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Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:29 am
by seemslikeadream
Exposed: The Arab Agenda in Syria

by Pepe Escobar / February 8th, 2012

Here’s a crash course on the “democratic” machinations of the Arab League – rather the GCC League, as real power in this pan-Arab organization is wielded by two of the six Persian Gulf monarchies composing the Gulf Cooperation Council, also known as Gulf Counter-revolution Club; Qatar and the House of Saud.

Essentially, the GCC created an Arab League group to monitor what’s going on in Syria. The Syrian National Council – based in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries Turkey and France – enthusiastically supported it. It’s telling that Syria’s neighbor Lebanon did not.

When the over 160 monitors, after one month of enquiries, issued their report … surprise! The report did not follow the official GCC line – which is that the “evil” Bashar al-Assad government is indiscriminately, and unilaterally, killing its own people, and so regime change is in order.

The Arab League’s Ministerial Committee had approved the report, with four votes in favor (Algeria, Egypt, Sudan and GCC member Oman) and only one against; guess who, Qatar – which is now presiding the Arab League because the emirate bought their (rotating) turn from the Palestinian Authority.

So the report was either ignored (by Western corporate media) or mercilessly destroyed – by Arab media, virtually all of it financed by either the House of Saud or Qatar. It was not even discussed – because it was prevented by the GCC from being translated from Arabic into English and published in the Arab League’s website.

Until it was leaked. Here it is, in full.

The report is adamant. There was no organized, lethal repression by the Syrian government against peaceful protesters. Instead, the report points to shady armed gangs as responsible for hundreds of deaths among Syrian civilians, and over one thousand among the Syrian army, using lethal tactics such as bombing of civilian buses, bombing of trains carrying diesel oil, bombing of police buses and bombing of bridges and pipelines.

Once again, the official NATOGCC version of Syria is of a popular uprising smashed by bullets and tanks. Instead, BRICS members Russia and China, and large swathes of the developing world see it as the Syrian government fighting heavily armed foreign mercenaries. The report largely confirms these suspicions.

The Syrian National Council is essentially a Muslim Brotherhood outfit affiliated with both the House of Saud and Qatar – with an uneasy Israel quietly supporting it in the background. Legitimacy is not exactly its cup of green tea. As for the Free Syrian Army, it does have its defectors, and well-meaning opponents of the Assad regime, but most of all is infested with these foreign mercenaries weaponized by the GCC, especially Salafist gangs.

Still NATOGCC, blocked from applying in Syria its one-size-fits-all model of promoting “democracy” by bombing a country and getting rid of the proverbial evil dictator, won’t be deterred. GCC leaders House of Saud and Qatar bluntly dismissed their own report and went straight to the meat of the matter; impose a NATOGCC regime change via the UN Security Council.

So the current “Arab-led drive to secure a peaceful end to the 10-month crackdown” in Syria at the UN is no less than a crude regime change drive. Usual suspects Washington, London and Paris have been forced to fall over themselves to assure the real international community this is not another mandate for NATO bombing – a la Libya. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described it as “a path for a political transition that would preserve Syria’s unity and institutions”.

But BRICS members Russia and China see it for what it is. Another BRICS member – India – alongside Pakistan and South Africa, have all raised serious objections to the NATOGCC-peddled draft UN resolution.

There won’t be another Libya-style no fly zone; after all the Assad regime is not exactly deploying Migs against civilians. A UN regime change resolution will be blocked – again – by Russia and China. Even NATOGCC is in disarray, as each block of players – Washington, Ankara, and the House of Saud-Doha duo – has a different long-term geopolitical agenda. Not to mention crucial Syrian neighbor and trading partner Iraq; Baghdad is on the record against any regime change scheme.

So here’s a suggestion to the House of Saud and Qatar; since you’re so seduced by the prospect of “democracy” in Syria, why don’t you use all your American weaponry and invade in the dead of night – like you did to Bahrain – and execute regime change by yourselves?

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:00 am
by Ben D
Wonder why it is that MSM and their journalists don't raise or question the apparent anomalous state of affairs of Al-Qaeda and US, UK, Israel, France, Saudi Arabia, etc., all in alliance against the Syria?

