Sunday, June 30, 2013

FSA becoming more irrelevant

"... The congress has been briefed by the CIA of an overall weakening of the Free Syrian Army's forces due to defection to the Islamist front as well as desertions.Obama himself remains keenly aware of these factors and, as related to us by NSC contacts, will act as a constraining force against those members of the Administration and Congress who favor a more activist approach..."

NYTimes: 'Qatar still prividing weapons to al Qaeda in Syria!'

"...But Charles Lister, an analyst with the IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in London who follows the Syria opposition groups, said that there was evidence in recent weeks that Qatar had increased its backing of hard-line Islamic militant groups active in northern Syria..."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

US Intel: '30% of Syrian 'rebels' are of the extremist kind'

"...  On more substantive matters, few details are available of whether and in what quantities US arms are flowing to the opposition. As the CIA disposes of prepositioned stocks in Jordan and Turkey, intelligence analysts continue to warn of extremist infiltration into the opposition ranks. Some estimates run as high as 30%, with a high proportion being fighters from outside Syria, including Western Europe. The congress has been briefed by the CIA of an overall weakening of the Free Syrian Army's forces due to defection to the Islamist front as well as desertions. Obama himself remains keenly aware of these factors and, as related to us by NSC contacts, will act as a constraining force against those members of the Administration and Congress who favor a more activist approach.  On Iran, commentators are making the case for some form of outreach to the new Iranian president. These ideas have some currency among specialist NSC and State Department analysts, but our assessment is that the political dynamics will make it very difficult for the White House to soften its demands significantly – even if it wanted to. Whether the Administration will bring much creative energy to foreign policy in the remainder of Obama’s term is an open question. Leading research institutions likeCSIS are offering detailed alternatives to present anti-terrorist thinking. With Obama focused on his domestic legacy, it appears doubtful whether these ideas will make much progress."

Iraq violence leaves hundreds dead

"... The attacks are the latest in spiralling violence that has left more than 420 dead this month and sparked fears of renewed sectarian war...."

McClatchy: 'On weapons to Syrian insurgents, Britain & France were bluffing'

"... Despite the end of the European Union’s embargo on supplying weapons to the rebels, which expired May 30, experts see little will or appetite among European nations for adding more weapons to the bloody Syrian civil war. Not even the British, who were pressing just weeks ago for arming the rebels, are likely to do so.... Experts think Britain and France were motivated by the hope that the threat of sending weapons would pressure Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime to slow its attacks on the rebels and would dissuade Russia and Iran from continuing to arm the regime. But there’s no belief that France or Britain will provide the arms. ..."

McClatchy: 'On weapons to Syrian insurgents, Britain & France were bluffing'

"... Despite the end of the European Union’s embargo on supplying weapons to the rebels, which expired May 30, experts see little will or appetite among European nations for adding more weapons to the bloody Syrian civil war. Not even the British, who were pressing just weeks ago for arming the rebels, are likely to do so.... Experts think Britain and France were motivated by the hope that the threat of sending weapons would pressure Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime to slow its attacks on the rebels and would dissuade Russia and Iran from continuing to arm the regime. But there’s no belief that France or Britain will provide the arms. ..."

Screw Democracy: Israel's Jewishness Uber Ales!

Reminder: Democracy in Israel? 'Never been there; Never done that!'
"... The dark forces rely on the fatigue of the Zionist material in order to internationalize Israel and declare it a state of all its citizens. They are taking advantage of the fact that over the years the fashion here has changed, and democracy has been emphasized at the expense of Judaism. ..."

Friday, June 28, 2013


  • One option would be for the West to decisively tip the military balance. This, it almost certainly can do – albeit only by a far more massive intervention than is presently contemplated or, arguably, politically palatable. Even then, it is not clear whether the regime would be “defeated”, or merely reincarnated in a series of militias, and even less clear whether the war would be ended or only redefined. Iran, Hizbollah, perhaps even Russia would keep influence, fuel instability and ensure a chaotic transition (Tehran and the Shiite movement have elsewhere proved to be masters at this game), and the regional/sectarian Cold War would endure.
  • An arguably most expedient way to tamp down violence would be to starve the rebels of resources, acquiesce in de facto regime victory and seek an accommodation with Bashar. The moral, political and strategic costs would be huge, perhaps prohibitive, and it might well not end the tragedy: enraged Syrians likely would not surrender; an emboldened regime might seek revenge; and Damascus almost certainly would refrain from the domestic or foreign policy concessions necessary for its external enemies to save face.
  • The optimal solution – a negotiated, diplomatic one – at this stage belongs pretty much to the world of make-believe. Outside powers – beginning with Russia and the U.S. – would have to fundamentally shift their endgame approach. For Moscow, this means accepting, then pushing for a major transformation of the Syrian power structure; for Washington, it entails moving from implicit regime change to explicit power sharing. Any viable negotiated political outcome would have to empower and reassure Syria’s various constituencies. Regional actors, who will support a compromise only if they believe the new political framework gives them sufficient leverage to preserve their core interests, would need guarantees. The West’s apparent determination to exclude Iran from a peace conference (perhaps under review in the wake of that country’s presidential elections) is short-sighted: keeping Tehran from Geneva will not lessen its role in Damascus.

ICG: "Syria’s Metastasising Conflicts"

"... Stakes have risen for the U.S. and Israel as well. For Washington, acquiescing in the regime’s success arguably has acquired graver significance than living with a weakened regime ruling a rogue state and broken society. It is likened by some to empowering an increasingly integrated, Iranian-led axis of resistance, while handing Moscow a victory in a Cold War replay. The fusion of Iranian, Hizbollah and Syrian military assets could alter Israel’s cautious posture, making determination of what weapons system has been transferred to whom highly uncertain and thus a decision to use force more probable...."

'Civil War' in Egypt?

