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Thread: Syria: a civil war (closed)

  1. #181
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Russia's UN veto: an explanation

    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    (Edited).. does anyone know of research or critical analysis about the seemingly aberrant, though consistent, UN voting behavior of China and Russia?
    Jon,

    I caught a very short Q&A on BBC Radio Four's Today programme, with a very short comment by a BBC Russian Service analyst and a Syrian reporter in exile (Starts 2:55):http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b01bldpj

    There's also a BBC analysis, on Russia's stance:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16892728

    An interim offer of help.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-06-2012 at 11:20 AM. Reason: Add time of radio slot
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    Default Today's Zaman - part 1

    After having been relatively quiet about Syria in the past couple of weeks, TD's News Section (6 Feb 2012) has multiple Syria stories, including the lede story, Syrian forces bombard Homs, 50 killed:

    6 February 2012 / REUTERS, BEIRUT

    Syrian forces bombarded Homs on Monday, killing 50 people in a sustained assault on several districts of the city which has become a centre of armed opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian National Council opposition group said.

    "The tally that we have received from various activists in Homs since the shelling started at six this morning is 50, mostly civilians," the group's Catherine al-Talli told Reuters.

    "The regime is acting as if it were immune to international intervention and has a free hand to use violence against the people," she said.

    The bombardment came a day after the United States promised harsher sanctions against Damascus in response to Russian and Chinese vetoes of a draft UN resolution that would have backed an Arab plan urging Assad to step aside.
    ...
    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would work with other nations to try to tighten "regional and national" sanctions against Assad's government "to dry up the sources of funding and the arms shipments that are keeping the regime's war machine going".

    "We will work to expose those who are still funding the regime and sending it weapons that are used against defenseless Syrians, including women and children," she said. "We will work with the friends of a democratic Syria around the world to support the opposition's peaceful political plans for change."

    Clinton did not say which nations might band together or precisely what they might do. But it appeared that the United States might seek to help organise a "Friends of Syria" group - proposed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy after the veto - to advance the Arab League initiative given the inability to make headway at the U.N. because of Russian and Chinese opposition.
    I'd expect the overt Russian legal response to be that such sanctions are "economic aggression" - a position taken since the 1930s as to sanctions they do not like.

    OIC voices deep regret over no UN agreement on Syria:

    5 February 2012 / TODAY'S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL

    The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has expressed deep regret over the failure of the UN Security Council to reach an agreement on a draft resolution on Syria which called for the settlement of the current crisis in Syria and the immediate cessation of all acts of violence.
    The organization in a statement on Sunday expressed the hope that the inability of the Security Council to adopt the resolution on the Syrian crisis will not result in more deaths in Syria.

    The General Secretariat renewed its call on all Syrian parties to save the country from the risk of sliding into civil war, a situation that threatens peace, security and stability in Syria and the region as a whole.

    The General Secretariat condemned the ongoing violence, which led to the deaths of large numbers of innocent victims in the city of Homs, and called on the Syrian government to focus on a political solution as the best way to resolve the Syrian crisis. It also called on the government to work to institute the reforms it promised to fulfill the hopes and aspirations of the Syrian people towards reform and change.
    Organization of Islamic Cooperation - Wiki.

    Chief army defector promises fight to free Syria:

    5 February 2012 / AP, BEIRUT

    The commander of rebel Syrian soldiers said Sunday there is no choice but to use military force to drive President Bashar Assad's regime from power as fears mounted that government troops will escalate their deadly crackdown on dissent after Russia and China vetoed a UN resolution aimed at resolving the crisis.
    ...
    "There is no other road" except military action to topple Assad after the vetoes at the UN, the commander of the Free Syrian Army told The Associated Press by telephone from Turkey.

    "We consider that Syria is occupied by a criminal gang and we must liberate the country from this gang," Col. Riad al-Asaad said. "This regime does not understand the language of politics, it only understands the language of force."
    ...
    A deeply sensitive question is whether such a coalition would back the Free Syrian Army. There appears to be deep hesitation among Western countries, fearing a further militarization of the conflict.

    In an interview with Al-Arabiya TV on Saturday after the U.N., the head of the Syrian National Council Burhan Ghalioun said a coalition might give the FSA support "if necessary" to "protect the Syrian people."
    BL: The "Western countries" are nowhere near armed intervention.

