December 30, 2012

Syria and the Dogs of War

September 28, 2012 by

While the regime of Bashar al-Assad ignited the explosion by its brutal response to political protests, much of the blame for the current situation lies with those countries, seeing an opportunity to eliminate an enemy, that fanned the flames with weapons and aid: the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, plus a host of minor cast members ranging from Jordan to Libya.

Post-Assad Syria: A Region in Turmoil

August 21, 2012 by

Syria is in dire straits. The once regal and prosperous cities of Damascus and Aleppo have now become the primary battlefields of the Syrian Army against opposition forces. Since the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011, the calm and serenity of both Damascus and Aleppo were often touted by the Syrian regime to the world as indicators of Syrian stability. The swift change from peace to turmoil however, has happened almost overnight, with President Assad describing the current battle in Aleppo as decisive of Syria’s fate.

Barack Obama’s ‘Intelligence Finding’ and the Syrian Civil War

August 12, 2012 by

The revelation about President Barack Obama’s decision to provide secret American aid to Syria’s rebel forces is a game changer. The presidential order, known as an “intelligence finding” in the world of espionage, authorizes the CIA to support armed groups fighting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government. But it threatens far more than the regime in Damascus. The disclosure took its first casualty immediately. Kofi Annan, the special envoy to Syria, promptly announced his resignation, bitterly protesting that the UN Security Council had become a forum for “finger-pointing and name-calling.”

Syria: Has the United States Abandoned the Rebels?

August 10, 2012 by

At the start of the Syrian uprising the Obama administration had lauded the uprising as a positive step and emphasized the need for Assad to step down. While still insisting that Assad must go, there is every indication that the United States is weary of throwing its full weight behind the rebel movement to unseat Assad and the administration is now being accused of throwing the Free Syrian Army and the rebels under a bus. Since the onset of the Arab Spring, with Syrians clamouring for democracy and democratic institutions in the region, and eventually taking up arms against the Assad regime, the nearly 17-month-old uprising against the Assad government has turned into an all-out conflict with no end in sight.

In the Event of an All-Out Conflict in Syria who stands to Gain?

August 8, 2012 by

Is the Syrian civil war going to spiral into an all-out conflict? If the West decides to become involved beyond offering tertiary support as it is doing now, and if war envelopes Syria with the government on one side and Western backed rebels on the other, who will fill the vacuum? If the Assad government falls, will radical Islamists take centre-stage thereby worsening Syria’s predicament and forestalling democracy? Will the United States use the insuing vacuum to pressure the Iranians even further into making concessions on the nuclear program?

Syria’s Descent Raises Disturbing Questions

August 2, 2012 by

While roundly condemned by human rights groups including Human Rights Watch, the apparent extra-judicial shooting of four Assad loyalists in Aleppo places the international community in a bind. For months, several Middle Eastern states, the United States and others have funneled weapons, money and equipment to the rebels without knowing the full details of who exactly they dealing with. As the recipient of the aid, the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) members straddle the ideological spectrum, and include former Al Qaeda (AQ) fighters from Iraq. Not wanting to repeat its mistake in Libya last year, the US had been careful not to commit lethal assistance until it had a better idea who the FSA actually was.

After Libya, the Focus turns to Syria

July 29, 2012 by

In 1995, I had a rare opportunity to spend some time in Syria, where the Damascus Trade Fair was taking place. A normally secretive Arab country had opened its doors to a select group of Western journalists, businessmen and officials. The event was aimed at showing glimpses of a rich mix of civilizations going as far back as between 9000 and 11000 B.C., described as a Hidden Pearl of the Orient. Syria today has Muslims, Shia and Sunni; Assyrian-Syriac Christians, ethnic Kurds and Turkmen in the north; Druze in the south. People of all ethnic and religious groups live in Aleppo, the country’s most populated city. For centuries, Aleppo was the largest urban center in Greater Syria and the third largest in the Ottoman empire, after Constantinople and Cairo.

The West is Playing with Fire in Syria

July 23, 2012 by

While the UN remains paralyzed on whether to extend its observer mission, or impose sanctions, Syria is drifting quickly towards what the International Committee of the Red Cross calls “a state of civil war”, a declaration, with cataclysmic consequences, and which might radically change the rules of the game. Finian Cunningham, Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent, notes to the extent to which the Syrian uprising has been exploited, “the irony is that leading NATO members, the United States, Britain and France, as well as their Turkish and Arab allies, are the very parties that have deliberately created the precipice for all-out war in the Middle East.”

