Syria

Syria: The Political Solution

truth-reconciliationMy dear friend Sean Lee has written a great “open letter on Syria to Western narcissists” over at his blog, The Human Provincelater picked up by The Huffington Post. He scratches an itch that’s been bugging me for years. Read it.

The other piece to read this morning is Bassam Haddad’s interview with Democracy Now, which makes the case that American intervention in Syria would be disastrous. Bassam has argued from the start that a political solution is the only way to end the civil war:

The only solution to this is something that is akin to a political solution where the serious international actors, the ones that are powerful, can come together force—literally force—the local players on all sides to actually come together and find a political solution. There is no other solution. There is no military solution to this. And the more dangerous that the chemical weapons that President Obama is discussing is the more reason to actually push for a serious political solution. One wonders, however, if that is indeed desired, as far as desired by these powerful actors, including the United States, and especially the United States.

When I was in Lebanon earlier this month, I must have heard the phrase “Syria needs its own Ta’if Accord… nothing else will end the war” about two dozen times from people on both sides of the conflict. Isn’t it ironic that Ta’if — the long suffering scapegoat of Lebanese politics — is now begrudgingly seen for what it is: a remarkably resilient political solution that has kept the peace in a post-Civil War state for nearly two and a half decades…

To oppose intervention and call for a political solution is reasonable enough, but where does one start?  A couple months ago, I wrote a piece that attempted to lay out the terms of a political solution as envisioned by the regime side. I’d be curious to hear the readership’s views on what kind of political solution they would push for, if they had President Obama’s ear for ten minutes in the Oval Office, just before he heads down to the Situation Room to order the first set of missile strikes. If the conversation yields something interesting or surprising, I’ll sift through the best comments and re-post them.

The floor is open.

Discussion

58 thoughts on “Syria: The Political Solution

  1. I think the only reason why global players have not reached a political solution yet is simply because it’s in their interest to destroy Syria. The United States and Israel are happy to see the country torn to shreds rather than let Bashar or his Islamist rivals take control. As for Russia and Iran, well, they won’t let go of whatever interests they have established there, and are willing to see the country destroy itself rather than have the opposition take control.

    And there you have it. Civil war ad infinitum

    Posted by amorethoxin | August 31, 2013, 7:58 am
  2. The only way forward to a political solution that i can see would be an alliance between Assad and the liberal secularists to allow broader representation, sharing of power, and protection of the rights of minority as well as majority confessions. In other words, an agreement to move toward the kinds of liberal reforms that were the goals of the demonstrations that were so ruthlessly suppressed in 2011. Civil war and repression would continue against the Islamic extremist factions, but said extremists would then be isolated. But it seems to me that this would offer the best, though still slim, hope for something better than the utter destruction or fragmentation of Syria. Such an agreement could imaginably be supported by the West as well as the Russians. I’m less sure about the Saudis and the Qataris.

    Posted by samadamsthedog | August 31, 2013, 10:59 am
  3. Bassam Haddad (& many like him) sounds like someone who argues that the only way to solve the Earth’s energy & climate problem is to “all come together and figure out a way to have workable room-temperature fusion reactors – nothing else will do.”

    Wishful thinking isn’t gonna help much. And postponing ANY involvement until that perfect solution finally materializes doesn’t do the trick, either.

    Yes, of course the only solution to ANY conflict is a a political one. D’uh. But that doesn’t mean that until that’s in the works, let alone achieved, outsiders can’t/shouldn’t/mustn’t do anything to, for example, restrain the internal warring parties from torture, ethnic cleansing, a slew of other atrocities I’m really too tired to enumerate here and, yes, the usage of weapons of mass destruction, such as biological and chemical weapons – against civilians no less.

    Are outsiders acting first & foremost in their own, national interests? But of course they do. Again, the only meaningful answer to that question coming to mind is: D’uh! As for the specific issue of US involvement – damned if you do, damned if you don’t. At this point, Obama might as well just go ahead and follow his heart. He’ll be yelled at (to put it mildly) regardless of what he’ll do.

    In the absence of a Security Council Resolution allowing the use of force under Chapter VII, or Syrian aggression towards a neighboring country (in which the victim could call for outside help under Article 55), or any codified & widely accepted Responsibility To Protect (R2P), or any sliver of possibility for the US & Russia to come to an agreement, (nor any sliver of possibility for KSA to “buy out Putin” 😉 ), etc. etc. etc. … the stalemate will go on for quite a while.