Or perhaps MSM understands that the citizens and politicians of US, Israel, UK, etc., aren't interested in these sorts of anomalies,.. sort what, big deal! :)

And then there is the angle of reestablishing the old 'base' teamwork that worked so well together in Afghanistan when CIA, Saudi, and Al-Qaeda kicked Soviet butt...I mean Al-Qaeda did 9/11 is just so yesterday...and water eventually must find its own level..

Al-Qaeda urges regime change in Syria

Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:40AM GMT

Al-Qaeda’s number one, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has called on anti-government elements in Syria to push for regime change in the country as the Arab League (AL) vows to boost support for the Syrian opposition.

In a video recording posted online on Sunday, the head of the terrorist group urged anti-regime groups in Syria to press ahead with their rebellion to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

He also called on other people in the Arab world to assist Syrian anti-government elements with all they can, their ‘life, money, opinion, as well as information.’

"Continue your revolt and anger,” he went on to say, asking the elements not to “rely on the West or the United States or Arab governments and Turkey" in their rebellion against Assad’s government.

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:14 am
by AlicetheKurious
It's not really anomalous, Ben D, if we widen our lens a bit. 'Al Qaeda' is a sock-puppet useful for providing excuses for US intervention when no other excuse is handy. The main target is Lebanon, not Syria.

A few years back, if you'll recall, 'Al Qaeda' was planted in northern Lebanon, specifically Tripoli, where there is a majority Sunni population, mostly desperately poor. The idea was to use 'Al Qaeda' to attack Hizbullah in order to provoke a Shi'a-Sunni civil war and to provide the US with a pretext for military intervention and the establishment of a US military base in Tripoli. Unemployed, poor young men were recruited into so-called "private security firms", paid handsomely in US dollars, armed, and taken to Jordan for paramilitary training to get things rolling.

At the time, the Lebanese government was headed by the US' and Saudi Arabia's stooges. Neither Hizbullah nor the Lebanese Army fell for it -- the plot was exposed, and evidence was presented that the US embassy and Jordan and Saudi Arabia and the US' "friends" in the Lebanese government had conspired to arm and train the 'Al Qaeda' fighters. Hizbullah stepped back and let the Lebanese Army crush the armed 'Al Qaeda' fighters in their stronghold.

Nevertheless, the Saudi influence there remains very strong, and Wahhabist fanaticism continues to be promoted among Tripoli's disenfranchized and poor, with a very heavy element of sectarian agitation and even armed attacks against Shi'ites. For years, under the protective influence of the Hariri-led faction, 'Al Qaeda' fighters have been recruited, armed and trained, both locally and in Jordan (there have also been reports of Sunni fighters receiving military training in Egypt under the Mubarak regime).

Make no mistake: Iran and Syria are only targeted because of Lebanon, which Israel desperately wants but cannot have because Lebanon has a very strong, very effective indigenous armed resistance, which is empowered by the support it receives from...Iran and Syria. The fact that the resistance is led by Hizbullah, which is Shi'ite, has inspired the zionists and their agents to promote a sectarian war between Sunnis and Shi'ites.

The situation in Syria represents yet another opportunity to dust off the old plan, and give it another shot. I predict, with tremendous sorrow and anger, that zionist machinations are pushing the long-suffering Lebanese into yet another dark tunnel, all because they happen to have what the zionists want.

I hope and pray that they will fail yet again, but it's just beginning now:

    First Published: 2012-02-12

    Tripoli residents pay bill of Syria crisis: Fierce clashes claim three lives

    Three people died, 23 were wounded during fierce clashes between Lebanese Sunnis hostile to Syria's regime, Alawites who support it.

    Middle East Online

    By Omar Ibrahim - TRIPOLI

    Three people died and 23 were wounded during fierce clashes on Saturday between Lebanese Sunni Muslims hostile to Syria's regime and Alawites who support it, a Lebanese security official said.

    "A Sunni and an Alawite were killed and 23 people were wounded in clashes that continued since Friday between people from the neighbourhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tebbaneh" in the northern city of Tripoli, the official said.

