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Author Topic: Civil War in Syria  (Read 142041 times)
Frodo
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« on: November 12, 2011, 06:57:59 pm »

At least it's a start:

Syria suspended from Arab League

By Liz Sly, Updated: Saturday, November 12, 5:05 PM

BEIRUT — The Arab League approved on Saturday a sweeping package of measures censuring Syria, clearing the way for a significant escalation of international pressure against President Bashar al-Assad and deepening the isolation of his increasingly embattled government.

The 22-member regional body said it would suspend Syria’s membership, impose sanctions and seek U.N. help unless the Syrian government stops using violence to suppress the country’s eight-month-old uprising. At least 3,500 civilians have died in the crackdown, according to the United Nations.

The Arab League also summoned opposition leaders to a meeting within the next three days to formulate “a unified view of the coming transitional period,” offering the clearest indication yet the region is moving closer to the Obama administration position that he should step down.

The unexpectedly severe measures suggested that Arab states are already starting to plan for a post-Assad era. That will in turn increase pressure on other powers that have so far refrained from taking action against Syria, notably Russia, China and Turkey, opening the door to the kind of international consensus on Syria that the United States has been seeking to build, analysts said.
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Frodo
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« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2011, 02:00:55 pm »

How long will it be before the Arab League and the West decide to intervene?

Arab League approves sanctions against Syria

By Alice Fordham, Updated: Sunday, November 27, 11:06 AM

BEIRUT— The Arab League on Sunday overwhelmingly approved a series of economic sanctions against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including freezing the assets of senior figures, banning high-level Syrian officials from visiting Arab nations and ending dealings with the country’s central bank.

The decision is the first of its kind by a body which is often perceived as divided and indecisive, and some members are skeptical. Iraq, Lebanon and Algeria abstained from the vote.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Saturday that Iraq has “reservations” about sanctions and analysts doubt Iraq would implement them. And Lebanon, whose government is dominated by groups that support Assad, including the militant political group Hezbollah, also is unlikely to enforce the sanctions.

But the measures, announced in a press conference in Cairo by Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, could nonetheless have a significant impact on the Syrian government and business community, and represent a hardening stance of Arab countries against Assad.
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Frodo
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« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2011, 03:54:24 pm »

Why is everyone so lackadaisical about Syria as opposed to Libya for which we have at least 90 pages dedicated to it with almost constant updates?  Is it really that boring a topic?  Or is it because the United States isn't directly engaged (at least, not yet) with fighter jets assisting the Free Syrian Army?
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« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2011, 11:43:02 pm »

There is no oil in Syria.

Perhaps not, but getting rid of the Assad regime would further isolate the mullahs of Iran and leave terrorist groups like Hezbollah hanging in the wind and vulnerable to Lebanon (now freed of Syrian domination) and Israel.  I am sure both states would be more than happy to put Hezbollah in its place. 

That is my interest in the matter -geopolitical. 
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2011, 12:04:29 am »

There is no oil in Syria.

Perhaps not, but getting rid of the Assad regime would further isolate the mullahs of Iran and leave terrorist groups like Hezbollah hanging in the wind and vulnerable to Lebanon (now freed of Syrian domination) and Israel.  I am sure both states would be more than happy to put Hezbollah in its place.  

That is my interest in the matter -geopolitical.  

Personally I am terrified of the prospect of a bosnia-type situation emerging. Supporting any one side would likely just lead to ethnic conflict on an even wider scale. Also I am not so sure that toppling the Syrian gov. would be as easy as Libya (and that obviously took a good amount of time).

If the actions taken thus far by the Arab League are of any indication, it seems they have decided that the benefits of the ouster of the Assad regime in Syria outweigh the risks -significant though they are (and not to be taken lightly).  They are already planning for a post-Assad Syria through their interactions with the Syrian National Council.    
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« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2011, 10:30:35 pm »

Syria Risks ‘Full-Fledged Civil War’ Unless Assad Ends Crackdown, UN Says

By Jennifer M. Freedman and Massoud A. Derhally - Dec 2, 2011 8:22 AM ET

Syria risks being engulfed in a civil war unless President Bashar al-Assad’s government ends its crackdown on opposition protesters, said the top human-rights official of the United Nations.

