Syria

Sham Votes

We should soon be getting the results of Syria’s referendum on Bashar al-Assad’s draft constitution. This is a big day. Yes, the Syrian Army spent the weekend shelling Homs and Idlib, and yes, the opposition(s) called for a boycott of the vote, but I feel the results will be revealing, one way or another.

I’ll update this page with results as they are available, and some abbreviated commentary. In the meantime, in case you’re interested in what this new constitution is all about, the only primer I’ve been able to find in the 5 minutes I have allotted for non-dissertation work today is this Q&A piece at Al-Jazeera English. Among the revelations (according to the lawyer they interviewed):

  • While the Constitution creates a multi-party system, each political party is only allowed to have a budget of around $35,000. [See below]
  • Bashar gets to run again (twice)
  • The security services continue to enjoy immunity and can detain people at will
  • No one who has spent the last 10 years out of Syria can run for president (that means all the exiled politicos are ineligible)
  • The President can fire the Prime Minister without parliamentary approval
  • Muslim Brotherhood (and any other religious party, like a Syrian version of Hizbullah for example) remains illegal

If anyone else can find a good discussion of the draft constitution, please stick it in the comment section and I’ll put it up on the main page. I’d like to have more insight on this document besides a single piece from AJ.

Update: Courtesy of Rime Allaf is this citizen’s amusing recipe for a tabkha dusturiyyeh, prepared by a committee of chefs in a pressure cooker… (This guy has a career on Bab al-7aarah…)

Update: Syrian state media (SANA) is reporting 89.4% approval of the draft constitution. Total number of votes cast: 8,376,447 out of 14,589,954, or 57.4%

Update: I’m grateful to reader Parviziyi (who likes to set me straight on all matters Syrian) for pointing out that the business about each political party’s budget not exceeding $35,000 per year is complete nonsense. In fact, the new political parties law stipulates that individual donations cannot exceed $35,000 per person, per year. I’m all in favor of that, and I wish Lebanon would follow suit.

Here’s a link to an English translation of the Constitution.

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Discussion

255 thoughts on “Sham Votes

  1. You’re a bit late Elias, this daft draft has already been torn apart last week until we nearly ran out of sarcastic comments. It’s Sham votes … in every sense of the word.

    In the meantime, here is a bit more you need to know about this sham: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1WffEDTXNOY

    Posted by Rime | February 27, 2012, 10:07 am
  2. I predict 92.34% approval

    Posted by danny | February 27, 2012, 10:33 am
  3. Damn it!! It was apparently a bit optimistic lol…Only 89.4% said yes to the Sham declaration…

    Posted by danny | February 27, 2012, 10:35 am
  4. Qifa Nabki is badly mistaken when he reports that in Syria “each political party is only allowed to have a budget of around $35,000”. More generally, Qifa Nabki his making a big fool out of himself and I say he should shut up until after he’s found the time to read the actual Syrian Constitution, for a start. And he shouldn’t believe anything he reads at Al-Jazeera because Al-Jazeera is highly baised against the Syrian regime, and Al-Jazeera is highly unreliable in its fact-checking, and Qifa Nabki doesn’t have the time or knowledge to assess what’s bad and what’s not bad at Al-Jazeera.

    A copy of Syria’s new Constitution in English is at http://www.sana.sy/eng/361/2012/02/27/401178.htm

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 27, 2012, 1:09 pm
  5. Attaboy, tell it like it is. we should all read and believe SANA only.

    Posted by Vulcan | February 27, 2012, 1:15 pm
  6. Need to factor stuff like this into the turnout

    Posted by Eddie | February 27, 2012, 2:23 pm
  7. Parviziyi

    Please be nice.

    I accept your criticism: I don’t have time to fact-check Al-Jazeera’s reporting, but given that they do publish critics of the Syrian opposition (such as Joseph Massad) and have reported on abuses by the FSA (such as its recent refusal to allow the entrance of Red Crescent ambulances into Baba Amr), I tend to feel that their coverage is not as biased as regime supporters like to suggest.

    Your comment did spur me to look into the 2 million SYP/year clause, and it’s true: that clause is not in the Constitution, but it is in the political parties law that was adopted last summer. What Jazeera gets wrong is the fact that the 2 million SYP/year applies to each donation by an individual, not the total party budget. So that’s a gross error on their part.

    For more on this, see:

    http://www.sana.sy/eng/361/2011/08/04/362192.htm

    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/moubayed260611.html

    I will adjust the post above accordingly.

    Thank you for flying Qifa Nabki Airlines, and have a nice day.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 27, 2012, 3:32 pm
  8. QNA…..

    loooooooooooooooooool

    Posted by lally | February 27, 2012, 4:45 pm
  9. Qifa Nabki relies on the authority of an anti-regime proselytizer at Al-Jazeera and declares that under the new Syrian Constitution “The security services continue to enjoy immunity and can detain people at will.”

    The following three articles of Constitution are applicable to the security services. There is no other provision in the Constitution that dilutes their fully applicability to the security services.

    Article 51(4) says:

    “It is prohibited for any law to provide immunity from judicial review to any act or administrative decision.”

    Article 53 says:

    “1.No one may be investigated or arrested, except under an order or decision issued by the competent judicial authority, or if he was arrested in the case of being caught in the act, or with intent to bring him to the judicial authorities on charges of committing a felony or misdemeanor;

    2. No one may be tortured or treated in a humiliating manner, and the law shall define the punishment for those who do so;

    3. Any person who is arrested must be informed of the reasons for his arrest and his rights, and may not be incarcerated in front of the administrative authority except by an order of the competent judicial authority;

    4. Every person sentenced by a final ruling, carried out his sentence and the ruling proved wrong shall have the right to ask the state for compensation for the damage he suffered.”

    Article 54 says:

    “Any assault on individual freedom, on the inviolability of private life, or any other rights and public freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution shall be considered a punishable crime by the law.”

    Articles 36 and 37 are weaker. They say:

    “The inviolability of private life shall be protected by the law. Houses shall not be entered or inspected except by an order of the competent judicial authority in the cases prescribed by law. Confidentiality of postal correspondence, telecommunications and radio and other communication shall be guaranteed in accordance with the law.”

    The guy at Al-Jazeera that Qifa Nabki got his info from says about the powers of the judiciary under the Constitution: “The law that allows the security apparatus to detain whomever they please without going back to the judiciary is still there. Security personnel still have immunity while in power. This means that they could kill whoever they want without being held responsible.” Qifa Nabki paraphrases that to “The security services continue to enjoy immunity and can detain people at will.” If Qifa Nabki would’ve actually read the Constitution himself, or would just shut up until he knew what he was talking about, he wouldn’t be looking like such a big fool.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 27, 2012, 5:31 pm
  10. Article 69,

    stipulates that all articles be wavered and rendered null if and only if;

    the perpetrator can determine;

    1) membership with the Baath party.
    2) Body ink displaying party/regime paraphernalia.
    3) Can recite poetic hymns about the glorious leader Bashar
    4) how fast he can concoct a sentence using zionist-American-resistance-Palestinian-Arab-Syria in one sentence.

    QN! How dare thee make a mocking.

    Posted by Maverick | February 27, 2012, 5:54 pm
  11. Parvizyi,

    Forget about Sana and Al Jazeera, A well researched documentary reflecting the bitter truth and honest journalism is about to come out to a cinama near you, unless of course you are in Syria and other ‘Dictator-friendly regime states”. The producer/director/actor goes by the name of Sacha Cohen Baron…be sure not to miss it!

    Posted by Maverick | February 27, 2012, 5:58 pm
  12. @9

    El presidente does as he wishes! Loooool you make me laugh inserting your divine constitutional articles here. For God’s sakes do you ever stop? Even if we agree that you have an amazing constitution that respects people’s rights and sent from heaven of democratic Gods…Your butcher of regime has the track record over 40 years of utmost disregard to anything lawful! Unless you consider mukhabarati torture as bliss. Kindly don’t ask me to offer you links as I speak from personal, eyewitness & tortured regular folks’ real life experience.

    Posted by danny | February 27, 2012, 5:59 pm
  13. Since we are on the subject of Syria and the Arab spring , I have just read a relatively mediocre piece about the first anniversary by Fouad Ajami in Foreign Affairs. I mention this because toward the end of the essay he quotes from an open letter to Benazizi by the great Algerian Sansal , a letter that was written in July of last year . If , like me, you have not read the letter then it is worth your time. Some sections are simply great.

    “But let’s take the long view for a moment. Can he who does not know where to go find the way? Is driving the dictator out the end? From where you are, Mohamed, next to God, you can tell that not all roads lead to Rome; ousting a tyrant doesn’t lead to freedom. Prisoners like trading one prison for another, for a change of scenery and the chance to gain a little something along the way. And that, you see, is where I fear for our revolutionaries. They lack perspective.”

    Read more: http://wordswithoutborders.org/article/an-open-letter-to-mohamed-bouazizi#ixzz1ncldrSkx

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 27, 2012, 6:34 pm
  14. Parviziyi

    I’ll have to ask you to be nice a second time. No need to call people fools.

    Here is a link to the 1973 Constitution.

    I refer you to the section on freedoms, which I’ve also pasted below.

    Since the 1973 Constitution guaranteed individual freedoms in such a concrete manner, and yet managed to be easily circumvented by the Baathist regime for nearly 40 years, what makes you think that the 2012 Constitution will make a difference?

    Now is the part where you tell me that no torture took place between 1973 and 2012, because the 1973 Constitution prohibited torture.

    Go ahead. I’m waiting.

    Article 25 [Personal Freedom, Dignity, Equality]
    (1) Freedom is a sacred right. The state protects the personal freedom of the citizens and safeguards their dignity and security.
    (2) The supremacy of law is a fundamental principle in the society and the state.
    (3) The citizens are equal before the law in their rights and duties.
    (4) The state insures the principle of equal opportunities for citizens.

    Article 26 [Participation]
    Every citizen has the right to participate in the political, economic, social, and cultural life. The law regulates this participation.

    Article 27 [Boundaries of the Law]
    Citizens exercise their rights and enjoy their freedoms in accordance with the law.

    Article 28 [Defense]
    (1) Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a final judicial decision.
    (2) No one may be kept under surveillance or detained except in accordance with the law.
    (3) No one may be tortured physically or mentally or be treated in a humiliating manner. The law defines the punishment of whoever commits such an act.
    (4) The right of litigation, contest, and defense before the judiciary is safeguarded by the law.

    Article 29 [Criminal Laws]
    What constitutes a crime or penalty can only be determined by law.

    Article 30 [Retroactive Laws]
    Laws are binding only following the date of their enactment and cannot be retroactive. In other than penal cases, the contrary may be stipulated.

    Article 31 [Home]
    Homes are inviolable. They may not be entered or searched except under conditions specified by law.

    Article 32 [Secrecy of Communication]
    The privacy of postal and telegraphic contacts is guaranteed.

    Article 33 [Residence, Move]
    (1) A citizen may not be deported from the homeland.
    (2) Every citizen has the right to move within the state’s territory unless forbidden to do so by a judicial sentence or in implementation of public health and safety laws.

    Article 34 [Asylum]
    Political refugees cannot be extradited because of their political principles or their defense of freedom.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 27, 2012, 7:05 pm
  15. A legal “State of Emergency” was in effect for bulk of the years of duration of the 1973 Constitution, which meant that the government had the power to disregard the Constitution. So long as they won’t declare another “State of Emergency” in the future, they are legally bound by the 2012 Constitution. Here’s a repeat of what they’re bound by as of today:
    Article 51(4): “It is prohibited for any law to provide immunity from judicial review to any act or administrative decision.”
    Article 53(3): “A person cannot be incarcerated by the administrative authority except by an order of the competent judicial authority.”
    Article 54: “Any assault on individual freedom, on the inviolability of private life, or on any other rights and public freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution shall be considered a crime punishable by the law.”

    Hence it is nonsense to say that, today, “the security services continue to enjoy immunity and can detain people at will.”

    I know torture has been against ordinary law in recent years. I suppose it has been against the law since 1973, but I don’t have actual knowledge.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 27, 2012, 7:31 pm
  16. Parviziyi

    The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 27, 2012, 7:40 pm
  17. 15..”A legal “State of Emergency” was in effect for bulk of the years of duration of the 1973 Constitution, which meant that the government had the power to disregard the Constitution”

    After cutting and pasting for days on end and giving us your rehashing of what your constitution or the laws said…You pop that one. Good one Jake!

    ROTFL

    Posted by danny | February 27, 2012, 7:44 pm
  18. Furthermore, just because an official state of emergency was in effect, that didn’t mean that there was actually a state of emergency in play between 1963 and 2011. Syria was very stable for decades. The state of emergency was used in a cynical fashion to circumvent the constitution and stifle all dissent to the regime. The net result of decades of such practices and precedents is a culture of autocracy among the ruling elite, the security apparatus, etc.

    The notion that such a culture will be washed away now that the state of emergency has been repealed and a shiny new constitution adopted is very naive.

    In the past year, since the emergency law has been lifted (presumably allowing the clauses protecting freedom in the 1973 constitution to be in force again) we’ve seen various well-known journalists, civil society people, bloggers, etc. arrested, to say nothing of the people who aren’t lucky enough to be well-known. What was their crime? I thought freedom of speech was protected?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 27, 2012, 7:51 pm
  19. Sedition is not protected in Syria. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedition
    Defamation is not protected in Syria. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defamation
    Sedition and defamation are not protected throughout the world.
    Syria’s regulation of information media today is pretty much the same as in Europe or Lebanon. A distinction in practice is that Syria is beset with a minority of dissidents who have no loyalty to the truth, who disseminate scurrilous falsehoods against the government, and the government has a policy of prosecuting them for defamation. Talked about in an earlier thread here.

    Political opposition people who conduct themselves in an intelligent manner with respect for verification of facts have nothing to worry about censorshipwise. The regime sincerely has no desire to censor them.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 27, 2012, 8:35 pm
  20. I’m thinking that Qifa Nabki’s claim that “the security services continue to enjoy immunity and can detain people at will” could potentially fall afoul of Syria’s information media regulations because it seems willfully false, and it’s scurrilous hearsay.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 27, 2012, 8:50 pm
  21. I think it’s a little bit of a pity with the way the conversation is going.

    For one, I think there certainly is value in what Parviziyi has to say. I think one has to give him the benefit of the doubt of not being some random goon. I know quite a few reasonable people who have managed to rationalize why they want Assad to stay in power.

    I agree with him that the Saudi-Qatari axis has its own motives. I agree that Al-Jazeera is about as far from an objective news source as one can get (The very fact that Al Jazeera English is so very different from its Arabic cousin should sound big alarm bells).

    I agree with QN that he deserves at least a thumbs up for pointing out an error in Al-Jazeera’s presentation of the Constituion. Al-Jazeera should not have made such an error, and it ought not to have been the role of QN’s comments pages to uncover such an error. So hats off there.

    I suppose that Assad enjoys a fair amount of popular support in Syria. The fact is that I suspect (based on conversations I have had with Syrian friends- even if this sample set is limited- and it is very limited) that amongst “Minority” groups, support is overwhelmingly for Assad, even when they acknowledge that he, or at least his entourage run a Mafioso regime. Better the devil they know, or so the argument goes.

    By that calculation, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect that a very strong minority of people in Syria do in fact support Assad. How much that support extends is anyone’s guess. But I am willing to believe Parviziyi on this point, when he states that there is support for Assad within the Sunni community. He is after all, married into a “Sunni” family, and that alone must count for something.

    Where I feel there is a gaping hole in the analysis is where all this is going- in the minds of those who support the Assad regime. Certainly pummeling whole neighbourhoods can’t be doing much for communal relations, and are bound to leave a bitter taste in many a Syrian citizen’s tongue.

