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Found 193 results

  1. Iraqi Kurdistan said on Monday it has granted refugee status to 30 Kurdish Syrian troops who defected to the region in the first such instance in the revolt against Bashar al-Assad's regime. The autonomous Kurdistan region in north Iraq pledged it would not hand over the soldiers to Damascus after they crossed over in the past two days. "We received them for humanitarian reasons, and they are under our protection and we gave them refugee status," said Anwar Haji Othman, Kurdish deputy minister for the local peshmerga security forces. "We will not hand them over to the Syrian government because they are Kurdish and it is our right to protect them," he said. Othman said they crossed at the common border point between Dohuk province in Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria, having run "away from the Syrian army." According to an official overseeing two camps of Kurdish Syrian refugees in Dohuk, 15 families and 130 civilian men, all Kurds, have arrived in the autonomous region from Syria in recent days. "Those Syrian families were distributed between the two camps where 1,800 Kurdish Syrians are living," said Barzan Burhum Murad. Iraq has shied away from imposing punitive measures against Syria as Assad's regime carries out a bloody crackdown on an uprising against his rule in which rights groups say 7,600 people have died. While there are still regular civilian protests in Syria, the focus has shifted to armed conflict with regime forces. Assad is a member of the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, while the majority of Syrians, and of his opponents, are Sunni Muslims. Iraq, by contrast, is governed by majority Shiite Muslims, but has a substantial Sunni Arab minority. Baghdad said on Friday it would not invite the Syrian government or opposition to an Arab summit to be held in the Iraqi capital in late March, after an Arab League request that Damascus not attend. Arab League member states voted in November to suspend Syria's participation in the Arab League because of the violence. http://news.yahoo.com/dozens-syrian-soldiers-defect-iraqi-kurdistan-133542884.html
  2. (CNN) -- The outlook for the underequipped members of the Syrian opposition appeared to brighten Thursday on the eve of a Friends of Syria meeting in Tunisia. Diplomatic sources told CNN that a number of Arab nations are supplying arms to the Syrian opposition. The sources wouldn't identify which countries. In London, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton predicted the opposition will find willing sources to supply them with munitions..... "There will be increasingly capable opposition forces," she said Thursday. "They will find somewhere, somehow the means to defend themselves, as well as begin offensive measures and the pressure will build on Russia and China. World opinion is not going to stand idly by." ------------------------------------------- Time for Assad to bring down 100s of terrorists daily and do not even give them a chance to breathe.. The terrorist states such as Saudi and Qatar, and Clinton should not succeed in creating a civil war in Syria. Syrians need to save their county from satanic forces.
  3. This was from the journal Middle East Studies back in 1989, by Daniel Pipes, I disagree with a lot of his anti-Islamic views, but this particular article is an interesting and objective, neutral historic account of the Alawi rise to power, (concluding that a once former persecuted and impoverished sector of Syrian society rose through the ranks due to two key institutions: the military and Ba'ath party). A bit of a long-read, but worthwhile. The Alawi Capture of Power in Syria by Daniel Pipes Middle Eastern Studies 1989 For many centuries, the 'Alawis were the weakest, poorest, most rural, most despised, and most backward people of Syria. In recent years, however, they have transformed themselves into the ruling elite of Damascus. Today, 'Alawis dominate the government, hold key military positions, enjoy a disproportionate share of the educational resources, and are becoming wealthy. How did this dramatic change occur? When did the 'Alawi manage to escape their traditional confines, and what was the mechanism of their rise? Sunnis and others unsympathetic to the Asad regime answer this question by accusing the 'Alawis of an elaborate and long-term conspiracy to take power in Syria. Annie Laurent suggests that "determined to get their revenge" after the failure of a rebel leader, Sulayman Murshid, "the 'Alawis put into effect a strategy of setting up cells in the army and the Ba'th Party, and this won them power in Damascus." Adherents of this view date the 'Alawi ascent to 1959, the year that the Military Committee of the Ba'th Party was formed. Why, they ask, did leaders of this group keep its existence secret from the party authorities? This furtiveness suggests that the Military Committee from the beginning had a sectarian agenda. Matti Moosa argued that "it is almost certain that the officers were acting not as Baathists, but as Nusayris ['Alawis], with the intent of using the Baath and the armed forces to rise to power in Syria. The formation of the military committee was the beginning of their plan for a future takeover of the government." This speculation is confirmed by the 1960 clandestine meeting of 'Alawi religious leaders and officers (including Hafiz al-Asad) that reportedly took place in Qardaha, Asad's home town. "The main goal of this meeting was to plan how to forward the Nusayri officers into the ranks of the Ba'th Party. They would then exploit it as a means to arrive at the rule in Syria." Three years later, another 'Alawi meeting in Homs is said to have followed up the earlier initiatives. Among other steps, it called for the placement of more 'Alawis in the Ba'th Party and army. Further secret meetings of 'Alawi leaders appear to have taken place later in the 1960s. Analysts better disposed to Asad tend to discount not just these meetings and a premeditated drive for power, but the sectarian factor more generally. John F. Devlin, for example, denies that the disproportion of 'Alawis in the army implies 'Alawi dominance of Syria. He would resist seeing "every domestic disagreement in terms of a Sunni-'Alawi clash." For him, the fact that 'Alawis are in power is basically accidental: "The Ba'th is a secular party, and it is heavy with minorities." Alasdair Drysdale calls it "reductionist" to focus on ethnicity, arguing that this is one of many factors-geographic, class, age, education, occupation-that define the ruling elite. According to Yahya M. Sadowski, "sectarian loyalties play an insignificant role in the Ba'th, and even confessional bonds are only one among many avenues by which patronage is extended." The truth lies between conspiracy and accident. The 'Alawis did not "plan for a future takeover" years in advance, nor was it mere chance that the Ba'th Party was "heavy with minorities." 'Alawi power resulted from an unplanned but sectarian transformation of public life in Syria. Michael van Dusen explains: "From 1946 to 1963, Syria witnessed the gradual erosion of the national and eventually subnational political power of the traditional elite, not so much through the emergence of new and especially dynamic elites but rather by internal conflict." Translated from the jargon of political science, van Dusen is saying that internal divisions caused non-Ba'th civilian Sunnis to lose power. This provided an opening that Ba'thist officers of 'Alawi origins exploited. How these processes occurred is my subject here. First, however, some background on the 'Alawis and their place in traditional Syrian society, followed by a sketch of their ascent. THE 'ALAWI HERESY TO 1920 People and Faith "'Alawi" is the term that 'Alawis (also called 'Alawites) usually apply to themselves ; but until 1920 they were known to the outside world as Nusayris or Ansaris. The change in name - imposed by the French upon their seizure of control in Syria - has significance. Whereas "Nusayri" emphasizes the group's differences from Islam, "'Alawi" suggests an adherent of 'Ali (the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad) and accentuates the religion's similarities to Shi'i Islam. Consequently, opponents of the Asad regime habitually use the former term, supporters of the regime use the latter. 'Alawis today number approximately 1.3 million, of which about a million live in Syria. They constitute some 12 percent of the Syrian population. Three-quarters of the Syrian 'Alawis live in Latakia, a province in the northwest of Syria, where they make up almost two-thirds of the population. 'Alawi doctrines date from the ninth century A.D. and derive from the Twelver or Imami branch of Shi'i Islam (the sect that predominates in Iran). In about A.D. 859, one Ibn Nusayr declared himself the bab ("gateway to truth"), a key figure in Shi'i theology. On the basis of this authority, Ibn Nusayr proclaimed a host of new doctrines which, to make a long story short, make 'Alawism into a separate religion. According to Ibn Kathir (d. 1372), where Muslims proclaim their faith with the phrase "There is no deity but God and Muhammad is His prophet," 'Alawis assert "There is no deity but 'Ali, no veil but Muhammad, and no bab but Salman." 'Alawis reject Islam's main tenets; by almost any standard they must be considered non-Muslims. Some 'Alawi doctrines appear to derive from Phoenician paganism, Mazdakism and Manicheanism. But by far the greatest affinity is with Christianity. 'Alawi religious ceremonies involve bread and wine; indeed, wine drinking has a sacred role in 'Alawism, for it represents God. The religion holds 'Ali, the fourth caliph, to be the (Jesus-like) incarnation of divinity. It has a holy trinity, consisting of Muhammad, 'Ali, and Salman al-Farisi, a freed slave of Muhammad's. 'Alawis celebrate many Christian festivals, including Christmas, New Year's, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, and Palm Sunday. They honor many Christian saints: St. Catherine, St. Barbara, St. George, St. John the Baptist, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Mary Magdalene. The Arabic equivalents of such Christian personal names as Gabriel, John, Matthew, Catherine, and Helen, are in common use. And 'Alawis tend to show more friendliness to Christians than to Muslims. For these reasons, many observers - missionaries especially - have suspected the 'Alawis of a secret Christian proclivity. Even T. E. Lawrence described them as "those disciples of a cult of fertility, sheer pagan, antiforeign, distrustful of Islam, drawn at moments to Christianity by common persecution." The Jesuit scholar Henri Lammens unequivocally concluded from his research that "the Nusayris were Christians" and their practices combine Christian with Shi'i elements. The specifics of the 'Alawi faith are hidden not just from outsiders but even from the majority of the 'Alawis themselves. In contrast to Islam, which is premised on direct relations between God and the individual believer, 'Alawism permits only males born of two 'Alawi parents to learn the religious doctrines. When deemed trustworthy, these are initiated into some of the rites at 16-20 years of age ; other mysteries are revealed later and only gradually. Religious secrecy is strictly maintained, on pain of death and being incarnated into a vile animal. Whether the latter threat is made good, mortals cannot judge; but the first certainly is. Thus, the most renowned apostate from 'Alawism, Sulayman Efendi al-Adhani, was assassinated for divulging the sect's mysteries. Even more impressive, at a time of sectarian tension in the mid-1960s, the suggestion that the 'Alawi officers who ran the country publish the secret books of their religion caused Salah Jadid to respond with horror, saying that, were this done, the religious leaders "would crush us." Women do most of the hard labor ; they are prized "precisely because of the work they do that men will not do except grudgingly, finding it incompatible with their dignity." Women are never inducted into the mysteries ("Would you have us teach them whom we use, our holy faith?"); indeed, their uncleanliness requires their exclusion from all religious rituals. Females are thought to retain the pagan cult of worshipping trees, meadows, and hills, and to have no souls. In all, females are treated abominably; but one consequence of this disrespect is that they need not be veiled and enjoy greater freedom of movement than Muslim women. Unveiled women and several other 'Alawi practices - in particular, that wine drinking is permitted, and that some ceremonies take place at night - long excited Muslim suspicions about 'Alawi behavior. Then too, the obsessive secrecy inherent to the religion suggested to many Sunnis that the 'Alawis had something to hide. But what? Over the centuries, the Sunnis' imaginations supplied a highly evocative answer: sexual abandon and perversion. Thus, the theologian al-Ash'ari (874-936) held that 'Alawism encourages male sodomy and incestuous marriages and the founder of the Druze religious doctrine, Hamza ibn 'Ali (d. 1021), wrote that 'Alawis consider "the male member entering the female nature to be the emblem of their spiritual doctrine." Accordingly, 'Alawi men freely share their wives with co-religionists. These and other accusations survived undiminished through the centuries and even circulated among Europeans. A British traveler of the early 1840s, who was probably repeating local rumors, wrote that "the institution of marriage is unknown. When a young man grows up he buys his wife." Even 'Alawis believed in the "conjugal communism" of their religious leaders. Such calumnies remain a mainstay of the anti-'Alawi propaganda circulating in Syria today. Although the charges are false, 'Alawis do reject Islam's sacred law, the Shari'a, and therefore indulge in all manner of activities that Islamic doctrine strictly forbids. 