Hezbollah, Lebanon, Syria

Selling Foreign Intervention (in Syria & Lebanon)

The debate over Syria in the Arab media and social networks has essentially become a debate about foreign intervention, and the most commonly encountered argument on the pro-regime side goes something like this:

“The Syrian opposition is a foreign-funded, foreign-armed conspiracy to topple the Assad regime and strike a blow against the Resistance Axis. The grievances of many Syrians are legitimate, but accepting any support from the West or its Arab allies is tantamount to treason, and thereby empties the opposition of any legitimacy.”

There are many reasons to oppose  intervention in Syria, but the argument above strikes me as very odd. I  find myself wondering whether the many (intelligent, otherwise reasonable) people who make it are being willfully disingenuous or are simply oblivious to to the political history of this region. The fact that these same people often proudly tout Syria’s ability to punch above its regional weight by manipulating events in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine tends to make me feel less charitable…

To take an obvious counter-example, Hizbullah makes no secret of its allegiance to and dependence upon foreign powers in pushing its agenda. The group’s weapons are not manufactured in Lebanon; they get them from Syria and Iran. A significant portion of its budget comes directly from foreign sources. And its political leaders openly state that Hizbullah’s maneuvers take into account the interests of a regional alliance stretching from Tehran to Beirut via Damascus.

Critics will hasten to point out that Hizbullah’s agenda is not directed against Arab governments but rather against Israel, but this ignores the fact that the party spent eighteen months in 2007-08 trying to bring down the Saniora government. It attempted to do this peacefully, just as the early phase of the Syrian uprising was a pageant of political protest and not an armed insurrection. But the fact that Hizbullah’s demonstration did not immediately devolve into an insurrection had less to do with the party’s benevolence toward Saniora and everything to do with the balance of military power in the country. If Hizbullah were to stage such a demonstration in Damascus today (assuming that this party would be legal in Syria, which it wouldn’t be), it would be crushed by Syrian Army tanks within a day or two.

The lesson to be drawn from this comparison is perhaps that the Syrian opposition’s greatest sin is not that it has allowed itself to be tainted by rumors of foreign tutelage, but rather that it has not embraced and rationalized such tutelage as fluently as Hizbullah has. Supporters of the party don’t mind its brand of foreign-funded, foreign-armed influence, but find it treasonous in the case of the Syrian opposition. And this is despite the fact that the extent of foreign influence on the situation in Syria is far from clear.

But even assuming that the constellation of groups collectively referred to as the “Free Syrian Army” is entirely funded and armed by a couple governments (say, Saudi Arabia and Qatar), then the following question poses itself:

What justifies, in the mind of an Assad regime supporter, a clear Iranian-Syrian agenda in Lebanon, but de-legitimizes a Saudi-Qatari agenda in Syria?

In other words, if the fact of the “foreignness” of intervention is not what makes it treasonous, then what does? I have not heard a convincing answer to this question yet, but I’m sure the many intelligent and pro-regime readers of this blog would be happy to try setting me straight.

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105 thoughts on “Selling Foreign Intervention (in Syria & Lebanon)

  1. We have been hearing this empty rhetoric all our lives. The Arab despots as well as their Lebanese Zaims and especially HA have been using the Israeli and resistance argument forever…Even though most have embassies and/or non aggressive posture against the Jewish State.

    The Syrian opposition in its current stage is still too factitious and has not gelled. Off course we have some of those learned people on this forum such as Mo, lally etc…( they’ll make themselves counted soon) who love this hypocritical “chime”. It is just a cover for their sectarian sentiments.

    Dr. QN will see through them over and over though. 😀

    Posted by danny | February 24, 2012, 1:23 pm
  2. My answer to your question would be that the Syrian-Iranian ‘resistance axis’ is seen as the only one championing the Palestinian ’cause’, with HA as key player. On the other hand, when Saudi Arabia and Qatar are mentioned, the US is never very far and for some, nor is Israel. Therefore, treason against the ISH resistance axis would amount to treason of the Palestinian cause, whereas treason of an SA-Q axis would just be resistance against Western imperialism.

    The interesting fact is that this is what Assad himself thought he could make his survival rest on.

    Posted by K | February 24, 2012, 1:44 pm
  3. QN,

    Great topic.

    It all comes down to the fundamental question that Arabs have been struggling with for a very long time:
    What is more important, the development and well being of the Arab individual, or the struggle against Israel?

    People who view the struggle as more important, would say that democracy has to wait till the struggle is over and that sacrifices are required in order to fight Israel. Some people actually believe in the struggle, while Arab despots use it cynically to deprive their citizens and remain in power. It is also something that is easy to support when you are well off and the actual sacrifices are not being made by you. People like Norman are a great example with their preaching for a “long war” against Israel and their support of the Syrian regime while of course residing in the US and having nothing to lose from their rotten advice.

    Now, some may say that it is not an either/or proposition, one can have “resistance” and democracy and economic development. Well, you can’t. First, it is clear you cannot have “resistance” and economic development. “Resistance” has cost Lebanon plenty, has bankrupted Syria and is on the verge of bankrupting Iran in spite of its huge oil reserves. In a global and technology focused economy, you cannot develop economically without major trade relations and access to Western technology. Export to the West and assimilation of Western technology is even an crucial part of the “Chinese Model”.

    But why are democracy and “resistance” incompatible? Here, the answer is simple, human nature. The Lebanese are a great example, though a large majority of Lebanese hate Israel, a large majority of Lebanese does not want a war with Israel or any violent confrontation for that matter. Therefore, Hezbollah has to force the majority into “resistance” against the majority’s will. When Arab countries will become truly democratic, there will be absolutely no “resistance” countries. This does not mean that Arabs will suddenly like Israel. Not at all. They will continue hating it. But they will prioritize and rather than pay the heavy economic price for “resistance”, they will put their effort into growing their economies and building a future for their kids.

    Posted by AIG | February 24, 2012, 2:12 pm
  4. The Iranian/Syrian agenda is to face the evil Zionist and imperialist plans to conquer our beloved Arab world, divide it into warring tribal and sectarian entities, rob its riches, enslave its people, instill the values of the decadent western culture and degrade our puritanical values. As opposed to the Qatari/Saudi agenda which is in servitude to these dark forces. It is the epic Good versus Evil, that is the difference.
    Where have you been QN, now go back to school 🙂

    Posted by Vulcan | February 24, 2012, 2:21 pm
  5. I am not a regime supporter, and I fully agree with the stance that Bassem Haddad made in the article you sited before- the “Idiot’s Guide to Fighting Dictatorship While Opposing Military Intervention” -which I agree with you- makes the beautiful and concise counterargument to the conspiracy camp’s stance. However, I think the answer to your question- lies continuously in idealogy.
    The foreignness of intervention can be justified by the pro-regimers (or even just the ambivalent unwilling to support a ‘revolution’) if the intervention is coming from the East (so to speak), whereas – if the foreignness – is of the traditional “colonialists” – and taps into the deep historical resentment of the colonialists (and one has to keep explaining to the Israelis and Israel ‘supporters’ -that the Arabs consider them as colonialists originally and till today)- then it is treasonous to support it.
    It is completely hypocritical- if put as an opposition to “foreign” power influence, as it is obvious that influence is brought to bear by Iran. And power is being utilized via Russia. So that is clearly not consistent.
    But – the rationale comes from the assumption that – the intervention in this case is supposedly in the service of the historical battle against the colonials – a traumatic history that has clearly not been recovered from or overcome.

    For more on the historical narrative of this – I am reminded of this recent article Amira Mohsen wrote a couple weeks ago…. on huffpo
    ( http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/amira-mohsen-galal/syria-and-the-great-game_b_1279161.html )

    I read it – and I said ok that’s interesting, yes, ok, but so what!!!
    Why does this have to be perpetuated for another hundred years? Time to shake up the mix and turn a new page, and put some other values – forward as individuals. We as individuals have to make choices and analyze the merits of things – other than by attributing the outcome to giant historo-political patterns that are way out of our control or our ability to predict.
    It is possible that something new can happen under the sun. If one wants to base our views on patterns of events for the last few hundred years – why not start basing them on the last few thousand, and then it might look different altogether.

    but I prefer- Haddad’s attitude and prescription for making our ethical choices and decisions about how to view the current Syrian crisis.

    Posted by Zenobia | February 24, 2012, 2:35 pm
  6. yes, AIG,
    but the struggle against – Israel – is viewed as a dimension as the even older struggle against the colonialists/imperialists….
    just remember that.

    Posted by Zenobia | February 24, 2012, 2:40 pm
  7. (above: *sited should be cited…argh)…

    also, AIG, I wrote on this related subject here last month on Walls: http://7ee6an.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/narratives-arguments-and-counter-arguments-by-zenobia/

    “And it is bizarre that the narrative has been hammered for so many years and years that the biggest and most important achievement and source of pride in this age is to stubbornly sacrifice every other political need to the alter of “resistance” to Israel (a resistance strategy that barely works at all – one should add)- that it still takes precedent over every other concern. The abhorrence for Israeli power is so entirely consuming, mythologized, the threat again – fetishized- to the point where nothing else can be seen or considered. And as such, this fear and obsession – with American power or Israeli power viewed as part and parcel- can only be understood as having been deeply imprinted with the sting of humiliation and injured pride, anger, resentment, fused now with bigotry for many. How else does one explain choosing IRAN as an ally???!!! …
    Alas, the issue comes back to the issue of Israel and wounded pride and humiliation.

    This pitiful fact has to be recognized. It has to be addressed not by slamming on the Syrian defenses but by an irresistible argument for how CHANGE- including a change in strategic alliances CAN WORK IN FAVOR OF RESTORING SYRIAN PRIDE AND STRENGTH IN REAL TERMS.

    RESISTANCE in the conventional way it has been waged on the Syrian stage has been pathetic and self-sabotaging. It has been self -destructive. It has not saved the Palestinians (if that were even truly the goal) nor restored Arab pride in any form. It has led to isolation, and economic decline, and toleration of a sick and ineffective form of government that has now sunk very very low in terms of its treatment of its citizenry.