' I think it is just a matter of time until civil war develops in Egypt.  This would be a situation reversed from that in Syria.  In this case the Islamists of various "stripes" who run the government (or run with it) would be opposed by all others.  The part that would be played by the army in that situation would be critical.  Would Mursi's hand picked army commander succeed in holding together enough of the force to put down a rebellion?  Would the force splinter as it has in Syria producing a Free Egyptian Army as the center-piece of the revolt?
time will tell.'  pl 

"Sunnis across the country were up in arms. Shia across the country were up in arms"

"...he accused Hezbollah and Amal, another Shia-dominated party, of selling a toy machine-gun in Dahyeh, Beirut's southern suburbs, which called for the attacking of the prophet's wife, Aysha.
He said he would "haunt the nights" of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Amal leader Nabih Berri, and that of their families, unless the offending toys were removed....
Investigations into the alleged toys revealed the such toys did NOT actually exist, and the gun he was referring to actually says, in English, "pull over and save the hostages".

'Fundraising for sectarian agitation: Saudia, Qatar and minions!' 

But the results of the investigations went unnoticed by many across the country, already riled by Assir's statements, and also by most of the media, who were waiting for the next Assir moment.....
The evolution of Assir's rhetoric came to a head during Sidon's battles, when he made a video appeal calling for reinforcement, saying they were being "attacked by the Lebanese army which is sectarian and Iranian". He also called on "Sunnis and non-Sunnis to leave the army immediately".

There is much speculation about the source of Assir's funding. In his interview with Al Jazeera he was adamant that all his benefactors were local.
 "Unlike others, I don't receive money or funds from abroad," he said, adding that he owned local businesses which also contributed to his funding.
 Yet three separate sources have told Al Jazeera that Assir received monies from some of the Gulf states, which he has visited repeatedly in the past 12 months....."

Romancing the terrorists: Now they are known as "War Veterans"

"... Syria war veterans face label of terror. DOZENS of Australians fighting with the radical al-Nusra Front in Syria's bloody civil war could be labelled terrorists on their return home after the federal government declared the al-Qa'ida offshoot to be a terrorist organisation..."

'Syria won’t be Iran’s quagmire!'

"... For starters, the argument presumes that the Syrian conflict is bogging down the Iranians, sapping their strength and distracting them from more vital interests. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that as Tehran has been riding to the rescue of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, it has made disturbing inroads elsewhere, including Yemen and Iraq.That’s because the instability the Syrian conflict is fueling across the Middle East is largely good for Iran: Sectarian polarization is driving anxious Shiite populations closer to Tehran, while refugee flows are weakening key U.S. allies such as Jordan and Turkey.Iran, meanwhile, is suffering no meaningful blow-back for its deadly interference in Syria. On the contrary, protracted bloodshed there fosters regional conditions in which Iranian power is likely to thrive.Involvement in Syria also hasn’t done — and won’t do — anything to set back Iran’s strategic trump card: its nuclear program. In the two years since the uprising against Assad began, Tehran has made steady progress toward weapons capability.It has expanded its stockpile of enriched uranium, installed next-generation centrifuges and moved forward with a heavy-water reactor that will provide an alternative path to a bomb.Nor does Iran’s aid to Assad seem likely to exhaust the Islamic Republic. Although surely an unwelcome burden at a time when the regime is battling economic sanctions, Tehran’s approach to the conflict has not been an Iraq-style commitment of hundreds of thousands of ground troops. Rather, it’s pursuing a “light footprint” more akin to the Obama administration’s preferred approach to the war against terrorism by relying on a small number of its version of special-operations forces, the Quds Force, who are bolstering local proxies....
What might an analogous outcome for Syria look like? We’ve had a preview of that future over the past month, as a surge of support from Iran and Hezbollah enabled Assad to make significant battlefield gains against the rebels.The Iraq war was devastating for the United States largely because, until the 2007 surge, we were losing. No one in the Middle East watching the recent developments in Syria would say that of Iran.The Obama administration has reportedly decided to send light weapons and ammunition to the opposition. But even if this starts to reverse the momentum of Assad and the Iranians — an optimistic assumption — a return to a bloody stalemate is still a win for Tehran.That’s because Assad doesn’t need to reconquer all of Syria for the Iranians to emerge successful. Every day that Assad stays in power thanks to Iranian help, Tehran shows that it can prevent the Obama administration from achieving its stated goal — Assad’s ouster — and that Iran, not the United States, is the relevant power in the region.And the longer the fighting drags on, the more radicalized Syrian society becomes and the deeper the Iranians can entrench themselves.This suggests a final flaw in likening the U.S. experience in Iraq to Iran’s intervention in Syria. After turning the corner in Iraq, the United States under the Obama administration walked away. You can bet that in Syria, Iran’s leaders won’t make the same mistake..."

"Had it ever been explained to the American people?"

"...Brzezinski: I can’t engage either in psychoanalysis or any kind of historical revisionism. He obviously has a difficult problem on his hands, and there is a mysterious aspect to all of this. Just consider the timing. In late 2011 there are outbreaks in Syria produced by a drought and abetted by two well-known autocracies in the Middle East: Qatar and Saudi Arabia. He all of a sudden announces that Assad has to go—without, apparently, any real preparation for making that happen. Then in the spring of 2012, the election year here, the CIA under General Petraeus, according to The New York Times of March 24th of this year, a very revealing article, mounts a large-scale effort to assist the Qataris and the Saudis and link them somehow with the Turks in that effort. Was this a strategic position? Why did we all of a sudden decide that Syria had to be destabilized and its government overthrown? Had it ever been explained to the American people? Then in the latter part of 2012, especially after the elections, the tide of conflict turns somewhat against the rebels. And it becomes clear that not all of those rebels are all that “democratic.” And so the whole policy begins to be reconsidered. I think these things need to be clarified so that one can have a more insightful understanding of what exactly U.S. policy was aiming at. ..."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"On Al Arabiya & Al Jazeera, sometimes they show us firing when there was nothing to shoot at”

"... Everybody seemed to accept that the Syrian army is back for good. The soldiers in checkpoints were not wearing helmets and often not carrying their weapons, as if they did not expect anybody to attack them. Khalid al-Eid said there had been 300-400 FSA in Tal Kalakh before the army’s return but they must have melted back into the local population under an unofficial amnesty or have gone to Lebanon. Soldiers or guerrillas who have switched sides are often an unreliable source of information about their former colleagues because they denigrate them in a bid to impress their new masters. But Khalid al-Eid did say that his men were “paid between $100 and 300 a month and we got an extra $1,000 if we carried out an operation”. He described how he would make Youtube films – “sometimes they show us firing when there was nothing to shoot at” – which would later be shown on al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera satellite television..."

