The American Bear


Syria opposition leader demands Patriot missiles, UN seat | Al Akhbar English

Meanwhile, via jpost:

NATO said on Tuesday it had no intention of intervening militarily in Syria after a Syrian opposition leader said the United States should use Patriot missiles to protect rebel-held areas from President Bashar Assad’s airpower.

"NATO has no intention to intervene militarily in Syria," a NATO official said after opposition leader Moaz Alkhatib said he had asked US Secretary of State John Kerry for American forces to help defend rebel-controlled northern parts of Syria with Patriots.

The powers-that-be will be sticking with their KSA - CIA-led proxy war for now. NATO and the U.S. military prefer countries be more thoroughly immiserated before installing a compliant, west-friendly puppet engaging in their infamous humanitarian work.

How long until NATO airstrikes begin? Syria at the breaking point even as the Syrian National Congress disintigrates


Foreign Policy Magazine Mideast Brief notes ever so gently the Syrian National Congress Opposition party that isn’t, even according to themselves, really about ‘opposition’ but intends ‘overthrow’, is coming apart at the seams (along with a note that the FSA’s commander was injured by a bomb)

“Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, the head of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), announced his resignation on Sunday via a statement written on his Facebook page. Al-Khatib wrote, “I announce my resignation from the National Coalition, so that I can work with a freedom that cannot possibly be had in an official institution.” MORE

Joshua Landis at Syria Comment has a harsher view of the SNC and illustrates the rift between the loyal-to-Syria opposition and the mercenaries being ‘run’ under the ageis of ‘opposition’:

“In this interview (video @ post) with Al-Arabiya, Syrian opposition leader Michel Kilo accuses the Muslim Brotherhood and Mustafa Sabbagh’s Qatari-backed faction in the Syrian opposition of catapulting Ghassan Hitto to the Prime Ministership of the interim government in a non-consensual manner: “Qatar wanted Hitto…and the Qatari-backed group in the National Coalition agreed on Hitto and imposed Hitto without any political or consensual considerations that considers Syrian interests in terms of a national cause…” Kilo argues that the Hitto election sidelined Muaz al-Khatib and led to his resignation. Here is my article on these tensions.

This was particularly true after Qatar invited Hitto to represent Syria in the Arab Summit meeting to take place on Tuesday. Khatib was also invited, but he would be a third wheel. All eyes will be on Hitto, the newly elected Prime Minister, who is expected to form a government.

Liz Sly has a good article, “Syrian opposition in disarray as its leader resigns, The Syrian opposition is now leaderless at a time when the United States is stepping up its support. She quotes Amr al-Azm, who has great insight into the opposition.

The coalition is on verge of disintegrating,” he said. “It’s a big mess.

The trigger for Khatib’s departure was the selection last week of Ghassan Hitto, a relatively unknown Syrian-born U.S. citizen, to head a proposed interim government. Khatib and his supporters had opposed the creation of an interim government at this time, as had the United States, whose diplomats argued against the move on the grounds that it created an unnecessarily divisive distraction from the goal of bringing down Assad’s regime, according to Syrian opposition members.” MORE

Landis also notes the US and Britian are chomping at the bit for a siege of Damascus. But who will do that? Certainly not a fragmented SNC. NATO will… Eventually… When the damage to the civilian morale of Damascus done by the so-called ‘rebels’ reaches ‘critical mass’, and according to reports there has been mortar fire targeting the Syrian National Broacasting network in the city. Mortars have a range of about 3-4 miles maximum… Meaning the FSA is already operating in Damascus terrorizing it’s citizens. Can NATO air strikes be far behind with US congress discussing military action against the Assad government of Syria?

Asked during a Friday morning television interview whether there now is an “inevitability” of U.S. or multilateral intervention, Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., replied: “Yes.”

Circumstances on the ground in Syria continue to change in ways that will move us closer and closer toward some sort of multilateral action,” Coons told MSNBC, “especially if there is a confirmation that the Assad regime … has used chemical weapons.”

Several senators referenced the Levin-McCain letter, calling it a signal of a worsening situation inside Syria and growing worries on the Hill.

