Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham
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Dussander
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Civil War in Iraq and as-Sham
Latest developments:

Syria's leaders must answer for 'murderous folly' (AFP)

PARIS — Syria's leaders will have to answer for their "murderous folly", the French president's office said Monday, a day after the UN Security Council condemned the slaughter of civilians there.

"The Houla massacre and the events of the these last days in Syria and in Lebanon illustrate, once more, the danger of Bashar al-Assad's regime's actions for the Syrian people," said a statement.

"The murderous folly of the Damascus regime represents a threat for regional security and its leaders will have to answer for their acts," it added.

The statement came a day after French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the crisis by telephone.

"In the face of such a situation and the Damascus regime's unacceptable contempt for the ceasefire," Hollande and Cameron had agreed to look at ways to work together to increase international pressure on Assad "and to put an end to the bloody repression against the Syrian people, who aspire to freedom and democracy."

France will host a Friends of Syria meeting in Paris, the statement said.

And Hollande will discuss Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin when he visits Paris on Friday, it added.

Russia signed up to Sunday's UN Security Council resolution, but it has been condemned for having previously vetoed two rounds of sanctions against Assad's regime. It continues to supply arms to its Soviet-era ally.

On Sunday, the UN Security Council strongly condemned the Syrian government for using tanks and artillery in the massacre at Houla, central Syria. Of those killed, 49 were children.

Syria has denied any responsibility and said it will launch an investigation into the carnage that took place on Friday and Saturday.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday expressed concern that the unrest in Syria is "contributing to instability" in neighbouring Lebanon.

Armed clashes between supporters and opponents of Assad's regime have taken place in recent weeks in both the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli and the capital Beirut.

The statement from the French president's office did not say when the Friends of Syria meeting would take place. It would be the third such gathering after one in Tunis in February and another the following month in Istanbul called for tougher action against the Assad regime.

The United States, France, Britain, Germany, and Arab nations Saudi Arabia and Qatar are leading members of the Friends.

On Saturday, the rebel Free Syrian Army called for the Friends of Syria to carry out air strikes on forces loyal to Assad, as reports of the Houla massacre emerged.

source

We must dissent.

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(This post was last modified: 2014 Aug 12 18:02 by Erwann.)
2012 May 28 17:43
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RE: Civil war in Syria
The map below shows where alawites, shia, sunnis, and christians live.

If the bloodshed cannot be stopped and all-out civil war breaks out, political boundaries may be drawn along these sectarian lines. Alawites now control the military. It looks like they, together with shia, will also be in control of access to sea.

[Image: A%20Syrian%20sectarian%20map.jpg]
2012 May 29 16:50
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RE: Civil war in Syria
On the map, Latakia is marked as “protest” area. It seems that all urban areas in the alawite zone have sizable sunni population that are surrounded by alawite villages.

Here is, for example, Wikipedia’s info regarding Latakia:

Latakia… is the principal port city of Syria.

[…]

In religious affiliation, Latakia city has a slight Sunni Muslim majority and a very large Alawite minority. The rural hinterland has an Alawite majority of roughly 70%, with Christians making up 14%, Sunni Muslims making up 12%, and Ismailis representing the remaining 2%. The city still serves as the capital of the Alawite population and is a major cultural center for the religion. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, large numbers of Alawites emigrated to the city of Damascus in the south. A sizable Greek Orthodox population exists in Latakia, which serves as a diocese and the largest congregation of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.
2012 May 29 17:19
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Mustapaita
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RE: Civil war in Syria
(2012 May 29 16:50)Ville Wrote:  The map below shows where alawites, shia, sunnis, and christians live.

If the bloodshed cannot be stopped and all-out civil war breaks out, political boundaries may be drawn along these sectarian lines. Alawites now control the military. It looks like they, together with shia, will also be in control of access to sea.

[Image: A%20Syrian%20sectarian%20map.jpg]

Aren't Alawites basically Shia?

Anyway, I think its pretty atrocious and irresonsible how this civil war has been further inflamed by Western politicians and media. A completely one-sided picture of events has been presented - can they really be itching for another "intervention"?