    There’s one caveat to the above: Contrary to what the US gov’t says, and many others seem to believe as well, there is simply no telling whether or not any US air strikes will truly have no impact on the balance of power inside Syria. There’s at this time simply nobody – not inside Syria (gov’t side and insurgents side alike) nor outside – who really knows enough about the intricacies of the Syrian civil war to make a truly informed call on this. So, who knows, maybe knocking out whatever the US is gonna bomb in the next few days will actually tilt the balance in some place, of which until then nobody knew that it was oh-so-important. Or maybe not.

    In the end, yes, there’ll have to be some political solution. Although I wouldn’t exactly call Ta’if a “a remarkably resilient political solution that has kept the peace in a post-Civil War state for nearly two and a half decades”, simply for the fact that the Ta’if Accord was never implemented. First you had the Syrian occupation, which kept Lebanon quiet and together. Then you had the next “big brother”, Hizbullah, which also ensured a certain cohesion of the country, including to make it VERY CLEAR that it would brook no serious dissent (May 2008, anyone?).

    Syria-after-the-war, whenever that is, and only in the case that Assad doesn’t win militarily, will soon resemble present-day Iraq or Libya more than present-day Lebanon, regardless of whatever peace of paper will be signed at some sort of “peace conference”, in Ta’if or elsewhere.

    Posted by MSK | August 31, 2013, 11:07 am
  4. 5 Permanent Roadblocks

    What the hell are “Western narcissists”? Amorethoxin thinks Syria’s problems are external, which is a joke, and samadamsthedog correctly focuses on the internal issue, where this little killing spree began.

    But how do you make an agreement wirh a thug and murderer like Assad who has a battle-tested army behind him and obviously would never step down let alone risk his position with an election. Please…

    Here’s how we fix the ME. The UN meets and requires every member state to hold free elections or they get kicked out. Watch who vetoes a proposal like that…

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 31, 2013, 11:29 am
  5. Let’s remember that Taef (a city in KSA by the way) is aptly described in the following terms: “The agreement came into effect with the active mediation of Saudi Arabia, discreet participation by the United States, and behind-the-scenes influence from Syria.” (from wikipedia)

    What were the ingredients for the success of Taef?
    1) Syrian boots on the ground
    2) Saudi, Syrian, American and Iranian converging interests
    3) Utter fatigue after 15 years of civil war in Lebanon

    Which of these ingredients is there today? None whatsoever.
    1) There will not be a player in Syria that is willing to do Syria’s job in Lebanon.
    2) There is no convergence of interests and there is not likely to be one because of the essential part Syria plays in the “axis of resistance”. Any solution will have to determine Syria’s geopolitical stance. Neutrality would not be accepted by the Iranians and the West and KSA will not accept Syria remaining in the axis. On another dimension, the Turks and much of the Syrian opposition will not accept a solution where religious parties are not allowed. The regime supporters would rather burn Syria than allow religious parties.
    3) The sides still look raring to fight.

    So let’s not waste time discussing a possible political solution just yet.

    Posted by AIG | August 31, 2013, 12:15 pm
  6. “So let’s not waste time discussing a possible political solution just yet.”

    Do you have something better to do? 🙂

    I agree that we need some more fatigue before a political solution looks more enticing to the major players. But when I brought up Ta’if, I didn’t mean that Syria needs the same kind of agreement. In fact, the many differences between Lebanon and Syria (a much different sectarian/demographic balance, a large standing army, a centralized state, etc.) will require a political solution that is very different from Ta’if and will not need the same kind of enforcers, in my view. The boots on the ground element is less important, but interests do need to converge before anything happens.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 31, 2013, 1:28 pm
  7. The political solution that ended the Lebanese war saw a state being given the custody of “peace” in the region for the next decades. That state was Syria. The penetration by Iran, one of the candidates in the race for regional hegemony, of the pivotal Syrian state, has made that status not longer valid for the other side.
    Which one of the concerned states will be given the custody of the region for the near future? That is the question that needs to be answered, and the “political solution” will only be a translation of which warring side showed the biggest resilience (translate: which one cared less for the number of dead and mutilated, especially on the other side.) One point has been won, though, by the “West”: Syria won’t have any meaning regional role in the near future, and that does take a joker from the hands of the Resistance team.