    RESISTANCE has been the biggest manipulation of all – in some sense for achieving very very little for the people of Syria. It has to be reclaimed and redefined. In fact, abandoned in favor of a VIABLE ALTERNATIVE.”

    What I wanted to suggest is that the whole notion of resistance because it is so incompatible with moving forward developmentally and politically – clearly needs to be traded in for a new notion of how to confront the problem (in the view of the Arabs) of Israeli occupation. To move forward with development in economic and political terms is in fact, in my view, THE ONLY WAY – to actually form/create a position of true strength and credibility from which to negotiate with Israel over the demands of real Syrians or support the demands/desires of the Palestinians.

    but I wanted to add that QN knows the answer to his own question!! : ) he is just baiting the pro-regimers to answer….so he can pick away at them….i am sure of it.

    Posted by Zenobia | February 24, 2012, 3:01 pm
  8. Zenobia.

    The “East” should really just stop being hypocrites.

    They spent centuries being colonists and colonialists themselves..

    This tired song that plays over and over again is getting quite repetitive.

    Posted by Gabriel | February 24, 2012, 3:13 pm
  9. Zenobia,

    I agree with what you say with one caveat. I don’t think Arabs need to find another way to confront Israel, they just need to be open about what their priorities are and have a frank discussion. The situation in Gaza is bad, but the illiteracy rate there is much lower than in Egypt. Once their houses are fixed, the Arab countries will find ways to deal with Israel. The step forward will be accepting that bettering the life of Arab citizens is more important than confronting Israel, not finding a new way to confront Israel.

    Posted by AIG | February 24, 2012, 3:26 pm
  10. : ) Indeed Gabriel… this is not a ‘western’ phenomena..but a way of world history… I am not familiar with everything in history…but yes, I think Japan was a colonialist of China. Maybe China was a colonialist of indo-china before the French. Russia was an imperial empire over Eastern Europe. And so forth…..
    Persia was certainly once the same….
    i still maintain that maybe we should consider – how to be a world of united nations and start acting like it rather than keeping this realpolitik adversarial mental configuration of the world forever and ever till we all die … till we are buried under a dust cloud or a desert…. don’t you think…everyone needs a new song…indeed.

    I was thinking for awhile that my attitude of not being conventionally ‘anti-imperialist’ in my attitude towards the current crisis ( ie no longer backing the conventional ‘resistance’ cause) – wasn’t living up to my namesake. but I just realized that this is not true at all…- perhaps the new ‘anti- imperialism’ must take the form of the struggle for self determination and self rule in all forms, including the throwing off of authoritarian gov’ts that act internally imperial under the guise of being anti-imperial, and which in fact are truly only perpetuating the geopolitical arrangements and power paradigms causing so much pain and suffering. : ) ( i feel better now seeing this in a new way)

    Posted by Zenobia | February 24, 2012, 3:33 pm
  11. Baiting? Moi?


    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 24, 2012, 3:34 pm
  12. AIG,
    well I know you don’t likely agree on that part of my – notion. But lets just say by “confront” …i mean constructively confront- the disagreements at a table… address – yes ‘deal’ – and that this doesn’t mean – what Arabs tend to fear in a paranoid way- such as defeat, or humiliation, or negotiating from a point of weakness. I think this is why I say confront – because it mean – be strong in one’s conviction of what they feel they are entitled to and regarding what they believe are the wrong positions of the Israelis.

    Posted by Zenobia | February 24, 2012, 3:38 pm
  13. yeah, QN, : ) don’t play innocent….

    Posted by Zenobia | February 24, 2012, 3:39 pm
  14. I think the question of intervention is really beyond the whims and wishes of QN forum’s armchair generals.

    Behind the scenes, people are supplying the opposition. Who is doing the supplying and where those supplies are coming from is another question.

    I don’t think there will be intervention in Syria because there is far too many foreign interests in the region. Russia-Iran. Russia-Turkey-Iran. Iran-Iraq. US-Saudi. The situation is far too complex in my view.

    I also don’t think that it really is in the “West”‘s interest to take a more proactive role. Things are complicated as they are, and they don’t lose anything by adopting a wait and see attitude, with perhaps at best a hidden hand at work.

    Posted by Gabriel | February 24, 2012, 4:03 pm
  15. Still waiting to hear from Mo, Lally, Alex, Parviziyi, and maybe some others. In the meantime, I ask everyone to keep the discussion civil.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 24, 2012, 4:04 pm
  16. QN,

    Get comfortable, it is going to be a long wait.

    Posted by AIG | February 24, 2012, 4:40 pm
  17. Why are you waiting to hear from me ya Qifa?

    You’ve created an argument above that represents no notion I have made or put forward and both your questions have inbuilt implications that I do not subscribe to.

    Generally I like to argue points I make, not points that are made for me.

    Posted by mo | February 24, 2012, 5:37 pm
  18. My mistake, Mo. Do you regard the Syrian opposition as legit then?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 24, 2012, 5:41 pm
  19. To the evidently confused whosomevers it may concern:

    No, I ‘m not an Assad regime supporter. I belong to a much more despised constituency (no, not my fellow atheists this time) who are generally referred to as “fence sitters”: v. Americanus.)

    If remotely possible, please fine tune your regime-supporter!!!!!!!! detecting radar to reflect that reality.

    As for my lateness in contributing to this discussion comparing apples to kumquats, it’s all Zenobia’s fault for supplying that link and making me read the whole damn thread, so there!

    Posted by lally | February 24, 2012, 5:47 pm
  20. Lally,

    Are you a Hezbollah supporter?

    Posted by AIG | February 24, 2012, 5:54 pm
  21. AIG

    To the absolutionistas who dominate the discussions re Syria; I would probably be considered a “supporter”. But since they, in true McCarthyite fashion, insist that one simply must sign up for their agenda or be consigned to heretic HELL, I decline to give an eff what they think.

    Same goes for those who would suffer loosening bowels over the fact that I have longed wished for Ariel Sharon to wake up and take back control of Israel.

    Tra. La.

    Posted by lally | February 24, 2012, 6:23 pm
  22. Qifa,
    Legit? How do you define legit? What does it matter whether I find it legit. The only people that can give meaningful legitimacy to it are the Syrians themselves – And from what I hear from Syrians who are neither Alawites or recipients of Assad’s largesse, that doesnt seem to be happening.

    What does matter is that I do not trust it.

    Would you argue against the claim that the GCC has launched a counter-revolution to the Arab Spring?

    Would you argue against the fact that it is extremely suspect for two absolute monarchies who will jail secretly and indefinitely any one of their own people who as much as criticizes them to be pushing a “freedom” agenda? Would you argue against the fact that should the GCC nations succeed in toppling Assad, the last thing they will want is for a peaceful Syria serving as an example of freedom and democracy on their own doorstep?

    Would you argue against the fact that the West has been attacking the nations and groups that make up the “Resistance axis” since the invasion of Iraq? Would you argue against the fact this uprising does seem terribly convenient?

    Do you wonder where all these nations are when Israel is purposefuly killing civilians? Do you not ask why they suddenly care so much?

    Do you wonder why those that have truly stood up to the Assad regime while they remained in Syria and risked jail and death have not been included in the SNC?

    Do you wonder what people who are chanting “Alwaites to Heaven, Christians to Beirut” in their demonstrations have in store for Lebanon should they take over?

    Do you wonder why the Western media, so through and absoute in its reporting is suddenly able to pass on every claim by the Syrian opposition without so much as a question mark?

    To borrow your words, I have not heard a convincing answer to any of the above.

    I look forward to the day that we no longer have to worry about the machivellian machinations of our neighbor but not so that it is replaced by a bunch of corrupt wannabes or at the expense of countless lives lost in some fabricated secterian conflict that only serves those that want to divide the Arabs or convert them to their hateful petty ideology.

    Posted by mo | February 24, 2012, 6:41 pm
  23. I’m a hardcore supporter of the regime as I’ve said before. Before I answer Qiba Nabki’s question head-on, here’s a couple of background points to clear up a potential misunderstanding. The Syrian Opposition is composed of Syrians in Syria (plus a few Syrians living abroad who are noisy abroad). Foreigners have done a lot of cheerleading, and have given a lot of moral support to this Opposition. But the foreigners of all kinds have given very little material support to date. No material support whatsoever has come from a foreign source of any kind in an openly acknowledged way. The relatively little quantity of material foreign support that has arrived has come subrosa, from unknown or unverified sources.

    The great majority of Syrians have supported and still support the foreign policy positions of the Assad government. This has put them for years in some degree of opposition to the foreigners that oppose Syria’s foreign policies. The Syrian government has been talking up the fact that the rebels are getting cheerleading from those particular foreigners. The talk-up of this association goes towards undermining the support for the rebels among the Syrians who support Syria’s foreign policies. In addition, the government calls on the people to support the civil reform program out of a sense of Syrian patriotism, and as you know this Syrian patriotism has been defined to some extent over the years in terms of Syria’s foreign policy positions.

    In recent months the Syrian government has been talking up, to an equal and to a greater extent, the fact that the Russians and certain other foreigners support the government’s program for getting out of the crisis. From that you can appreciate that it’s not pure foreignness that delegitimizes the foreign support the opposition receives.

    Qifa Nabki asks “If the fact of the “foreignness” of intervention is not what makes it treasonous, then what does?”

    We on the pro-regime side believe that the effort to unconstitutionally and violently overthrow the regime is treason — with or without foreign help. It is not the foreign help that makes it treasonous, though accepting the assistance of foreigners who have a record of illwill for Syria does make it worse, as a secondary consideration. The dictionary defines treason as “the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill or overthrow the sovereign or government”. We believe an unconstitutional and violent overthrow of the regime would be catastrophic for the country. Not just catastrophic for the regime and its core supporters. The regime is strong and is not going to be overthrown. But if the regime were hypothetically overthrown (by foreign conquest or otherwise) it would be followed by semi-collapse and major demoralization of the whole society and social infrastructure that has been building itself for the last four or five decades. And nothing would be on hand to replace it with. The opposition has no ideas and no substantive agenda other than to bring down the regime and destroy what has been built. (The opposition might adopt Islamization as the vision for what to replace it with, which they haven’t done yet, but they seem to have no alternative to it. The Saudis and Qataris want that.)