    A 17-year-old girl died of her wounds later.

    Ten soldiers were among those wounded in the fighting, among them a sergeant whose wounds were critical, the official added.

    The two sides fired guns and rocket-propelled grenades at each other in the bloodiest clashes since last June when six people were killed in the wake of demonstrations against the Syrian government.

    Sunni-majority Tripoli has in the past few years been the scene of intense clashes between Sunni supporters of the anti-Syrian opposition and Alawite Muslims loyal to a Hezbollah-led alliance backed by Iran and Syria.

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting an unprecedented revolt against his regime, is from the Alawite community, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

    The Lebanese army is deployed on the outskirts of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tebbaneh, namely near Syria Street which separates the rival neighbourhoods.

    Some residents have fled the area while those who stayed behind -- both Sunnis and Alawites -- said they are afraid that clashes will erupt anew while blaming the other side for the fighting.

    "I am paying the price of a war which is not mine," said Zeinab Yaghi, a 55-year-old Sunni Muslim mother of five whose house was hit in the crossfire.

    "I know nothing about politics but supporters of the Damascus regime are causing problems here," she said after fleeing her home with her children.

    One Sunni man who declined to be identified said "rockets have been raining down on us since yesterday (Friday)."

    "They are constantly provoking us and waving pictures of Bashar al-Assad," he said of his Alawite neighbours, adding however that he was not against the Alawites.

    Some Alawites also expressed concern, saying they were afraid for their lives.

    "We are afraid because there is a sectarian spin to things," said Khaled al-Ali, a taxi driver.

    "Since the crisis began in Syria we have been treated like foreigners. They provoke us all day long by staging anti-Alawite rallies," he said.

    "The imams in the mosques are setting the (Sunnis) against us in their sermons and we constantly receive threats saying we would be expelled from Tripoli if the regime in Syria falls," he added.

    The fighting erupted on Friday but subsided by Saturday afternoon after the army negotiated a truce between the two communities, officials said.

    "I could not care less what happens in Syria," said Mohammed Khaldiye, an Alawite.

    "I just want to live in peace with my neighbours, in my city" of Tripoli. Link

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:52 am
by Ben D
I see what you are saying Alice, it does make sense when one factors in the unrelenting pressure of the zionists to reestablish greater Israel (not sure if it ever existed historically but..)


I really think that there is so much that could go wrong with this push towards end game, that very soon if the point of no return is reached, the middle east is not the place to be, could be a time for one of those biblical "flee to the mountains" moments.

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:20 am
by AlicetheKurious
From a legal or rational point of view, the modern zionist state has no claim to anybody else's territory, regardless of whether the biblical account is accurate. After all, the Roman claim to London is much, much stronger on "historical" grounds, but nobody's recommending that the British should move out of their homes, factories and farmlands and give today's Romans all their stuff.

Anyway. It's true that the zionists have been trying since early last century to take over Lebanon, especially the part south of the Litani River (while another part would be reserved for a "Christian Maronite" statelet controlled by Israel), but now the stakes are even higher for the energy-starved, but super-militarized, colony:

Israel Eyes Lebanon's Offshore Gas Reserves

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:36 pm
by seemslikeadream
“As bloody as anything seen in Iraq between 2006 and 2007”
Syria: Slipping into Civil War
As Syrian army tanks mass around Homs and its artillery pounds Sunni districts of the city, Syria is slipping into the first stages of a sectarian civil war. This conflict could be as bloody as anything seen in Iraq between 2006 and 2007 or as long as the civil war in Lebanon (1975-90). The two words that best describe the current process in Syria are “Lebanization” and “militarization”; neither bodes well for Syria’s people.

In Homs, death squads from the Sunni and Alawi, the Shia sect that dominates Syria’s ruling elite, are starting to seek out victims from each other’s communities. Sunni say they are being massacred by shellfire; Alawi demand that their Sunni neighbours be bombarded even more heavily. Syria was never a homogenous country and is becoming less so by the day.

