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  1. #241
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    Default Re: Syria

    So basically... in reality you're saying we SHOULD be on the same side with the Russians on this...
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    Default Re: Syria

    Syria amassed huge arsenal of Russian weapons before uprising

    Alastair Beach

    Tuesday, 20 March 2012



    After a winter of bloodshed in which President Bashar al-Assad deployed tanks and rockets to pulverise his own cities, figures released yesterday showed that Damascus splashed out millions of dollars both before and during the anti-government uprising in an effort to develop an enormous arsenal of largely Russian-made weapons.
    Arms deliveries skyrocketed by nearly 600 per cent between 2007 and 2011 compared with the preceding five-year period. As the Syrian people laboured under a faltering economy and Baathist repression, Damascus spent hundreds of millions of dollars on missile systems, air defence facilities and anti-ship rockets.

    The vast majority – 72 per cent – of the orders came from Russia. Although all of the shipments involved "war grade" weapons of the type not used on protesters over the past year, surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft systems could potentially be deployed to prevent any future military intervention in Syria.

    "They are national defence-type weapons," said Siemon Wezeman from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which compiled the figures. "They would be handy if the Syrian government wanted to keep its airspace free from Arab or other forces."

    Britain and other Western governments have repeatedly talked down the idea of a Libya-style attack on President Assad. Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Prince Saud bin Faisal al-Saud, came closer than any other government official to advocating foreign military intervention when he said that arming the opposition would be "an excellent idea". Yet so far there have been no concrete steps to initiate the kind of action many Syrian activists have been demanding for months.

    Russia has faced criticism for its refusal to back Western efforts to secure a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for Syria's leader to resign, but in a sign that it may be raising the pressure on Assad, the foreign ministry yesterday called on both Damascus and the armed opposition to agree to daily humanitarian truces, backing an initiative from the International Committee of the Red Cross to treat the wounded in the violence-torn country.

    Moscow also called for the ICRC to have access to "those detained in Syria for their participation in protests".

    But yesterday's arms shipment data also highlighted the close relationship between President Assad and Moscow. Given that virtually all of Moscow's arms sales are processed by the state-owned corporation Rosoboronexport, the Russian treasury has much to gain from a spike in Syrian arms deals.

    Last week, Russia's Deputy Defence Minister insisted his government would not halt weapons sales to Damascus. Despite the US and Europe imposing arms embargoes, Anatoly Antonov insisted that Russia's deals with Syria were "perfectly legitimate" and would continue.

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  3. #243
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    Default Re: Syria

    West changes policy in Syria as Russia’s power rises




    File photo shows a street rally in support of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad


    Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:58PM GMT
    By Mohyeddin Sajedi

    Political experts believe that the US and EU have preferred to give more room to Russia to continue political efforts aimed at solving the Syrian crisis because they believe that those efforts are doomed and Moscow will join them at the end."

    A political analyst says the West’s change of policy vis-à-vis Syria has handed Moscow the opportunity to take center stage in this regard.

    In an interview with Le monde , French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe expressed regret over the allegiance of the Syrian Christians to their president Bashar al-Assad. Juppe said while the Catholic and Orthodox religious organizations have tied their fate to Assad, they should realize that they will have a better future awaiting them under the umbrella of democracy.

    It is not only the Christians but also the Alawites, Druzes, and a majority of Sunnis who are against any violent means of change in their country. None of Syria’s senior clerics have so far stood against Assad.

    Bashareh al-Raee, Archbishop of Maroon Christians in Lebanon, told Juppe last year that the collapse of the Syrian regime would weaken the Christians in the Middle East and that the West is making a grave mistake by seeking to empower the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis in Syria. Neither France’s foreign minister nor its president took al-Raee’s stance seriously.

    The recent blast near a church in the Northern city of Halab, however, might have forced them to think again.

    The “Free Syrian Army”, an organization consisting of the defected Syrian military personnel plus the armed members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis, are the chief suspects of the recent bombing in Damascus and Halab. While the “Free Syrian Army” and the “National Council” refute any involvement in these acts of terror, it is difficult to find anyone who will embrace the accusations leveled by these groups that Damascus was behind these massacres. If these groups were not responsible for the explosions, then the question is who will benefit from these measures other than the Free Syrian Army and the National Council?

    Western intelligence sources testify to the fact that the so-called Free Syrian Army is not an organized institution and its members do not operate in a centralized manner in Syria. In fact, some of its units act on their own initiatives to plan and execute such lethal operations without seeking orders from their superiors in Turkey.

    Of course, not all of Assad’s opposition can be summed up in the mold of these groups. According to Juppe, there is a rift between domestic and foreign opposition and efforts by the West and Arab states have not succeeded in uniting them. The prowess and unison of the Syrian Army is another factor sustaining the Assad regime. So far, no minister, high-ranking diplomat or general in Syria has distanced himself from Assad.

    This situation has caused regional and international powers to review their policies. Perhaps, the biggest mistake of the West, Turkey, and EU was their assumption that the situation in Syria is similar to Libya. As a result, deposing Assad from power in the shortest possible time became their most important demand.

    The French foreign minister, who will be replaced if President Sarkozy loses in the presidential elections, interprets this mistake as such: The Arab League’s plan (which was accepted by EU and formed the basis of a later Security Council resolution which was vetoed by Russia and China) did not mean to oust Assad from power, but clearly wanted the Syrian president to step down letting his vice president to negotiate the transitional period.

