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Syria - civil war incoming?

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Little Raven
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Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Little Raven » Wed Nov 09, 2011 5:19 pm

Syria has been experiencing heavy amounts of civil unrest for months now, but a campaign of terror by Bashir Assad and his cronies have managed to keep the regime in power so far.

That may be changing.
An increasing number of Syrian soldiers are defecting to the opposition, raising the risk of a Libyan-style civil war in Syria, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Wednesday.

"Where basic human rights are trampled and peaceful demands for change met by brutal violence, people are eventually compelled to have recourse to rebellion against tyranny and oppression," Pillay told the U.N. Security Council.

"It happened in Libya, it may happen in Syria," she said during a debate on protecting civilians in armed conflict. "More and more soldiers refuse to become complicit in international crimes and are changing sides. There is a serious risk of Syria descending into armed struggle."
We haven't seen any serious proposals for a Libya-style intervention in Syria precisely because there hasn't been any organized, militarized resistance. If a significant number of army units defect, that could quickly change.

Imagine if Bashir goes down. That would mean that in the space of a year we would have seen many of the worst Arab governments topple. What a foreign policy coup. If we just clear out the House of Saud, we'd be looking at a virtual clean slate.
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Bruce » Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:31 pm

Little Raven wrote: If we just clear out the House of Saud, we'd be looking at a virtual clean slate.
Which "we" are you referring to here? The US? or the world as a whole? or?

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Little Raven » Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:43 pm

All of the above? I'm certainly not suggesting that the United States move openly against the Saudis or anything like that...just that it would be nice if events conspired to bring that government down too.
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Rip » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:25 pm

Little Raven wrote:Syria has been experiencing heavy amounts of civil unrest for months now, but a campaign of terror by Bashir Assad and his cronies have managed to keep the regime in power so far.

That may be changing.
An increasing number of Syrian soldiers are defecting to the opposition, raising the risk of a Libyan-style civil war in Syria, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Wednesday.

"Where basic human rights are trampled and peaceful demands for change met by brutal violence, people are eventually compelled to have recourse to rebellion against tyranny and oppression," Pillay told the U.N. Security Council.

"It happened in Libya, it may happen in Syria," she said during a debate on protecting civilians in armed conflict. "More and more soldiers refuse to become complicit in international crimes and are changing sides. There is a serious risk of Syria descending into armed struggle."
We haven't seen any serious proposals for a Libya-style intervention in Syria precisely because there hasn't been any organized, militarized resistance. If a significant number of army units defect, that could quickly change.

Imagine if Bashir goes down. That would mean that in the space of a year we would have seen many of the worst Arab governments topple. What a foreign policy coup. If we just clear out the House of Saud, we'd be looking at a virtual clean slate.
Worst governments for the people of those countries or for us. In many of the cases I think the replacements will be even more anti-american and almost will certainly be more anti-semetic.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Little Raven » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:31 pm

Rip wrote:Worst governments for the people of those countries or for us.
Both. We've seen what decades of supporting local strong-men gets you....an international terrorist network, generally supported by those same strong-men, dysfunctional national economies producing nothing but unemployable young men looking to become martyrs, and a constant dance on the razor's edge to keep the region 'stable.' Almost anything will end up being better than that.

You're an American, Rip. Surely you have some faith in the power of democracy to create a better future for both a country and it's neighbors.
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Rip » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:37 pm

Little Raven wrote:
Rip wrote:Worst governments for the people of those countries or for us.
Both. We've seen what decades of supporting local strong-men gets you....an international terrorist network, generally supported by those same strong-men, dysfunctional national economies producing nothing but unemployable young men looking to become martyrs, and a constant dance on the razor's edge to keep the region 'stable.' Almost anything will end up being better than that.

You're an American, Rip. Surely you have some faith in the power of democracy to create a better future for both a country and it's neighbors.
Actually I do and I agree with you. Just playing devil's advocate.