    It is to fear that it will take many many more lives, displaced, destruction, before a “winner” materializes. It wont probably take as long as the Lebanese war, but it will bring even more destruction an pain. And if the history of the recent past tells us anything, at the end, there won’t be a “winner takes it all” solution.

    Unlike the Lebanese war, though, this one will constantly threaten regional peace and stability, even the structures of surrounding states could be put in jeopardy. After all, that was the reason why the Assads were treated with so much patience to start with: their throne was a wasps nest, everyone knew, and everyone was reluctant to touch it.

    Posted by mj | August 31, 2013, 1:47 pm
  8. Welcome back Madame MJ. We’ve missed you. 🙂

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 31, 2013, 1:51 pm
  9. What about Nabih Berri’s trumpeted slide to the “center”: when the tornado is coming, don’t put all your provisions in the same hole? So is the tornado coming after all? Now I’m starting to worry…anyway, he agrees with me:

    1 hour ago Berri: “What is required is trust in the Saudi-Iranian relationships”.
    Lets drink to that.

    Posted by mj | August 31, 2013, 1:53 pm
  10. Thanks. I was always there. Just speechless most of the time:)

    Posted by mj | August 31, 2013, 2:10 pm
  11. All bets must now be hedged while the most roundly despised segment of the American polity gets to chime in.

    No no no not American lefties, sorry; American congresscritters.

    Posted by lally | August 31, 2013, 2:58 pm
  12. QN,

    The boots on the ground are the only way to solve the problem of trust regarding who controls the security forces without one side outright winning. Again, this problem is very difficult to solve as can been seen from the inability of the Palestinian factions to reach an argument mainly because of this issue. The mess in Iraq would have been even bigger without the presence of US troops on the ground to take up the security issue in a relatively balanced way. It would have become a repeat of the current situation in Syria. So, I would not underestimate this problem.

    Posted by AIG | August 31, 2013, 3:38 pm
  13. The Republicans must be in a real jam, do they stick it to Obama or vote for bombs away.
    Both options are so tempting and the only thing they can’t resist is temptation!

    Posted by Vulcan | August 31, 2013, 4:36 pm
  14. AIG

    I’m not a military man, but I suspect that the process of dismantling or re-structuring an army with over half a million enlisted men and reserves would be a very serious undertaking. It would likely have to remain intact in its overall structure, with a change at the top levels, no?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | August 31, 2013, 4:49 pm
  15. McCain and Graham ” we cannot in good conscience support isolated military strikes in Syria that are not part of an overall strategy that can change the momentum on the battlefield, achieve the President’s stated goal of Assad’s removal from power”

    Posted by Vulcan | August 31, 2013, 5:12 pm
  16. Vulcan,

    McCain and Graham make sense to me. As far as I’m concerned, I would have dropped a Tomahawk on the presidential palace a week ago. Punishment should come swiftly after the crime is committed if you’re trying to curtail such behavior. That’s what kept Israel’s northern border so quiet for so long.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 31, 2013, 5:26 pm
  17. QN,

    Exactly, but will the change at the top level actually do the trick? I don’t think so. Many if not most of the effective units of the Syrian army resemble a sectarian militia more than a national army. This has been the way the Alawites retained power. You can see something close to this in the Egyptian army where all the MB sympathizers were purged after Sadat was murdered and the animosity between the army and the MB is now in the open. So just as the MB in Egypt would not trust the Egyptian army, the opposition in Syria would not trust the Syrian army, and who would blame them? It is almost a certainty that the Syrian army would attempt a coup or try to re-consolidate power once the opposition laid down its arms. And just as in Egypt (or Turkey for a long time) it would of course not let a Sunni religious led coalition rule if it were elected.

    I always circle back to the Palestinians, as they are about 20 years ahead of the rest of the Arab world and provide a sneak peak into the future. The only way the secular/nationalists can live in relative peace with the religious factions is by de facto partition. In the Palestinian case the former in the West Bank and the latter in Gaza. As we learned from the Egyptian case and from the Syrian case (a repeat lesson of the Algerian fiasco), it is unlikely that the secular elites in the Arab world have the patience to play the game of democracy with the religious majority. And I don’t blame them, because I don’t believe either that the religious parties are inherently democratic, they are just using democratic means to attain power.