    Nabil al-Arabi, the new secretary-general of the Arab League who initially followed Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s positions on Syria, has owned up to the weak performance of his organization in Syria. He said even the opposition knows that the Arab League cannot do anything against the Syrian government because it is incapable of military intervention.

    During Kofi Annan’s recent visit to Damascus, he added, nothing has been said about the ouster of Assad…. “Neither the Arab League, nor the UN are qualified to officially recognize the Syrian National Council.”

    Kofi Annan represents secretaries-general of the UN and Arab League and has urged the Syrian government and the opposition to reach an understanding. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Nabil al-Arab, secretary-general of the Arab League, have already proposed that Assad should step down. Now, it is not clear how their representative may find a political solution as a result of which Assad will remain at the top of the power pyramid.

    This contradiction may indicate that the West is withdrawing from its positions taken in the past-year. That withdrawal will allow Russia to enter the political scene of Syria more powerfully. The US and EU seem to have reached the conclusion that Russia should be given more time. Delaying further discussions at the UN Security Council on a new resolution may be a sign of this policy. More importantly, the draft proposed by the US does not require Assad to step down.

    Russia is also increasing criticism of Damascus and the slow pace of Syrian reforms in order to appease the West. Kremlin leaders know that failure of Kofi Annan’s mission will be failure of their diplomacy in Syria. That disappointment will only lead to a repetition of the Libyan model.

    Political experts believe that the US and EU have preferred to give more room to Russia to continue political efforts aimed at solving the Syrian crisis because they believe that those efforts are doomed and Moscow will join them at the end.

    The Arab League has frequently proven its inability in solving the crisis in a member state. The organization’s inability will take the Syrian crisis to a new level of clash of interests among big global powers. Deployment of NATO missile shield in Turkey is already threatening the interests of one of those powers; that is, Russia.

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  4. #244
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    Default Re: Syria

    Hmmmm.... this shoots down the theory they are there to HELP Assad....

    Two vetoes later, Russia says it will now back UN plan on Syria

    Russia has steadfastly rejected pressure by the UN Security Council for Syrian President Assad to step aside. It says it will now support a UN resolution supporting a cease-fire, Red Cross access.


    By Fred Weir, Correspondent / March 20, 2012






    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, listens to his Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremic, unseen, during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 16.
    Misha Japaridze/AP

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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today scoffed at reports that Moscow had sent troops to strife-torn Syria to deter outside intervention and implied that the allegations were an attempt by pro-interventionists to disrupt an impending agreement on a path to peace based on a plan by United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan.
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    Mr. Lavrov said Russia is willing to step up political pressure on President Bashar al-Assad and support a UN resolution that would call on all sides in Syria's conflict to reach accord on such issues as daily cease-fires and humanitarian corridors to allow the Red Cross access to civilians, and to urge progress on negotiations to end the hostilities.
    "The Security Council should support [such a resolution] not as an ultimatum, but as a basis for the continuing efforts by Kofi Annan aimed at reaching accord between all the Syrians, the government, and all opposition groups on all key issues, such as humanitarian corridors, halting hostilities by all parties, the beginning of a political dialogue, and offering access to the media," Lavrov said after talks with his Lebanese counterpart in Moscow today.
    Russian officials say the allegation that Russia may have sent some "special forces" to Syria as a means of dissuading the US or NATO from intervening – for fear of clashing with Russian forces – was completely made up. In fact, they say, there are not even any Russian warships currently visiting the naval station in the Syrian port of Tartous and, even if there were, the naval marines on board those ships would be strictly for self-defense.
    RELATED: Think you know Russia? Take our quiz.

    Lavrov said there is only one Russian ship currently at Tartous, a naval tanker named "Iman," which is en route to the Red Sea to resupply Russian combat ships engaged in antipiracy operations together with other international forces. Lavrov said the vessel could be carrying a "security unit" for its own protection.
    "All Russian ships going in that direction these days have some special troops aboard, and nobody ever denied this," says Alexander Sharavin, director of the independent Institute of Political and Military Analysis in Moscow. "I don't believe Russian leaders would ever put troops into Syria, but especially not now, when you see the way the situation is changing there. I believe an international compromise on Syria has already been reached."
    Russia senses an endgame

    Some Russian experts say they sense the endgame in Syria is near at hand. Forces loyal to Assad drove rebel forces from most of their redoubts during the past weeks, and Western leaders are sounding more cautious about the complexities of getting involved in what increasingly looks like a multisided civil war that could put the West on the same side as Al Qaeda and other extremist Islamist forces.


    "By now, the Syrian leadership has gained control over the entire territory of the country," and the rebels have no place from which to raise a flag and claim to have an alternative government worthy of outside assistance, says Vladimir Yevseyev, an expert with the Center for International Security at the official Institute of World Economy and International Relations, which trains Russian diplomats. "What we now increasingly see is the opposition resorting to terrorist methods, and this would create serious impediments to Western support. I'm not sure if Russia and the West have yet reached a compromise on what to do about Syria, but talks in that direction are going on."
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    Russia has vetoed two proposed Security Council resolutions that would have called for Assad to step aside or open the door to intervention by outside forces in a manner similar to what happened in Libya last year. Moscow has also taken a lot of heat for continuing to supply arms to Syria, a traditional client state, as the death toll mounted to what the UN now estimates at more than 8,000 people.


    This week, a report by the independent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found that arms exports to Syria ballooned by 600 percent between 2007 and 2011, compared with the previous five years, with Russia accounting for almost 80 percent of the supplies. Russian experts estimate that Moscow has about $5 billion in weapons contracts with Damascus in the pipeline.