'Back to the fold!'

"... Once a rebel stronghold, the town of Tal Kalakh on the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon changed sides at the week-end and is now controlled by the Syrian army. The switch in allegiance is the latest advance by government forces into areas where they have had little or no authority since the start of the revolt in Syria two years ago.The government is triumphant at the surrender of 39 local leaders of the rebel Free Syrian Army with their weapons, which were ceremoniously stacked against the outside wall of the town’s military headquarters. The exact terms of the deal are mysterious, but there is no doubt that the regular Syrian army now holds all parts of Tal Kalakh, which had a pre-war population of 55,000 and is an important smuggling route for arms and ammunition from Lebanon a couple of miles to the south. Syrian army commanders claimed the reason the rebels had given up in the town so easily was because of their defeat in the battle for the similarly strategically important town of Qusayr, 20 miles away, earlier in June. ..."

Qatar & Saudi Arabia are fully supporting Lebanon's disintegration!'

'Shortly after beating back Salafi Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir’s attempt to ignite a sectarian war in the southern Lebanese city of Saida, a chorus of his backers from the West, the Gulf, and March 14, rose up to call on the armed forces to turn their attention to Hezbollah, a group they consider armed and dangerous.But do these forces really want to know what led to the bloody explosion in Saida? The army investigation will likely show that Assir’s attacks on the military’s checkpoints were planned in advance, the goal of which was to take their positions that overlook the adjacent Shia neighborhood of Haret Saida.
The blood of Lebanon’s fallen soldiers is on the hands of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in addition to those who knew what Assir was planning and remained quiet.
Although Assir miscalculated the army’s response, the overall plan sought to put his militia face-to-face with Hezbollah, after which his Future Party and al-Jamaa al-Islamiya (Lebanon’s Muslim Brotherhood) allies would step in and reap what they believed would be a major political victory over the Resistance.As for some of the other forces behind Assir, like the Saudis and Qataris, they had high hopes that he would succeed in implementing his plan, despite the fact that the radical sheikh has his own way of doing things, which may explain why he would commit what appeared to many as a suicidal act by attacking and killing Lebanese army officers and soldiers in such large numbers.
Take, for example, some of the statements issued by the Saudi government regarding the events in Saida, which expressed “grave concern” and called on “all sides to end the fighting and prevent further escalation.”
At first glance, one would think that such a statement was written by the Future Movement. It responded to Assir’s attacks by calling for a ceasefire, as if the conflict were between two armed groups. The Saudis did not even bother to include a single sentence denouncing the murder of Lebanese military personnel.
In fact, Assir was part of a more comprehensive plan that had gone through several dress rehearsals over the past year. However, the stream of bad news from Syria – where the regime was making headway on several fronts – prompted them to act prematurely.
The blood of Lebanon’s fallen soldiers is on the hands of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in addition to those who knew what Assir was planning and remained quiet. It is for this reason that they and their Lebanese allies are doing all they can to place the blame for the whole calamity at Hezbollah’s doorstep.'

Lebanese Army jouns forces with Hezbollah in crushing al Qaeda's amalgam of forces in Lebanon

"... Fighters from the militant Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah joined forces with commandos from the Lebanese army Monday to battle followers of an extremist Sunni Muslim cleric ...Hezbollah fighters said that in addition to Lebanese supporters of Sheikh Ahmad al Assir, who’s a staunch opponent of Hezbollah and the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, they’d battled radical Islamists from a nearby Palestinian refugee camp and suspected rebels from neighboring Syria..
Such open cooperation between the army and Hezbollah seemed likely to inflame Sunni partisans in Lebanon, where the army is seen as a neutral arbiter among the country’s religious sects. But after sustaining heavy casualties on the first day of the fighting, the army may have had little choice but to accept a massive influx of Hezbollah’s highly trained and well-equipped fighters...."

Family emergency/ light posting

Saudi illetrate rulers redefining 'genocide'!

Al Jazeera English
"... Saudi Arabia has accused the Syrian government of waging "genocide" against (armed) rebels and criticised Iran and Hezbollah for backing and arming the regime..."

Al Qaida-linked Nusra Front rebels blamed killing Lebanese soldiers

"... The worst fighting in Lebanon in years, which wracked this coastal city one hour south of Beirut this week, was touched off by an influx of foreign fighters from Syria, Palestinian camps and other Arab countries into the compound of a radical Sunni cleric, according to knowledgeable people on both sides of the conflict.The foreign fighters included members of Jabhat al Nusra, a Syrian rebel group also known as the Nusra Front, which is affiliated with al Qaida, according to the accounts, including that of a Lebanese military official. Nusra is considered the most effective rebel group fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, and its presence inside Lebanon, if confirmed, would provide evidence not just that the Syrian conflict has spread, but that Nusra fighters have extended their influence outside Syria and Iraq...
 At least 60 Syrian guys from Jabhat al Nusra had joined with Assir in the last few weeks,” said the worker, a well-known aid official who identifies himself as Abu Hussein, a nickname that means father of Hussein.Abu Hussein said Assir also had received support from “at least 30 Palestinians” affiliated with Jund al Sham, a terrorist organization whose name has been shared by a variety of al Qaida-linked groups and that is influential in the Ein al Hilweh camp, as well as what he called “jihadis from other Arab countries that had been fighting in Syria.”..."

Read more here:

Monday, June 24, 2013

'The Sins of the Sons Against their Fathers ...'

Whomever assisted Big Hamad in his coup against his father, is assisting in Big Hamad's removal today!
Al Jazeera English
".. Trusted sources have confirmed to Al Jazeera that the Qatari emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, is due to meet members of the ruling family and prominent members of the Qatari society on Monday..."

Salafist-Jihadist clown-cleric al Assir hiding in the embassy of Qatar!

