A damaged area is pictured after a car bomb in Qatana, near DamascusReutersThe Syrian regime has fired Scud missiles at rebel forces trying to oust Bashar al-Assad, a U.S. official has admitted, according to AFP.
“Scuds landed within Syria,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
A report in The New York Times on Wednesday indicated that Syrian forces loyal to Assad have fired Scud missiles at rebel fighters in recent days.
The move represents a significant escalation in the fighting, which has already killed more than 40,000 civilians in a nearly two-year-old conflict and suggests increased desperation on the part of the Assad government.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, according to AFP, that “we’re seeing missiles employed now” but she refused to divulge intelligence on what type of missile.
However, the U.S. official speaking later said he could confirm the New York Times story that the regime was unleashing Scuds.
There was no word of any casualties caused by the Soviet-era weapons, famously fired into Israel by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War in 1991.
The unguided, short-range ballistic Scud missiles, depending on the type employed, have a range of 200 kilometers or more.
Putting further pressure on the Assad regime on Wednesday, Arab and Western states recognized the opposition National Coalition as the sole representative of Syrians.
The declaration, issued at a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Morocco, coincided with battlefield gains by jihadists fighting Assad’s forces and a rapidly deteriorating refugee situation as winter sets in.
“Today, full recognition is given to the National Coalition as the sole representative of the Syrian people,” Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani told a news conference after the meeting his government hosted in Marrakesh, according to AFP.
The talks on the 21-month-old conflict brought together representatives from 114 countries, including about 60 ministers, the Syrian opposition and international organizations.
They came just a day after U.S. President Barack Obama endorsed the National Coalition, following a similar move by the European Union.
Under pressure to unite, the opposition agreed on November 11 to establish the coalition and group the various rebel forces under a supreme military council.
But jihadist rebels in Aleppo, a key front line in northern Syria, rejected the agreement, saying they want an Islamic state.
Among them is the Al-Nusra Front, which the United States blacklisted on Tuesday as a terrorist organization, citing links to Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Meanwhile on Thursday, a top Russian official asserted that Assad’s days are numbered, an unusual statement coming from one of Assad’s long time allies.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s top envoy for Syria, said that recent events in Syria show that the government’s grip on the fighting is slipping and that the rebels stand a real chance of defeating Assad.
By DEVIN DWYER (@devindwyer) and DANA HUGHES (@dana_hughes)
WASHINGTON, Dec. 11, 2012
In a diplomatic shift, President Obama said today his administration now formally recognizes the newly-formed, leading coalition of Syrian rebels who are fighting to topple Syria’s embattled President Bashar Assad.
“We’ve made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime,” Obama said.
Well, now that they have killed all the Christians then I guess the remainder is inclusive. Other than those who support the current regime of course.
Here is a link to the infamous clip of muslim anti Asaad fighters letting or making a child behead a prisoner. Here is a link to a Christian village wiped out, the Christians “slaughtered like animals”. So I guess these guys weren’t included. The rest of the article can be read here. H/T Martin via vladtepesblog.com
This is truly rich. Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin is accusing the United States of preventing UN Security Council action on Gaza.
The Security Council held heated closed-door negotiations on a possible statement, but diplomats said a sticking point was that the text did not mention Hamas missile attacks on Israel. Israel said it was these attacks that prompted its major offensive against Gaza.
Council members were consulting with their capitals on the draft statement, which needs to be approved by consensus, but several diplomats said it was unlikely an agreement would be reached by a Tuesday morning deadline.
Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said that if the council could not agree, he would put a resolution – a stronger move by the council than a statement – to a vote on Tuesday to call for an end to the violence and show support for regional and international efforts to broker peace.
“One member of the Security Council, I’m sure you can guess which, indicated … they will not be prepared to go along with any reaction of the Security Council,” Churkin said earlier in a thinly veiled reference to the United States.
“Somehow, allegedly, that could hurt the current efforts carried out by Egypt and the region,” he said.
A resolution is passed when it receives nine votes in favor and no vetoes by the five permanent council members – Russia, China, Britain, the United States and France. Some diplomats said a vote on the Russian resolution would likely be tight and could force a veto by the United States.
Council diplomats, who did not want to be identified, said the United States’ UN delegation had been instructed by Washington not to engage in consultations on a statement by the Security Council.
France, Germany and Britain submitted amendments to the draft Security Council statement earlier, diplomats said, but Churkin said too many changes had been proposed.
