Tag Archives: Syria

Syrian Uprising Becomes Civil War, Moves to Damascus

Rebel advances/uprisings have reached Syria's capital, Damascus. Lacking a fully organized force or front, rebels have taken to blocking key routes in the city.

Rebel advances/uprisings have reached Syria’s capital, Damascus. Lacking a fully organized force or front, rebels have taken to blocking key routes in the city.

Within the past week, the suppression of anti-government protesters and attacks by government forces on a rag tag bunch of army defectors and rebels has morphed into something that more constitutes a civil war. More effective and organized strikes by rebel forces in hot spots in northwestern Syria have now turned into attacks within the suburbs of the capital city of Damascus. The center of power for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has remained mostly quiet for the bulk of this conflict, though that was violently upended Wednesday as a reported suicide bombing attack struck at the heart of the country’s government:

Defense Minister General Rajha and his deputy, Assef Shawkat, the brother-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad, were reportedly killed on Wednesday in the deadliest assault on government officials since the violence began 16 months ago.Also reported dead were Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar and General Hassan Turkmani, a former defence minister and currently Syria’s deputy vice president, who later died of his injuries.

There were additional injuries among other government officials who were at a gathering in Damascus’s National Security building. Two groups - Liwa al-Islam (The Brigade of Islam) and the Free Syrian Army – claimed responsibility for the attacks, though it is rather difficult to validate anyone’s claims on the ground. What can be verified is that the response from Mr. Assad’s side continues to be fierce:

Read more »

Syrian Instability Draws Turkey In

The Syrian Uprising's violence threatens to spill out of its borders as a Turkish F4 jet was shot down by Syrian forces on Friday - another one fired upon Monday.

The Syrian Uprising’s violence threatens to spill out of its borders as a Turkish F4 jet was shot down by Syrian forces on Friday – another one fired upon Monday.

The Syrian Uprising, lacking the outright definition of a civil war only because of the lack of an organized and effective force fighting against the established government, now rages on into its 15th month. Syrian dictator President Bashar al-Assad has continues to command violent repression of his citizens who are demanding an end to his rule. Violence has been the worst in some of the northern and northwestern parts of the country, closer to Syria’s border with Turkey.

Turkey, a former staunch ally of Syria, has decidedly turned against the regime with the continued violent repression of democracy. Priding itself with having a functional democracy in a traditionally unstable portion of the world, Turkey made a decisive move by choosing to cast out friendships revolving around a regime that was acting contrary to everything Turkey believed in. Not only has Turkey turned its back on Syria, it has proposed limited involvement in the Syrian Uprising on the side of the rebels. It has proposed a “buffer zone” along its border with Syria where rebels and their civilian families (plus others caught in the crossfire) can seek refuge from the continued aggression of the Syrian armed forces. Syria was not thrilled by this idea, and thanks to a lack of support from other NATO members along with tacit suggestions from both Russia and China to stay out of Syria, it seemed Turkey’s plans were going nowhere.

This past Friday that all changed. Citing a violation of its airspace, Syria shot down a Turkish F4 Phantom jet fighter over the Mediterranean Sea. While there was some initial international cooperation between the two nations to find the missing jet, that was seemingly thrown out the window on Monday as Syria reportedly fired upon another Turkish aircraft that was involved in searching for the first downed jet. Turkey will be taking its case to NATO on Tuesday.

Read more »

Syria Steps Up Attacks on Protestors, China & Russia Lead UN to Political Stalemate

Anti-government rallies continue in Idlib, Syria, despite continued government crackdowns that have killed hundreds over the weekend and as many as 7,000 in the past ten months.

Anti-government rallies continue in Idlib, Syria, despite continued government crackdowns that have killed hundreds over the weekend and as many as 7,000 in the past ten months.

On the 15th of March last year, the Syrian people entered the Arab Spring movement with mass demonstrations against the dictatorship of President Bashar al-Assad on scales equal to that seen in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and others. As one regime after another began to topple, Mr. Assad began a suppression effort against those protesters which wen combined with some concessions would hopefully lead to a peaceful outcome and his ability to remain in power. Ten months later and this policy has long since failed.

Much like the Libyan Civil War in 2011, Western powers appealed to the United Nations in order to provide cover and support for the protesters now turned into revolutionaries who sought to bring down the Assad regime. Libya won support: acting with approval from the Arab League, the United Nations for the first time in history issued a resolution specifically targeting the protection of civilians from an internal conflict, and green-lit international action to support this end. The vote was a bit of a surprise as China and Russia were persuaded to not veto the measure – primary motives being China’s investments in Libyan infrastructure and energy sectors, and Russia’s desire to not see the influence of the European Union continue to spread into northern Africa.

Syria will not see the same level of support from the international community, and for the time being it appears the Syrian rebels will be left to fight on their own. Motives for Russian veto of a weekend Security Council vote range everywhere from protecting a longstanding ally to petty domestic politics:

By bluntly using its veto power to block a United Nations resolution urging Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, Russia has shown a willingness to defy the West at a scale rarely seen since the Cold War times.