    Turkey warns Assad to not misread failed resolution at the UN:

    5 February 2012 / TODAY'S ZAMAN WITH WIRES, ANKARA

    Turkey warned the Syrian regime against misreading the will of international community after the UN Security Council failed to adopt a strong resolution following a veto by Russia and China.

    “The rejection of this resolution must never constitute a pretext for the Syrian administration to add new mistakes to the existing ones,” a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry said on Saturday. ...

    Speaking to a group of reporters on the sidelines of the 48th Munich Security Conference in Germany over the weekend, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu stated that Turkey will not sit idly by in the face of killings perpetrated against civilian protestors in its southern neighbor. He did not specify, however, what steps Ankara is considering against Syria at this juncture.

    Delivering a speech at conference, Davutoğlu said Turkey, as a neighboring country, had a moral responsibility for the protection of Syrian people. If needed, Turkey could host Syrian people wanting to escape the violence, he said, adding that this could be a powerful signal to the Assad administration. He dismissed claims that Turkey held talks under a NATO banner for a military intervention in Syria as baseless. Commenting on Iran, Davutoğlu said that a military intervention in Iran would be disaster for the region and urged negotiations instead.
    ...
    Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç slammed Iran on Sunday, saying that if Tehran keeps silent in face of the atrocities committed in Homs, it should take out the word “Islam” from the official name. “We know there is a country called the ‘Islamic Republic of Iran.' It is not a republic of a certain sect. Intentionally killing Muslims on such a [Holy] day is not something that can be disregarded,” he said in Bursa province. Arınç also claimed that the number of causalities in Homs has reached 500.

    Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ also warned that the Syrian crisis should not be treated as political rivalry among competing global powers. “Countries should view Syria from a humanitarian perspective. If they continue to see it from a political rivalry persective, the Syrian regime will keep killing its own people,” he said in The Hague.

    Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Manisa deputy Naci Bostancı, who is also deputy chairman of the Human Rights Commission in the Turkish Parliament, told Today's Zaman that the Assad regime continues to misread the demands of its own people as well as calls from international stakeholders. “The regime will see this failed resolution as support for its actions,” he warned, adding that the fate of Assad was sealed no matter how hard he tries to cling onto power. ...
    These statements simply restate the Turkish position held over the past few months.

    From the same article, we learn that Syria has learned some "Lawfare" art:

    Syrian UN envoy Bashar Ja'afari denied that Syrian forces killed hundreds of civilians in Homs, saying that "no sensible person" would launch such an attack the night before the Security Council was set to discuss his country. Syrian Information Minister Adnan Mahmud accused Syrian rebels of shelling Homs to "to swing the vote" at the Security Council. "The reports on some satellite channels that the Syrian army shelled neighborhoods in Homs are fabricated and unfounded," Mr. Mahmud said in a statement to AFP. The online news media firatnews.com, a mouthpiece for the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which stages attacks against Turkey, hailed the veto decision of Russian and China and reported on what Mr. Mahmud had said with regard to Homs.
    There were reports that the Syrian army had engaged in a gun battle with the opposition forces nearby Turkish border village of Guvecci overlooking Syria. The Cihan News Agency filed a story on Sunday from Hatay province that villagers in Guvecci reported gun fire on Saturday night. A few bullets hit a solar panel on the roof of a house in the village and authorities urged residents to stay indoors.
    and that limited fallout occurs on the Turkish side of the border.

    cont. in part 2.

  3. #183
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    Default Today's Zaman - part 2

    Turkish FM: Turks, Arabs to pay the price for Russian, Chinese veto:

    5 February 2012 / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,

    Strongly criticizing Russia and China for vetoing a UN Security Council resolution aimed at ending the bloodshed in Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said Turks and Arabs will pay the price for these nay votes.

    “They cast the vote but Arabs and Turks will pay the price for it,” he was quoted as saying by Turkey's NTV news channel. ...

    The Turkish foreign minister once again vowed solidarity with the Syrian people, saying his country would welcome Syria's entire population with open arms. “Our doors are open to the Syrians who are currently in trouble,” he said.
    ...
    NATO member Turkey shares a 900-kilometer-long border with Syria. Top Turkish leaders have criticized Syria's crackdown on protesters many times and called on former ally Bashar al-Assad to step down. Turkey has also imposed sanctions on Damascus.