Of course it is also like a little kid. We are going to have to be prepared to scold and punish them when necessary so that they don't jump on the attack the Jews bandwagon without understanding the consequences. We can't and shouldn't protect them from their inevitable bad decisions.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by El Guapo » Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:38 pm

Yeah. Ultimately these countries *are* going to transition to democracies, sooner or later. The process may produce more anti-American governments in the short term, which is a serious problem. But the alternative is spend lots of time and effort trying to suppress democratic movements in those countries, which is both reprehensible and ultimately futile. And also the best way to guarantee that any resulting government is anti-American.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Grifman » Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:24 pm

Little Raven wrote:All of the above? I'm certainly not suggesting that the United States move openly against the Saudis or anything like that...just that it would be nice if events conspired to bring that government down too.
Given the radical version of Islam taught in Saudi Arabia, I'm not so sure that's a good idea. What makes you think the replacement would be any better?
Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions. – G.K. Chesterton

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by El Guapo » Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:56 pm

Grifman wrote:
Little Raven wrote:All of the above? I'm certainly not suggesting that the United States move openly against the Saudis or anything like that...just that it would be nice if events conspired to bring that government down too.
Given the radical version of Islam taught in Saudi Arabia, I'm not so sure that's a good idea. What makes you think the replacement would be any better?
Given that the current government of Saudi Arabia is generally radically theocratic (albeit via a monarchy), a rebellion is likely to move things in the other direction. Outside of Iran, who's more familiar with the downside of Islamic theocracy than the Saudi population?

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Grifman » Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:25 pm

El Guapo wrote:
Grifman wrote:
Little Raven wrote:All of the above? I'm certainly not suggesting that the United States move openly against the Saudis or anything like that...just that it would be nice if events conspired to bring that government down too.
Given the radical version of Islam taught in Saudi Arabia, I'm not so sure that's a good idea. What makes you think the replacement would be any better?
Given that the current government of Saudi Arabia is generally radically theocratic (albeit via a monarchy), a rebellion is likely to move things in the other direction. Outside of Iran, who's more familiar with the downside of Islamic theocracy than the Saudi population?
You're assuming though that they oppose a strict form of Islam. That may not be true at all. Indeed, it may the House of Saud that is the moderating influence. The population may be more radical give the strict version of Islam with which they have been brought up in.
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Little Raven » Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:14 pm

Grifman wrote:Given the radical version of Islam taught in Saudi Arabia, I'm not so sure that's a good idea. What makes you think the replacement would be any better?
In the very short term? It probably wouldn't be....the Saudi people have been subjected to 40 years of propaganda and radical religious indoctrination. But one thing's for certain...none of that is going to get better while the House of Saud is in power. They're the ones behind it all, after all. Only once they're removed will the Saudi population have the ability to move forward.

As the recent debt crisis have so painfully reminded us, trying to paper over deep rifts in perpetuity generally doesn't end well.
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Isgrimnur » Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:54 pm

Stay classy, Russia.
Russia has demanded the United Nations pledge never to approve foreign intervention in Syria in return for not blocking a resolution calling on President Bashar al-Assad to hand over power.

The promise is one of five changes Moscow has requested to a draft resolution drawn up by the Arab League which calls on Mr Assad to delegate powers to his deputy, form a unity government and hold free elections.

Britain, the United States and other Western powers have agreed to include a statement that the resolution may not be used to justify military intervention.

However, a source close to the negotiations said that there were problems with the Russians' demand that this clause cover all future resolutions as well.

"We can say we don't want war until we're blue in the face, but the fact is that one UN resolution cannot bind future resolutions," the source said.
...
The United States, Britain and France want to back the Arab League's proposal to censure Mr Assad and call for him to step aside as a powerful message.