    I don’t need videos to validate what is going on in Syria. I have friends- supporters of the regime no less- who unabashedly admit to the fact that whole areas of Homs are in fact being pummelled. They have family caught in the crossfire and who are freely admitting as much. Their concern- more so than for the regime- tends to be around the well-being of their loved ones, and that is understandable. Doesn’t everyone have a loved one somewhere though?

    I wish very much for a re-direction of the discussion to points of substance, and not talking points- either of a Al-Jazeera, or of the regime. Where to from here?

    Posted by Gabriel | February 27, 2012, 8:59 pm
  22. Parviziyi said:

    “Syria’s regulation of information media today is pretty much the same as in Europe or Lebanon.”

    Bloggers and journalists in Europe and Lebanon are not thrown in prison for voicing their opposition to the government.

    In Europe and Lebanon, columnists make a living spinning the facts of any given political situation so that it reflects their point of view. In Syria, this qualifies as “sedition” and “defamation”.

    In Lebanon, al-Akhbar is not banned, even when it directly attacks the head of government and accuses him of corruption.

    In Syria, al-Akhbar is banned even when it deviates slightly from its largely pro-Syrian stances.

    And you’re absolutely right: much of the commentary on this blog would “potentially fall afoul of Syria’s information media regulations” because the regime gets to decide what is defamation and sedition.

    That’s the difference between Syria and Lebanon.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 27, 2012, 9:03 pm
  23. … and if I may say…

    I LOVE the title of this blog post. Sham Votes. What a double entendre!

    Kudos to QN!

    Posted by Gabriel | February 27, 2012, 9:13 pm
  24. Gabriel

    My guess is that it’s going to be a long slog.

    Best case scenario? The opposition manages to coalesce around some intelligent, independent, charismatic people who have a chance of building a following in Syria. Maybe they take a power-sharing deal, with Russian brokerage. Maybe they don’t, but do well in the upcoming parliamentary elections. In either case, the Baath is weakened and the new levels of political competition in Syria mean that the country will gradually move in the direction of greater freedom, more transparency, etc.

    We all know what the worst case scenario is.

    As for the likely scenario, it depends on a number of factors:

    1. Will the opposition grow more militant, and gain access to more sophisticated weaponry?

    2. Will the regime deliver on any of its promises, or will the current conditions make it feel like nothing has changed at all, or only gotten worse?

    3. If the economy gets worse as a result of sanctions, poor security conditions, etc. will the Sunni establishment feel that it’s time to cut their losses?

    4. If Assad decides to stage a full-scale assault on the trouble spots in order to definitively put down the armed rebellion before it can grow any bigger, will this so demoralize the rest of the opposition that all dissent will effectively collapse?

    Too many questions at this stage.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 27, 2012, 10:01 pm
  25. Very interesting reading…

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/02/syria-hit-list

    Were it only Abdulhamid and Andrew Tabler interviewed, I’d say the piece suffered from bias issues. But Josh Landis is interviewed as well.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 27, 2012, 10:52 pm
  26. And this is very good: a collection of Foreign Policy’s articles on Syria from the last several months.

    The best one, in my view, is Peter Harling’s.

    http://pomeps.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/POMEPS_BriefBooklet9_Syria_Web.pdf

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 27, 2012, 11:04 pm
  27. QN,

    Harling is missing one central point, which is the lack of trust. The opposition believes that any agreement with Assad is worth nothing. Why should they trust him to keep his word? All the power sharing talk or expecting fair elections in Syria is not based in reality. It means the wolves and the sheep having lunch together. The onus is on those that believe in some agreement with Assad to explain how it is enforceable and not dependent on the regime’s whims.

    Just think how the civil war in Lebanon ended. It required Syria to militarily enforce an agreement.

    I can’t think of an example where power was shared with a dictator and the result was anything near good. The Zimbabwe fiasco comes to mind. Letting Mugabe stay didn’t change anything for the better he basically prevailed.

    Posted by AIG | February 28, 2012, 1:19 am
  28. Suffering from Asma

    My Candidate for this year’s Nobel Peace Pwize:

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4195876,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 28, 2012, 8:52 am
  29. This video clip about “Sham votes” appears to be authentic.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | February 28, 2012, 10:13 am
  30. This comment is off-topic. Over the past few days the rebels in Homs City have made armed offensives into the loyal pro-Assad neighborhoods of Al-Hamidiya, Bostan Al-Diwan and Wadi Al-Sayeh. I’m told the Al-Hamidiya neighborhood of Homs is 90% Christian. In the Al-Hamidiya neighborhood a small number of security forces put up a fight but were defeated. Here are some videos from Al-Hamidiya dated on and near 26 Feb 2012.

    Armed rebels attack a Baath Party office building in Al-Hamidiya neighborhood in Homs, late February: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYm6u23ixhY

    Footage from Al-Hamidiya, 26 feb 2012, after the firefight is over: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC8sEAmdDQ0

    More footage from Al-Hamidiya 26 feb 2012 after the firefight is over: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R659BkmYdM

    More footage of recent destruction in Homs and I think probably in Al-Hamidya: youtube.com/watch?v=j2PDbVSMDxY

    Armed rebels in possession of a large-caliber weapon (no specific location): youtube.com/watch?v=9wfio1-YyuM

    Comment: Last month I joined the chorus of pro-regimers who are saying that the army is not being brought to bear aggressively enough or fully enough against the rebels. Not enough soliders have been put on the ground in Homs City. This is indisputable at this stage.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 28, 2012, 4:52 pm
  31. The video I said was “probably in Al-Hamidiya” is definitely in Al-Hamidiya. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2PDbVSMDxY . I’m told 90% of the residents in Al-Hamidiya are Christian, but I’d presume that’s an exaggeration.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 28, 2012, 5:12 pm
  32. No question about it: Homs is a war zone.

    The footage is reminiscent of the dispatches from Beirut in the 1970s and 80s. The FSA’s propaganda videos with their martial music look like the commercials you see on Al-Manar.

    Parviziyi, if the army attacks Homs more aggressively, as you are calling for, what is to stop a repeat of Hama?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 28, 2012, 5:17 pm
  33. Video of Paul Conroy, escaped from Homs to Beirut today.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17194589

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 28, 2012, 5:23 pm
  34. Here’s Idlib.

    youtube.com/watch?v=E08SFuGsGFM&feature=player_embedded

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 28, 2012, 5:25 pm
  35. Syrian state TV tries to suggest that the journalists killed in Syria last week were foreign intelligence agents…

    youtube.com/watch?v=AtFLRqakta8&feature=player_embedded#!

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 28, 2012, 5:30 pm
  36. This guy is hilarious, in a morbid way. The regime is not letting them speak. Why? Because the sound of snipers is drowning out his montage.

    youtube.com/watch?v=5ZIbG14w0xE&feature=related

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 28, 2012, 5:34 pm
  37. Two weeks ago the Syrian authorities asked all residents of the Bab Amr neighborhood of Homs city to leave the neighborhood. Most of the residents had left long before two weeks ago. The Syrian army had started an offensive in Homs in early February. Most of the residents of Bab Amr had left before then too. Anybody who’s still staying in Bab Amr at this point is a violent rebel or a helper of a violent rebel. Any of them who don’t surrender can be killed in all good conscience (according to my conscience at least). Notably, any women or children who remain in the battle zone can be killed in good conscience.

    The same was true of Hama in 1982. The Syrian army surrounded and cordoned off Hama in 1982, told the the women and children to leave, gave them a reasonable amount of time to do so, and then opened fire. A perfectly respectable way to put down an armed rebellion. Here’s what Patrick Seale said in his 1988 book “Asad of Syria”: “How many lives were lost in Hama must remain a matter of conjecture, with government sympathizers estimating a mere 3,000 and critics as many as 20,000 and more. Complicating an accurate count was the fact that many women and children fled the cordon of troops ringing the city and were at first presumed to be among the casualties.” Page 334, viewable at http://books.google.com/books?id=Z_rlPwgezoUC&pg=PA334#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 28, 2012, 5:34 pm
  38. @ Qifa Nabki : You say “Paul Conroy escaped from Homs to Beirut today”. So far the only source for that is an anonymous “Syrian opposition sources”. Knowing the lack of scruples of anonymous opposition sources, I suspend belief and disbelief, pending the live appearance of Paul Conroy himself in Beirut.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 28, 2012, 5:44 pm
  39. Parviziyi,

    This was the same argumentation used by the IDF during the 2006 war. They dropped leaflets over the Bekaa and the South, telling people to leave their homes because they were about to be destroyed. Some people fled. Others stayed because they had nowhere to go. The IDF assumed that those who stayed had been given fair warning.

    What kind of a person says: “any women or children who remain in the battle zone can be killed in good conscience”? Do you actually believe that any child who stays in Bab Amr is “a helper of a violent rebel”?

    And do you realize that in espousing such a hateful statement, you are giving support to whatever atrocities we see in the coming days?

    I can understand someone supporting Assad. I can even understand someone supporting the Syrian Army fighting its armed opponents. But I cannot understand anyone saying: “Any women or children who remain in the battle zone can be killed in good conscience.”

    You’ve revealed your true colors.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 28, 2012, 5:47 pm
  40. Parviziyi

    The British Consulate in Lebanon confirmed that they’re looking after Paul Conroy.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/journalist-paul-conroy-in-good-spirits-after-syria-rescue-7452753.html

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 28, 2012, 5:52 pm
  41. If the rebels bring their women and children to the battle, and if any of the women or children are inadvertently killed by my pro-regime side during the battle, then it’s not going to bother my conscience. Rather I think it should be on the conscience of the rebels.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 28, 2012, 5:56 pm
  42. I now understand how someone rationalizes mass killing. Thank you for teaching me that. If even a small minority of Syrians (supportive or opposed to the regime) espouse such views, then this country is doomed.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 28, 2012, 6:03 pm
  43. I believe the attitude that Qifa Nabki just expessed at #42 and #39 is prevailing among the Damascus decision-makers regarding the rebellion. I already said the army is not being brought to bear aggressively enough or fully enough against the rebels. Walid Al-Moallem is quoted today saying “I know one thing — that the military operation was delayed because there are civilians in this part of Homs which the army does not want to harm.” http://www.voltairenet.org/Syrian-army-delays-operation-in

    The longer the military operation is delayed, the harder it’s going to be to fight it. And perhaps more people may be killed and maimed as a direct or indirect consequence of delaying.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 28, 2012, 6:23 pm
  44. QN,

    “If even a small minority of Syrians (supportive or opposed to the regime) espouse such views, then this country is doomed.”

    This is an interesting observation, though I wonder if it is true. Cannot one argue that the mass killing in Hama bought Syria decades of relative quiet? And it didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the people who supported Hafez’s regime. So it is clear that something more than a small minority of Syrians supported such action and Syria moved on.

    Realists (which I am not) can point out that throughout history it is ruthlessness that bought regimes longevity and their countries stability and they would be right. Close to home, didn’t Ben-Gurion by denying the Palestinian refugees of 1948 the ability to return to their homes make Israel a much more stable state?

    I tend to agree with you that in modern times the equation has probably changed, but I am not sure to what extent.

    Posted by AIG | February 28, 2012, 6:29 pm
  45. “The same was true of Hama in 1982. The Syrian army surrounded and cordoned off Hama in 1982, told the the women and children to leave, gave them a reasonable amount of time to do so, and then opened fire. A perfectly respectable way to put down an armed rebellion”

    Now that’s a lie! I have had the acquaintance of a soldier in that glorious army that leveled hama. He confirms the brutality and savagery that had been reported and known by all!

    QN, Why? Did you just notice that Parviziyi is an annoying accomplice to all the murders; at least in his conscience?

    He has been doing nothing but spewing out hatred and misinformation. A few of us are well trained to see the crap before it is spewed…These guys are trained in the Iranian school of speaking softly while killing savagely (See HA)…

    Posted by danny | February 28, 2012, 6:38 pm
  46. AIG

    It’s always tempting to believe that things are different today than they were before, and maybe I’m guilty of that.

    But I do believe that the present situation is different from 1982. It apparently took several days for the full scale of that massacre to even emerge, because the regime could control the flow of information. That’s impossible today. If anything, there’s too much information, and one does not know what to believe.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 28, 2012, 6:53 pm
  47. I’d said of Parviziyi… “I think one has to give him the benefit of the doubt of not being some random goon.”

    Perhaps I should take that back!

    Posted by Gabriel | February 28, 2012, 7:15 pm
  48. @Parviziyi:

    You should see if Alan Dershowitz needs a co-author for his next op-ed, since the two of you basically have the same views about killing civilians.

    Posted by sean | February 28, 2012, 7:24 pm
  49. QN,

    I agree that things have changed drastically in the regarding information control. But so what? I mean, there is no disagreement about what the Nazis did during WWII. Did the German people “lose their soul”? Was Germany doomed because so many of its people supported atrocities? Even if Assad commits massacres supported by many Syrians, Syria will not be doomed. Assad will eventually be replaced and Syria will go on. If Syria is doomed in any sense it is not because of the moral views of its people, rather their sectarian views.

    Posted by AIG | February 28, 2012, 7:27 pm
  50. AIG

    What I mean by “doomed” is not that the country will cease to exist, but rather that there is much more bloodshed in store.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 28, 2012, 7:44 pm
  51. Sean,

    I think Parviziyi’s views are too radical for Mr. Dershowitz, given that the latter writes:

    “There is a vast difference — both moral and legal — between a 2-year-old who is killed by an enemy rocket and a 30-year-old civilian who has allowed his house to be used to store Katyusha rockets. Both are technically civilians, but the former is far more innocent than the latter.”

    while the former says:

    ” any women or children who remain in the battle zone can be killed in good conscience.”

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 28, 2012, 7:47 pm
  52. Well, he also says, “Hezbollah and Hamas militants, on the other hand, are difficult to distinguish from those “civilians” who recruit, finance, harbor and facilitate their terrorism. Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organizations do.”

    Posted by sean | February 28, 2012, 8:55 pm
  53. You may have seen the following video before. It’s had over 12 million views at Youtube and more than 31,000 viewers have given it a “Like” or “Thumbs up” (and another 5,000 gave it “Thumbs down”). It’s the video and audio from a helicopter gunship attack by USA security forces in a suburb of Baghdad in Iraq. It was recorded by the USA military and it was leaked to the public by Wikileaks about a year ago. About a dozen people on the ground were killed by two helicopter gunships working together. A small minority of those on the ground who were shot at were armed with deadly weapons. The rest were unarmed. We get to see all from cameras on the helicopter gunships. As one victim was lying shot but alive on the street, a passing car stopped, and two people got out of car and carried the injured man into the car. We can see that in the video from the helicopters. Simultaneously we have the dialog of the soldiers in the two helicopters. The soldiers interpreted the passing car as an accomplice to the group they had fired on. And so they fired on the car. The car contained two children. About half an hour later, the soldiers in the helicopter were notified by soldiers who had moved in from the ground that two children from the car were being brought to hospital. At time 15:30 in the video we have the gunship soldiers saying:
    Soldier#1: “Well it’s their fault for bringing the kids to the battle.”
    Soldier#2: “That’s right.”

    I could now engage in moralising about where one should draw the line. But I’m sure you’re well able to do that yourself. I recommend the video for its information about reality and for the rich information it has about where the USA military people draw the line.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 28, 2012, 9:25 pm
  54. The difference here is that Elias and I both condemn this sort of behavior from the US military, whereas you’re calling for the Syrian military to engage in it.

    Posted by sean | February 28, 2012, 9:33 pm
  55. @ Sean: You have to draw a line somewhere yourself. I wouldn’t draw the line where the USA military does, but I have to draw a line somewhere.