'Alawis ignore Islamic sanitary practices, dietary restrictions, sexual mores, and religious rituals. Likewise, they pay little attention to the fasting, almsgiving, and pilgrimage ceremonies of Islam ; indeed, they consider the pilgrimage to Mecca a form of idol worship. "Spiritual marriages" between young (male) initiates and their religious mentors probably lie at the root of the charges of homosexuality. Most striking of all, 'Alawis have no prayers or places of worship ; indeed they have no religious structures other than tomb shrines. Prayers take place in private houses, usually those of religious leaders. The fourteenth-century traveler Ibn Battuta described how they responded to a government decree ordering the construction of mosques: "Every village built a mosque far from the houses, which the villagers neither enter nor maintain. They often shelter cattle and asses in it. Often a stranger arrives and goes to the mosque to recite the [islamic] call to prayer; then they yell to him, 'Stop braying, your fodder is coming.'" Five centuries later another attempt was made to build mosques for the 'Alawis, this time by the Ottoman authorities; despite official pressure, these were deserted, abandoned even by the religious functionaries, and once again used as barns. Beyond specific divergences, non-conformity to the Shari'a means that 'Alawi life follows its own rhythms, fundamentally unlike those of Muslims. 'Alawis do not act like Sunni Muslims, with only slight differences; rather, they resemble Christians and Jews in pursuing a wholly distinct way of life. Matti Moosa notes that, "like the other extremist Shiites... the Nusayris had total disregard for Muslim religious duties." Ignaz Goldziher put it succinctly: "This religion is Islam only in appearance." It is important to make this point very clear: 'Alawis have never been Muslims and are not now. Yet, as Ibn Battuta's account suggests, there is a permanent inconsistency in the 'Alawi wish to be seen as Muslim. In his case, it was mosques built and then neglected; at other times it is some other half-hearted adoption of Islamic ways. 'Alawis have a long history of claiming Islam when this suits their needs and ignoring it at other times. In short, like other sects of Shi'i origins, 'Alawis practice taqiya (religious dissimulation). This might mean, for example, praying side-by-side with Sunni Muslims but silently cursing the Sunni caliphs. The apostate 'Alawi, Sulayman Efendi al-Adhani, recounted having been sworn to dissimulate about his religion's mysteries. An 'Alawi saying explains the sentiment behind taqiya: "We are the body and other sects are but clothing. However a man dresses does not change him. So we remain always Nusayris, even though we externally adopt the practices of our neighbors. Whoever does not dissimulate is a fool, for no intelligent person goes naked in the market." Another 'Alawi phrase expresses this sentiment succinctly: "Dissimulation is our righteous war!" (al-kitman jihadna). A British traveler observed in 1697 that the 'Alawis are of a strange and singular character. For 'tis their principle to adhere to no certain religion; but camelion-like, they put on the colour of religion, whatever it be, which is reflected upon them from the persons with whom they happen to converse.... No body was ever able to discover what shape or standard their consciences are really of. All that is certain concerning them is, that they make much and good wine, and are great drinkers. A hundred and fifty years later, Benjamin Disraeli described the 'Alawis in a conversation in the novel Tancred: "Are they Moslemin?" "It is very easy to say what they are not, and that is about the extent of any knowledge we have of them; they are not Moslemin, they are not Christian, they are not Druzes, and they are not Jews, and certainly they are not Guebres [Zoroastrians]." Sulayman Efendi al-Adhani explained this flexibility from within: They take on the outward practices of all sects. If they meet [sunni] Muslims, they swear to them and say, "We are like you, we fast and we pray." But they fast improperly. If they enter a mosque with Muslims, they do not recite any of the prayers; instead, they lower and raise their bodies like the Muslims, while cursing Abu Bakr, 'Umar, 'Uthman, and other [major figures of the Sunni tradition]. Taqiya permitted 'Alawis to blow with the wind. When France ruled, they portrayed themselves as lost Christians. When Pan-Arabism was in favor, they became fervent Arabs. Over 10,000 'Alawis living in Damascus pretended to be Sunnis in the years before Asad came to power, only revealing their true identities when this became politically useful. During Asad's presidency, concerted efforts were made to portray the 'Alawis as Twelver Shi'is. Relations with Sunnis Mainstream Muslims, Sunni and Shi'i alike, traditionally disregarded 'Alawi efforts at dissimulation; they viewed 'Alawis as beyond the pale of Islam - as non-Muslims. Hamza ibn 'Ali, who saw the religion's appeal lying in its perversity, articulated this view: "The first thing that promotes the wicked Nusayri is the fact that all things normally prohibited to humans - murder, stealing, lying, calumny, fornication, pederasty - is permitted to he or she who accepts ['Alawi doctrines]." Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058-1111), the Thomas Aquinas of Islam, wrote that the 'Alawis "apostatize in matters of blood, money, marriage, and butchering, so it is a duty to kill them." Ahmad ibn Taymiya (1268-1328), the still highly influential Sunni writer of Syrian origins, wrote in a fatwa (religious decision) that "the Nusayris are more infidel than Jews or Christians, even more infidel than many polytheists. They have done greater harm to the community of Muhammad than have the warring infidels such as the Franks, the Turks, and others. To ignorant Muslims they pretend to be Shi'is, though in reality they do not believe in God or His prophet or His book." Ibn Taymiya warned of the mischief their enmity can do: "Whenever possible, they spill the blood of Muslims. They are always the worst enemies of the Muslims." In conclusion, he argued that "war and punishment in accordance with Islamic law against them are among the greatest of pious deeds and the most important obligations" for a Muslim. From the fourteenth century on, Sunnis used the term "Nusayri" to mean pariah. 'Alawis had had no recognized position in the millet (sectarian) system of the Ottoman Empire. An Ottoman decree from 1571 notes that "ancient custom" required 'Alawis to pay extra taxes to the authorities and justified this on the grounds that 'Alawis "neither practice the fast [of Ramadan] nor the ritual prayers, nor do they observe any precepts of the Islamic religion." Sunnis often saw food produced by 'Alawis as unclean, and did not eat it. According to Jacques Weulerrse, "no 'Alawi would dare enter a Muslim mosque. Formerly, not one of their religious leaders was able to go to town on the day of public prayer [Friday] without risk of being stoned. Any public demonstration of the community's separate identity was taken as a challenge [by the Sunnis]." Sunnis were not alone in reading 'Alawis out of Islam-mainstream Shi'is did likewise. And 'Alawis in turn saw both groups as deficient. Sunni heresiographers excoriated Alawi beliefs and viewed the Alawis as disbelievers (kuffar) and idolaters (mushrikun). Twelver Shi'i heresiographers were only slightly less vituperative and regarded the Alawis as ghulat, "those who exceed" all bounds in their deification of Ali. The Alawis, in turn, held Twelver Shi'is to be muqassira, "those who fall short" of fathoming Ali's divinity. There was one exception to this consensus that 'Alawis are not Muslims. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, as Christian missionaries began taking an interest in the 'Alawis, Ottoman authorities tried to bring them into Islam. The French already had special ties to their fellow Catholics, the Maronites, and the authorities in Istanbul feared a similar bond being created with the 'Alawis. So they built mosques in the 'Alawi areas, built schools to teach Islam, pressured 'Alawi religious leaders to adopt Sunni practices, and generally tried to make the 'Alawis act like proper Muslims. This isolated case of Sunnis reaching out to 'Alawism came to an end after a few decades and had very little impact on 'Alawi behavior. The Islamic religion reserves a special hostility for 'Alawis. Like other post-Islamic sects (such as the Baha'is and Ahmadis), they are seen to contradict the key Islamic tenet that God's last revelation went to Muhammad, and this Muslims find utterly unacceptable. Islamic law acknowledges the legitimacy of Judaism and Christianity because those religions preceded Islam; accordingly, Jews and Christians may maintain their faiths. But 'Alawis are denied this privilege. Indeed, the precepts of Islam call for apostates like the 'Alawis to be sold into slavery or executed. In the nineteenth century, a Sunni shaykh, Ibrahim al-Maghribi, issued a fatwa to the effect that Muslims may freely take 'Alawi property and lives; and a British traveler records being told, "these Ansayrii, it is better to kill one than to pray a whole day." Frequently persecuted-some 20,000 were massacred in 1317 and half that number in 1516, the 'Alawis insulated themselves geographically from the outside world by staying within their own rural regions. Jacques Weulersse explained their predicament: Defeated and persecuted, the heterodox sects disappeared or, to survive, renounced proselytism.... The 'Alawis silently entrenched themselves in their mountains.... Isolated in rough country, surrounded by a hostile population, henceforth without communications with the outside world, the 'Alawis began to live out their solitary existence in secrecy and repression. Their doctrine, entirely formed, evolved no further. E. Janot described the problem: "Bullied by the Turks, victim of a determined ostracism, fleeced by his Muslim landlord, the 'Alawi hardly dared leave his mountain region, where isolation and poverty itself protected him." In the late 1920s, less than half of one percent lived in towns: just 771 'Alawis out of a population of 176,285. In 1945, just 56 'Alawis were recorded living in Damascus (though many others may have been hiding their identity). For good reason, "the name Nusayri became synonymous with peasant." The few 'Alawis who did live away from their mountain routinely practiced taqiya. Even today, 'Alawis dominate the rural areas of Latakia but make up only 11 percent of the residents in that region's capital city. Centuries of hostility took their toll on the 'Alawi psyche. In addition to praying for the damnation of their Sunni enemies, 'Alawis attacked outsiders. They acquired a reputation as fierce and unruly mountain people who resisted paying the taxes they owed the authorities and frequently plundered Sunni villagers on the plains. John Lewis Burckhardt observed in 1812 that those villagers "hold the Anzeyrys [Ansaris] in contempt for their religion, and fear them, because they often descend from the mountains in the night, cross the Aaszy ['Asi, or Orontes River], and steal, or carry off by force, the cattle of the valley." Matters seemed to be even worse in 1860 when Samuel Lyde added that "nothing is thought of thus killing a Mussulman as a natural enemy, or a Christian as an unclean thing." Writing about the same time, a British travel-guide writer warned of the cool reception to be expected from the 'Alawis: "They are a wild and somewhat savage race, given to plunder, and even bloodshed, when their passions are excited or suspicion roused." With wonderful understatement, the guide author concluded, "their country must therefore be traversed with caution." 'Alawis retreated to the mountains because of persecution; they then remained there, shielded from the world at large, lacking political power beyond their region's confines, isolated from the larger polities around them, almost outside the bounds of historical change. The survival well into the twentieth century of archaic practices made the 'Alawi region (in Jacques Weulersse's turn of phrase) a "fossile country." Little changed in that country because "it is not the Mountain that is humanized; man, rather, is made savage." 