They are confident that three of the other demands made by Russia – relating to the political transition and the ruling out of arms embargoes and sanctions, can be agreed, although the fifth – which would suggests the issue be looked at again, is seen as pointless.
You want time to resolve the issue peaceably? Fine. But you want to rule out any intervention EVAR?!? Get real. Oh, and the ruling out of an arms embargo is a nice touch as well. :roll:
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Kraken » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:15 pm

US closes its Syrian embassy
Diplomatic efforts have largely collapsed, save for a Russian delegation visiting Damascus today, and both the Syrian government and its opposition have signaled that each believes the grinding conflict will be resolved only through force of arms.

...

It stopped short of a formal break in US diplomatic relations with Syria but was considered a strong signal that Obama administration officials believe there is nothing left to talk about with Assad.
Yep, it's civil war alright.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by AWS260 » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:19 pm

A photo essay of scenes from Homs, the city that's seen the worst of Assad's assault.

Warning: some graphic images, including at least one that appears to show a dead person.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by stessier » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:05 pm

Anonymous hacked Syria's servers and got some emails about Assad prepping for his Barbara Waters interview.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by tru1cy » Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:44 am

Can someone explain to me why Russia would position themselves on this side of the issues? I'm having a hard time understanding why they would protect Assad like this
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by AWS260 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:26 am

tru1cy wrote:Can someone explain to me why Russia would position themselves on this side of the issues? I'm having a hard time understanding why they would protect Assad like this
It has almost nothing to do with Assad himself. Russia(and China) don't want the UN getting up in their business when they crack down on protestors or separatists. They want to ensure that the UN-authorized intervention in Libya doesn't become a precedent.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by gbasden » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:12 pm

AWS260 wrote:
tru1cy wrote:Can someone explain to me why Russia would position themselves on this side of the issues? I'm having a hard time understanding why they would protect Assad like this
It has almost nothing to do with Assad himself. Russia(and China) don't want the UN getting up in their business when they crack down on protestors or separatists. They want to ensure that the UN-authorized intervention in Libya doesn't become a precedent.
Also, remember - The Customer is Always Right.
Moscow's stance is motivated in part by its strategic and defense ties, including weapons sales, with Syria. But Russia also rejects what it sees as a world order dominated by the United States. Last month, Russia reportedly signed a $550 million deal to sell combat jets to Syria.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Little Raven » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:24 pm

Russia does count Syria among it's consumer base, but trade is not the reason Russia is defending Assad. Syria is one of Russia's few tried and true friends in the Middle East. They do not want to see the regime replaced with anything that might be more friendly or susceptible to US interests. They already feel betrayed over Libya.
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by gbasden » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:57 pm

Little Raven wrote:Russia does count Syria among it's consumer base, but trade is not the reason Russia is defending Assad. Syria is one of Russia's few tried and true friends in the Middle East. They do not want to see the regime replaced with anything that might be more friendly or susceptible to US interests. They already feel betrayed over Libya.
I know there are a lot of other reasons feeding in to their support of Assad, but from the things I'm reading, trade is definitely a large factor in their decision making. From the Monitor:
According to the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT), Russia lost as much as $4.5 billion in broken weapons deals with Muammar Qaddafi's Libya and another $13 billion as a result of UN Security Council-approved sanctions that forced Moscow to cancel all its major arms contracts with Iran.

Russia is thought to have up to $5 billion in potential arms exports to Syria in the pipeline, including sales of warships, submarines, modern T-90 tanks, MiG-29 fighters, and Iskander-E tactical missiles.

"We have already made many shameful concessions to the West. Under pressure we refused to fulfill contracts we had duly signed and thus found ourselves in a humiliating situation," says Viktor Baranets, a former Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, who is now a columnist with the Moscow daily Komsomolskaya Pravda.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Little Raven » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:39 pm

That's mostly a smokescreen. I realize 5 billion sounds like a lot of money, but for Russia, with a GDP of 2 trillion, it's really not. Plus, that number is almost certainly spread out over a number of years, or else it's a complete fantasy, because Syria has an economy that's in free-fall and simply can't afford anything near that, unless we're talking about a long-term commitment.