    Posted by AIG | August 31, 2013, 6:14 pm
  18. …Curtail behaviour eh?. Recent footage shows people dying from napalm bombs! Go ahead Hussein wait for the congress while the Assads piss on your resolve!

    Posted by danny | August 31, 2013, 6:15 pm
  19. Danny,

    Take it easy, democracy is messy, but if you find a better system let me know. With the backing of the US congress, Obama can do something a little bigger than what was initially planned. It seems this is the direction the Republicans are pushing him. Furthermore, the delay will provide time to figure out where the different Assad forces and munitions moved to. They showed their hand too early. I am hoping that Obama goes after all of Assad’s chemical weapons and delivery systems. That would send the right message.

    Posted by AIG | August 31, 2013, 6:39 pm
  20. AIG,

    The president had a right and precedent to go ahead and pick off the so called elite units and chemical warehouses. Do you believe for a moment that the armed forces have not bee getting ready for this “event”? Now he wants to play his game while Assad burns countless people and gets more emboldened! There’s no way that the congress wants to go to full out war and sink in Syria. It’s just a theater. My suspicion is that Israel does not want just a surgical strike on goat herders and chicklet factories…

    …and in the meantime the brave warriors of the anti takfiri brigades kill/gas/burn thousands at will! What a state humanity is at!!

    Posted by danny | August 31, 2013, 7:07 pm
  21. Danny,

    Actually, the state of humanity is better:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=history-and-the-decline-of-human-violence

    We just don’t focus on the good stuff.

    Posted by AIG | August 31, 2013, 7:26 pm
  22. I agree with Danny. Something should have been done quickly, and waiting is not going to hurt Assad more.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | August 31, 2013, 11:36 pm
  23. When I first read your comments on the Taif, I was surprised, but then again, Taif, as we all know, hasn’t been properly implemented. Had it been, I think it would be an acceptable example to go by.

    I just posted my own thoughts on Syria (http://bit.ly/15v1aCN) and although I fully agree that a political solution is the only way out, I think it is too late now. The strike is coming, the consequences will be potentially disastrous and the entire region and more importantly the immediate neighborhood will pay the price for it. But the time will come for parties to sit down and come to an agreement to end the bloodshed. As per the curse of the Middle East, and sadly so, a political solution will have to crafted with non-Syrians first, before Syrians get involved (i.e. US, France, UK, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia). Hoping all the aforementioned would not meddle in Syria is wishful thinking now, and would have to be something that Syrians (unlike the Lebanese) will have to force down countries’ throats in the future, if they have the will to so do.

    Posted by Eye on the East | September 1, 2013, 5:20 am
  24. I would not be so sure the strike is coming. All indications are, Obama will not get the approval he asked for and doesn’t want from Congress.

    Posted by Vulcan | September 1, 2013, 7:59 am
  25. I got it from good sources that the delay is because of the Israeli Lobby. It would have been inconvenient to have the strike just before Rosh-Hashana and Yom Kippur. The Lobby compromised and agreed to a strike during Sukkot.

    Posted by AIG | September 1, 2013, 3:43 pm
  26. Gil Hoffman
    ‏@Gil_Hoffman
    Democrats worried #Obama will lose House vote on #Syria attack, hope #Netanyahu will help him support in Congress, @channel10 reports.

    Posted by lally | September 1, 2013, 4:13 pm
  27. My sources tell me Obama will issue an apology to Assad and sell CW to him at a discount.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 1, 2013, 4:30 pm
  28. The Palestinians are 20 yrs ahead? Where does that put the Lebanese? Ho ho ho…

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 1, 2013, 4:36 pm
  29. QN,

    As I tried hinting a couple of times before, it is Israeli policy not to try to understand political processes in Lebanon. You have some random number generators (not the pseudo ones but real ones based on quantum phenomena) that dictate your actions and to believe one can make any predictions regarding Lebanon is just plain impossible by definition. We laugh out of the room anyone trying to recommend a strategy based on “intelligent assessments” about Lebanon.

    As the Jewish new year is about to start and Yom Kippur not far away, it is time to review Israeli “successes” regarding Lebanon and beat our collective chest:

    1) The First Lebanon War
    2) Sharon’s Gemayel plan
    3) Sabra and Shatilla
    4) The security zone
    .
    .
    n) The 2000 withdrawal from the security zone (honestly, how complex is the situation that we can’t agree if it was a good move or another “success”)
    .
    .
    m) The Second Lebanon War (which at first was a “success” and then turned out to be a real success but not because we were smart or had a great plan)

    So having wiped the slate clean, we are all poised and ready to start anew with trying to find rhyme and reason in random events and irrational players.