"Devil, I am devil." ― Pekka Siitoin
2012 May 29 17:38
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RE: Civil war in Syria
(2012 May 29 16:50)Ville Wrote:  The map below shows where alawites, shia, sunnis, and christians live.

If the bloodshed cannot be stopped and all-out civil war breaks out, political boundaries may be drawn along these sectarian lines. Alawites now control the military. It looks like they, together with shia, will also be in control of access to sea.

[Image: A%20Syrian%20sectarian%20map.jpg]
The French ran the place with all this in mind.
[Image: Mandate_of_Syria.png]

Sunni is the religion of the Sultans, of the oil sheikhs, of the Pakis and Indonesians. It´s a shame that the Great Powers weren´t able to prop up and reinvigorate the localised answers to imposed Islam more, back in the day. Last thing we need is a unified Caliphate. Shi´ites and co. are often a lot more reasonable with regard to strict Mohamedan dogma, except when stomped all over by foreign interests as in Iran.

Alawiism may be too far brought into the Shiite mainstream now, though: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alawi

Would be nice to have less and less people identifying as ´Arab´, indeed. Phoenicians, Berbers and Egyptians need to remember who they really are! Mesopotamia is less hopeful in this regard, but Kurds, Assyrian Christians and the remaining semi-pagans in the far southeast deserve better than they have at present. sad
2012 May 29 17:53
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RE: Civil war in Syria
(2012 May 29 17:38)Mustapaita Wrote:  A completely one-sided picture of events has been presented - can they really be itching for another "intervention"?

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak... Tongue

I have yet to see a single example of investigative journalism in the mainstream american media that would focus on the Saudis, Qatar, and other regional flunkies that are smuggling weapons to the sunni rebels.

Amazingly, you have to read Al Arabia to get the picture.
2012 May 29 22:24
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Peasant
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RE: Civil war in Syria
The Shia and Alawite are definitely close. Religiously and politically at the moment. Hezbollah and Iran are vocal supporters of Assad's regime.

In Lebanon the March 14 grouping of political groups is predominately Sunni, and Maronite Christian and Anti-Assad. The Future Movement is the largest party. The March 8 alliance is generally pro-Assad, majority Shiite and Christian.

The way the religious/ethnic groups tend to drift towards certain politics and parties makes the Middle East a volatile place.

Something is a bit iffy about that map though. They didn't shade in the Kurdish areas of Turkey. Keeping allies happy I guess?

(2012 May 29 17:53)Osweo Wrote:  Would be nice to have less and less people identifying as ´Arab´, indeed. Phoenicians, Berbers and Egyptians need to remember who they really are! Mesopotamia is less hopeful in this regard, but Kurds, Assyrian Christians and the remaining semi-pagans in the far southeast deserve better than they have at present. sad

Seems the SSNP uses the word Arab a lot these days. sad
2012 May 29 23:08
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Dussander
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RE: Civil war in Syria
Russian FM Calls for Probe into Syrian Town Massacre

I didn't see many Western officials doing the same.

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2012 May 30 16:10
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RE: Civil war in Syria
WASHINGTON - Syrian pro-government militiamen known as the "shabiha" are facing international scrutiny for their alleged role in the May 25 massacre of more than 100 civilians in the central Syrian town of Houla.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said there are "strong suspicions" that shabiha gangs were responsible for the summary execution of dozens of men, women and children in their homes last week. Houla residents told visiting U.N. observers and reporters that they watched the shabiha carry out the killings.

In Syria, the term shabiha initially referred to shadowy gangs of smugglers around the seaside city of Latakia in the 1970s.

Opposition activists say Syria's ruling Assad family has used the gangs to engage in criminal activities for decades, paying them with government funds and providing them immunity from prosecution.

In the past, most shabiha members came from coastal regions such as Qardaha, dominated by the Assad's family's minority Alawite sect.

Militia expands role

But activists say the focus and membership of the shabiha have changed since the start of Syria's 15-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Hozan Ibrahim, a Berlin-based member of the main opposition Syrian National Council, told VOA that pro-Assad gangs have become a government tool for suppressing protests and killing people in rebellious towns and villages.