“The Syrian authorities’ continual ruthless oppression, if not stopped now, can drive the country into a full-fledged civil war,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said at a special session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

More than 4,000 people have been killed since unrest began in mid-March, tens of thousands have been arrested and more than 14,000 are reported to be in detention, Pillay said today. She called for Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court and said the international community needs to take “urgent and effective” measures to protect the Syrian people.

The crackdown has continued even as other nations increase economic and political pressure on the Syrian government, which says it is fighting foreign conspirators, armed gangs and Islamists. Demonstrations against al-Assad’s leadership were inspired by the so-called Arab Spring movements that toppled leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2012, 10:19:32 pm »

Arab League calls on Syria’s Assad to step down

By Liz Sly, Sunday, January 22, 9:21 PM

DAMASCUS — The Arab League on Sunday called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to hand over power to his vice president under the terms of a transition plan similar to that which paved the way for the departure, hours earlier, of Yemen’s president for the United States.

The announcement of the plan at a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo signaled growing Arab frustration with Assad’s failure to implement the terms of a peace plan to which he agreed in November, and it offered the clearest indication yet that Arab states want him to step down.

The plan laid down a timetable under which negotiations with the opposition would begin in two weeks and a national unity government would be formed within two months. Assad would then leave office ahead of elections to be held within three months. It was not immediately clear which of two Syrian vice presidents, Farouk al-Shara or Najah al-Attar, would be expected to take over.

The Syrian National Council, the main Syrian opposition coalition, welcomed the initiative as a step toward Assad’s departure, the group’s leader, Burhan Ghalioun, told reporters in Cairo. Activists in Syria have repeatedly said, however, that they will not negotiate with Assad.
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« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2012, 10:46:04 pm »

So how long does everyone expect the regime to hold out before calling it quits?

Syrian uprising reaches the edge of Damascus

By Liz Sly, Sunday, January 29, 9:38 PM

DAMASCUS — The upheaval that has roiled much of Syria for the past 10 months is seeping its way into the heart of the country’s capital, puncturing the sense of invulnerability that had until recently sustained confidence in the government’s ability to survive the revolt.

On Sunday, security forces launched a major assault to reclaim suburbs just a short drive from the city center that had fallen under the sway of rebel soldiers fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army.

-snip-

With the crisis closing in on the capital, a siege mentality is starting to take hold. Roads leading out of Damascus no longer are deemed safe because of the threat of ambush, and stories of bandits stalking the hills surrounding the city further add to the anxiety.
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« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2012, 05:28:57 pm »

Well, this is a start:

At Meeting, Nations Move to Expand Aid for Syrian Rebels

By STEVEN LEE MYERS
Published: April 1, 2012

 
ISTANBUL — The United States and dozens of other countries moved closer on Sunday to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military, according to participants gathered here.

The moves reflected a growing consensus, at least among the officials who met here this weekend under the rubric “Friends of Syria,” that mediation efforts by the United Nations peace envoy, Kofi Annan, were failing to halt the violence in Syria and that more forceful action was needed. With Russia and China blocking measures that could open the way for military action by the United Nations, the countries lined up against the government of President Bashar al-Assad have sought to bolster Syria’s beleaguered opposition through means that seemed to stretch the definition of humanitarian assistance.

The offer to provide salaries and communications equipment to rebel fighters known as the Free Syrian Army — with the hopes that the money might encourage government soldiers to defect, officials said — is bringing the loose Friends of Syria coalition to the edge of a proxy war against Mr. Assad’s government and its international supporters, principally Iran and Russia.
-----------------------------------------------------

Perhaps in the not too distant future we can expand the aid to actual weapons...   
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« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2012, 07:18:45 pm »

This might eventually clear the way for a military intervention, assuming that this effort fails to stop the fighting:

U.N. Security Council authorizes team of up to 300 cease-fire observers in Syria

By Colum Lynch and Alice Fordham, Updated: Saturday, April 21, 3:13 PM

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council voted Saturday to establish a full-fledged U.N. mission, with up to 300 unarmed military observers and an unspecified number of civilian specialists, to monitor a shaky cease-fire between the Syrian government and armed opposition forces.