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 24, 2012, 7:49 pm
  24. Regarding the Syria-Lebanon relationship that Qifa Nabki mentioned, Syria has no desire to shape Lebanon’s internal affairs. Syria desires Lebanon’s foreign policy to be aligned with Syria’s. That’s all. The people of Syria and Lebanon fully agree that Lebanon is a sovereign State and should remain so, and the more fully sovereign it is the better. Once in a while when there’s been a state of paralysis in Lebanese politics, Syria tried to help get things moving again. But not with any further agenda (except, to repeat, Syria wants Syria and Lebanon to be partners in foreign affairs).

    Meanwhile the Khaleejis and Westerners are cheering for one side, and spreading defamatory falsehoods against the other side, in a major internal Syrian affair. That’s totally different from Syria’s conduct towards affairs in Lebanon.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 24, 2012, 8:17 pm
  25. @ Mo #22

    I don’t argue with much of what you’re saying. It is reasonable to be suspicious of the designs of the GCC.

    But does this amount to an excuse for Syrian oppositionists to sit on their hands and accept their fate under Assad?

    The history of political revolutions is a history of triangulation. You and other pro-muqawamists engage in a similar sort of rationality when you justify accepting Baathist and Islamic Republic support for your cause, even though you don’t agree with their record on the liberal causes you care about. So why shouldn’t the SNC and others take whatever support they can get from the GCC and the West, and ask questions later?

    Playing devil’s advocate here.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 24, 2012, 8:29 pm
  26. Qifa Nabki asks “why shouldn’t the SNC and others take whatever support they can get from the GCC and the West, and ask questions later?”

    Accepting such support has pluses and minuses for them. A minus is that it exposes them to the charge that they’re disloyal to the spirit of Syrian patriotism. As I’ve said before, Syrians are nationalistic and the definition of the nation that the Syrians are nationalistic about is the one developed and nurtured by the regime over decades.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 24, 2012, 8:44 pm
  27. @ Parviziyi #23 said:

    “We on the pro-regime side believe that the effort to unconstitutionally and violently overthrow the regime is treason — with or without foreign help. It is not the foreign help that makes it treasonous, though accepting the assistance of foreigners who have a record of illwill for Syria does make it worse, as a secondary consideration.”

    Parviziyi, your position is considerably different from that of most regime supporters I have met, even though you claim to speak for that side. The vast majority of Assad supporters believe that the opposition has been deeply infiltrated by foreign elements and that this amounts to treason in and of itself.

    But to stick to your own argument, let me ask you: what would a constitutional method be to overthrow the regime? And do you regard the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutionaries to have been guilty of treason for resorting to violence and unconstitutional methods to shed themselves of Ben Ali and Mubarak?

    As for comment #24 (“Syria has no desire to shape Lebanon’s internal affairs. Syria desires Lebanon’s foreign policy to be aligned with Syria’s. That’s all.”), do you not see the contradiction in what you’ve just said? It reminds me of Henry Ford’s offer to his customers on the Model T: “You can have any color you like, as long as it’s black.”

    By the same logic, Saudi Arabia could say: “We have no desire to shape Syria’s internal affairs. We desire Syria’s foreign policy to be aligned with Saudi Arabia’s.”

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 24, 2012, 8:55 pm
  28. @ Qifa Nabki: I’ve read Bashar, Al-Moallem, the Syrian ambassador to Lebanon, the Grand Mufti, and some other senior spokespeople of the regime have been saying about the nature of the Events for the past year. My view is pretty much the same as theirs.

    A Constitutional method to overthrow the regime would be to vote against the regime in the upcoming parliamentary elections. The new Constitution says those elections must be held within 92 days from today. It also says that there has to be a Presidential election in 2014. Almost anyone can be a candidate for the Presidential election provided he gets the endorsements of 35 members of the parliament. The parliament has 250 members.

    PS: Lebanon’s foreign policy is ultimately decided by the people of Lebanon. Syria doesn’t want it to be otherwise. Relax.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 24, 2012, 9:16 pm
  29. I think the regime has over-emphasized the “foreign conspiracy” theme, and I think the word “conspiracy” is not quite the right word. The foreign enemies of the regime repeatedly play it up in commentary because they know the foreign audiences don’t buy the idea of a “conspiracy” in the usual or narrow sense of the word.

    Most of the foreigners, due to their bigotry and ignorance, would like the regime to be downed. A “foreign conspiracy” requires foresight, coordination, and plotting and planning. “Foreign bigotry” requires none of that.

    Syria is a victim of foreing bigotry, not foreign conspiracy.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 24, 2012, 9:36 pm
  30. Syria is a victim of foreign bigotry, not foreign conspiracy. Spokespeople of the regime has often talked about “conspiracy”, not bigotry. Many of the supporters of the regime believe in a notion of a conspiracy. I do not. I don’t believe Bashar or Al-Moallem do either, even though they’ve used the term “conspiracy” more than once.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 24, 2012, 9:41 pm
  31. Zenobia in #7 eloquently highlighted the massive failures of the syrian resistance. Chief among them, is any concrete attempt to regain the Golan militarily. Heck, not even a single shot fired accross the Golan front since 74. Instead Syria kept on claiming loudly to be the mothership of resistance as long lebanese and palestinians do the fighting and dying. That’s just not right by any measure.

    I say this, because in these situations, I’m a firm believer of the one for all and all for one doctrine. Instead, Lebanon was subjected to horrendous israeli poundings, while no other arab country opened their fronts to relieve pressure or make any meaningfull military contribution. Lebanon shouldn’t be 3ala bouz el madfa3.

    Which brings us to how Lebanon’s foreign policy should be conducted. Given that no other arab country is willing to fight israel, I think it should be independent and solely crafted to watch for Lebanon’s interest only, and not be part of any axis whether it is Syria, Iran, KSA, or any other country. No offense to anyone, and no foreign policy joint ventures as Parviziyi described above. Lebanon has paid a heavy price already.

    As far as policy toward israel. Just continue with the 49 armistice and UNIFL. No recognition, or dealing whatsoever. Each will stay on their side of the fence. If there is an overall arab/palestinian/israeli negotiations to resolve the entire conflict, then Lebanon can participate to protect its interest.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | February 24, 2012, 10:51 pm
  32. Qifa Nabki said at #27 and I’m rephrasing it:

    “The USA has no desire to shape France’s internal affairs. The USA desires France’s foreign policy to be aligned with the USA’s.” Do you not see the contradiction in that statement? It reminds me of Henry Ford’s offer to his customers on the Model T: “You can have any color you like, as long as it’s black.”

    I don’t see a contradiction and I don’t see how it reminds of Henry Ford’s offer.

    @ Ras Beirut #31: I agree with you in full. I add that Syria wasn’t looking for an “axis” or “joint venture”; mainly it just wants Lebanon to not be a lackey of the West like Jordan is. Of course, Syria is going to be out of the foreign policy game for many years to come, now. In my opinion there’s no loss in that at all for Syria or Lebanon, and not a major loss for the Palestinians. The Syrian government will now concentrate all its work on Syria, which is what it should’ve been doing in the first place.

    Unrelatedly, but returning to reiterate an earlier point I had, the Assad government is pretty knowledgeable about the facts on the ground in Syria. I think most of its supporters are too. The facts include the non-presence of foreign fighters on the ground (with a few inconsequential isolated exceptions), and the insignificance of foreign funding for the opposition on the ground, and the insignificance of the Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood ideologies on the ground. The following article by Nir Rosen dated 16 Feb 2012 is a pretty good though not impeccable report of facts on the ground: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/02/20122157654659323.html

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 25, 2012, 5:43 am
  33. conflicts might be a part of the great game but it doesnt necessarily mean that conflicts are a result of the great game. These revolutions have grassroot origins, beginning at the base and working their way up. A true intifada. It really is a shame that the prisoners of an authoritarian regime when finally breaking their chains and marching head on towards their captors are mowed down not only by the regime but by the apologists and the sycophants who persist in painting them as traitors, terrorists, pawns of foreign interests, etc etc.
    Innocent children huddle around their parents screaming in terror as we speak in Homs, which has been bombarded non-stop, the cold blooded killing, the torture, the psychological prison and the twisted lies are enough to pinpoint where the problem lies without layering it with ambiguities and trivialities such as foreign meddling.

    Posted by maverick | February 25, 2012, 6:24 am
  34. Many of the conflicts would not exist had we applied a consistent yardstick and had we been driven by the logic of “what is good for the goose is good for the gander”. Unfortunately this is not the case and never will be.
    Obviously the above is not meant to justify the rationalization that the supporters of the Syrian Ba’ath are using to justify acts that they would have opposed had these acts been taking place in a different country or by an opposing group.
    I think that these efforts to accept an action at one time and oppose it at another stem from the tendency to arrive at a position and then find means of justifying it i.e. reverse engineering.
    The above is very evident if one reviews the various stages that the arguments by the regime supporters in Syria have gone through over the past year. They started by stating emphatically that the Arab spring will not find its way into Syria since the Syrian people are totally satisfied with their lot and are confident that the Syrian dictatorship will reform itself out of existense:-). Then once the demonstrations started the supporters dismissed all of them as being the work of, literally speaking, a few hundred dissatisfied individuals . As the demonstrations grew and spread then the participants were again accused of being foreign agents.When the authorities decided to hit back hard by employing tanks and bombarding neighbourhoods the regime supporters argued that this level of response was perfectly acceptable since the government forces have not employed even 10% of the fire power at their disposal (what a scary logic is that).
    All throughout this metamorphosis the language used was also undergoing change. It evolved from a handful of losers to foreign agents to traitors and along the way the cause of these “losers” started being described as having some legitimacy but only if they would submit to the dictates of their tormentors.
    Regime supporters are at the moment using every opportunity to demonize the uprising by pointing to its use of arms as being proof that those that are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice are doing so for the benefit of foreigners. That is laughable when the opposition was in essence driven into armed struggle by the policies of the regime that saw fit to marshal its military against dissenters. The Syrian opposition has played into the hands of the Syrian government by taking up arms. I wish that the opposition could have stayed peaceful and had instead concentrated on civil disobedience measures. But the fact that they did not is a disagreement about tactics and not goals. This is ultimately the weakness of the regime supporters. They are willing to keep adopting different arguments to justify and rationalize any policies adopted by the regime to suppress demonstrators, violate human rights, support armed struggle outside Syria and continue the brutal, cruel and deadly oppression of those that dare ask for a better life and a more democratic one.
    Since the major criticism of the uprising by the regime centers on the use of arms by the opposition then does that mean that the regime supporters would accept massive well organised civil disobedience? I don’t think so/ I am of the opinion that then those who favour the status quo would change tactics and would paint the demonstrators as uneducated, unskilled and as being paid mercenaries of KSA, Qatar and the US. The regime supporters are not opposing the uprising because they have a disagreement with the methods but they are opposing the uprising simply because it is asking for a regime change, a cruel dictatorship that is willing to employ any method to continue its undemocratic rule.
    Ultimately it is the Assad clan that is responsible for the current state of unrest in Syria and for the bloodshed. No amount of justification or rationalization can ever legitimize a dictatorship especially if one believes that rulers must have the consent of the governed.