    But for all its traditional military-technical cooperation with Syria, Russian experts insist that Moscow is not so wedded to the Assad regime that it would defend it with military force.


    "In the world today, it's ironically the West which is behaving like Bolsheviks, acting as though there is an international struggle where borders don't matter," says Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the independent Institute of Middle Eastern Studies in Moscow. "You may say it's also ironic that Russia and China are behaving like conservative powers, putting sovereignty above all else and insisting that countries be left to sort out their own internal disputes. But here we are. Russia is not going to protect Assad militarily, and let's hope the West is becoming more sober about the serious potential consequences of getting involved there."


    At the same time, some experts say, Russia is aware of the damage it's done to relations with the West by its stubborn diplomatic defense of Assad, and may be ready to put greater pressure on the Syrian leader to come to terms with his opponents. Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia would urge Assad to obey a UN resolution based on Kofi Annan's plan, as long as it didn't involve "ultimatums."


    "We think that the Syrian leadership should support [Annan's] approaches without delay, and we expect the armed and political opposition to do the same," Lavrov said. "We [Russia] do not support the Syrian government. We support the need to end hostilities and begin a political process. Russia will do everything it can for that, despite the decisions of the Syrian government, with many of which we disagree," he added.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia's Stake in Syria and Iran

    If Tehran returns to a pro-Western orientation, Moscow's stranglehold on the central Asian republics will be over.



    By MELIK KAYLAN

    Now that Vladimir Putin has allowed the Russian electorate to rubber-stamp him back into power, he can return with redoubled purpose to his consistently regressive interference in world affairs. That nobody is surprised at his obdurate defense of the regimes in Tehran and Damascus speaks volumes. Dictators support dictators, don't they?



    At this point Mr. Putin apparently doesn't mind much that anyone should include him in that category. After all, if Putinism could be defined by any single principle, if it had a formula, it would have at its core the "power now people later" approach common to all strongmen. Less than 10 years before he ordered the 2008 invasion of Georgia in order to "protect" the separatist South Ossetians, he "solved" the Chechnya problem by ordering the scorched-earth obliteration of its capital, Grozny, where more civilians were killed than at Sreberniza and Homs combined.



    And yet one shouldn't suspect Mr. Putin of sentimentality. He doesn't favor dictators for mere principle's sake. Iron-hard strategic calculations underpin his support for the Syria-Iran axis.



    Russia is rebuilding its Soviet-era naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus, which allows Moscow to reassert a plausible Mediterranean threat to NATO. Syria also provides Iran with a front line against Israel via Hezbollah in Lebanon, and that too can be a most effective anti-Western arrowhead for Russia. When I covered the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, I learned that a year earlier Israel had stopped providing Tbilisi with antitank and anti-aircraft missiles because the Russians had threatened to supply Hezbollah with the same.



    But in the end, the pivotal consideration in Mr. Putin's efforts to re-establish his country's superpower status centers on Iran. Syria is a domino. Without its Syrian ally, Iran would be almost totally isolated and crucially weakened. That Moscow cannot allow.


    Why is Iran so central to Mr. Putin's global pretensions? Take a look at the Caspian Sea area map and the strategic equations come into relief. Iran acts as a southern bottleneck to the geography of Central Asia. It could offer the West access to the region's resources that would bypass Russia. If Iran reverted to pro-Western alignment, the huge reserves of oil and gas landlocked in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan and the like could flow directly out to the world without a veto from Moscow.



    According to an Oct. 16, 2008, Wall Street Journal report, Turkmenistan is "one of the world's hydrocarbon provinces" with enough natural gas to supply Europe's annual needs three times over. Similarly, Kazakhstan's Tengiz oil field is considered one of the world's largest. As things stand, these countries depend on Russian pipelines for their national income.



    At stake here is not merely the liberation of a vast landmass from the Kremlin's yoke. The damage to Russian leverage would amount to a seismic shift in the global balance of power equal to the collapse of the Warsaw Pact.



    Russia's gas and oil leverage over Turkey, Ukraine and much of Europe would evaporate. The Silk Road countries would finally reclaim their history since it was diverted forcibly toward Moscow in the 19th century. Their nominal post-Soviet independence would become a reality. Perhaps most irksome for Mr. Putin and his kind, large swaths of the non-Russian zone would prosper disproportionately in comparison to neighboring Russian Federation provinces.



    After some 12 years in the Kremlin, Mr. Putin has failed to deliver prosperity and a hopeful future to much of his population. In return for their sacrifice, he has fed them inflated dreams of empire and superpower nostalgia which he has deliberately identified with his own judoka personality cult.



    This is not a scenario in which free peoples voluntarily choose their destinies and alliances. They bow to what's good for them as determined by a kind of paternal supreme power.



    If the mystique of Russian hegemony were to deflate, if formerly subject colonies suddenly rose to stability and affluence—as is happening in Georgia—Mr. Putin's threadbare illusionism would fall apart entirely. He would never recover from the triumph of freedom in Syria and Iran.