'Alawis suffered as a result: "the refuge they had conquered became a prison; though masters of the Mountain they could not leave." Governments had difficulty subduing the 'Alawi territory; indeed, it only came under Ottoman control in the late 1850s. Pacification of the region then led to Sunni economic inroads and the formation of an 'Alawi underclass. As badly educated peasants lacking in political organization or military strength, 'Alawis typically worked farms belonging to Sunni Arab landlords, receiving but a fifth of the produce. Ottoman agents would often exact double or triple the taxes due in the Latakia region. 'Alawis were so badly off after World War I, many of the youth left their homeland to work elsewhere. Sons left to find menial labor or to join the armed forces. Daughters went off at the age of seven or eight years to work as domestics for urban Sunni Arabs. Because many of them also ended up as mistresses (one estimate holds that a quarter of all 'Alawi children in the 1930s and 1940s had Sunni fathers), both Muslims and 'Alawis saw this practice as deeply shameful. In some cases, daughters were even sold. It is no exaggeration to say, as does one indigenous historian, that 'Alawis "were among the poorest of the East." The Reverend Samuel Lyde went even further, writing in 1860 that "the state of ['Alawi] society is a perfect hell upon earth." The political effects of poverty were exacerbated by the nature of these divisions, which followed geographic and communal lines. Sunnis who lived in the towns enjoyed a much greater wealth and dominated the 'Alawi peasants. Jacques Weulersse described in 1934 how each community "lives apart with its own customs and its own laws. Not only are they different but they are hostile... the idea of mixed marriages appears to be inconceivable." In 1946, he added that "the antagonism between urban and rural people goes so deep that one can almost speak of two different populations co-existing within one political framework." A generation later, Nikolaos van Dam observed, "Urban-rural contrasts were sometimes so great that the cities seemed like settlements of aliens who sponged on the poverty-stricken rural population.... In the course of time, the Alawi community developed a strong distrust of the Sunnis who had so often been their oppressors." This 'Alawi resentment of Sunnis has proven enormously consequential in recent years. THE RISE OF THE 'ALAWIS, 1920-1970 The 'Alawis' ascent took place over the course of half a century. In 1920 they were still the lowly minority just described; by 1970, they firmly ruled Syria. This stunning transformation took place in three stages: the French mandate (1920-46), the period of Sunni dominance (1946-63), and the era of 'Alawi consolidation (1963-70). The French Mandate, 1920-1946 According to Yusuf al-Hakim, a prominent Syrian politician, the 'Alawis adopted a pro-French attitude even before the French conquest of Damascus in July 1920. "The 'Alawis saw themselves in a state of grace after hell; accordingly, they were dedicated to the French mandate and did not send a delegation to the [General] Syrian Congress." So intensely did they oppose Prince Faysal, the Sunni Arab ruler of Syria in 1918-20 whom they suspected of wanting to dominate them, they launched a rebellion against his rule in 1919, using French arms. According to one well-informed observer, the 'Alawis cursed Islam and prayed "for the destruction of the Ottoman Empire." General Gouraud received a telegram in late 1919 from 73 'Alawi chiefs representing different tribes, who asked for "the establishment of an independent Nusayri union under our absolute protection." Two years later the 'Alawis rebelled against French rule under the leadership of Salih al-'Ali, an event that the Asad government proudly points to as an anti-imperialist credential. But a close look, suggests that the revolt had more to do with the fact that the Isma'ilis had sided with France and, given the state of Isma'ili-'Alawi relations, this led to hostilities between the 'Alawis and French. As soon as the French authorities granted autonomy to the 'Alawis, they won 'Alawi support. Indeed, the establishment of French rule after World War I benefited the 'Alawis more than any other community. French efforts to cooperate with the minorities meant the 'Alawis gained political autonomy and escaped Sunni control; the state of Latakia was set up on 1 July 1922. They also gained legal autonomy; a 1922 decision to end Sunni control of court cases involving 'Alawis transferred these cases to 'Alawi jurists. The 'Alawi state enjoyed low taxation and a sizeable French subsidy. Not surprisingly, 'Alawis accepted all these changes with enthusiasm. As an anti-'Alawi historian later put it, "At the time when resistance movements were mounted against the French mandate, when Damascus, Aleppo, and the Hawran witnessed continuous rebellions on behalf of Syrian unity and independence, the Nusayris were blessing the division of the country into tiny statelets." In return, 'Alawis helped maintain French rule. They turned out in large numbers when most Syrians boycotted the French-sponsored elections of January 1926. They provided a disproportionate number of soldiers to the government, forming about half the eight infantry battalions making up the Troupes Spéciales du Levant, serving as police, and supplying intelligence. As late as May 1945, the vast majority of Troupes Spéciales remained loyal to their French commanders. 'Alawis broke up Sunni demonstrations, shut down strikes, and quelled rebellions. 'Alawis publicly favored the continuation of French rule, fearing that France's departure would lead to a reassertion of Sunni control over them. Henri de Jouvenel, the French High Commissioner for Syria (1925-27), quoted a leading 'Alawi politician telling him: "We have succeeded in making more progress in three or four years than we had in three or four centuries. Leave us therefore in our present situation." Pro-French sentiment was expressed especially clearly in 1936, when the temporary incorporation of the 'Alawi state into Syria provoked wide protests. A March 1936 petition referred to union with the Sunnis as "slavery." On 11 June 1936, an 'Alawi leader wrote a letter to Prime Minister Léon Blum of France, reminding him of "the profoundness of the abyss that separates us from the [sunni] Syrians," and asking him to "imagine the disastrous catastrophe that would follow" incorporation. Days later, six 'Alawi notables (including Sulayman Asad, said to be Hafiz al-Asad's grandfather) sent another letter to Blum in which they made several points: 'Alawis differ from Sunnis religiously and historically; 'Alawis refuse to be joined to Syria, for it is a Sunni state and Sunnis consider them unbelievers (kafirs); ending the mandate would expose the 'Alawis to mortal danger; "the spirit of religious feudalism" makes the country unfit for self-rule; therefore, France should secure the 'Alawis freedom and independence by staying in Syria. An 'Alawi note to the French government in July 1936 asked: "Are the French today ignorant that the Crusades would have succeeded if their fortresses had been in northeast Syria, in the Land of the Nusayris?.... We are the people most faithful to France." Even more strongly worded was a petition of September 1936, signed by 450,000 'Alawis, Christians, and Druzes, which read: The 'Alawis believe that they are humans, not beasts ready for slaughter. No power in the world can force them to accept the yoke of their traditional and hereditary enemies to be slaves forever.... The 'Alawis would profoundly regret the loss of their friendship and loyal attachment to noble France, which has until now been so loved, admired, and adored by them. Although Latakia lost its autonomous status in December 1936, the province continued to benefit from a "special administrative and financial regime." 'Alawi resistance to Sunni rule took a new turn in 1939 with the launching of an armed rebellion led by Sulayman al-Murshid, the "half-sinister, half-ludicrous, figure of the obese, illiterate, miracle-working 'god.'" Murshid, a bandit who proclaimed himself divine, challenged Sunni rule with French weapons and some 5,000 'Alawi followers. In the words of a 1944 British consular report: "The local Alaouite leaders, whose conception of the new order in Syria is a Nationalist Government who will treat them after the fashion of the French, upholding their authority and condoning their excesses, are doing their best to combine, and the movement appears to be supported by the French." Murshid succeeded in keeping Damascus' authority out of the 'Alawi territories. Right up to independence, 'Alawi leaders continued to submit petitions to the French in favor of continued French patronage. For example, a manifesto signed by twelve leaders in March 1945 called for all 'Alawi soldiers to remain under French command and French arbitration of disputes between the 'Alawi government and Damascus. Sunni Dominance, 1946-1963 It was the Sunnis, and especially the urban Sunni elite, who inherited the government when the French mandate ended in 1946. Even after independence, 'Alawis continued to resist submission to the central government. Sulayman al-Murshid led a second revolt in 1946, ending in his execution. A third unsuccessful uprising, led by Murshid's son took place in 1952. The failure of these efforts led 'Alawis to look into the possibility of attaching Latakia to Lebanon or Transjordan - anything to avoid absorption into Syria. These acts of resistance further tarnished the 'Alawis' already poor reputation among Sunnis. When they came to power, the Sunni rulers in Damascus spared no effort to integrate Latakia into Syria (in part because this region offered the only access to the sea). Overcoming armed resistance, they abolished the 'Alawi state, 'Alawi military units, 'Alawi seats in parliament, and courts applying 'Alawi laws of personal status. These measures had some success; 'Alawis became reconciled to Syrian citizenship after the crushing of a Druze revolt in 1954 and henceforth gave up the dream of a separate state. This change of outlook, which seemed to be a matter of relatively minor importance at the time, in fact ushered in a new era of Syrian political life: the political ascent of the 'Alawis. Once they recognized that their future lay within Syria, the 'Alawis began a rapid rise to power. Two key institutions, the armed forces and the Ba'th Party, had special importance in their transformation. Even though the special circumstances which had brought them into the military lapsed with the French departure, 'Alawis and other minorities continued after independence to be over-represented in the army. Old soldiers remained in service and new ones kept coming in. Given the Sunni attitude toward 'Alawis, the persistence of large numbers of 'Alawis in the armed forces is surprising. This anomaly resulted from several factors. First, the military retained its reputation as a place for the minorities. Patrick Seale observed that Sunni landed families, "being predominantly of nationalist sentiment, despised the army as a profession: to join it between the wars was to serve the French. Homs [Military Academy] to them was a place for the lazy, the rebellious, the academically backward, or the socially undistinguished." For the non-Sunnis, however, Homs was a place of opportunity for the ambitious and talented. Second, the Sunni rulers virtually ignored the army as a tool of state; fearing its power in domestic politics, they begrudged it funds, kept it small, and rendered military careers unattractive. Third, the dire economic predicament of the 'Alawis and other rural peoples meant that they could not pay the fee to exempt their children from military service. More positively, those children saw military service as a means to make a decent living. Accordingly, although the proportion of 'Alawis entering the Homs Military Academy declined after 1946, 'Alawis remained over-represented in the officer corps. A report from 1949 stated that "persons originating from the minorities" commanded "all units of any importance" in the Syrian military. (This did not mean just 'Alawis; for example, the bodyguard of President Husni az-Za'im in 1949 was entirely Circassian.) 'Alawis formed a plurality among the soldiers and some two-thirds of the non-commissioned officers. Sunni leaders apparently believed that reserving the top positions for themselves would suffice to control the military forces. Accordingly, minorities filled the lower ranks and for some years found it difficult to rise above the company level. Ironically, this discrimination actually served them well; as senior officers engaged in innumerable military coups d'état between 1949 and 1963, each change of government was accompanied by ruinous power struggles among the Sunnis, leading to resignations and the depletion of Sunni ranks. Wags claimed, with some justice, that there were more officers outside the Syrian army than inside it. Standing apart from these conflicts, the non-Sunnis, and 'Alawis especially, benefited from the repeated purges. As Sunni officers eliminated each other, 'Alawis inherited their positions. With time, 'Alawis became increasingly senior; and, as one 'Alawi rose through the ranks, he brought his kinsmen along. Purges and counter-purges during the 1946-63 period bred a deep mistrust between the officers. Never knowing who might be plotting against whom, superior officers frequently bypassed the normal hierarchy of command in favor of kinship bonds. As fear of betrayal came to dominate relations between military men, having reliable ethnic ties gave minority officers great advantage. In circumstances of almost universal suspicion, those officers within reliable networks could act far more effectively than those without. Sunnis entered the military as individuals, while 'Alawis entered as members of a sect; the latter, therefore, prospered. 