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It looks as the riots in the country become more and more fierce.

Syrian troops storm Deraa, where uprising erupted - Yahoo! News

Syrian troops and tanks stormed Deraa on Monday, residents said, seeking to crush resistance in the city where a month-long uprising against the autocratic 11-year rule of President Bashar al-Assad first erupted.

A witness told Reuters he saw bodies in the street after hundreds of soldiers in armored vehicles poured into Deraa, a few miles from Syria's southern border with Jordan which officials said was sealed off on Monday.

A leading human rights campaigner said security forces, which also swept into the restive Damascus suburb of Douma, were waging "a savage war designed to annihilate Syria's democrats."

But Washington (and the West as a result) is rather passive.

Syria violence puts Obama in diplomatic, political tough spot - Yahoo! News

U.S. officials say they have little leverage over Syria, which is barred from American aid and most bilateral trade under its designation by the State Department as a terrorist-sponsoring nation and under other laws.

“We already have sanctions,” a senior administration official said. “We could pursue whether there are additional ways to tighten pressure, but I don’t want to suggest there is anything imminent.”

But does Washington really wish to help the Syrians and to punish the dictator?

“There is a different leader in Syria now,” and many believe Assad is a “reformer,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said late last month in a comment on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that drew widespread political criticism.

So he is 'a reformer'. However, Assad's methods are rather 'conservative'.

On Wednesday, Clinton condemned “the ongoing violence committed against peaceful protesters by the Syrian government” and “any use of violence by protesters.”

It is an interesting point. Mrs.Clinton believes that the protesters in Syria must not use violence in any form. But is it acceptable in Libya? Double standards?


Yes it's shaping up for Hama II up Darra way. I wonder if BHL will jet in? I think not, serious risk to coiffer.

The protestors have so far failed to get the army onside, it's not a rinky dinky outfit like Qaddafi's mob, if that continues they are doomed. No oil in Syria, just twenty two million pissed Syrians who want the Golan back. Assad, if not his corrupt regime, remains surprisingly popular.
Unlikely the Syrian army will support the rioted in any form or even will be neutral.

Syrian elites (including military ones) are formed by the Alawites - a Shia sect that is a minority in Syria.

The fall of the Assad's regime would be a real disaster for the elites.

The real problem in Syria is a rule of relatively small religious minority. On the free and fair elections the Alawites would lose. As for the opposition then no doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood is one of its the most influental parts.

There was a de fact peace with Israel during decades. But what would happen after the fall of the Assad's regime? Only Allah knows.
Wonder when we will see Cameron bleating about this as he did with Libya.

I doubt that it would happen. Our Israeli friends forbid it. Israel is interesting in a weak Syria, in a ruler who is more concerned in own political suvival than in the confrontation with Israel.

Let's suppose that the Sunni majority in Syria comes to power. No doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood would have the leading positions. Add to it Egypt with a clear prospect to be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood. As a result Israel could be in a quite unconfortable situation.

No, Assad would not be treated as col.Gaddafi.

Until Monday, the Syrian government had been hewing to a mix of concessions and brute force, but its latest actions indicate that it has chosen the latter, seeking to crush a wave of dissent in virtually every province that has shaken the once uncontested rule of President Bashar al-Assad

Meanwhile Washington tries to imitate anything that looks as a 'reaction'.

So far, President Obama has stopped well short of calling on Mr. Assad to step down, or of declaring, as he did of Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, that Mr. Assad had lost the moral authority to lead his country. Nor, apparently, has the administration been working behind the scenes to ease Mr. Assad out of office, as in the case of Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Asked how the administration justified treating Mr. Assad so differently, Jay Carney, the president’s press secretary, said Monday that it was “up to the people of Syria to decide who its leaders should be.” He tried to differentiate Syria in other ways as well.

“Libya was, again, a unique situation,” Mr. Carney said.

But equally it is up to the people of Libya to decide.
Sergei's absolutely right. Note also that Syria's a close ally of Iran: this is a rare instance of US, Israeli and Iranian strategic vision dovetailing.
BBC News - UK foreign secretary demands end to Syria violence

In a statement, Mr Hague said: "I condemn utterly any violence and killings perpetrated by the Syrian security forces against civilians who are expressing their views in peaceful protests.

"This violent repression must stop. President Assad should order his authorities to show restraint and to respond to the legitimate demands of his people with immediate and genuine reform, not with brutal repression."

He continued: "The United Kingdom is working intensively with our international partners to persuade the Syrian authorities to stop the violence and respect basic and universal human rights to freedoms of expression and assembly.