    Mr. Kaylan is a writer in New York.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russian Anti-Terror Troops Arrive in Syria

    Posted: Mar 20, 2012 10:31 AM MDT Updated: Mar 20, 2012 10:31 AM MDT By ABC News - bio



    A Russian military unit has arrived in Syria, according to Russian news reports, a development that a United Nations Security Council source told ABC News was "a bomb" certain to have serious repercussions.
    Russia, one of President Bashar al-Assad's strongest allies despite international condemnation of the government's violent crackdown on the country's uprising, has repeatedly blocked the United Nations Security Council's attempts to halt the violence, accusing the U.S. and its allies of trying to start another war.
    Now the Russian Black Sea fleet's Iman tanker has arrived in the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea with an anti-terror squad from the Russian Marines aboard according to the Interfax news agency. The Assad government has insisted it is fighting a terrorist insurgency. The Russian news reports did not elaborate on the Russian troops' mission in Syria or if they are expected to leave the port.
    The presence of Russian troops in Syria could be a "pretty obvious" show of support to the regime, according to Russian security expert Mark Galeotti.
    "No one thinks of the Russians as anything but Assad's last friends," said Galeotti, professor of global affairs at New York University.
    The Iman replaced another Russian ship "which had been sent to Syria for demonstrating (sic) the Russian presence in the turbulent region and possible evacuation of Russian citizens," the Black Sea Fleet told Interfax.
    RIA Novosti, a news outlet with strong ties to the Kremlin, trumpeted the news in a banner headline that appeared only on its Arabic language website. The Russian embassy to the U.S. and to the U.N. had no comment, saying they have "no particular information on" the arrival of a Russian anti-terrorism squad to Syria.
    Moscow has long enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Assad regime, to which it sells billions of dollars of weapons. In return Russia has maintained a Navy base at Tartus, which gives it access to the Mediterranean.
    Last week Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia had no plans to send troops to Syria.
    "As for the question whether I consider it necessary to confront the United States in Syria and ensure our military presence there… in order to take part in military actions -- no. I believe this would be against Russia's national interests," Lavrov told lawmakers, according to RIA Novosti.
    Russia's Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov denied reports that Russian special forces were operating inside Syria. He did say, however, that there are Russian military and technical advisors in the country.
    U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the U.S. government had not heard of the reports of Russian troops in Syria and declined to comment.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Weapons imports to Syria surged sevenfold in 10 years, report says

    March 20, 2012 | 9:14 am












    Weapons imports to Syria surged nearly sevenfold over the last decade, according to a new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute that tracks arms transfers around the globe.
    The institute estimated that Syria imported $152 million worth of weapons between 2002 and 2006, and that that figure grew to more than $1 billion in the last five years as measured in 1990 dollars.
    The increase in weapons imports has overlapped in part with the bloodiest of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings. It is estimated that more than 10,000 people have been killed in the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, including opposition fighters, government forces and civilians.
    Much of the weaponry delivered to Syria, such as air defense systems and anti-ship missiles, has no direct use in the clashes with rebels, but could help the regime defend itself against outside intervention, researcher Pieter Wezeman told the Associated Press.

    “They increase the risks involved in and therefore the threshold for foreign military intervention like the NATO operation against the Kadafi regime” in Libya, Wezeman said.
    Arms imports to Syria have peaked in the last two years, in the year before and after the rebellion began, the report shows. Despite the dramatic increase, Syria still ranked 25th in weapons imports last year, far below major recipients such as India, Pakistan and South Korea.
    The vast majority of the weapons headed to Syria have come from Russia, the report finds, an Assad ally that has blocked international action against his regime.
    Global debate has swirled over whether the U.S. and other powers opposed to Assad should arm the rebels fighting against him. Smugglers recently told The Times that the black market for weapons for Syrian rebels had nearly dried up, with supplies dwindling as the demand intensifies.
    The United Nations has condemned the Assad regime for killings and torture during its crackdown on the uprising, but the rebels have also been criticized by Human Rights Watch for alleged kidnappings, torture and executions of security personnel and civilians.
    Beyond Syria, the report found that weapons transfers from country to country jumped 24% between 2002-2006 and 2007-2011, with dramatic increases in imports in Venezuela, Morocco and Uganda. The U.S. remained the biggest exporter of arms around the world, followed by Russia and Germany.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Weapons imports to Syria surged sevenfold in 10 years, report says

    March 20, 2012 | 9:14 am












    Weapons imports to Syria surged nearly sevenfold over the last decade, according to a new report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute that tracks arms transfers around the globe.
    The institute estimated that Syria imported $152 million worth of weapons between 2002 and 2006, and that that figure grew to more than $1 billion in the last five years as measured in 1990 dollars.
    The increase in weapons imports has overlapped in part with the bloodiest of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings. It is estimated that more than 10,000 people have been killed in the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, including opposition fighters, government forces and civilians.
    Much of the weaponry delivered to Syria, such as air defense systems and anti-ship missiles, has no direct use in the clashes with rebels, but could help the regime defend itself against outside intervention, researcher Pieter Wezeman told the Associated Press.

