Can two wrongs make a good, can two bads make a right? Doubtful. Do you go with the known known or the known unknown? In the 1973 war with Israel, the great tank battle which turned back Syria was called the Valley of Tears, and it seems here that terrible fight is being replayed within its natural borders and the loss of life, known lives lost, that is, not the ones tortured to death and pitched into trenches, far exceeds all loss in sixty-four years of official conflict with Israel. This is political hardball with America, Saudi Arabia and Turkey squeezing the Chinese and Russian role within Syria; another leg on the road show that is scheduled to climax the tour in Teheran. For Israel, who is most affected, it seems to be a muddy glass bottom; Assad is a bastard and a sponsor of terrorism, but the frontier of the Golan Heights has been the most quiet. A cold peace, but fewer infractions than with Egypt. The problem as history indicates, is making an agreement, signing a paper and a week later the signatory and the delegation are six feet under. If that lucky.
China is debating whether to engage the Syrian opposition as the situation evolves; not to hedge bets, but to plan other moves. China does support the UN’s efforts to stabilize the Syria problem, and despite the propaganda, the “free” rebels are rag-tag, and prone to shooting each other as well. It does not bode well. As China perceives, and as Russia knows, the Syrian reality is that the Assad clan is the largest political bloc and probably more than half the population stands behind it to some extent. But beyond that, the Alawites, to which al-Assad belongs, are infidels according to Islamic law; heretics that should be put to death and in a worse category than Jews and Christians, not that they can relax either of course. Ultimately, it appears, even if China puts its hands together and bows to garner favor from Washington, it won’t change any game plan. The ascension of China may be at the root of this looming catastrophe.
(see link at end)…The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad declared victory on Sunday in a hard-fought battle for Syria’s capital Damascus, and pounded rebels who control parts of its largest city Aleppo, Reuters reported.
Assad’s forces have struggled as never before to maintain their grip on the country over the past two weeks after a major rebel advance into the two largest cities and an explosion that killed four top security officials.
Government forces have succeeded in reimposing their grip on the capital after a punishing battle, but rebels are still in control of sections of Aleppo, clashing with reinforced army troops for several days.
“Today I tell you, Syria is stronger… In less than a week they were defeated (in Damascus) and the battle failed,” Foreign Minister Walid Moualem was quoted by Reuters as having said on a visit to Iran. “So they moved on to Aleppo and I assure you, their plots will fail.”
Rebel fighters were clearly in control of parts of Aleppo, the report said, with neighborhoods dotted with Free Syrian Army checkpoints flying black and white Islamist banners. Read More:http://www.israel
( China Daily) :Visiting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said here on Sunday that his government is committed to implementing the peace plan put forward by UN-Arab League joint envoy to Syria Kofi Annan.
Muallem made the remarks at a press conference held jointly with his Iranian counterpart Ali-Akbar Salehi during his visit to Iran.
He condemned the armed opposition groups and said that they are not committed to their obligations to Annan’s peace plan.
Don’t know what to make of this from an article last year. One takeaway as Henry Kissinger once said, is that popular revolutions seem to form more easily as economic conditions improve, expectations rise and so do demands for greater civil liberties….
( see link at end): Jack Avital believes in the future of Bashar Assad. “Everything is good,” he told the Algemeiner. “You can bet on it – Assad will be there another 20 years…He is not Mubarak, not Gaddafi– Assad is an honest guy and 95% of the population supports him and will protect him.”
Unexpected remarks, given the mainstream media’s recent coverage. Avital says, however, that the economy is “working and moving.”Further, he says that the Jewish community is doing well, and that the Syrian president is protecting the minute Jewish community still in place in Damascus. In the last several months Syria has been seen in the west as a government in crisis, one willing to do anything – even kill its own people – to retain its power. Yet, according to Avital, who is in close contact with officers of the Syrian government both in American and in Damascus, Assad is protecting the ancient community and has protection in place at the community’s historic synagogue.
In the midst of the crisis, the Syrian government invited Yehoshua Pinto, a charismatic Israeli rabbi who spends about half of his time in New York, to visit. Jack Avital, head of the Sephardic National Alliance and a leader of the Syrian-Jewish community of North America, conveyed the invitation from the Syrian ambassador to the US, Imad Moustapha. …
Avital, has maintained good relations with President Bashar Assad and with Syrian officials in the US. He has led delegations of American Jews to Syria for official visits in 2004 and 2006. The initial discussion of a Pinto visit initiated well before the current political crisis….