    Posted by AIG | September 1, 2013, 7:04 pm
  30. You haven’t answered my question. All I really want to know is whether we are ahead or behind the rest of the Arab world, and by how much.

    Precise numbers, please.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 1, 2013, 7:08 pm
  31. QN,

    The short answer is that you have an attribute that makes Lebanon a bad template for understanding any other Arab country and that is the former Christian majority which still is a very large minority. So your question is like asking: “How old is the current king of France”? I am sure there is a very precise answer, but my intellectual faculties are inadequate to answer it.

    Posted by AIG | September 1, 2013, 7:44 pm
  32. Pesky Christians.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 1, 2013, 7:54 pm
  33. Countries can be unpredictable, but superpowers shouldn’t be. We should support freedom and democracy everywhere.

    This message is brought to by the Jewish Republican Coalition

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 1, 2013, 8:34 pm
  34. From the Israeli perspective, wouldn’t that be perfidious Christians?

    Posted by lally | September 1, 2013, 9:31 pm
  35. Bashar lays down the options for America.

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/so-whats-it-going-to-be,33662/

    Posted by Vulcan | September 2, 2013, 4:01 am
  36. QN, I like you but comments like this disturb me: “I’ll sift through the best comments and re-post them” Do you mean the best comments as in the best in grammar and syntax?

    Posted by rpver | September 2, 2013, 1:14 pm
  37. No, the most creative, original, provocative, thoughtful, etc.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 2, 2013, 1:27 pm
  38. Thank you for your response QN, I really enjoy your entries, it’s nice to see what’s happening in Lebanon through your prespective.

    Posted by rpver | September 2, 2013, 5:51 pm
  39. Each passing day, the political irony gets worse. The loudest voices for a Syrian response were the harshest critics of GWB.

    Pinch me. And send the ships home. Obama cannot be trusted.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 3, 2013, 10:42 pm
  40. Hold on to ya horses cowboy,

    There will be a strike….. just not the kind of strike you’re envisioning……It will be more of a cobra strike than a blacksmith strike, precise but effective…..or a match strike, swift but igniting… it could be a union strike…striking from action… who knows….

    I say the Economist says it well;

    http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21584329-present-proof-deliver-ultimatum-and-punish-bashar-assad-his-use-chemical?spc=scode&spv=xm&ah=9d7f7ab945510a56fa6d37c30b6f1709

    Posted by Maverick | September 4, 2013, 1:54 am
  41. The initial question here was about a political solution, so I will try and address that. That’s a hard one, but not obviously harder than a military solution, at least from an American perspective. We have stated clearly that we will not try to topple the regime, we have demonstrated clearly that we will not try to stop or significantly slow the violence itself, and “punishing” Assad for using chemical weapons is neither here nor there. He wouldn’t have done it if he didn’t feel he had to, and short of credible threats to topple him or destroy his stockpile (which we won’t, and probably can’t, respectively) we won’t deter him if he feels he has to in the future.

    (By the way, I’m assuming for this discussion that the preferred outcome of a political solution is the removal of Assad, the prevention of the ascendance of Jabhat al-Nusra or other such groups, and the reform of the regime under a new civilian democratic system.)

    So, politics. How do you bring the sides to the table? Turkey, Qatar, KSA, Jordan and the U.S. (and others variably linked to these parties) are all aiding the rebels. Russia and Iran (and others etc.) are aiding Syria. Removing their external supporters would force either side to have to negotiate a political settlement, and absent that they can keep fighting. The disagreements between the external supporters are also less existential, so we should look to an agreement between them to begin a political solution.

    In this context, the recent use of chemical weapons may be a boon to negotiators. Rouhani’s response – condemning CW use and urging “the international community” to do whatever is necessary to prevent their use, “especially in Syria” – would seem to indicate some flexibility on Iran’s part in their support for Assad. Yes, Iran’s president does not make the key foreign policy decisions and yes losing their only consistent Arab ally is a big deal, but 1) Rouhani does not strike me as the Ahmadinejad or even Khatami type, to excessively freelance in his public statements without considering Khamenei and the IRGC, and 2) this conflict is embarrassing and costly for them. I suspect they would be willing to entertain solutions that don’t involve keeping Assad if they can have a hand in shaping who does come to power.