But that alone will not bring down the government of President Bashar al-Assad, so anti-government forces are concluding that the only way to do this is by militarizing the resistance. In practice, this is unlikely to do more than increase sectarian blood-letting. Untrained militias and Syrian army deserters cannot stop armored columns. Most probably insurgent leaders know this and their real intention is to do enough militarily to provide political cover for creeping international intervention on their side. This might be sold as a NATO -protected safe haven for insurgents and refugees in north-west Syria, but in fact would be a declaration of war.

Short of a serious split in the Syrian army, the opposition forces’ best chance of success is to lure outside powers into such a venture. They want a repeat performance of what happened in Libya. The rag-tag militiamen who finally captured Tripoli would have been beaten in a few days without close air support from NATO . But Syria is not Libya, its powerful armed forces have not yet disintegrated, and, most importantly, it is not isolated internationally to anything like the same degree as Gaddafi was.

Of course, international leaders know this. Their foreign and intelligence services will have told them how different the two countries are. Yet the example of Libya may have misled them into writing off Assad prematurely. Months ago, the Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, was saying Syria’s regime would go within weeks. King Abdullah II of Jordan said that, if he was Assad, he would step down, but later sounded as if he regretted his outspokenness. By December, the US State Department was saying that Assad was “a dead man walking”.

But it hasn’t happened. By any realistic calculation, Assad might well last into 2014. Glib references to his isolation are exaggerated. The vote on February 4 in the UN Security Council condemning him and asking him to turn over power to his deputy was vetoed by Russia and China. Moscow feels that it was swindled last year when the Security Council vote on protecting the civilians of Benghazi turned into permission for NATO to wage all-out war to overthrow Gaddafi.

What makes the crisis in Syria so intractable is that three crises are wrapped into one. At one level, it is a popular uprising against a brutal, corrupt police state that started in March when security forces tortured children painting anti-regime slogans on a wall in Deraa in the south. The state disastrously misjudged its moment and an atrocity, intended to intimidate would-be protesters into silence, instead provoked them to revolt. Hatred of a despotic regime and fury at repeated massacres still impels great numbers of Syrians to go into the streets to demonstrate despite the dangers.

There is no doubting their courage, but the struggle in which they are taking part has two other dimensions: it is part of the escalating conflict between Sunni and Shia and the 33-year-old battle between Iran and its enemies. The sectarianism of the Syrian opposition is persistently played down by the international media, but power in Syria is distributed along sectarian lines, just as it was in the recent past in Iraq, Lebanon and Ireland. Even supposing an anti-sectarian opposition, democracy in Syria means a loss of power for the Alawites and their allies and a gain for the Sunni.

Given that Sunni make up three-quarters of Syria’s 24 million population, their enfranchisement might appear to be no bad thing. Unfortunately, many of the government’s most committed opponents evidently have more fundamental changes in mind than a fairer distribution of power between communities. Core areas of the insurgency, where the Sunni are in the overwhelming majority, increasingly see Alawites, Shia and Christians as heretics to be eliminated.

Television reporting and much print journalism is skewed towards portraying an evil government oppressing a heroic people. Evidence that other forces may be at work is ignored. An example of this came on Friday when two suicide bombers struck security compounds in Aleppo, killing 28 people and wounding 235 others. The obvious explanation was that Sunni suicide bombers, mostly operating through al-Qa’ida in Mesopotamia, who have been attacking Shia-dominated security forces in Iraq, are now doing the same in Syria. But, fearing their moderate image might be tarnished, spokesmen for the opposition swiftly said that the suicide bombings were a cunning attempt by the Syrian security forces to discredit the opposition by blowing themselves up. The BBC, Al Jazeera and most newspapers happily gave uncritical coverage to opposition denials of responsibility or said it was an open question as to who was behind the bombings.

As in Libya last year, the rebels invariably get a positive press. The increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict is understated. Syria is rushing headlong into a conflict that will tear the country’s communities apart.

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:34 pm
by Ben D
Yes, that say something alright!
Russian UN Envoy Concerned With Embassies’ Closure in Syria

MOSCOW, February 16 (RIA Novosti)

The closure of European and Arab embassies in Damascus could mean possible preparations for a foreign military intervention in Syria, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said.