    “They increase the risks involved in and therefore the threshold for foreign military intervention like the NATO operation against the Kadafi regime” in Libya, Wezeman said.
    Arms imports to Syria have peaked in the last two years, in the year before and after the rebellion began, the report shows. Despite the dramatic increase, Syria still ranked 25th in weapons imports last year, far below major recipients such as India, Pakistan and South Korea.
    The vast majority of the weapons headed to Syria have come from Russia, the report finds, an Assad ally that has blocked international action against his regime.
    Global debate has swirled over whether the U.S. and other powers opposed to Assad should arm the rebels fighting against him. Smugglers recently told The Times that the black market for weapons for Syrian rebels had nearly dried up, with supplies dwindling as the demand intensifies.
    The United Nations has condemned the Assad regime for killings and torture during its crackdown on the uprising, but the rebels have also been criticized by Human Rights Watch for alleged kidnappings, torture and executions of security personnel and civilians.
    Beyond Syria, the report found that weapons transfers from country to country jumped 24% between 2002-2006 and 2007-2011, with dramatic increases in imports in Venezuela, Morocco and Uganda. The U.S. remained the biggest exporter of arms around the world, followed by Russia and Germany.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Syria rebels quit eastern city, army on offensive
    (Reuters)

    20 March 2012


    Syrian firemen extinguish the flames of burning cars near the damaged building of the intelligence forces, in Damascus in this handout picture distributed by the Syrian News Agency (SANA). Reuters

    1/10
    BEIRUT - Rebel fighters were forced to flee the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zor on Tuesday in the face of a fierce army assault, suffering the latest setback in their bid to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
    In a separate blow to their cause, a respected human rights group accused the armed opposition of committing torture and arbitrary executions during the 12-month uprising — charges previously leveled primarily at the state security apparatus.
    Despite recent successes, Assad still faces significant outside pressure. Ally Russia signaled on Tuesday it would support a U.N. statement backing a mission by envoy Kofi Annan to end the bloodshed so long as there was no ultimatums.
    In addition, Moscow joined calls for both the army and rebels to grant daily ceasefires that would enable humanitarian missions to areas of Syria worst hit by the fighting.
    The lightly armed rebel forces have been forced into retreat across the country in recent weeks, with the army using heavy armour to chase them from towns and cities, chalking up its latest victory in Deir al-Zor, which lies on the road to Iraq.
    “Tanks entered residential neighbourhoods, especially in southeastern areas of Deir al-Zor. The Free Syrian Army pulled out to avoid a civilian massacre,” a statement by the Deir al-Zor Revolution Committees Union said. Thirty-one people were killed in Syria on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The majority of the deaths, 21 in total, were in Homs province due to heavy shelling.
    Government troops also shelled residential areas in the city of Hama and the town of Rastan, while a soldier died in a raid on an army checkpoint in the south, opposition sources said.
    Reports from Syria cannot be independently verified because authorities have barred access to rights groups and journalists.
    After failing to hold significant stretches of land, analysts say the rebels appear to be switching to insurgency tactics, pointing to bloody car bomb attacks in two major Syrian cities at the weekend and the sabotage of a major rail link.
    Torture, executions

    The United Nations says more than 8,000 people have died in 12 months of turmoil and diplomats warn the fighting could develop into a civil war pitching Assad’s Alawite sect and its minority allies against the majority Sunni Muslim population.
    The government says 2,000 members of the security forces have been killed by foreign-backed “terrorists” and denies accusations of brutality and indiscriminate violence.
    In a new twist, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch said the rebels were guilty of serious crimes, citing cases of kidnapping, torture and cold-blooded killings.
    “The Syrian government’s brutal tactics cannot justify abuses by armed opposition groups,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, in an open letter to dissident groups.
    Russia has in the past declined to back Western and Arab-backed U.N resolutions condemning government violence, arguing that the actions of rebels should also be criticised.
    In a fresh effort to form a united international front on the mounting crisis, France has circulated a Western-drafted statement for the U.N. Security Council deploring the turmoil and backing peace efforts by U.N.-Arab League envoy Annan.
    Britain’s U.N. envoy said he hoped the statement would be adopted on Tuesday, with Russia announcing it would back the text on two conditions — that there is no ultimatums and that Annan release full details of his peace plan.
    Annan dispatched a team of five experts to Damscus on Monday to discuss ways of implementing a peace initiative, including a mechanism to let international monitors into the country. Syria has questioned the value of such a mission.
    Prisoner swap

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed media reports of Russian warships entering Russia’s naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartous as “fairy tales”. Some reports said Russian ships were delivering weapons or special forces troops.
    Lavrov said a Russian tanker with fuel for Russian warships involved in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden was docked at the port. Russia has repeatedly said its arms sales to Syria violate no laws and it sees no grounds to suspend them.
    In an unusual development, Syrian rebels released an army general abducted in the Damascus suburb of Douma in return for prisoners and bodies of insurgents and civilians held by police, an opposition source familiar with the deal said on Tuesday.
    “Naeem Khalil Odeh has been released in return for several prisoners and 14 bodies,” the source said from Douma, referring to the general, adding that he had been seized last week.
    The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has contacts throughout Syria, said army shelling had killed seven people in Homs early Tuesday, while a married couple and their child died in a mortar attack in nearby Rastan.
    Homs became the epicentre of the year-long rebellion against Assad and has been repeatedly targeted by government troops, who are believed to have swept most rebel gunmen from the city.
    There has also been fighting further to the north around Hama, and opposition sources said Syrian tanks had bombarded the city early Tuesday to try to dislodge Free Syrian Army rebels who had resumed operations there despite several army sweeps.
    The Free Syria Army has proved little match for Assad’s well-armed security apparatus, and experts said the opposition appeared to be changing tactics.
    Car bomb attacks in the capital Damascus and second city Aleppo killed at least 30 over the weekend, while rebels also destroyed a railway bridge linking Damascus to Deraa, according to official Syrian media.
    “The Syrian opposition prematurely tried to hold territory and take on the Syrian Army. This was a bad and costly mistake,” said Joshua Landis, the head of Middle East Studies at the U.S. University of Oklahoma.
    “In the new phase of the battle that is shaping up to combat the Assad regime, opposition leaders are likely to champion new tactics of militancy and Islamization,” he wrote on his blog Syria Comment.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria

    Security clamp in Damascus, UN in Syria draft
    (AFP)

    20 March 2012
    DAMASCUS — Security was tightened in Damascus Tuesday in the wake of deadly clashes, activists said, as the UN Security Council aimed to back up peace envoy Kofi Annan’s mission to end the bloodshed in Syria.
    Fresh clashes broke out in the capital and security forces killed at least 30 people, all but two of them civilians, in violence elsewhere across the country, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
    Abu Omar, an activist in Damascus, said security forces were deployed in force in most districts of the capital, especially around Abbasid Square, and reported raids on several outlying towns including Douma and Dmeir.
    Traffic around the square — on Baghdad, Qusayr and Tijara streets — was clogged because of checkpoints and sandbags blocking access to roads leading to government and security buildings.
    The Observatory said gunfire rang out in the Qaboon and Barzeh districts, while the Local Coordination Committees, which organises protests, reported shooting around Arnus Square as well.
    Abu Omar said the army backed by armoured cars had violently dispersed a sit-in by hundreds of Douma residents demanding the return of bodies of people killed several weeks ago.
    The capital’s security clampdown follows deadly twin suicide car bombings targeting security buildings in Damascus on Saturday.
    It also followed what activists said was a hit-and-run attack in the heavily guarded Mazzeh neighbourhood on Monday that killed at least three rebels and a member of the security forces.
    The foreign ministry said the same “deadly hand” was behind the wave of attacks in Iraq on Tuesday that killed at least 45 people and the weekend car bombings in Damascus.
    Elsewhere, four civilians were killed on Tuesday when a rocket hit their home in Homs and three others — a man, woman and their little girl — were killed in Rastan, both cities in central Syria, the Observatory said.
    A total of 18 civilians were killed as security forces bombed the Khaldiyeh district of Homs, it said.
    The Britain-based monitoring group said the army also raided a makeshift clinic, killing two civilians who were being treated for injuries in the city of Idlib, northwest Syria.
    On the diplomatic front, Russia on Tuesday made it clear its support of any UN Security Council statement on the crisis in Syria would be conditional.
    “We are ready to back the mission of UN and Arab League representative Kofi Annan and the proposals to the government and opposition to Syria,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.
    However, the council “should approve them not as an ultimatum.”
    Lavrov’s comments came ahead of a Security Council meeting to discuss a draft statement urging President Bashar al-Assad and the armed opposition to “implement fully and immediately” Annan’s peace plan.
    The Western-drafted statement, which France submitted on Monday, says the Security Council will “consider further measures” if nothing is done within seven days of any adoption.
    Ahead of the meeting in New York, UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned: “We have no time to waste, no time to lose, because one minute, one hour of delay will mean more and more people dead.”
    Monitors say a crackdown by the regime on dissent since last March has cost more than 9,100 lives.
    Former UN chief Annan’s plan includes a halt to the year-long violence, humanitarian access, the release of detainees and withdrawal of security forces from protest cities.
    Russia and China have since October twice used their powers as permanent members of the 15-nation council to veto resolutions on Syria. They said the resolutions were aimed at regime change and that they opposed any sanctions.
    Before Lavrow’s latest statement on the UN draft, the United States had welcomed what State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland termed “an evolution in the Russian public position” on the crisis in Syria.
    Her comments followed a meeting between Lavrov and international Red Cross chief Jakob Kellenberger in Moscow on Monday at which they called for a daily humanitarian truce in Syria.
    Amid growing concern at the plight of civilians caught up in an increasingly armed conflict, a technical mission sent by Annan arrived in Damascus at the weekend for talks on a monitoring operation.
    Separately, technical experts from the UN and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation are taking part in a Syrian government-led mission to assess the impact of the crackdown on protest hubs battered by security forces.
    Human Rights Watch warned on Tuesday that the armed opposition was carrying out serious human rights abuses, including kidnapping, torture and execution of security force members and government supporters.
    “The Syrian government’s brutal tactics cannot justify abuses by armed opposition groups,” it said.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia offers to back Annan's Syria plan



    • From correspondents in Moscow
    • From: AP
    • March 21, 2012 1:47AM









    RUSSIA says it's ready to support a United Nations resolution endorsing Kofi Annan's plan for settling the Syrian crisis, signalling it is prepared to raise the pressure on its old ally.