"This includes working with our partners on the United Nations Security Council to send a strong signal to the Syrian authorities that the eyes of the international community are on Syria, and with our partners in the EU and the region on possible further measures."

BBC News - Syria unrest: UK, France and Italy press for sanctions

Mr Sarkozy said France would not intervene in Syria without a Security Council resolution.

...and with such a resolution?

Why not to propose exactly the same one as in the case with Libya?

The old desert fox Gaddafi could now cease all attack on the rebels. In this case the West would be in a strange situation. There is a real bloodshed in Syria and real bombings in rather calm Libya.


Book Reviewer
Strategically, Syria and Libya are fundamentally different in terms of the EU interest. Libya is a potential back door in for uncounted migrants from the Maghreb - unskilled, unschooled, of no particular economic benefit to the fortunate receiving nation - and an oil producer. Hence France, Italy and the UK have a very strong interest in a stable and competent government, with which one can do business. Even if we'd left G alone, the future stability prospects of Libya would have been poor after the insurgency, to say nothing of his demonstrated inability to do business as nation states do; hence the need to remove him. He could stop all 'military' operations tomorrow and show his bare arse in the Co-op window for all anyone cares, he's history and the sooner he grasps that and flies off somewhere to count his billions, the better for everyone.

Syria, as noted, is an Iranian ally - which is not great from the Israeli perspective - but is at least stable and predictable and won't do anything weird because some mullah somewhere says the Holy Koran mandates it. Hence the Israeli, US and Iranian interest in maintaining it as a stable polity under the current regime. EU has close to nil interest, the migration pipeline to the EU only tangetially encounters Syria and the land border with Turkey makes it awkard. No significant European economic interests in that part of the world - hence, let Assad get on with it, make some pro forma shapes, but don't go for a UNSC Resolution and don't make things more difficult for any of the parties in that part of the world.


On Nightwatch
Syria: Syrian Army troops and tanks attacked the town of Daraa in southwestern Syria on April 25, firing on anti-government protesters and killing five, according to a Daraa resident, al Jazeera reported. The resident said private homes have become hospitals. Al Arabiya television also reported multiple deaths within the town.

Syria also sealed its land border with Jordan near the southern Syrian town of Daraa on 25 April to prevent people from leaving the country, according to a Syrian security official. The closure is one of the security measures in support of the suppression campaign in Daraa, in southwestern Syria.

The head of Syria's customs department, however, denied that the border was closed.

Comment: According to an international news analysis, the Asad regime has decided that Daraa is the center of the anti-government movement. The deployment of Army units indicates the regime views the Daraa uprising as Hafez al Asad viewed the Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Hama in 1982. Bashar, the son of Hafez, is using his father's "Hama Rules" against Daraa, making it an object lesson for other centers of anti-government opposition.

Reports of the numbers of people killed in Hama during the suppression operations range from 7,000 to 40,000. Most independent sources assess at least 25,000 people were killed by the Syrian Army. After the destruction of the center of Hama by the Syrian Army and air force, open Sunni opposition ended. Hama stands as the most brutal action by any Arab Islamic state against its own people in modern history.

There are many differences between the uprising in Hama in 1982 and the situation in Daraa. One important difference is that the uprising in Hama in 1982 was not supported by uprisings in other towns. That made it reasonably easy to suppress in a single operation.

Today, opposition demonstrations have occurred in many towns, including suburbs of Damascus. Bashar faces a much more extensive internal instability problem than his father.

Bashar and the Alawite generals cannot suppress the unrest by destroying one town. However, they apparently are gambling that a strong application of force will intimidate and dissuade other opposition centers. A major concern is to prevent the spread of anti-government demonstrations to Damascus itself. Bashar's regime appears prepared to be as harsh in defense of the regime as was his father.

Internal instability most often is centripetal. Thus, the sign that the opposition is winning will be the start of anti-government demonstrations in Damascus. If those demonstrations do not take place, the Daraa gamble will have been a success, at least in the short term.


