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    Default Re: Syria

    The Importance of President Obama’s Call to Assad

    Syria, Foreign Policy, International Relations, Middle East, The Arab Spring and Middle East Unrest
    Salman Shaikh, Director, Brookings Doha Center
    The Brookings Institution



    August 18, 2011 —
    August 18, 2011, is shaping up to be a big day for the future of Syria. It started, for the first time, with large nighttime protests in Aleppo, Syria’s commercial and business center and its second largest city. These protests will undoubtedly breathe new life into a revolution that refuses to be killed, tortured or disappeared by the increasing use of violence of the Assad regime. Aleppo, like Daraa, Hama, Homs, Damascus and Deir Azzour in the east of the country, is demonstrating that it is the brave people of Syria that have driven Assad’s regime ever closer to its demise. Just over halfway through the holy month of Ramadan, it is the people of Syria who are making it a decisive month for the future of their country.






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    Syrians living in Turkey protest against the government of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Istanbul.


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    Osman Orsal / Reuters



    Recognizing the extraordinary will of the people of Syria, President Obama today finally said, “the time has come for President Assad has to step aside.” While it has come late, it is a significant moment for the U.S. and for this president in the Middle East. The president’s explicit call is a sharp break from the oscillating U.S. policy of containing the threats of the Syrian regime or engaging with it. For the first time in the forty-two years of the Baath regime in Syria, a U.S. president has told its leader, Bashar Al-Assad, the son of the first, ruthless Baathist dictator, Hafez Al-Assad, to get out of the way in favour of a peaceful transition to democracy in the country. This is a remarkable turn of events for President Obama who was so committed to engaging with Assad, and who at the start of the year dispatched the U.S.’s first ambassador since 2005 to Damascus.

    The president’s call has already had a galvanizing impact on the efforts of the international community. In a coordinated move, the leaders of Europe, notably the “big 3”, Sarkozy, Cameron and Merkel also called today for Assad to step down. In addition, key Arab countries, notably, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have supported the holding of a special session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to discuss the situation in Syria next Monday. Later today, the chief of the Human Rights Council, Navi Pillay will brief the UN Security Council on the alleged human rights abuses being committed by the Assad regime against its own people. There are credible reports that she will call for up to fifty central figures in the regime to be referred to the International Criminal Court, some of them for allegedly committing crimes against humanity. Turkey’s National Security Council is also meeting later today to decide what action to take regarding its friend, Bashar Al-Assad. A Turkish decision to break from the regime would be a serious blow for Bashar and a vindication of the Obama Administration’s sustained and patient dialogue with Ankara.

    After more than two thousand killed, well over 25,000 injured and thousands disappeared, today may be the day when we do see the genuine makings of a regional, Arab and international coalition that seeks to pressure and isolate the leadership in Damascus. A coalition which, as some of us have argued for some time, should make Assad and his regime the international pariahs their actions deserve.

    President Obama’s call will also be an important morale boost to the protesting thousands in Syria. For the first time since the uprising in mid-March, the people of Syria know clearly and unambiguously where the U.S. stands. I will leave the last word to a friend in Aleppo who wrote an SMS message straight after the president spoke saying, “Thanks for Obama. It is a new point of our revolution. My friend I will invite you inshallah in Syria when we kick this dictator out.” He promised more protests in Aleppo tonight and a big day tomorrow, the third Friday in Ramadan.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria

    Syria fires on protesters despite international pressure

    A day after Obama called on Assad to step down, security forces fire on demonstrators. Activists say 12 are dead nationwide.

    Protesters wearing masks in the color of the Syrian flag in the coastal city of Jableh call for President Bashar Assad to leave office in this screen grab from purported video footage of a demonstration on Friday. (August 19, 2011)







    By Borzou Daragahi and Alexandra Sandels Los Angeles Times August 19, 2011, 5:54 a.m.

    Reporting from Beirut—
    Large anti-government protests that erupted throughout Syria on Friday were met with gunfire a day after the United States and its allies stepped up international pressure on the regime of President Bashar Assad by calling upon him to step aside for grossly violating Syrians' human rights.

    According to video footage posted to the Internet and witness accounts, large, boisterous and peaceful protests after Friday prayers erupted even in areas that have come under increasingly violent attacks in recent weeks, which have coincided with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

    On a day dubbed "The promise of victory" by activists, protesters took to the streets in or near Homs and Hama as well as the suburbs of Damascus, though the protests did not appear to be as large as some Friday protests in recent weeks.

    Security forces responded with gunfire, killing at least 12 nationwide, according to witnesses and activists, despite a pledge Assad reportedly made to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to stop deploying military power against protesters.

    Syrian security forces and allied militias have killed more than 2,000 Syrians in a five-month campaign to crush a movement aiming to topple the Assad family's decades-old regime. A U.N. report published Thursday accused Syrian security forces of summarily executing detainees, opening fire with machine guns and helicopters against unarmed crowds of demonstrators and torturing detainees, including children.