The newly minted U.N. Supervision Mission in Syria is set to reinforce a small advance team that began testing the nine-day-old cease-fire this week with visits to a handful of Syrian towns, including a trip Saturday to the city of Homs, the scene of a military crackdown in recent months.

The agreement marks a public show of unity among the United Nations’s fractious big powers in support of U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan for ending 13 months of deadly upheaval and clearing the way for a political settlement between President Bashar al-Assad’s government and a diverse array of armed and civilian opponents. The Security Council resolution authorizes the new mission for an initial 90 days but does not include a timetable for its deployment, leaving that decision to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

After the vote, Susan E. Rice, the United States’s U.N. ambassador, said that although the Obama administration supports the move, there should be “no illusions” that a small mission of U.N. observers will necessarily be capable of halting the Syrian crackdown and that the United States is prepared to pull the plug on it after 90 days if Syria does not comply with Annan’s peace plan.
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« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2012, 06:37:43 am »

The United States is finally moving to arm the rebels....

US poised to vet possible arms for Syrian rebels

By MATTHEW LEE
Associated Press


WASHINGTON —

As one diplomatic effort after another fails to end more than a year of brutal violence in Syria, the Obama administration is preparing a plan that would essentially give U.S. nods of approval to arms transfers from Arab nations to some Syrian opposition fighters.

The effort, U.S. officials told The Associated Press, would vet members of the Free Syrian Army and other groups to determine whether they are suitable recipients of munitions to fight the Assad government and to ensure that weapons don't wind up in the hands of al-Qaida-linked terrorists or other extremist groups such as Hezbollah that could target Israel.

The plan, which has not yet been finalized, reflects U.S. frustration that none of the previous efforts - including diplomatic rhetoric from the United Nations and the multinational Friends of Syria group, and special envoy Kofi Annan's plan for a cease-fire - has even begun to nudge President Bashar al-Assad from power. The vetting would be the first tiny step the U.S. has made toward ensuring that the Syrian opposition uses the weapons to fight Assad and not to turn it into a full sectarian conflict.

While some intelligence analysts worry that there may be no suitable recipients of lethal aid in the Syria conflict, the vetting plan has arisen as the least objectionable idea in a complicated situation.
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2012, 11:29:14 pm »

Here is an excellent opinion piece stating how Obama intervening in Syria would be to his advantage.  

Whatever your opinion on the merits of intervention in Syria, I have to admit President Obama has been anything but a leader on this issue, and his dithering doesn't exactly inspire confidence in his leadership.  
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« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2012, 06:05:51 pm »

It looks like the Free Syrian Army has benefited as this crisis has dragged on and on:

Syria rebels gaining ground, strength

By Liz Sly,

BEIRUT — An increasingly effective Syrian rebel force has been gaining ground in recent weeks, stepping up its attacks on government troops and expanding the area under its control even as world attention has been focused on pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to comply with a U.N. cease-fire.

The loosely organized Free Syrian Army now acknowledges that it is also no longer observing the truce, although rebel commanders insist they are launching attacks only to defend civilians in the wake of concerns generated by two recent massacres in which most of the 186 victims were women and children.

The rebels say they are acquiring access to ammunition and funding that had been in short supply a few months ago, streamlining their structures to improve coordination and steadily eroding the government’s capacity to control large swaths of the country.
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« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2012, 09:33:30 pm »


Have any mainstream news outlets picked this story up?  Because I have looked at the Washington Post and New York Times, and neither is carrying it.  Nor is Reuters.  Must be a non-conspiratorial reason why they haven't.  Perhaps the respectable publications doubt this story's veracity as I do. 
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« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2012, 01:01:44 pm »

I'm surprised this thread has been so quiet.