Don't get me wrong, trade is a factor. But it's a small one compared to much larger issues of influence and control. Russia sees the Arab Spring as a considerable threat to it's interests in the region, and has no desire to see Washington rack up yet another check in the win column. A few thousand dead in Homs is a small price to pay to preserve one of the last friends in the region Russia has.
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by El Guapo » Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:42 pm

Yeah, I think the #1 factor is that authoritarian governments dislike any precedent towards democracies intervening to help protestors and/or minority groups against the government. Plus any toppling of an authoritarian government can only encourage groups in other states to rise up as well - Moscow is likely worried both that if the protesters / rebels in Syria win, it will encourage groups elsewhere, which could even help galvanize protesters in Russia itself. In addition, Russia has a sizable Muslim population in its southern (central asian) regions, and they may be worried that they could become emboldened to challenge Russia's authority there (particularly if Assad wins up getting replaced by a more Islamist oriented government that might be inclined to support Islamic rebels elsewhere).

Trade and Syria's utility as a friendly state in the region are also important, though I'm inclined to see them as lesser factors.

The other thing to consider is that there really isn't an obvious upside for Russia in Assad falling. They know that they can work with Assad, so his replacement would probably only be more difficult. There's no reason to think that the replacement would be better in trade... what exactly would Russia get out of this?

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Holman » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:47 pm

Breaking news is that the U.N. General Assembly has overwhelmingly endorsed the Arab League plan for Assad to step down.

So what does that mean?
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by AWS260 » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:56 pm

Holman wrote:Breaking news is that the U.N. General Assembly has overwhelmingly endorsed the Arab League plan for Assad to step down.

So what does that mean?
I assume this will have as much real-world impact as the many General Assembly resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian issue; i.e., none.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by AWS260 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:01 pm

A report from inside Homs:
Snipers on the rooftops of al-Ba’ath University and other high buildings surrounding Baba Amr shoot any civilian who comes into their sights. Residents were felled in droves in the first days of the siege but have now learnt where the snipers are and run across junctions where they know they can be seen. Few cars are left on the streets.

Almost every building is pock-marked after tank rounds punched through concrete walls or rockets blasted gaping holes in upper floors. The building I was staying in lost its upper floor to a rocket last Wednesday. On some streets whole buildings have collapsed — all there is to see are shredded clothes, broken pots and the shattered furniture of families destroyed.

It is a city of the cold and hungry, echoing to exploding shells and bursts of gunfire. There are no telephones and the electricity has been cut off. Few homes have diesel for the tin stoves they rely on for heat in the coldest winter that anyone can remember. Freezing rain fills potholes and snow drifts in through windows empty of glass. No shops are open, so families are sharing what they have with relatives and neighbours. Many of the dead and injured are those who risked foraging for food.
The American reporter who filed this story was killed today, along with a French photojournalist, when their safehouse was bombarded.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Isgrimnur » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:43 pm

BBC has a tribute to Colvin up:
Sunday Times owner Rupert Murdoch described Ms Colvin as "one of the most outstanding foreign correspondents of her generation" who was "driven by a determination that the misdeeds of tyrants and the suffering of the victims did not go unreported".

"This was at great personal cost, including the loss of the sight in one eye while covering the civil war in Sri Lanka. This injury did not stop her from returning to even more dangerous assignments," he added.
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by AWS260 » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:29 am

Reading about the massacre in Homs reminds me of reading about the Bosnian war in the 90s:
BBC wrote:Ahmed Ibrahim told me that 36 men and boys were taken away. Among them were four members of his own family including his 12-year-old son, Hozaifa. All were dead now, he said.

He said he had seen everything, lying flat behind some trees.

He told me: "There is a major checkpoint near our house. Reinforcements arrived there. They brought Shabiha (the "ghosts" or paramilitaries). They began arresting all the men in the area so I crouched down in the orchards just beside my house.