    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 25, 2012, 9:07 am
  35. we do not have to assume that the GCC is in for liberty/democracy in syria. they want to support the oppoisiton to stop the killing. for them supporting the rebels–not Assad– is the most effective way to stop the killing. .

    Posted by rm | February 25, 2012, 9:40 am
  36. G.K
    Excellent comment. Once this is realized, there would be no more point arguing tactics with regime supporters. It simply boils to a moral value argument. Regime supporters will fail miserably in constructing a moral value argument, hence the diversion and the constant shifting and morphing of the language of discourse with the ultimate goal of linking irrelevant premises to their prefabricated conclusion of illegitimacy, upon which the further build to justify immeasurable, and once more, immoral violence.

    Just wait for the next set of cut and paste stats and quotes from SANA and like-minded outfits. and of “constitutional referendum forgeries” to be used as a response to your argument about consent of the governed. I can see the preparation already.

    Posted by OFF THE WALL | February 25, 2012, 10:00 am
  37. OTW

    I sent you an email a while back but did not hear from you. Hoping it went to spam and not that you were annoyed by my modest proposal…


    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 25, 2012, 10:22 am
  38. Maverick said:
    “conflicts might be a part of the great game but it doesnt necessarily mean that conflicts are a result of the great game”

    good point – there is a big difference there usually not acknowledged…

    Posted by Zenobia | February 25, 2012, 10:52 am
  39. QN
    Just found it, sorry for tardiness. And no, your “modest” proposal is not annoying at all. But I would like to discuss it further. I will send you an email shortly.


    Posted by OFF THE WALL | February 25, 2012, 11:08 am
  40. Qifa,
    Syrian oppositionists have never sat on their hands and accepted their fate and there are a few very brave men and women who have always worked for change. The Arab spring was a great opportunity for them and they could have done much, with outside support to bring about change.

    But my argument is that their cause has been hijacked by others who care little for the Syrian people and whose aim seems to me to be the toppling of the regime at whatever cost.

    Yes, the history of political revolutions is a history of triangulation and us “pro-muqawamists” have accpeted the help of regimes with a far from prisitne record.

    The difference in this case is that the likes if Hamas and Hizballah are massively grassroots. They would, to one extent or the other, survive any cessastion of ouside help. The SNC would not and that puts them in a position that will not allow for the ask questions later scenario.

    Furthermore, I dont even accept the SNC as truly representative of the Syrian people as most Syrians are either apathetic to or dislike the various members of the council.

    The fact is that the Tunisians, Egyptians and Bahrains managed not to resort to weapons and the first two were sucessful. Why did the “opposition” in Syria so quickly embrace the military option? (and only those who access their info via the MSM will respond with govt. violence as the justification)

    So to sum up my position, I think those backing the SNC in the West are looking to topple Assad only; That is the beginning, middle and end of their agenda. A weak Syria is just part of their foreign policy goals. That may leave it they way they left Iraq, will leave Afghanistan or worse I doubt gives them sleepless nights.

    As for the GCC, get rid of Assad and either have a client state or more likely a state in civil war will do.

    That is my opinion based on how I read things; And as I have said before, the pressure on Iran is their for all to read. The pressure on Syria in now in its end game.

    Guess who is left and next on their list. This could be a very bumby year indeed.

    I think you are wrong about the Islamist and foreign influence on the ground. The car bombings, which the USG and the Syrians agree have the hallmarks of Al Qaida, The recent forming of the al-Bara ibn Malik Martyrs Brigade by the “Free Syrian Army” with the Al Qaida flags in the video and the symbolism of the name itself and the Uk’s Independent running a story of how members of the Anbar Awakening in Iraq are now in Syria are all teling features.

    GK, thanks for the condescension. I no longer need to think as I can come to you and you can obviously tell me what I think.

    Posted by mo | February 25, 2012, 1:05 pm
  41. Very interesting discussion. I was at a conference at SOAS this morning and one of the questions was whether the revolts in the Arab world have moved beyond post-colonial hang ups. One of the comments said that there is nothing epic-heroic about being killed and it may be an absurd notion to reject help on the basis that it comes from the west. It may be that his post-colonial stuff is so 20th century and does not fly any more (except at Columbia or George Mason).

    Posted by Nadim Shehadi | February 25, 2012, 2:57 pm
  42. @ MO: I agree with you that examples can be found, like the ones you mentioned. But I deny that they are an important part of the situation on the ground. Almost no foreigner has been captured or killed on the ground in Syria. Last autumn and early winter Syrian State TV broadcast many confessions by captured armed rebels on television. In the stories in all those confessions it is clear that the armed rebels were essentially all locals who has participated in anti-regime street protests earlier in the year. The same goes for the plentiful quantity of up-close footage we’ve seen in the past two months from the rebels at large in Homs and Idlib.

    I agree with Bashar Assad when he said on 13 Dec 2012: “Those who conduct the armed struggle can be divided into three categories. The first one of them is a small group of al-Qaeda network, which does not have any influence among the Syrians. The second one is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also a small group, although they have a serious influence among the radicals. The majority of the radical opposition are the people who do not hold the membership in such organizations.” http://english.pravda.ru/hotspots/conflicts/13-12-2011/119945-bashar_assad-0/

    Bashar Assad also said in the same interview on 13 Dec 2012: “The terrorists, who work against Syria, receive the support from the USA and several Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. I would like to pay special attention to the fact that the situation was similar about Russia’s actions in Chechnya. The West and several Arab monarchies also supported the terrorists who struggled against the Russian troops.” —–> Please note: Bashar is speaking there of moral and rhetorical support. The West and the Arabs did not give material support to the rebels in Chechnya.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 25, 2012, 4:46 pm
  43. “The fact is that the Tunisians, Egyptians and Bahrains managed not to resort to weapons and the first two were sucessful. Why did the “opposition” in Syria so quickly embrace the military option? (and only those who access their info via the MSM will respond with govt. violence as the justification)”

    So typical of mafioso thinking of HA…The mukhabarat & the Syrian brave army resorted to violence from day one killing hundreds of people in Daraa & other cities. We did not see Tunisian or Egyptian tanks fire at their own people in a steady bombardment! Kill the people and then blame them for trying to defend their families. How HA like!! let them stop the bombing, torture and sniping and allow peaceful protests dude…and we see if they have “RESORTED” to military option? Totally convoluted logic as usual.

    Posted by danny | February 25, 2012, 5:09 pm
  44. Parviziy,
    You may be right about their importance for now. I feel that the more entrenched Assad remains the greater their influence may become.

    Do you get paid by the amount of times you use the word mafioso? Peaceful protests? The protests stopped being peaceful the day the seven policeman were killed but I doubt your myopic take on the situation remembers that. The Tunisians, Egyptians and Bahrains remained weapons free despite the numbers who were killed.

    Im interested in an honest discussion on Syria not your fox news version of events.

    Posted by mo | February 25, 2012, 6:12 pm
  45. Mo,

    Quite a few Egyptian policemen were killed also. Did the Egyptian army fire into crowds? Everyday there are scores of demonstrations in Syria. If one or two are violent, or if in a certain city violence is used by the opposition, does that give Assad the right to do what he has been doing? The raw data is clear, while there is violence from anti-regime people, most of the effort was non-violent and Assad over reacted.

    In my opinion, you are sawing the branch you are sitting on. Do you really want to set a precedent that it is all right to go after a civilian population if it supports an armed group against which you are fighting??? Hezbollah supporters should be especially careful with this kind of argument. During the 2006 war Lebanese civilian casualties were used as propaganda weapons against Israel. Was that all show, or because you want Assad to stay in power Syrian civilian casualties do not count?

    Posted by AIG | February 25, 2012, 6:42 pm
  46. QN ,

    so disingenuous of you to post that photo with khomaini’s picture in the forefront, these people did not die defending Iran or syria , they died liberating and defending their ansastrol homeland from foreign and domestic occupation brought about by the Israel / lebanese right wing maronite christian project of 1982 to extend pro israeli anti arab , anti muslim and anti syrian influence in the region.
    You don’t need a phD to know that dressed up in the garb of democracy and human rights, the Saudi / Qatari project we had witnessed in syria, bahrain and in post Rafiq Harriri lebanon is a continuation of the the above israeli project by sectarian arab and muslim means .

    Posted by YES 3b1 | February 25, 2012, 6:59 pm
  47. AIG,
    I am neither asking for a precedent or defending Assad; I am against those that have hijacked the Syrian uprising – The point was that if we are going to have a discussion, it is going to be on the facts and not the propaganda take on it.

    Nevertheless, where do you get your raw data from exactly? Whose data are you using to support your supposition? Is there any data out there that can be considered independent and neutral? The opposition data has been found wanting more than once and I dont put any stock in the govt. information.

    You are trying to compare Israeli action in an invasion to a govts action in the face of an insurrection. There is no comparison there.