    Russia has indicated no such flexibility so far, in part because this conflict is less costly and embarrassing for them. But it is also less important for their geopolitical position than for Iran’s to keep Assad himself in power. If Assad falls precipitously they lose a friend in the region, but they also almost certainly lose their investments (material and strategic) in that naval base in Tartous. Here again the use of chemical weapons – and the suspense around the U.S. response – may help. If the U.S. gets involved militarily, that could be a huge headache for us. But as we’ve seen in Iraq, that doesn’t have to mean it’s not a huge headache for everyone else, too. Could there be chemical weapons depots at that naval base in Tartous? Entirely possible! Might get bombed as part of the “punishment,” who’s to say? Russia might be willing to talk turkey with Assad on a political solution and peaceful exit if they have some confidence that they will retain certain rights and influence around that naval base with whoever comes in to power afterward.

    I think a “bi-partisan” coalition of external powers backing a “national-unity” committee or coalition on the ground is achievable. The national-unity committee signs a basic cease-fire agreement between the government and moderate/secular opposition groups to begin the process of ending the violence. Not everyone will agree – you’ll have pro-government militias, Islamist rebels, and secular rebels who all refuse to lay down arms and will have to be fought or bargained with – but you’ll have started, and if the external actors stick together peace will snowball.

    There are lots of tricky details left – reconciliation commissions, resettlement of refugees, a new constitution and transitional government measures. I am embarrassed about how much I’m hand waving right now, but 1) it was hard enough to get us to this point and 2) I’ve got to get to work.

    Thoughts? Next steps?

    Posted by Ben Ryan | September 4, 2013, 8:43 am
  42. If Syria has become the go-to place for jihadists, then maybe what we need is an unholy alliance between Assad and the rest to rid this menace from the face of the world.

    It just pains me to think that however remotely the West is in for Assad together with jihadists. Supposedly Nusra front took over Maloula and burned one of the old churches! Such a loss, again.

    Posted by Pas Cool | September 4, 2013, 3:24 pm
  43. Great comment, Ben, and many others. The semester has just begun here, so I’ll try to respond to some of you and follow up on my promise to pull some of these points to the main post over the weekend.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | September 5, 2013, 8:51 am
  44. If I were a cartoonist NewZ

    Seems like we’re in a holding pattern. The Super Power is waiting for clearance. And no one is in the tower. And no one is piloting the aircraft.

    The passengers are obviously getting nervous.

    Has anyone out there piloted a 747?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 6, 2013, 12:23 am
  45. The only way out of this is to not only go after regime military targets, but also Al Qaeda/takfiri types. Make a strong distinction between the secular opposition and the Islamic extremists. Arm the FSA to the teeth. This will translate to power on the ground and more importantly on the negotiating table, and then broker a political solution. Iran and Russia will be a bit more foregoing once the tides have turned.
    Obama still has a chance to prove his worth, but he needs to go all in. This half hearted performance has got him boxed in in a lose/lose/lose situation.

    Posted by Maverick | September 6, 2013, 6:46 am
  46. Maverick,

    Did you just get out of a “Republican Friends of the Likud” meeting? Welcome.

    I would have agree with you 2 years ago before all the jihadists came, but now it’s too late.

    The US just need to bomb Baathist assets until they break. And of course, get weapons to the secular moderates who are fighting for freedom.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 6, 2013, 10:54 am
  47. On the question of pursuing political solutions with Russia and Iran, I would throw a couple key articles into the mix. One is this, from Al-Jazeera America, on how the U.S. has refused to even sit with Iranians in discussions on Syria: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/4/to-resolve-the-syriacrisistheusmustnegotiatewithiran.html

    And this from WINEP, on how Iranian leaders are divided over what to do on Syria: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/unexpected-iranian-dispute-on-syria

    Posted by Ben Ryan | September 6, 2013, 11:21 am
  48. UhOh. According to this Israeli military analyst, the FSA is being taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood;

    “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Strategy
    The Muslim Brotherhood movement, outlawed three decades ago in Syria, is
    making a huge effort to establish an organizational infrastructure within
    Syria that will allow it to lead the opposition and take over key positions
    after the overthrow of the Assad regime.