"They started beating them up. Then they moved them into a street next to a school. They killed them all. I saw it. I was 50 to 100 metres away. Their hands were tied behind their backs. A soldier held each one still on the ground with his boot; another soldier came to cut their throats. I could hear their screams."

He said the victims included his son, two brothers and a nephew. He thought he could count 36 bodies in the street - the number of men and boys who had been detained.

"The army took the bodies. They are afraid that ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] would come in so they destroyed the evidence."

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Octavious » Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:26 pm

My wife is from Bosnia and her family bribed their way out of the area. The stories they have are totally unbelievable. The one that sticks out the most is the one day there was a radio message urging everyone to leave the town and that they wouldn't be harmed. The way out of town was a bridge. They blew the bridge up as the people were crossing. I don't have much love for Serbian people. ;)
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Sepiche » Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:46 am

So I was reading the story that came out today detailing some emails apparently between Assad and a number of other parties:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2 ... eform.html" target="_blank

Apparently authentic and mostly pointing out how out of touch the Assad's are.

One thing in particular really stood out to me though... Holy shit, Asma Assad is a MILF!
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Holman » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:11 am

Sepiche wrote:So I was reading the story that came out today detailing some emails apparently between Assad and a number of other parties:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2 ... eform.html" target="_blank

Apparently authentic and mostly pointing out how out of touch the Assad's are.

One thing in particular really stood to me though... Holy shit, Asma Assad is a MILF!
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Sepiche » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:33 am

Holman wrote:The couch is human skin.
Would you let anything less touch skin like that? I mean... come on!

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by ImLawBoy » Thu Mar 15, 2012 10:57 am

This week's Time magazine has a rather harrowing account of the escape of the surviving journalists from the bombing mentioned earlier in the thread. It was striking how much the locals tried to help the journalists, in large part because they know that so much information coming out of Syria is suppressed that this is the only way they can let the world know what is going on.
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by El Guapo » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:49 am

Sepiche wrote:So I was reading the story that came out today detailing some emails apparently between Assad and a number of other parties:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2 ... eform.html" target="_blank

Apparently authentic and mostly pointing out how out of touch the Assad's are.

One thing in particular really stood out to me though... Holy shit, Asma Assad is a MILF!
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Of course! If you were a ruthless dictator with near absolute power over your populace, why would you accept anything less than a stone cold fox?

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by hepcat » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:55 am

Asma was at one time lauded as the "Rose of the Desert" and praised as a voice of compassion when it came to women's rights and as a philanthropist for her work with children in that region. Her star has fallen considerably since then. And rightfully so, in my opinion. The emails in question reveal a woman who seems to not care about the fate of "her people" but instead just wants to spend money on luxuries.
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by El Guapo » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:58 am

Well, sure. She's part of a dictatorial system that gives her tremendous privileges. She could be a perfectly nice person, but there's a limit to how great a person you can really be if you're towards the top of that system and not doing much to change it. This just exposes that.

It's the same how the Queen of Jordan generally gets favorable press coverage, but she can't really be all that great a person given the luxuries she enjoys at the expense of her people.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by hepcat » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:03 pm

Queen of Jordan is hotter though. She can't be bad! You take that back!

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by El Guapo » Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:08 pm

Oh, I'd definitely give either of them the beef kebab, no question.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Kurth » Mon Mar 19, 2012 4:25 pm

Russian Anti-Terror Troops Arrive in Syria

This can't be good. Seems like a pretty significant move.
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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by Kraken » Mon Mar 19, 2012 5:50 pm

Whoa. They are on the wrong side of history there. Pretty much freezes out any potential NATO intervention, though.

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Re: Syria - civil war incoming?

Post by hepcat » Mon Mar 19, 2012 7:24 pm

Kraken wrote:Whoa. They are on the wrong side of history there. Pretty much freezes out any potential NATO intervention, though.
Not in Russian history books I bet.
I beat a camel to death with a monkey. Can I do that?
-Mr Bismarck

You have to whack a few rabbits before you are ready to punch a camel.
-Coopasonic

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