We believe there are credible options at your disposal, including limited military options, that would require neither putting U.S. troops on the ground nor acting unilaterally,” the senators wrote to Obama.

In the letter, the duo suggests Obama take several steps, including U.S. airstrikes to cripple Assad’s Air Force to “ease the suffering of the Syrian people and protect U.S. national security interests.”

Levin and McCain believe Obama should order air strikes targeting Assad’s combat aircraft and Scud missile batteries.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., a close ally on McCain who shares his interventionist foreign policy and national policy philosophy, said she is “very supportive of further action in Syria.” But she added she has yet to discuss with McCain and Levin the possibility of using U.S. air power to end the war — and Assad’s reign. MORE

Russia, Syrian opposition slam US calls for new leadership against Assad | The Hill

Russia joined Syria’s main exiled opposition group on Friday in accusing the Obama administration of picking and choosing the people it wants to run Syria if President Bashar Assad falls.

The comments come after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday said the United States will propose its own list of individuals and organizations as part of a multinational conference in Doha, Qatar, next week aimed at trying to create a unified rebel front. Clinton said the main exiled opposition group, the Paris-based Syrian National Council, was made up of people who haven’t been in the country in decades and does not represent the various groups currently fighting on the front lines against Assad.

The Syrian National Council denounced Clinton’s statement on Friday, the Agence France-Presse wire service reported.

“Any discussions aimed at passing over the Syrian National Council or at creating new bodies to replace it,” the group said in a statement, “are an attempt to undermine the Syrian revolution by sowing the seeds of division.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry also lambasted the United States, the AFP reported, saying Clinton’s comments violated an agreement reached with Russia and others over the summer to support a transition government approved by the Syrian people.

Ghalioun: we have failed Syrian people

Speaking to AFP after the main opposition Syrian National Council accepted his resignation as leader, Burhan Ghalioun said the chasm in its ranks between Islamist and secularists had let down the Syrian people and played into Assad’s hands.

“We were not up to the sacrifices of the Syrian people. We did not answer the needs of the revolution enough and quickly enough,” Ghalioun said.

“I submitted my resignation precisely to say that this path of division between Islamist and secular doesn’t work and I think the Syrian regime has won in that respect because since the beginning it has tried to play on this division,” the Paris-based academic said.

Syrian opposition faces fractures, infighting | AP

BEIRUT (AP) — A key activist group is threatening to withdraw from Syria’s main umbrella grouping, saying the council has drifted away from the spirit of the Syrian revolution.

A pullout by the Local Coordination Committees from the Syrian National Council would be a blow for the group. The SNC already is facing political and organizational challenges in its quest to oust President Bashar Assad.

The LCC issued a statement on Thursday accusing the SNC leadership of marginalizing council members and acting alone on major decisions.

It threatened to suspend its membership in the SNC and later withdraw altogether if its concerns are not addressed.

Fractures and resignations. See also:

BREAKING: Ghalioun to step down from SNC leadership | The Daily Star and


I’d also add that, from what I’ve read over the past months, the LCC’s are doing the real revolutionary work inside Syria. Whether the SNC’s role is positive or not has been a gray area for quite some time now. The latest “fractures” in the leadership leave even more questions.

BREAKING: Ghalioun to step down from SNC leadership | The Daily Star

This comes on the heels of another resignation (Fawaz Tello) yesterday. The SNC is falling apart.

BEIRUT: Syrian National Council President Burhan Ghalioun told an Arab satellite channel Thursday that he is stepping down from the SNC’s leadership.

In remarks to Al-Arabiya, Ghalioun said that he does not want to be the reason for division in the Council.

He said that he would resign his post as soon as a replacement is found.

Another senior figure walks out on SNC | Al Akhbar

A prominent dissident resigned from the Syrian National Council (SNC) on Tuesday, dealing another blow to the Istanbul-based opposition that has seen several senior figures quit in the last few months.

The resignation of Fawaz Tello came hours after the council’s general secretariat, a body of 45 of whom 33 were present, re-elected Burhan Ghalioun as president for another three-month term at a meeting in Rome organized by the Italian government to prod the SNC toward reform.