'Alawi ethnic solidarity offered a far more enduring basis of cooperation than the shifting alliances formed by Sunni officers. In addition to the military, 'Alawis also acquired power through the Ba'th Party. From its earliest years, the Ba'th held special attraction for Syrians of rural and minority backgrounds, including the 'Alawis, who joined in disproportionately large numbers (especially at the Ba'th Party's Latakia branch ). Rural migrants who went to Damascus for educational purposes constituted a majority of the membership in the Ba'th Party. They tended to be students of lower middle-class origins, the sons of ex-peasants newly arrived in the towns. In Aleppo, for example, the Ba'th claimed as members as many as three-quarters of the high school students in some schools. One of the founders of the party was an 'Alawi, Zaki al-Arsuzi, and he brought along many of his (rural) coreligionists to the Ba'th. In particular, two doctrines appealed to the 'Alawis: socialism and secularism. Socialism offered economic opportunities to the country's poorest community. (The Ba'th's socialism was unclear, however, until the 1960s; only when the minorities took over did this feature became prominent ). Secularism - the withdrawal of religion from public life - offered the promise of less prejudice to a despised minority. What could be more attractive to members of a downtrodden religious community than a combination of these two ideologies? Indeed, these aspects drew 'Alawis (and other poor rural minorities) to the Ba'th more than its Pan-Arab nationalism. The only rival to the Ba'th was the SSNP, which offered roughly the same attractions. The two competed rather evenly for a decade, until the Ba'th eliminated the SSNP through the Maliki affair in 1955. From then on, especially in Syria, 'Alawis were associated predominantly with the Ba'th. 'Alawi Consolidation, 1963-1970 Three changes in regime marked the 'Alawi consolidation of power: the Ba'th coup d'état of March 1963, the 'Alawi coup of February 1966, and the Asad coup of November 1970. 'Alawis had a major role in the coup of 8 March 1963 and took many of the key government positions in the Ba'th regime that followed. Between 1963 and 1966, sectarian battles pitting minorities against Sunnis took place within the military and the Ba'th Party. First the military: to resist President Amin al-Hafiz, a Sunni, and to consolidate their new position, 'Alawi leaders flooded the military with cosectarians. In this way, minority officers came to dominate the Syrian military establishment. When seven hundred vacancies opened in the army soon after the March 1963 coup, 'Alawis filled half the positions. So restricted were Sunnis, some graduating cadets were denied their commissions to the officer corps. While 'Alawis, Druze, and Isma'ilis held politically sensitive positions in the Damascus region, Sunnis were sent to regions distant from the capital. Although communal affiliation did not drive every alliance, it provided the basis for most enduring relationships. 'Alawi leaders such as Muhammad 'Umran built key units of members from their own religious community. Sunni officers often became figureheads, holding high positions but disposing of little power. In retaliation, Hafiz came to see nearly every 'Alawi as an enemy and pursued blatant sectarian policies, for example, excluding 'Alawis from some positions solely on the basis of communal affiliation. Even 'Alawi officers who resisted confessionalism eventually succumbed to it. Political events solidified ties between 'Alawis, reducing the tribal, social, and sectarian differences that historically had split them. Itamar Rabinovich, a foremost student of this period, explains how confessionalism acquired a dynamic of its own: J'did [salah Jadid, ruler of Syria 1966-70] was among those who (for political reasons) denounced 'Umran for promoting "sectarianism" (ta'ifiyya) but ironically he inherited the support of many 'Alawi officers who had been advanced by 'Umran.... The 'Alawi officers promoted by 'Umran realized that their overrepresentation in the upper echelons of the army was resented by the majority, and they seem to have rallied around J'did, by then the most prominent 'Alawi officer in the Syrian army and the person deemed most likely to preserve their high but precarious position. It was also quite natural for [Amin al-] Hafiz... to try to gather Sunni officers around himself by accusing J'did of engaging in "sectarian" politics.... The solidarity of [Jadid's] 'Alawi supporters seems to have been further cemented by the feeling that the issue had assumed a confessional character and that their collective and personal positions were at stake. The same factors caused Druze officers - also overrepresented in high military offices - to throw in their lot with the 'Alawis in 1965. A similar dynamic occurred in the Ba'th Party. Just as 'Alawis filled more than half of seven hundred military vacancies, so they moved in numbers into the party. To make their recruitment possible, ideological requirements for admission were relaxed for two years after March 1963. Many party officials brought in members of their family, tribe, village, or sect. As an internal Ba'th Party document of 1966 explained the problem, "friendship, family relationship and sometimes mere personal acquaintance were the basis" of admission to the party, leading "to the infiltration of elements alien to the party's logic and points of departure." While 'Alawis brought in other 'Alawis, many Sunnis were purged. Membership quintupled in the year after its accession to power, transforming the party from an ideological to a sectarian affiliation. The Ba'th became an entirely different institution during its first two and half years in power (March 1963 to late 1965 ). These changes culminated in Hafiz' decision in February 1966 to purge 30 officers of minority background from the army. Hearing of his plan, a group of mainly 'Alawi Ba'thist officers pre-empted Hafiz and took power on 23 February in Syria's bloodiest-ever change of government. Once in office, they purged rival officers belonging to other religious groups - first the Sunnis and Druze, then the Isma'ilis - further exacerbating communal tensions. 'Alawi officers received the most important postings, and acquired unprecedented power. The Regional Command of the Ba'th Party, a key decisionmaking center, included no representatives at all during the 1966-70 period from the Sunni urban areas of Damascus, Aleppo, and Hama. Two-thirds of its members, however, were recruited from the rural and minority populations in Latakia, the Hawran, and Dayr az-Zur. The skewing was even more apparent among military officers on the Regional Command; during 1966-70, 63 percent came from Latakia alone. The 'Alawi hold on power provoked bitter complaints from other communities. A Druze military leader, Salim Hatum, told the press after he fled Syria that 'Alawis in the army outnumbered the other religious communities by a ratio of 5-to-1. He noted that "the situation in Syria was being threatened by a civil war as a result of the growth of the sectarian and tribal spirit." He also observed that "whenever a Syrian military man is questioned about his free officers, his answer will be that they have been dismissed and driven away, and that only 'Alawi officers have remained." Playing on the Ba'th slogan, "One Arab nation with an eternal mission," Hatum mocked the rulers in Damascus, saying that they believe in "One 'Alawi state with an eternal mission." 'Alawi domination did not assure stability. Two 'Alawi leaders, Salah Jadid and Hafiz al-Asad, fought each other for supremacy in Syria through the late 1960s, a rivalry that ended only when Asad prevailed in November 1970. In addition to differences in outlook - Jadid was more the ideologue and Asad more the pragmatist - they represented diverse 'Alawi sects. The September 1970 war between the PLO and the Jordanian government was the decisive event in Asad's rise to power. Jadid sent Syrian ground forces to help the Palestinians but Asad refused to send air cover. The defeat of Syrian armor precipitated Asad's bloodless coup d'état two months later. This, Syria's tenth military coup d'état in seventeen years, was to be the last for a long time to come. It also virtually ended intra-'Alawi fighting. The man who won the long contest for control of Syria, Hafiz ibn 'Ali ibn Sulayman al-Asad, was born on 6 October 1930 in Qardaha, a village not far from the Turkish border and the seat of the 'Alawi religious leader. Hafiz was the second of five children (Bayat, Hafiz, Jamil, Rif'at, Bahija); in addition, his father had an older son by another wife. The family belongs to the Numaylatiya branch of the Matawira tribe. (This means Asad's ancestors came from Iraq in the 1120s.) Accounts differ whether his father was a poor peasant, a fairly well off farmer, or a notable. Chances are, the family was well off, for while Qardaha consisted mostly of dried mud houses, the Asads lived in a stone house. In later years, however, Asad cultivated a story of poverty, recounting to visitors, for example, about having to drop out of school until his father found the 16 Syrian pounds to pay for his tuition. True or not, Hafiz was a superior student and, on the strength of his academic record, he moved to the nearby town of Latakia in 1940, where he attended a leading high school, the Collège de Lattaquié. Then, sometime after 1944, it appears that he changed his name from Wahsh, meaning "wild beast" or "monster" to Asad, meaning "lion." In 1948, when only 17 years old, he went to Damascus and volunteered in the Syrian army to help destroy the nascent state of Israel, only to be rejected as under age. Nonetheless, at least according to his own testimony, Asad did fight. He enrolled at the Homs Military Academy in 1950, graduated in 1952, and began attending the Aleppo Air School in 1952. He became a combat pilot in 1954 and distinguished himself in this capacity. (He shot down a British plane during the Suez operation.) Asad studied in Egypt and then, for eleven months in 1958, in the Soviet Union, where he learned how to fly MiG 15s and 17s and picked up a bit of the Russian language. During the UAR years, he commanded a night-fighter squadron near Cairo. Asad was active in politics as early as 1945, serving first as president of the Students' Committee at the Collège de Lattaquié, then as president of the National Union of Students. While still a student, Asad was jailed by the French authorities for political activities. He joined the Ba'th Party soon after its creation in 1947 (making him one of the party's earliest members). Even as he rose through the military ranks, he remained active in the Ba'th Party. In 1959, during his exile in Egypt, Asad helped found the Military Committee and organize its activities. By that time, he had also begun the decade-long process of consolidating his position within the Syrian armed forces. Asad was a powerful figure in 1961, so the conservative leaders who took power in Damascus late that year (after the dissolution of the UAR) forced him to resign his commission as captain and take up a minor position in the Ministry of Transportation. But Asad continued to participate in Military Committee activities, joining in a failed putsch on 29 March 1962, after which he fled to Tripoli, Lebanon, where he was apprehended by the authorities and jailed for nine days, then extradited back to Syria. This misadventure notwithstanding, he played an important role in the 1963 coup and was rewarded with a recall to the army and a meteoric rise through the ranks, going from major in early 1963 to major-general in late 1964 and field marshal in 1968. (He resigned from the military in 1970 or 1971.) Asad took command of the air force in 1963 and made this his power base to take control of the entire army during the subsequent years of turmoil. Asad's support for the rebellion in February 1966 proved decisive in the coup that brought the 'Alawis to power; his reward was to be appointed defense minister just twenty minutes after the new regime had been proclaimed. This new position gave Asad an opportunity to extend his authority beyond the air force, especially to the combat forces of the army. Then Asad's coup of November 1970 was the culmination of the 'Alawi rise to power in Syria. Conclusion The manner of the 'Alawi ascent reveals much about Syria's political culture, pointing to complex connections between the army, the political parties, and the ethnic community. The Ba'th Party, the army, and the 'Alawis rose in tandem; but which of these three had the most importance? Were the new rulers Ba'thists who just happened to be 'Alawi soldiers, or were they soldiers who happened to be 'Alawi Ba'thists? Actually, a third formulation is most accurate: these were 'Alawis who happened to be Ba'thists and soldiers. True, the party and the military were critical, but in the end it was the transfer of authority from Sunnis to 'Alawis that counted most. Without deprecating the critical roles of Party and army, the 'Alawi affiliation ultimately defined the rulers of Syria. Party and career mattered, but, as is so often the case in Syria, ethnic and religious affiliation ultimately define identity. To see the Asad regime primarily in terms of its Ba'thist or military nature is to ignore the key to Syrian politics. Confessional affiliation remains vitally important; as through the centuries, a person's sect matters more than any other attribute. The Sunni response to the new rulers, which has taken a predominantly communal form, bears out this view. The widespread opposition of Sunnis - who make up about 69 percent of the Syrian population - to an 'Alawi ruler has inspired the Muslim Brethren organization to challenge the government in violent, even terroristic ways. Although unsuccessful until now, the Brethren have on several occasions come near to toppling the regime. It appears inevitable that the 'Alawis - still a small and despised minority, for all their present power - will eventually lose their control over Syria. When this happens, it is likely that conflicts along communal lines will bring them down, with the critical battle taking place between the 'Alawi rulers and the Sunni majority. In this sense, the 'Alawis' fall - be it through assassinations of top figures, a palace coup, or a regional revolt - is likely to resemble their rise. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- June 15, 2000 update: Pace the last paragraph above: The fall of the 'Alawis is indeed inevitable, but the succession of his Bashshar al-Asad on the death of hs father Hafiz al-Asad on June 10, 'Alawi rule in Syria continues. March 1, 2010 update: "Today, the Alawis of Syria are the only ruling religious minority in the Muslim world." With that striking statement, Yvette Talhamy, formerly of Haifa University, opens her important article, "The Fatwas and the Nusayri/Alawis of Syria" in Middle Eastern Studies.. She reviews fatwas hostile to the 'Alawis from before the twentieth century and three friendly ones from the twentieth century, arguing that "these fatwas shaped the history of the Nusayris." It's one of the few pieces of research to build on the subject of the article above.
  4. Syria, UN Resolutions & the Bigger Picture So what are we to make of the situation in Syria? The UK, US and France have vigorously attempted to get a UN security resolution passed on the ever worsening conditions in Syria, a resolution which has been vetoed by both permanent UNSC members, China & Russia. The Russian envoy to the UNSC, Vitaly Churkin has insisted that: "Some influential members of the international community unfortunately… have been undermining the opportunity for political settlement, calling for a regime change, pushing the oppositionists to power." You have to question the real motives of the Western diplomats and their Arab allies. Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN has made blustering statements on the veto: "Sell out the Syrian people and shield a craven tyrant......any further bloodshed that flows will be on their hands." Our very own William Hague hasn’t been that far behind his American counterpart, stating the veto: "Lets the Syrian people down, and will only encourage President Assad’s brutal regime to increase the killing." Almost every single player involved in this unfolding tragedy is engaged in the same manner of self righteous indignation. The same players of course, that were prominent in the regime change in Libya. Now we're no fans of the regimes in Damascus, Moscow or Beijing, but are they right to veto the resolution? Yes. But not for the whiter than white reasons they may claim. There is a far greater game being carved out in the Middle East, sadly our media (as well as Al Jazeera) is presenting it as a simple case of acrimony amidst the geo-political self interests of China and Russia, against the benevolent and kind hearted nature of UNSC members that supported the resolution. The resolution was of course itself driven by political machinations, by strategic demands and potential gains. It is downright perfidious to suggest that the real concerns of the western political powers are with the Syrian people. In fact, some media commentators have stated that the unfolding conflict in Syria has been covered with “Less interest in empirically collected data and more reliance on hysteria and manipulation and rumour.” For example, last Friday’s attack on Homs was reported to have killed more than two hundred people, in reality the number was later revised to fifty five. Fifty five deaths too many, but when your only sources are “activists” that you are using to bolster another western intervention, the veracity of the information cannot be guaranteed. The apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree where the Assad’s are concerned. Basher’s father, Hafez gave the go ahead for the Hama massacre of February 1982 that left tens of thousands of Syrians dead. Do we condemn Assad and his regime, of course we do, whole heartedly, but not for the same reasons of self interest “The West” has. With Libya as the new template for regime change, we have to ask the questions that no one else is asking: Why is there not a greater split amongst the Assad regime? Who are the “Free Syrian Army”? Who are the “Syrian National Council”? Who is arming the rebel factions? Why are Qatar acting as a military and media cheerleader? Why has Saudi declared it recognises the Syrian National Council and what is its motivation in doing so? The written testimony of Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer is worth considering. He claimed last year that: ‘NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict.’ If this is correct, why are NATO involved in conspiratorial schemes of regime change, deemed illegal under international law? Would you be surprised to know that the self styled Christian crusading knight and uber mercenary Erik Prince and his Blackwater boys have been carrying out covert operations in Syria since January 2011. In a recent interview, Prince stated: “In Syria, we did the signals intelligence to geo-locate the bad guys in a very denied area.” So will direct intervention like in Libya improve the situation? These are the questions to which we should be demanding answers, yet they are not even being asked. The official narrative (same as Libya) is of the archetypal evil Arab tyrant, butchering his own people. These narratives are of course promoted by the very same people who want regime change in Syria. Are atrocities being committed? Yes. Can we say conclusively who is committing them all? The Arab League observer mission (not that it carries much gravitas, when tyrants from equally abhorrent murderous neighbouring states are doing the observing) stated it is not conclusive who is perpetrating the acts of terror in Syria. If we believe NATO and effectively the US is on the ground in Syria in some capacity, could they be responsible for some of them? The cases of full Western invention are being made, with the now well worn ‘we cannot stand idly by’ argument that “The West” should provide the opposition with special forces training of the kind that was provided in Libya. The policy for Syria is being developed in America, of that there should be no doubt. Therefore it’s probably best to leave you with the cold hearted realism of the realpolitik espoused by neo con and “Israel firster” Charles Krauthammer. In a recent op-ed piece in The Washington Post the game plan for regime change in Syria and external intervention were made all too startlingly clear: "His (Assad) fall would deprive Iran of an intra-Arab staging area and sever its corridor to the Mediterranean. Syria would return to the Sunni fold. Hezbollah, Tehran’s agent in Lebanon, could be next, withering on the vine without Syrian support and Iranian material. Hamas would revert to Egyptian patronage. At the end of this causal chain, Iran, shorn of key allies and already reeling from economic sanctions over its nuclear program, would be thrown back on its heels." He continued: "Force the issue. Draw bright lines. Make clear American solidarity with the Arab League against a hegemonic Iran and its tottering Syrian client. In diplomacy, one often has to choose between human rights and strategic advantage. This is a rare case where we can advance both — so long as we do not compromise with Russia or relent until Assad falls." Does it make it clearer now? It’s Iran and it always has been about Iran. After the illegal invasion of Iraq for the purpose of regime change, “The West” quickly learnt that the blowback on their own shores from a restive Muslim population would cause immense problems. So how do “The West” engineer regime change now? In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, General Wesley Clark, the retired four-star American General and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, stated that he was privy to discussions that described how:"We’re going to take out seven countries, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran." The conditions for a similar strategy of tension are being unrolled in Lebanon, with a cargo containing huge amounts of US dollars, guns, special passports and credit cards having been seized upon arrival in Beirut yesturday morning. Understand that whilst our politicians in the UK pontificate about the ever worsening condition of the Syrian people, the real drivers for the resolution come from the Americans. They are not concerned about the slaughter in Syria or anywhere else in the region. Their murderous intent of reshaping the region is polished with the veneer of respectability afforded by the useful idiots in the FCO and the media right here in the UK. For us, the motives are clear, and that’s why we will not support any UNSC resolutions bought forward by America and her cronies. http://www.mpacuk.org/story/090212/syria-un-resolutions-bigger-picture.html
  5. Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah says the United States, Israel, and some Arab states, as well as al-Qaeda, seek to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Press TV reports. “There is an Arab, Western, American, and Israeli insistence that there is no solution in Syria except toppling the Syrian government,” Nasrallah said in a televised address in Beirut on Thursday marking the fourth anniversary of the assassination of Hezbollah Head of Security Imad Mughniyah. “Any alternative in Syria is better for Israel as the opposition is being sponsored by the US and the Arabs whose history is well-known… Israel believes that any new regime is better than Bashar al-Assad’s government,” he added. He noted that Syrian officials know that reforms are needed and that they are taking steps towards major changes. He also accused the US of “seeking destruction in Syria while ridiculing the reforms launched by President Assad.” Slamming some Arab states for their hostile stance against Damascus, he said “When we tell the Arab governments to negotiate with Syria on a political solution they answer that there is no time. How do you accept negotiation with Israel while you do not accept to negotiate with an Arab state?” Nasrallah also accused Lebanon’s March 14 alliance of instigating violence in Syria, denouncing the alliance for "sending weapons to Syria.” Hezbollah leader also noted that the Syrian president has never bowed to the demands of the US and Israel. Turning to Israel’s role in the region he said “We should observe Israel’s stance on what is going on today in the region, especially on what is happening in Egypt, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon.” The Lebanese leader stressed Hezbollah's strategic ties with Damascus and expressed optimism that Syria will take major steps toward significant reforms in the face of Western media propaganda and foreign-funded unrest in the country. http://youtu.be/s82Q0YF_8XQ
  6. Syrian Muslims turn to Allah(swt) for help. Meanwhile, Russia, China, the Iranian regime, and Hezbollah continue to support this slaughter. Allah(swt) protect the Syrians. Allah(swt) bring death to the Baathist al-Assad regime. Ameen. Feb 3 - Activist in Homs: More than 200 Syrians killed in one day - AC360 Feb 3 - 'Hundreds of casualties' in Syria's Homs Hundreds of people have been killed or injured in a major army offensive in the central Syrian city of Homs, activists say. Activists talking to Al Jazeera on Saturday said the army had used tanks, mortars and machine guns in the assault on the Khaldiyeh neighbourhood, which began on Friday night and continued overnight. Al Jazeera's Mysa Khalaf, reporting from Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon, said sources in Syria told her bombardment of the area started after the opposition Free Syrian Army attacked Syrian army checkpoints and killed about 10 soldiers. "Since then, it seems that Khaldiyeh has been under constant bombardment," she said."Several buildings have been destroyed. "I've been told that the main public hospital is completely overwhelmed and people have set up makeshift clinics in mosques. They are running low on supplies of blood." Hadi al-Abdallah, an activist in Homs, told Al Jazeera that army defectors had captured 19 members of the security forces earlier in the day. Activists said government forces were targeting the neighbourhoods of Bab Tadmour, Bab Dreib, and Karm el-Shami simultaneously, as the military campaign in Khaldiyeh intensified. Read more: http://www.aljazeera...1333768854.html
