"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "
Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)
Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Ten new year resolution ideas for a healthier American role in Syria and the Middle East in 2015 | Part III of a discussion with Ambassador Robert Ford- The Syria Page
Former Ambassador Robert Ford was kind enough to accept my invitation to participate in a public political debate about Syria and America’s foreign policy. I started by presenting my perspective on U.S. interests and moral values in Syria and how the two, often contradictory, often shaped America’s Syria policies. Mr. Ford responded (here then here) with a top-10 list of his objections to various aspects of my views which he generally did not share.
My previous article was mostly a review of the history of America’s mistakes in Syria. In this follow up, I will borrow Ambassador Ford’s top-ten format by suggesting ten different ways the United States can reconsider its current approach to dealing with Syria, the crisis, the people and the country.
Although I am confident that what I assembled here is a constructive set of recommendations, I chose this tongue-in-cheek title and format as a reference to the futility of new year resolutions and a recognition of my poor chances of success in this attempt to influence Mr. Ford or anyone who shares his preferences on Syria. Change is difficult and the kind of change I am advocating here faces strong resistance from every corner of the “friends of Syria” camp.
Franjieh Says March 8 Rejects 'Centrist President' as Qmati Visits Rabieh in 'Support' of Christian Dialogue- Naharnet
Marada Movement leader MP Suleiman Franjieh stressed Wednesday that his March 8 coalition will not accept the election of a so-called “centrist” president, hoping Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun will manage to win the presidential seat.
“Aoun briefed me on the talks he is conducting … We hope the next president will be an essential partner with everyone and of course we hope the General will reach” the Baabda Palace, Franjieh said after meeting Aoun in Rabieh.
The presidential post has been vacant since president Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25. Lawmakers failed to secure the needed quorum for electing a new president despite holding 16 voting sessions, amid a boycott by the MPs of Aoun and Hizbullah.
YDH- Londra’da yayımlanan Re’yu’l Yovm gazetesine bilgi veren Batılı diplomatik kaynaklar, Şam’a gizli bir ziyaret gerçekleştiren Amerikan heyetinde 5 kişinin bulunduğunu söyledi.
Habere göre Suriye meselesini izleyen bir komitede faaliyet gösteren Amerikan heyeti, Ürdün’ün başkenti Amman’daki Suriyeli yetkililerle yapılan koordinasyon ile Şam’a gitti.
A jihadist from New Zealand who has joined the Islamic State in Syria, has accidentally given up his exact location by sending out tweets, according to a Canadian intelligence group.The extremist has deleted the tweets.
Mohammad Daniel, also known as Abu Abdul Rahman, and formerly known as Mark John Taylor sent out more than 45 tweets documenting his whereabouts before realizing that it may have been a mistake.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has signed papers to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
He signed the Rome Statute, the ICC's founding treaty, at a Ramallah meeting.
Membership could see the Palestinians pursue Israel on war crimes charges, and the move was quickly condemned by Israel's prime minister.
Informed sources in Cairo suggest diplomatic moves are afoot to help bring Syria's political opposition to a common position, and that Libya, too, is also in Cairo's sights.
Isis in Syria: Barbarity of 'Islamic State' prison described by survivor held with James Foley- The Indepedent
An activist who survived imprisonment by Isis in Syria alongside James Foley has spoken of physical and psychological torture at the hands of the group.
Louay Abdul-Jood, a Syrian activist, was held for six months before being released in a prisoner exchange with the Free Syrian Army, Radio Free Iraq reported.
He said he was abducted by gunmen alongside a cameraman working for news agency AFP by Isis gunmen in November last year, as they reported on barrel bombing in Aleppo.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group has lost ground in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, where Kurdish forces have now regained control of about 70 percent of territory, a group monitoring the war said on Wednesday.
The People’s Protection Units (YPG), backed by U.S.-led air strikes, were able to push back ISIS fighters after months of besiege, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
A Palestinian bid to secure a U.N. resolution setting an end date for the occupation failed to pass a Security Council vote in a move Israel hailed Wednesday as a victory.
China, France and Russia were among the eight countries that voted in favor of the text, but the resolution fell short of winning the nine "yes" votes necessary for adoption within the 15-member council.