T. E. Lawrence and Foreign Intervention in Syria

July 19, 2012 by

“They were discontented always with what government they had; such being their intellectual pride; but few of them honestly, thought out a working, alternative and fewer still agreed upon one.” Thus noted T.E. Lawrence, presumptuously, in his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which recounts his exploits as part of the Arab uprising against the Turks during the First World War. “They” are the Syrians, and Lawrence provides a vivid description of the land and its people, which he and a Hashemite led Arab Army where about to wrestle from Ottoman control.

Obama’s Dwindling Options in Syria

June 14, 2012 by

As the Syrian conflict deepens, the Obama Administration is facing renewed calls to act before full-scale civil war erupts, with neo-conservatives in Washington pressing the administration to support anti-government rebels with military hardware. The President has been unwilling to do so, he has every reason to be wary of engaging in yet another Middle East conflict with no end in sight, and no exit strategy. Moreover, the President knows that such support would in the end likely prove futile, given China, Iran and Russia’s ongoing support for the Assad regime, the absence of unity among opposition groups, and the failure of the opposition to control any significant Syrian territory.

In Response to Houla Massacre Australia Expels Syrian Diplomats

May 29, 2012 by

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr has expelled the Syrian Charge d’Affairs Jawdat Ali Syrian in the wake of the Houla massacre that have reportedly seen 32 children massacred in Syria in recent days. He has said that Australians are “appalled at a regime that could connive in or organise the execution, the killing of men women and children.” Jawdat Ali has 72 hours to leave Australia. The decision follows Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague who has summoned the Syrian diplomat.

What Syria is Teaching the West

April 22, 2012 by

It should come as little surprise to anyone that the fragile cease-fire in Syria has failed and is evidence that - contrary to what many pundits contend - the tide continues to be on Mr. Assad’s side, given the time that has passed, the fractured nature of the opposition, and the bungled manner in which the West has addressed the subject. As Syria demonstrates, with each passing month the Arab Awakening evolves in new and unexpected ways. The question is whether the West is evolving along with the Awakening, or will remain stuck in a unidimensional view of MENA.

The Revolution on a Laptop: YouTube Journeys through the Arab Spring

April 12, 2012 by

An overcast road on the outskirts of a town somewhere in Syria. Strained, panting breath and blurred views of the crabgrass on the highway divider. To the right, maybe 500 yards away, I hear the guttural whuppwhuppwhuppwhupp of automatic gunfire, punctuated by the occasional snap of a sniper rifle. Over the median, a slick river pools into a ditch, oil maybe, no, blood. I see a boy, maybe 16-years-old, crumpled over the road median, one leg folded calmly over the other. I catch a quick look at his head and wonder if there is life in his half-closed eyes. Then I notice the bullet wound in his neck, jagged pink tissue under his chin. The panting voice begins to chant hurried phrases. The only word that I can understand is “Allah”.

Grasping the Syrian Quagmire

March 7, 2012 by

One of the most significant and enduring consequences of the Arab Spring has been the bloody uprising in Syria. For almost a year cities across the Levant have been defying the iron grip of the Assad regime and challenging the police state of the Ba’ath party. Of all the countries engulfed by the revolutionary fever encompassing the Arab World, Syria, a country of 23 million, epitomizes the toughest case. It comprises many religious sects including Sunni (79%), Alawite (off-shoot of Shiite Islam, 9%), Christians (9%), and Druze (3%). Ethnically, nine percent of its population are Kurds who sympathize with their brethren in Iraq, Iran, and Turkey, and dream of one day establishing a Kurdish state.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar Ratchet Up Pressure on Assad

March 3, 2012 by

Running counter to the wishes of the United States and other western nations, Saudi Arabia and Qatar recently announced that they are taking steps to arm the Free Syria Army (FSA). Despite the significance of this step, it is unlikely to shift the civil war in favor of the rebels. The FSA, armed with light weapons, suffered a number of strategic setbacks. Their tactical retreat from the Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs paints a picture of a rebel group that lacks the operational capacity to challenge the Assad regime directly. Even with more equipment and firepower supplied by the international community, without a no fly-zone, similar to Libya, the FSA is likely to face more strategic losses.

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