    Turkey is currently hosting several thousand Syrian refugees, including members of the rebel Syrian Free Army, at camps, while the opposition Syrian National Council meets regularly in İstanbul.
    To aged historians of the Cold War (), the question is whether the closer analogy here is 1954 Guatamala or 1961 Bay of Pigs.

    Russia, China and Iran have their share in every drop of blood Assad sheds:

    Bloodthirsty Bashar al-Assad is committing a new crime against humanity every day and for all the world to see. On the anniversary of the massacre his father committed in Hama 30 years ago, on Feb. 3, 1982, he carried out a complete butchery in Homs.
    ...
    ... In this process, the impotency or uselessness of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), where Russia and China, as the main supporters of Syria, enjoy veto power, was proven once again. Because of these country's vetoes, the UNSC not only failed to pass a resolution to take preventive action against the massacres in Syria, but was also unable to issue a resolution to support the Arab League's decision to make Assad resign and to condemn the human rights violations by Syria.

    ...This was proof enough that the UNSC is a good-for-nothing organization while a despot is ruthlessly killing civilians before the eyes of the civilized world, and it must be reorganized according to current circumstances.
    ...
    The responsibility of the blood spilled in Syria will fall not only on the shoulders of the despotic Assad regime. Along with Russia and China, which are acting as supports to this illegitimate system of oppression, Iran, which ruthlessly continues to lend full support to this bloody regime because of a sectarian affinity and its geopolitical interests in the region, as well as the groups in the region who are under Iran's influence, will be held responsible as well. Each drop of blood spilled in Syria will forever remain as a black stain on the foreheads of Russia and China as well as Iran, who similarly legitimizes this tyranny.
    BL: A trioika and the congruent interests of its members (Russia, China and Iran) are the real reasons (as opposed to the "legal cover") for the veto and support of Syria (otherwise a bit player - although in author Kenes' opinion, the UN is of even lower impact).

    Iran's suicide:

    The Syrian crisis is well nigh the biggest blow to the current Iranian regime's prestige since it was established in 1979. It is now safe to argue that Iran is squandering the soft power it has been exercising among the various Muslim groups around the globe.

    Whether Shiite or Sunni, many Muslims have valued the Iranian model as a highly significant one. Its domestic problems and weaknesses notwithstanding, Iran has been appreciated as the alternative Muslim state model. Even those who are critical of the Iranian model have endorsed Iran's criticism of the West. No matter how differently Muslims have approached the Iranian regime, the crux of the matter has always been Tehran's elevated moral stature in Muslim politics. Iran's moral discourse on global politics has appealed to Muslims everywhere, so much so that mainstream anti-Iranian Muslims in other countries have trodden very carefully when speaking of Iran.
    ...
    As I noted above, all states have their national strategies. One can easily criticize each of them on moral grounds. However, there is a major factor that differentiates Iran from countries like Russia and China: The Muslim world has no expectations from China or Russia with regard to the Syrian crisis. Thus, no matter how amorally pragmatic it is, neither the Russian nor the Chinese agenda on Syria can frustrate the Muslim people. The Syrian crisis is firstly an internal Muslim-world problem. It is the other Muslim states' reactions that are of primary importance in the global Muslim community. Therefore, the silence from Tehran on the killings of civilians in Syria frustrates all Muslims who expect a decisive moral interdiction from Iran when a state is killing its Muslim citizens.
    ...
    Iran certainly has the right to formulate its national strategy on regional issues. Moreover, many of the Iranian theses on the future of Syria cannot be said to be false. Meanwhile, one can find concrete reasons for criticizing the intra-Muslim positions of other Muslim states, including Turkey's. But none of these considerations can hide the fact that Iran has a historical responsibility to be active in defusing the Syrian crisis. There is a deadlock now, and Iran is among the few countries that can push this case towards a humane and local resolution. If Tehran fails to try, it will tear a serious hole in the fabric of other Muslims' alignment with the country.


    This article is a good example of the point made in "Unrestricted Warfare" that a moralistic and somewhat sanctimonious nation - taking the lead in its "sphere of influence" - will be held to its own rules. From an agitprop technical critique, nicely done, author Bacik.

    Arab League got it all wrong:

    ...

    As an organization created in the atmosphere of the Cold War, the UN is no longer capable of issuing decisions that relieve the conscience of the international community.

    And it is not realistic to expect such a structure to develop this capability in future.