    It also alleged that soldiers who refused orders to kill were themselves executed. The case may be referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague as early as next week.

    In addition to calls Thursday by President Barack Obama and other Western leaders for Assad to leave office, Washington tightened sanctions on the regime and European leaders are discussing new economic measures, including a possible sanction on Syrian energy firms.

    Switzerland and Tunisia, where the wave of uprisings against Arab autocrats began nine months ago, this week joined the list of countries recalling their ambassadors in Syria.

    But neither Assad's promises nor the international pressure has curbed security forces' violent drive to crush a determined protest movement. In Dair Alzour, the far eastern Syrian city under siege for weeks, thousands of demonstrators in five or six districts and in outlying areas were confronted by plainclothes shabiha militiamen and army troops, who opened fire on them, according to an activist reached by phone.

    "Before the launching of the demonstrations, there were more than 2,000 shabiha, security and army members," said the activist, who spoke on condition he not be named. "They started going toward demonstrations and fired at them, live gunfire."

    An activist in Latakia, the northwestern coastal city under siege since last week, said parts of the city remained under a crushing lockdown by security forces rampaging through neighborhoods. "Electricity and water have been cut in the Ramel area," he said, asking that he not be identified by name.

    "Security forces are breaking into houses and shops and stealing things. The situation is scary. There are armed militiamen on the streets in some areas in the city. Some are wearing black, some are wearing regular clothes."

    According to the activist network Local Coordinating Committees, three soldiers were shot dead Friday when they refused to open fire on demonstrators in the Inkhel district of Dara, the province where the uprising began in March.

    The activists also reported "many injuries" among protesters who were shot at in the streets of the second-largest city of Aleppo, where the anti-government movement appears to be gaining momentum.

    The day's violence, the activist in Dair Alzour said, was expected, a consequence of the international attention. "They responded harshly because of the pressures," he said. "They're playing their last card. Now with this international action, they're ready to crush the demonstrations at any price."
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticl...#ixzz1VlKLBMT8


    Britain compares Assad to Qaddafi
    August 22, 2011 share

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must step down because he is as "irrelevant" to the future of his country as Moammar Qaddafi is in Libya, Britain's deputy prime minister said Monday.

    With Qaddafi's regime apparently in its final throes as rebel fighters move into Tripoli, Nick Clegg said the situation in Syria was "less encouraging.”

    Clegg dismissed a television interview Assad gave on Sunday and, in the strongest language used by a senior British minister on Syria yet, accused him of lying "endlessly" and said the president's family was fighting its own people.

    "In Syria... a single family continues to wage war on an entire nation," Clegg said in a speech taking stock of the Arab Spring.

    "Yesterday we heard him wheel out the same, well-worn promises of reform. We take no reassurance from that.”

    "This is a man who has lied endlessly, broken his promises repeatedly, hurt his own people and now his time is up."

    Clegg said: "We are clear: we want the violence to stop. Prisoners of conscience to be released. The UN to have complete freedom to assess the humanitarian situation. And, for the sake of the Syrian people, it's time for Assad to go.”

    "He is as irrelevant to Syria's future as Qaddafi is to Libya's."

    Assad on Sunday scoffed at Western calls to quit over his deadly crackdown on dissent, saying such calls were "worthless.”

    The president's TV appearance was his first since US President Barack Obama called on him to stand down, a demand quickly echoed by the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Spain.

    -AFP/NOW Lebanon



    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=336477


    Syria mobilizing troops for conflict with U.S., NATO
    Sources: President Assad warned of international campaign if he doesn't step aside
    Posted: August 21, 2011
    5:49 pm Eastern
    By Aaron Klein
    © 2011 WND

    JERUSALEM – Syrian President Bashar Assad is taking military measures to prepare for a possible U.S.-NATO campaign against his regime, WND has learned.

    While Assad struck a conciliatory tone in an interview today with his state-run television network, he also instructed the Syrian military to be prepared for an air or ground campaign if the international community determines his pledges of reform are not enough.

    Last week, WND first reported Turkey secretly passed a message to Damascus that if it does not implement major democratic reforms, NATO may attack Assad's regime, according to Egyptian security officials.

    The Egyptian security officials said the message was coordinated with NATO members, specifically with the U.S. and European Union.

    Assad has been widely accused of ordering massacres on militants and protesters engaged in an insurgency targeting his regime.

    The Egyptian officials said Turkish leaders, speaking for NATO, told Assad that he has until March to implement democratization that would allow free elections as well as major constitutional reforms.

    This past Thursday, Obama officially asked Assad to step down to pave the way for a democratic system in Syria.

    Today, Assad states he is "not worried" about the insurgency targeting his regime.

    The Syrian president repeated plans to introduce reforms to Syria. He said a committee to study reforms would need at least six months to work.

    That wasn't enough for a group of opposition leaders, who convened in Istanbul over the weekend in a bid to form a transitional "national council" to govern their country in a post-Bashar Assad era.