Tello, one of a minority of liberals in the 300-350 member SNC, said he was leaving because the council had been avoiding democratic reform and resisting international efforts to re-organize itself and unify the opposition to President Bashar Assad.

“I left Syria three months ago to help the council be servant of the revolution and transform it into a democratic model,” Tello said in a statement.

But the efforts that I and others have been making have been thwarted by the personal ambitions of those holding the reins of the council,” he added.


“The SNC has been foiling the most serious of attempts to unite the opposition,” said 52-year-old Tello.

“The opposition has also lost a golden opportunity to declare unequivocally that it is against a dialogue with murderers within the Assad regime and to emphasize that there is no alternative except its downfall,” he added.

Several senior opposition figures have left the SNC since the beginning of the year, saying its leadership is preoccupied with personal rivalries and not doing enough to back an increasingly militarized revolt.

Among them is Haitham al-Maleh, a lawyer and former judge who resisted Assad family domination for decades, and Kamal al-Labwani, a physician who led a failed insurgency from within the SNC to lessen the control of Islamists on the organization.


While the SNC dominates the headlines abroad, a number of internal opposition groups continue to operate outside of its framework, placing doubt on its influence on the ground in Syria.

Several internal opposition groups have dismissed the SNC as a pawn for Saudi Arabia and Qatar, accusing the group of serving the interests of the autocratic Gulf states and not that of the Syrian people. [++]

Penetrated Opposition and Failure of Consensus in Syria: Interview with Haytham Manna (Part 4 of 4)

From Jadaliyya:

[…] There were parties to the conflict who wanted to create an opposition “project” with small players.

The make-up, preparation, and imposition of leadership did not proceed according to the real representative democratic formula. But nearly all external actors supported this formula. This was the end of the possibility of unity among the opposition.

The discourse and machinations of the SNC increasingly resembled those of the regime. If you wanted to remain independent, you could not join the SNC.

The leader of the Free Syrian Army was beholden to the declarations and positions of Turkish intelligence.

I don’t have the right to accuse the SNC of being traitors or agents, but I do have the right to say that their political decision was compromised by their political funding and alliances. Their discourse tried to appease the West and Israel … every other word they attack HIzballah, and Iran, to demonstrate good will to the West.

My mission is neither to attack nor to glorify Hizballah. My mission is to glorify democracy and win the democratic battle that will change both Syria and Lebanon.

[Read the rest] →

Though Assad is on record telling ABC’s Barbara Walters on December 4th that when he loses the support of the people, he would leave, neither signs that Assad is roundly despised by his people nor offers of safe haven have been wanting. From rumors of high-level envoys entering Syria unaided by their diplomatic passport to the offer of a back bedroom by a private New Zealander named Bruce, the world has already given Assad numerous opportunities to avail himself of its hospitality. Arab leaders are privately telling the United States they have offered the Syrian President safe haven in a bid to get him to step down. Spain is said to have secretly offered Assad a deal that included safe haven in that country in August. The Syrian National Council has confirmed that Assad has indeed received several offers of asylum in addition to offers from The Arab League and Turkey to help find him a safe haven. SNC President Burhan Ghalioun has said, ‘It is clear that he wants to continue and I believe he is not mature and he doesn’t have a grasp on reality. He is delusional.’

SNC Emails: Clinton, Kilo, and Al-Farouq Batallion | Al Akhbar

"the offer of a back bedroom by a private New Zealander named Bruce"

SNC Emails: Clinton, Kilo, and Al-Farouq Batallion | Al Akhbar

[…] Even though the young men [in Homs] are convinced that the regime started the arming of civilians by using Alawite thugs (shabiha). They explain that they are aware of the difference between civilian regime loyalists and armed killers, and they condemn the few armed men in Homs who have committed violence against civilians in neighborhoods loyal to the regime.