Correct, just not enough to be fighting over, 400,400 bbl/day mostly used internally, V Libya's 1.79 million or Saudi 11 million (09 figures). Table here. I read somewhere that Syria would be a net oil importer soon. Working hard on exploration however and the gas fields are promising.
So, the Foreign Secretary is preparing plans to evacuate British nationals...... do Andrew have any ships left, or do we now privatise such work and contract it out to Ryanair? . . . . "Yes sir, your emergency repatriation flight is entirely free, but there is a fifty pound charge for your boarding pass, a hundred pound charge for checking your passport, plus airport fees, plus a handling charge, plus a charge for not booking in advance, and a charge for not booking online plus ten percent for paying in foreign currency, or by debit card, or in cash, or a fifty percent charge if you want to pay be credit card......
Correct, just not enough to be fighting over, 400,400 bbl/day mostly used internally, V Libya's 1.79 million or Saudi 11 million (09 figures). Table here. I read somewhere that Syria would be a net oil importer soon. Working hard on exploration however and the gas fields are promising.

According to the table Syria expots 150bbl/pday but imports 160. Local heavy oil should be mixed with light one to be processed on local oil plants.

Countries like Syria and Egypt have own oil but it is mainly consumed inside. Thus the significance of oil production in Syria or Egypt for the Global Economy is almost zero.

Of course, gas is a very interesting asset but it requires a stable government, long term investments into infrastructure and so on.
A great deal of the unrest in Syria is rooted in its critically bad water infrastructure, and long running drought that has trashed the Eastern region.
See this article from March-
Asia Times Online :: Middle East News, Iraq, Iran current affairs
(My bold on the Syrian CBRN capability- That's another issue entirely!)
Water crisis floats Syrian unrest
By Victor Kotsev

"TEL AVIV - A month after Vogue magazine called Syria's first lady Asma Assad "a rose in the desert" in a puff piece that portrayed the Assads as obsessively concerned with both family democracy and the "active citizenship" of Syrian youth, [1] the Syrian regime was busy shooting active citizens. The danger to President Bashar al-Assad's rule is arguably smaller than that in Egypt or Libya - not least because the United States, represented by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, promised solemnly not to interfere.

Yet, the wave of uprisings in the Arab world clearly did not bypass "the safest country in the Middle East" (to borrow another expression from the Vogue story). The mixture of reasons is roughly the same as elsewhere (poverty and political oppression), but there is a peculiar twist that bodes much worse to come in the long run - Syria faces an unprecedented water crisis, compounded by poor agricultural infrastructure and management. There is a twist also to the geopolitical ramifications of what is happening - if it develops much further, the unrest could theoretically destabilize the entire region in a more profound way than any other regional crisis.

Amnesty International claims that at least 55 demonstrators were killed in the city of Daraa through Friday (other reports claim more than 60) , and refers to "unconfirmed reports" of 37 deaths throughout the country over the weekend. Available information is patchy and it is likely that more deaths will come to light.

Meanwhile, Assad sent in the army to another city that has witnessed protests - Latakia - and announced plans for seemingly broad reforms such as lifting a four-decade emergency rule and political liberalization. The protesters rejected the announcement, and the president, who has so far remained silent during the crisis, is expected to deliver an "important" address any time now.

The regime has attempted to blame the United States and Israel for organizing the unrest, but this argument is unlikely to persuade anybody except Assad's ardent supporters. It is hard to avoid the fact that the region of Daraa, where the current round of protests started, is one of the poorest in Syria. According to a recent Jerusalem Post report, "The city is home to thousands of displaced people from eastern Syria, where up to a million people have left their homes because of a water crisis over the past six years."

Indeed, several analysts have picked up on the economic roots of the crisis. Shortly before the unrest, American-based Syrian dissident Farid Ghadry offered a unique perspective that drew parallels to the situation in Egypt and simultaneously challenged Vogue's depiction of the work of Syria's first lady: "The coming Syrian revolution will be led by two million young Syrian women unable to find economically independent husbands and forced to embrace celibacy (Ansa'a) because of rampant unemployment and economic deprivation ... They will be an essential component in the coming revolution and this is why Asma al-Assad chairs a women's organization in Syria whose real purpose is to gauge their anger."

More recently, Asia Times Online's David Goldman tied the crisis to a spike in food prices in an insightful article titled Food and Syria's failure (Asia Times Online, March 28, 2011):
The Arab bazaar speculates in foodstuffs as aggressively as hedge funds, and the Syrian government's attempt last month to keep food prices down prompted local merchants to hoard commodities with a long shelf life. Fruit and vegetable prices, by contrast, remain low, because the bazaar does not hoard perishables. The fact that prices rose after the government announced high-profile measures to prevent such a rise exposed the fecklessness of the Assad regime.
Some media, including Reuters, The New York Times and The Jerusalem Post, have also mentioned the drought of the past few years that compounded the economic situation in Syria considerably. However, the water crisis in the country predates the current cycle of drought, and as a whole has not received sufficient attention by the media and by analysts.