The price Russia will have to pay in international condemnation of its action clearly doesn’t seem excessive to the Russian leaders. In fact, the Kremlin even may hope to reap some dividends both at home and abroad by coming to Assad’s defense.

With Russia’s presidential election just a month away, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, seeking to return to the Kremlin, appears eager to stand up to the United States by protecting a longtime ally. Putin already has given his campaign a distinct anti-American flavor, accusing the U.S. of trying to thwart his bid to reclaim the presidency, so bickering with Washington over Syria would give him an extra chance to consolidate his support among nationalists.

Russia’s relations with the U.S. are in a downward spiral amid a host of disputes, and the discord over Syria wouldn’t bring any dramatic change in the overall picture.

Read more »

Newsbyte: Syria Sliding To Civil War, Knives Out For Google, Fishing On Europa

In today’s issue:

Read more »

Newsbyte: Top Mexican Official Killed in Chopper Crash, Syria Suspended from Arab League

In today’s issue:

Read more »

Newsbyte: Syria Protest Violence, Greece Nears Government Collapse, Antarctic Birthing New Iceberg

Hello & welcome to newsbyte. This will be my attempt to hit on a couple of the bigger stories of the day and attempt to make sense of it all, as much as brevity allows.

Inside this issue:

Read more »

Arab Spring: Syrian President “Lost Legitimacy”, France working on exit strategy for Libya’s Gadhafi

Libyan rebels creep ever so slowly closer toward the nation's capitol of Tripoli.

Libyan rebels creep ever so slowly closer toward the nation's capitol of Tripoli.

The Arab Spring, the pan-nation movement that has so far toppled two dictatorships, continues in affecting change across the region – though in recent months that change has taken on much less of the original romanticized nonviolent revolt and instead has counted its days in pools of fresh blood.

The Libyan Civil War, a war that we’re kinetically involved in, grinds on at a pace just beyond a stalemate in favor of the Libyan rebels. Rebel forces continue to hold the eastern third of the country, mountains to the south and southwest of Tripoli, and the not-as-besieged city of Misrata along the country’s central coast.

Weeks of pinpointed bombardment by NATO forces have left Leader Gadhafi’s forces mainly stuck where they are, with rebels very slowly chipping villages away from his control.  Still, the front lines from a military standpoint are far from the city of Tripoli, and it’s hard to imagine how an unskilled rag-tag force could ever win an urban invasion battle in a place like Tripoli.

With that in mind, and hoping to find a solution to end the bloodshed, France has apparently been talking extensively with the Gadhafi regime about an exit strategy that involves the strongman leaving the country:

France’s foreign minister said Tuesday Paris has had contact with emissaries from Moammar Gadhafi who say the embattled Libyan strongman is “prepared to leave.”

Alain Juppe said that while the contacts do not constitute proper negotiations, “everyone (involved in Libya’s civil war) has contacts with everyone else. The Libyan regime sends its messengers all over, to Turkey, to New York, to Paris.

“We receive emissaries who are saying, ‘Gadhafi is prepared to leave. Let’s discuss it.’”

Read more »

“Taking matters into our own hands”: U.S. attacks inside Syrian territory

From the “oh now what!?” files, via the BBC

US helicopter-borne troops have carried out a raid inside Syria along the Iraqi border, killing eight people including a woman, Syrian authorities say.

The official Syrian news agency Sana said the raid took place in the Abu Kamal border area, in eastern Syria.

It said that American soldiers on four helicopters had stormed a building under construction on Sunday night.

Follow up:

If true, I can see this being explained as a needed cross-borer raid to go after high value targets, or something of that sort.  Believable?  You decide.

With the collapse of our financial system taking up most of the headlines it’s easy to get that the situation in Iraq has basically been fought to a stalemate on all sides: there’s little political progress between Sunni, Shia, and Kurd.  Beyond political stalemates there is also a stalemate in the Middle East powder keg, which occasionally has a match tossed its way but has thankfully yet to light.  Whether it be the Turks raiding northern Iraq (Kurdistan) or the Kurds hitting back, whether it be this seemingly new U.S./Iraq v. Syria “interaction”, whether it be Iranian allegations of allied backing of terrorists in their west or our allegations of backing of terrorists in Iraq’s east – or hell, the Saudis getting twitchy seeing Iran as the new, and rising, kid on the block… there’s a lot of explosive energy here just waiting for the next bad policy decision.

While the media may spin this as an opportunity for McCain – if it ever even gets discussed – let us not forget to mention to those on the fence that Mr. Obama’s foreign policy ideas will take us further away from the threat of regional war or stirring up hornet nests that are best left alone.

…and let us hope that we can get through the next nine days without one last epic international sendoff from the Bush/McCain/New American Century administration.

Update from MSNBC:

A U.S. military official said the raid by special forces targeted the foreign fighter network that travels through Syria into Iraq in an area where the Americans have been unable to shut it down because it was out of the military’s reach.

“We are taking matters into our own hands,” the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids.

The attack came just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an “uncontrolled” gateway for fighters entering Iraq.

Oh. Just. Peachy.