There’s a precedent for Assad using chemical weapons: His father did it.

August 30, 2011
א מַשָּׂא, דַּמָּשֶׂק: הִנֵּה דַמֶּשֶׂק מוּסָר מֵעִיר, וְהָיְתָה מְעִי מַפָּלָה. 1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
Isaiah Chapter 17 יְשַׁעְיָהוּ

Many countries, including the United States and Russia, gradually eliminated their chemical-weapons arsenals, but Syria refused to sign the U.N. Chemical Weapons convention and proceeded to develop an ever larger and deadlier stockpile. The CIA has concluded that Syria possesses a large stockpile of sarin-based warheads and was working on developing VX, a deadlier nerve agent that resists breaking down in the environment.
By early in the last decade, some weapons experts ranked Syria’s chemical stockpile as probably the largest in the world, consisting of tens of tons of highly lethal chemical agents and hundreds of Scud missiles as well as lesser rockets, artillery rockets and bomblets for delivering the poisons. Leonard Spector lays down some other scenarios in which Assad’s chemical weapons could be used. Let’s start with the possibility of civil war. According to researchers at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, open sources indicate that there are at least four, and potentially five, chemical weapons production facilities in Syria. One or two are located near Damascus, the other three situated in Hama, Latakia, and al-Safir village, near the city of Aleppo. Hama is one of the hotbeds of the Syrian revolt, which Assad’s tanks attacked in early August and where, more recently, fighting has severely damaged the city’s hospitals. Latakia is another center of unrest; it was shelled by the Syrian Navy in mid-August. Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city, has also seen significant demonstrations.

If anti-Assad insurgents take up arms, the chemical sites, as symbols of the regime’s authority, could become strategic targets. And, if mass defections occur from the Syrian army, there may be no one left to defend the sites against seizure. This could lead to disastrous outcomes, including confiscation of the chemical weapons by a radical new national government or sale of the weapons as war booty to organized nonstate actors or criminal groups.

In such chaos, no one can predict who might control the weapons or where they might be taken. With these chemical weapons in the hands of those engaged in a possible civil war, the risks that they would be used would increase substantially. The problem would be worsened further if some possessors were not fully aware of the extent of the weapons’ deadly effects.

And let’s imagine that Assad is eventually removed: What leaders would gain control of these weapons after he departed? Saudi-backed Sunni groups? Iranian-backed Shiite organizations? Whoever they might be, it is unclear that the newcomers would follow the Assads’ cautious-use doctrine and refusal to share chemical weapons with nonstate groups, or that the new leaders would be able to maintain strict security measures at the chemical sites.

Meanwhile, it’s possible that an existential threat will cause the Assad regime to abandon its previous policy of restraint regarding chemical weapons. It is not a huge leap from attacking civilians with tank fire, machine guns, and naval artillery to deploying poison gas, and the shock effect and sense of dread engendered by even limited use could quash a citywide uprising within an hour. h/t Carl


Pre-Ramadan warm-up update: Syria kills at least 150 people on Ramadan Eve

July 31, 2011

This does not sound like the multiple party changes that Assad promised. The protesters seem to be fans of Donkeys. Maybe they are cheering for Obama?

(Bloomberg) At least 150 people were killed in Syria yesterday, al Jazeera reported, as soldiers sought to reassert control over a restive nation in one of the deadliest bouts of violence since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began more than four months ago.
The army took action the day before the start of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and prayer. Tanks shelled Hama, Syria’s fourth-largest city, where at least 113 people were killed, the Qatari-based television network said, citing the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria.
The regime “has been very frightened by Ramadan’s onset,” Joshua Landis, a Syria specialist who directs the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, said in a telephone interview.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is deeply concerned by the reports of killings in Syria, his office said in a statement yesterday. The U.S., France, Turkey and the U.K. joined Ban in condemning the violence.


Syrian activist Ibrahim Kashoush throat slashed by security forces in Hama.

July 7, 2011

Syrian troops killed at least 22 people and wounded over 80 in Hama on Wednesday, human rights activists told AFP. Meanwhile, a graphic video posted on YouTube Wednesday claims to show the body of Syrian activist Ibrahim Kashoush after having his throat slashed by security forces in Hama. His body was reportedly found dumped in the Assi River on Wednesday morning.

image via france24.com

(Photo via dalje.co)

image via Crethi Plethi

…all it will take to push Assad out of power is a fake cable saying he was an Israeli proxy or had Jewish blood. When these people are not killing each other they are killing Jews. Thank goodness there are Democratic Republics and their essential element of checks and balances. These are values that made the West great and the Middle East totalitarian leftists. Without the checks and balances of a Democracy Israel and America would be just like Syria. One of the Republican checks are borders. Never forget that borders are not just to keep your murderers out, but are there to reinforce positive Democratic values in your neighbor. It is these internationalists without values of a Republic who end up murdering each other. Syrian totalitarians truly have no limits. Syrian and Arab so called “Democracy” is irredentist.