As we said: When Syria prevails, things will flare up in Lebanon

In Saida:
"... The Lebanese army closed in on Monday on the complex of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir's mosque in the southern city of Sidon in an attempt to arrest him for attacking the military and leaving 12 soldiers dead....
State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr issued search and investigation warrants against al-Asir and 123 others including his brother and Salafist-turned singer Fadel Shaker.
Earlier, al-Asir appealed to his supporters through his Twitter account in other parts of Lebanon to rise to his help, threatening to widen the scale of clashes....
Meanwhile, the fighting in Taamir near the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh, which had subsided early Monday, intensified after militants from different nationalities belonging to Jund al-Sham and Fatah al-Islam clashed with the army to ease the pressure on al-Asir's gunmen.
The fighting also reached the city's markets after masked gunmen began appearing there. But the army clamped down on them, preventing the clashes from spiraling out of control...."

In Tripoli:
"...Gunmen have been roaming the streets of the northern city of Tripoli on Monday morning in a show of support to Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir, reported the National News Agency.
The gunmen on motorcycles have been firing gunshots into the air in order to intimidate the people and force them to close their stores. ..."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"When we are afraid of an Iran that exhibits moderation & might actually accept a workable nuclear deal, there is something seriously wrong!"

"... The cheers of joy heard in the streets of Tehran celebrating Hassan Rowhani’s victory in the Islamic Republic’s presidential elections died off by the time they reached Jerusalem. Israelis and pro-Israel activists in the United States watched with more than a grain of concern the election of a leader hailed by the West as moderate and as a reformer.
For Israel and many of its American supporters, highlighting the new president’s moderation and his willingness to engage with the United States could spell trouble for a hard-line approach toward Iran’s nuclear program.
At risk for the pro-Israel community is more than a renewed willingness in Washington and European capitals to give negotiations with Tehran — which have so far led to no results — yet another chance. Supporters of Israel also fear the loss of the strong sentiment opposing the Iran’s regime that was shared by many in the West, ...
Rowhani, a soft-spoken cleric who was educated in Scotland and is fluent in English, offers an opposite image, one that some in the pro-Israel community worry could deceive America and its allies.
“It is a problem for the pro-Israel community, because very soon we will be told, ‘We have to help the moderate,’ and that cannot be good for Israel,” said Shoshana Bryen, senior director of the Jewish Policy Center, a Washington think tank affiliated with the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Bryen argued that Rowhani is by no account a moderate, adding, “It was easier with a guy like Ahmadinejad, who stood there, shouting, ‘There is no Holocaust.’”..., ..., ...,
Countering the new president’s moderate image could be an uphill battle for Israel and for those who support Jerusalem’s line in the United States. Amid the initial flush of hope, they sought to remind the public and policymakers that Rowhani comes from the inner circle of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and that as nuclear negotiator between 2003-2005 he did not show any willingness to compromise....
Still, his image as a reformer who could be more receptive to the calls of the Iranian masses poses another problem for Israel’s public diplomacy effort against Iran....”

David Hale going back to Lebanon as US ambassador

"... President Barack Obama Friday nominated his special envoy for Middle East peace, David Hale, as the next US ambassador to Lebanon, as part of a shake-up of the administration's regional team, the AFP news agency reported.
Hale took over the Middle East post after veteran peacemaker George Mitchell left in May 2011, disheartened by a lack of progress in the peace talks..."

Libya’s Ansar al Shariah, expelled after Ambassador Chris Stevens’ death, is back in Benghazi

"...Three days after the popular ambassador’s death, hundreds of outraged Libyans stormed Ansar al Shariah’s headquarters, routing everyone inside and setting the building ablaze. Members of Ansar al Shariah disappeared, “like sugar in water,” as one Libyan explained....... That was then. Nine months later, Ansar al Shariah is back on the streets of Benghazi...."

Hezbollah, Hamas & MB freed Morsi from jail!

Al Jazeera English
"... An Egyptian court has said that the Muslim Brotherhood conspired with Hamas and Hezbollah to storm a prison in 2011 and set free 34 high-level Brotherhood members, including current President Mohamed Morsi... More than 11,000 inmates escaped during the operation.... Mahgoub said Hamas fighters crossed the Gaza border on January 25, 2011, while Hezbollah fighters crossed into Egypt on January 28. The prison break took place a day later.  "

Lang on Kerry: "'Kerry can best be described as a primitive in foreign policy "

 "...  “That is a very, very dangerous development,” Kerry said. “Hezbollah is a proxy  for Iran. … Hezbollah in addition to that is a terrorist organization.”  Politico
'Kerry can best be described as a primitive in foreign policy thinking.Iran is a dangerous "enemy" of the United States because the US government acting under the "guidance" of AIPAC and WINEP says it is.Hizbullah is a "terrorist organization" because we and the same crew say it is.  If Hizbullah is merely a terrorist organization than it is sad to recall how badly the IDF did against them in 2006 and how well they are fighting in Syria against the salafists rebels in Syria. BTW, that is a Hizbullah soldier in the picture.'  pl

Lebanese Army suffers losses in attack by Salafis

 'Assir in full prayer regalia'
"ABRA, Lebanon: Security sources said Sunday at least four Lebanese soldiers were killed in south Lebanon during clashes with armed supporters of Sidon preacher Ahmad Assir."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A New Dawn: "Unlike in Afghanistan & Iraq, the US & al Qaeda fighters are on the same side in this war!"

"... Although the United States and the Sunni jihadists share a common enemy — the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite sect represents an off-shoot of Shiite Islam ...  
“Before, we would have to sneak fighters out of the country,” said Mohammed Hassan Hamed, a spokesman for Gamaa Islamiya, a radical Islamist group that waged an insurgency against the Egyptian government before officially renouncing violence in 2003. “But now it’s more comfortable for fighters to go to Syria. If they live through the war and come back, they know they are not going to be prosecuted.”... But to many secular Egyptians, it is terrifying. “They’re going to get weapons and training, and one day they could come back to fight us,” said Khaled Salah, editor in chief of the secular-minded Youm7 newspaper....
That, Hassan hastened to add, “is not a reason for Americans to be afraid.” Unlike in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said, the United States and the jihadi fighters are on the same side in this war...."