    According to informed Middle Eastern security officials speaking to WND, Assad asked his military to make specific preparations in the event of a U.S.-led NATO campaign similar to the military coalition now targeting Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi.


    George Soros-funded doctrine with White House ties

    The Libya bombings have been widely regarded as a test of a military doctrine called "Responsibility to Protect."

    In his address to the nation in April explaining the NATO campaign in Libya, Obama cited the doctrine as the main justification for U.S. and international airstrikes against Libya.

    Responsibility to Protect, or Responsibility to Act, as cited by Obama, is a set of principles, now backed by the United Nations, based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege but a responsibility that can be revoked if a country is accused of "war crimes," "genocide," "crimes against humanity" or "ethnic cleansing."

    The term "war crimes" has at times been indiscriminately used by various United Nations-backed international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, or ICC, which applied it to Israeli anti-terror operations in the Gaza Strip. There has been fear the ICC could be used to prosecute U.S. troops who commit alleged "war crimes" overseas.

    The Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect is the world's leading champion of the military doctrine.

    As WND reported, billionaire activist George Soros is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect. Several of the doctrine's main founders also sit on boards with Soros.

    WND reported the committee that devised the Responsibility to Protect doctrine included Arab League Secretary General Amre Moussa as well as Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, a staunch denier of the Holocaust who long served as the deputy of late Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

    Also the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy has a seat on the advisory board of the 2001 commission that originally founded Responsibility to Protect. The commission is called the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. It invented the term "responsibility to protect" while defining its guidelines.

    The Carr Center is a research center concerned with human rights located at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

    Samantha Power, the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights, was Carr's founding executive director and headed the institute at the time it advised in the founding of Responsibility to Protect.

    With Power's center on the advisory board, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty first defined the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

    Power reportedly heavily influenced Obama in consultations leading to the decision to bomb Libya.

    Two of the global group's advisory board members, Ramesh Thakur and Gareth Evans, are the original founders of the doctrine, with the duo even coining the term "responsibility to protect."

    As WND reported, Soros' Open Society Institute is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect. Also, Thakur and Evans sit on multiple boards with Soros.

    Soros' Open Society is one of only three nongovernmental funders of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Government sponsors include Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Rwanda and the U.K.

    Board members of the group include former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former Ireland President Mary Robinson and South African activist Desmond Tutu. Robinson and Tutu have recently made solidarity visits to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as members of a group called The Elders, which includes former President Jimmy Carter.

    Annan once famously stated, "State sovereignty, in its most basic sense, is being redefined – not least by the forces of globalization and international co-operation. States are ... instruments at the service of their peoples and not vice versa."


    Soros: Right to 'penetrate nation-states'

    Soros himself outlined the fundamentals of Responsibility to Protect in a 2004 Foreign Policy magazine article entitled "The People's Sovereignty: How a New Twist on an Old Idea Can Protect the World's Most Vulnerable Populations."

    In the article Soros said, "True sovereignty belongs to the people, who in turn delegate it to their governments."

    "If governments abuse the authority entrusted to them and citizens have no opportunity to correct such abuses, outside interference is justified," Soros wrote. "By specifying that sovereignty is based on the people, the international community can penetrate nation-states' borders to protect the rights of citizens.

    "In particular," he continued, "the principle of the people's sovereignty can help solve two modern challenges: the obstacles to delivering aid effectively to sovereign states, and the obstacles to global collective action dealing with states experiencing internal conflict."


    More George Soros ties

    "Responsibility" founders Evans and Thakur served as co-chairmen with Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corp. Charitable Foundation, on the advisory board of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which invented the term "responsibility to protect."

    In his capacity as co-chairman, Evans also played a pivotal role in initiating the fundamental shift from sovereignty as a right to "sovereignty as responsibility."

    Evans presented Responsibility to Protect at the July 23, 2009, United Nations General Assembly, which was convened to consider the principle.

    Thakur is a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, which is in partnership with an economic institute founded by Soros.

    Soros is on the executive board of the International Crisis Group, a "crisis management organization" for which Evans serves as president-emeritus.

    WND previously reported how the group has been petitioning for the U.S. to normalize ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition in Egypt, where longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak was recently toppled.

    Aside from Evans and Soros, the group includes on its board Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, as well as other personalities who champion dialogue with Hamas, a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    WND also reported the crisis group has petitioned for the Algerian government to cease "excessive" military activities against al-Qaida-linked groups and to allow organizations seeking to create an Islamic state to participate in the Algerian government.

    Soros' own Open Society Institute has funded opposition groups across the Middle East and North Africa, including organizations involved in the current chaos.


    'One World Order'

    WND reported that doctrine founder Thakur recently advocated for a "global rebalancing" and "international redistribution" to create a "New World Order."

    In a piece last March in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, "Toward a new world order," Thakur wrote, "Westerners must change lifestyles and support international redistribution."