A number of countries have recalled their ambassadors and announced the closure of their embassies in Syria as a sign of a protest to President Bashar al-Assad’s continuing crackdown on protesters.

“Right now it is possibly not a refusal from a diplomatic solution to the problem, but could be a sign that they are preparing to unleash a larger conflict,” Churkin said in an interview with Russia’s NTV channel.

Churkin said he believes that is why some media reports say British and Qatari special task forces arrived in Syria.
The United States and other Western countries have demanded that Syrian President Assad step down and hand power over to the opposition.

And yes Alice...
Al-Qaeda vents anti-Syria anger

The development came as some in Lebanon suspect cooperation between al-Qaeda and the Western-backed March 14 Alliance, a Lebanese coalition, which has likewise expressed support for the overthrow of Assad’s government.

Lebanon is not known as an al-Qaeda hub. The group, however, is believed to have been maintaining a presence in the country particularly after Syria began facing unrest last year.

“A group of people, who actually claim to belong to the Future Movement (the March 14 Alliance’s largest party), have taken to extreme proportions that are sectarian. They think that they represent the Sunni population that is being oppressed by the Shia, which is a total fallacy. Therefore, they react by threatening (the Syrian government) with the use of al-Qaeda and other extremist movements,” Omar Nashabe from Al Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper, told our correspondent on Tuesday.

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 1:54 am
by AlicetheKurious
Syrian National Council = Hariri's Future Movement = March 14 Alliance = Saudi Arabia/Qatar = Israel

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:41 am
by Allegro
In another thread, crikkett mentioned Maddow. So, I went over to catch Rachel's show online ('cause I don't do TV), and saw, in one of the short clips she showed, Syrian people mourning in the streets for three journalists who had lost their lives. One journalist and photographer was Syrian; the others who perished Wednesday were American Sunday Times reporter Marie Colvin and award-winning French photographer Remi Ochlik.

I've not found a youtube clip Maddow showed, but did find the following vid, which is far less graphic than others.

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:42 am
by Ben D
Well it's not as though journalists were neutral, the so called Syrian people mourning in the streets would be anti-regime militants and supporters staging the it for propaganda purposes. And as a matter of effectiveness, it seems to be working....

President Nicolas Sarkozy.. "this regime must go"

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy said the killing of the journalists showed that "this regime must go", while Britain's foreign ministry summoned the Syrian ambassador to lodge a protest over the deaths.

From inside the quarter, activist Omar Shaker told AFP that the two journalists were killed and three others wounded as a shell crashed into a makeshift media centre set up by anti-regime militants.

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:29 pm
by Ben D
Frontier front: Syrian rebels trapped near Turkey

Published: 23 February, 2012, 15:58

Syrian frontier guards are battling militants who have infiltrated from Turkey, as the army deploys troops to quash hostile forces trapped in the mountains. The clashes highlight claims outside forces are actively fueling the conflict in Syria.

North to the Syrian city of Aleppo (340 kilometers from Damascus) frontier guards have eliminated several subversives, captured some and sent others fleeing when a group of militants made an attempt to infiltrate the country from Turkey, reports ITAR-TASS news agency.

Troop reinforcements are being brought to Idlib province on the Syrian-Turkish border to crush rebels from the so-called Free Syrian Army located in El Baida settlement, some 30 kilometers from the Turkish border. Syrian Arab news agency (SANA) reports that servicemen captured five dangerous terrorists, including one high on the wanted list, Muhammed Suleiman.

These bandits were known for their brazen crimes, the report says. They blocked roads to kill soldiers and officers of Syrian army, kidnapped people for ransom, and attacked food and fuel convoys.

The latest assault by insurgents who have crossed the border from Turkey follows a litany of accusations directed at several foreign powers, specifically Ankara, in arming and directing the Syrian opposition.

On Tuesday, Jordan-based AlBawaba news website reported over 10,000 Libyans were being trained in a closed-off zone in Jordan before being sent off to Syria to fight alongside the opposition.