Oh this is gonna bite: 'Libyan weapons branch out mostly to al Qaeda types in Syria'

Paid for by Qatar, KSA and GB, France and yes (say it!), the USA!
"... As the United States and its Western allies move toward providing lethal aid to Syrian rebels, these secretive transfers give insight into an unregistered arms pipeline that is difficult to monitor or control. And while the system appears to succeed in moving arms across multiple borders and to select rebel groups, once inside Syria the flow branches out. Extremist fighters, some of them aligned with Al Qaeda, have the money to buy the newly arrived stock, and many rebels are willing to sell...
 Those weapons, which slipped from state custody as Colonel Qaddafi’s people rose against him in 2011, are sent on ships or Qatar Emiri Air Force flights to a network of intelligence agencies and Syrian opposition leaders in Turkey. Qatari C-17 cargo aircraft have made at least three stops in Libya this year — including flights from Mitiga airport in Tripoli on Jan. 15 and Feb. 1, and another that departed Benghazi on April 16, according to flight data provided by an aviation official in the region. The planes returned to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. The cargo was then flown to Ankara, Turkey, along with other weapons and equipment that the Qataris had been gathering for the rebels, officials and rebels said..... the United States could soon be openly feeding the same distribution network, just as it has received weapons from other sources.The movements from Libya complement the airlift that has variously used Saudi, Jordanian and Qatari military cargo planes to funnel military equipment and weapons, including from Croatia, to the outgunned rebels. On Friday, Syrian opposition officials said the rebels had received a new shipment of anti-tank weapons and other arms, although they give varying accounts of the sources of the recently received arms. The Central Intelligence Agency has already played at least a supporting role, the officials say.
The Libyan shipments principally appear to be the work of armed groups there, and not of the weak central state, officials said.
One former senior Obama administration familiar with the transfers said the Qatari government built relationships with Libyan militias in 2011, when, according to the report of a United Nations Panel of Experts, it shipped in weapons to rebel forces there in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973...most of the weapons have been relatively light, ...But the Libyan influx appears to account for at least a portion of the antitank weapons seen in the conflict this spring, including Belgian-made projectiles for M40 recoilless rifles and some of the Russian-made Konkurs-M guided missiles that have been destroying Syrian tanks in recent months....“Any fighting group in Syria that wants weapons from Libya will go to the staff asking for the approval from the Turkish authorities involved in the transfer, then gets it, the weapons arrive in Syria, and everyone gets his due share,” he said....

Thos. Friedman's version of a 'stable Syria' : Divided with a sprinkle of inter-Sunni slaughter!

... and this is a favourite of the chiken-hawk' liberals 
"... The Sunni zone, though, would almost certainly be embroiled in a power struggle between secular Sunnis, whom we’d support, and various Islamist Sunnis, financed by mosques, charities and governments in the Arab gulf. While partition might actually be the most stable and humanitarian long-term option..."

Coming up next ...

"... "Rebel control over large sections of the region of Aleppo provides it with a strategic rear and interior lines of communication from southern Turkey. The disruption of rebel held areas of the northern Aleppo governorate, particularly its logistics route north-to-south from the Turkish border through the contested areas around Nubul and al-Zahraa’ to the front-lines of Aleppo, would be a significant blow to the armed opposition..."

Syria: "Kerry is advocating air strikes, but the military commanders strongly resisting"

'The aftermath of the White House’s announcement that the US would start arming the Syrian oppositioncontinues to reverberate around Washington. Despite the intense subsequent discussion of the decision by Administration officials in the run-up to the G-8 summit, most especially by President Obama in his meeting with Russian President Putin, many commentators remain puzzled about the strength of the government’s commitment and about what its ultimate objectives are. There are reports that Secretary of State Kerry is advocating air strikes, but our sources at the Pentagon tell us that US military commanders are strongly resisting this course. With Obama due to visit Africa next week, it will be difficult to bridge these divisions. Kerry will be in the Middle East next week, with regard to both the Middle East peace process and Afghanistan. On the former, there is zero optimism in Washington that the moment is anywhere near auspicious on either the Israeli or the Palestinian side to resume talks. With regard to the latter, the intended talks with the Taliban in Doha have got off to an uncertain start, with both the Afghan government and the Taliban raising awkward pre-conditions for attending. Invidious comparisons are already being whispered to us by our Administration contacts to the Paris peace talks that ended the Vietnam War. The election of Hassan Rowhani as the new president of Iran came as a surprise in Washington. After a carefully worded State Department response to the result, there has been some optimistic analysis that this represents an opportunity for an improvement in US relations with Tehran. The louder voices, however, have reflected the entrenched suspicion that has for decades bedeviled relations between the two countries. With hostility to Iran increasing on the back of Hezbollah’s successful engagement with the Syrian regime – widely assumed in Washington on Tehran’s orders – prospects for a breakthrough with Tehran are dim....'

Friday, June 21, 2013

Le Figaro: 'Big Hamad & Small Hamad speedtracking their exit from power!'

'Moza, Tamim & Little Hamad'
... or is it, all in all,  just Little Hamad who is (according to the Figaro) "arrogant & unscrupulous"... Furthermore, Le Figaro compares HBJ's relations with Moza & Big Hamad's 'Mini-me' to the 'night of the long knives' ? 
"L'émir du Qatar l'avait confié l'an dernier à l'un de ses amis français: «Je m'en vais dans quatre ans (en 2016, NDLR), il faut laisser la place aux jeunes.» Sous entendu au prince héritier Tamim, 32 ans, que son père prépare depuis plusieurs années en lui confiant les dossiers stratégiques du sport et de la sécurité. Mais pour des raisons à la fois personnelles et politiques, la succession à Doha s'est accélérée. La passation des pouvoirs serait désormais imminente - on parle d'avant le ramadan qui commence le 9 juillet, voire même de la semaine prochaine.
Deux scénarios sont envisagés. Le premier vise au départ concomitant de l'émir et de son fidèle premier ministre, son cousin Hamad Ben Jassem (HBJ), qui est aussi le chef de la diplomatie du Qatar depuis vingt et un ans. Le second ne concernerait dans un premier temps que HBJ qui serait remplacé à la tête du gouvernement par Tamim,....... Une chose paraît certaine: HBJ sera évincé. C'est une minirévolution au Qatar, mais également au-delà, tant son influence dépasse les frontières de l'émirat. Depuis plus de vingt ans, HBJ orchestre la très active diplomatie du Qatar, tout en étant l'un des plus puissants investisseurs de l'émirat à l'étranger. «Il dispose de tous les contacts internationaux et il connaît la plupart des secrets des deals industriels passés entre le Qatar et l'étranger», rappelle un entrepreneur français, qui le connaît depuis trente ans. Mais son arrogance vis-à-vis de ses pairs arabes et son absence de scrupules dans les affaires lui ont valu de solides inimitiés tant au sein de la famille régnante que chez ses interlocuteurs à l'étranger.