    He was referring to a United Nations-brokered international climate treaty in which he argued, "Developing countries must reorient growth in cleaner and greener directions."

    In the opinion piece, Thakur then discussed recent military engagements and how the financial crisis has impacted the U.S.

    "The West's bullying approach to developing nations won't work anymore – global power is shifting to Asia," he wrote.

    "A much-needed global moral rebalancing is in train," he added.

    Thakur continued: "Westerners have lost their previous capacity to set standards and rules of behavior for the world. Unless they recognize this reality, there is little prospect of making significant progress in deadlocked international negotiations."

    Thakur contended "the demonstration of the limits to U.S. and NATO power in Iraq and Afghanistan has left many less fearful of 'superior' Western power."



    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.terra.net.lb/wp/Articles/...37&ChannelId=1


    Nasrallah voices support for Assad, urges talks
    August 27, 2011

    Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah threw his weight behind embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad Friday, calling on Arab and friendly states to combine efforts to end the nearly six-month-old unrest in Syria.

    He also called for dialogue to reach a peaceful resolution for the worsening crisis between the Syrian government and pro-democracy protesters demanding regime change, and warned of negative fallout from the turmoil in Syria on the entire region.

    “We all say and support the need for major and important reforms in Syria so that it can develop and become better as a result of its important position in the region. We want a Syria strong with reforms. This means that all those who claim they are friends of Syria and are keen on its unity must combine efforts to help calm the situation in Syria and push matters toward dialogue and a peaceful resolution,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech addressing a mass rally in the southern village of Maroun al-Ras near the border with Israel.

    “Anything else is dangerous for Syria, Palestine and the region,” Nasrallah added, speaking through a giant screen via a video link.

    Nasrallah’s speech was part of festivities held by Hezbollah throughout Lebanon this week to mark Quds Day, an annual Iranian-inspired event to show solidarity with Palestinians.

    Maroun al-Ras was the scene of a May 15 shooting in which Israeli troops fired on thousands of Palestinian refugees marching toward the border with Israel, killing seven and wounding 111.

    Nasrallah, whose party fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006, accused the West, notably the United States, of plotting to divide Syria in an attempt to create a new Middle East.

    “There are some who want to push Syria toward partition in order to serve the new Middle East project which we destroyed in Lebanon and in Gaza [in December 2008] and in the 2006 July war,” he said.

    He warned of the repercussions of instability in Syria on Lebanon and the entire region.

    “Lebanon is not immune to any developments in Syria. Negative or positive developments will affect the entire region,” Nasrallah said, adding, “America and the West want concessions, not reforms from the Syrian leadership. A proof of this is that there are other countries in the region ruled by dictatorships but they still enjoy protection from America and France.”

    The Hezbollah leader called for supporting Syria in the face of heavy regional and international pressures over the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests. Nasrallah also said reforms could not be carried out under street pressure. “We must stand with Syria so that it will not make concessions and to be able to carry out reforms in peace and confidence. No one can accept reforms under pressure. We know that the Syrian leadership is serious about reforms,” Nasrallah said.

    The United Nations estimates that Syrian security forces have killed more than 2,200 people since a popular uprising calling for Assad’s ouster erupted in mid-March.

    Nasrallah has been harshly criticized by the opposition March 14 parties for supporting the Syrian government against pro-democracy demonstrations.

    Hezbollah had previously described the uprising in Syria as a foreign conspiracy, echoing the words of Assad who dismissed the anti-government protesters as “armed terrorist groups” seeking to destabilize the country.

    Nasrallah praised Syria’s support for the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance. He noted that had it not been the support of the Syrian leadership, Hezbollah would not have succeeded in liberating south Lebanon from Israeli occupation in 2000.

    “This land here [south Lebanon] would not have been liberated had it not been for the resistance, and the resistance would not have won if had it not been for Syrian support,” Nasrallah said.

    Nasrallah said Lebanon was no longer the weakest country in the region as it used to be in the past. He said Lebanon is now strong and can stand up to Israel as a result of the tripartite equation: the army, the people and the resistance, adopted by the government of Prime Minister Najib Mikati and previous governments.

    He said Israel can no longer attack Lebanon at will as it used to do in the past to escape from its domestic crises or problems with regional states. “Lebanon has become a trap for Israel,” he said.

    “A strong Lebanon can protect its sovereignty and independence. It has the will to reject resettlement [of Palestinians]. Resettlement will not happen. Had Lebanon been weak, resettlement would have happened,” he said.

    Nasrallah accused the United States and Israel of plotting with the assistance of some Lebanese groups whom he did not name to destroy the army, people and resistance formula as a service to Israel.

    “I am not accusing anyone of collaboration, but you are serving Israel with or without your knowledge,” he said.

    “Targeting the army and inciting opposition against it and calling on officers to revolt, in whose interest is this? Is it in the interest of Lebanon, Palestine and the resistance?” Nasrallah asked.

