Thursday, September 12, 2013

Putin, Galloway and Assad

9/8 The Kremlin has denied that President Vladimir Putin discussed a deal with the visiting Saudi intelligence chief for Moscow to sell arms to Riyadh in exchange for changing its position on Syria. [Concrete] questions about military co-operation were not discussed" at the July 31 meeting, said Putin's top foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov, quoted by Russian news agencies on Friday. - AFP

27/8 Saudi Arabia offer to Russia included Sochi Winter Olympics (assurances about terrorism), Chechens not to be involved in gov of Syria. Russia refused (BBC WS, 11:15, Moscow corr. )
Russian President, Saudi Spy Chief Discussed Syria, Egypt
Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values ​​and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. ... As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”

[... Putin said]
, “Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters.
[ Update 16/9. The day before the debate, on the streets of London there are protests against any Western intervention, bringing out the slogan from before Iraq 2003 again - "stop the war": if only we could - it's been going on for nearly two and a half years now. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail focuses its coverage on an attack on Tony Blair. ]

In the British Parliament debate, George Galloway parroted Vladimir Putin's remark about liver eaters. He is on the same side of the argument as "stability at all costs" Conservatives like (Lord) Douglas Hurd. For both it is revenge for Iraq - the interests of the Syrian people hardly seem to matter.  

9/9 Kevin Maguire in the Daily Mirror says that for every regime atrocity there is a liver-eating rebel. Well, in fact there isn't. But there may be many examples of islamists controlling an area and harshly imposing their views on the population.
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Rough notes:
31/7 Mapping the conflict
Who controls what in Syria since the fall of Qusair? - 1 August 2013 Last updated at 16:28 BST

2/8 - Under Fire on Syria, Hezbollah Leader Urges Focus on Israel By ANNE BARNARD 6:19 PM ET Hassan Nasrallah said his Shiite followers would not bend in the face of rising anti-Shiite sentiment among those who oppose his support for the Syrian government.
3/8 claimed that rebel groups including Nusra have captured ammunition dump near Damascus (BBC WS, 21:00).

5/8 Syrian rebels have launched a major offensive on the government stronghold of Latakia. More than 100 people have been killed in the latest clashes, including 19 government soldiers. Al Jazeera's Imran Khan reports.
New video said to show Syrian chemical attack - Syria: new footage shows 'chemical weapon attack' - video - Opposition activists in Syria claim the regime has launched a series of chemical attacks against rebel held areas outside Damascus - and say hundreds of people have shown signs of exposure. Chemical substance but not weapon ? Maybe teargas.
6/8 rebels capture airbase near Aleppo / Turkish border (BBC WS, 09:00) Syria rebels 'capture key air base'  rebels took Minnig airport early on Tuesday. (Twitter) Minnigh Military Airport

8/8 The leader of Syrian National Coalition (SNC) Ahmed al-Jarba attended prayers to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitra in Deraa city. [ReutersTV]
Al Jazeera spoke to Joseph Kechechian, an analyst and senior writer at Gulf News, about the recent alleged attack on Bashar Al-Assad. He says that if the incident is true it shows that the rebels fighters will not give up.

12/8 In Belgium. Some pieces from Le Soir. Rebel fighters do "ce que bon leur chante", says FSA no 2, I don't control them, neither does Selim Idriss. Money goes straight to brigades on the ground, not through central control / army chiefs (état-major). Islamists growing more powerful. [Regarding outside support for moderate rebels], late but better to try. Could be much worse than Iraq or Afghanistan.

Iraq: military coup planned, storm the green zone. Malaki brought in 2 Kurdish Peshmerga brigades to strenthen security. Iraq is becoming ungovernable.
Shi'a man, mother and 2 others killed; using their bodies "as a bed" his wife and two sisters raped by the men in turn. His wife's throat cut, her head held up. Continued to rape her through the night. They said they were A Q, spared his life so he could go and kill Sunnis and stir up sectarian conflict.

13/8 Al-Qaida cherche à exporter le chaos irakien en Syrie Les forces kurdes du Nord syrien sont la cible d'une offensive de l'Etat islamique en Irak et au Levant. Christophe Ayad

Arms Shipments Seen From Sudan to Syria Rebels
By C. J. CHIVERS and ERIC SCHMITT
In an image taken from the Internet, a Syrian rebel with what appeared to be a Chinese-made FN-6 antiaircraft missile.
In an image taken from the Internet, a Syrian rebel with what appeared to be a Chinese-made FN-6 antiaircraft missile.
Syrian rebels have found an unlikely source for arms in Sudan, whose government sold the weapons to Qatar, which arranged delivery through Turkey, Western officials and the rebels said. 

Rebel Chief in Syria Visits Assad’s Home Region By BEN HUBBARD In a video, the commander of the Free Syrian Army said he was visiting President Bashar al-Assad’s home province to see the “accomplishments” of rebels, who have seized villages in the area.

Syrian War Shapes Trip by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff By THOM SHANKER  Gen. Martin E. Dempsey is visiting Israel and Jordan to discuss what further American aid could help contain the Syria conflict.

17 Aug 2013,
Inside SyriaHezbollah and Assad: An unbreakable alliance? with presenter Kamahl Santamaria, is joined by guests: Rami Khouri, the director of the Issam Fares Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut; Joseph Kechichian, a senior writer at Gulf News, a former analyst at the RAND Corporation and author of several books including Legal and political Reforms in Saudi Arabia; and Michael Stephens, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute, specialising in defence and security.
Zeina Khodr report. Khouri (Beirut): Takfiri ? Kechichian (Beirut): extremist group; heroic group after 2006. Stephens (in studio, Doha): trying not to push sectarian agenda; swinging the war in Syria, punish them for that, shrine of Zeinab, both think defensive actions. Khouri: dramatic speech; same trap as Bush / Rice, lost its halo, Iranian puppet. Kechichian: be our guest, leave us. Stephens: how much support does Hezbollah provide? Near Lebanese border, not in Damascus; Aleppo attack has not materialized. Chemical weapons. Khouri: difficult. Kechichian: investigating rebels? 

the-ghouta-chemical-attack-propaganda-frenzy (via Rami al-Lolah ‏@RamiAlLolah (Twitter)
A. “Assad wouldn’t be as stupid as to chemically attack during a UN inspection”. B. “Assad is winning the war, why would he need to use chemical weapons?”
Ok let me deal with these one by one.
A. The reality is quite to the contrary, there was never a more perfect time to attack rebel positions with chemical weapons than during the UN visit, because under the Assad agreement with the UN team being allowed to inspect, the team is not allowed to “enter areas where there are ongoing SAA operations” (i.e Ghouta). Furthermore the team needs a UN mandate to investigate areas beyond its prescribed 3, a mandate which needs Russian and Chinese approval.
At the same time, Assad leaning media can launch the entire successful narrative that “he wouldn’t use chemical weapons during a UN visit so this is a rebel hoax to attract UN attention”, allowing him to get away from fingers of blame pointed at him whilst also not risking the UN team uncovering events or even visiting the region.
Anthony Cordesman, one of the more sober military analysts in DC, says what Obama seems about to do is pointless Retweeted by Hannah Allam, 7:24 PM - 27 Aug 13

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