Même si Tamim et sa mère, Cheikha Moza, la très influente seconde épouse de l'émir, étaient à couteaux tirés avec lui, l'émir doit assurer à HBJ une sortie honorable, en le maintenant par exemple à la tête du fonds souverain, le bras armé du Qatar pour ses investissements à l'étranger.....  Les risques pris par le Qatar en Libye et en Syrie depuis deux ans auraient également pesé. «Ils sont conscients qu'ils doivent réduire leur niveau d'interventionnisme à l'étranger», observe cet ami de la famille régnante. ......  le Qatar a pris le risque de se lancer à partir de la guerre en Libye dans une diplomatie de combat, n'hésitant pas à livrer 18.000 tonnes d'armes aux rebelles anti-Khadafi puis maintenant aux insurgés islamistes syriens. Cette surexposition lui cause du tort chez ses ennemis en Syrie et en Iran, mais aussi chez ses nouveaux amis en Tunisie, en Libye et en Égypte.
«Quand on joue dans la cour des grands on se prend des claques de grand», faisaient valoir jusqu'à maintenant des proches de l'émir. Conscient des risques que cette posture guerrière fait courir à son minuscule pays, le prince héritier Tamim serait partisan de «calmer le jeu», pour s'éviter le moindre soufflet une fois au pouvoir à Doha. Un signe de prudence élémentaire."

WaPo: "Unverifiable claims: You’d be an idiot if you didn’t approach this thing with a bit of caution.”

[WaPo] "UNITED NATIONS — Despite months of laboratory testing and scrutiny by top U.S. scientists, the Obama administration’s case for arming Syria’s rebels rests on unverifiable claims that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its own people, according to diplomats and experts....
The technical data presented by the three Western powers is of limited value to U.N. inspectors trying to determine whether
Syria’s combatants used chemical weapons during the country’s 25-month-old conflict. Under the United Nations’ terms of reference, only evidence personally collected by its inspectors can be used to fashion a final judgment.
But no inspectors have been allowed inside Syria, so Western governments have relied on physical evidence smuggled out of the country by rebels or intelligence operatives. Precisely who acquired the evidence and what methods were used to guard against tampering may be unknowable, according to experts experienced at investigating chemical weapons claims.
“You can try your best to control the analysis, but analysis at a distance is always uncertain,” said David Kay, a former U.N. weapons inspector who led the U.S. search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after the 2003 invasion. “You’d be an idiot if you didn’t approach this thing with a bit of caution.”..., ..., ....
U.S. officials staunchly defend what they describe as an extensive, rigorous and multilayered analysis that led to the White House’s June 13 pronouncement on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The conclusion that Assad’s forces used sarin was based on scientific assessments ...
Having been famously burned by the 2003 intelligence failure over Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, U.S. analysts now approach all such claims with exceptional care, said a third administration official familiar with intelligence analysis...."

Spain detains 8 al-Qaida suspects for sending fighters to Syria

"... The network sent dozens of people, including minors, from the enclave and other parts of Morocco, the ministry said, adding that some of the recruits had taken part in suicide attacks and others had joined training camps.The network, based in Ceuta and the Moroccan town of Fnideq, was responsible for recruitment, indoctrination and travel financing, the statement said..."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

AP: 'Gulf countries still sending weapons to Syria's al Qaeda'

"... The new shipment earlier this month— said to be only the second sent by Gulf countries since November, and the first ever known to include some anti-aircraft missiles — caused a stir among rebels who say it went to one of the extreme Islamist groups, Ahrar al-Sham. The group is the strongest member of the Syrian Islamist Front, made up of 11 Islamist factions, which appears to be increasingly posing as a parallel to the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, a loose umbrella group of rebel fighters..."

BREAKING: Stop the Presses: Just In: Immediate Release!

" ... Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel warned Thursday that  "Lebanon is in danger and in a very difficult situation,” ... he also slammed any attempt to target President Michel Sleiman....  he said “The president of the republic is not a scapegoat" 

Kurdish clashes with Syrian al Qaeda, more frequent & more deadly!

(Reuters) - ... Ifrin was thrust deeper into the conflict when Assad's forces reinforced Zahra and Nubbul, two Shi'ite villages situated between Ifrin and the divided city of Aleppo, as part of an apparent attempt to capture the rural north, a supply line to Aleppo and to various rebel-held areas in the interior....
"They accuse the PKK of delivering supplies to Nubbul and Zahra when they themselves let trucks go there if they pay them at the roadblocks," he said.
Rebel sources said the overnight clashes began when PKK gunmen attacked a roadblock held by an offshoot of the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front near Jindaris, a Kurdish town southwest of Ifrin city ..."

BTW, have you seen this guy recently?

"Obama doesn't want Assad to collapse too soon"

"...Obama doesn't want the rebels to overrun Damascus if the jihadists are the strongest faction. As he said in his interview broadcast Monday with PBS' Charlie Rose, "One of the challenges that we have is that some of the most effective fighters within the opposition have been those who frankly are not particularly [friendly] towards the United States." To counter the jihadists' influence, Obama has been trying to build up Idriss, so far with limited success.The public rationale for Obama's decision to arm the rebels was Assad's use of chemical weapons. But the basic evidence to support this charge had been available for weeks. The real trigger was a new uptick in the Sunni-Shiite regional war that is driving the Syrian conflict......
Obama's announcement that the U.S. would arm the rebels was an attempt to draw the Saudis and Qataris back in the fold. A new meeting of the "Friends of Syria" is likely soon, where the U.S. hopes for a renewed public commitment by all the Arabs to channel aid through Idriss, rather than the extremists....
It's telling that even after last week's announcement of military aid to the rebels, U.S. officials were still studying the fine print of the June 2012 Geneva agreement with Russia, China and other leading nations for a Syrian-led transition. This document calls for a "neutral environment in which the transition can take place," which U.S. officials see as code for the Assad clan's departure.
The Obama policy on Syria isn't quite as feckless as it may look. But it has the fundamental flaw of past covert-action programs, which is that the U.S. is seeking a decisive political change through proxy forces that have limited power and popular support -- and could easily be overwhelmed by others who have a stronger ideological or religious motivation. It's not an accident that the jihadists have been the best fighters among the rebels: They're the most passionate about their cause. ..."