    Future bloc MP Khaled Daher slammed the army and its commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi earlier this week when he accused the army intelligence of torturing, insulting and beating residents in north Lebanon, describing the acts as vengeance against Sunnis and Christians that support the March 14 coalition.

    In his speech, Nasrallah praised the popular uprisings in Egypt and Libya which led to the overthrow of the two countries’ authoritarian leaders.

    He said the disappearance of senior Shiite cleric Imam Musa Sadr in Libya on Aug. 31, 1978 was one of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s worst crimes. Nasrallah called on the Libyan rebels to uncover the fate of Sadr and his two companions who vanished with him in Libya.


    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=235616


    'Arab League to increase pressure on Syria'
    By REUTERS
    08/27/2011 15:45

    CAIRO - Arab governments will step up pressure on Syria's President Bashar Assad at the Arab League on Saturday with a demand he end the bloody crackdown on protesters trying to remove him, a delegate to the League said ahead of the meeting.

    The Syrian government has spent five months trying to crush street unrest using troops and tanks, killing at least 2,200 protesters according to the United Nations.

    "There has been an agreement in talks held between the Arab states on ... pressuring the Syrian regime to completely stop the military operations and withdraw its forces," the delegate to the 22-member Arab League's council told Reuters.

    "A clear message (will be sent) to the Syrian president that it has become unacceptable for the Arab states to stay silent on what is happening in Syria, especially following the Security Council's move to impose sanctions on Syrian officials and the condemnation from the United Nations Human Rights Council," said the delegate, who asked not to be named.

    He said Arab foreign ministers would also discuss a proposal to send a ministerial delegation to Damascus to "directly inform the Syrian leader of the Arab position".

    International condemnation of the repression escalated this month after Assad sent the army into several cities including Hama, Deir al-Zor and Latakia. Some Arab states have broken months of silence to call for an end to the violence.

    It will be the first official Arab League meeting on Syria since the start of the uprising. The meeting was due to begin at 9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT)

    The delegate said it was unlikely the Cairo-based body would suspend Syria's membership, as it did with Libya after the start of the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi in February.

    In March, the League backed a UN Security Council resolution allowing NATO warplanes to patrol Libyan airspace and bomb Gaddafi's forces to protect civilians. Its approval was seen as necessary for that operation to go ahead.

    Many Arab commentators have criticized the League for its timid reaction to the violence in Syria. It spent months only voicing "concern", suggesting divisions among its members, some of which are facing their own public protests.

    Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah issued a rare condemnation of a powerful Arab neighbor on Aug. 8, demanding an end to the bloodshed and recalling his ambassador from Damascus.

    Bahrain and Kuwait recalled their ambassadors hours after the Saudi king's decision and the Sunni Islam's most venerable institution of learning, al-Azhar in Cairo, called the Syrian assault on protesters an unacceptable "human tragedy."


    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7...114429,00.html


    Iran warns of regional crisis if Syria falls
    Published: 08.27.11, 18:01 / Israel News

    Syria's powerful ally Iran warned Saturday that a power vacuum in Damascus could spark an unprecedented regional crisis, as thousands of protesters insisted they will defy tanks and bullets until President Bashar Assad is toppled.

    The 5-month-old uprising in Syria has left Assad with few international allies - with the vital exception of Iran, which the US and other nations say is helping drive the deadly crackdown on dissent. (AP)

    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-0...st-unrest.html


    Russia Warns Assad Ouster May Trigger Collapse, Mideast Unrest
    By Henry Meyer - Aug 23, 2011 6:16 AM GMT-0300

    Efforts by the West to force regime change in Syria after intervening to oust Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi risk triggering the country’s collapse and further instability in the Middle East, a senior Russian official said.

    “I would advise all countries thinking about Syria to keep in mind the negative example of Libya,” Konstantin Kosachyov, the head of the lower house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said in telephone interview in Moscow yesterday. “The risk of civil war there is even greater than in Libya, which would lead to the collapse of the country.”

    Russia this week rejected demands from the U.S. and the European Union for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down because of his regime’s crackdown on five-month-old protests. Russia maintains its only military facility in the Middle East in Syria, a Soviet-era ally that is also a major buyer of Russian weapons.

    The success of the rebels in Libya has implications for U.S. policy toward Syria, said Ben Rhodes, deputy U.S. national security adviser for strategic communications.

    “It sends a message to Assad that the trends are against those who try to crack down and stifle change,” Rhodes said.

    U.S. President Barack Obama, joined by the leaders of the U.K. France, Germany and Canada, on Aug. 18 called on Assad to step down.

    Syria, which neighbors Israel, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, is “one of the key countries in the region,” and its religious diversity makes the nation vulnerable to internal conflict, Kosachyov said.


    Splinter and Fight

    Anti-Qaddafi forces, which were backed by North Atlantic Treaty Organization air strikes, will probably splinter and fight among themselves once the current campaign is over, according to Kosachyov.