    (As a minor correction, the video was leaked two years ago, not one year ago).

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 28, 2012, 9:42 pm
  56. Parviziyi

    May the medical establishment name a disease after you.

    Posted by Vulcan | February 28, 2012, 10:06 pm
  57. The scary thing is that Parviziyi is only a tall poppy. He among many can only see through an absolutist prism, mainly regime glasses.
    What he sees and hears are only construable facts that only serve the regime.
    Any thinking outside the box, or a simple review is strictly prohibited and may cause the individual to wipe out an entire life constructing an illusory world, therefore any doubt, any counter argument is seen as a virus that needs to be nipped in the bud.
    Hence the passionate plea by parviziyi to make us believe in the contrary and hence the macho attitude of those regime lackeys that threaten to break, destroy,hit anyone that pokes at the regime.

    Posted by maverick | February 29, 2012, 2:41 am
  58. Parviziyi,

    War is war and innocents die;

    Your video only proves America’s hypocrisy and we hardly need a video to know that.

    But I wouldn’t even describe the death of Israeli civilians, let alone Israeli children, as something I take in “in good conscience”. Your argument is no different to the Israelis every time they massacred a family and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    Because a man forces a child into danger then the child deserves to die? That is quite easily the most disgusting psoition I have ever seen taken on this site.

    Do yourself and the regime a favor and stop publicly supporting them, you are doing them a disservice.

    Posted by mo | February 29, 2012, 6:21 am
  59. You should see if Alan Dershowitz needs a co-author for his next op-ed, since the two of you basically have the same views about killing civilians.

    Sean,

    The killing of civilians does not automatically translate into a “war crime”. War crimes also include the random firing of lethal weapons into population centers as well as firing weapons from inside population centers (taking “cover” among the the civilian population). A war crime also includes not wearing a uniform.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_crime

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_war

    http://www.dannen.com/decision/int-law.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 29, 2012, 8:28 am
  60. Ok, enough about Parviziyi.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 29, 2012, 9:27 am
  61. When did Israel or the IDF ever say that “children are killed in good conscience”? It is always sad when children are hurt but it does sometimes happen during war and it is not always a war crime.

    The discussion from all sides here is filled with hypocrisy. So let’s have an honest discussion.

    The facts are that it is very difficult to fight a militia or army that fights from within an urban environment without causing much collateral damage, or to put it clearly, killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure. So the only way to avoid collateral damage is not to fight. But here lies the problem. If that is the decision, the militias feel they have immunity to do whatever they want. For example, Hamas did not believe that Israel would attack Gaza and therefore continued firing missiles at Israel for many years. Hezbollah did not believe Israel would attack Lebanon and therefore were not afraid to launch the raid across the blue line to kidnap Israeli soldiers.

    At some point in time politicians need to make a very difficult decision: knowing that there will be collateral damage, they have to decide on a course of action. The most extreme decision of this case was Truman’s decision to nuke Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing tens of thousands of civilians in order to save millions of Japanese and American lives.

    Each decision has to stand or fall on its own merits. QN and Sean’s position that collateral damage is never justified (I am exaggerating a little) is just as wrong as Parviziyi’s that it is always justified if it is required to achieve a goal. It really depends on many factors including:
    1) What is the goal trying to be achieved?
    2) Are there better methods to achieve this goal?
    3) Have other methods been tried?

    So instead of grandstanding how about discussing the specifics of each situation? Let’s say you learned that Maher and Bashar along with some other Syrian leaders are having dinner in Bashar’s house. Sean and QN, would you shoot an accurate missile at Bashar’s Assad’s home knowing his wife and children are there and probably will be hurt also? Couldn’t killing Assad and Maher save much bloodshed?

    Just to be clear, Paviziyi is of course wrong because there is a simple way to stop the bloodshed in Homs. Assad and his regime should just go into exile instead of killing their own people. Killing in order to personally stay in power is never a good excuse.

    Posted by AIG | February 29, 2012, 11:00 am
  62. AIG

    I don’t have enough time to engage you on this issue this month. Too much to do. My simple point is that the mindset that one can kill civilians in good conscience is abominable, no matter who espouses it. If that makes me a bleeding heart unfit for service in a 21st century army, well then the shoe fits and I’m happy to wear it.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | February 29, 2012, 11:38 am
  63. AIG:

    I think it is rather easy to quote the Truman episode, and use it as an example. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not Haifa and Tel Aviv.

    Let’s flip the question.

    If “Humanity” were to be save lots of lives by the act of dropping a nuclear bomb in Tel Aviv, would you say Yes?

    Posted by Gabriel | February 29, 2012, 11:44 am
  64. I would think it’s obvious by now that anyone who overtly supports the regime is not genuinely interested in looking at the facts. Does anyone else find it cynical that the Syrian government forced a state of emergency during times of relative quiet and decide to lift it when the Country is the most unstable. Apologists for Assad are unlikely to move from position and will remain steadfast supporters, likely driven by fear, hate or just general propaganda. The fact that we sit here and argue basic human rights is in itself a bit of an enigma. I mean, is it not everyone’s right to vote without fear for those they wish to vote for? Is Assad believes he represents the people of Syria, what is he afraid of?

    Posted by Ali | February 29, 2012, 11:58 am
  65. QN,

    Just so I understand your position, are you against any military action that may have collateral damage? This means that for all practical purposes you are a pacifist.

    Posted by AIG | February 29, 2012, 12:29 pm
  66. If “Humanity” were to be save lots of lives by the act of dropping a nuclear bomb in Tel Aviv, would you say Yes?

    Nice Gabriel.

    Just do us a favor and prove your claim. Certainly what is going on in Syria isn’t a very good example.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 29, 2012, 12:31 pm
  67. Gabriel,

    If you can make an argument that nuking Tel-Aviv is going to save many more lives than the lives lost in Tel-Aviv then certainly nuking Tel-Aviv would be justified.

    But I think you miss an important distinction. That something is justified doesn’t necessarily mean that I would support it. After all, I have never claimed to be a universalist. I care more about my children than other people’s children, so it may be justified to kill my kids, but that does not mean I would support it or won’t try to stop it.

    It is only natural that the people of Japan would do their utmost to stop the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I would not expect anything less of them. That does not mean though that the nuking was justified.

    Posted by AIG | February 29, 2012, 12:37 pm
  68. Sorry, the last sentence in comment 67 should be:
    That does not mean though that the nuking was NOT justified.

    Posted by AIG | February 29, 2012, 12:38 pm
  69. AIG:

    I don’t disagree. I couldn’t agree more. My point is that sometimes arm-chair analysis are easier. And of course when it’s personal, our takes might be different.

    I think that whenever people get into debates of this nature, they really have to make it personal, and put themselves in the shoes of others, because it does help put things in perspective.

    Parviziyi got a little carried away, and chose a poor way to express himself. I doubt very much that he’s popping open a bottle of champagne every time a child gets killed in Homs or Idlib. He probably meant that he doesn’t feel he needs to justify himself, or the regime if such a death were to happen, because in his mind, the “opposition” is to blame for those deaths.

    And in that sense, he has a little of bit of a point. Anyone who ever supports military intervention (especially those that have planes flying up high and bombing targets) that do come at civilian cost, is being unnecessarily preachy and hypocritical.

    But I think word selection is important. And saying that something is in “good conscience”, is a very poor choice of words. And I think we should be able to say so without being accused of being hypocrites!

    Posted by Gabriel | February 29, 2012, 1:24 pm
  70. Gabriel,

    I like to follow the principal of charity and look at the meaning behind the words:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity

    I therefore interpreted “good conscience” as “justified”. I think that is what he meant.

    The hypocritical argument I was referring to was the following which was made by QN, Sean and Mo: Since Israel says and does the same you (Parviziyi) are obviously wrong. It is also a very bad argument for the reasons I described above.

    Posted by AIG | February 29, 2012, 1:36 pm
  71. AIG.

    I certainly would not want to speak on their behalf, and on what they intended to say.

    That said, I am not sure why you, for one, would take exception to the argument. You (and AP) always make precisely this argument.

    I don’t think QN ever intended to imply that the action is wrong, because Israel does the same. Rather, the point is that if Parviziyi were to ever take exception to Israel’s use of the argument, then he himself should not be making it.

    AP has made regular use of this principle when addressing Norm and others of like ideas.

    Posted by Gabriel | February 29, 2012, 2:30 pm
  72. AP..

    With all due respect: Why are you getting all worked up? (#66).

    What claim did I make?

    I directed a hypothetical question to AIG. He answered quite politely.

    Why are you butting in? If you care to weigh in on the hypothetical question, please do. The more the merrier. But don’t scoff at the question.

    Posted by Gabriel | February 29, 2012, 2:34 pm
  73. Gabriel,

    APs argument is about double standards, on how Arabs killing Arabs is ho hum, while Jews killing Arabs is news.

    I read QN differently. It seems he is saying that any action that kills civilians is bad and is giving Israel as an example.

    Posted by AIG | February 29, 2012, 2:43 pm
  74. @ MO: Here’s what I said at #41: “If the rebels bring their women and children to the battle, and if any of the women or children are inadvertently killed by my pro-regime side during the battle, then it’s not going to bother my conscience.” You are misinterpreting me when you read me as saying “the children deserve to die”.

    I’ll now return to the topic of “Sham votes”.

    On 29 Feb 2012 Russia’s candidate for the Russian presidency Vladimir Putin called on the Russian opposition to not use “dirty tricks” during the elections. “The opposition will surely claim that the results of the presidential elections are falsified, like it claimed after the recent parliamentary elections,” Mr. Putin said. “The opposition will probably use the old trick – toss in fake bulletins themselves and, then, accuse the authorities of falsifying the results. Announcing the elections’ results illegitimate before the elections are held is an instrument of political struggle which is unacceptable in a democratic society. We respect everyone’s opinion, but we call on everyone to always act within the law,” Mr. Putin said. http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_02_29/67190925/

    Meanwhile in Syria a week or two ago, Hassan Abdel Azim, the general coordinator of the Syrian National Coordination Body for Democratic Change, said the group, made up of 15 opposition parties, will “not take part in the referendum of the draft constitution [occuring on 26 feb 2012], nor participate in future elections.” http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-02/27/c_122762055.htm . On 27 Feb 2012, after having refused to take part in the constitution referendum, the majority of the opposition groups were skeptical of its results, saying the vote count was “inaccurate” and “made-up.” Louay Hussain, president of opposition group Building the Syria State Movement, told Xinhua that “We do not believe the results as announced by the government, especially when the referendum lacked international supervision.” Abdel Aziz al-Khahir, spokesman for the National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change, said the referendum results were “completely made up.” http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2012-02/28/c_131436414.htm

    We on the pro-regime side know what the real sham is.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 29, 2012, 2:47 pm
  75. I don’t see these positions are unrelated.

    QN may well think Israel acts outside of what he considers acceptable bounds because it violates a principle he holds dearly “Killing civilians is bad”. As long as he is consistent with his argument, I don’t think you can fault him for it. You may disagree. You may believe there are conditions for which killing civilians can be justified. But that’s another matter altogether. QN is not demonstrably being hypocritical.

    On the same note, what is relevant here is the double standards. Why are (apparently some) Arabs who are up in arms when Israel kills civilians suddenly quiet when their Dictator of choice is doing the killing?

    Said differently- if Parviziyi were to respond to QN by saying that he agrees that Israel may well be justified in pummelling Lebanon after dropping “warning” leaflets advising “civilians” to vacate, then at least we can say that Parviziyi is not being a hypocrite.

    Why use Israel as an example. It’s the dirtiest and surest way of demolishing an argument. After all,

    1) parviziyi is a self-declared regime supporter

    2) The regime is a self declared defender of Arab rights/interests

    3) The regime is openly pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli

    So why not draw the parallel between Parviziyi’s arguments and those made by Israel (for e.g. back in 2006).

    Posted by Gabriel | February 29, 2012, 2:54 pm
  76. Parviziyi #74,

    Are you saying that 57% voter turnout is a credible figure? And are you saying that a referendum in the absence of any mechanism to avoid multiple voting is credible?

    Posted by Jonathan | February 29, 2012, 8:22 pm
  77. Save Lives, Nuke Tel Aviv

    With all due respect: Why are you getting all worked up? (#66).

    Gabriel,

    I know what you were trying to say, but your example was bad.

    What claim did I make?

    You hypothesized that:

    If “Humanity” were to be save lots of lives by the act of dropping a nuclear bomb in Tel Aviv, would you say Yes?

    There is no indication that lives would be saved if a nuke fell on TA.

    Conversely, the war between the US and Japan was still raging, and analyses showed that hundreds of thousands of people were saved by bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As much as I wouldn’t have wanted to make that decision:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki

    I directed a hypothetical question to AIG. He answered quite politely.

    Sorry if I was huffy.

    Why are you butting in?

    I’m just adding a voice or reason.

    If you care to weigh in on the hypothetical question, please do. The more the merrier. But don’t scoff at the question.

    I wasn’t more than a year or two ago, I used to read articles and polls showing that “Israel is the greatest threat to world peace”. You hypothetical question amplifies the notion that some anti-zionists have, namely to get rid of Israel and peace will come right after.

    The arab spring, IMHO, disproves that long-held mythology. And so those calling for Israel’s destruction have been soundly discredited.

    Lastly, what the UN has been doing, recently, is that they are scrutinizing countries with both nuclear ambitions and hostile intentions. Iran and North Korea come to mind. Not only are both these countries developing nukes, they are also threatening neighboring countries.

    Syrian opposition wants peace with Israel?…

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4196944,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | February 29, 2012, 8:33 pm
  78. Jonathan #77 mentioned that voting more than once by the same voter was illegal but technically possible in the constitution referendum last Sunday. The following is in reply to Jonathan’s question about the possible effect of this, and it’s only for people who are interested in election implementation details.

    The vote-counting and other implementation details of the referendum were done under a law about referendums enacted in the 1970s, under which management and supervision is by the Ministry of the Interior. A new Elections Law was enacted in year 2011 which applies to the parliamentary elections and to the municipal elections (and presidential elections too, if I’m not mistaken). The new law gives the representatives of each political candidate the power to oversee the vote counting in his/her district. Objections or allegations of improper counting raised by these overseers are to be referred to panels of law judges. The panels of law judges have been created in each Syrian province for the sole purpose of supervising the elections. The panels include altogether dozens of law judges. Until 2011 the vote counting was under the supervision of the Ministry of the Interior. The 2011 Elections Law totally transferred the supervision to the judicial panels, together with the candidates own overseers. The dozens of law judges on the panels are ordinary decent human beings who believe in honesty, the rule of law, and respect for the Will of the People of Syria. The Local Council elections held on 12 Dec 2011 were held in accordance with the new law. Many objections were raised by the candidates in practice in that election. The final results weren’t announced until 22 Dec 2011 due to adjudicating objections and doing recounts. In those Local Council elections, and in the upcoming parliamentary elections, there are mechanisms to prevent anyone from voting twice — including stamping a person’s hand with an ink mark. The acceptable Personal Identification Paper presented by the voter at the time of voting in the parliamentary and local council elections is considerably more restricted than it was in the Referendum. In the local council elections on 12 Dec 2011, the turnout was 39%. The dissidents had called for a boycott of that election. If you accept the turnout figure of 39% is true and correct, as I do, then, with no other information, the turnout figure of 57% in the referendum is plausible enough as a true turnout figure. The great majority of ordinary citizens would not actually vote twice because they know it’s illegal and punishable and they believe it should be illegal and punishable. For those two reasons to my mind the 57% voter turnout looks a credible figure, not substantially greater than the true and correct figure. The upcoming parliamentary election must take place in less than 90 days from today (date not set yet). In the previous parliamentary election, which was in year 2007, the official voter turnout was 56%. If the upcoming parliamentary election has a turnout figure not substantially lower than 56%, I will take that as another indicator that the 57% Referendum figure is not significantly bloated by fraud.