WSJ: "The West has to destroy Hezbollah!"

"... Hezbollah's decision to intervene in Syria is the result of another reassessment of strength by its leaders and their partners in Tehran. How the West responds will ultimately prove whether their calculations were correct....
Hezbollah's adventure in Syria has captured the attention of everyone from its adversaries in the Persian Gulf to Assad's investors in Moscow....
Meanwhile, Hezbollah's victories have reassured Russia and Iran that Assad's troops will continue to be augmented by an arguably more effective and motivated fighting force. Weeks before the Qusayr campaign, in April, Mr. Nasrallah met with Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei in Tehran and with Russia's deputy foreign minister in Beirut, presumably to coordinate their positions. Since the Qusayr offensive, Moscow has remained conveniently silent, and Tehran has boosted its troop presence in Syria, according to ground reports.
Israel more than most stands to lose from a resurgent Hezbollah. Despite sustaining hundreds of losses in Qusayr alone, Hezbollah's fighters are gaining valuable combat experience that could be useful in a future conflict with Israeli forces. After witnessing Hezbollah's ability to capture large swaths of territory in Syria, Jerusalem can no longer shrug off Mr. Nasrallah's threats to invade Israel's Galilee region in the next war.
Iran is also likely to continue leveraging the Assad regime to transport weapons to Hezbollah's coffers, despite threats of additional Israeli airstrikes. Hezbollah's acquisition of Iranian anti-air, anti-ship and surface-to-surface missiles would not only guarantee Mr. Nasrallah long-term military hegemony within and without Lebanon. It would also provide Tehran with a greater deterrent against any future Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities.
It's doubtful whether the West fully comprehends the implications of Hezbollah's growing involvement in Syria. The European Union continues to fumble over whether or not to blacklist Hezbollah as a terror group, which would do untold damage to the group's financial operations across the Continent. The U.S., meanwhile, has only begun to warm up to the idea of arming the Syrian rebels.
Rather than confront the looming threat of Hezbollah, Western strategists are still grappling with concerns over which rebel group to arm, or what regime might replace Assad's. They fail to realize that if Hezbollah's involvement continues unchecked, these questions will become irrelevant. The time has come for the West to stop obsessing about the risks of stopping the Assad regime, Hezbollah and Iran, and start considering the consequences of not stopping them."

The Sudeiris 'last hope'

"...Ahmed's abrupt firing as interior minister stemmed from a dispute with the king over a plan to split off the ministry's 500,000-man security force into a separate body. In an unheard-of display of disapproval of the king, several hundred of Ahmed's supporters turned out at the airport to greet the prince upon his return to Riyadh after his dismissal. Among his supporters are some human rights activists and the liberal wing of the royal family, led by Prince Talal. ..."

'The Sultan Branch': Running out of contenders

"... In another of his bold, unexpected strokes, King Abdullah sacked Khalid in April and replaced him with the little-known former head of the Royal Saudi Navy. This leaves the once powerful Sultan branch of the al-Saud family with just one top post, the General Directorate of Intelligence. Since last July, this has been in the hands of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the long-serving Saudi ambassador to Washington who had been the king's national security advisor...."

U.S. slow to deliver promised aid to Syrian rebels

"... While State Department officials are fond of saying they’re providing hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance to the Syrian opposition, only a fraction of the promised funds has arrived, and none has gone to the political body the U.S. looks to as an alternative to President Bashar Assad’s regime..."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Open conflict between Shi'ite & Sunni is creating unique opportunities for Israel"

Frmr Mossad chief and ambassadors ask: What is Israel's role in changing Mideast?  Haaretz 
"... Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan headlined a major panel Wednesday focusing on the role of Israel in a changing Middle East, at the fifth presidential conference in Jerusalem.The panel, scheduled for the second day of President Shimon Peres' Facing Tomorrow conference, considers steps Israel should take amid the upheaval of the Arab Spring and the violent civil war in Syria.
Other speakers on the panel include former ambassadors Israeli and American ambassadors including Dore Gold, Daniel Kurtzer and Itamar Rabinovich, and Sima Shine, the head of the Strategic Division at Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
LIVE BLOG:13:22 P.M. Dagan: IDF can protect Israel from any border . If the political need will be as such that the Jordan valley will not be in Israeli hands. Using security for political reason is a mistake.
13:10 P.M.: Dagan: Should we wait for Hamas to take over the West Bank? The sooner we enter dialogue the better for Israel.
13:06 P.M. Dagan: The peace process with the Palestinians is a necessity for Israel.  Abu Mazen has opposition in his own community, without creating backing for him in the Arab world he can't sign.
13:01 P.M. Kurtzer: Let's say you agree that this is not the time for final status, why would you dig yourself into a deeper hole with settlements every single day? The Arab world is now ready to deal with the state of Israel with certain parameters.
12:59 P.M. Itamar Rabinovich: It is damaging to say two-state solution is dead.
12:58 P.M. Dore Gold: The time is not right for a full final status agreement. We are facing too common threats, the Iranian threat, if we are smart we can build a coalition with Sunni forces.
12:50: On Iran, Dagan says: There is a dialogue, even with [Supreme leader Ayatollah] Khamenei. The leader cannot rule out and disregard population.
He adds: The Syrian issue is critical for Iran – Hezbollah is important tool for them to get political impact in the region.
12:40: Meir Dagan says the political processes in the region are continuing, adding that is very hard to define outcome. Different alliances have formed, he says, and radical elements have disappeared completely
."I believe the situation is not becoming worse. We should not sit and wait but take initiative and create opportunities," says Dagan. "Israel's interest, the Gulf countries and even the Palestinians and Egypt, lies together. What we are seeing in last decade is an open conflict between Shi'ite and Sunni that is tearing up Arab and Muslim world.This is creating unique opportunities for Israel to seek different alliances and reassure our presence in Middle East," he says. "I don't like every aspect of Arab Peace Initiative – but as starting point to sit down and discuss – I believe it is a vital necessity for Israel to do it."
12:34 A.M. Daniel Kurtzer: There are two examples of peace treaties with Arab neighbors that have provided Israel with degree of security you did not have before. You ended up with peace partners. May be
to Israel's advantage to take initative to achieve recognized borders."