    In August 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood launched its first official bureau in
    the city of Aleppo, at the same time lending support to the Civilian
    Protection Committee, described by various elements within Syria (yet
    officially denied) as the military wing of the Brotherhood. This structure
    has provided a useful instrument for Islamist penetration of the Free Syrian
    Army.

    Placing its battalions within the Civilian Protection Committee under Free
    Syrian Army leadership shows the Brotherhood’s strategic thinking. Unlike
    the organizations affiliated with al-Qaeda, it strives to take control from
    within the official groups representing the rebels (the Free Syrian Army,
    the “Coalition,” the “National Council”) in order to mobilize international
    recognition and advance its political agenda to take over Damascus.

    “The Day After” Scenarios
    In the absence of significant liberal secular opposition forces, “the day
    after” scenarios for Syria alternate between genocide of the Alawite
    minority, chaos and disintegration of the Syrian state into areas controlled
    along ethnic lines, or a takeover by radical Islamic forces wishing to
    establish a Muslim religious state (according to al-Qaeda and the Muslim
    Brotherhood).”
    http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=61836

    Posted by lally | September 6, 2013, 4:50 pm
  49. AP,

    I wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those meetings, as I’m sure you intended the sarcasm… however, I must admit i’m done with the whining of the Left and have almost all but shut the door. All they’re ever good for is pointing out the negatives and having a sulk. Well, when shit hits the fans, you need people who act not just lament on conspiracy theories. Case in point – bloody Syria.
    What have they done but remind us all of the heart-eaters and how they dominate the opposition. Or how Obamas latest venture is just a continuation of American world “bullying” , remember Iraq they say. They have obfuscated the truth to mislead the public, something the Syrian regime was intent on doing. Here’s Jon Stewart helping the cause [NOT];

    And thus springs the anti-war masses protesting against Imperialism and One world governments and Freemasons and …and…

    While an autocratic ruthless dictator has his way with his own people killing on a mass scale with whatever weapons he can get his hands on.

    Argghhhh Syria, how did you end up like this?

    Posted by Maverick | September 6, 2013, 7:10 pm
  50. Maverick,

    G-d works in mysterious ways. Who could have predicted that conservative jews and liberal arabs and muslims would be holding hands in solidarity against Assad?

    Who could have predicted that the most anti-war american politicians would be pressing a war: Sec. of State John “Lurch” Kerry and our war-weary President Barrack Obama?

    Who could have predicted the British and American governments vetoing their leaders call gor military action that doesn’t require soldiers on the ground?

    There are some interesting lessons to be learned. We need to be united against tyranny, because evil preys on weakness.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 6, 2013, 9:57 pm
  51. No sarcasm at all, Maverick. A Palace is sincerely welcoming you to his club.

    The funny thing is that the bitches complaining about “leftists” (liberals) anti-war/whatever are ragging on the smallest political demographic that is violently opposed to wasting any more of our precious bodily fluids on agenda wars of choice. Look, Obama is/was sold as a Prezzy for the left so it stands to reason his diehard supporters are still saluting him for now. The center ie “Independents” make up the largest portion of the antiwar throngs and the rightists are next in line.

    Perhaps you should pen another diatribe about the other popular target for wannabe “rebel” ire; Paul bots.
    and don’t forget the Tea Partiers. It’s largely those newbie congresscritters who are quickest to repeat the Vietnam chant: “Hell no, we won’t go”.

    The American polity is really shifting around.

    Posted by lally | September 6, 2013, 10:10 pm
  52. The Saudis are now “liberal Arabs”? Why, because they’ve offered to underwrite our expenses as we do their dirty business?

    Doesn’t that imply that we are a nation of whores?

    Posted by lally | September 6, 2013, 10:20 pm
  53. Lally,

    Whores is a bit much, how ’bout opportunists with no shame. 🙂
    A whore would imply that Obama is planning to attack Syria as a service rendered to KSA…. But not after 3 years from the start of the conflict….begrudgingly….when all the good neighbours have failed …..
    It’s the other way round, the whores are Syria’s neighbours opposed to the regime who beg for US/Western/ ANY intervention…such is the desperation of the situation.

    Posted by Maverick | September 7, 2013, 12:54 am
  54. Maverick,

    Maybe Lally is referring to Assad’s whoring for Iran. It’s hard to know for certain though, since there are no polls or elections, or even freedom of speech in that glorious country.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | September 7, 2013, 10:39 am

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