I made this observation before, and the answer is typically because -unlike with its more active Libyan counterpart- we have no skin in this game.  We don't (yet) have fighter pilots assisting the opposition.  Therefore people aren't as emotionally invested since American lives are not at risk.  We as Americans are merely spectators -not active participants.    
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« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2012, 12:44:38 pm »

Interesting map.  Can't totally vouch for its accuracy, but given the situation, it seems reasonably correct and lines up well with Aleppo being the major battle ground.



If Aleppo falls to the rebels, that would be a game-changer by setting off a domino-effect in the country that could ultimately leave the Assad regime isolated in pockets centered around Damascus and along the coast. 

Are there any indications that Aleppo is on the brink? 

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« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2012, 11:41:13 pm »

who should we support?

The rebels, certainly. These figures (to me) attract much more sympathy than the Libyan rebels, and we intervened militarily to support those.

I tentatively agree, although at this point I think the rebels should start to get serious about uniting and organizing themselves into a plausible alternative government now that it finally looks as if Bashar al-Assad's regime might be beginning to crumble.  Before today, I can understand why they didn't feel the urgency but since the lifespan of the regime is now being measured in weeks -not months- they need to quit procrastinating and get on to it.  Make it easier for the international community (and the United States) to lend its support to their cause. 
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« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2012, 10:38:06 pm »

It's official -the Obama administration is now focused on overthrowing Bashar al-Assad's regime

It's about time. 
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« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2012, 11:01:05 pm »

The regime is getting desperate -they are threatening to unleash the hounds of hell from their stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons if any foreign power intervenes on behalf of the rebels.
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« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2012, 05:39:46 pm »

Kofi Annan has just called it quits. 
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« Reply #20 on: August 05, 2012, 12:56:34 pm »

Found a nifty little map showing the distribution of the sectarian groups within Syria, as well as parts of surrounding countries, including Turkey and all of Lebanon:

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« Reply #21 on: August 06, 2012, 07:32:36 am »

More defections today, this time including the Prime Minister as well as other government officials.

I didn't realize that Christians actually constituted a plurality in any part of Syria; I just assumed they were an urban minority. Based on the map, the Christians might be more fortunate than I thought in that the areas in which they are predominant would most likely be absorbed into the Alawite rump state.

If the Alawites (and the Christians) elect to become part of Lebanon, the government there is going to want to consider renaming itself 'Phoenicia', considering just how much of the historical territory of ancient Phoenicia an extended Lebanon will cover:

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« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2012, 06:30:45 pm »

Any particular reason why the two of you are acting like jackasses?  Having a bad day, perhaps?  Tongue

Yes, I was overly optimistic regarding the demise of Bashar al-Assad's regime -but it looked justified at the time.  

Give it a rest.  
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« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2012, 12:10:39 pm »

Heeding concerns from the White House, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other Sunni Muslim countries in the region are scaling back aid from the Syrian rebels -particularly as it pertains to heavy weaponry- out of fear such weapons could end up in the hands of Sunni extremists -like Al Qaeda.  

Why is it we are happy to sit back while revolutions unseat pro-American dictatorships in the Middle East, but when it comes to Iran (circa 2009) and Syria (today) we suddenly get petrified of unintended consequences the moment it looks like those regimes we have long regarded as enemies could be on the precipice?  
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« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2012, 11:48:41 pm »

Romney seems to be of the same sentiment:

Quote
Mitt Romney declared on Monday the U.S. must join other nations in helping arm Syrian rebels to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, casting President Barack Obama's efforts as weak and part of a broader lack of leadership in the Middle East and around the globe.

Hoping to bolster his own foreign policy credentials, the Republican presidential challenger said he would identify and organize those in the Syrian opposition who share American values, then work with American allies to "ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat Assad's tanks, helicopters and fighter jets."

"It is essential that we develop influence with those forces in Syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the Middle East," Romney said.
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