The site also claimed Saudi Arabia and Qatar were paying the anti-Gaddafi mercenaries US$1,000 a month to take up arms against Assad. Concurrently, several Iranian news sources report that some 50 Turkish officers detained in Syria admitted to being trained by Israeli Special Forces to help destabilize the Syrian regime.

In December, FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds said American and NATO forces had been training Syrian rebels in southeastern Turkish city of Hakkari since May of last year, Press TV reported.

Edmonds further stated US was actively smuggling arms into Syria from Incirlik military base in Turkey, as well as financing Syrian rebels.

The previous month, Russia’s Kommersant daily had also reported on operations being directed from Turkish territory.
While many of those reports remain unsubstantiated, the fact that the Syrian National Council (SNC) was itself formed in Istanbul in August of last year only highlights Turkey’s role in the conflict.

Dr. Marcus Papadopoulos, a political analyst from Britain's Politics First online magazine, told RT how the Western interests are executed via the SNC. “They [the SNC] supply the Western governments and media with information – damning information, in their opinion, – on President Assad and his government. The Western objective is the regime change and that is the main role of the SNC. A lot of caution should be attached to them.”

Turkey’s zero-tolerance policy towards Syria has only furthered speculation that a quid pro quo relationship with Washington seeks to establish Turkey’s place as a leading regional power.

But Dr. Papadopoulos believes that foreign meddling in Syria could lead to grave consequences for the entire region.
“Any conflict in the Middle East has the potential to turn the entire region into a vast firestorm. The fact that the American and British governments are implicitly encouraging the Syrian opposition is only making things worse in Syria and is only resulting in more casualties and tragedies.”

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:53 pm
by Aldebaran ... CC20120224

Hamas ditches Assad, backs Syrian revolt
12:56pm EST

By Omar Fahmy and Nidal al-Mughrabi

CAIRO/GAZA, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas turned publicly against their long-time ally President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, endorsing the revolt aimed at overthrowing his dynastic rule.

The policy shift deprives Assad of one of his few remaining Sunni Muslim supporters in the Arab world and deepens his international isolation. It was announced in Hamas speeches at Friday prayers in Cairo and a rally in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas went public after nearly a year of equivocating as Assad's army, largely led by fellow members of the president's Alawite sect, has crushed mainly Sunni protesters and rebels.

In a Middle East split along sectarian lines between Shi'ite and Sunni Islam, the public abandonment of Assad casts immediate questions over Hamas's future ties with its principal backer Iran, which has stuck by its ally Assad, as well as with Iran's fellow Shi'ite allies in Lebanon's Hezbollah movement.

"I salute all the nations of the Arab Spring and I salute the heroic people of Syria who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, visiting Egypt from the Gaza Strip, told thousands of Friday worshippers at Cairo's al-Azhar mosque.

"We are marching towards Syria, with millions of martyrs," chanted worshippers at al-Azhar, home to one of the Sunni world's highest seats of learning. "No Hezbollah and no Iran.

"The Syrian revolution is an Arab revolution."

Contemporary political rivalries have exacerbated tensions that date back centuries between Sunnis - the vast majority of Arabs - and Shi'ites, who form substantial Arab populations, notably in Lebanon and Iraq, and who dominate in non-Arab Iran.

Hamas and Hezbollah, confronting Israel on its southwestern and northern borders, have long had a strategic alliance against the Jewish state, despite opposing positions on the sectarian divide. Both have fought wars with Israel in the past six years.

But as the Sunni-Shi'ite split in the Middle East deepens, Hamas appears to have cast its lot with the powerful, Egypt-based Sunni Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose star has been in the ascendant since the Arab Spring revolts last year.


"This is considered a big step in the direction of cutting ties with Syria," said Hany al-Masri, a Palestinian political commentator. Damascus might now opt to formally expel Hamas's exile headquarters from Syria, he told Reuters.

Banned by deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood has moved to the centre of public life. It is the ideological parent of Hamas, which was founded 25 years ago among the Palestinians, the majority of whom are Sunni Muslims.

Shi'ite Hezbollah still supports the Assad family, from the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, which has maintained authoritarian rule over Syria's Sunni majority for four decades but now may have its back to the wall.