    Turkey will be walking on thin ice while the balance of power in the region is being reshaped in a Cold War-like atmosphere.

    On one hand, Russia and Iran, which back the Assad regime, are our two major neighbors.

    On the other hand, there is the Kurdish issue, which may spread to Syria.

    There is also the likelihood of a Sunni-Shiite conflict as a result of any military operation against Syria.

    The ongoing protests in Bahrain are proof that Iran can play this card at the drop of a hat.

    Stability in Syria will be hard to attain without eliminating Iran’s concerns and considering Russia’s demands.

    The country with which we have the longest common border is on the way to descending into a civil war that may last for many years to come.

    A civil war in Syria is likely to cause much trouble for Turkey, given the fact that it has long suffered from the violence originating from this country.

    Today, one-third of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) consists of Syrian Kurds and the top positions within the organization are held by Syrian terrorists. And there are rumors that an independent Kurdish state will be established in northern Iraq in March. All these suggest that Turkey is heading toward a very critical period.

    Unlike the US and Russia, Turkey sees the developments in Syria as a domestic matter and recent developments indicate that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s concerns about the region were correct.

    Clearly, it would be to the benefit of all players in the region if Russia finds a formula that can secure its own strategic position.
    USAians might think US and Mexico to gain some "feel" for Turkey's view of Syria.

    cont. in part 3.
    Last edited by jmm99; 02-06-2012 at 06:25 PM.

  4. #184
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    Default Today's Zaman - part 3

    Would Turkey intervene in Syria?

    Recently, the Syrian regime has increased its operations against the opposition. The death toll has risen to such an unbearable level that the international community wants to step in. Yet, the UN is incapable of passing a resolution because Syria is strategically important for both Iran and Russia, and Russia has the right to veto resolutions before the UN Security Council.

    [Author Uslu discusses all military options other than Turkey, none feasible; and gets down to Turkey] ... The only remaining option in this case is Turkey.

    Turkey is against outside intervention in Syria. However, the level of bloodshed in Syria has created anger among the Turkish public towards Syria that may lead the government to reconsider its initial policies.

    Even if Turkey changes its position and is willing to intervene in Syria, Turkey would not form a collation with the Arab League to conduct such a military operation. There are two reasons for this. First, the Turkish political elite have a deep distrust of the West, especially since the EU abandoned Cyprus and left Turkey alone in many cases. Hence, Turkey would not intervene in Syria because the Turkish political elite think that such action would backfire and open new doors for other countries to intervene in Turkey’s domestic affairs if the Kurdish question gets out of control. For Turkey, there must be international recognition that international force is needed prior to intervention. It seems that US policy makers are trying to build a coalition that consists of the Arab League and Turkey, but this is not enough for Turkey to intervene.

    Second, Turkey has its own fears. Especially Iranian influence over some proxy organizations in Turkey and Bashar al-Assad’s influence on Turkey’s Alevi community make Turkey think twice when it comes to a military intervention in Syria. Pro-Iranian Turkish journalists, for instance, have threatened Turkey, stating Turkey’s Alevi community is unhappy with Turkey’s policies regarding Syria. There is evidence of this threat as Alevi journalists and intellectuals have been harshly criticizing the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government’s policies. Thus, for domestic reasons, too, Turkey is not likely to intervene.

    The only way Turkey would intervene would be if the conflict gets out of control and refuges pour into Turkey, if Turkish public anger reaches a level that the Turkish government has to intervene and if Turkey is allowed to lead NATO forces with the support of the Arab League.
    I'd not even speculate what back-channel offers are flowing back and forth, esp. given the other major topic in TZ - Iran and Israel.

    TZ (Today's Zaman - Wiki) is the English-version "paper of record" for Turkish centrists leaning to the right.

    I have in my mind an admittedly overly-sentamentalized word picture of the Turks:

    The detail of what happened will probably never be reported; the essence has been: The Turkish Brigade was destroyed. ... Tall, pale-eyed men in dark faces, in heavy greatcoats, wielding long bayonets, the Turks refused to fall back. There were observers who said some officers threw their hats to the ground, marking a spot beyond which they would not retreat, and, surrounded by the enemy, died "upon their fur". There were others, all else failing, who threw cold steel at the enemy in bayonet charges. Rarely has a small action, dimly seen, sketchily reported, sent such intimations of glory flashing across the world. ... But the Turks died.
    (from Fehrenbach, of course; This Kind of War, p.338). The Turks sent another brigade.