Lebanon: "Forced labor, withholding of passports, nonpayment of wages, threat of arrest & deportation, restrictions on movement, physical assault. .... & the government’s 'Artiste visa' program"

"... Lebanon is a source and destination country for women and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The country is also a transit point for Eastern European women and children subjected to sex trafficking in other Middle Eastern countries. Women from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Kenya, Bangladesh, Nepal, Madagascar, Congo, Togo, Cameroon, and Nigeria, who travel to Lebanon with the assistance of recruitment agencies to work in domestic service, are often subjected to conditions indicative of forced labor, including withholding of passports, nonpayment of wages, threat of arrest and deportation, restrictions on movement, verbal abuse, and physical assault. .... The government’s artiste visa program facilitates the entry of women from Eastern Europe, the Dominican Republic, Morocco, and Tunisia on three-month visas to work as dancers in Lebanon’s adult entertainment industry ...  Some Syrian women may be forced to engage in street prostitution, and underage Syrian girls are reportedly brought to Lebanon for the purpose of prostitution, including through the guise of early marriage....
The Government of Lebanon does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these modest measures, the government did not show evidence of increasing overall efforts to address human trafficking over the previous reporting period; therefore, Lebanon is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a second consecutive year...."

STATE Dept. Report on Human trafficking: 'Saudi Arabia: Servitude, deprivation of food, sexual abuse & ... forced prostitution!'

"... Saudi Arabia is a destination country for men and women subjected to forced labor and, to a lesser extent, forced prostitution. Men and women from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Vietnam, Burma, and many other countries voluntarily travel to Saudi Arabia as domestic workers or low-skilled laborers, and many subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude, including nonpayment of wages, long working hours without rest, deprivation of food, threats, physical and sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement such as the withholding of passports or confinement to the workplace.... Women, primarily from Asia and Africa, are believed to be forced into prostitution in Saudi Arabia. Some female domestic workers are reportedly kidnapped and forced into prostitution after running away from abusive employers. Children from Yemen, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chad, and Sudan are subjected to forced labor as beggars and street vendors in Saudi Arabia, facilitated by criminal gangs...... 
The Government of Saudi Arabia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so...."
Women, primarily from Asia and Africa, are believed to be forced into prostitution in Saudi Arabia. Some female domestic workers are reportedly kidnapped and forced into prostitution after running away from abusive employers. Children from Yemen, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Chad, and Sudan are subjected to forced labor as beggars and street vendors in Saudi Arabia, facilitated by criminal gangs...... The Government of Saudi Arabia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so...."

Kerry's 'arguments': 'Israel did it , so can we!'

(Bloomberg) "... 5. The Israelis did it, and so can we. Kerry himself, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t made this argument to the generals -- knowing, I assume, that it would, if nothing else, irritate them like nothing else. But others in the interventionist camp have raised the issue. Israel, has struck at Syrian targets three times recently, using standoff weapons fired from over the border. Israel thinks that it made its point: There will be consequences if Syria transfers weapons and delivery systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Dempsey, in the White House situation room last week, argued that in order to launch an effective attack on regime targets, the U.S. would have to first suppress Syria’s air-defense system, which would require at least 700 sorties. Interventionists tend to believe that the Pentagon -- and the White House -- are using this an excuse for inaction.6. The rebels aren’t the lunatics the Pentagon believes them to be. The State Department has been working for some time with the more moderate leaders among the fractured and disputatious rebel alliance...."

Reuters: "Hardline Syrian islamists moved against (Europe's favorite, vetted) rebels , confiscated their weapons & marginalized them.."

"... ALEPPO, Syria (Reuters) - ...  they came to number 2,000 men, he said, here in the northern city of Aleppo. Then, virtually overnight, they collapsed.
Omar's group, Ghurabaa al-Sham, wasn't defeated by the government. It was dismantled by a rival band of revolutionaries - hardline Islamists.
The Islamists moved against them ... confiscated the brigade's weapons, ammunition and cars, Omar said....  The group was effectively marginalized in the struggle to overthrow Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Around 100 fighters are all that remain of his force, Omar said.
It's a pattern repeated elsewhere in the country. During a 10-day journey through rebel-held territory in Syria, Reuters journalists found that radical Islamist units are sidelining more moderate groups that do not share the Islamists' goal of establishing a supreme religious leadership in the country.
The moderates, often underfunded, fragmented and chaotic, appear no match for Islamist units, which include fighters from organizations designated "terrorist" by the United States.
The Islamist ascendancy has amplified the sectarian nature of the war between Sunni Muslim rebels and the Shi'ite supporters of Assad. It also presents a barrier to the original democratic aims of the revolt and calls into question whether the United States, which announced practical support for the rebels last week, can ensure supplies of weapons go only to groups friendly to the West.... Most of the rebel groups in Syria were formed locally and have little coordination with others. The country is dotted with bands made up of army defectors, farmers, engineers and even former criminals.
Many pledge allegiance to the notion of a unified Free Syrian Army (FSA). But on the ground there is little evidence to suggest the FSA actually exists as a body at all..., ..., ...
Where the government forces did cede ground, Aleppo's residents did not welcome the rebels with open arms. Most fighters were poor rural people from the countryside and the residents of Aleppo say they stole. Omar acknowledged this happened..., ..., ...
As moderate rebel groups dithered, so did their backers outside the country. Bickering among the political opposition, a collection of political exiles who have spent many years outside Syria, also presented a problem for the United States about whether there would be a coherent transition to a new government if Assad fell.
But most importantly, Western powers fear that if weapons are delivered to Syrian rebels, there would be few guarantees they would not end up with radical Islamist groups, such as Jabhat al-Nusra, who might one day use them against Western interests..."