“Unfortunately it looked like a little bit of a filibustering attempt. Maybe I am mistaken, maybe it’s just a laid-back attitude in a situation where we cannot afford procrastination,” Churkin told reporters after consultations.
One council diplomat described the filibustering accusation as “utter nonsense.”
Hey Ambassador Churkin, how many Syrians have been killed since the start of this operation (hint: many more Syrians than ‘Palestinians’ have been killed) and why has your country been blocking Security Council action against Bashar al-Assad for months? At the very least, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!
Benghazi: Ambassador Stevens was smuggling with the Muslim Brotherhood, Libyan arms to Syrian rebelsNovember 2, 2012
The nature of the Benghazi disaster is now clear. Ambassador Stevens was engaged in smuggling sizable quantities of Libyan arms from the destroyed Gaddafi regime to the Syrian rebels, to help overthrow the Assad regime in Syria. Smuggling arms to the so-called “Free Syrian Army” is itself a huge gamble, but Obama has been a gambler with human lives over the last four years, as shown by the tens of thousands of Arabs who have died in the so-called Arab Spring — which has brought nothing but disaster to the Arab world.
For the last four years, the Obama policy has been to offer aid and comfort violent Islamic radicals in the delusional belief that their loyalty can be bought. We therefore betrayed Hosni Mubarak, our 30-year ally in Egypt, so that the Muslim Brotherhood led by Muhammed Morsi could take over. Obama indeed demanded publicly that Mubarak resign, for reasons that never made any sense at all. Egypt went into a political and economic tailspin, and the Muslim Brotherhood were elected. The Muslim radicals have now purged the only other viable political force, the army and police, to protect their monopoly on power. We have colluded in that betrayal.
In Libya, we betrayed Moammar Gaddafi, who had surrendered his nuclear program to the Bush administration. In Afghanistan, we betrayed the central government set up by the Bush administration and negotiated with the fanatical war sect of the Taliban to take over. The Taliban entered our history when they gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda in the years before 9/11/01 to plan, train, equip, and implement the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The Taliban are our fanatical theological enemy, as shown by their sadistic attempt to assassinate 14-year-old women’s rights advocate Malala Yousuf.
Afghanistan has many thousands of Malalas we will never hear about.
Our consistent policy of betrayal of moderate Muslims in favor of radical Islamofascists goes hand-in-hand with our appeasement of the Iranian Khomeinist regime, which is the most America-hating Shiite regime, now facing competition from America-hating Sunni regimes in Egypt and elsewhere. It also fits our cooperation with Turkey’s “neo-Ottoman” regime, which has also purged the Turkish army and police to remove modern-minded Turks from power. Egypt and Iran will soon have nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles.
We have therefore followed a single “community disorganizing” policy toward the Muslim world, consisting of betraying moderates to bring theocratic fascists to power. Obama “explained” that policy in a publicized argument with Hillary Clinton at the White House when Mubarak was overthrown. His explanation? Fascist revolutions are “organic,” and therefore more stable than moderate revolutions. Obama’s fantasy policy runs contrary to U.S. foreign policy since World War I.
The biggest loser in this mad administration has been hundreds of millions women of the Muslim world, who were on a path to modernity and freedom until Obama and Hillary Clinton betrayed them. Today they are shut inside the prisons of sharia law.
The second-biggest loser has been relative stability in a great geographical swath of the Muslim world, from Afghanistan and Pakistan across the Middle East, all the way to Tunisia and Morocco.
The third-biggest loser has been our anti-proliferation policy against the spread of weapons of mass destruction among developing nations. From fighting proliferation, we have turned to aiding it.
Those three Horsemen of the Apocalypse are now out of the barn and riding free.
In Benghazi, al-Qaeda showed that they could not be bought even by our back-stabbing policy. Our Benghazi arms-smuggling base was attacked by elements of AQIM (al-Qaeda in the Maghreb) in an act of betrayal against our fantasy-driven way of doing things. The American betrayer was itself betrayed, and Obama-Hillary could do nothing to defend the Americans under attack at the Benghazi arms-smuggling base, because any public revelation of the truth would rip the cover off our mad actions and focus the hatred of Muslim nations on the United States.
The evidence now shows that Obama was aware of the attack within 55 minutes of the start. It lasted for six or seven hours, and Obama consistently countermanded standing orders to protect Americans under attack in the Africom command area. General Ham may have been fired for following standard U.S. policy to defend American personnel.