Kashoush’s song “Yalla Erhal Ya Bashar” (It’s time to leave, Bashar) gained recognition in recent weeks as the spirited anthem for peaceful demonstrators demanding an end to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
He reportedly joined crowds in Hama for massive street demonstrations that took place on Friday, where as many as 500,000 protesters gathered in protest, according to activists who spoke with AFP.
In the video below, Kashoush can be heard screaming the lyrics to a large group of people as they repeat the refrain with vibrant enthusiasm.
“To die but not be humiliated,” he sings in an eerily prophetic, but touching moment toward the end.
“Yalla Erhal Ya Bashar”  — It’s time to leave, Bashar!!
Bashar, you’re a germ, your statements don’t make sense, your news is that of an owl, and its time you leave Bashar!!
It’s time you leave Bashar!!
Bashar, Maher and Rami are thieves, they’ve stolen from my brothers and uncles, Bashar it’s time you leave!!
Bashar, screw you, and screw any who salute you, it’s time you leave Bashar!!
Bashar, stop going in circles, your blood in Hama “mahdour” (killing you as a form of retribution is acceptable), your crimes here have not been forgiven.
It’s time you leave Bashar!!
Bashar, you’re an agent, screw you and the Baath party. It’s time you leave Bashar.
Bashar, you’re a liar, screw you and your speech. Freedom is near. It’s time you leave Bashar!!
Bashar, you’re damned, you believe you have words over us, we will not forgo our martyr’s blood. It’s time you leave Bashar!!
It’s written on our flag: Bashar is a traitor to our nation.
To die but not to be humiliated.
The people want to bring down the regime!!
h/t @AngieNassar via NOWLebanonBlog

Read also this article in Foreign Policy about this song, Fri, July 08, 2011 |
Is this the anthem for the Syrian revolution? | By Robert Zeliger

Crowds have chanted it at rallies throughout the country these past few weeks, and thousands more have listened to it and shared it online. “Yalla Erhal Ya Bashar” (It’s time to leave, Bashar), seems to be the standout song of the Syrian uprising so far. With simple, catchy, sometimes profane lyrics, the song tells the Syrian leader to “screw” himself. “Freedom is near.”
The story of the song’s author — Ibrahim Kashoush — took a sad turn with news that he may have been killed in a protest last Friday in Hama


When Money Talks The Dictator Walks?

July 6, 2011

Hama was the scene of a Muslim Brotherhood uprising against Mr Assad’s father, Hafez, in 1982, which the army crushed, killing at least 10,000 people. They said the Assads couldn’t do another Hama in this day and age. Are we about to see that proposition put to the test?

If the dictator does finally step down, economic turmoil could be a bigger factor than diplomatic condemnation. We’ll see if the army will stick by their President when he starts cutting their salaries.


A roadmap for Syria?

July 1, 2011

Syrian sources have revealed that the US state department is promoting a roadmap for political reforms that would transform Bashar al-Assad’s regime – but leave him in place

come on now… America got what it voted for… Obama
Israelis have a better idea

A Road Map for Syria (in English) viaguardian.co.uk


Syria Murders Hundreds; "Pro-`Arab Spring’" West Yawns or Supports Syrian Regime

May 29, 2011


Got a Public Relations problem with HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES? No problem… Syria Attacks Israel, but…

The situation in Syria is terrible. Hundreds_of_people_have_been_shot; others arrested and tortured. And yet after weeks of demonstrations and repression the West has done nothing. True, the U.S. government has shifted from defending the dictatorship to scolding it mildly. Big deal.  …Assad is likely to survive both because of his own ruthlessness and the West’s shameful behavior. Warsaw, 1944; Budapest, 1956; Prague, 1967; meet Damascus, 2011. more via rubinreports.blogspot.com


Syria is better without Assad believes Israeli General

May 23, 2011

Retired General Amos Yadlin (former head of Israel’s military intelligence and one of the pilots who destroyed the Iraqi reactor) and Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute wrote recently about the Devil we don’t know:

The straw man of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood: In a post-Asad world, the ruler of Syria — “the devil we don’t know” — is likely to be Sunni and, in comparison to Asad, more secular and politically moderate. Whatever his political inclinations, chances are unlikely that a Sunni leader would maintain Asad’s close ties with Shiite Iran and Hizballah. Still, even if one assumes, for argument’s sake, that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood would dominate a new regime, such a government would still likely be less problematic than Asad’s. The Brotherhood is a relatively weak movement in Syria — many of its members have been killed or locked away in Asad’s prisons, and the remainder is abroad. Furthermore, Syria has a secular majority, and a Muslim Brotherhood government would be constrained by that reality. Even in a worse-case scenario of a powerful and effective Sunni fundamentalist regime in Damascus, one should not forget the influence of a strong deterrent, such as Israel has displayed since 2006 toward Hizballah, itself a well-armed, radical Islamist movement.

That is one of four arguments they marshal in favor of not fearing regime change in Syria. I don’t know if Gen. Yadlin’s view represents the Israeli government’s, but I think it suggests that, contrary to Friedman, there probably is a contingent currently in power in Israel who agrees with this analysis. via daledamos.blogspot.com