    Reading these "Young Turks" brings me up to the present-day reality.

    Regards

    Mike

  5. #185
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    A trioika and the congruent interests of its members (Russia, China and Iran) are the real reasons (as opposed to the "legal cover") for the veto and support of Syria
    Maybe I am still just being daft today, but what are the congruent interests of Russia, China, and Iran? The ability to stick it to the West (and specifically the US) through Lawfare?

  6. #186
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    Maybe I am still just being daft today, but what are the congruent interests of Russia, China, and Iran? The ability to stick it to the West (and specifically the US) through Lawfare?
    An assertion of sovereignty in general, and specifically an assertion of the right to use a strong hand against internal opposition in order to prevent a hypothetical even worse case scenario. That’s what comes to my mind, at least.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  7. #187
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Okay, that line of reasoning does make sense. And it does fit with what I already know about the rise of the first two powers, Russia and China.

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    Default No, not quite

    Jon & ganulv:

    Law ("Lawfare") is an instrument of policy (Politik in CvC terms); just as Force ("Warfare") is an instrument of policy (Politik in CvC terms). Obviously, the two "fares" (which boil down to how one conducts the struggle) have to co-ordinate in order to reach the endgoals set by the same policy. Law ("Lawfare") is really a subordinate instrument of the much larger political struggle. Force ("Warfare") is the primary instrument of the military struggle. All this is standard doctrine to the Russians and Chinese; and has been learned by the Iranians. Syria, of course, is a minnow here.

    NB: Russia, China and Iran all have solid histories and reasons for not wanting other states to intervene in Russian, Chinese and Iranian internal affairs. They also have solid histories and reasons for intervening and in the future wanting to intervene in other states' internal affairs. As such, they have to have different sets of rules for different occasions. We (US) are remarkably naive in this area - e.g., I remarked to myself how naive Quincy Wright was in his 1962 article as I read through it.

    More to the underlying policies: Russia, China and Iran have common economic interests - oil, for example; as to which others here with much more expertise can recount the precise relationships. Iran (Shia) has a strategic interest in at least equality with the ME Sunni states (Turkey, Saudi and Egypt; the last being a bit hors de combat at the moment). Turkey has moved (since 2003) into a position where it has some legitimate clout in the Sunni Arab world; and is less tied to NATO, the EU and the US. In 2003, Turkey established that its price was higher than the US was willing to pay - not a bad rep in that part of the World. Russia, of course, has a much more direct strategic interest than China in the Middle East - and a traditional interest in Iran. Turkey has been a traditional enemy of both Russia and Iran.

    Lawfare has tactical, operational (the organization & placement of "stuff") and strategic aspects. Its strategic aspect is almost by definition a part of a larger strategy. In short, one wages lawfare not for its own sake or merits (good or bad); but, to assist in reaching end goals driven by a greater policy. That policy is often unstated in the "lawfare" arguments (as opposed to a "simple" case for money damages where the policy end goal is explicitly stated in the legal pleadings - $$$).

    Lawfare works in part because a great many folks believe that facts and laws are determinate; that is, take a set of facts and apply the given law - and, voila, the correct (true, just, etc.) decision is derived logically. That is true only in the simplest cases; or in cases that are simplified because of the constraints imposed on the parties.

    The fact is that, if legal talent, expertise, experience, etc. are not constrained by time and money, both the facts and the law are indeterminate; that is, they can be shaped (manipulated; and that legally within the constraints of the given legal system). That methodology can reach results which are totally at odds with the theory that results follow from determinate facts and law. It also allows a party to "distinguish" between two situations that appear much the same to the less experienced observer. The essence of law is not logic, but experience.

    For example, the Russians have adopted positive (statutory) laws re: intervention in the internal affairs of other states that are based on international treaty laws (which the Russians initially drafted in whole or in part). Those international laws, either explicitly or by state practice, contain exceptions - which also are part of Russian law since it is based on I Law (etc.). Thus, the Russian law and I Law are really indeterminate because one can look to the rule, or to its exceptions, or to the exceptions to the exceptions. Given that the facts in interventions are complex and unclear (especially if one wants to make them such), the facts are also indeterminate.

