criminal Assad regime and to salvage Syria from the ugliest epoch in its history".
    Events in Raqqa were not confirmed by independent media, which are restricted in their access to combat zones.
    (Additional reporting by Oliver Holmes in Beirut, Kamal Naama in Anbar and Angus McDowall in Riyadh; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Stephen Powell)
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    I am confused as to what the U.S. wants. If Assad falls the Sunni take over and regional problems increase. Democracy is off the table. Hate to say it but the the Ruskies have it right this time.