Water, in fact, has been a major factor in all of Syria's conflicts, going back to the 1967 war with Israel (the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in the war, contain an important aquifer). A long-standing enmity with Turkey, which was resolved in incremental steps over the past few years, [2] also revolved around water.

When, in the late 1980s, Turkey started work on the massive Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP in Turkish), designed to utilize the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers for development projects, both Syria and Iraq, downstream on the rivers, cried foul that the Turks were stealing their water. The project was slowed greatly by Kurdish terror attacks at a time when Syria supported actively the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), and it is reasonable to assume a link between the two.

The loss of aquifers such as the Golan Heights and the depletion of the Euphrates and Tigris piled on top of poor development planning, rapid population growth and unfavorable weather conditions (several prolonged periods of drought) combined to produce what the United Nations has termed the "largest internal displacement in the Middle East in recent years".

In the 1970s and 1980s, the government of Bashar Assad's father Hafez neglected the development of the traditionally strong agriculture sector in favor of oil exports and industrialization (as well as an arms race with Israel). As a result, most of Syria's farmland is still irrigated by an outdated method of flooding that wastes a great deal of water in comparison with more modern techniques such as drip irrigation.

The government also failed to formulate a coherent policy to curb pollution and to regulate private digging of wells. According to a September, 2000, report by the Israel-based Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies:
Half of the country's 160,000 wells have been dug illegally, resulting in the drop of well-water levels and dried-up rivers and springs. As a result, major Syrian urban centers (including Damascus and Aleppo) have been forced to institute harsh water rationing in recent years. Residents of Damascus endure as much as thirteen hours a day without water. In rural areas water is rationed four days a week. This situation is only expected to worsen; the Syrian population is expanding rapidly, and domestic water requirements are expected to double in less than two decades. [3]
Ten years following the report, the disastrous consequences of the neglect are tangible. Harvest yields are decreasing by the year, and, in the words of a 2009 United Nations report, the diet of countless farmers consists "of bread and sugared tea".

In the wake of the uprisings elsewhere in the Arab world, the social discontent was channeled into the current wave of protests against Assad. Still, the threat that the Syrian regime faces for now appears lesser than that to other regimes in the region. "The army is sticking by the president, a main difference with Egypt or Tunisia," Joshua Landis, a prominent American expert with strong connections to Syria, writes in his blog. "So long as the army remains united and obeys the president, it will be hard for the opposition to take over parts of the country or bring down the regime."

Another crucial difference is that practically all major international players, including traditional enemies such as Israel, have reasons to hope that Assad clings to power. The fact that the Syrian president sits on top of a massive medium-range missile arsenal, including a large number of chemical warheads, alone explains why stability in the country is of utmost importance.

More prosaic reasons also abound, and vary for each country. Israel is afraid of the presumably more radical Sunni Muslim Brotherhood taking over, should the Alawite Assad be overthrown. To quote Israeli journalist Yaakov Katz, "For all his faults, Assad is the devil we know."

Turkey is eyeing nervously Syria's Kurdish population. Just like in Iraq, it has little interest to see an autonomous Kurdish entity emerge on its borders in a hypothetical scenario that includes the breakup of Syria.

One analyst speculated that the recent lull of anti-Israeli rhetoric coming out of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was partially the consequence of shared concerns over Syria.

In turn, Iran is an old ally of Assad, as are two BRIC members, Russia and China.

The danger of Lebanon being destabilized can also be a potential unifying factor for an impressively diverse group of countries. Syria has reportedly reined in Hezbollah on several occasions in recent years. "Washington, Israel, Turkey and Iran all have great reasons to want Assad to remain at the helm," Israeli analyst Zvi Bar'el writes in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. "He's seen as a safety valve against an attack by Hezbollah on Israel or against its physical takeover of Lebanon."

In his almost 11 years in power, Assad has demonstrated that he can be every bit as ruthless as his father, Hafez, who in 1982 killed tens of thousands of people in order to quell unrest in the city of Hama. If the younger Assad follows in his father's footsteps, he will likely encounter severe criticism from the international community, but not much else.

Thus, at least until his army deserts him (which is still a possibility, particularly since most of the soldiers are Sunni Muslims, while the regime comes from a religious minority), he is indeed safe. He may not even need to go all the way, since the opposition is well aware of the situation, and is hardly suicidal.

However, even if he survives, without addressing the underlying issues that led to the crisis, Assad would jeopardize the long-term stability of both his regime and his country. Damage to the aquifer, in particular, with time becomes irreversible, and could trigger a vicious cycle of environmental developments that could ruin what is left of Syrian agriculture."