    “I don’t want to be a prophet of ill tidings, but I fear Libya is facing serious unrest,” he said. “There are various political forces, which will probably end up in conflict. This is a more realistic outcome than a happy ending in which democracy replaces dictatorship.”

    Russia, with power to veto United Nations Security Council resolutions, abstained from a March vote that authorized the air campaign by the U.S. and its allies and enabled rebel forces to halt an offensive by Qaddafi’s forces.


    ‘Crusade’

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, potential candidates in next year’s presidential election, clashed over the Libya campaign, with Medvedev saying it was “unacceptable for Putin to describe NATO’s involvement as a ‘‘crusade.’’

    While later criticizing NATO for overstepping its mandate to protect civilians in Libya, Russia in May joined calls for Qaddafi’s departure.

    That won’t help Russia keep billions of dollars in contracts it signed with Qaddafi’s regime, Aram Shegunts, head of the Arab-Russian Chamber of Industry in Moscow.

    ‘‘Russian companies will lose everything,” Shegunts said in a telephone interview today. “NATO countries spent billions of dollars on this campaign and they won’t give our companies a slice of the action.”

    Russian weapons exporters may lose contracts worth $4 billion, Sergei Chemezov, head of state-owned Russian Technologies Corp., said March 3 after the UN imposed an arms embargo on Libya. Potential civilian contracts in Libya, including for the construction of a railroad network, are worth “billions of dollars,” Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said on March 22.

    Energy companies such as state-run gas exporter OAO Gazprom and oil producer OAO Tatneft also have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in the country.


    Navy Base

    In Syria, Russia maintains a servicing point for visiting navy vessels in the port of Tartus, which was a permanent base for Soviet warships in the Mediterranean in the Cold War.

    Russia has weapons contracts with Syria worth at least $3 billion, according to Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Moscow based Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. The orders include Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles, MiG-29 fighter jets and Pantsir short-range air-defense systems.

    Russia won’t halt weapons deliveries to Syria, Anatoly Isaikin, the head of arms exporter Rosoboronexport, said Aug. 17. The country has repeatedly rejected Western demands to impose sanctions on its Syrian ally.

    The U.S., Britain and France are preparing to ask the UN Security Council this week to freeze the foreign financial assets of Syrian president Assad, a Western diplomat said yesterday. The measure would also bar foreign travel by the Syrian leader and call for an arms embargo on Syria, the diplomat said.


    To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=235695


    Turkish president: We have lost our confidence in Syria
    By REUTERS
    08/28/2011 12:33

    ISTANBUL - Turkish President Abdullah Gul said he has lost confidence in Syria, and that the situation has reached a point where changes would be too little too late, Turkish state-run news agency Anatolian reported on Sunday.

    Commenting on the situation in Turkey's neighbor, Gul told Anatolian in an interview: "We are really very sad. Incidents are said to be 'finished' and then another 17 people are dead. How many will it be today? Clearly we have reached a point where anything would be too little too late. We have lost our confidence."

    Earlier on Sunday, Arab states told Syria to "resort to reason" and end months of bloodshed after some of the most intense protests in Damascus since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad.

    Arab League foreign ministers also agreed to send Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby to Syria to push for political and economic reforms in the country ruled by Assad's family for 41 years.

    The Arab League's move came as Syria's closest ally Iran also said Damascus must listen to the "legitimate demands" of its people, adding, however, that any change in Syria's ruling system or a power vacuum in Damascus would be dangerous for the region.

    Overnight Saturday forces loyal to Assad fought gun battles near a northeast Damascus suburb with army defectors who had refused to shoot at a pro-democracy protest, residents said on Sunday.

    Dozens of soldiers fled into an area of orchards and farmland after pro-Assad forces fired at a large crowd of demonstrators near the suburb of Harasta to prevent them from marching on the capital in defiance of an Interior Ministry order not to demonstrate in Damascus, they said.

    "The army has been firing heavy machine guns throughout the night at al-Ghouta (old gardens surrounding Damascus) and they were being met with response from smaller rifles," a resident of Harasta told Reuters by phone.

    Syrian authorities have repeatedly denied any army defections taking place. They have expelled independent media since the uprising against Assad, from Syria's minority Alawite sect, erupted in Mach.

    Activists have been reporting increasing defections among the rank-and-file army, mostly drawn from Syria's Sunni majority but dominated by an Alawite officer core effectively under the command of Assad's brother Maher.

    The United Nations says 2,200 people have been killed since Assad sent in tanks and troops to crush the demonstrations that erupted in March after the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt were toppled by popular protests.


    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7...114875,00.html


    Iran warns NATO against entering Syria
    Published: 08.28.11, 17:01 / Israel News

    Iran warned NATO on Sunday against any temptation to intervene in Syria, saying that rather than the defeating a regime it would be bogged down in a "quagmire" similar to Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Syria's closest ally in the Middle East, Iran has in recent days tempered its strong support for President Bashar al-Assad with calls for him to respect the "legitimate demands" of his people. (Reuters)

    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/...77P12M20110828


    Army fights defectors near Damascus: residents
    By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
    AMMAN | Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:19am EDT

    (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fought gun battles overnight near a northeast Damascus suburb with army defectors who had refused to shoot at a pro-democracy protest, residents said on Sunday.