In Syria, the Assad regime now has a legitimate basis to convict us of deadly dabbling in the Syrian civil war. Russia and China are likely to take up Assad’s cause at the United Nations. They would be right on the facts.
Because the Benghazi attack coincided exactly with the AQ attack on our Cairo Embassy, both on September 11 of this year, this was apparently a central command decision by AQ, presumably ordered by Osama bin Laden’s successor, Al Zawahiri, in Pakistan using a video released on the web shortly before those attacks. The message was “al-Qaeda lives!” Everybody who saw the news photos that day got that message. Only Obama is in public denial.
Because the Egyptian regime chose not to defend our embassy, we know that Muhammad Morsi was in cahoots with the AQ attack. Host governments always have the first responsibility to defend accredited embassies. Egypt “forgot” to defend us, and that was the message.
The purpose of the AQ attacks was to embarrass the United States, and to show us to be a paper tiger, precisely the way Ayatollah Khomeini did to Jimmy Carter. AQ also wanted to tear off the cover of the Benghazi arms-smuggling operation, to make us look like a treasonous ally, which, as it turns out, we are. All of our allies around the world, from South Korea and Japan to Israel, Australia, and Norway, must now be reassessing our reliability. One major betrayal of our allies is enough to shatter sixty years of faith in American leadership.
Here is the evidence as published in the Jerusalem Post, in an interview with retired counterintelligence professional Clare Lopez. The credit for the exposing the U.S. arms-smuggling conspiracy that just capsized goes to Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy (SecureFreedom.org) and other alert conservative columnists around the web.
Assad and the Alawites cannot give in. They are fighting for their very existence. The only way to end this civil war is to let them have control over their destiny — either as an autonomous region in Syria or as an independent entity.
The Alawites are a small, historically oppressed people, whose political future will determine whether Syria remains united in some form or disintegrates into even smaller ethnic and religious entities.
As they will play such an important role, America, Israel, and other forces interested in the future of Syria might do well to get to know them, their concerns, and how others can best come to terms with them.
Syria’s non-Sunnis have historically lived in apprehension of what the Sunnis might do to them. Although Arab Sunnis are the largest religio-ethnic group in Syria, non-Sunni Arabs make up upwards of 40% of the population. Historically, until the end of Ottoman rule after World War I, the Sunnis assumed they were the region’s natural rulers, and by and large controlled the destinies of the large numbers of non-Sunnis who lived among them. The non-Sunnis seem to have “known their place” in Syrian society – second class citizens. The Sunnis determined the rules.
In the 19th century, Western concepts of nationalism and equality for all people began to appear in the Middle East. The idea that everyone – irrespective of ethnicity or religion – is equal before the law has seemed anathema to the Sunnis: such an idea would contradict the basic Islamic principle that non-Muslims – known as dhimmis, or second-class, barely-tolerated citizens – could live in an Islamic society only if they accepted their place as unequal and unworthy of political and social equality. However, even though all Sunnis might consider themselves equal, in reality, clans, tribes, or ethnic identities, not to mention gender, usually prevail.
After World War I, when the French ruled Syria, they tried to introduce the concept of equality of all people before the law – a principle that never took root. During French rule, the people today known as Alawites – and who today rule Syria – begged the French to allow them to set up their own state in their ancient homeland along the Mediterranean coast between today’s Lebanon and Turkey. One of those who most passionately supported this option was the grandfather of the ruler of Syria today: Suleyman al-Assad.
This is because Syrian Sunnis have historically referred to individual Alawites as “abid” [slave], and treated the Alawites as such. The Alawites were servants in Sunni households. Alawite tradition is filled with horror stories of Sunni abuse, both working in Sunni households and in other areas of as well.
The Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, were terribly discriminated against under Sunni rule. The Sunnis attitude towards the Alawites – and towards the other non-Muslims – was “noblesse oblige,” or an attitude of condescension, if not outright hostility.
According to Alawite religious beliefs, the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law – Ali – was a deity. That a human could be a deity is anathema in Islam. Moreover, even though Christians are officially regarded as dhimmis, or second-class citizens, by the Muslims, many also refer to Christians as pagans: Christians deify Jesus who, in Muslim eyes, was a merely a prophet, born to a human mother and father.
Under the French and in the early years of Syrian independence after 1946, wealthy and respectable Sunnis did not want to have their sons serve in the military. Their Alawite servants, however, recognizing the military as a way to advance, persuaded their Sunni masters to sign recommendations to allow the children of their Alawite servants enter the military. Gradually, the Alawites rose in the ranks. Eventually in 1966, they overthrew the existing order to took over the country, and have dominated it since.