    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that the resolution shouldn't turn into an ultimatum to the Syrian government, setting the stage for tough bargaining over the wording of the document at the UN Security Council.
    But Lavrov's statement appeared to indicate growing impatience with Syrian President Bashar Assad.
    Russia and China have twice shielded Assad's regime from the UN sanctions over its year-long crackdown on protesters, in which more than 8000 have died. But the Kremlin has also offered strong support to Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general who is joint UN and Arab League special envoy.
    Annan has met twice with Assad earlier this month and made proposals to end the bloodshed, which haven't yet been made public.
    Lavrov said that Annan's proposals should now be unveiled, adding that Moscow stands ready to back a UN Security Council resolution supporting it.
    "The Security Council should support them not as an ultimatum, but as a basis for the continuing efforts by Kofi Annan aimed at reaching accord between all the Syrians, the government and all opposition groups on all key issues, such as humanitarian corridors, halting hostilities by all parties, the beginning of a political dialogue and offering access to the media," Lavrov said at a news conference following the talks in Moscow with his Lebanese counterpart.
    Lavrov said over the weekend that Annan's plan doesn't contain a demand for Assad to step down. Today, he reaffirmed Russia's call for a simultaneous ceasefire by the government and the opposition forces.
    Lavrov also said that a Russian navy oil tanker anchored at the Syrian port of Tartus is on a mission to assist Russian navy ships on anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden. He scoffed at media reports alleging a Russian military buildup in Syria, saying that the group of servicemen on board the tanker is needed to protect it from pirates in the waters off Africa's coast.
    Lavrov's statement followed Moscow's strong call on the Syrian government to open humanitarian corridors that would allow the International Committee of the Red Cross treat the victims of the fighting. Moscow also urged Damascus to grant the Red Cross access to jailed protesters.
    While Russia had previously backed the International Committee of the Red Cross's (ICRC) call for a ceasefire, Monday's statement from the Foreign Ministry that followed Lavrov's talks with ICRC chief was worded more strongly than the previous ones.
    Speaking before Russian Parliament last week, Lavrov criticised Assad for being to slow to implement long-needed reforms and warned that the conflict in the Arab state could spiral out of control.
    He also complained in a weekend interview with state television about the "unproportional" use of force by the government troops and said that Moscow disagrees with many of the decisions made by the Syrian leadership.
    "We are supporting the need to start a political process, and to do that it's necessary to have a ceasefire first," Lavrov said. "Russia will do everything for that, irrespective of the decisions made by the Syrian government. We disagree with many of those, by the way."
    In Brussels, a senior European Union official said that all member states may close their embassies in Syria following clashes in an upscale neighbourhood of Damascus. The official, who could not be identified in line with EU rules, said that EU foreign ministers will discuss the situation when they meet later this week.
    So far, six EU states have closed their missions in Damascus, and some others, who have maintained their presence, have reduced staff.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria

    Quote Originally Posted by michael2 View Post
    Gosh, I wonder if Christians in the Middle East might have a better idea of what's really going on in the Middle East then European bureaucrats?

    'Democracy' in Iraq has not worked out so well for them, for example.

    Not that many American Christians give a shit about their alleged 'brothers in Christ', they're too busy 'supporting' Israel so that they can bring about the End of the World and catch the 'Rapture Bus' before things get too bad for themselves . Nothing else matters to them concerning the Middle East, the worse the better, so they don't have to die according to their fucked up theology....I wonder how many Israelis know that most of them have to die according to dispensationalist theology, how truly antisemetic 'christian zionism' truly is?

    The policies of the past few decades, fueled by this indifference to peace and to native christianity, have resulted directly in the almost extinction of the christian minorities in the Middle East. But that's okay because to the dispensationalists most of the Eastern Christians are too similar to Catholics to care about anyway.
    Companion Posts and Threads:




    What we are witnessing is the Left's Unholy Alliance with Islam.

    The Obama-Clinton-Soros Administration's Muslim Marxist foreign policy has reared it's ugly head.


    These Muslim Radicals are the Radical Left's partners in crime: Activists from president's circle of friends top supporters of anti-Israel protest ships


    They have used them as a battering ram to not only destroy the US foreign policy of Regan/Bush, but the Right side of any nation...including America to promote their hate for
    Conservatives, Christians and destruction of Capitalism.

    Israel is just another victim being used as a pawn in their goal of creating a radical Islamic Caliphate in the ME while eradicating any western allies in the region forcing it toward a Palestinian State.


    This is all part of the "Plan" (
    Brzezinski Planning New Anti-Israel Initiative) coupled with Key Uncertainties: Technology Will Alter Outcomes:
    laid out in the Clinton Administration in 2000.

    The Middle East

    Global trends from demography and natural resources to globalization and governance appear generally negative for the Middle East. Most regimes are change-resistant. Many are buoyed by continuing energy revenues and will not be inclined to make the necessary reforms, including in basic education, to change this unfavorable picture.

    • Linear trend analysis shows little positive change in the region, raising the prospects for increased demographic pressures, social unrest, religious and ideological extremism, and terrorism directed both at the regimes and at their Western supporters.


    • Nonlinear developments,such as the sudden rise of a Web-connected opposition, a sharp and sustained economic downturn, or, conversely, the emergence of enlightened leaders committed to good governance,might change outcomes in individual countries. Political changes in Iran in the late 1990s are an example of such nonlinear development.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    until you’ll
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



  13. #253
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    Default Re: Syria

    Quote Originally Posted by michael2 View Post
    And I might add too, Vector7, that none of what we've just talked about touched on the fact that American Christians in general are either ignorant about or do not care about their 'co-religionists' native to the Middle East. Syrian Christians, just like Iraqi Christians, are and were not a consideration at all in the political games being played in the Middle East, and our and israeli wars and conflicts there have placed them under ever increasing persecution that has driven many out of the lands of Christianity's birth altogether, between the Moslems and the Jews struggles, and those on both these camps intending to do away with the Christians altogether.
    Christians in America are oblivious to life threatening persecution...that will soon change if we continue going down the road we're on.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    until you’ll
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



  14. #254
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    Default Re: Syria

    I also think that certain people are too blinded to see that all their efforts to promote certain ideologies and theologies are only hastening the day when we will be faced with fighting a Global Islamic State.
    I wonder who those certain people are?
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria

    After Houla massacre, Syrian diplomats expelled around the world

    France, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Australia are expelling Syrian diplomatic envoys. The response to the Houla civilian massacre is increasing Syria's isolation.