They stress that such actions were the result of younger men making decisions on their own in line with the language of violence popularized by al-Farouq Battalion and made possible through generous external financial support. [++]

Syrian activists to rebels: Give us our revolution back | Gert van Langendonck and Sarah Lynch

A reminder that the FSA is not the revolution. The SNC is not the revolution. The “friends of Syria” is not the revolution.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Syrian activist Mohamed Alloush has fled his native country for Lebanon, but it wasn’t President Bashar al-Assad’s regime that drove him away. It was the rebels of the Free Syrian Army who ran him out of his hometown of Homs.

“In September last year I had been arrested again by the regime for organizing protests,” says Mr. Alloush, speaking on a cafe terrace in Beirut. “After they released me, I ran into a group of men I knew as members of the Free Syrian Army. I walked up to them and screamed: “You guys have stolen our revolution! You are just as bad as the shabiha,” the pro-regime militia in Syria.

The rebels kept Alloush for four days, after which they told him not to show his face in Homs again.

Alloush is part of the movement of young revolutionaries who began the protests against the Assad regime in March last year in the wake of similar uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. They feel sidelined by the violent turn the conflict in Syria has taken since the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was formed last summer. An armed group comprised mainly of former Army soldiers who defected from the regime, it is also reportedly cooperating with Sunni jihadis from abroad and many brigades have adopted an increasingly sectarian tone.

“Our revolution has been stolen from us by people who have their own agenda,” says a singer who uses the pseudonym ‘Safinas’ because she still lives in Damascus. “We are not violent people. We want to get back to the real thing. It was a clean thing when it started, but it has become something else now. I am against the regime, but I am also against the armed rebels.”

Read the whole thing

BBC | Opposition says Syrian rebel fighters to get salaries


Yeah, this is kinda serious. The fact the the SNC is already viewed as disconnected from the uprising on the ground could be problematic with regard to the allocation of these “salaries.” There are other opposition groups that are not part of the SNC, what about them? What about the fact that the most influential members of the SNC aren’t even in Syria? 

And that’s an interesting word choice. “Salaries.” Salaries are given from an employer to the employed. Meaning, those receiving this salary will undoubtedly be serving the ones providing it—not acting independently. This matters in Syria.

(via jayaprada)


“Much of the Left recognizes that the Ba’ath regime is neither anti-imperialist nor anti-capitalist. It recognizes that al-Assad’s government has most often played the border guard for Israel, and undoubtedly evokes no revolutionary good feelings amongst the Palestinians in either Lebanon or the West Bank (perhaps a small current in Gaza, until Hamas’ Ismail Haniya threw his support with the Syrian people against the al-Assad regime). Among the Palestinian Left the fundamental break with Syria took place during its betrayal of their cause in its invasion of Lebanon in 1975. Most of the Left is also aware that the Ba’ath Party was the enemy of both Nasserism (which banned the Ba’ath during the union of Syria and Egypt between 1958 and 1961) and the original Syrian Communist Party (when it was in its heyday before the military coup in 1961). During its peak, the SCP did impressively well in the 1954 elections, scaring a British intelligence official who moaned, “The increase in communism in Syria during 1954, taken in conjuncture with the general trend to the left and the government’s reluctance to take any really effective measures against it, is an unfortunate development.” In 1944, the Ba’ath’s intellectual godfathers Michel ‘Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar declared, “Communism is alien and foreign to everything Arab.” It was the ideological anvil on which the Ba’ath smashed the SCP into mute submission. And it has been the Ba’ath polices over the past twenty-five years that have created a neo-liberal elite in Syria’s cities, encaging the population in what Bassam Haddad calls the “political economy of authoritarian resilience.””

The Left and the People: Extending Hamid Dabashi’s Critique by Vijay Prashad

A fantastic nuanced critique on the Syrian Left and its supporters. The piece also briefly goes into an analysis regarding the question of foreign intervention. A brief excerpt:

The debate in the Left outside the immediate Syrian Left should not be “military intervention vs. no military intervention.” That is a debate framed by the Right, to which the Left in the Atlantic world too often succumbs. Such a debate treats as neutral the barbarism of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in places such as Iraq and Libya.

(via sharquaouia-deactivated20121015)