Many of these military officers, like their Christian counterparts, embraced Arab nationalism, perhaps hoping through nationalism to gain the equality that had eluded them in religion under the Sunni-dominated, society. These officers did their best to put their non-Sunni identities aside, and hoped – at times even demanded – that their Sunni fellow-Arabs do the same.
As the Alawites rose in the military, they also rose to senior positions in the Ba’ath Party, the basic tenant of which is militant Arab nationalism. But even as militant anti-Israeli Arab nationalists, these Alawites still feared that the majority-Sunnis would lie in wait, and pounce on the Alawites if the Alawites showed any weakness. The Alawites never allowed themselves forget that the Sunnis hated them; and that even though they controlled Syria, they had better come to an agreement with the leading Sunni families to provide them with stability and enable them to make money – in return for the Sunnis allowing the Alawites to control the country militarily and also make money.
During the so-called peace talks between Syria and Israel, the Alawites, according to their own admission, appointed Sunnis – and not Alawites – to negotiate with the Israelis – so that Alawites would not to be held responsible if any concessions were made to the Israelis. The Alawites were most likely concerned that if they had given in even ever so slightly to any Israeli requests, the Sunnis would have used that as an excuse to claim that the Alawites were not “true” Arabs.
Many Alawites have believed that the Arab-nationalist route of being accepted by the majority-Sunnis was doomed. According to discussions with people who have escaped Syria, as well as many still there, they feared, in their heart of hearts, that, just has the President Syrian President Assad’s grandfather had warned, whatever they did, the Sunnis would never accept them. For these Alawites, the only solution would be a separate Alawite state, or entity, where they could control their destiny and not be under the dreaded Sunni yoke.
Many Alawites, who, quietly, had long opposed Assad’s rule, are again, like Assad’s grandfather in the 1930’s, trying to put forward the idea of creating an independent Alawite state. Every day they can see around them that Middle Eastern culture places a high value on revenge, so that the Sunnis would never forgive them for having been ousted from power 46 years ago. The Alawites would be wise to fear that whatever happens in Syria, the Sunnis will massacre them for having governed Syria and for having killed so many Sunnis during the current war.
The concept of compromise simply does not exist in the Middle East – one either wins or loses. Compromise, because it invariably entails a partial loss, is evidently seen as bringing shame on oneself – to be avoided at all costs. Syria’s Alawite regime therefore probably sees no alternative other than to keep fighting the Sunni-dominated opposition – which itself is succumbing to Turkish, Saudi, and Qatari-inspired Islamic fundamentalist leadership – and to try to ethnically cleanse the Alawite areas of all Sunnis in the hope of retreating to that area with the help of outside allies – be they Iranians, Russians, or other non-Sunni Arabs in the area – and barricading themselves in against the Sunnis.
Consequently, it is hard to imagine any settlement in which Syria remains a centralized and unified state. One could imagine local autonomous regions, where the Alawites could finally control their own destiny. Maybe other groups – such as the non-Arab Kurdish Sunnis in the north – might also have their own entities to throw off the yoke of Arab rule. Whatever the eventual outcome, the Kurds know that their Sunni Arab neighbors, even though they all share the same faith, will never let bygones be bygones. Just as the Muslims in general are relentless in pursuing Israel, they would never accept any solution where they do not eventually take over the entire area.
Therefore, if there is ever to be some sort of peace-like arrangement – albeit temporary – in what is Syria today, there is no way that Syria can remain a centralized state, with new rulers, whoever they might be, who would continue to oppress other Syrians . Of all the ethnic and religious groups in Syria, the Alawites have the most to lose, which they undoubtedly know and which is why they must have control over their own destiny. They would have no alternative other than to remain well-armed; if not, the Sunnis would again take them over and subject them to the slave-like status they had in the past.
Assad, therefore, cannot give in. He and the Alawites – whether they support or oppose Assad – are fighting for their very existence. They only way to end this civil war is to let them have control over their destiny – either as an autonomous region in Syria, or as an independent entity. Whatever happens, they will insist that they remain well-armed. They – like other minorities in the Middle East – will continue to live in eternal fear of the Arab Sunnis. As the concept of overlooking past grievances is alien to the culture of that region, true peace between the Alawites and the Arab Sunnis – or, for that matter, Arab Sunnis and non-Arab Sunnis – is sadly out of the question.