…Soon after the initial shots were fired in April, Pimm Fox of Bloomberg Television’s “Surveillance Midday spoke with Barton Biggs, co founder of the Traxis Fund, LP. Biggs had met with Assad in 2009 to discuss investment possibilities. Reforms and significant infrastructure construction – roads, power stations, etc – were discussed. Calling Assad “affable and charming,” Biggs said the Syrian president was advised by his sophisticated English Syrian father in law. Politically, Assad “didn’t take a negative or hard line view about what is going on with Israel.”
…Little more than a year later he says “I’m very disappointed. Syria is a dynamic country of 22 million plus an additional 10 million of Syrian descent around the world” – an entrepreneurial people. Biggs believes the United States should maintain contact with Syria, and supports the current hands off approach. Unlike Avital, he says recent events make him feel regime change is necessary, especially in light of the long term inter tribal warfare.
While there are no sanctions preventing American investment – Syria’s 2010 financial position was strong, had little outstanding debt, and a public sector surplus. Yet, says Biggs, discussion of investment seems to have “just stopped, turned off… The government stopped responding entirely. “ Brian Davis, former Canadian Ambassador to Syria, calls the Syrian president “cautious, conservative,” one who “has slowly acquired the knowledge and skills of a President… an apple who has not fallen far from that tree. …. a decent, intelligent man ….who wants to be a popular president.”
He mirrors Avital’s analysis, saying Assad has “achieved considerable popularity on the “Arab street” across the region. This distinguishes him from President Mubarak.” Characteristically, Assad does not“act in haste or under threat. …
President Assad has appealed for stability. In fact Syrians are used to accepting restraints on their freedoms in exchange for the safety and stability for decades. Assad will fight to the end to retain power for fear that his minority Alawite clan could face retaliation for the decades.
Are the Syrian people ready for an all out revolution? Assad has clearly shown that he is willing to do battle as needed – even bloody battle. He has consolidated his position and appears able to weather most storms, even overriding his own officers. Among the Sunni merchant class, a major force of stability, many support him, Regime change is seen as a threat to their positions and livelihood
Whatever is necessary, Assad’s objective is to survive. The regime has used force and survived previous attempts to oust (The crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood has continued more almost thirty years.) …Achieving economic success is clearly a major factor in his ability to retain power, as is closing the significant gap between the classes, and actually putting basic reforms in place.
“The Jewish community in Syria is doing well,” says Avital. It supports Assad, and considers him to be the best possible leader for them. …
…Amid the turmoil, the small community of Jews in Damascus has been encouraged to rebuild. Funds are coming from Syrian Jews; permission came from President Bashar al-Assad. Josh Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, says “This is an effort by the regime to show its seriousness and an olive branch to the Jewish community in America” – despite the ongoing state of war with Israel. Read More:http://www.algemeiner.com/2011/06/14/whats-happening-to-syrias-jews/
( see link at end) …Although some Israelis – such as Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara, a Druze Arab MK and ardent Zionist – have taken a similar stance to my own, and attempted to build semi-official lines of communication with the Free Syrian leadership, these efforts have been stopped directly by Israel’s Prime Minister and Foreign Ministry.
Among the Syrian opposition leadership, the thought of Israel’s coming to their aid has been received with a mixed response at best. The editor of a Syrian underground opposition newspaper told me that his paper would write about my proposal, but that they (the Syrians) could take care of themselves without Israel’s help. One Arab friend put it to me this way: “If there is one thing all people in Syria have in common, it is their hatred for Israel.” Currently, both sides in the conflict think accusing their enemies of accepting help from Israel will strengthen their respective positions in the eyes of the Syrian public.
Apparently, the most defamatory thing that can be said about you in Syria is that you are backed by Israel. That being that case, offers by Israel to help the rebels might actually be counter-productive, since they would be viewed as “making a pact with the devil,” which could be hurtful to the revolution.
Syrian leadership, like that of many Arab states, has indoctrinated its citizens by telling them that the source of all of their sorrow and hardship is Israel. The Arab people have for years been told, “The Zionists are our greatest enemies,” in order to distract them from issues like their own basic rights and freedoms as citizens….
A Syrian dissident recently told me, “Even the Syrian people who do not believe in the government’s anti-Israel message can’t express themselves freely, since they’ll be considered traitors. The Syrian opposition’s views may be less hostile towards Israel, and they may be willing to have direct peace talks, but they are precluded from doing so by the legacy of the afore-mentioned anti-Israel propaganda that has long saturated the Arab public. Any interaction with Israel will lead to a loss of the opposition’s credibility.” On the other hand, he maintained, “most Syrians see Assad as a greater enemy than Israel. Israel treats Arabs much better than Assad, especially in jail – they do not torture and mutilate like Assad does. Also, the Assad family has killed more Syrians and Arabs (Palestinians) in the past 41 years than Israel has – for example, in the Syrian city of Hama during the Lebanon War in the 1980s, and now today.”…Read More:https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=339886136023351