    The turnout figure for last Sunday’s referendum was pushed downwards by two factors: (1) There was a certainty beforehand that the Constitution would in fact be approved in the referendum, and so anyone disinclined to take the time to vote knew that it wouldn’t be imperative to vote. (2) The new Constitution did not generate among the people of Syria a lot of excitement, debate, controversy, scrutiny of details, thirst for details, etc. I saw in pro-regime circles that it was largely greeted with a yawn after it was published on 14 Feb 2012. There was nothing unexpected in it, nothing much to talk about, and people didn’t talk about it much. The “chatter level” among ordinary people was rather low, which tends to push down turnout.

    Posted by Parviziyi | February 29, 2012, 11:17 pm
  79. AP#78

    You are quite tiresome.

    As I said previously, you are welcome to partake in the discussion, if you so choose to do. Or to stay out of it altogether. But please don’t soil or distort it to fit your agenda.

    If you are interested in talking about anti-semitism and whatnot, raise another post to discuss it.

    The discussion on “Nukes” as addressed to AIG related to his argument about weighing positive and negative, and relating to the Hiroshima incident. All I did was make it personal- hence I picked Tel Aviv. Why? Because AIG, I assume, lives in SomeWhere, Israel.

    Had AIG been a Pashtun Sheep Shagger, instead of Tel Aviv, I would have suggested Kabul be the locale that is “nuked’.

    Had he been a Frenchman, it would have been Paris.

    I hope this clears the air. Now either answer the question, or stay out of it altogether.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 1, 2012, 10:45 am
  80. If you are interested in talking about anti-semitism and whatnot, raise another post to discuss it.

    Gabriel,

    Sounds good to me. However, I didn’t want to discuss anti-semitism. I wanted to discuss the oft repeated myth that “Israel was the greatest threat to world peace”, and your hypothetical bombing of TA. Afterall, we were discussing very difficult scenarios whereby a huge bombing is conducted (like Hiroshima and Nagasaki) in order to save many more lives down the road.

    BTW, as if someone were listening to us, apparently there is an article that addresses this issue head on. Feel free to read and comment on it. It has nothing to do with anti-semitism. I think;)

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4197263,00.html

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 1, 2012, 12:25 pm
  81. AP, that’s fine:

    “Israel is the greatest threat to world peace” can also be the topic of another post.

    The discussion though is about a Huge bombing leading to “Saving a lot more lives”.

    Now make it personal, and say the locale is Tel Aviv, would you say Yes.

    Don’t muddy the water or the question by saying,
    1) “You are an anti-semite for asking the question”
    2) “It depends on the exact context”
    3) etc..

    The real context of the question is:

    Is it easier to dismiss the death of Hundreds of Thousands of Japanese just because the people who died don’t come from your clan, or are not your family.

    Now I understand that you are a Jew who lives in the US. So maybe in your case, to help you answer the question, instead of Tel Aviv, assume it is whatever city you happen to be living in, or your family is living.

    Once this question is answered, we may be able to progress to more interesting questions.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 1, 2012, 12:37 pm
  82. Gabriel,

    If someone were to bomb the US East Coast city where I currently reside, because it would somehow save many more lives, I would ask them to do the math.

    The math was done regarding the war between Japan and the Allies. As much as I hate to say it, I think the math was correct.

    There are many other scenarios we could investigate, and in each case, all factors would have to be included.

    Example 1:

    Right now, some 7000+ Syrians have died under Bashar Assad, and it doesn’t look as if much is changing on a day-to-day, month-to-month basis. It looks like the Assad offspring is trying to break his father’s record when it comes to putting down a challenge to their authority.

    Example 2:

    The Israeli response to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. The article I linked to actually presents the “math” we’ve been discussing.

    Example 3 and 4:

    Israel’s “math” regarding the death and destruction to Lebanon, Gaza and Israel were calclated and acted upon, as you know.

    So yes, get out your calculator and show me your “equations”.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 1, 2012, 1:42 pm
  83. Ap.. Getting an answer out of you is like pulling te theeth. So I gather your answer is yes. Categorically yes.

    If china nuked the East coast while you were on a business trip in california. Your whole family still back at home. And their argument was that by nuking them, they saved 1 million chinese lives at the expense of few hundred thousand lives of people like your wide, children and dearest friends… You would say… “good china… You did the right thing”.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 1, 2012, 3:20 pm
  84. Pulling Gabriel’s Teeth

    Gabriel,

    Whenever it is shown that an attack killing thousands of people will save millions of people, I will agree to the attack.

    In the examples I provided above, I only commented on the US attack on Japan, and the rest were examples I presented without conclusions. There was also the YNet article discussing a hypothetical attack on TA after an Iranian attack. The author of the article claims a successful attack on Iran’s nuclear assets would be worthwhile.

    When Israel attacked Gaza, about 1000 Gazans were killed, of which, about half were combatants (roughtly). How many Israelis did this save? Probably not many. Was this warranted because it didn’t save lives? I don’t know. Maybe.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaza_War

    My point is, if you are going to discuss an attack, like the Chinese attacking the US or someone attacking Tel Aviv, we need to discuss how many live are going to be saved vs. how many lives are going to be taken and everything else in between. So far you haven’t made a specific case in the examples you provided. Let get down to specifics, if you want to continue this thread.

    Lastly, another factor in all of this is the inability of the citizenry (in most countries) to voice their opinions on issues of peace and war. Certainly the arabs have been dragged into all sorts of wars without regard to their population’s input. Conversely, the Israeli electorate was credited for the IDF withdrawing from Lebanon, in the same fashion as the US withdraw from Vietnam.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 1, 2012, 4:03 pm
  85. You are quite special AP.

    You’d sacrifice your family and friends if it meant a million chinese people could be spared.

    If only there were more of you in the world… There would be peace finally.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 1, 2012, 5:36 pm
  86. You’d sacrifice your family and friends if it meant a million chinese people could be spared.

    Gabriel,

    On second thought, let’s keep this discussion just between the both of us. I don’t need the additional aggravation at home.

    But since we talking hypothetically, I agree that nuking Tel Aviv, as you suggested above, is probably the best alternative. The number of sympathizers are few and they have no representation on the UNSC. Always a safe bet when push comes to shove…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 1, 2012, 5:53 pm
  87. Lol… You are sounding a tad like michael moore..
    Too many lefties and homosexuals in tel aviv?

    Posted by Gabriel | March 1, 2012, 7:05 pm
  88. QN and Sean’s position that collateral damage is never justified (I am exaggerating a little)

    I’m on my way to a conference, so I don’t have time to get into this (or to read the rest of the thread) except to say that Dershowitz’s piece isn’t about “collateral damage.” He explicitly says that civilians can be legitimately targeted.

    I’m against that.

    Posted by sean | March 1, 2012, 7:22 pm
  89. Gabriel,
    I hesitate to interfer with the discussion that you are having with AP but I am going to anyway:-) I believe that your presentation of what is commonly known as consequentionalism is not accurate enough. The utilitarian school will sanction killing , say a thousand, if that would result in the saving of a 1001 lives i.e there must be a direct cause and relationship between the two acts. That is why Dershowitz justified torture if it can be shown that the torture of a few would have saved the lives of 3000 at WTC. Clearly though, many reject consequentionalism as being wrong and immoral. A wrong act is a wrong act whether done to one or to many. Nothing can make it right. That is the strongest argument against brutality and dictatorships; they are wrong and evil.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 1, 2012, 11:25 pm
  90. Following on from GK’s point (#90), it is worth taking such a moral conundrum out of the philosophical vacuum altogether. In the real world, when people claim that it is necessary to commit such-and-such violence, they have a complex narrative to tell — involving their perception of past events, their representation of others, and their own projections of what will happen in the future — in order to justify that violence. And rather than make a pure calculation that might justify that violence, we actually have to enter into a debate that is mired in problems of perception, representation, narrative and so on.

    So when people weigh up the violence of Hama and the violence of Sabra/Chatila in 1982, they do so with all manner of ways of balancing the scales one way or the other. So too with the comparison of Lebanon 2006 and Gaza 2008 with Homs.

    Pro-Bashar people will argue that the Syrian State legitimately protects national security within its own borders, while in Lebanon and Gaza Israel was protecting national security outside of national borders. Quite simply such an argument gives way too much privilege to national borders and national security. It is an argument that seems grounded in a nationalist fantasy of an organic, inviolable nation in which the people are subjects of the powerful State. The idea that, when it comes to dealing with its own citizens, the State may take what measures it deems necessary to protect its own stability and integrity is patently a nationalist absurdity in which national security well and truly trumps human security and any form of civil and political rights. Such an argument also fails to deal with the porousness, contingency and questionable legitimacy of so many borders.

    Posted by Jonathan | March 2, 2012, 6:37 am
  91. Parviziyi,

    Don’t you consider it wrong that the current President is entitled to sit until 2028?

    And wasn’t the suggested text for the new constitution made public some two weeks prior to the referendum? Ain’t that too short a time to properly discuss the pros and cons? It’s to short a time in a stable and well functioning democracy. Two weeks in Syria under current circumstances, isn’t that just ridicolous?

    I think the whole thing was a sham. Syria is making a mockery of a country in transition.

    Posted by Pas Cool | March 2, 2012, 8:03 am
  92. GK: Are you against all military interventions then?

    Posted by Gabriel | March 2, 2012, 8:59 am
  93. I hesitate to interfer with the discussion that you are having with AP but I am going to anyway:-)

    GK,

    Don’t hesitate, you’re one of the good guys!

    Don’t you consider it wrong that the current President is entitled to sit until 2028?

    Pas Cool,

    The MAIN “wrong” with the “current President”, is his family’s refusal to grant BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS to his subject for the past 4 decades. Clearly when you prevent freedom of speech and you have no free judiciary, you are bound to foment disillusionment and grief upon the slaves you have created.

    The despots have to go. Not Israel.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 2, 2012, 9:20 am
  94. #91 Beautifully written, and worth re-emphasizing

    In the real world, when people claim that it is necessary to commit such-and-such violence, they have a complex narrative to tell — involving their perception of past events, their representation of others, and their own projections of what will happen in the future — in order to justify that violence. And rather than make a pure calculation that might justify that violence, we actually have to enter into a debate that is mired in problems of perception, representation, narrative and so on .

    This is why it is absolutely crucial, when getting drawn into this type of discussion to make it personal.

    People are not so loose with the numbers when it affects them or their families personally.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 2, 2012, 11:06 am
  95. Gabriel,
    One must maintain some room for flexibility just in case circumstances at times warrant it. But the clear and short answer to your question is yes.
    Ironically enough even the Catholic Church is essentially against war. It sanctions only “just wars” and these are usually defensive in nature. If you still recall the catholic Church was a strong opponent of the Iraq war.
    I have made my point clear many times regarding what is going on in Syria; I obviously consider the Baath to be illegitimate and brutal and I have been openly critical of them for years. As a result I support the Syrian uprising but I think that it has adopted wrong tactics. The Syrian revolution should have waged a purely civil disobedience campaign on a massive scale. Bashar wanted them to adopt violence so that he would be able to rationalize his massive armed response against civilians by the armed forces that are meant to protect the poulation.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 2, 2012, 1:48 pm
  96. In last Sunday’s referendum, a voter pressed his finger onto an ink pad, a green ink pad for YES and grey for NO. Then he pressed his finger onto a designated area of a piece of paper. When he departed from the voting place he still had the green or grey ink stain on his finger.

    A person did not need to be in the voter registration rolls to vote in the referendum. And the person was free to vote in whatever district or precinct he liked. On initially entering the voting place, a clerk asked the voter to present a picture ID. I suppose the clerk also asked the voter to present his fingers, to verify that the voter hadn’t already voted somewhere else. I think it’s reasonable enough to suppose that, although I haven’t been told actual knowledge about that. If hyopthetically the clerk did not ask to see the person’s fingers, it was still a fact that anyone who had already voted had the ink stain on their finger. They would be discouraged from being tempted to vote a second time by the fact on their finger, and the fact that it would be illegal to do so.

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 2, 2012, 2:21 pm
  97. As a Jew, my view of intervention or preemptive war is quite different.
    Would the rest of the world have have been justified to preemptively attack Nazi Germany before it got its war machine in place, say in 1935-36? To me it is an obvious no-brainer. It would have saved more than half of my extended family. If someone says he plans to attack you given the opportunity, then it is clearly justified to attack him first. It is stupid to wait till your enemy gets stronger and attacks you at a time convenient for him.

    GK, “civil disobedience campaign on a massive scale” only works for a group fighting a small minority that cares about public opinion. Neither of the conditions apply in Syria. Civil disobedience worked against the British in India, but it failed in stopping several wars between Pakistan and India. Maybe I am missing something here. Can you walk me through a scenario of how this could work in Syria?

    Posted by AIG | March 2, 2012, 2:35 pm
  98. Civil disobedience and peaceful protest work all over the world and not only against a small group.
    The what if game is a silly one that I dont like to indulge in simply because I cannot prove that such and such would have worked just as much as you cannot show that had it been applied that it would have not worked.
    The strength of the Syrian uprising is not in its weapons but is the morality of the cause. If enough people believe in the cause then they would succeed no matter what the Assads throw at them. If not enough people believe in the cause then it should not prevail ; might does not make right.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 2, 2012, 3:02 pm
  99. Many pro-regime people in Syria were saying last summer and autumn that they wished the government to revise the Constitution QUICKLY. I was saying it myself repeatedly. So were the Russian and Chinese foreign ministries — repeatedly and emphatically.

    Bashar Assad announced the intention to rewrite the Constitution on 20 Jun 2011. He said on that date that Article 8 was going to be deleted. On 23 Aug 2011 Yasser Al-Houria, a senior leader of the Baath Party Regional Leadership, said: “I hope that the President will soon make an announcement concerning Constitutional reforms. Reform is a national imperative.” I expected or at least I wanted that the draft revised Constitution would be published in October. But then on 15 Oct 2011, to my annoyance, the President created a new Committee and gave the Committe four months to re-write the Constitution, which was a needlessly lengthy chunk of time. I was glad in late November when the spokesperson for the Committee said that they’d be finished in late December. In late December it was announced it’d be finished before 15 January. On 24 January Al-Moallem announced it’d be published “within a few days”. On 7 Feb it was officially announced that the Committe had truly finished it’s job and the finished Constitution was now to be handed to the President. On 12 Feb it was announced that the President had received it on 12 Feb. Then on 15 Feb it was at last published for the public.

    Referring to the newly published Constitution on 15 Feb 2012 Sergey Lavrov said: “Better late than never.”

    The friends of the regime who were repeately advising the regime last summer and autumn to quickly revise the Constitution were giving good advice, I say; whereas the regime’s decision-makers who opted for a slow, stately revision process made a tactical mistake, I say. I still don’t know why they opted for the slow, stately process.

    But on the other hand I don’t see any mistake in deciding to have the national referendum quickly, only 11 days after the document was published. There’s very little in the new Constitution that’s new, except for the totally uncontroversial deletion of two items: (a) the deletion of Article 8 as promised on 20 Jun 2011, and (b) the deletion of the socialist language that had already been deleted in practice by the policies and economic ideas of the regime in the 1990s and 2000s.

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 2, 2012, 3:03 pm
  100. GK,

    “Civil disobedience and peaceful protest work all over the world and not only against a small group.”

    What examples do you have in mind?

    Posted by AIG | March 2, 2012, 3:11 pm
  101. AIG,
    This is starting to sound like an exam 🙂 What about India, South Africa, East Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Iran, USA….