Australia and the United States voted against, and five other countries abstained, including Britain.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Russia has invited U.N. envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura to attend the peace talks between Syria rivals in Moscow next month, de Mistura's spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
BEIRUT — The Islamic State has released what it claims is an interview with the Jordanian pilot who was captured by the militant group after his plane went down in Syria last week.
The interview, which could not be independently verified and was published in the Islamic State’s English-language magazine, quotes 26-year-old Muath al-Kaseasbeh as saying that a “heat-seeking missile” downed his F-16 fighter jet.
The United States and its allies conducted 15 air strikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants on Tuesday, hitting several units of fighters and buildings, the U.S. military said.
YDH- El Meyadin televizyonu Rusya’nın girişimiyle yapılacak siyasi müzakerelere katılacak muhaliflerin listesini yayımladı.
Habere göre Salih Muslim, Eymen Esfari, Selim Hayr Bek, Salah Derviş, Mazen Mağribiye, Hasan Abdulazim, Heysem Menna, Arif Delile, Semir Ayta, Kadri Cemil, Muaz Hatib, Bedir Camus, Abdul Ahad Astayfu, Hadi Bahra, Maya Rahbi, Suheyl Sermini, Mecid Niyazi, Meys Keridi, Menna Ganim, Rende Kasis, Moskova’da yapılacak müzakerelere katılacak isimler.
Robert Siegel talks to Rula Al Hroob, a member of the Jordanian Parliament, about the capture of First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh by the Islamic State last week.
GENEVA/BEIRUT - U.N. Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura will be represented at talks about Syria in Moscow next month, his spokeswoman said on Tuesday.
Two rounds of Geneva talks early in 2014 failed to halt the conflict which has killed 200,000 people and divisions over the future role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remain a major stumbling block to a settlement.
In a renewed peace effort, Assad's ally Russia floated the idea in recent weeks of hosting Syrian government and opposition figures in Moscow. De Mistura's invitation confirms those talks are set for Jan. 26-29.
(Reuters) - Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that a widening of U.S. sanctions against Moscow this week may hamper bilateral cooperation on issues such as Iran's nuclear program and the Syrian crisis.
"The actions by the United States are putting in doubt the prospects of bilateral cooperation on solving the situation around the Iranian nuclear program, the Syrian crisis and other acute international problems," the ministry said.
Monday, December 29, 2014
Three Syrian diplomats left Damascus for Kuwait Monday where they will reopen their country's embassy in the Persian Gulf nation, a Syrian official said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, told The Associated Press that the diplomats include a charge d'affairs.
Kuwait, where tens of thousands of Syrians live, has been a strong supporter of the opposition trying to remove President Bashar Assad from power.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
ISIS has executed nearly 2,000 people in Syria - half of them from an important Sunni tribe - since announcing their “caliphate” in June, a monitoring group said Sunday.
“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the execution by the Islamic State of 1,878 people in Syria between June 28 when it announced its ‘caliphate” and December 27,” the group said in a statement.
The dead included 930 members of the Shaitat tribe which rose up against ISIS in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor in the summer, the UK-based Observatory said.
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—As Damascus said it was ready to participate in Russian-backed “preliminary consultations” in Moscow aimed at restarting peace talks next year to end the Syrian conflict, opposition Syrian National Coalition President Hadi Al-Bahra said that “no formal initiatives” for a peace plan had been submitted to the Coalition so far.
In a broad-ranging interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the Syrian opposition chief discussed competing international peace initiatives from both Moscow and UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, stressing that any peace initiative must be based on the Geneva Communique.
Syrian state-run TV on Saturday announced that Damascus is ready to participate in peace talks hosted by Russia next month, amid suggestions the talks could pave the way to restarting direct peace talks between the Assad regime and Syrian rebels. However, the president of the Syrian National Coalition—the main Western-backed Syrian opposition group—said it had not received any formal invitation from Moscow.
“Until now, we have received nothing official about a Moscow meeting. We have not received any formal or verbal invitation or any specific date,” Bahra told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Bahra acknowledged, however, that he had heard about the Moscow initiative. “During previous meetings with [Russian Deputy Foreign Minister] Mikhail Bogdanov, he informed us that his country was considering proposing the idea of a summit based on two axes: First, dialogue between the opposition . . . and [second], dialogue between the opposition and the regime.”