    Five months into a popular uprising, Assad is under pressure from street protests, galvanized by the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and from Arab foreign ministers who told Syria early on Sunday to work to end bloodshed "before it is too late".

    The Arab League decided to send its Secretary-General to Damascus to push for reforms. Turkey's president said he had lost confidence in Syria.

    Dozens of soldiers defected and fled into al-Ghouta, an area of orchards and farmland, after pro-Assad forces fired at a large crowd of demonstrators near the Damascus suburb of Harasta to prevent them from marching on the capital, residents said.

    "The army has been firing heavy machineguns throughout the night at al-Ghouta and they were being met with response from smaller rifles," a resident of Harasta told Reuters by phone.

    It was the first reported defection around the capital, where Assad's core forces are based.


    OFFICIAL DENIAL

    Syrian authorities have repeatedly denied any army defections have been taking place. They have expelled independent media since the uprising against Assad, from Syria's minority Alawite sect, erupted in Mach.

    Activists have been reporting increasing defections among the rank-and-file army, mostly drawn from Syria's Sunni majority but dominated by an Alawite officer core effectively under the command of Assad's brother Maher.

    A statement published on the Internet by the Free Officers, a group that says it represents defectors, said "large defections" occurred in Harasta and security forces and shabbiha (militiamen) loyal to Assad were chasing the defectors in the direction of the gardens and districts inside Damascus.

    The statement said that a colonel in Air Force Intelligence, who had been in charge of raids and arrests by the secret police, was hit by a bullet in his head in the nearby suburb of Saqba.

    The escalation came after Syria's Interior Ministry warned Damascus residents on Saturday against demonstrating after some of the most intense protests in the capital since the start of the uprising against Assad.

    President Abdullah Gul of Turkey, a former ally which has become increasingly critical of Syria, said the situation had reached a point where changes would be too little too late, Turkish state-run news agency Anatolian reported.

    Gul told Anatolian in an interview: "We are really very sad. Incidents are said to be 'finished' and then another 17 people are dead. How many will it be today? Clearly we have reached a point where anything would be too little too late. We have lost our confidence."

    Assad's closest ally, Shi'ite Iran, with which he has been strengthening ties to the disquiet of Syria's Sunni majority, said Damascus must listen to the "legitimate demands" of its people. But Tehran also said that any change in Syria's ruling system would be dangerous for the Middle East.


    "RESORT TO REASON"

    In Cairo, the Arab League said in a statement after an extraordinary meeting that it was concerned "over the dangerous developments on the Syrian arena that had caused thousands of casualties" and "stresses the importance of ending bloodshed and to resort to reason before it is too late".

    It was the first official Arab League meeting on Syria since the start of the uprising, inspired by revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt that sparked unrest across the Middle East and North Africa. The foreign ministers said Syria's stability was crucial for the Arab world and the whole region.

    The United Nations says 2,200 people have been killed since Assad sent in tanks and troops to crush months of street demonstrations calling for an end to his family's 41-year rule.

    Syrian authorities have blamed armed "terrorist groups" for the bloodshed and say 500 police and army have been killed.

    The latest demonstrations in Damascus were partly sparked by an attack on Saturday by Assad's forces on a popular cleric, Osama al-Rifai. He was treated with several stitches to his head after they stormed al-Rifai mosque complex in the Kfar Sousa district of the capital, home to the secret police headquarters, to prevent a protest from coming out of the mosque.

    "Some of the 'amn' (security) went on the roof and began firing from their AK-47s to scare the crowd. Around 10 people were wounded, with two hit by bullets in the neck and chest," a cleric who lives in the area told Reuters by phone.


    (Additional reporting by Sami Aboudi in Cairo; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)


    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    Default Re: Syria

    http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDet...#ixzz1WPQIcXFw


    Turkey says it has lost confidence in the Syrian regime
    August 28, 2011 share

    Turkey has lost confidence in the Syrian regime as its deadly crackdown on protestors continues, the Anatolia news agency quoted President Abdullah Gul as saying on Sunday.

    "Actually [the situation in Syria] reached a level that everything is too little, too late. We lost our confidence," Gul told Anatolia in an interview to mark his fourth year in office, referring to unfulfilled promises Syria's President Bashar al-Assad had made to halt the onslaught.

    "Today in the world there is no place for authoritarian administrations, one-party rule, closed regimes. Those either will be replaced by force, or the governors of states will take the initiative to administer," Gul said.

    "Everyone should know that we are with the Syrian people ... What is fundamental is the people," he said.

    Ankara, whose ties with Damascus have flourished in recent years, has repeatedly called on Assad to initiate reforms but has stopped short of calling for his departure.