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 2, 2012, 3:24 pm
  102. I heard a wonderful interview on cbc radio just a few days ago with a London based syrian opposition member who was explaining disagreement amongst thre opposition, and this question of violence was high on the list.

    I don’t see why Civil disobedience would not have worked.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 2, 2012, 3:37 pm
  103. Is it me, or is parviziyi puling an HK?.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 2, 2012, 3:39 pm
  104. Gabriel says: “I don’t see why Civil Disobedience would not have worked” in Syria. The short answer is they tried it and it didn’t work because they couldn’t get enough people to participate. For Gabriel, all of the following is a repeat of something I posted a while ago at SyriaComment.com.

    Non-violent protesters have a menu of actions: mass demonstrations, strikes, sit-ins, stay-at-homes and much more. A strict policy by the protesters to never use violence against the regime and its servants produces better results for protest movements than violence can. It makes it almost impossible for the regime to unleash the formidable physical force it commands. The regime’s troops and police are psychologically deterred from mass violence themselves when the protesters pose no direct threat to them. Whereas if the protesters do attack the regime’s security forces, the soldiers and police are released from this inhibition and will use their powers to “protect” themselves. If physical force is what decides the confrontation, the regime almost automatically wins, because the force it can deploy is so much greater. As soon as protesters turn violent, the balance of power shifts in favour of the regime. http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/the-syrian-oppositions-great-mistake.aspx?pageID=449&nID=13512&NewsCatID=418

    The resort to violence by the protesters moves the daily news cycles inside the country away from the demands for political change and onto the violent mayhem and the fatalities of the State’s security personnel. This strengthens the support for the forces of law and order among the mainstream public opinion, which strengthens the established government’s political position. It weakens the political attractiveness of every anti-regime faction including the factions who disavow violence.

    I say repeatedly, violence committed against the forces of law and order is a losing strategy for the dissidents because it alienates mainstream public opinion and because the power to overthrow the regime by physical force is one of the powers that the dissidents don’t have. But non-violent methods are a losing strategy for the dissidents as well. E.g. the dissidents designated a day for a General Strike several times but the observance of each of those General Strikes was paltry. The last would-be “General Strike” was on 11 Dec 2011 and they haven’t ventured to try one since.

    The Syrian government stands strong because the uprising does not have the support of the people of Syria — it’s as simple as that. What’s much harder for me to comprehend is why most of the outside world has gross bigotry against this government. Bigotry to such a degree that the foreign minister of Germany pretends (or perhaps believes in sincerity) that armed rebellion isn’t now an integral part of the protest movement.

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 2, 2012, 3:47 pm
  105. GK,

    I don’t agree that any of your examples are relevant to Syria. Take Eastern Europe. While the USSR did not care too much about public opinion it crushed any rebellion there. When they started caring about public opinion, things changed. But the change came FIRST in Russia itself with Gorbachev’s new attitude.

    Or take Iran, if Jimmy Carter would have backed the Shah to do “whatever it takes”, he would have put the revolution down. Why did the Green Revolution not succeed? Civil disobedience only works in very specific situations that rarely are present. You tend to look at the successes but don’t ask yourself why it didn’t work for decades before it succeeded.

    Posted by AIG | March 2, 2012, 4:02 pm
  106. Gabriel,

    How would civil disobedience have worked? Can you describe a realistic scenario in which civil disobedience would have caused Assad to step down? I just don’t see it. Let’s imagine a full strike in Homs with the people occupying all public spaces non-violently. How does that lead to Assad letting go? He would put snipers on buildings and shoot the leaders dead, slowly but surely. He would turn the electricity off and block the roads in and out. You think Russia would not protect him in this scenario?

    Posted by AIG | March 2, 2012, 4:09 pm
  107. Re the Paul Conroy video clip. This is simply why the Assad group must not be allowed to stay in power. They are brutal, power hungry and illegitimate. The fact that one might have some disagreements with the opposition on a few tactical issues is immaterial. There is no room for the Assad kind of tyranny in a civilized world.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 2, 2012, 5:04 pm
  108. 103;
    It did not work because Assad did not allow it to work. If you can track back a year you’d see that the only violence was mukhbarat/security forces firing on peaceful protesters. How long did you think that people eho have no fear and disgusted with 40 years of death and repression; how long did you think that these people were going to turn the other cheek. Off course protecting their own houses is but everyone’s right! If Bashar did not fire on these protesters; it would have swollen up and swallowed him and his regime long time ago. The escalation to a military conflict with sectarian overtones only helps the Bashar regime and had been their end game.

    Posted by danny | March 2, 2012, 5:13 pm
  109. AIG

    I’m not entirely sure how to answer the question. In fact I don’t know how to answer the opposite question: how does violent opposition work?

    Given the scale of destruction we see in baba amr, are the tactics working? People are dying anyways. I agree with the dyer piece, and I never agree with gwynne, that the opposition does lose brownie points when they are firing at government troops and putting other civilians at risk, then they too bear responsibility for the death of civilians.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 2, 2012, 5:18 pm
  110. LBC is reporting that it has some information that the two additional indictments by STL, if approved, are likely to be two HA members. If that is true then most of the names mentioned in the guessing game, a while back, did not pan out.

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 2, 2012, 5:34 pm
  111. Pat Conroy is a damn liar. Here are some people telling the truth. In Arabic language. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElnkIBb0LXE

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 2, 2012, 5:52 pm
  112. 113,

    I know why you would lie…But kindly enlighten us as to why Conroy would?

    Posted by danny | March 2, 2012, 6:09 pm
  113. Gabriel,

    I am not recommending non-violent or violent opposition. It is you and GK saying that civil disobedience will work so the onus is on you to explain why it will.

    As for violent tactics, there are many options. I would not concentrate on defending cities but would focus on making moving troops and supplies around Syria a logistical nightmare. I would target fuel depots and army supply centers and especially trucks on roads. The amount of supplies an army needs is huge and stopping these supplies even a little will have a noticeable effect. Tanks without fuel and soldiers without food are useless.

    But I recommend nothing. It is for the people on the ground who know exactly what is going on to make decisions.

    Posted by AIG | March 2, 2012, 6:52 pm
  114. AIG:

    Well you’ll have to excuse me. If I were in Syria, I wouldn’t know the first thing about how to disrupt fuel or food supplies to the army!

    Here’s my take.

    For all the huffing and puffing against Assad, I don’t believe that he is not without support. I don’t mean that he likely enjoys 1, 2 or 10% support. I think he probably can muster more support than that. I would not be awed if he can get 15, or 20 or 25% support.

    I also think that there is a segment of the Syrian population that is likely to be apathetic. Maybe they don’t like Assad much, but they look around and they don’t see a cohesive opposition, or a viable alternative. Or maybe they have family and kids, and want to earn their bread and butter and couldn’t care less about politics. The most vibrant of democracies always have some portion of an apathetic population.

    Even if you were to convince me that there is value in a “violent” opposition (an almost impossible case to prove), I would be willing to bet that if the opposition started burning fuel depots that supply (perhaps) heating gas to households clearly suffering from atypical snowfalls, would likely repel people who may be sitting on the fence from the cause of the opposition.

    I’m hard pressed to think of any benefit to the Syrian democracy movement from a protracted violent opposition. They stand to lose the most from such a scenario.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 2, 2012, 10:20 pm
  115. Gabriel,

    Look, you are missing the point. I am asking you to explain why civilian disobedience will work, not why violent opposition will not. It does not follow that if violence will not work, disobedience will.

    Frankly, I don’t see how the opposition cannot but be violent, whether it will work or not. How many times can you be shot at and have your comrades die before shooting back?

    Posted by AIG | March 3, 2012, 1:14 am
  116. Well, Parviziyi, it is a referendum on changing the constitution. These are important things. You can not explain the short time span away by citing “uncontroversial changes”. You sound like a regime goon. Uncontroversial to whom anyway? I was not in Syria during those 11 days. Were there open and frank discussiosn on Syrian TV discussing the pros and cons regarding the various articles? Was there a free debate? Was one able to question the current President’s mandate beyond 2014?

    Enlighten me, are public referendums in Syria binding in their outcome, or advisory?

    Posted by Pas Cool | March 3, 2012, 3:42 am
  117. AIG:

    I’m not missing the point. I quite get what the point is.

    I don’t know if “civil disobedience” will work. It may very well Not work. What i can say, and I cannot speak for others, is that the democracy movement, in my books, would continue to take the higher moral ground by sticking to those tactics.

    And in my books, if I were the proverbial fence-sitter today, then over an extended period of civil disobedience and seeing the government contnue to kill 5-10 people a day with impunity would shift me from being a fence-sitter to being squarely on the Opposition side.

    Anyways, it appears the refineries are being attacked, e.g.:

    http://www.ntn24.com/news/news/armed-terrorists-attack-homs-o-10483

    Why do Opposition members accuse the government of being involved in the attacks?

    My point of suggesting the Support %s above, is that I don’t think the end goal of the democracy movement should be the removal of Bashar.. Getting rid of Bashar- especially through a protracted war- only to put in place another thug who enjoys the same level of support seems hardly an accomplishment to me.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 3, 2012, 8:40 am
  118. Gabriel,

    In my book Syrians are being massacred in Homs and you are talking about civil disobedience which is a kind of escapism and denial. I may not be willing to fight to help them, but at least I acknowledge my selfish interest and am not proposing alternatives that are useless to sooth my conscience.

    Civil disobedience, like every method, it is not a panacea and it is not applicable in the Syrian case.

    Posted by AIG | March 3, 2012, 11:46 am
  119. Parviziyi…

    I watched this and I thought of you, another liar polluting the BBC’s airwaves:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17238380

    AIG:

    If it’s any consolation, at least am rather consistent. For example, I am quite opposed to Khezbollah and Khamas.

    You shouldn’t let the Palestinians get a whiff of your support for armed struggle.

    There is no reason for defector from the Syrian Army to take arms with them and hole themselves up in this or that district of Homs.

    Here’s what honorable Army defectors do:

    Posted by Gabriel | March 3, 2012, 12:01 pm
  120. By the way, you didn’t answer:

    Why did/do the Opposition always accuse the government of being behind this or that bombing (e.g. refinery) as per the article?

    If disrupting food/oil supplies is part of their strategy, shouldn’t they proudly say so, and take ownership of it?

    Posted by Gabriel | March 3, 2012, 12:12 pm
  121. Gabriel,

    Let me answer your question in #122 first. I thought it was obvious but the answer is that they are doing the right thing in both cases. They should bomb the refineries and they should blame the government so as to alienate the fence sitters as little as possible. They can proudly describe what they did after Assad is gone, but first they need to get rid of him and targeting refineries is a great idea.

    As for being consistent, yes you are. But I thought the real test of any strategy is whether it is effective. What is good about a consistent but failed strategy? The difference between us is that I expect Palestinians to react violently and I expect Hezbollah to eventually fire its rockets at Israel and I will be prepared for such eventualities. I will not recommend these problems to be solved by civil disobedience nor do I expect my enemies to solve their problems by civil disobedience.

    When was the last time Israel shot defectors or objectors? Not since 1948 in which there were a couple of field executions. So how is this an example? These people are not risking their lives as the Syrians are. It just highlights my points that civil disobedience is applicable only in very narrow contexts in which the objectors are protected either by law or by public opinion. This is not the case in Syria. Assad is playing by Hama rules. He even is not letting aid into Homs now.

    Posted by AIG | March 3, 2012, 1:50 pm
  122. AIG.

    I’ve never been in the military. But if I were and of wa ordered to shoot at innocent bystanders, id rather get the bullet to my head. Naive, perhaps.

    Israel treats its citizens better than styria does. Maybe three soldiers there have more options… Jail being the worst they have ti put up with.

    but just because the path of the syrian soldier is tougher doesn’t make it the wrong path to take

    Posted by Gabriel | March 3, 2012, 3:27 pm
  123. Gabriel,

    You are arguing against a straw man.I would of course not obey an order to shoot at innocent bystanders and any commander that ever gave such an order should be put in jail. The question is what you do in cases that shooting at armed fighters may hurt innocent people. Would you also not fight back because you may hurt someone inadvertently despite your best efforts?

    Posted by AIG | March 3, 2012, 4:19 pm
  124. AIG:

    In that scenario, of course I would shoot, even if innocents may be hurt in the process.

    But my problem with the scenario is the setup.

    I am willing to accept that early on in the events in the Syria, the army was sent to Deraa.

    I am willing to accept that the soldiers didn’t know what to expect, or how things would pan out.

    I am willing to accept that some soldiers who refused to obey orders were summarily executed.

    I am willing to accept that some maybe managed to defect and were firing back at the army (scenario you describe above).

    BUT

    It is now a year into the situations in Syria.

    I am NOT willing to accept that soldiers ACCEPT to go to places like Idlib and Homs and Hama and whatnot IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    I am NOT willing to accept that they go there expecting anything more than being ordered to put down the demonstrations in any and whichever way is possible.

    If there are too few soldiers who are willing to defect, or to be appalled by what is happening that despite having a few, tens, hundreds, maybe a thousand summarily executed with no general impact to the population, then I’m afraid I would have to side with Parviziyi. Maybe enough people in Syria DO want Bashar to stay in power, and DO believe that those soldiers are treacherous.

    As for the example about the pipelines. Then again, I disagree with you quite strongly. The democratic movement has to gain momentum on its own credentials, and not by way of deceipt. If they have to terrorize and blame the government not to alienate fence sitters then they are dishonest. And if they are starting their path to power with dishonesty, who is to say they will be honest when in power? I simply cannot accept this argument.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 3, 2012, 6:30 pm
  125. @ Gabriel #121: You linked to a video at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17238380 . Take a look again at the photo of the baby at time 1:36 in the video. What’s in the photo is a fraud. The baby’s face has been dressed up in cosmetics and blood. Look at a video (not a photo) of the same baby at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gGfZhAMxwQ . That Spanish journalist was in Bab Amr. And the best photo he could come up with — or else the one the BBC thought best — depicts a cheap attempted fraud.

    By the way the Spanish journalist in another effort to arouse sympathy for the difficulties of the rebels in Bab Amr says: “For supplies for the field hospital they had nothing. Everybody who had a deep wound in the head or in the chest died. They are not able to do surgical operations. They just try to fix a little bit as best they can and to send the people outside, which is also complicated.” Homs has a number of hospitals, which were and are all functioning fully and normally, and taking all comers, and the rebels had no reasonable excuse to not bring a seriously injured comrade to a real hospital.

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 4, 2012, 3:51 am
  126. @ Pas Cool: Public referendums in Syria are binding; and one of the clauses of the new Constitution is that anything passed by public referendum cannot be subject to review by the Constitutional Court or struck down as unconstitutional. To repeat myself from above, I recommend that you find the time to read Syria’s Constitution.

    @ Pas Cool: The anti-regimers in Syria did not want to discuss or debate the new Constitution, neither before nor after it was published in mid-February. The pro-regimers didn’t much want to discuss or debate it either, neither before nor after it was published. I’ll repeat myself from above: “The new Constitution did not generate among the people of Syria a lot of excitement, debate, controversy, scrutiny of details, thirst for details, etc. I saw in pro-regime circles that it was largely greeted with a yawn after it was published on 14 Feb 2012. There was nothing unexpected in it, nothing much to talk about, and people didn’t talk about it much. The “chatter level” among ordinary people was rather low.”

    @ Pas Cool: The only organized protest and rally against the new Constitution that I heard about was organized to complain about the continuance of Article 3. Article 3 in the 1973 Constitution was kept in the 2012 Constitution. The protesters wanted it deleted, but they had very little support among the generality of the people of Syria for that. (I fully support Article 3 myself in my own personal political opinion). Ten percent of the voters in the referendum voted NO. Some unknow but large percentage of those NO voters were objecting to Article 3.