    All this is not restricted to "Lawfare", but is simply the way in which winning lawyers handle cases. Rather than reading me rattling on about 40+ years of experience, download LoPucki & Weyrauch, A Theory of Legal Strategy (2000):

    Abstract:

    By the conventional view, case outcomes are largely the product of courts' application of law to facts. Even when courts do not generate outcomes in this manner, prevailing legal theory casts them as the arbiters of those outcomes.

    In a competing strategic view, lawyers and parties construct legal outcomes in what amounts to a contest of skill. Though the latter view better explains the process, no theory has yet been propounded as to how lawyers can replace judges as arbiters. This article propounds such a theory.

    It classifies legal strategies into three types: those that require willing acceptance by judges, those that constrain the actions of judges, and those that entirely deprive judges of control.

    Strategies that depend upon the persuasion of judges are explained through a conception of law in which cases and statutes are almost wholly indeterminate and strategists infuse meaning into these empty rules in the process of argumentation. That meaning derives from social norms, patterns of outcomes, local practices and understandings, informal rules of factual inference, systems imperatives, community expectations, and so-called public policies.

    Constraint strategies operate through case selection, record making, legal planning, or media pressure.

    Strategists deprive judges of control by forum shopping, by preventing cases from reaching decision, or by causing them to be decided on issues other than the merits.

    The theory presented explains how superior lawyering can determine outcomes, why local legal cultures exist, how resources confer advantage in litigation, and one of the means by which law evolves.
    Endorsed - JMM.

    All that being said, "Lawfare" is often just camo for what could be done straight away without providing any reason for it - just veto the resolution (the veto, of course, being in itself a legal process). However, some legal (and other) arguments are always made in support of the legal step taken. The point is not to be distracted by the legal process (esp. where as with the UNSC Syria resolution, the result was obviously going to be negative before it happened).

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 02-07-2012 at 06:35 AM.

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    The Russian Permanent Resident was on Charlie Rose last night and was much more candid than I would have ever expected. I’m not typically a fan of Mr. Rose’s interviewing style but he didn’t do a half–bad job on this one. Not that Mr. Churkin required a deft touch. The guy appears to be quite the charmer, at least compared to the battle–ax the U.S. has up on the East Side.

    The interview isn’t streaming as of 1530 UTC but it looks like it will be by–and–by. LINK
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Default One Turk's View of Russian Rationale

    TZ - News again featured Syria as its lede story.

    I think this commentary (7 Feb 2012) on Russia's policies underlying the veto makes sense.

    Has Syria become Russia's Middle Eastern lebensraum?:

    The international media has narrowed its focus, and analysis and judgment has been concentrated on Moscow's role in the delays. The key question here is why Russia opposes the UNSC resolution, whether is it true that Moscow perceives Syria as its political “lebensraum” (living space) in the Middle East.

    ... [describes tenuous Syrian-Russian relations before 2005, picking up in that year] ... There are several motivating factors at play here, in addition to the aforementioned developments in Russian-Syrian relations.

    On one hand, if Syria arrives at a post-Assad period, it could improve its relations with neighboring countries, which would in turn weaken Russia's economic position in Syria. Russian business investments in Syrian infrastructure, energy and tourism amount to nearly $20 billion.

    On the other hand, if a fundamentalist regime were to come to power in Damascus, Russia risks losing its contracts, investments and other benefits -- particularly the strategically located Syrian maritime port of Tartus, first used by the USSR as a supply hub during the Cold War, in addition to Latakia, Syria's second largest port, where it has a smaller base.

    The most obvious reason for Russia's resistance to drastic change in Syria is that any such shifts would threaten Moscow's strategic position, economic interests and political ambiguity in the Middle East. ... [describes Russian problem with UNSC Libyan resolution allowing NATO to take over Libyan operations] ...

    Moreover, Russia sees Syria as an opportunity to take part in “rebuilding the Middle East” by participating in peace talks. ... Russia understands that Assad's days are over and is considering how to safeguard its position in the region. This is why they support a controlled exit (of Assad). If the Syrian opposition agrees to talks in Moscow with the incumbent Syrian regime, Moscow will likely maintain its economic and strategic position in Syria in the post-Assad period.