Hamas, however, has been deeply embarrassed among Palestinians by its association with Assad, as the death toll in his crackdown on opponents has risen into the thousands.

In Gaza, senior Hamas member Salah al-Bardaweel addressed thousands of supporters at a rally in Khan Younis refugee camp, sending "a message to the peoples who have not been liberated yet, those free peoples who are still bleeding every day."

"The hearts of the Palestinian people bleed with every drop of bloodshed in Syria," Bardaweel said. "No political considerations will make us turn a blind eye to what is happening on the soil of Syria."


The divorce between Hamas and Damascus had been coming for months. The Palestinian group had angered Assad last year when it refused a request to hold public rallies in Palestinian refugee camps in Syria in support of his government.

Hamas's exile political leader Khaled Meshaal and his associates quietly quit their headquarters in Damascus and have stayed away from Syria for months now, although Hamas tried to deny their absence had anything to do with the revolt.

Haniyeh visited Iran earlier this month on a mission to shore up ties with the power that has provided Hamas with money and weapons to fight Israel. It is not clear what the outcome of his visit has been, though the tone of the latest Hamas comments is hardly compatible with continued warm relations with Tehran.

Rallies in favor of Syria's Sunni majority have been rare in the coastal enclave but on Friday it seemed the Islamist rulers of the territory had decided to break the silence.

"Nations do not get defeated. They do not retreat and they do not get broken. We are on your side and on the side of all free peoples," said Bardaweel.

"God is Greatest," the crowd chanted. "Victory to the people of Syria."

Hamas-Hezbollah relations have been good in the past. But Hamas did not attack Israel when it was fighting Hezbollah in 2006 and Hezbollah did not join in when Israel mounted a major offensive against Hamas in Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009.

Anything that divides Hamas and Hezbollah is likely to be welcomed by Israel, which has been watching warily recent moves by Hamas to reconcile differences with its Palestinian rivals in Fatah, the movement of President Mahmoud Abbas.

There was no immediate Israeli comment on Friday's speeches.

(Additional reporting by Tom Perry in Cairo; Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:30 pm
by Ben D
I don't think it will be that cut and dried as the article makes out Aldebaran, the Western/Israel/Saudi - Qatar Sunni strategy that Alice spoke of above to create division between Sunni and Shiite throughout the ME is obviously meeting with some success, but I feel reasonably sure that not all members and supporters of Hamas will take the bait, and these will be the ones who are aware that Israel is behind the Syrian uprising.

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:50 pm
by seemslikeadream

Exclusive: State Department quietly warning region on Syrian WMDs
Posted By Josh Rogin Friday, February 24, 2012 - 3:03 PM Share

The State Department has begun coordinating with Syria's neighbors to prepare for the handling of President Bashar al-Assad's extensive weapons of mass destruction if and when his regime collapses, The Cable has learned.

This week, the State Department sent a diplomatic demarche to Syria's neighbors Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, warning them about the possibility of Syria's WMDs crossing their borders and offering U.S. government help in dealing with the problem, three Obama administration officials confirmed to The Cable. For concerned parties both inside and outside the U.S. government, the demarche signifies that the United States is increasingly developing plans to deal with the dangers of a post-Assad Syria -- while simultaneously highlighting the lack of planning for how to directly bring about Assad's downfall.

Syria is believed to have a substantial chemical weapons program, which includes mustard gas and sophisticated nerve agents, such as sarin gas, as well as biological weapons. Syria has also refused IAEA requests to make available facilities that were part of its nuclear weapons program and may still be in operation.

The State Department declined to provide access to any officials to discuss the private diplomatic communication on the record, such as the author of the demarche Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Tom Countryman. In a meeting with reporters earlier this year, Countryman expressed confidence that the United States knows where Syria's WMD stockpiles are, but warned that they could become a very serious security issue for Syria and the region going forward.

"We have ideas as to the quantity and we have ideas as to where they are," Countryman said. "We wish some of the neighbors of Syria to be on the lookout... When you get a change of regime in Syria, it matters what are the conditions -- chaotic or orderly."