    @ Pas Cool: The most important thing in the new Constitution is the deletion of Article 8 of the old which said “The leading party in the society and the state is the Socialist Arab Baath Party.” The most important new insertion in the new Constitution is also in the Article this is numbered 8 and it can be read as deliberate replacement for the deletion of the old Article 8. It says: “No political activity shall be practiced, nor any political organization formed, on a religious or sectarian basis.” To repeat myself once more again: How much objecting to that important new clause could be heard from Syrians since the Constitution was published on 15 Feb 2012? Answer: Practically none. Notably, the Sunni clerical leadership in Syria has no objection. Syria’s Sunni Grand Mufti has said it is “harmless to religion”. The minority sects had no objection either.

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 4, 2012, 4:40 am
  127. Parviziyi

    I don’t understand the point of the video.

    Was the kid in the combat zone?

    How can you tell from the video that the injuries is “cosmetics”. What exactly am I looking for as tell-tale signs?

    Could it be that the red markings are someone else’s blood? And if so, does it make the image any less worse?

    How are the fighters supposed to take their seriously wounded “comrades” to hospital when they are being showered with bullets and what not?

    And finally, you wrote earlier that any civilian deaths that happen in the district you will accept in good conscience. You have acknowledged the presence then of civilians. Are you trying to say that in an effort to doctor images to mislead us, this or that Western journalist couldn’t do better than to find a baby with lipstick all over his face as proof that civilians are dying?

    Posted by Gabriel | March 4, 2012, 10:45 am
  128. AIG,

    What’s the latest on the possible Israeli strike on Iran? Do you think it’s going to happen?

    Posted by Honest Patriot | March 4, 2012, 11:40 am
  129. Yes, truly cosmetic. Can’t you smell the ketchup, Gabriel?

    Parviziyi has a special computer monitor that allows him to detect fake blood all the way from his comfortable perch in western Europe.

    It also gives him special insight into the condition of hospitals and their policy of treating the injured in Homs.

    All of the reporters who are emerging to tell their stories are collaborators and stooges. (Parvizyi’s special computer screen tells him that as well).

    But even if it didn’t, the Syrian Constitution says that no civilians may be arrested, tortured, detained, or injured by security services. So this child — who is obviously not injured, but supposing for an instant that he is — must be an enemy combatant.

    Were he not, then he would have happily walked himself over to the many Homsi hospitals that are functioning normally and taking all comers.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 4, 2012, 12:12 pm
  130. Here is a really interesting panel on Syria with Marc Lynch, Bassam Haddad, Salwa Ismail and Steve Heydemann that’s really worth watching.

    Posted by sean | March 4, 2012, 12:13 pm
  131. Sean

    Why watch a panel with these collaborators, when we have Parviziyi here and his Magical Smellivision Monitor that will tell us everything we need to know about Syria?

    Please don’t clutter this thread with silly suggestions.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 4, 2012, 12:25 pm
  132. HP,

    I think the geopolitical changes warrant waiting and this is not lost on Israeli policy makers. What is happening in Syria and the effects of the sanctions on Iran have convinced me at least that things are moving Israel’s way without the need for an attack now. The Iranian position has weakened significantly in the last year and we should take advantage of that.

    But I don’t have the information about how close the Iranians really are to obtaining nuclear weapons and that is going to be the main driver in the decision making..

    Posted by AIG | March 4, 2012, 1:07 pm
  133. I think it’ll be on Purim, for added sectarian effect.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 4, 2012, 2:08 pm
  134. QN,

    With idiots like Danny Abdel Dayem out there making up videos and appearing on westerns news station interviews, it allows anyone to cast any aspersions on any video and people like him just make the Syrians govt. job easier.

    Posted by mo | March 4, 2012, 5:53 pm
  135. With or without Danny, the apologists will continue to justify the unjustifiable.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 4, 2012, 5:58 pm
  136. QN,

    Why are you blaming Parvizyi? Decades have past since the Hama massacre and we don’t even know for a fact how many people died there. Why didn’t ONE Arab historian research this episode and write a book? Many Arab liberals are against Assad now. Why hasn’t anybody bothered researching such a tragic event? The fact is that what Praviziyi is doing now, has been done for decades by the Arab intelligentsia.

    Posted by AIG | March 4, 2012, 6:19 pm
  137. What Hama massacre?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 4, 2012, 6:47 pm
  138. @ Gabriel, Qif Nabki: At time 0:16 in the video the “doctor” holds a dry white cotton swab with some of the same dark red stuff that’s on the baby’s face. Between time 0:12 and 0:15 we see the “doctor” attempting to rub the child’s forehead with this swab. A real doctor would never do such a thing. The dark red stuff is already dry. At time 0:29 to 0:32 we see how the dark red stuff is distributed on the baby’s face. It is not distributed in a way that real blood would be. That includes the big blotch underneath the eye on the nose side. At time 0:42 we get a good picture of the streak of the dark red stuff which has been painted down the baby’s cheek. There’s another good shot of it at time 0:50. I use the word painted advisedly. The wound at the eyebrow, if it were real, wouldn’t flow like that. For one thing, if flowing blood were to reach the mid-point of the baby’s cheek, it should then turn a little towards the ear, not go on vertically downwards, because the baby has puffy cheeks, and moving a bit towards the ear is the natural path down. The dark red stuff above the child’s eyebrow, well above the wound, makes no sense except as something that has been applied as treatment for the wound. But no doctor would apply such treatment without first washing the area around the would. From time 0:46 to 1:41 the child appears to be in good health, and is crying because he’s distressed by the shouting and the rough treatment he’s getting from the “doctor”.

    The following comment from SANA dated 11 Jan 2012 can be said about the propaganda of the opposition in general: “Al-Jazeera has grown accustomed to weaving false stories and fabrications revolving around children, exploiting their innocence to misguide, instigate and rally public opinion. These stories end up being proven to be lies by the families of the deceased children who include Oula Jablawi, Sari Saoud, and Hala al-Mnajjed, as well as Afaaf Saraqbi.” sana.sy/eng/337/2012/01/11/393686.htm

    Here’s some other false propaganda videos involving children:

    Video of the mother of the deceased child Afaaf Saraqbi’s on Syria State TV, with English subtitles subsequently added, and also showing part of the false report on Al-Jazeera TV about the child: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlWeVEy0GS8

    For the story of the deceased child Sari Saoud see sana.sy/eng/337/2011/11/27/384523.htm and youtube.com/watch?v=7knYa0S8ZNo . Mother of the child telling the truth about the death: youtube.com/watch?v=VE4jLwgYF8I . More interview with Georgina Ianios Njama, whose 9 year-old child was killed by rebels in Homs and the dead child was filmed by the rebels and film was broadcast by Al-Jazeera: youtube.com/watch?v=Te_ROvqm_h4

    The Truth about the deceased child Oula Jablawi: youtube.com/watch?v=udruHsCMvjw . Lies about Oula Jablawi on CNN TV: youtube.com/watch?v=Fr61W6FDOq4

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 4, 2012, 6:50 pm
  139. Yes, we’re going to trust the propaganda outlet of the regime to speak objectively about the propaganda of the opposition.

    Falsifications exist. That does not justify the unjustifiable.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 4, 2012, 7:10 pm
  140. @ Qifa Nabki: Are you asserting that you believe the Bab Amr baby’s cosmetic make-up is not cosmetics? If so, let’s hear your argument.

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 4, 2012, 7:24 pm
  141. Parviziyi:

    I asked you a simple question. Was this baby in the combat zone or not? Or was this video maybe taken from some dungeon in Jordan?

    Let us say that you actually made a convincing case that this was “Paint” (and you didn’t), but let’s say that you did.

    This baby, amongst I am sure many more babies, was supposedly taken out of a traumatizing war zone, where for a month or thereabouts, the Syrian army has been shelling the area, and by your own words, not doing a brutal enough show of force about it.

    This baby is traumatized.

    If I were to believe he were not injured physically- as you are now suggesting, then at the very least he is likely emotionally beyond traumatized.

    Once in a while, I think it is in good taste to shelf the Propaganda, and maybe not say anything at all, even if you yourself truly believed it to be true.

    Don’t use this innocent, blameless baby as an instrument of your propaganda machine.

    It is poor taste. In very very poor taste indeed.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 4, 2012, 7:34 pm
  142. Who knew QN’s forums were graced by none other than Dexter Morgan!

    Posted by Gabriel | March 4, 2012, 7:39 pm
  143. Qifa,
    Let me play devils advocate.

    What if it was the falsefications that turned the horrendous into the unjustifiable? Does that make a difference to what influence these videos had? The fact that people like Danny were duping the western media (and how much said media were in on it) makes a difference. The fact that we see videos of the same person being a doctor in one video, a victim in the next and then a doctor again (and it turns out that the guy is related to our friend Abdel Dayem) makes all the claims questionable.

    And, speaking of the media, have you in your lifetime ever seen them drop their standards like they have about Syria? I havent, not even for Israel.

    Stating figures with no regard for accuracy and contamination of reports by editors from the region. I wont name them, but my cousin is a leading foreign desk reporter for the most well known British newspaper. My cousin is waiting for her current assignment to end to ask why her reports are continuously having claims by the rebels inserted into them.

    I have stated before that while Im not pro-Assad, I could not support these guys simply because I could not trust them and did not trust their intentions. And the above just confirms my fears.

    Listnening to what the remaining residents of Bab Amr are saying about the rebels, the waters do not seem as clear as thought. I have no idea who was interviewing these people or whether there was any staging, but it seems their actions were nearly as “unjustifiable” as that of the army.

    Posted by mo | March 4, 2012, 7:44 pm
  144. Mo:

    Dude,

    We’re not unreasonable sods here. Everything you’ve written is sensible. But then, by that account, why not hold the Syrians and their propagandists to the same standard?

    If you are willing to disqualify every claim an opposition makes as “Questionable”, based on false stories.

    Why not do the same for the Pro-Regime side.

    And I don’t mean the little advise you gave trigger-happy Parviiziyi to put a sock in it because he is not doing the Regime any favors. It appears you recognize hooligans when see them, so why not dismiss every Regime claim with the same ease you are willing to dismiss the Opposition?

    Posted by Gabriel | March 4, 2012, 7:55 pm
  145. The Syrian TV station “Al-Ikhbariya Al-Souria” copied from Youtube the footage of the baby in Bab Amr we’ve been talking about, and broadcast it nationwide together with commentary in Arabic about it. For Al-Ikhbaiya’s commentary see their program starting at time 1:50 at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MUSQtyD2o_M

    I’d like to refer you to a video I came across a month or two ago where it was demonstrated how easy it is to apply make-up to a man’s eye, forehead, and face to make him look like he was dying from a deep gash near the eyebrow. It’s at youtube somewhere.

    @ Gabriel: I was shocked when I saw the photo of the baby in that BBC video you linked to, because I knew it was a fake from earlier. I don’t venture to say anything about the Spanish journalist because I don’t have actual information. It’s possible that the baby photo has nothing to do with that Spanish journalist, and instead it was indpendently inserted by the BCC into their interview for a bit of diversity, with the BBC having gotten it from some completely different source. As for the baby himself, on the basis of that video, the baby has been abused by that creep “doctor”, but I’d say you’re over-interpreting when you say the baby’s “traumatized” — in the stronger sense of the word anyway.

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 4, 2012, 8:10 pm
  146. Dexter Morgan héhé

    Posted by 3issa | March 4, 2012, 8:31 pm
  147. Gabriel,
    I take anything any govt. claims as a lie until proven otherwise and I hold the Syrians regimes claims to a far higher standad of truth because I am as aware of (and have been a victim of) their history.

    My lack of trust in these rebels is not based on any regime claims but on who they are, what they are saying and who is behind them, all of which makes them more objectionable than the Baathists.

    I sincerely do hope that Syria gets a democractically elected leadership because Syria is a lynchpin – Any kind of stable democracy there will have positive and powerful effects on Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq qhich in turn I think will have a similar effect on the GCC nations. I just dont believe these guys are the guys that will bring that. And a Syria in disarray will have negative effects on its neighbors.

    Also, I was treating regime claims as questionable as a given parameter on this blog..:)

    Posted by mo | March 4, 2012, 8:33 pm
  148. Mo

    Journalistic standards on Syria are lousy because the regime is not allowing journalists in. Your relative’s paper has to rely on YouTube because the few reporters who have made it in have either returned in body bags or on stretchers. To use a phrase we’re all familiar with: don’t blame the victims.

    As for our friend Danny, if I were to apply the same degree of cynicism as Parviziyi to the video “proving” his fabrications, I’d have to conclude that:

    1) The voice prompting him off-screen is suspicious

    2) The sounds from off screen are suspicious

    3) The splicing and editing are suspicious

    4) Therefore, this is a fake.

    5) The fact that is fake means they couldn’t find real footage to prove their point.

    6) The fact that they couldn’t find real footage to prove their point means that 100% of what Danny is saying is correct.

    We now have the testimony of several people who have made it in to Syria and spent time there (like Nir Rosen, Paul Conroy, Beres, Espinosa) all saying that the situation is horrific. We also have tens of thousands of refugees in Lebanon and Syria. What are they fleeing? The Homsi hospitals that are functioning normally and taking all comers? The YouTube videos? The elaborate movie sets?

    Seriously, I want to know what you think, Mo. Not your devil’s advocate. What do you really think is happening in Syria, based on everything you’ve read and heard?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 4, 2012, 8:51 pm
  149. The Syrian government tells the truth and is very conscientious about verifying facts before publishing anything. The people on this board and elsewhere who don’t have the capacity to believe the what the Syrian government says are a lot more ignorant than I am. The reliability of SANA is the number one reason why I’m so well informed. SANA (and Syrian State TV, much of which is SANA in another medium) is world’s the number one most reliable news source about Syria because of its access to verification and its scruples about verification. It does not pretend to try to tell the whole truth. It does not try to tell two sides to a story, if a story has two sides. It only tells its own side. But it tells that side with integrity and — to repeat it for the third time — with very conscientious fact-checking. To err is human and I’ve come across a few cases where they’ve made mistakes. Just a few. I am cross-checking my information from SANA from all other information sources at all times. In the end I am interested first and foremost in the truth, whatever the truth may be.

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 4, 2012, 9:09 pm
  150. Qifa,
    The fact that standards are slipping is solely down to the barring of reporters? Seriously, thats your take? In that case you may want to let us know why there wasn’t such shoddy standards in Falluja, where real brave reporters like Steve Bent had to sneak in to prove that there were in fact women and children being killed. Where was this drop in standards in Gaza where the western media was suddenly inverse, and it was Israeli words taken as gospel and Palestinian claims treated as “unverifiable”? If you seriously cannot see the hypocrisy in the way the western media is treating Syria then you need to step back a bit.

    I am not treating Parviziyi’s claims as any more sacrosant than much of what the opposition media is peddaling. But when I see western media behaving like this, quoting me the works of western journalists is hardly convincing – Rosen was working for Al Jazeera, are you going to claim that Al Jazeera hasnt had an agenda in Syria?

    What is really happening in Syria is geo-political battle where the various groupings singly and as a whole couldn’t give a f***k about the Syrian people; It is Lebanon writ much larger because there are no small organizations involved. It is about various govts and organizations taking the opportunity to catalyze events as they see fit and turning Syria into the Syria they want. The difference it seems between us is that you only believe one side is acting unjustifiably and is criminal, while I think they all are.