    Any govt. around the world will use violence against an armed challenge to its authority, you as an Israeli should be aware of that. But whether we are talking about Northern Ireland or Waco, Texas, I doubt anyone believes that were what is happening is Syria were to happen anywhere else any other govt. will react peacefully.

    While the initial reaction by Assad (or whomever in the ruling circle) was crass and stupid, the escalation was equally so.

    Posted by mo | February 25, 2012, 7:51 pm
  48. I find the hair-splitting on Assad 2011 vs. Israel 2006 to be unconvincing.

    In both cases, Israel believed (like Assad) that it was facing a terrorist threat, so it used disproportionate force to try to crush its enemy. By now, Assad has probably killed more civilians than Israel did in both Lebanon and Gaza. We don’t know for sure, but let’s say for argument’s sake that there’s at least a 50% chance that the numbers are more or less equivalent.

    On what basis can one justify these tactics that doesn’t make one sound like Avigdor Lieberman? Here are the reasons I hear on Facebook:

    1. The opposition are crazy radicals who want to commit ethnic cleansing and destroy the country. (Israel believes that too.)

    2. The opposition are foreign-funded religious lunatics. (Israel believes that too.)

    3. The opposition has no interest in a negotiated solution to the problem, so they can only be dealt with by force. (Israel believes that too.)

    4. The opposition does not have a legitimate cause. (Israel believes that too)

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 25, 2012, 8:04 pm
  49. Small point Qifa.

    Points 1-4 are the business of the govt. to deal with when occuring inside its own country.

    Points 2-4 are not the business of another country under any international law. And point one only becomes their business if the threat is real and present.

    So, in regards to Lebanon I dont think its hair splitting. Whether this applies to Gaza is another question entirely that would veer this discussion way off topic.

    Posted by mo | February 25, 2012, 8:31 pm
  50. Mo,

    We cannot be certain of anything but taking the other extreme that “we know nothing” is not reasonable either. There are foreign enough journalists inside Syria to give some picture of what is happening. It is clear that many civilians have been killed though we don’t know the number.

    Any government would fight an armed insurgency against it, but that is not the issue. The government is also using indiscriminate force against non-armed civilians. Israeli Arabs routinely protest against the Israeli state and very rarely does anyone get killed (if I remember correctly the last cases were in 2000 and there was a huge inquiry about it).

    As for your distinction regarding “internal vs. external”, it is the other way around. A government should care more about its people than its outside enemies.

    What do you mean that QN’s points are for the government to deal with? How can the Lebanese government deal with Hezbollah and how are Nasrallah’s threats to Israel not Israel’s problem? As for international law, not that I put any value in it but since you raised the issue, even the UN agreed that in 2006 Israel was acting in self defense since Hezbollah crossed the Blue Line into Israel when it kidnapped our soldiers.

    To the extent the opposition has been hijacked, Assad can blame only himself. He used similar tactics in Iraq and now the chickens are coming home to roost. By the way, I don’t think you are really surprised. The Hezbollah model is attractive also to Sunnis, and you will see something similar emerging in Syria. They will be just as much grass roots as Hezbollah, just armed and funded by KSA instead of Iran. And the more civilians Assad kills, the faster this entity will emerge.

    The bottom line is that if you do not hold Assad to at least the same standard you hold Israel you are creating a precedent that will certainly backfire for your cause.

    Posted by AIG | February 25, 2012, 9:35 pm
  51. “I find the hair-splitting on Assad 2011 vs. Israel 2006 to be unconvincing.”

    I would hazard that this dismissal of the concept of the inviolable sovereignty of the State would be a rather singular perspective unshared by the rest of the world, including Israel. Perhaps it comes with the territory.)

    The closest analogy I can come up would to assign a rough equivalency to Waco and 9/11.

    Posted by lally | February 25, 2012, 9:36 pm
  52. Lally,

    The “the inviolable sovereignty of the state”? So if Israel decides to kill all its Arab citizens, is that ok?

    Do human rights not matter when the person violating your rights is part of your government? According to your logic, Israel could annex the West Bank, make all its people Israeli citizens and the proceed to do whatever it wants to them because of its “inviolable state rights”.

    You really need to get your story straight.

    Posted by AIG | February 25, 2012, 10:12 pm
  53. I am bewildered by Jumblat’s stance:

    It seems not so prudent of him. Any ideas what he is gaining by adopting this position?

    Posted by AIG | February 25, 2012, 10:16 pm
  54. mo,
    I am surprised that you felt I was condescending in my previous post when all hat I did was try to understand the ‘irrationality” of the positions being taken by many of the Syrian regime supporters. I suggested that in this case cognitive dissonance is probably the only explanation. This , btw, is a problem faced by supporters/ critics of all groups but I am suggesting that the contradictions in the case of supporters of the regime appears to be much more overwhelming than it is in any other case. In my opinion the case for the maintenance of the Syrian Baath is so weak that it is practically non existent simply because no dictatorship ever earns the right to exist whether it is Syria, North Korea,KSA or any of the Gulf Emirates to name a few.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 25, 2012, 10:30 pm
  55. All this talk of “the resistance” is so much nonsense in this context. Isn’t it obvious that Israel does not care to pour oil on the fire of opposition to Assad?

    Assad, though not in a de-jure mutual recognition pact with Israel has “forever” been in a de-facto non-aggression pact with Israel. The Israelis have been quite happy with Assad up to now. The Assads have not been very bothersome about the return of the Golon. I am sure Israel is more concerned about the unknowns that would follow Assad’s departure than the knowns that ensue from his continuation in power.

    To Israel, Assad has been a sheep in wolf’s clothing, and I’m sure they are quite happy with that.

    It’s been amusing to see that both Assad’s supporters and his opponents accuse the other side of being in cahoots with the Zionists. Score one for the opponents on this one.

    Posted by samadamsthedog | February 25, 2012, 10:33 pm
  56. (Just filling in my bona-fides.)

    Posted by Sam Adams the Dog @samadamsthedog | February 25, 2012, 10:38 pm
  57. Arabs are cursed by leaders who differentiate themselves depending on the foreign country they want thier country to follow, not the economic program, education, foreign policy or health care, they don’t seek power to improve the lives of their people but to feel powerful.

    Posted by Norman | February 25, 2012, 11:20 pm
  58. @44
    You don’t want an honest discussion my friend. You want the validation of your logic. Sorry can’t do….and I don’t get Fox News in Canada. 😀

    Your reasoning was exactly explained and so clearly by Ghassan @ 34. As for your mafia family that you are so proud of being under the protection; they are what they are. Is there another explanation for a militia/gangsters (Hizb Illahi for you) that possess more arms than the state; runs their own mini state and kills at random to intimidate and force people to “leave them alone” …or threaten to cut off all the limbs of a person’s body if they were to object to their thievery? Divinely criminal!

    Posted by danny | February 26, 2012, 9:14 am
  59. The Syrian security forces have a policy of not firing on peaceful protesters. The security forces do fire into the air to give notice that a protest is to be dispersed or to give notice that a march down a street is not to advance beyond a point where the security forces are arrayed. The policy of not using deadly force against peaceful protesters is strongly supported by the regime’s supporters, by the regime’s leadership, and by almost everybody in Syria.

    The regime denies that deadly or disporportionate force has been used by security forces against peaceful protesters. (A partial exception is that the regime says that way back in March when deadly armed violence came from a few protesters on the fringes of a largely peaceful crowd in Daraa, the security forces probably overreacted and struck back too broadly, too heavy-handedly, against the larger crowd. But regime and the security forces learned a lesson then and adopted a security policy in late March to prevent a similar occurrence. It is still not clear whether the security actions in Daraa in March were justified or not. But in any case there has been a very clear policy in the security forces since late March).

    If the regime were violating its own security policies, and lying about it, it would be unforgivable. There in no respectable evidence that the regime has used disporportionate force. Moreover there is no rational reason to use disproportionate force. No security reason. I challenge you to give us links to Youtube videos showing security forces using deadly or disproportionate force against peaceful protesters. I made this challenge once before at Comment #114 at https://qifanabki.com/2011/12/28/syrias-defecting-bloggers/#comments and nobody was able to take it up. I said then: “Since I know that a lot of fakes exist (itself a sign that the real thing doesn’t exist in quantity, btw), I demand unmistakeable footage of the actual security forces actually firing (and not merely firing into the air). I also want to see context that the targets being fired on were not firing on the security forces.”

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 26, 2012, 10:22 am
  60. Parviziyi,

    I believe you are do not exist but there is an evil demon that is infecting my senses in such a way that it just seems that you exist. If you want to convince me otherwise, please provide conclusive proof.

    My argument is just as reasonable as yours which is to say that both are unreasonable. There is plenty of evidence that Assad has been targeting civilians. Are there no civilians in Assad jails? Are people not being tortured there? There are many pictures of dead civilians. Yes, maybe they committed suicide, but why is there such a suicide epidemic in Syria? The bulk of the evidence may be circumstantial but it doesn’t make it less believable. It is common sense to use circumstantial evidence and it is also accepted in courts of law.

    You want to convince me you are right? It is quite simple. Allow journalists to freely cover protests. Allow inspections by journalists and others of Assad’s jails. The Assad regime does not allow these things, more evidence that it is committing crimes.

    Posted by AIG | February 26, 2012, 10:55 am
  61. Parviziyi

    I don’t have time to get into an extended discussion, but I appreciate how straightforward you are in establishing the parameters of your argument. As you say, all your interlocutors have to do to prove that the regime’s security forces have committed the “unforgivable” would be to show YouTube videos of the Army using deadly or disproportionate force on peaceful protesters.I’m sure that some readers of this blog will oblige you and supply these videos.

    Here are a couple:

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 26, 2012, 11:16 am
  62. QN,

    Where is your “proof” that these videos were not staged for the camera?

    Posted by AIG | February 26, 2012, 11:41 am
  63. AIG,

    Everything except Israeli brutality is staged!

    Posted by danny | February 26, 2012, 11:53 am
  64. Guys, stop making snide remarks and take Parviziyi up on his/her offer.