  7. Feb 9 - Palestinian Intellectuals to Syrian Regime: Not in Our Name! A collective Palestinian statement To apply for membership in the Syrian Writers Union and in solidarity with the Syrian people It is our honor, as Palestinian writers and signatories to this statement, to request as a group to be inducted into the Syrian Writers Union, which has been recently established by the free Syrian writers and intellectuals who stand with the people as they climb the ladder of freedom which has been smeared with blood by the hand of the tyrant. The establishment of the Syrian Writers Union constitutes an essential pillar of the Syrian revolution and places the true intellectual in his or her rightful place beside the people as an effective partner in building a new Syria free of dynastic authoritarianism–a diverse, democratic, civil system based on the rights of the citizen, one that embraces the rights of expression and creation, a system incapable of falsifying the free Syrian intellectual’s will through hollow structures that arrogate the potentials of culture, usurp the role of the intellectual and falsify his or her will, always a device in the hand of the tyrant and his apparatuses. Now more than ever, Syria needs a mature voice that speaks from its very heart, a voice which strengthens national unity and derives strength from the diversity and richness of Syrian society [...] [which will serve as] the basis for building a democracy. We have recently heard a representative of the Syrian regime at the UN Security Council use the Palestinian cause and its painful and honorable course as cover for its terrifying crimes in Syria. We say to the Syrian regime and its representatives: not in our name, not in Palestine’s name, will these crimes be committed in our beloved Syria, oh killers. Do not make our just cause a mask for your inhumane crimes against our Syrian brothers and sisters. It is the Syrian people who have historically adopted our cause, and sacrificed martyrs for its sake, not your regime, of which we have painful memories. We will never forget its role in the massacre of Tel Az-Zaatar in 1976, nor in the terrible assault on the Nahr al Bared camp near Tripoli in 1983, nor the siege of the camps in Beirut in 1985, nor any of the other acts which have bitterly weakened Palestinian national unity. Do not use Palestine’s name, for it is no longer your winning card. A unified, free and democratic Syria is what Palestine needs, and this is the Syria that is being born today from the womb of a bloody revolution ignited by a great people. We are confident that Palestine’s name will remain in the heart of this courageous, revolting people and its cultural elite. Link also includes list of the intellectuals: http://wadiqratiya.w...-english-trans/
  8. Free Syrian Army shows video of alleged Iranian fighters abducted in Homs By Al Arabiya A group of Syria’s opposition “Free Army” has released a video showing what it was said were seven Iranians, including five members of the Revolutionary Guards, captured in the city of Homs. The video showed travel documents of the captives, some of whom appeared to be speaking Farsi. The armed Syrian opposition group, which called itself the “al-Farouq brigade of the Free Syrian Army,” also released a statement calling for Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamanei to “acknowledge in explicit and unambiguous words the existence of elements of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in Syria in order to help the Assad’s regime in its crackdown on the Syrian people.” The group also urged Khamanei to withdraw all Revolutionary Guard fighters from Syria, pledging that that it would then release all captive Iranian fighters. The group said five of those abducted were military men working with the Syrian air force intelligence and two showed “civilian status” as employees in a power plant in Homs. It added that all the seven captives entered Syria during the uprising and passports of the five military men did not contain visas, adding that it would soon release the two Iranians with civilian status. Syrian opposition groups have previously accused Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group of assisting forces of President Bashar al-Assad in their bloody crackdown on protesters. The Syrian Revolutionary Coordination Union reported on Jan. 17 that a group of Hezbollah fighters had hit civilian protesters near Damascus with Russian-origin BM-21Grad rockets. “The attack was coordinated with the forces of President Bashar Assad,” the Syrian opposition group said. A source from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) told Al Arabiya on Jan. 16 that the “Iranian government has not yet interfered in situation in Syria,” but stressed that Tehran was committed to a joint defense treaty with Damascus. “We and our brethren in Iraq and Lebanon are protecting Syria,” the source explained in a clear reference to Nouri al-Malikil’s government and Hezbollah, both allies of Iran. Despite reports stating that so far the situation in Syria is “stable,” the IRGC, the source pointed out, is still worried of a division or a coup in the Syrian army. According to American officials who believe the IRGC is taking part in the fight against Syrian opposition, Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of IRGC al-Quds Force, which specializes in operations outside Iran, was in Damascus this month. Gen. Suleimani’s visit, they argued proved that Iran’s support for the Syrian regime includes the provision of arms and military equipment. They added that they are sure Suleimani met with the most senior officials in the Syrian regime, including president Bashar al-Assad. The joint defense treaty between Syria and Iran was signed in June 2006 by a former Syrian defense minister, Hassan Turkmani, and his Iranian counterpart, Mustafa Mohamed Najjar, in Tehran. Read more: http://english.alara.../27/190843.html
  9. Jan 27 - 102 killed across Syria as bloody crackdown on opposition continues By Al Arabiya At least 102 people have killed by Syrian security forces on Friday morning, the General Council of the Revolution said, a day after 14 members of a Sunni family were killed in the flashpoint city of Homs on Thursday in one of the grizzliest sectarian attacks in the ten-month uprising. Eight children, aged between eight months to nine years, were among 14 Bahader family members shot or hacked to death in a building in the Karm al-Zeitoun neighborhood of Homs, 140-km (88 miles) north of Damascus, they said. The militiamen, known as ‘shabbiha,’ entered the district after loyalist forces fired heavy mortar rounds on the area, killing another 16 people, residents and activists in the city told Reuters by phone. The violence in Syria on Friday included fatalities in the commercial city of Aleppo and a car bomb in the northwest, the Syrian Observatory for Human rights said. Separately, two attacks killed 12 members of the security forces, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Six were killed in a car bomb targetting a security checkpoint in the northwestern city of Idlib, the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP, without providing any details on the identity of the assailants. The other six were killed and five wounded in the southern province of Daraa by deserters who ambushed two buses transporting security personnel, the same source said. YouTube video footage taken by activists, which could not be independently verified, showed the bodies of five children ─ with wounds to the head and neck ─ in a house. The bodies of three women and one man were also shown. There was no comment from the Syrian authorities, who have placed severe restrictions on independent media in the country. “Alawites who had remained in Karm al-Zeitoun mysteriously left four days ago, and the rumor was that they did so on orders by the authorities. Today we know why,” said a doctor in the district who did not want to be named. “We also have seventy people wounded. Field hospitals themselves are coming under mortar fire,” he said. Hamza, an activist in Homs said that the attack was “pure revenge” for shabbiha members being killed by army defectors loosely grouped under the Free Syrian Army. He said Sunni families were fleeing Karm al-Zeitoun to other parts of the city, and several Sunni neighborhoods, such as Bab Sbaa, also came under fire. Tit-for-tat sectarian killings began in Homs four months ago, following armored military assaults on Sunni areas of the city by forces led by members of Assad’s minority Alawite sect. ... Hundreds of children killed Meanwhile, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said on Friday that at least 384 children have been killed during 10 months of violence in Syria and almost the same number detained. "As of January 7, 384 children have been killed, most are boys,” Rima Salah, acting UNICEF deputy executive director, told a press briefing in Geneva. She said about 380 children have been detained, "some less than 14 years old.” ... Read more: http://english.alara.../27/190862.html
  10. Taxation or closure of Strait of Hormuz? The West, including the US are using the logic of war, terrorism and force/sanctions on Iran. Iran could either impose a good amount of taxes on all goods including oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz or simply block it. The West had already declared a war on Iran. Sanctions are part of a cold war, and Strait of Hormuz is part of Iran's strategy to respond to any acts of war; no sweet is distributed during any war. _______________________________________ Iran to 'block' Gulf oil if sanctions proceed Vice-president threatens to cut off shipments at Strait of Hormuz if West sanctions Iran's vital oil exports. No oil will be allowed to pass through the Strait of Hormuz if the West applies sanctions on Iran's oil exports, Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi has warned. The threat was reported on Tuesday by the state news agency IRNA as Iran conducted its fourth day of naval drills near the Strait of Hormuz, at the entrance to the oil-rich Gulf. "If sanctions are adopted against Iranian oil, not a drop of oil will pass through the Strait of Hormuz," Rahimi was quoted as saying. "We have no desire for hostilities or violence ... but the West doesn't want to go back on its plan" to impose sanctions, he said. "The enemies will only drop their plots when we put them back in their place." The threat underlined Iran's readiness to target the narrow stretch of water along its Gulf coast if it is attacked or economically strangled by Western sanctions. War games Iranian ships and aircraft dropped mines in the sea on Tuesday as part of the drill, according to a navy spokesman. Although Iranian war games occur periodically, the timing of these is seen as a show of strength as the US and Europe prepare to impose further sanctions on Iran's oil and financial sectors. The last round of sanctions, announced in November, triggered a pro-government protest in front of the British embassy in Tehran during which Basij militia members overran the mission and ransacked it. London closed the embassy as a result and ordered Iran's mission in Britain shut as well. An Iranian legislator's comments last week that the navy exercises would block the Strait of Hormuz briefly sent oil prices soaring before that was denied by the government. While the foreign ministry said such drastic action was "not on the agenda", it reiterated Iran's threat of "reactions" if the current tensions with the West spilled over into open confrontation. Saudi steps in Industry sources said on Tuesday that top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and other Gulf OPEC states were ready to replace Iranian oil if further sanctions halt Iranian crude exports to Europe. Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi had said that Saudi Arabia had promised not to replace Iranian crude if sanctions were imposed. "No promise was made to Iran, its very unlikely that Saudi Arabia would not fill a demand gap if sanctions are placed," an industry source familiar with the matter told the Reuters news agency. "If the sanctions take place, the price of oil in Europe would increase and Saudi and other Gulf countries would start selling there to fill the gap and also benefit from the higher price," said a second industry source. Brent crude oil futures jumped nearly a dollar to over $109 a barrel after the Iranian threat, but a Gulf OPEC delegate said the effect could be temporary. Aljazeera
  11. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/27/us-syria-opposition-rebels-idUSTRE80Q0S320120127 'She said the rebels numbered between 20,000 and 30,000 in Syria and about 300 in neighboring Turkey. "They need communications equipment, bullet-proof vests and non-offensive equipment to make sure they are integrated with each other. If they are left isolated, they will transform into militias.'