    Posted by mo | March 4, 2012, 9:24 pm
  151. mo,
    Let us see if we can look at this from a purely detached point of view and let us see if we can make a judgement based purely on the merit of the case. There is no need for all the noise, youtube, songs etc…

    “A ” is a brutal dictatorship based on repression, violence, cult of personality and a total monopoly of power to only one party .

    “B” is the uprising to the above repression. (Repression always causes uprisings) but B is still a young movement with many contradictions within it. It might turn out to be better than the regime it is revolting against but then it might not.

    What should a person who respects personal freedom, is opposed to repression and is willing to accept the outcome of democracy do?

    I will not hesitate for a moment in offering my moral support to “B” since “A” is repressive, authoritarian, undemocratic and a dictator. If “B” tdoes turn out to be just as bad as “A” then I would have at least given the process a chance to throw the yoke of tyranny off its neck. If it choses to replace one yoke with another then I would oppose it just as I have opposed the original. Logic though, and the likelyhood that “B” might be better than “A” seals the case in its favour. No one has the right to support terror under any set of circumstances whatsoever.

    It is helpful to keep in mind two principles:

    Repression causes rebellion

    If peaceful rebellion is blocked then violence becomes inevitable. The violence in the case of Syria plays into the hands of the ruling regime. A cynic will even say that they worked for it and made it a self fulfilling prophecy.)

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 4, 2012, 9:39 pm
  152. Mo

    Iraq was swarming with reporters. I know quite a few of them. There were bureaus set up in Baghdad, reporters embedded with Marines, etc. There was a constant flow of information from the battle zones to the front page, all day, every day, for years. Who broke the Abu Ghrayb story? It wasn’t the Angry Arab, linking to YouTube videos. It was The New Yorker and 60 Minutes. There is a huge difference between the way Iraq was covered and Syria is being covered now.

    As for Gaza, do you not recall that the UN sent in a fact-finding mission afterwards and produced the Goldstone Report? Do you think Assad will allow the UN in to do the same?

    And who cares if Nir Rosen was working for Jazeera? Are you suggesting that he is lying about what he saw? That’s all that matters here. Al Jazeera also publishes Joseph Massad, who is at the opposite end of the political spectrum. Even if Jazeera has an agenda, the fact that they sent a high profile journalist in with a history of exposing American, Israeli, and GCC abuses of power should make you take what he says seriously, unless you believe he is lying.

    The geo-political argument is a cop-out, in my view. Would it have been acceptable for me to make that argument about Gaza in 2009? Would it have been alright for me to say: never mind about the kids who are being crushed in their parents’ living rooms. This is really about the geopolitical conflict between the US and Iran, and both sides are acting unjustifiably…

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 4, 2012, 9:46 pm
  153. QN,
    Did I mention Iraq as a whole? If you read back I was a bit more specific than that. And why are you muddying the debate? What the UN did and what I think Assad will allow is neither here nor there. Im not talking about the UN. Mentioning the UN report as a reply to my question is avoiding the question. You claimed journalists were shoddy because they were barred. You didn’t answer why they didn’t get so shoddy during the war on Gaza where they were equally barred.

    Who cares Rosen was working for AJ? Well I do for one. Am I suggesting he was lying? No, I cant make an accusation like that as I have no evidence. But I know AJ have become a laughing stock in the ME for the overt way they have handled Syria so you will excuse me when I say that I will not take anything from anyone on their payroll as the gospel truth – Rosen or otherwise.

    You think the geo-political argument is a cop-out because you could make the same argument about Gaza? I think your anger is getting the better of you here as you and I know both know the situations are incomparable.

    You really think anything I said is translated as “never mind the kids”? If you want to make “Assad must go” grandstands, be my guest. I have experienced too much of the ME to think it would stop there. You think if Assad and his entire sytem went tomorrow, that no more kids would die? Syria would become all love and harmony? I dont believe thats what the West has/had in store for Syria or what would have happened.

    Egypt and Tunisia turned out ok because the armies turned against the leaders. The army in Syria patently has not. Therefore for Assad to go you would need a massive war. Is that what you are calling for? And after the war will Syria to be like Libya is now? A wild west shootout only with a much larger population and borders that can flare up any second every side of it? And thats not taking into account the fact that Syria could become a Wahabi franchisee.

    Is the regime guilty of crimes against its people? Certainly.

    Are the SNC and the FSA and all the other acronyms that have become involved the answer? In my opinion, their victory would have led to many many more “kids…being crushed in their parents’ living rooms”. Only this time, like Libya now, no one would give a shit and reporters wont die covering it.

    Posted by mo | March 4, 2012, 10:21 pm
  154. Parviziyi says ” The Syrian government tells the truth and is very conscientious about verifying facts before publishing anything.

    i am amazed how you guys continue to argue with someone who makes such a ridiculous statement.

    Posted by Vulcan | March 4, 2012, 11:05 pm
  155. Moe , it’s interesting your take on Al Jazirah now, i bet you were so impressed when they were reporting on the American atrocities in Iraq. just as you and your group was so impressed with the Emir of Qatar when he landed in Dahyeh straight from Tel Aviv in 2006, you didnt mind it then i bet, but now that Qatar is taking such a hard-line approach on Syria Qatar and the fatso Emir isnt good for you anymore, your arguments aren’t so convincing, you sound like Walid Jumblat !

    Posted by Vulcan | March 4, 2012, 11:25 pm
  156. Vulcan #158 That a 25 feet 3 pointer all net 🙂

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 5, 2012, 12:38 am
  157. GK Thanks, I’ve seen you do those blindfolded 🙂

    People who claim to defend the oppressed in Palestine, South Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain and everywhere, yet fail to condemn in the strongest ways what the Assad regime is doing, are just reeking with hypocrisy. They can pontificate and evade as much as they can but they are transparent.

    Now I know what Stephen Colbert was thinking when he said “Shamelessness is a wonderful part of the character” 

    Posted by Vulcan | March 5, 2012, 1:54 am
  158. Eeeeee mo,

    I gathered as much (that you would treat government pronouncements as suspect.

    My problem with the argument is that we cannot then ever possibly get a different view.

    If we accept that both story lines are suspect, that of the opposition and that of the government, then we need to embrace both faulty ones. The truth must lie somewhere in between, and at the very least, agenda or not, you will get at least a little closer to the truth by watching ask jazeera or the bbc, even if they have ulterior motives.

    What options do you have? Just get what you have conceded to be lies from syrian sources, without any counter balancing views?

    Also on your point to Qn about gaza, who said we got more reliable reporting despite the absence of media.

    Isn’t it clear that the anti semitic al jazeera and robert fisk and his buddies at the independent and the guardian were just making up stories about the israelis 🙂

    Posted by Gabriel | March 5, 2012, 1:59 am
  159. Were all still arguing about the legitimacy and the realities in Syria….what is really happening……well, it is quite desperate when one takes the side of the the salafis in condemning the massacres in Syria.This is where were at… standing beside the Salafis because no one else has the guts to call a spade a spade and express themselves. The liberals,leftists, centrists,humanitarians,secularists are too busy trying to deconstruct the insane hypocritical arguments the Parviziyis and the Mo’s have put forth.
    If anyone has a Baath fetish like Parviziyi, and are unwavering in their support of the tyrant then they should be treated like any other nutcase. Just saying, it is really really funny in a sad dark way, that the Salafis are outdoing anyone (in Lebanon anyway) when it comes to voicing their disgust at the atrocities.

    Posted by maverick | March 5, 2012, 6:01 am
  160. Vulcan,
    I’d like to know what it is you are betting as am Im going to win that bet. But if you want to win it back, I bet you have a grown up argument to debate with somewhere instead

    Gabriel,
    Whats with the Eee Mo? Did I disrespect you in any way?
    My point is this.
    Let as assume the worst case scenario: The regime has commited all the atrocities claimed.
    In this scenario, the regime has every reason to falsify evidence to cover its actions. The opposition however should really not need to as there should be ample evidence of these atrocities. So if this scenario is correct, what is the logic behind so much agitprop and falsification by the opposition? Why do they need to disperse videos that simply make them look fishy?

    And in regards to the media, when that guy from Reuteurs doctored one photograph in Lebanon, the worlds media reported on it with much air-time. Why not the same reaction to these falsified videos?

    Maverick,
    Yeah, have you considered that maybe its because the Salafists are so involved that worries people? Or maybe your high horse is too high for you to consider alternatives, and much like most people on here, your attitude towards anyone who doesnt believe exactly what you believe would probably make the Salafists very proud.

    Posted by mo | March 5, 2012, 6:21 am
  161. Mo:

    “Eeeeee” was a typo, I’m typing on the phone. Sorry about that. Also reason for so many spelling errors etc.

    Here’s where I disagree with your point.

    Let’s say (hypothetical) every video put forth by the opposition is in fact a fake, but:

    (1) We know that the regime is committing atrocities

    (2) They have managed to perfect information control so well that it is impossible to get pictures of said attrocities

    (3) The opposition takes (in examples above) some random baby off the street in Jordan/Saudi, slap some makeup on him and film him in some basement room outside of Syria, so that they can distribute globally to draw attention to their plight.

    Would you not be less picky on the fact that these videos are fake?

    The issue with your position Mo is that you want to have your cake and eat it too. On the one hand, you acknowledge the regime is guilty of crimes against its people. On the other hand, you are suggesting that the lack of authentic videos/photos necessarily means that no such crimes are happening. So which is it?

    Posted by Gabriel | March 5, 2012, 7:05 am
  162. Parviziyi:

    Discussing things with you is like trying to talk to an automated phone message service. Lots of “bot”, and no “person” on the other end.

    Are you an automated bot service?

    See question to Mo above.

    (1) You stated that you think the Syrian army is not being aggressive enough in Syria.

    (2) You stated that you support their tactics

    (3) You stated that you acknowledge that there are Civilians in the area (though most have left), and likely they are “Terrorist” sympathizers).

    (4) You stated that should some of those civilians die, then you’re not going to worry too much about it.

    So, given all that, don’t you see something profoundly wrong about you analyzing these videos to the level that you are, speculating about blood splatter patterns, questioning this or that?

    Are you saying that no civilian has in fact died in Syria, say in Homs during this month-long bombardment?

    And if the answer is “Yes, Civilians have died”… then can you point me to the truthful, information vetted Sana.sy website where the Regime publically admits to those killings and apologize for them?

    If the answer is “No, No Civilians have died” then, well I don’t know what to say.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 5, 2012, 7:13 am
  163. @158,

    True, true and true. Mo should watch their glorious Manar and Nassrallah drooling over AJ & the Emir till last year. What a hypocritical bunch of yahoos. At least Parv keeps on playing his old recording while as you succinctly stated above re: HA; its “groupies” put Jumblat to shame.

    Posted by danny | March 5, 2012, 8:08 am
  164. Mo,

    Journalists were not equally barred in Gaza. If you recall, there was a big stink when the IDF hit the building with all the news agency offices in it, at some point in January. Al Jazeera was on the ground throughout. There was severe media restriction, but it paled in comparison to the situation in Syria right now. The number one reason why we have so little knowledge of real numbers on casualties and the real situation on the ground in Homs is because there is no independent news coverage there. You can’t chalk it up to agenda-driven media conspiracies; that’s not the way the news business works. There are always going to be reporters like Nir Rosen who make a name for themselves by exposing scandals like the use of white phosphorus in Falluja and the arming of Sunni militias by the Future Movement, etc. If the situation in Syria really looks more like Parviziyi’s depiction than that of the SOHR, then why won’t Assad let the media in?

    I am sympathetic to your broader concerns about the aftermath of this conflict. I don’t buy the wishy-washy “we’ll all get along fine” scenarios that a lot of people are trading in. This will get a lot worse before it gets better, and I wish there were a peaceful option on the table. The way things currently stand, that looks very unlikely. Either the opposition will get access to better weaponry and the rebellion will spread, or Assad will keep shelling neighborhoods until he pummels them into submission. Meanwhile, extremist groups are trying to get in on the action as well.

    No good answers.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 5, 2012, 8:34 am
  165. Gabriel,
    I don’t understand how you are extrapolating my position to be that? The fake videos dont make the regimes actions non-existant, nor do they invaldidate any claims of such crimes. What they do is put doubts into peoples heads as to the extent and destructiveness. I have no idea if you’ve seen these videos, but when they start putting soundtracks of bullet fire to the background of CNN interviews, I don’t see how anyone cannot but ask what their goal is. Yes it could be that they are simply desperate to get their message across, but on the other hand it could be that they simply want to make the regime look worse for a global audience, knowing full well that there is a tipping point in what will cause the world to react?

    Qifa,
    In regards to your first paragraph, I dont disagree with you in regards to the Syrian side of the equation of why the media is being left out. I believe the Israelis wanted the media out of Gaza for the same exact reasons. I did not claim they were any more or less successful as that wasnt my point. My point again has been about the media reaction.

    In regards to the second paragraph, I think that is a pretty good summation. My concerns over the aftermath or “next day” is the point I have been making all along especially in regards to the motivations of outside actors. There is no going back to the status quo for Syria this time.

    Posted by mo | March 5, 2012, 10:21 am
  166. Mo.

    Perhaps I am not expressing myself correctly.

    There’s two separate discussions taking place.

    On the one hand, we are discussing the fact that both Opposition and the Government make use of Propaganda/Lies/Deceit to further their positions.

    This is to be expected. As players in the same game, they are both playing the type of moves one expects them to do.

    So we can sit ad nauseum and analyze all sorts of videos and whatnot. My question is more basic.

    Let’s say that you trust that I have good intentions. I am an impartial bystander. I am curious to collect data on what is going on in Syria.

    What are my options?

    1- Get data only from Syria’s news agency (you’ve conceded it’s propaganda).

    2- Get data from Syria’s news agency, and Al-Jazeera (we’ve both conceded that both sources are propaganda)

    3- Any other options?

    It seems basic (to me at least) that in the absence of some concrete third option, that the only sensible position you can take is to go for Option 2. At least then, you can settle for a truth that is somewhere in between.

    By going for Option 1, you are at least indirectly taking the position that you know that atrocities are happening, but well, you don’t really care to find out details about them.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 5, 2012, 11:54 am
  167. I am getting bored with the different manifestations of the argument that if throughout history some amorphic group did some bad thing anyone vaguely related to that group can’t be trusted on any issue. Let’s just agree that nobody can be trusted on any issue and we cannot know anything. Yay, the skeptics have finally won.

    Posted by AIG | March 5, 2012, 1:27 pm
  168. Wow AIG,
    I never thought that HA’s divine warriors (…and the people who try to appease them gently) could defeat you so easily. 😛

    Posted by danny | March 5, 2012, 3:06 pm
  169. دخيل زبك…. بس بروباكاندا 

    Posted by Gabriel | March 5, 2012, 3:45 pm
  170. QN 172 – Gives a whole new meaning to “Doctored reports ” !

    Posted by Vulcan | March 5, 2012, 3:53 pm
  171. What can Syria do to grab a Peace-Loving, Super-Intellegent Liberal’s Attention NewZ

    QN,

    Unbelievable.

    BTW, can anyone here explain to me why those 2 nice Jewish boys, Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky are mum on the atrocities occurring in the Middle East? I can’t find one critical article on their websites (and that includes that nice gentile mensch, Jonathan Cook)

    http://www.chomsky.info/articles.htm

    http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/

    http://www.jkcook.net/Latest.htm

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 5, 2012, 4:00 pm
  172. On the lighter side here’s a story from Egypt, maybe Mo and Parv can use it in the argument to discredit the Syrian rebels and exonerate the regime.

    Salafi Egyptian Lawmaker Resigns Amid Scandal Over Nose Job !