More worrying for their neighbours in Iraq, is that if Syria disintegrates there may very well not be anyone to negotiate with in regards of the Euphrates River allocation. If that runs dry, expect Iraq to fall over again in short order. That may make the Iranians a little nervous, as that's right on their doorstep, and they could probably do without failed states on both East and West borders.

IRIN Middle East | IRAQ: New push for water deals with Turkey, Syria | Iraq | Economy | Environment | Urban Risk | Water & Sanitation

Oh, the and Syrian Government has just turned off the water supply to Dara'a, according to this.
Syria, Candidate for UN Rights Council, Cuts Off Water Supplies - Defense/Middle East - Israel News - Israel National News
Wonder when we will see Cameron bleating about this as he did with Libya.
Hopefully Dave has given up listening to the hookah pipe-dreams of FCO wallahs,
with similar erroneous judgements as when TE Lawrence said,
"I can't be b*ggered going to Dera'a".


On Syria Comment Advice For UN from a Retired Diplomat and for Pres. Assad from David Lesch
What is clear is that the pro-democracy movement has failed to get significant numbers on the streets. Their biggest demonstration appears to have been in Homs at 20,000. So how many have protested in the country? I estimate 400,000 max. That is less than 2% of Syria’s 22 million. 98% of the population have stayed home and while yearning for more freedoms, participation in the running of the country, and a relaxation of the police state, do not wish to face the likely chaos that an overthrow of the Batthi regime would entail. The Iraq and Lebanon situations are ongoing reminders of what might occur. There has been very little enthusiasm in Damascus (except in the outlying suburb of Douma), or in Aleppo. Nearly half Syria’s population lives in these two cities. The pro-democracy movement has failed to organise effectively, and lacks cohesion. The fact remains that while Assad’s reputation has been severely dented by the government’s ineptitude and brutality in dealing with the protesters and the so-called reform agenda, most Syrians respect Assad enough to see him as a hope for meaningful reform. While they will not give him the benefit of the doubt forever, the fear of chaos, including secular conflict, is very real. In this respect they see the pro-democracy movement as naive and out of touch with reality.
Worth reading the whole thing.

The MB has now popped it's head up in the media. The diplomat above is rather worried that "armed gangs" are said to be at work.

Syria is a great deal more important in the bigger game than Libya.


In Beirut's The Daily Star Mutinies in army could threaten Syria’s survival By Nicholas Blanford
BEIRUT: The offensive against the beleaguered town of Daraa in southern Syria this week has given rise to reports suggesting that dissent is emerging within the ranks of the Syrian military with separate army units apparently having traded fire with each other.

If the reports of troops refusing to open fire on protesters are correct and cracks within the Syrian Army are beginning to appear, it could have grave ramifications for the regime’s ability to survive the unprecedented protests against its four-decade rule.

Still, the army and intelligence services are the Syrian state’s principle means of enforcing its will and analysts doubt that major splits within the military are imminent.
“The composition and structure of the chain of command in the Syrian Army, with little room for operational flexibility and a tendency to see orders through as a matter of unquestioned execution, makes it difficult for a military unit to defect,” said Aram Nerguizian, a military analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He added that while individual soldiers and officers may refuse orders, “defections are not likely to be en masse in part because defecting military personnel will find it difficult to find space to regroup and assemble a structure outside the Syrian Army.”

In a possible attempt to build distance between the Syrian military and the regime, the National Initiative for Change, a newly formed umbrella group for the Syrian opposition, Tuesday called on the army to lead the country’s transition to democracy.

The army, the NIC said in a statement, is “the only institution that has the capability to lead the transition period.” It said that Gen. Ali Habib, the minister of defense, and Gen. Dawud Rajha, the chief of staff, were individuals “that Syrians can positively relate” to, enabling them to play a “pivotal role during the transition process.”

There were several versions of the reported clashes this week between the elite Fourth Armored Division, commanded by Maher Assad, the brother of President Bashar Assad, and elements of the Fifth Division which also was deployed to Daraa. According to eyewitnesses and opposition activists, soldiers from the Fifth Division attempted to protect civilians and came under fire from troops with the Fourth Armored Division.

The Fifth Division is comprised mainly of Sunni conscripts. The Fourth Division was originally known as the Defense Companies and was established in the mid-70s to serve as a praetorian guard for the regime. Its officers and soldiers are mainly drawn from the Alawite community. While the Alawites control the levers of power in the army and intelligence apparatus in Syria, the army’s ranks are composed mainly of Sunnis, some of whom will identify with the protesters in Daraa.