    Furthermore, the Russian government has accused the US and other Western countries of encouraging anti-Putin protests and funding opposition movements. They have been disappointed by the comparisons being drawn by the Western media between recent protests in Russia and the Arab Spring revolutions. While the West has seen its own grassroots protests (for example, the “Occupy” protests in the US and UK), these actions can scarcely be compared to the Arab Spring revolutions -- but nonetheless Russia has argued that the West is in no position to criticize or comment, let alone intervene in Russian domestic affairs.

    Saturday's vetoes clearly indicate that this issue is linked to the Iran question. China and Russia, who sit on the 5+1 group negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program, have opposed the oil embargo against Iran: China imports about 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Iran. Both countries have an interest in checking US influence in the Middle East and Central Asia and have been developing strong strategic relationships with Iran.
    Only one of these factors (the paragraph I put in italics dealing with Russian internal affaris) is explicitly set forth in the legal arguments supporting the veto - and that without mentioning Russia's concerns about its own dissidents.

    Regards

    Mike

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    Anonymous hacks Assad's emails

    Hundreds of emails from Syrian President Bashar Assad's office were leaked on Monday after an attack by the hacker group Anonymous. One of the email files, which Haaretz has obtained, was a document preparing Assad for his December 2011 interview with ABC's Barbara Walters.

    The attack took place overnight Sunday and the target was the mail server of the Syrian Ministry of Presidential Affairs. Some 78 inboxes of Assad's aides and advisers were hacked and the password that some used was "12345". Among those whose email was exposed were the Minister of Presidential Affairs Mansour Fadlallah Azzam and Assad's media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban.

    ...

    Jaafari Jr. wrote: "The major points and dimensions that have been mentioned a lot in the American media are: The idea of violence has been one of the major subjects brought up in every article. They use the phrases 'The Syrian government is killing its own people,' 'Tanks have been used in many cities,' 'Airplanes have been used to suppress the peaceful demonstrations,' and 'Security forces are criminals and bloody.'"

    She advised: "It is hugely important and worth mentioning that 'mistakes' have been done in the beginning of the crises because we did not have a well-organized 'police force.' American psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are 'mistakes' done and now we are 'fixing it.' It's worth mentioning also what is happening now in Wall Street and the way the demonstrations are been suppressed by policemen, police dogs and beatings."

    Jaafari also recommended that Assad say: "Syria doesn't have a policy to torture people, unlike the USA, where there are courses and schools that specialize in teaching policemen and officers how to torture."She advised using Abu Ghraib in Iraq or execution via electric chair as more examples.

  12. #192
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default Sorpresas te da la vida.

    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Como cantó Rubén Blades, es que aún no hay gente que no entiende que en estos días hasta pa’ ser maleante hay que estudiar. (As Rubén Blades sang, even today there are people who still don’t understand that you have to do your homework even to be the bad guy.)
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  13. #193
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    The details and analysis may already be tucked away in a post or two within this thread, but does anyone know of research or critical analysis about the seemingly aberrant, though consistent, UN voting behavior of China and Russia?

    I understand that there are financials involved, as well as a sense of "sticking it to the West", but I continue to scratch my head at the full range of forces involved. Any books or papers you could recommended would be appreciated.

    As an aside, is it just that simple that China and Russia will veto anything where the US is perceived as instigating for the vote? Ambassador Churkin is quoted in today's LA Times that Western nations have undermined the chance for a political solution by "pushing the opposition towards power," yet Russia hasn't advocated any potential solution.
    I e-mailed a classmate who is working in Moscow and she wasn’t able to lend any particular expertise about Russian/Syrian relations but she said that in Moscow assumed reasons for Russia’s stance in the U.N. include a couple of things which have made their way into the U.S. media (arms contracts, Russia’s discomforts with its own political protests), one which seems to be finding some purchase in the U.S. media (that the U.N. is a good stage for a demonstration of Russia’s continued international relevance in the context of the upcoming elections there), and which I have yet to see in the U.S. media (that Russia’s only Mediterranean port is located in Syria). She also recommended this aggregator to me if it might be of interest (it currently has five Syria–related links up).
    Last edited by ganulv; 02-08-2012 at 01:11 AM.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  14. #194
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Default

    Assad's team is really working all of the angles.

    And who would thunk it...the enemy of my enemy could be my friend.

    Anonymous...hmmm. (sigh).

  15. #195
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-official.html

    International 'militarisation' in Syria growing closer, warns US official

    The international community may be forced to 'militarise' the crisis in Syria unless president Bashar al-Assad stops the onsalught on his people, a senior US official warned on Wednesday.