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/world/middleeast/egyptian-lawmaker-resigns-amid-scandal-over-nose-job.html?_r=1&ref=world

    Posted by Vulcan | March 5, 2012, 4:02 pm
  173. lol @ Gabriel, brobakanda with a K is really funny

    Posted by Vulcan | March 5, 2012, 4:37 pm
  174. Gabriel,
    Anyone who relies on option 1 is clearly playing the 3 monkeys. But then that is pretyy much true of any govt. in the world. So yes, option 2 is obviously a starting point but of course depending on ones interest, there are other ways of discerning fact from fiction – How else would I have found out about the likes of Danny?

    Posted by mo | March 5, 2012, 5:04 pm
  175. That the charismatic Salafist leader in Lebanon, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Asir who represents an ideology that I among many stand against with every fiber of my being said last Sunday something that reverberated through me and others across the region. ” How can I stand silent and do nothing as they want me to do when our brothers, sisters, children, innocents are being massacred?”
    All of a sudden, Nasrallah looked like a midget, the intellectuals a joke, the activists, humanitarians incompetent. Politicians and leading figures a farce.
    The beacon of light and voice of reason came from the most unlikeliest of places and here I sit with this excruciating irony.
    By trying to appease the Mo’s of society and sure they are half of Lebanon, i know, the truth has become bogged down and deconstructed in order for the half can maybe see through their hypocritical stances.But Alas, While engaging in this laborious and futile task, the Islamocrazies have slipped through the gaps, rode the wave of wide spread revolt and have positioned themselves quite comfortably as the champions of people’s welfare.
    A special thanks goes to the Americans for propping up these guys during the 70’s/80’s. A bigger thank you goes out to the Arab dictators who by exercising marshall law and suppressing their own people, festered and nourished them to great extents, and last but not least I extend my appreciation to Mo and his ilk, who never cease to accuse us of siding with the Salafis every time we utter our grievances towards the human plight….and who instead of turning a blind eye to the elephant in the room should just come “off their high horses”, see the truth for what it is, and be at least honest in their approach so that “WE” can both join in combating the rising Islamocrazies instead of sulking and defending stubbornly a hopeless cause. It is your’e attitude my friend that is fostering the rise of the Salafists and the tougher the pounding of the anvil by your friends in Damascus, the more of this common enemy we see.
    Just a thought.

    Posted by Maverick | March 5, 2012, 5:20 pm
  176. Gabriel 173,
    Was the second word a typo or was it intended to be “z” 🙂

    Posted by Ghassan Karam | March 5, 2012, 5:37 pm
  177. I think we should lay off Mo. He has said a million times that he does not support Assad whatsoever. He may sound different from most commenters on this thread, but trust me: you guys ain’t seen nothing yet if you think Mo is an apologist for the regime. I fled Facebook in frustration after getting into one too many heated discussions with some hard-core believers (Ghassan can testify to that…)

    Mo is very reasonable by comparison.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 5, 2012, 6:09 pm
  178. QN,

    Mo does not support Assad but he does support Nasrallah who supports Assad. To me, that does not seem consistent.

    Posted by AIG | March 5, 2012, 6:29 pm
  179. … “ (…) it is difficult to feel that the people responsible are merely lying. More probably they feel that their own version was what happened in the sight of God, and that one is justified in rearranging the records accordingly.
    Indifference to objective truth is encouraged by the sealing-off of one part of the world from another, which makes it harder and harder to discover what is actually happening. There can often be a genuine doubt about the most enormous events. (…)— battles, massacres, famines, revolutions — tend to inspire in the average person a feeling of unreality. One has no way of verifying the facts, one is not even fully certain that they have happened, and one is always presented with totally different interpretations from different sources. (…) Probably the truth is discoverable, but the facts will be so dishonestly set forth in almost any newspaper that the ordinary reader can be forgiven either for swallowing lies or failing to form an opinion. The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it easier to cling to lunatic beliefs. Since nothing is ever quite proved or disproved, the most unmistakable fact can be impudently denied. Moreover, although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge, the nationalist ….

    ….. (G. Orwell definition: By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests.) ….

    … the nationalist is often somewhat uninterested in what happens in the real world. What he wants is to feel that his own unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether they support him. All nationalist controversy is at the debating-society level. It is always entirely inconclusive, since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory. Some nationalists are not far from schizophrenia, living quite happily amid dreams of power and conquest which have no connection with the physical world.” G. Orwell

    Propaganda has always been the name of the game in wartime and I think that no one is as good as mastering it than some western media (they are less clumsy than Syrian propaganda and ALJ which are sometimes ridiculous to an extent that only lobotomized people would trust them).

    “Real” journalism is becoming very rare… journalists go on the ground to film their already pre-established vision and are therefore often in denial when what is happening on the ground doesn’t match their pre-existing understanding or wishes. There are no standards to journalism… BBC is not better than ALJ except in the wrapping of its propaganda (cf. non-existent Serbs “concentration camps” or Racak massacre or Saddam gazing of Kurds…. more recently it was the bombing of Benghazi and the 6K victims… I’ll be more than happy to give all the references to back those statements).

    Western journalist and “way of thinking” is some kind of “nationalism” as per Orwell definition…this means that, no matter what, removing dictators is always legitimate and this could be done by all means… this is what some journalists end-up doing i.e. using “any means”!!

    If one can remember the pictures of Baghdad being heavily bombed and the comments of Journalists, it summarizes everything… people are choked from a voice/conversation recorded when US soldiers are bombing but not from the bombing itself… people are chocked when they see pictures of children dead and some blood around but not by the 500K kids that died due to Iraq War I… Today, no news (unless you search the web well) on what is happening in Libya, the consequences for Mali, Libya-Niger tensions, Black people being massacred, etc. what’s important is we removed a 40 years old dictator!!! Even if Oil money will go less than ever into the pockets of Libyan citizens and if it’s going to cost more lives than 1000 years of Khadafi!

    Removing dictators and their regimes with an outside intervention doesn’t bring democracy; history has proven that it makes it even worse for the population… when people from the inside succeed in doing so without any help from the outside and even sometimes with BIG powers playing against them (Tunisia, Egypt and of course Iran), they can make a change at a minimum cost for the population…

    Everything points to the fact that outside intervention is to be avoided and interferences should be shunned… for the sake of Syria and its children.

    …. “All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side. The Liberal News Chronicle published, as an example of shocking barbarity, photographs of Russians hanged by the Germans, and then a year or two later published with warm approval almost exactly similar photographs of Germans hanged by the Russians. (…) The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” Orwell…

    Mo is not only reasonable by comparison!! he’s just reasonable… I’d say that he’s often wise and rational (which is also the case of QN which I have been following and reading even if this is my first (and probably last) intervention on this board).

    Posted by mabboud | March 5, 2012, 8:05 pm
  180. M. Abboud

    Ahla w sahla. Please don’t make it your last intervention.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 5, 2012, 8:24 pm
  181. GK#180

    I plead the fifth.

    Just in case Mother Superior, ahem, HP, comes back to lecture me about profaning religion!

    Posted by Gabriel | March 5, 2012, 8:35 pm
  182. Mabboud:

    Certainly don’t make it your last. We’ve already managed to bore AIG! We need fresh blood!

    Posted by Gabriel | March 5, 2012, 9:08 pm
  183. Mo, since you are a supporter of Hezbollah, can you explain why your group is essentially attacking and making takhween of the Syrian opposition for the exact same thing your allies in Iraq did with nary a word from Hezbollah, incting the Zionist Neocons to attack Iraq, riding on American tanks into power and taking billions in money and American weapons. Your group even hosts “thuwar Nato” like Chalabi, Hakim and Ja’fari and then it has the audacity to engage in hypocritical takhween and if you say that Hezbollah is a resistance group, then so is Hamas, and many of Hezbollah’s online supporters attacked Haniyeh as a traitor. So Haniyeh is a traitor and Chalabi, Ammar al-Hakim, and Ja’fari are lavishly welcomed in Beirut with deafening silence from from Hezbollah.

    Posted by M. Hadeed | March 5, 2012, 9:21 pm
  184. Mo:

    I just don’t know what to make of your position. I suppose I can’t argue, we should always question everything, and as long as your rather critical barrage against Al-Jazeera was only approaching it from the angle of “one has to take everything with a grain of salt”, then there is really not much I can say against that.

    The fact is that the assaults are happening, despite the propaganda. As I said in a previous post, I don’t pay much attention to the videos, and I am willing to take my “Assad friendly friends’ family living in Homs” word for it, and they’ve said the bombing has been brutal… so much so they got the hell out of there.

    So the assaults are happening. And people are dying.

    If the opposition has been only able to recycle people in videos, despite what should be patently obvious, the only logical conclusion I think anyone can make is that this is a +ve for them. Because it can only reasonably mean that the Regime has been quite successful at controlling the amount of data that comes out.

    Read the wiki bits on Jenin:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Jenin

    Apparently 52 Palestinians were killed there of which about 1/2 were civilians, according to the UN report.

    Do you think more Civilians died in the assault in Homs? Or less? Or roughly the same?

    If its roughly the same, we should expect to be able to get pictures of at least 26 dead civilians.

    And yet, if one were to believe Parviziyi, the best the journalist could do was get the picture of a baby with Lipstick on his face.

    It’s either that, or the regime has been eerily successful at suppressing information.

    Posted by Gabriel | March 5, 2012, 9:37 pm
  185. I heartily agree with the characterization by mabboud that “Western journalist and “way of thinking” is some kind of “nationalism” as per Orwell definition.” My own choice word for characterizing it is “bigotry”.

    Commenter “Mo” does not support Assad but he does support Nasrallah who supports Assad. That reminds me of the following statement by Nasrallah in interview on Al-Manar TV on 25 Oct 2011: “The Syrian Popular Will is to support the [regime’s] reforms…. But if the people start opposing the regime, we [Hezbollah] will support the people.” So Nasrallah is not hardcore pro-regime but is instead hardcore pro-democracy. Nasrallah is also a cold realist. He has said that from a pure betting standpoint those politicians in Lebanon who are betting against Assad are betting on the wrong horse.

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 6, 2012, 5:18 am
  186. Qifa Nabki asks: “If the situation in Syria really looks more like Parviziyi’s depiction than that of the SOHR, then why won’t Assad let the media in?” Here’s my answer. I begin by quoting or paraphrasing from Al-Akhbar.com, which apparantly is one of Qifa Nabki’s own favourite news outlets: About 75 foreign journalists were said by the Syrian Information Ministry to have been on the ground in Syria, to its knowledge, on Sunday 26 Feb 2012, the day of the constitution referendum. The authorities arranged a separate tour for a Turkish media delegation at its request, and also a 13-strong group of Indian journalists. Many Chinese reporters could also be found in the Syrian capital. But journalists from Arabic countries were notable for their absence in Syria, except for a few from Lebanon and Egypt. A Syrian official in the information ministry said the fewness of Arab journalists on the ground in Syria was “regrettable”. Chinese television reporter Li Hang said: “I have only been in Damascus thus far. All I know is that the situation here is good, and there’s nothing to suggest there is a revolution.” http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/arab-media-absent-turkish-present-syria%E2%80%99s-referendum .

    Besides the 75 just mentioned, many more foreign news organizations have applied for and have received approval to be in Syria, but have not actually sent reporters. On 15 Jan 2012, Adnan Mahmoud, the head of the Ministry of Information, said 147 foreign media organizations were approved into Syria between 1 Dec 2011 and 15 Jan 2012, of which 116 foreign media organizations had entered Syria for at least a few days. http://www.sana.sy/eng/21/2012/01/16/394488.htm . On 10 Jan 2012 the Minister of Information said: “The Ministry is keen on facilitating the work of media institutions in presenting the real image of what is happening in Syria to the Arab and world publics…. Those media institutions are faced with a moral and professional challenge in relaying the Syrian scene in an objective way to their audiences.” http://www.sana.sy/eng/337/2012/01/10/393367.htm . For the lengthy list of the names of the foreign news organizations that have been officially approved by the Syrian authorities, see pages 17 to 25 of the Arab League’s Observer Mission Official Report, a copy of which is at http://globalresearch.ca/Report_of_Arab_League_Observer_Mission.pdf .

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 6, 2012, 5:21 am
  187. @ Gabriel #188: Al-Alam TV’s lead reporter in Syria, Hussein Murtada, is reporting that a medical source is saying that there is a nail in the head of the American journalist who was killed in Homs. If this is true, it means she was killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), not by regime “shelling” as some have claimed, and by inference it means she was killed by rebels. The journalist’s body was brought to the USA. Hopefully there will be an autopsy in the USA, and the autopsy’s results will be released to the public.

    Posted by Parviziyi | March 6, 2012, 5:29 am
  188. Gabriel,
    At what point did I claim attacks on Homs were not happening or that people were not dying? We were simply discussing the rational, motivation and net effect of falsified videos, thats all. I was merely arguing that by doing so you actually weaken your position and lose popular support irrespective of motivation.

    Posted by mo | March 6, 2012, 6:09 am
  189. Parviziyi

    The journalists who have been granted passes are largely confined to Damascus, like the Chinese reporter you quote. No one is being let into Homs, not even the Red Cross.

    If the Minister of Information is keen on facilitating the work of media institutions in presenting the real image of what is happening in Syria to the world, they should let reporters into the conflict zones.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | March 6, 2012, 7:36 am
  190. I am starting to feel really bad about this discussion, we may be missing the whole point. If the report about the hospital is true then there is really no limit to what the regime is capable of. This is truly Mengele territory. If there is going to be mass murder in Syria, we need to know. It completely changes the whole discussion. All the geopolitics and trivial considerations need to go out the door.

    Posted by AIG | March 6, 2012, 9:56 am
  191. @195

    Aig,

    I know you write your sentences with a great deal of thought and purpose…However; I am sure that you would know by now that the Syrian Mukhabarat are the most reprehensible savages on earth. If you did not; now you have been informed. the kind of torture 9documented and anecdotal) that Lebanese suffered and still suffer to some extent under the Syrian occupation is hard to describe. These people have had a mass murder that the whole world decided to ignore in Hama. They have been ratcheting up their barbarity the past few months; somehow emboldened by the Un Veto and at the same time weakened and feeling vulnerable in seeing that all their torture and vicious bombings have had the reverse effect so far. It has destroyed the myth of the mukhabarati threat…No fear!

    Posted by danny | March 6, 2012, 10:48 am
  192. Saddam’s thugs who threw 315 premature babies out of their incubators to die on the cold floors were worse than the Syrian mukhabarati.

    Posted by lally | March 6, 2012, 11:22 am
  193. No, lally, the Iranian soldiers killed in South Lebanon in 06 were known to be worse than that

    Posted by mo | March 6, 2012, 11:53 am
  194. Each time I read comments like Lally’s and Mo’s I realize again how important self reliance is. No matter what crime is done, you can always count on realists and geopolitcal mavens to tell you how someone else did something worse and rationalize their position. I don’t know what exactly is going on in Syria. But if there is evidence of the regime doing or planning mass executions of civilians, then I would support bombing the regime heads to make it stop. That is my limit. And I know full well that means there will be rockets fired at me also. Being cynical and talking about geopolitics and hegemony and other people’s crimes when mass murder is happening next door is not my cup of tea. I hope brave Syrians and journalists will keep us abreast of what is happening. I hope also that at the very least, Russia and China will set some red lines for Assad.

    Posted by AIG | March 6, 2012, 12:35 pm
  195. Each time I read comments like Lally’s and Mo’s I realize again how important self reliance is.

    Which is why BB made his this point clear: we’ll go it alone if we have to.

    Famously anti-Israel Pat Buchanan titled one of his recent articles, “Will Bibi Break Obama?”

    We can now answer him and say, “No Pat, they understand each other perfectly.”

    Danny, how did such a great people slip back to the Middle Ages?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | March 6, 2012, 12:59 pm

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