    But please, if a video contains graphic footage, do make a point of saying that.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 26, 2012, 11:55 am
  65. @59

    You said:’The regime denies that deadly or disporportionate force has been used by security forces against peaceful protesters.
    Why was any force used against peaceful demonstrations?
    …”The Syrian security forces have a policy of not firing on peaceful protesters”

    What do the security forces consider peaceful protestors? Are protests allowed in Syria?

    “There in no respectable evidence that the regime has used disporportionate force?” Again what do you consider disproportionate? You mean they have not bombed the towns by choppers and planes?…as they have used all other means?

    There are hundreds/thousands of footage whereas people are being shot at. You can go to BBC or any other news organization’s site..Being Lebanese gives us a better perspective of your forces brutality and indiscriminate force.

    Posted by danny | February 26, 2012, 12:04 pm
  66. Danny,

    No, brutality by Israeli soldiers happens, like it happens with US soldiers. Israelis are average humans, just like anybody else and in any group there are bad apples. You just need to discipline them or try to identify them before hand. I sentenced several soldiers to jail time for inappropriate behavior.

    And as always, war does not bring out the best side of some people and people make plenty of judgement errors when they believe their life is in danger. For example, just google how many Iraqis were erroneously killed at road blocks by US soldiers who misread their intentions. It is up to the commanders to create environments that lead to as few mistakes as possible and to train the soldiers well. Easier said than done, but necessary nevertheless. It took the IDF a few years, but we managed to bring down injuries and fatalities in road blocks in the West Bank to basically zero.

    One last point, the IDF is a conscript army. It cannot hide its policies or methods. Everyone in Israel has been in the army or has a family member or friend who has. Combine that with freedom of speech and any inhumane or brutal policy would be immediately public knowledge. For example, you can see how quickly the Israeli press picked up the story of the soldier that photographed herself with Palestinians in custody and put it on facebook.

    Posted by AIG | February 26, 2012, 12:16 pm
  67. danny.

    These real deal Israelis who put their humanitarian beliefs on the line would call the laughable claims by AIG a hypocritical mush of hasbara. From the (mainly) journalist activists’ blog, 972+ :


    These Israeli human rights activists are under assault from the rightist elements taking over Israel’s institutions. Yet, they soldier on.

    Posted by lally | February 26, 2012, 1:22 pm
  68. Embarrassed for my People and their Khazzar-look-alikes

    As an ardent pro-Zionist, I can only hope that one day, the IDF will abide by the humanitarian norms of Hamas, the Egyptian military, Hezbollah, the Syrian military, and all the other more enlightened ME governments.

    Until then, the IDF will remain the thugs portrayed in the government-controlled arab media.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 26, 2012, 2:00 pm
  69. Lally,

    So what is the Betselem equivalent in Syria? When was the last Betselem member jailed let alone killed for their work? I don’t recall such an incidence ever occurring.

    I do not know the specifics of this case but if the case had any merit, the person that was hurt would have sued the IDF in a civil case. He is Israeli and can easily do it. And let’s be clear, the case was reported by the Israeli press and the video was widely disseminated by the Israeli press itself.

    Betselem is doing important work. It is good that they are putting the IDF under a microscope. On the other hand, the soldiers should be given a chance to defend their positions also. File a civil case and let’s see what happens.

    Posted by AIG | February 26, 2012, 2:04 pm
  70. Qifa Nabki at #61 linked above to a video headlined “Tank opens fire on unarmed protesters”. Here’s some notes about what’s to be heard and seen in the video.

    Between time 3:15 and 3:19, protesters are banging and kicking on the galvanized steel shuttering of shopfronts to create noise — I’ve seen that done lots of times before. The shop-shuttering rattling noise you hear from 3:15 to 3:19 is not generated by the people depicted who are making that noise, it looks to me; rather the soundtrack of shop-shutting noise from time 3:15 to 3:19 has come from a recording made elsewhere, it appears to me. From time 3:20 to 3:30 you can hear other noises seamlessly blended in with the that shop-shuttering rattling noise. That includes synthetically tweaked whistling noises. From time 3:20 to 3:24 you can see two relaxed people sitting on the street’s kerbing. They appear oblivious to the cacaphony of the video’s soundtrack. One of these two, the one with the white cap, initially sits down there at time 2:50 to 2:52. At times 3:40, 3:48, 3:51, 3:54 3:57, 4:12, 4:37, 4:39, 4:46, 4:47 you can see this man in the white cap still sitting in the same place, unperturbed. Then at 4:54, at the very place were that man was at 4:47, we are presented with a different man lying motionless on the street supposedly shot. We don’t see him being shot. We don’t see where he came from. We don’t see what happened to the man who was sitting there seven seconds earlier. We don’t hear any gunfire between time 4:47 and time 4:53. Assuming the noise we hear at time 4:53 is gunfire, it can be this gunfire at time 4:53, only, that has shot the man who we see lying on the street at time 4:54. But the man is lying totally immobile and it’s too soon for him to be totally immobile. The reproduction quality is so poor that it’s not possible to be sure it’s a man at all, I think. Then, at time 5:02 while the supposed gunfire is still going off, and people are supposedly still running for shelter from something, we see some people stop and walk out onto the unsheleterd street to pick up an immobile body. While they are supposedly being fired on. It makes no sense except as a fake, as a pretense that someone’s been shot. I have seen a number of videos where some protesters who are being dispersed by security forces lie down on the street and pretend to be shot for the sake of a camera. This is another one of that genre. It’s not as well-done or well-planned as the one I linked to at Comment #114 at https://qifanabki.com/2011/12/28/syrias-defecting-bloggers/#comments .

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 26, 2012, 2:27 pm
  71. Qifa Nabki at #61 linked to a video headlined “Hidden Camera captures Syrian Security violent suppression of protests”. I did not see anything in that video that’s contrary to Syria’s security policies.

    The following four videos all come from an anti-regime protest in Salah Al-Din neighborhood in Aleppo on Friday 11 Nov 2011. In these videos you can see ordinary citizens acting along with security forces to disperse an unlicensed protest in Salah Al-Din. I originally kept these links because I wanted to use them to demonstrate that support for the regime is fervent in Aleppo. But these videos also show some of the methods by which anti-regime protests are dispersed. The content in these videos in similar to the video the Qifa Nabki linked to at #61, but with an extra emphasis on citizen participation in dispersing the protesters.

    One of the reasons why anti-regime gatherings in Aleppo are so few, so small, and so brief, is that a large number of the ordinary citizens of Aleppo are not just vehemently opposed to them but are also willing to go out and break them up. That does not mean that people with anti-regime political opinion are unable to exercise their lawful right to publicly demonstrate in Aleppo. What it means is that unlicensed demonstrations are not tolerated by the general community. The forces of law and order will protect the anti-regime demonstrations, not break them up, when they are licensed. In the following video dated Friday 11 Nov 2011, local citizens and police are seen working together to disperse an anti-regime gathering on a street in Salah al-Din. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlHuG2Giuc8

    In the following video dated Friday 11 Nov 2011, a very sizeable crowd of pro-regime men of the neighborhood of Salah al-Din is seen on the streets wanting to be assistance to the security forces. These are men of all ages and all social classes. From time 1:16 to 1:24 at the bottom right of the image, four or five elderly and grey-haired men are to be seen, with a couple of them dressed in banker’s suits. Not what they call “shabeeha”. Rather, this is the whole spectrum of the community comming out against the protesters. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8dYdXyC-qE

    In the following video dated Friday 11 Nov 2011, a pro-regime local citizen in a banker’s suit is helping the police to chase away street protesters in Salah al-Din. He has taken off the belt of his trousers to use as a tool or weapon for this purpose. But it’s not very satisfactory. He notices a piece of junk furniture, a desk, on the street. He urgently and expertly extracts one of the legs of the desk for use as a cudgel. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75AMTCZgE3o

    In the following video dated Friday 11 Nov 2011, starting at time 0:22 two members of the security forces are leading away a protester in Salah al-Din. The protester is not resisting his arrest. Pro-regime local citizens come up from behind with cudgels and beat the protester on the neck and shoulders. What I was glad to see here is that both of the security men, and one of them with visible anger, made the citizens back off. You can see the same professional working to protect the protester at time 0:07. The unfortunate protester got bloodied on the back of his neck by the citizens. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhsVOBq8MzU

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 26, 2012, 2:43 pm
  72. “He urgently and expertly extracts one of the legs of the desk for use as a cudgel.”


    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 26, 2012, 2:49 pm
  73. The main problem discussed here is related to the popular needs and desires of those who do resist oppression. So-called foreign assistance or intervention is never the primary drive to do anything; resistance starts before politics and strategies.

    To understand what is happening in the MENA region, one needs to use a valid theoretical and historical framework and not just use data mining and comparative scheme.

    The comparison between HA and the Syrian resistance in their reliance on external support for weaponry is meaningless and silly. What drives HA and what drives the current Syrian resistance is not comparable. HA developed as a popular resistance to an occupation by a ruthless foreign army, who has established itself as a colonial ruler subjugating Palestinians in their homeland and pursuing them into Lebanon, killing and disabling Lebanese Shia, Sunni, and Christians who refuse to submit to Israeli rule. Resistance here was.driven by a sense of justice as a desire for freedom from oppression and a need for autonomy and independence. If HA seeks support from Iran or Syria, it is to ensure its political aims of “never again”–in the same way many early Zionists were driven by a “never again” in their search for.a.homeland. What happens to an ethical resistance after politics, strategy, and machiavellan machinations is not necessarily linked to this founding desire for justice! HA may have failed to extend its sense of justice to its compatriots, but at least it did not build) its own infrastructure on a foundation of colonial oppression, racism, and militaristic jingoism as Israel did.

    We do not know anything about the Syrian opposition and about its drives, desires, and needs. But the Syrians do not need a struggle that will enslave them, where Democracy and freedom are empty and disempowering concepts and where popular needs and desires are not aimed at some sense of justice and equality. The new colonial aspirations (that many on this blog idolize) demand a democratic structure in order to permit a minority to suck out the blood from the impoverished majority, or to sell the illusion of a freedom that can only choose what to buy and what to sell. That transformation does not compare with the ethical commitment of a true resistance that aims to ensure justice and equality for all. Arab Islamic cultures are unique in privileging justice in that way, and that is why they have been construed as a threat to the expansionist neocolonial new world order.

