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Old 03-16-2012   #401
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Default Places for information & comment

Looking for information on Syria yesterday I found this Us-hosted website:
Quote:
The Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies (SCPSS) is an independent nongovernmental studies center. SCPSS mission is to educate readers and activists about the Syrian Arab Republic from political, economic, social and strategic perspectives.
Link:http://www.scpss.org/index.php?pid=1

Another blogsite is:http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/
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Old 03-19-2012   #402
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Default Some good opinion pieces from RSUi...

Sorry, that should be RUSI

Hama Rules: the resilience of the Syrian Army

What Ends a War? The Limits of Bosnia-Syria Parallels


Popular Uprising in Syria: Beware of the Henchmen from Within
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Old 03-20-2012   #403
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Did you guys see where the Russians are now sending troops to Syria?

http://grognews.blogspot.com/2012/03...-to-syria.html
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Old 03-20-2012   #404
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Did you guys see where the Russians are now sending troops to Syria?
It looks like it is a tiny protection detail for the tanker. To me it signals that the Russians don't feel entirely safe in Tartous (which may be sensible, given that the FSA has started attacks against some military facilities, sabotage, "sniping" with AT-13s and AT-14s, etc).
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Old 04-04-2012   #405
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Default Syria moves an inch

the rebellion goes on, for longer than a year now and linked is the latest IISS commentary by their Middle East (Syria) expert following the Istanbul Conference:http://iissvoicesblog.wordpress.com/...till-hesitant/

Some acute phrasing:
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Feeding the narrative of Assad’s impending doom (in effect, winning the propaganda war) would do more to encourage defections.
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Old 04-05-2012   #406
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So, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are all providing money to "pay the salaries of Sunni freedom fighters" ( translation, "hire mercenaries") to help overthrow the minority Alawite (Shia related) Assad regime.

I think Assad is responding completely inappropriately to these revolts, and should be seeking to bring community leaders to the table, listen to the reasonable concerns of the people and implement a true program of governmental reform.

But these Sunni leaders don't likely want to see better governance in Syria any more than they wanted to see better governance in Iraq. Bad for the business of autocratic rule in their own countries. This appears to be an effort to use this opportunity to expand Sunni rule in the region and to elevate some peer in their own image. We should not look at this as a good thing. It is just a different bad thing.
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Old 04-05-2012   #407
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I think Assad is responding completely inappropriately to these revolts, and should be seeking to bring community leaders to the table, listen to the reasonable concerns of the people and implement a true program of governmental reform.
That might have been a reasonable prescription at the start of the affair, but it's way beyond that point now, and the last thing the US should be doing is proposing a solution that would leave Assad in power... or for that matter proposing any solution at all, since there's no point in making proposals you aren't willing to stand behind.

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This appears to be an effort to use this opportunity to expand Sunni rule in the region and to elevate some peer in their own image. We should not look at this as a good thing. It is just a different bad thing.
A good thing or a bad thing for who? For us it needn't be good or bad, as it's really not our business... neither is it our business to be telling others what we think is good or bad for them.
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Old 04-05-2012   #408
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
So, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are all providing money to "pay the salaries of Sunni freedom fighters" ( translation, "hire mercenaries") to help overthrow the minority Alawite (Shia related) Assad regime.
It probably has less to do with religion than with authoritarian regimes wanting to buy their way into the good graces of the rebels in Syria. The writing is on the wall. Assad will fall at some point. All three of those states would very much like to contain the Arab Spring in Syria lest it spread to their states.

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I think Assad is responding completely inappropriately to these revolts, and should be seeking to bring community leaders to the table, listen to the reasonable concerns of the people and implement a true program of governmental reform.
Way too late for that now. Even if Assad were to make a legitimate attempt to reform, the leaders of the uprising will assume that he is doing it because he is weakening. They will smell blood in the water and redouble their efforts. The best outcome that Assad can probably hope for now is a negotiated exit for him and protection for the minority groups in Syria that supported him. Even that is iffy.
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Old 04-05-2012   #409
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Assad's staying power is under-estimated. Sure, the West (generally) wants to see him go and his rivals in the Arab community are doing their part to help him make that transition. However, the Syrian state is constructed more similarly to the Egyptian model than the Libyan model; with the military playing a prominent and central role in state formation and stability. And while the Syrian military has suffered from a number of high profile defections, it by and large remains on the side of their governmeent (unlike the large Egyptian military and the small, decentralized Libyan military). The Syrian Army remained loyal to the regime in the past, and I don't see how this situation is any different for them. Without external intervention (whether attacking the regime directly, sustaining the rebelling forces, or enticing the military to defect), the best the uprising can hope for is a negotiated settlement.
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Old 04-05-2012   #410
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Granted, the military is more loyal to Assad than it has been in other Arab states but that will likely delay the overthrow of the Assad regime but not prevent it. To begin with, Syria is not a petro-state. Assad does not have much to offer in the way of assets to potential supporters. Russia and China are not interested in the political cost of supporting Assad. Iran does not have unlimited resources to prop up Assad. Iraq will likely tread carefully in how they support him. Sanctions seem to be having an effect, probably because of the world wide attention on this has caused whatever limited support Assad had to begin with to be reduced.