Today, in response to inquiries from The Cable, a State Department official offered the following statement:

"The U.S. and our allies are monitoring Syria's chemical weapons stockpile. These weapons' presence in Syria undermines peace and security in the Middle East, and we have long called on the Syrian government to destroy its chemicals weapons arsenal and join the Chemical Weapons Convention," the State Department official said. "We believe Syria's chemical weapons stockpile remains under Syrian government control, and we will continue to work closely with like-minded countries to prevent proliferation of Syria's chemical weapons program."

The demarche made four specific points, according to other U.S. officials who offered a fuller account to The Cable. It communicated the U.S. government's recognition that there is a highly active chemical warfare program in Syria, which is complemented by ballistic-missile delivery capability. It further emphasized that that any potential political transition in Syria could raise serious questions about the regime's control over proliferation-sensitive material.

Third, the State Department wanted Syria's neighbors to know that should the Assad regime fall, the security of its WMD stockpile -- as well as its control over conventional weapons like MANPADS (shoulder-fired rocket launchers) -- could come into question and could pose a serious threat to regional security. Lastly, the demarche emphasized that the U.S. government stands ready to support neighboring countries to provide border-related security cooperation.

"It's essentially a recognition of the danger to the regional and international community of the stockpiles that the regime possesses and the importance of working with countries, given the potential fall of the regime, to prevent the proliferation of these very sensitive weapons outside of Syria's border," one administration official said. "It's an exponentially more dangerous program than Libya. We are talking about legitimate WMDs here -- this isn't Iraq. The administration is really concerned about loose WMDs. It's one of the few things you could put on the agenda and do something about without planning the fall of the regime."

The administration is also working closely with the Jordanians on the issue. A Jordanian military delegation was at the Pentagon Thursday to meet with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

In addition to the danger of proliferation, there is a concern that Assad could actually use his WMDs if his situation becomes desperate.

"The WMD program is in play now, and that's important because it highlights the innate danger that the existence of this regime poses to U.S. security and regional interests," the administration official said. "[The demarche] puts Syria's neighbors on notice and it reflects the recognition that a dangerous Assad regime is willing to do anything to save its own skin. If they are willing to kill the country to save the regime, they might be willing to do a great deal more damage throughout the region."

Some officials inside and outside the administration see the WMD activity as helpful, but lament that such a high degree of planning is not taking place on the issue of how to precipitate the downfall of the Assad regime as quickly and as safely as possible.

Over 70 countries met in Tunis today to develop a unified message on the transition of power in Syria and urge the Assad regime to allow humanitarian access. The Saudi delegation actually walked out of the meeting, complaining of "inactivity" and urging the international community to arm the Syrian opposition.

The Obama administration has consistently rejected calls by the Syrian National Council and others to prepare for a military intervention in Syria and no real strategy exists internally to force Assad from power, another administration official said.

"Our strategic calculus can't be solely about what comes after Assad without taking a hard look at how to bring about Assad's downfall as safely as possible," said this official. "The reality is, at some point, there will be a recognition you can't plan for a post-Assad scenario without planning how to shape the downfall itself. You can't separate the two."

Concern about a gap in planning for how to oust the Assad regime is shared by some in Congress, including Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who issued a statement today urging the administration to start directly aiding the Syrian rebels and protecting Syrian civilians.

"Unfortunately, speeches and meetings by themselves will do nothing to stop the unacceptable slaughter in Syria, which is growing worse by the day," the senators said. "We remain deeply concerned that our international diplomacy risks becoming divorced from the reality on the ground in Syria, which is now an armed conflict between Assad's forces and the people of Syria who are struggling to defend themselves against indiscriminate attacks."

In her prepared remarks in Tunis, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she supported more sanctions on the Assad regime but she declined to endorse any direct help to the Syrian opposition without the consent of the Syrian government, saying only, "We all need to look hard at what more we can do."

Re: US troops surround Syria on the eve of invasion?

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:38 am
by Simulist
Good Lord. And nobody seems to notice that tired, worn out tactic of the State Department?

(Of course, not. This is America. Few notice anything of substance.)