    Let us use more theory and insight in our analyses, instead of relying on unquestioned assumptions or sets of conditioned values.

    Posted by Parrhesia | February 26, 2012, 2:55 pm
  74. A Palace.

    Remember way back when I told you that IMO, the American Diaspora represents the greatest “existential threat” to Israel? Looks like the worm is turning and more Israelis would agree with me. The latest, fired-by-the-Jerusalem-Post reporter Larry Derfner:


    AIG. Um…I guess you forgot to notice the multiple examples involving injuries and deaths referred to in the article. Nevermind, here’s a link to an article by one of Israel’s most heroic figures, the great human rights attorney Michael Sfard that will expand your understanding of the Israeli court system functioning.


    ’nuff threadjacking, guys.)

    Let the unresolvable battles of The Syrian Atrocity Videos continue….

    Posted by lally | February 26, 2012, 3:15 pm
  75. Lally,

    Thank you for the great link. Has Sfard even ONCE been put in jail or made to shut up? No, and he even admits to winning cases in court. The system works. And you keep ignoring my basic question: What is the equivalent of Betselem in Syria? Are they allowed to work in Syria at all?

    Israel is not a perfect democracy, no country is. But your insistence on equating the Israeli government with the Syrian regime is just amusing.

    Posted by AIG | February 26, 2012, 3:49 pm
  76. Parviziyi

    Your critique of the first video I posted raises one worthwhile point, regarding the timing of the appearance of the dead body. The other critiques are neither here nor there. Let me ask you then: when you say this is fake, what does that mean? Is this footage entirely staged? If so, why not go to the trouble of making it more believable, such that you can actually see the person shot? Or is it footage of something different entirely, like a crowd celebrating a football match?

    As for your point about unlicensed protests, what evidence do you have that these protests are unlicensed? It seems to me that you are engaging of another one of your circular feats of logic:

    1. The regime does not use deadly or disproportionate force against peaceful and licensed protesters.

    2. In cases where there is evidence of deadly or disproportionate force, then the protesters must have been non-peaceful or unlicensed.

    What’s the point of trying to give you video examples when you’ll just tell us they are unlicensed protests?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 26, 2012, 3:57 pm
  77. AIG.

    You’re welcome for the link.

    I don’t answer your questions that I consider silly, irrelevant and/or of the “have you stopped beating your wife yet?” variety.

    PS. It’s quite perplexing that so many partisans imagine that they’re scoring points by comparing states (US and Isr come to mind) that tirelessly and hypocritically boast about their democratic values with states that don’t give said values much shrift. A big waste of time, IMO.

    Have a kumquat on me…)

    Posted by lally | February 26, 2012, 4:21 pm
  78. QN,

    Every couple of years the same insight reemerges: The basic problem is one of epistemology. There is a basic disagreement of what constitutes good evidence, which sources are credible and more basically, what is the correct way to arrive at knowledge. If someone believes that if source X says something then we know it, it is difficult to argue with that person.

    For example, if someone says that we know something because it is written in a holy book or because a holy person said it, where do you take the argument from there? Or if someone says we do not know anything until we have conclusive proof? Both are dead ends.

    Posted by AIG | February 26, 2012, 4:22 pm
  79. Lally,

    I am just trying to understand your position. Are you against democratic values? Do you prefer states that try to be democratic but fail in some aspects to states that don’t try at all? And why is it not possible to compare human rights of citizens of different countries whether the countries are democracies or not?

    Where would you prefer to live, the US or Iran? You sound like all the ex-communists that were always touting how great the USSR is compared to the US. You think Israel and the US are hypocritical and don’t measure up to their own self image, but so what? What follows from that? That the Iranian or Syrian system is better? Or are you comparing the US and Israel to some pie in the sky? Please clarify your point of view.

    Posted by AIG | February 26, 2012, 4:30 pm
  80. @ Qifa Nabki: There’s a big difference between a non-peaceful protest and an unlicensed protest. Most anti-regime protests, if not all, are unlicensed. The main or best-known organization that coordinates anti-regime protests nationwide in Syria is the Local Coordinating Committees of Syria. Their website is http://www.LCCSyria.org. About six months ago I read a news item at at that site that they’d explicitly adopted a policy of not applying for a license for any protest. To apply for a license to protest would be to acknowledge the government and its laws as legitmate, they said, and their policy was to regard the government as totally illegitimate. I haven’t come across any news since then that they’ve decided to change the policy. The policy of the LCCs to not license their protests is consistent with the policy of the Syrian National Council to not negotiate with the regime about anything except the mechanics of the regime’s ouster. Hence, to the best of my knowledge, all anti-regime protests are unlicensed. The regime allows most protests to proceed unhindered despite their unlicensed status. Typically a protest is allowed to march down street A, and occupy an area along street A for as long as they want to, but they are not allowed to march beyond cross-street B. An attempt to march beyond cross-street B causes the march to be driven back by the security forces. If the marchers resist, the protest will be dispersed in its entirety. A different kind of protest, and this is always dispersed, is when a smallish band of dissidents is doing nothing more than deliberately and maliciously blocking movement of traffic on a major traffic street on a non-Friday. In every country in the world, protests must be licensed. But in Syria the reality is that the protesters refuse to license themselves and the government doesn’t have the will to insist on them getting license. Speaking for myself I think the government’s tolerant policy regarding the license, a piece of paper, is best under the circumstances. The government disperses the protests they wouldn’t have gotten a license if a license had been applied for, and allows the rest.

    Disproportionate force means lethal force against non-lethal protesters. The government has a policy of not using disproportionate force. As a matter of fact in practice this policy is complied with (even although an isolated exception in practice by a policy-violating security man is something that cannot be utterly and totally prevented). The assertion that the policy is complied with in practice is strongly supported by the fact that nobody can suppy video evidence of disproportionate force.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 26, 2012, 5:13 pm
  81. Parviziyi…

    I’ve tried to follow your logic. All that happened is I ended up getting dizzy.


    “recent forming of the al-Bara ibn Malik Martyrs Brigade by the “Free Syrian Army” with the Al Qaida flags in the video and the symbolism of the name itself and the Uk’s Independent running a story of how members of the Anbar Awakening in Iraq are now in Syria are all teling features.”

    Scary Sunni Brigades galore. Ibn-WotshisName-and-what-not.

    I think that’s how Israel describes, what are they called again? “Khamas”.

    It’s a slippery slope. A very slippery slope indeed.

    Posted by Gabriel | February 26, 2012, 6:06 pm
  82. I talked at #70 about the video at #61. Qifa Nabki at #76 and Gabriel at #81 give me the feeling they still haven’t studied the video carefully. I’ll talk a bit more about it. The general context of the video is that the security forces are preventing the street protesters from advancing beyond a certain point, and the protesters are yelling and haranguing at the security. You can appreciate that by watching the first two minutes. After the first two minutes, much of the video’s soundtrack is incomprehensible because we don’t see where the sounds are coming from, and we don’t know what many of the sounds are. But some of the sounds are of gunfire and some are of rattling on shopfront shuttering. We don’t see anybody supposedly hit by gunfire until time 4:54. A lot of gunfire noises are to be heard on and off between 2:15 and 4:54. But we don’t see any genuine fear in the crowd until at least time 4:54 or else no fear at any time. Due to the clear lack of fear, and the lack of anybody being hit, those gunshot sounds must be either (A) firing into the air to notify the crowd to not advance beyond the point of their delimitation (a standard practice, as I said already) or else (B) sounds added later by the video’s producer. At time 3:15 we see protesters banging and kicking on the galvanized steel shuttering of shopfronts to create loud rattling noises. The rattling on the shopfront shuttering is one illustration that the protesters are unafriad of the security forces. When I watch the visuals of the banging on shopfront shuttering around 3:15, I find it doesn’t match up very well with the audio. This suggests that alternative (B), that the sounds were added later, is a strong possibility. Alternative (B) is also a strong possibility to me on the grounds that many of the sounds have no source in context to explain what they are.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 26, 2012, 6:16 pm
  83. Parviziyi…

    You’re all over the map.

    You come here, and recite portions of the new “constitution”. You seem proud of this new constitution.

    And yet this constitution only came to be because of those demonstrations.

    Demonstrations which you tell us are Unlicensed. I am not clear if that makes them illegal though.

    Then you tell us that trying to overthrow the sovereign is an act of treason. Though it is not clear whether trying to do so in an unlicensed- but possibly peaceful- way is tantamount to treason also.

    I understand the bit about the scary Islamo-Fascists. No bars, No bikinis. Masi7iyi to Beirut and 3alawyi to Paradise (why not hell is curious though). But what I fail to see is how Israel faces less of an Islamocrazies issue. And why quite curiously, Iraq did not as Syria was giving the Islamocrazies, oops, I mean anti-colonials, a friendly hand over there.

    I am also not clear- with all this fear mongering going on- why and if Assad steps down democratically, and as per the new Constitution in 2014, how the new order will not be Scary-Sunni anyways. Why with Scary-Sunni orders popping up in Libya and Tunisia and Egypt, who’s to tell what’s going to come out in Syria.

    Come on.

    It’s like when you’re pulling off a bandaid. One quick move, and the pain is gone. Don’t let it linger. And the quicker those horned-up Islamo-crazies get it out of their system, the quicker we can all go back to normal life.

    Posted by Gabriel | February 26, 2012, 6:31 pm
  84. Gabriel,

    In all fairness, our Islamic problem is different. We are not facing the possibility that by democratic vote they will come to power in Israel.

    If your general point is that it is inevitable that Islamist rule will be embraced by many Arab countries, I agree with you. It will take some time, but these regimes will prove that Islam is not the solution, especially in countries not rich in natural resources.