“We have information from various battalions that the soldiers are frustrated,” Ausama Monajed, an activist, said. “The majority of the army are ordinary people, 18, 19, 20-years-old doing their compulsory military service. They feel sympathy for the protesters.”

Monajed added that at least four tanks had been burned by army dissidents in Daraa. “Tank transport vehicles removed the burnt tanks quickly before anyone could take pictures,” he said.

In the early stages of the uprising in Daraa, a soldier from Homs was allegedly shot dead for refusing to open fire on protesters. Since then there have been numerous unverified reports of soldiers and even senior officers being shot for refusing to obey orders.

Two weeks ago, Gen. Abdo Khodr Tellawi, an Alawite posted south of Homs was killed with his two sons and a nephew. The Syrian state run SANA news agency claimed that “armed criminal gangs … killed them in cold blood.” But opposition activists say that the Syrian intelligence services executed them because they were showing signs of sympathy for the protesters.

Other officers killed in the past two weeks include two Christian colonels and another Alawite general. Alawite military and intelligence officers are generally expected to stand with the regime, fearing a bloody backlash against them should Assad fall. But the Alawite community is not a homogenous entity and there are long-standing tensions between rival clans which could see some powerful figures siding with the opposition against the Assads.

Radwan Ziadeh, the director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies, said the regime blaming “armed gangs” for the spate of assassinations of officers was in line with the recommendations of a recently leaked document purportedly written by the Syrian General Intelligence department that serves as a blueprint for suppressing the uprising. The validity of the document could not be confirmed.

The document said “it is acceptable to shoot some of the security agents or army officers in order to further deceive the enemy.”

“These shootings are the second stage of the intelligence document,” Ziadeh said. “Maybe we will soon see the third stage which was the bombing of churches and mosques to stir up sectarian tensions. The regime’s message is either stability with us, or chao


On Col Lang's blog #Divisions in the ranks of the Syrian army are getting confirmed - Antonin Gregoire
"Last week, Gen. Abdo Khodr Tellawi from Homs was killed with his two sons and a nephew. The Syrian state-run SANA news agency claimed that “armed criminal gangs … killed them in cold blood.” But opposition activists say that the Syrian intelligence services executed them because they were showing signs of sympathy for the protesters, reports the Christian Science Monitor

The concept of “armed criminal gangs” operating in Syria is very hard to believe, Syria has one of the most powerful intelligence service in the world, nothing can happen in the country without the regime knowing it.

Other officers killed in the past two weeks include two Christian colonels, Samir Kashour and Whaib Issa, and Gen. Ayad Harfoush, who, like Tellawi, was an Alawite."


There are those who think my "simplistic" views on Syria are incorrect because I do not understand the power and viciousness of the Syrian police services and armed forces.

In fact, those forces are badly flawed in their inner divisions along regional and ethno-sectarian lines. If they are stressed long enough and hard enough they will come apart. The process has already begun.

What will happen then? Will Israelstand by and watch? pl

Divisions in the ranks of the Syrian army are getting confirmed - Politics -


There are also unsubstantiated reports that Iran's aiding Syria in the 'controlling' of protesters:
(From the Guardian)
Asked about evidence of Iranian involvement, Rice said: "I'm not going to get into a great deal of detail on that, but we have said repeatedly that we are very conscious of and concerned by the evidence of active Iranian involvement and support on behalf of the Syrian government in its repression of its people."

The state department said it has credible information but would not elaborate.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Iran was providing equipment to help crack down on protesters and to block their use of mobile phones and the internet, as the Iranian government had done when faced with its own internal revolt.

Michael Eisenstadt, a military and security specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said it was likely Iran was giving advice. But the Iran success against dissenters had been based on years of preparation and he was sceptical that Syria could replicate it in the short term.

He said: "And the Syrians seem to be taking a different approach as well, one that makes widespread use of firearms, while the Iranians have generally armed their internal security forces with less lethal means, such as teargas, truncheons, chains, and the like, to reduce the lethality of their response, and to scare off the more faint-hearted among the opposition.

"Also, there is a heavy psychological warfare component to the Iranian response that seems to be lacking in the Syrian action,. So it is not clear that the Syrians are listening to whatever advice they are receiving
They are only allegations about the 'involvement of Iran'. There are no facts.

By contrast Saudi troops are being used in Bahrain to oppress local population and no one word about it in the UN by the Western representatives.

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