Probably the most significant factor is the fact that the Arab Spring has given the rebels hope that they can force a change. That has not existed before.
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Old 04-05-2012   #411
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Nobody in Syria has the power to overthrow the government and defeat the army. Nor do I see the momentum of such a power building, despite selective mainstream media coverage of the "progress" of Syria's armed resistance in battling the army and enticing defections. It's precisely because that Syria is not a petro-state (it's a state with few natural resources at all actually) that stability and state formation has settled around the military, much like in Egypt. The military is essentially Syria's welfare-patron program (at the most basic level, it provides a job), and it's what holds the state together. What will entice the Army to defect to a decentralized, foreign-sponsored movement that will most likely reduce the influence of the military in the government? The rebels need more support than selective media coverage and global solidarity to overcome the guns and tanks of the Syrian army.
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Old 04-05-2012   #412
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I think you're overestimating the level of loyalty and cohesion in the Syrian Army, especially amongst the lower, mostly Sunni ranks, and also discounting the role played by the Baath Party and associated security services in the Syrian state.

The Baath Party has no real counterpart in the Egyptian context, and the Syrian internal security forces are much more powerful than their Egyptian counterparts. The Army, OTOH, is correspondingly weaker. Mubarak had to go when the generals told him to - can you imagine Syrian generals throwing out Assad or his family? Quite the opposite.

I agree that the Syrian rebels need more than goodwill and media coverage to overthrow the Assads. But the Assads have been afraid to use the majority of the Army against the protests - and not out of fear of bad media coverage, but likely because they do not fully trust largely conscript Sunni units to attack largely Sunni cities.
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Old 04-05-2012   #413
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Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
Nobody in Syria has the power to overthrow the government and defeat the army. Nor do I see the momentum of such a power building, despite selective mainstream media coverage of the "progress" of Syria's armed resistance in battling the army and enticing defections. It's precisely because that Syria is not a petro-state (it's a state with few natural resources at all actually) that stability and state formation has settled around the military, much like in Egypt. The military is essentially Syria's welfare-patron program (at the most basic level, it provides a job), and it's what holds the state together. What will entice the Army to defect to a decentralized, foreign-sponsored movement that will most likely reduce the influence of the military in the government? The rebels need more support than selective media coverage and global solidarity to overcome the guns and tanks of the Syrian army.
The security apparatus may be stronger than the rebels but it does not exist in a vacuum. How long can they remain dominant with resources for the regime drying up and supplies starting to flow to the rebellion? Guns and tanks need resources to work. How big are Syria's reserves of fuel and ammunition? How long can Assad afford to pay the Army? How much tangible support is Assad actually getting from its few remaining friends? Petro-states can always find someone willing to pay for their oil. Syria has nothing to offer and the world wide attention on this has probably made sanctions more effective than past sanctions on other states have been.
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Old 04-05-2012   #414
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Syria has nothing to offer and the world wide attention on this has probably made sanctions more effective than past sanctions on other states have been.
Russia and Iran disagree - I think this may be critical in the coming months. Iran can provide trained personnel through Hizbullah and IRGC cadres, while both can provide fuel and arms in abundance.
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Old 04-05-2012   #415
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Default A Mandela needed in Syria or Try Dialogue

Hat tip to the Oxford Research Group (ORG) for the pointer to Jonathan Steele's report after a visit to Syria; first ORG's summary:http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.u...nswer_dialogue

Steele's reporting:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...ed-own-mandela and:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n06/jonathan-steele/diary
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Old 04-05-2012   #416
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I have no idea how long Assad can sustain his forces in the field. The foreign aid for syria's rebels is not that substantial. They can stand their ground in localized fights but they surely cannot mount offensive operations. Syria still has friends - not many but they're around and they have guns and money to toss around.
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Old 04-09-2012   #417
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Default Syria’s online army is simply playing into Assad’s hands

An interesting article IMHO, curious to see the references to the FLN in Algeria; this could appear in the thread on Media & UW.

Quote:
So does Syria’s uprising need more technologically savvy multimedia activists? Or – to be blunt – does it require more people inside the country blowing things up? In the end, which poses the greater threat to a repressive regime: its atrocities being instantly relayed across the world on Twitter, or a well-armed, tightly organised insurgency?

The 13 months of Syria’s revolt have starkly illustrated the limits of social media as an engine of revolution, and of the claims made for the internet’s transformative power.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ads-hands.html
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Old 04-16-2012   #418
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A BBC News report from Idlib Province and a very curious photo of a Free Syrian Army (FSA) member carrying a M4 rifle, with a telescopic sight. Such a weapon does not IMO sit easily alongside the regular footage of the FSA with their AK's, RPD's etc. Have the Gulf States already started shipping in such weapons? Not to overlook the 'black market' and other local users.

Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17734946

The reporter also observes:
Quote:
the conundrum of Kofi Annan's plan....Not all government forces have withdrawn from residential areas. It calls for a political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people. Yet the difference between what the opposition wants and what President Assad is prepared to agree to is greater than ever. The lasting effect of the violent assault in this area is to harden positions and make compromise almost unthinkable.
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Old 04-23-2012   #419
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo
A BBC News report from Idlib Province and a very curious photo of a Free Syrian Army (FSA) member carrying a M4 rifle, with a telescopic sight. Such a weapon does not IMO sit easily alongside the regular footage of the FSA with their AK's, RPD's etc. Have the Gulf States already started shipping in such weapons? Not to overlook the 'black market' and other local users.
This appeared in the WSJ at the end of last month. And like you stated, one can't overlook the black market (especially with the Iraq War 2003 - 2011). Also interesting is the (apparent) ramp up of public policy discussions about developing plans for US intervention in the country.
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Old 04-27-2012   #420
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Default Backgrounder

Hat tip to Londonistani for identifying a Canadian-Syrian's blogging on Syrian, background analysis and on a quick scan making observations I've not seen before, notably the extent of support for the Bashir regime:http://creativesyria.com/syriapage/
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