    By Joseph Logan, Reuters / May 29, 2012






    A German police car patrols in front of the Syrian embassy to Germany in Berlin, May 29, 2012. Western nations threw out its diplmat envoys to protest against a massacre of 108 civilians, many of them children, in the town of Houla.
    REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz




    Beirut



    Peace envoy Kofi Annan expressed "grave concern" to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday while Western nations threw out Syria's diplomatic envoys to protest against a massacre of 108 civilians, many of them children, in the town of Houla.


    Related stories






    France, Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Australia said they were expelling the Syrian envoys from their capitals in a move that was coordinated with the United States and underlined Assad's diplomatic isolation.


    The killings in Houla drew a chorus of powerful condemnation from around the world, with the United Nations saying entire families had been shot dead in their homes.


    RECOMMENDED: Three factors to watch in Syria
    "Bashar al-Assad is the murderer of his people," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Le Monde. "He must relinquish power. The sooner the better." His Australian counterpart Bob Carr said: "This massacre of more than 100 men, women and children in Houla was a hideous and brutal crime."


    German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expelled the Syrian ambassador on Tuesday and urged the U.N. Security Council to consider again its stance on Syria. "The Syrian regime is responsible for the terrible actions in Houla. Whoever there or elsewhere, violates the U.N. security council resolution by using heavy weapons against their own people must bear serious diplomatic and political consequences," Westerwelle said in a statement.


    Canada said that the three remaining Syrian diplomats in Ottawa would be expelled. "Canada and our partners are speaking loudly, with one voice, in saying these Syrian representatives are not welcome in our countries while their masters in Damascus continue to perpetrate their heinous and murderous acts," oreign Minister John Baird said said in a separate news release.


    Assad's government late on Monday denied having anything to do with the deaths, or even having heavy weapons in the area.


    Western countries that have called for Assad to step down were hoping that the Houla killings would tip global opinion, notably that of Syria's main protector Russia, towards more effective action against Damascus.
    Annan drew up a peace plan backed by the United Nations and the Arab League to steer a way out of the 14-month-old uprising against Assad. But six weeks after it was agreed by Damascus and the rebels, the bloodshed has barely slowed.


    Annan told Assad of the "grave concern of the international community about the violence in Syria, including in particular the recent events in Houla", his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in a statement after two hours of talks in Damascus.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria

    The answer isnt our intervention. the answer is to give the syrian people weapons to fight back.

    Ev

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    Default Re: Syria

    Damn right. The administration doesn't want to do that, it might "make things WORSE"....
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria

    All I can say is if you do NOT own a weapon now, you had better buy one.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria

    I need things to chill out til after the next election cycle, so i can afford the last one i have planned. but, if it doesnt i will make do with what i have.

    That said, things are going to get ugly in a hurry if the right sparks fly in certain places, as they will start wildfires and all hell will break loose.

    ev

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    Default Re: Syria

    John McCain: West Should Intervene To Stop Syrian Bloodshed

    The Huffington Post UK | By Ned Simons Posted: 06/06/2012 15:15 Updated: 06/06/2012 15:34







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    Former US presidential candidate John McCain has said the West must intervene to stop the bloodshed in Syria.
    Senator McCain, who challenged Barack Obama for the presidency in 2008, said the United States and other Western powers should be "ashamed" of their decision not to take stronger action against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.
    Speaking to BBC Radio 4's World at One programme on Wednesday, McCain said he was "puzzled" by comments from Western governments that they did not want to risk "militarising" the conflict, arguing it already had been militarised.
    "Russian arms shipments continue to come in, the Iranians are on the ground assisting them, so they have tanks and artillery supplied by Russians and others against people who demonstrate peacefully," he said. "That's not a fair fight."
    "It is clear the doctrine of Assad is to murder and torture and rape in order to intimidate and perhaps beat the population into submission, it's not random acts of violence, it's a campaign of terror," he said.
    "Now we are up to estimates of up to well over 10,000 Syrians have been slaughtered. The question is how many more have to die at hands of bloody dictator before we intervene"
    listen to ‘Senator McCain On Syria’ on Audioboo
    McCain told the BBC that the president needed to do more to challenge the regime.
    "When was the last time you heard the president of the United States speak up on behalf of these people who are being slaughtered?" he asked. "It's disgraceful, we should be ashamed."
    "It took a massacre in Srebrenica [in Bosnia] before we intervened in the '90s," he said. "Massacres are taking place as we speak."
    "We can look back on this as we did in Bosnia and Kosovo with pride, or we can look back on it with shame as we did in Rwanda."
    McCain said the West should use its airpower to help create a "sanctuary" in Syria in which opposition groups could re-group, train and get medical attention.
    "You can think of all kinds of reason not to act, the facts on the ground are indisputable, Bashar Assad is slaughtering and massacring his own people, torture, rape and murder are matters of doctrine," he said.
    "You can think of a thousand reasons not to intervene, to sit by and watch it happen, I am not prepared to do that," he added.
    McCain also rejected the suggestion that the Syrian regime's air defences would prove a stern test for Western air forces.
    "I think if the sanctuary were declared and the Syrians were told they would be punished by air power, we could protect that sanctuary," he said.
    "We spent $800bn of taxpayers money here in the US on defence, and if we can't take out the Syrian air defences then American tax dollars have been frittered away."
    Libertatem Prius!


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