    “We definitely don’t want to militarise the situation. If it’s avoidable we are going to avoid it. But increasingly it looks like it may not be avoidable,” he said.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  16. #196
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    militarise the situation
    Ah, a new candy-as$ euphemism we can make fun of. I'll try this the next time I get in an argument with the wife - "Hon, don't make me militarise this situation!"
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

  17. #197
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default From my armchair - this isn't good

    I have been asked a few times by friends about military intervention in Syria and have rejected as both practical and likely - if by the West (whatever that means).

    Nor am I convinced - without the USA - that there is a real will and a current capability to intervene against the existing Syrian state.

    The only neighbour who has been active diplomatically on possibly taking military intervention, in a very limited way, has been Turkey and the imposition of 'safe havens'. I don't recall any similar comments by Syria's other neighbours, notably Jordan and Iraq. Lebanon is not today able to independently decide.

    Mulling over the topic today, as 'militarise the situation' appeared, it struck me that there is a worst case scenario.

    The West enables a military intervention (very general term I accept), which degrades further the Syrian regime's power and includes attacking air defences. Then Israel launches a strike on Iran, which may include overflying Syria and the Syrian regime bolstered by the spirit of Arab nationalism regains sufficient power to survive.
    davidbfpo

  18. #198
    Council Member AdamG's Avatar
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    RUMINT designed to get a reaction -

    Opposition activists said they had received reports that the Syrian army had transferred a significant quantity of grenades and mortars containing chemical agents to a school building in Homs.

    The opposition also reported that gas masks were being distributed to soldiers at roadblocks.
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-e...-says-1.411954


    At least 25 killed in blast Syrian TV says targets installations country's second largest city; activists report resumed activity by Assad's army near rebel city of Homs.
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-e...illed-1.412132
    Last edited by AdamG; 02-10-2012 at 06:48 PM.
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
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  19. #199
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default

    Ratlines in reverse. For those of us with Syrian border experience, this is a bit ironic:

    For Iraqis, Aid to Syria Repays a Debt

    FALLUJA, Iraq — Not so long ago, Syrians worked to send weapons and fighters into Iraq to help Sunnis fighting a sectarian conflict; suddenly, it is the other way around.

    A belated celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday on the outskirts of this western Iraqi city on Saturday quickly took on the trappings of a rally for Syria’s rebels. Young boys waved the old green, black and white flag Syria adopted in the 1930s after declaring independence from the French. Others collected money to send aid and weapons to the fighters opposing President Bashar al-Assad’s government across the border.

    “I wish I could go there with my gun and fight,” said Sheik Hamid al-Hais, a tribal leader interviewed at his compound in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province.

    It is increasingly clear that Syria’s sectarian war is becoming the regional conflict that analysts have long feared. The rush of recent events — including bombings and assassinations in Damascus and Aleppo, and intensifying violence in northern Lebanon coming directly out of the sectarian hostilities in Syria — suggest that the Assad government now also faces antagonists across its borders.

    Like Iraq and Afghanistan before it, analysts say, Syria is likely to become the training ground for a new era of international conflict, and jihadists are already signing up. This weekend, Al Qaeda’s ideological leadership and, more troublingly, the more mainstream Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, called for jihadists around the world to fight Mr. Assad’s government.

    Nowhere is the cross-border nature of sectarian hostilities more clear than in Iraq’s western desert, where Sunni Arabs are beginning to rally to the cause of the Syrian opposition and, in the process, perhaps strengthen their hand in dealings with an antagonistic Shiite-led national government in Baghdad.

    A weapons dealer who operates in Anbar, who said he goes by the alias Ahmed al-Masri, said, “Five months ago I was told that the Syrian brothers are in need of weapons. I started to buy the weapons from the same guys that I previously sold to — the fighters of Anbar and Mosul. I used to bring them from Syria; now it’s the other way around.”

    The man said he was selling mortars, grenades and rifles, and that his contact in Syria was also an Iraqi. In some instances, he said Iraqis were giving away weapons, and in those cases he charged money only to transport them across the border.

  20. #200
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Ratlines in reverse. For those of us with Syrian border experience, this is a bit ironic:

    For Iraqis, Aid to Syria Repays a Debt
    Is it ironic or is it fitting?
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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