Ibrahim also said the government has recruited militiamen from all of Syria's ethnic and sectarian groups. "We can find [majority] Sunnis, Alawites, Druze [in the shabiha] - whoever is loyal to the regime," he said.

The Syrian government denies operating any militias. It also is not clear how gang members are paid.

Ibrahim said businessmen loyal to President Assad pay the shabiha on behalf of the government. Lina Tibi, a Syrian National Council member in Cairo, said witnesses have told her the shabiha receive funds directly from police stations.

"The regime keeps telling Alawites that if Bashar is gone, the Sunni people will kill you," she said. "So Alawite gangs defend themselves through rape and killing."

Government aids militias

Activists say the Syrian government wields great influence over the shabiha.

At pro-Assad rallies, Tibi said the militiamen often chant President Assad's first name, Bashar, pledging to give their souls for him and for his father and predecessor, Hafez al-Assad.

"We also have many videos showing the shabiha having weapons in their hands and police or army standing next to them," she said. "Why don't [the security personnel] take the weapons from them? Because they are working together."

Opposition members say the Assad government also has been encouraging the shabiha to engage in sectarian attacks in the hope of transforming the conflict and weakening the opposition.

Most of the Houla massacre victims were residents of Sunni villages. Survivors blamed militiamen from neighboring Alawite communities.

Ibrahim said the Syrian government has been trying to spread the idea that the uprising is a "real threat" to the Alawites and to all loyalists.

"That's why we see that regime loyalists are very violent in their response," he said.

source

We must dissent.

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2012 May 31 21:29
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RE: Civil war in Syria
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Quote:There’s something about the words “behind enemy lines” that sounds cool and glamorous. Perhaps it’s because of the film of the same name where, against all the odds, Owen Wilson saves the day, gets the girl, and looks good doing it, but I can assure you that in reality this couldn’t be further from the truth.

I realized this after spending four days with Syrian rebels in the Northern province of Idlib; escaping from the dreaded, pro-regime Shabiha death squads, getting shot at from rooftops, crawling around enemy emplacements, sleeping in a cave and finally finding myself on my knees at gunpoint.

Photographer Rick Findler and I were on assignment to look at how the Free Syrian Army were getting on in the North, and to catalogue the atrocities in the besieged city of Idlib, where no Western journalists had been for three weeks at the time of our departure. Having covered conflict throughout the Middle East, both of us thought we were well prepared and embarked with our usual bravado.

It wasn’t long, however, until we realized this was a very different situation, and as we crouched under a bush at the Syrian border at midnight, only 20 feet away from Shabiha, who had been tipped off about our arrival, and with explosions echoing across the valley, it crossed my mind to turn back. Two hours later they had stopped searching for us, but soon afterwards three naked men wearing only Kalashnikovs and tight red pants appeared from nowhere and ordered us to take off our clothes.

“What the fuck does he mean,” I whispered to Rick, who looked back at me blankly. It all felt rather surreal.

The FSA lieutenant we were with seemed to think this was normal though, so we undressed and followed the naked men into Syria. The next thing we knew, we were up to our necks in freezing water; our clothes, cameras, and body armor over our heads, fording through a river.



On the other side, and without a moment to think, we got dressed and ran a couple of kilometers through the olive groves. Then we bundled into the back of a waiting car and set off at 90 mph. It was incredibly tense, and as we travelled from safe house to safe house, from car to car, while huddled under blankets in trucks and on the backs of motorbikes surrounded by armed rebels, it dawned on us that we were now deep in enemy territory and there was no turning back.

There are large parts of Syria's northern region that are under tentative rebel control. The army does not patrol these areas very often, as Assad's men dislike leaving the safety of their armored vehicles. This means that the rebels have been able to set up checkpoints, which allow them to monitor the movement of people in the region and, more importantly, to travel with a vague degree of freedom. But this goes wrong constantly, and on many days cars leave without ever coming back, having been shot up at random. The great fear, however, remain the Shabiha; gangs of pro-Assad thugs who can appear at any time looking to cave your skull in.

more:

http://www.vice.com/read/behind-enemy-lines-in-idlib

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2012 Jun 04 00:06
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