    Posted by AIG | February 26, 2012, 7:04 pm
  85. More talk about the video I already talked about at #70 and #82. Suppose you were a peaceful protester running down a street fleeing from real live gunfire from any army. The army is on the street and its gunfire can shoot you in the back as you run. You make a turn onto a side street. Good move. Then you stop, turn around, and look back onto the main street. Bad move. Anyway, after turning around, you see on the main street further up ahead a man who is lying motionless on the ground, presumably shot. You hear more gunfire coming from the army on the main street. Do you now go back onto the street, under fire from the army, to “rescue” this person? Bear in mind that (a) the risk of getting shot yourself is seriously high, and (b) the fallen person may be already dead or irretrievably dying, and (c) you don’t have the facilities to carry the person away from the scene to a hospital, and (d) the army does have the facilities to get medical treatment for the supposedly shot person, and (e) the supposedly shot person has nothing to fear from being captured by the army because the only thing he was doing was peacefully protesting, and (f) if you do get him to a hospital there will questions there about how he was shot. Do you risk your life to “rescue” him under that scenario? What are you “rescueing” him from?

    Suppose, however, the army is only firing in the air, and you know it well, and you see a guy lying on the ground pretending to be shot. Could you be tempted to go over to him and participate in his fraud by pretending to “rescue” him? If you were a protester in Syria in 2011, you definitely could be tempted to do that.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 26, 2012, 7:27 pm
  86. “Under article 155 of the new constitution, the President would be allowed to finish his current mandate until 2014. He would then have the right to run for an additional two terms of seven years each.”

    So, El Presidente could stay in power serving and protecting Syria until the end of 2028. isnt that sweet 🙂

    Posted by Vulcan | February 26, 2012, 8:04 pm
  87. Parviziyi

    Have you read any of the accounts of the regime violence coming from reputable reporters in Syria? Nir Rosen spent 4 months there and he has written several accounts for Al-Jazeera. Rosen has impeccable “anti-imperialist” credentials; he exposed abuses by the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sunni jihadists in Lebanon, Israeli crimes in Gaza, etc. And his take on the situation in Syria does not paint the regime forces in quite the same rosy colors that you do.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 26, 2012, 8:31 pm
  88. #84

    Of course you don’t. There were wars in 48, 67, 73, etc… to make sure such a scenario would not have to happen.

    Posted by Gabriel | February 26, 2012, 10:17 pm
  89. Nir Rosen has never seen the regime use disproportionate force. I think (not sure) I’ve read everything Nir Rosen has published about Syria. Certainly I’ve read everything he’s published at Al-Jazeera. When he’s is talking about what he’s seen himself, he’s good. And he has managed to see quite a lot himself. For which he is to be congratulated and thanked. Back in August he managed to get permission to accompany a Syrian army platoon before and during their work providing security against protesters in a Damascus suburb. He wrote about that for Al-Jazeera in October. However, when Nir Rosen is talking about what he has not seen himself, he has some mistaken presuppositions and is misinformed in some important respects.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 26, 2012, 10:34 pm
  90. Gabriel,

    I am not sure I understand your point, the wars were against Arab Nationalists, not the current islamists.

    Posted by AIG | February 26, 2012, 10:41 pm
  91. Aig..
    Not sure what is not to get. Todays islamists are yesterdays nationalists.

    either way, the israelis don’t have to deal with the issue

    Posted by Gabriel | February 27, 2012, 12:50 am
  92. I suppose that shelling a neighborhood with mortars and tanks does not count as disproportionate force?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 27, 2012, 8:08 am
  93. parviziyi;

    Here’s my question to you again…..Let me know when you are ready to give an explanation…or a spin.


    You said:’The regime denies that deadly or disporportionate force has been used by security forces against peaceful protesters.
    Why was any force used against peaceful demonstrations?
    …”The Syrian security forces have a policy of not firing on peaceful protesters”

    What do the security forces consider peaceful protestors? Are protests allowed in Syria?

    “There in no respectable evidence that the regime has used disporportionate force?” Again what do you consider disproportionate? You mean they have not bombed the towns by choppers and planes?…as they have used all other means?

    Posted by danny | February 27, 2012, 10:05 am
  94. Gabriel,

    There is a major difference. The nationalists got to power by coups. The islamists will get into power by the ballot box as we see in Tunisia and Egypt. The question is of course, will the islamists allow fair elections the next time?

    Posted by AIG | February 27, 2012, 10:37 am
  95. QN #93

    There is no evidence that the man in the video has died, also notice that the man is wearing a green jacket, my sources tell me that he is a member of the Syrian police who is being beaten by his colleagues for using excessive force against demonstrators.

    Posted by Vulcan | February 27, 2012, 12:55 pm
  96. Danny asks: “Are protests allowed in Syria? What do the security forces consider peaceful protestors? Why was any force used against peaceful demonstrations? What do you consider disproportionate force?” Here’s my answer. Protests are allowed and you can find many thousands of videos of peaceful protests, entirely undisturbed by the security forces — see http://www.onsyria.com/?parent=1&page=1 . Some restrictions are imposed by the authorities on peaceful protests. Overnight sit-ins are generally not allowed. A protest may be permitted at one location but not at another location in the same neighborhood. A large group marching peacefully on a main street on a Friday is generally allowed, but a smaller group marching peacefully on the same street on a business day may well be dispersed because it’s interfering with commercial activity and creating a public nuisance. If the security forces decide a certain peaceful protest is to be curtailed, delimited, or completely dispersed, and the protesters try to resist it, then it’s no longer peaceful, and the security forces have to use force. “Disproportionate force” is any force that is greater than necessary. Lethal force against non-lethal protesters is especially disproportionate.

    What’s in the video at #93 is very disproportionate. The video at #93 is a genuine instance of police brutality in Syria. What’s seen is contrary to police policy and the culprits are punishable for it. If you search at Youtube for the phrase “Police Brutality”, Youtube returns a list of literally tens of thousands of videos. Most of them are from the USA, apparently. Here’s a shocking one from an anti-government protest in Bahrain in March 2011, from time 0:38 to time 0:43 at youtube.com/watch?v=D4t1h7OQt2I . Here are two instances from anti-government protests in Morocco: youtube.com/watch?v=3TQ8B8MFwYo , http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bmrDlGzJcI .

    After watching that video of Syrian police brutality at #93 I’d like to cite to you a speech by Syria’s Minister of the Interior, Lieutenant General Mohammad Ibrahim Al-Shaar. The Minister’s speech came during a graduation ceremony of a new batch of Police Officers on 3 Dec 2011. He called on the graduates to commit to the concept of ‘societal police’ with its various security, social and humanitarian dimensions, and to be a model of integrity, honesty and respect for citizens and preservation of their dignity. He highlighted the importance of adherence to discipline and gaining the citizen’s confidence and ensuring their comfort and security. “There is no place in the Internal Security Forces for the negligent and the abusers,” said the Minister. http://www.sana.sy/eng/21/2011/12/03/385818.htm

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 27, 2012, 1:13 pm
  97. What’s this Iranian-Lebanese defense pact thing I found in the news today:


    Or are you comparing the US and Israel to some pie in the sky? Please clarify your point of view.


    Were you planning to answer AIG’s question?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 27, 2012, 1:19 pm
  98. From the SANA News Agency: American Diaspora Declares War on Israel

    Lally said:

    Remember way back when I told you that IMO, the American Diaspora represents the greatest “existential threat” to Israel?

    No. I have a limited memory.

    Looks like the worm is turning and more Israelis would agree with me. The latest, fired-by-the-Jerusalem-Post reporter Larry Derfner:

    I didn’t realize Israel was nearly at war with the “American Diaspora”. With this unbelievable/but true news, I am certain the Iranian issue will now be moved to the back-burner.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 27, 2012, 1:26 pm
  99. Vulcan,

    You’re hysterical.


    I found that video in maybe 22 seconds of searching. I suppose I could trawl through the internet looking for other examples of excessive force by the Syrian regime, but you’d be able to explain them all away by citing police academy graduation speeches. I concede defeat before the power of your logic.

    PS: If you’d send me an email using the contact form, I’d like to propose an idea to you.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 27, 2012, 3:03 pm
  100. QN, i believe i deserve to be inducted into your Qnion cadre of reporters.

    Posted by Vulcan | February 27, 2012, 4:24 pm
  101. To counter Parvizi’z ” unicorns do exist ” argument , please see Vulcans #96.

    lol. I believe this is the only way to deal with crazies.

    Posted by Maverick | February 27, 2012, 5:20 pm
  102. AIG#95

    I am not entirely sure why you’ve redirected my original posting. I don’t quite see what the relevance of whether or not the nationalists got to power by coup. I don’t know enough history to be able to tell you whether Nasser and co would have been swept to power through the ballot box.

    Given the level of support he had, I suspect the nationalists would have done quite well in the ballot box back in the 50s. But what do I know.

    I also don’t see the relevance of the Islamocrazy 1 Man 1 Vote 1 Time argument. You may be right. That may well be the outcome, but I believe that in time (and I don’t know how long a time this will be), the arrow of time will in fact save the day.

    I sympathize with the Zionist/Jewish predicament. Reading Mo, and Parviziyi, I suspect that in their own parallel worlds, they too sympathize with the Jewish predicament. You believe in the IDF, and they believe in an uber-armed HA, or Alawite dominated Syrian military. Same story, different characters. Each community has managed to pose their own predicaments and positions in terms of existential threats.

    I would like to think, given that I am a proud Canadian, that there exist models of co-existence that are workable, and don’t involve the minorities shoving their boots down the throats of the majorities.

    Posted by Gabriel | February 27, 2012, 9:31 pm
  103. Hezbollah and Iran are very hypocritical when it comes to the issue of foreign intervention as their allies in Afghanistan and Iraq rode on American tanks into power and tooks billions in money and arms from the West. There was no talk of “thuwar Nato” back then, nay, they are invited to Beirut and honored as they did with Ammar al-Hakim, Chalabi and Ja’fari.



    Posted by M. Hadeed | February 28, 2012, 6:39 pm
  104. Of course, when the Iraqi allies of Hezbollah were cavorting with the Zionist Neocons in the leadup to the Iraq War, Hezbollah was deafeningly silent, and Hezbollah’s sectarian agenda overrides the Palestinian issue as we have seen the shabiha of Hezbollah even accuse Isma’il Haniyeh of being a “traitor” and yet those who rode the American tank into power are lavished and honored in Beirut.

    Posted by M. Hadeed | February 28, 2012, 6:52 pm

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