    The Syrian regime has sought to crush weeks of protests with brutal force, killing more than 2,200 civilians and arresting at least 12,000 dissenters, rights activists say.

    The latest bloodletting claimed two lives in Syria on Saturday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    On Monday, UN leader Ban Ki-moon had said it was "troubling" that Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly failed to keep promises including one to halt his military onslaught against the opposition.

    -AFP/NOW Lebanon


    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    http://nowlebanon.com/NewsArticleDetails.aspx?ID=306528


    Russian envoy meets Syria's Assad
    August 29, 2011 share

    President Bashar al-Assad on Monday met a top Russian envoy who delivered a message from President Dmitry Medvedev on the situation in the protest-gripped country, a Syrian official told AFP.

    "President Assad received a message this morning from President Dmitry Medvedev, delivered to him by the deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov," the official said.

    He said the message dealt with "Syria's steadfast position," but did not elaborate.

    Russia's UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, had said last week that Moscow would send an envoy to Damascus, as the UN Security Council remains divided over new sanctions on Syria because its crackdown on dissent.

    Moscow staunchly opposes bids by the United States and European powers to push for a UN Security Council resolution targeting Assad, and has offered a counter-resolution.

    The Russian text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, urges Syria to expedite reforms.

    Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and the United States drew up their sanctions resolution last week, but Russia and China have refused to attend informal talks on the document.

    Russia has hinted that it could veto any sanctions resolution put to a vote.

    Moscow's rival resolution "calls upon the Syrian government to expedite the implementation of reforms in order to effectively address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of Syria's people."

    But it also "urges the Syrian opposition to engage in political dialogue" with the Assad government on reforms.

    Churkin has said the proposed Russian resolution already had "strong support" from some nations on the 15-member council.

    According to UN estimates, more than 2,200 people have been killed in the Syrian regime's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since mid-March.

    -AFP/NOW Lebanon


    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    Default Re: Syria

    Moscow staunchly opposes bids by the United States and European powers to push for a UN Security Council resolution targeting Assad, and has offered a counter-resolution.
    Anything "for the good of the world" is opposed by Moscow. LOL
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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=236037


    US sanctions Syrian FM over crackdown on protesters
    By REUTERS
    08/30/2011 21:13

    WASHINGTON - The Obama administration froze the US assets of Syria's foreign minister and two other senior officials on Tuesday in response to Syria's increasingly violent crackdown against anti-government protesters.

    Along with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, the Treasury Department action targets Bouthaina Shaaban, a top political adviser and spokeswoman for Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Syria's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul Karim Ali.

    The move comes as the United States, the European Union and some of Syria's neighbors seek to ratchet up pressure on Assad, who has responded to the demonstrations with lethal military force and detentions.

    US President Barack Obama on Aug. 18 called on Assad to leave power.

    "We are are bringing additional pressure to bear today directly on three senior Assad regime officials who are principal defenders of the regime's activities," David Cohen, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial Intelligence, said in a statement.

    The order freezes assets that the three officials have that are subject to US jurisdiction and generally prohibits US people from engaging in transactions with them.

    Treasury's action was the seventh time since April that the US government has imposed sanctions on Syria. Previous rounds have targeted Assad and other top aides; Syria's security forces; and Syrian state-owned banks and the energy sector.

    Neither the Syrian leader nor the protesters have shown signs of backing down. Four demonstrators were shot dead in southern Syria on Tuesday after prayers marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, residents and activists said.

    Moallem, a former ambassador to Washington, had been widely seen as a moderate within Assad's Cabinet.

    Shaaban, one of the few women in prominent positions in the Syrian government, in the past has appeared at Washington events to defend Damascus' viewpoint. Once anti-government protests broke out in the spring, she articulated the Assad government's public response.


    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    Default Re: Syria

    This is what make me worried about UN intervention in Syria:


    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    My concern is that with the threat of losing their power, Assad may use missiles with chemical weapons against Israel, thus leaving to a regional conflict in Middle East.

    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    Default Re: Syria

    If he does.... I think Michael will be wrong. There will be a severe retaliation.
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    Default Re: Syria

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7...116145,00.html


    Syrian security forces carry out raids, arrests
    Published: 08.31.11, 13:23 / Israel News

    Activists say Syrian security forces searching for anti-government protesters are raiding houses in central Syria and making arrests. The activists say troops backed by tanks and military vehicles have entered districts in Homs and Hama as part of efforts to crush five months of street protests against President Bashar Assad.

    Wednesday's raids come a day after security forces killed seven people as thousands of protesters poured out of mosques and marched through cemeteries at the start of Eid al-Fitr, a holiday when pious Muslims traditionally visit graves and pray for the dead. (AP)

    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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    Default Re: Syria

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Donaldson View Post
    If he does.... I think Michael will be wrong. There will be a severe retaliation.

    And with this retaliatory attack things could get out of control rather quickly.

    Saint Paul in the Ephesians 6:12


    "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."



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