  12. Iranian government is considered one of the biggest supporter of human rights and justice worldwide, and is regarded as the frontrunner of NAM (non aligned movement) countries putting a formidable defense against the arms-seller warmonger pressure groups currently occupying the seats of governance in western nations. All the while, Iran is the biggest backer of Syrian Al-Asad regime in ME. Below is an attempt to logically analyze this duality. You can judge "stable" countries actions by their foreign policy goals. Iran has a long histroy with Imperialistic powers and has mostly been at the receiving end of this relationship. Hence for past 32 years, since the victory of Iranian people, one of the most consistent goals that Iranian regime has adopted as the cornerstone of its foreign policy is the "defeat and dismanteling of Imperialsists powers". Iran, having faced a forced upon war for eight years, is also very averse of a direct confrontation with any country and its defense donctrine is based on game of "waiting it out" and "bleeding the enemy with many small wounds". [note a recent lecture by Ay. Khamenie about how War is bad even for the victors] If you want to study Iran's revolution and its historical context, you will need to study the revolution of Imam Hussain (as). If you want to learn Iranian regimes current policy of "resolute forbearance", you will need to study the strategy of Imam Hassan (as) against Muawiah. As far as the thrusting force behind Iran's adamant attitude against Imperialists, there are many, but to name a few: 1. Iranians are overwhelmingly Shia. Justice in all its meanings is one of the roots of religious doctrine of Shia Islam. 2. Shia Islam also believes in the coming of Imam Mahdi (atf). Shia Islam does not believe in "waiting with inaction", instead it believes in "waiting in preparation". Iran does not want to be caught unprepared whenever the promised Messiah is going to make himself known. 3. Iranians, by nature and by climate, can bear hunger, sanctions, poverty, and isolation. One thing Iranians, as people, never forgive and never forget is Humiliation. Imperialists humiliated Iran for good 50 years. No matter what the composition of regime in Iran (Islamic or otherwise), as long as the regime is backed by Iranian people, Imperialists will have to pay this debt back. [hence Imperialists insistance of "regime change" in Iran, and that no concession by Iranians is going to be enough till the replacement of democracy by a dictatorship] In this backdrop, now any country or group, be it Pseudo-Salafis (Hamas in Palestine), Farsi speaking Sunnis (Afghan Northern Alliance), Yemen's Zaidi Shias, Leftists Latin Americans, or now some right-wing factions of Taliban; anybody who would oppose the Imperialist influence in any shape and form, would gain Iran's support at some level. In lieu of its end goal of resisting, defeating, and finally dismantelling the Imperialists, Iran would support even the Devil himself if Devil ever chose to stand against Imperialists (although Devil would not be Devil if he ever abandons Imperialists). Hence you see an unequivocal support for Bashar's anti-democracy regime by Iranians. In Islamic historical context, this is similar to Prophet of Islam accepting help from Najashi - a Christian regime, in confrontation and defense against the pagans of Makkah.
  13. The ignorant Wahabi Arabs should prepare themselves for doomsday. Iran warns Yahoodi (Saudi) Arabia, the killer of Shias of Bahrain, Baghdad, Sada and Qatif. _____________________________________________________ Iran warns Arab oil producers on replacing its oil Iran warned Arab oil producers against boosting production to offset any potential drop in Tehran's crude exports in the event of an embargo affecting its oil sales. Iran warned its Arab neighbors on Sunday not to raise crude output to replace Iranian oil in the event of an embargo by the European Union, Tehran's OPEC Governor Mohammad Ali Khatibi was quoted as saying. "The consequences of this issue are unpredictable. Therefore, our Arab neighbor countries should not cooperate with these adventurers and should adopt wise policies," Khatibi said. The U.S. recently imposed sanctions targeting Iran's central bank and, by extension, refiners' ability to buy and pay for crude. The European Union is also weighing an embargo on Iranian oil, while Japan, one of Iran's top Asian customers, didn’t pledged to buy less crude from the country. Mohammad Ali Khatibi, Iran's OPEC governor, said that attempts by Persian Gulf nations to replace Iran's output with their own would make them an "accomplice in further events." "These acts will not be considered friendly," Khatibi said, adding that if the Arab producers "apply prudence and announce that they will not participate in replacing oil, then adventurist countries will not show interest," in the embargo. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer and a close U. S. ally, had claimed that it was ready to raise its output to accommodate global market needs, but experts say no member of the 12-nation Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries has significant spare capacity to replace Iran oil exports. Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi appeared to try to further clarify the country's position in comments published Sunday in the daily Al-Ektisadiyah newspaper. "We never said that Saudi Arabia is trying to compensate for Iranian oil in the case that sanctions (are enacted)," Al-Naimi was quoted as saying. "We said that we are prepared to meet the increase in global demand as a result of any circumstances." Iran's warning introduces a new layer of complication to an issue that has the potential for broad regional and global fallout. "If these countries make a mistake and give the green light, this will be a historic green light," Khatibi said. Any attempt by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which a sixth of the world's oil flows, would also affect the export abilities of the major Persian Gulf producers, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar. While momentum appears to be building for the sanctions by the West, China, another major buyer of Iranian oil, has come out against the measures Tehran Times
  14. Houthis to Salafi Terrorists: Stop Takfir, terrorist acts, suicide bombing against civilians and religious ceremonies, or else face the consequences. ------------------------------------------------ Yemen Shiite Houthis Fight Salafist Terrorists Near Saudi Arabia’s Border Yemen’s Shiite Muslim Houthis killed 24 Salafist terrorists yesterday after a week of sporadic fighting between the two religious communities in the north of the country near the border with Saudi Arabia. The Houthis attacked the Dar Al-Hadith school in the Dammaj region in Saada, according to Abdulhamid al-Hajouri, the principal of the school. About 60 Salafists terrorists, who are considered conservative Sunnis, were wounded in the clashes, Abu Ismail, spokesman for the group in Dammaj, said in a phone interview today. Several Houthi fighters were also killed and wounded, Dhaifallah al-Shami, a leader of the Shiite group, said. Abdelmalek al-Houthi, had issued orders for a ceasefire but that the Salafis rejected it and fought on. "We have martyrs and wounded," he said. "We have informed the mediators that the Salafis can have their slogans as long as they refrain from incitement and takfir (denouncing a Muslim as an infidel)." The escalations between both groups started when Houthis claimed that Salafis are entering weapons inside their educational institutions in the town of Dammaj, and demanded that all military posts are emptied. As Salafis refused, a tightened siege against their religious school complex took place early this week. bloomberg.com Houthis rejected the power transfer signing that took place in Riyadh earlier this week and said it would not recognize it. "The movement has more than 100,000 fighters ready to obey commands from their spiritual leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi," said Ahmed Bahri, an expert in Houthi affairs. "This movement is well organized and only has one head," Bahri said. "They now control majority areas in the provinces in Sa'ada and Jawf, and have powerful presence in Amran, Mareb, Sana'a and Hajjah," added Bahri. Sectarian violence is at peak in northern Yemen where Houthis control is spread across five provinces. Saudi Arabia fought the Houthis in 2009 but failed to end their expansion. The attacks come a day after Yemen's vice president called for presidential elections to be held in February, state media reported. CNN Recently Salafi terrorists backed by the West and Saudi Nasabis were organizing themselves to kill Shias in Northern Yemen instead of focusing on Saleh's government and the revolution of the people. Finally, Houthis are saying, enough is enough. Either live amongst Shia communities of the north in a peaceful coexistence or face the will of Allah. Houthis must hurry and expand party's influence and presence in the land and towards the sea and unite with Shia tribesmen before it is too late and again face oppression of puppets and Nawasib for another 50 years.
  15. If Syria's Assad and his government want to have supports from reliable people and overcome the current crisis and chaos created by Zionists and Wahabis, they need to close down the doors of Saudi and French embassies. Bandar bin Sultan's confession on Hariri, Mughniyeh assassinations to be aired on Syrian TV TEHRAN - The taped confessions of a high-ranking Saudi Arabian official about the assassinations of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and Imad Mughniyeh, a senior member of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, will reportedly be broadcast on Syrian state television, the Mashreghnews website reported on Sunday. Rafik Hariri was assassinated in a bombing in Beirut on February 14, 2005. Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated in a car bombing in Damascus on February 12, 2008. The arrest of Bandar bin Sultan, a Saudi prince and the secretary general of Saudi Arabia’s National Security Council, by Syrian security forces a few weeks ago has been widely reported. The reports came after the U.S. claimed on October 11 that it had broken up a plot by individuals linked to Iran’s security agencies to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir. According to some Arab media outlets, the Saudi prince, who had intended to enter Damascus incognito, was arrested by Syrian security forces at Damascus Airport upon his arrival. The Lebanese newspaper Athabat has recently published information never before released to the public on the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. The report said that during his interrogation in Syria, Prince Bandar, confessed that he had a hand in the assassination of Hariri through encouraging and supporting certain groups in Iraq affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Tehran Times
  16. Syrian Dissident Harmoush: I was Betrayed, Army Defection a Plot The dissident Major Hussein Harmoush admitted in a testimony broadcast on the Syrian TV on Thursday that he had been contacted by Muslim brotherhood members, Zouheir al-Siddiq, Mohammad Rahal, Abdul-Halim Khaddam, his two sons, and the office of the former Vice President Rifaat al-Assad, in addition to calls from radical cleric Adnan Araour and political dissent Borhan Ghalyoun after he defected from the Syrian Army on June 6, 2011. They promised him with money and gear, but got nothing. On their need for weapons, Harmoush said: "The plot was to provide weapons for protecting the unarmed civilians, but weapons or any other materials mere not supplied." Al-Siddiq and the Muslim Brotherhood smuggled weapons into Homs, Hama, Idleb and the Palestinian Ramel in Lattakia, Harmoush added. He said that weapon smuggling from Turkey was carried out by merchants in the border areas where weapon merchants and smugglers exist, SANA reported. He also said that the first time he was video-taped was in Bdama district in Jisr al-Shughour when a person gave him SYP 50,000 and the person received about SYP 2 millions for the video tape. "I have been thinking about coming back since Ramadan 15, but I was shocked to be used as a trade and how people begged money in my name and offered many promises none of which was met." Harmoush concluded. The dissident added that he escaped from the Army because of the bloody events in the streets… a number of people were killed, and I am sure that the armed groups were the killers." "During my service in the Syrian Army, nobody has ordered me to fire at the civilians or any others, I didn't see or hear any commander in the army that had given orders to shoot fire at the civilians," Harmoush admitted. This comes as Syria has criticized the latest meeting of Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi with figures from the Syrian opposition. Syria presented the Arab League with a ‘strong formal protest memorandum’ over the latest meeting of its Secretary General with figures claiming to represent the Syrian opposition who, in turn, handed al-Arabi a list of demands calling for all forms of flagrant foreign interference, including the military intervention in Syria's internal affairs. Syria's Permanent Representative to the Arab League (AL) Yousef Ahmad, in the memo, expressed deep concern over this step as a serious precedent in terms of the joint Arab action, wondering of such irresponsible act by the AL Secretary General who exceeded his powers and mission defined by the AL charter in contrast to a firm fact that he is the secretary general of a regional organization representing Arab countries.
  17. Recently i feel as though i have just woken up. Like i suddenly found Allah, subhanahu Wa Ta'ala. I feel as though something has happened to me that i find difficult to explain. It feels like as though i am disconnected from my old self. Only the reflection in the mirror i recognise. A background check, please bare with me as my brief story kind of explains how i came to find Islam... I was born in a relaxed Muslim family, not 'guided' within Islam so to speak. I was from a family with good intentions, but ultimately a broken one. As a child i saw imagery which were haraam, an addiction which haunted me into my early twenties... My pursuit for such imagery disconnected me from reality, disconnected me from my family and those i loved. I became very lost, even isolated as a person within myself. I lost people around me who i loved through bad actions of my own. What is worse is that they were scared into the hands of those who hide behind the name and knowledge Islam, as a means of making large amounts of money through 'charities'. Their knowledge on Islam is good, but their intentions are certainly not. Even though things have gradually gotten worse for me, because of certain illegal actions within this group, i decided to turn to Islam and embrace it as i should have done many years ago (I attempted to embrace Islam a couple years ago but struggled on my own). It was either Islam or doing something very vicious and destructive amongst this group of people who claim to follow Islam but actually are those kind of 'muslims' we have heard about before who up make their own rules up as they go along. Physically i am a large muscular man, with copious amounts of natural strength alhamdullilah. It would have been very easy for me to inflict pain upon some of these men who did me wrong. Amongst these men is a fake Seyed, who has fooled those who i cared for, into working for his 'charity'. Or rather a number of charities which are scattered around the internet. One of these charities have been recently looked into (with the help of those who were once friends of these people), and have patterns of money laundering- into accounts no where near countries these charities proclaim to be working in aid of. Also, one of their charities were registered to have brought in £252,000 in a year. Guess how much of that was 'expenditure'? Just over £253,000. Someone working the books? Quite, the father of these people is an accountant. Oh, they also live in a property worth well over 1 million yet all there cars on the drive are worth a few hundred to a thousand (drug dealer style). Keep low profile while all that money is channeled elsewhere. Quite a picture eh?... Anyway, rather then expend my physical energy on these pathetic little individuals i decided to put my energy in learning as much as i can about Islam (although their Seyed is under investigation across the continent as he has been found out as a fraud in Iraq, Iran and Syria and falsely claims to be working for a certain very well respected Ayatollah, whose representatives of his have strongly denied as they no longer deal with him, due to many reports of him destroying families and also 'marrying' women only to never return to them). Learning about Islam is the main thing that has brought me some peace amongst all the turmoil i have been through. It is as though i have disconnected from the people who are wishing bad upon me, it is as though Allah is protecting me and repelling all their negative prayers, or their bad intentions and they are the ones who are going to be suffering, they will be exposed Inshallah. Ultimately it is Allah subhanahu Wa Ta'ala that they will have to answer to. Even though i lost people around me i loved, i feel Allah loves me, so that's enough. I feel i have done all i can to try and warn and protect those i cared for, but if they do not choose to listen. Their minds are too naive, because they are soft natured and not street educated. The problem is i have children of mine in the equation, so there is no way with the will of Allah behind me that i will allow my children to be lead astray within this cult, it would literally be over my dead body, then blood will pour. So my question is, how did you feel when you found Islam? I just want to know that what i am experiencing is normal perhaps? :) I know it will differ from person to person, but i feel as though i do not want to sleep unless i do my final prayer. I feel like i just want to read and learn more about Islam before i go to sleep. I am finding it hard to sleep even more then usual, as i am just wanting to feed my hunger for all things Islam? Have others experienced being addicted to learning as much as possible about Islam, in as short as possible time? رحمك الله Rahimakalla Ali
  18. Truth unveiled! Axis of evil Saudis, Americans and Israelis thought they wanted to hijack Syria in the middle of Arab spring, but that’s not they want, they want a slap with the back of the right hand! Arab spring is naturally an anti Israel movement against puppet regimes or friends of Israel such as Mubarak, as the chief of Israel described him as Israel’s best friend. They go down, and Israel is left without friends. Is Assad anything like Mubarak? no, was he also Israel’s best friend? no, did he promise his people to free occupied Syrian lands from Israel? YES. True Syrians’ demand for reforms in Syria is completely acceptable and legal just like Asad said, which is why he’s bringing reforms to Syria. But don’t get me wrong, do not mistake terrorists for protesters, this is what I’m going to explain for you. Just yesterday, Lebanese army intelligence has intercepted a covert shipment of 1,000 assault rifles, reportedly destined for the city of Baniyas in Syria. Army investigators say they have uncovered ties between the smugglers and the political entourage of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia. The hardcore Sunni Wahhabi House of Saud – in yet another towering show of hypocrisy, and faithful to its hatred of secular Arab republics – has branded the Bashar al-Assad-controlled Ba’ath regime in Syria “a killing machine”. But who would of thought? Saudi Arabia is busy killing people in another country named Bahrain, which most of the news media don’t cover since the US media have been ordered not to cover news on the Saudi allies’ brutal crackdown on Bahraini people. Reports from the Center’s colleagues in the United States say “In the US some news agencies and TV stations were asked not to report on Bahrain and not to embarrass [President Barack Obama’s administration." Kingdom Saudi Arabia the most brutal dictatorship of all time pretends to be worried about on-going unrest in a secular Arab state? why? because Assad's regime is anti Israel and not a puppet, which goes against Saudi influence in Middle east. March 14 seems to be nearly exposed. Hariri the son betrayed Hariri the father, even tho Hezbollah revealed Israel's possible involvement in his father's assassination, he insists on selling Lebanon to Israel and Saudi Arabia. March 14 people are bunch of soulless traitors who only care about their own wealth and money in their bank accounts all over the world, they do not care about Lebanon's freedom being threatened by Israel, in fact, their hatred toward Hezbollah makes them rather Israeli occupation, where were they when Israel had southern Lebanon occupied for decades? wasn't it Hezbollah attacks which forced IDF to pull out? 14 March sickos' connection with arm smuggling to Syria must be investigated, and if proven, their party's activities must be banned and their members must be arrested. Lebanese intelligence also eavesdropped on discussions between the suspects and an arms dealer, in which the two sides agreed on a down payment of US$100,000 once buyers were shown high-quality Kalashnikov and M-16 rifle samples. The plan was to either ship the rifles in one batch by sea to Baniyas in Syria, or to divide it into smaller batches and smuggle it through Lebanon’s northern border. The suspects and the dealer were followed and arrested by army intelligence forces on July 30, after delivery of the arms in Ras Beirut. Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television identified the smugglers as Wassam and Samir Tamim. They have reportedly confessed to running over 30 arms-smuggling operations from Marina to Baniyas with the assistance of Mohammad Kabbara, a member of the Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc tied to Saudi intelligence. Al-Manar stated that the center of operations was Kabbara’s farm in northern Lebanon, adding that this was also a transit point for Islamist (Salafi) fighters traveling to the Syrian city of Homs. The Syrian army claimed last week that in recent fighting near Homs it has detained hundreds of Salafi fighters (reportedly including Afghans) with Lebanese documents, whose transfer to Syria was facilitated by Kabbara. The majority of Syrians have been always behind their government, it is not hidden to anybody that Assad's weak intelligence forces failed to protect his country from terrorists. One of the terrorists captured by Syrian intelligence forces confessed and said several terrorist groups were operating in Hama where their members are instructed to attack police, security personnel and law-enforcement officials in order to cause mayhem in the city. He also said the footage broadcast by Syrian television showing people throwing mutilated bodies into a river some ten days ago was very much true, confessing, "I was among the terrorists who threw one of the dead….” He said they mutilated the bodies of the victims with knives and swords in order to scare away security personnel and prevent them from entering Hama. Al-Kattan said terrorist leaders pay each member SYP 5000 (almost USD106) per day. By all means, the unrest in Syria differs from the Arab uprisings since it is a 'conspiracy' from foreign intervention attempting to 'reshape' the country's political structure. In the latest attempts, Washington and Tel Aviv hatched plots to reignite the flames of unrest in Syria through smuggling weapons into the Arab country. Informed sources in Lebanon blame Salafi extremists and elements associated with the country's al-Mustaqbal party for direct involvement in the recent unrest in Syria. The Lebanese sources say former Mustaqbal MP Mustafa Hashem has rented a large number of gas stations in the northern border region of Wadi Khaled, where the nomad residents on both the Lebanese and Syrian sides of the frontier are engaged in widespread smuggling. http://www.informati...rticle28832.htm http://www.atimes.co...t/MH13Ak01.html http://www.dailykos....ence-in-Bahrain http://www.presstv.i...ail/193510.html http://www.presstv.i...ail/178965.html http://www.presstv.i...ail/182208.html www.presstv.ir/detail/172567.html http://shervinandpol...t-syria-unrest/
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