However, Bahra immediately affirmed that talks are already taking place within the Syrian opposition to reach a joint vision to deal with the evolving situation on the ground in the country, particularly following the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the establishment of a US-led international coalition to combat the group. Many international observers have warned that time is running out to reach a political solution to end the Syrian conflict amid fears that ISIS will seek to exploit any power vacuum to entrench its position in Syria.
No written initiatives for a political solution to Syrian crisis: Opposition official- Daily News Egypt
The president of the Syrian Coalition Hadi Al-Bahra said no written initiatives have been proposed by Egypt, Russia or the UN’s Syria envoy, but added they “are seeking to revive negotiations”.
Al-Bahra added that they “have pledged to support dialogue among Syrians”, according to a statement by the Syrian Coalition on Sunday. The coalition includes Syrian political opposition factions that oppose the government of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Al-Bahra is currently leading a delegation to Cairo, where he held talks with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and with Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Araby on Saturday. During the visit, discussions are ongoing on the “upcoming dialogue conferences” that are due to be held in Cairo and Moscow.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria said Saturday that it was willing to participate in “preliminary consultations” in Russia aimed at restarting peace talks next year to end its civil war.
But members of the Western-backed Syrian opposition dismissed the Russian plan on Saturday, saying there was “no initiative.”
Syrian state television quoted an official at the Foreign Ministry as saying that “Syria is ready to participate in preliminary consultations in Moscow in order to meet the aspirations of Syrians to find a way out of crisis.”
Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov said this month that he wanted Syrian opposition groups to agree among themselves on a common approach before setting up direct talks with the Syrian government, which is backed by Moscow.
Syria is ready to meet with the country's opposition in Moscow in an effort to find a way out of the nearly four-year civil war, a government official said Saturday.
"Syria is ready to participate in a preliminary and consultative meeting in Moscow to respond to the aspirations of Syrians who are trying to find a solution to the crisis," the foreign ministry official said, quoted by SANA state news agency.
Friday, December 26, 2014
Thursday, December 25, 2014
The plan consists of two major parts: support for more than 12 million conflict-affected people inside Syria and assistance to over 3 million refugees.
YDH- Interfax haber ajansına açıklamada bulunan Rusya Dışişleri Bakan Yardımcısı Mihail Bogdanov, BM Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Steffan De Mistura’nın ocak ayı sonlarında Suriyeli muhaliflerle görüşmek için Moskova’ya geleceğini söyledi.
Bogdanov, Suriye krizindeki tüm taraflarla yapılacak istişarelerden sonra tüm tarafların temsilcilerinden oluşacak 20-25 kişinin Moskova’da düzenlenecek toplantıya katılmasını umduğunu söyledi.
Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Beshara Boutros Rai expressed his hope on Thursday that officials realize the dangers of failing to elect a new president, as well as the negative repercussions of void at the presidential level.
During a mass held on the occasion of Christmas, Patriarch Rai stated that presidential vacuum will lead to chaos in Lebanon, questioning the accuracy of claims that Lebanon is working fine without a president.
In this regard, Patriarch Rai noted that only a president seeks the interests of the Lebanese people and eases tension among citizens.
“We pray for God to help Lebanon elect a new president.”
On the morning of Christmas Eve, the militants from the Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat Al-Nusra) and the Liberators of the Levant Movement (Harakat ‘Ahrar Al-Sham) attempted to infiltrate into the northern Latakia city of Kassab from the Turkish border; however, they were repelled by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) as soon as they approached Eagle Mountain (Jabal Al-Nissr).
Amerika Merkez Komutanlığı'ndan (CENTCOM) yapılan yazılı açıklamada Ürdün'e ait bir uçağın Rakka yakınlarında IŞİD militanlarınca düşürüldüğü iddiası yalanlandı. Yazılı açıklamada "Kanıtlar, uçağın, IŞİD'in iddia ettiği gibi militanlarca düşürülmediğini açıkca ortaya koyuyor," ifadesine yer verildi.
Rusya'nın Suriye'deki krizin çözülmesi için başlattığı diploması trafiği devam ediyor. Rusya, Cenevre'de ABD'nin öncülüğünde başlatılan müzakere sürecinin başarısızlığa uğramasının ardından kendi inisiyatifiyle yeni bir süreç başlatmaya çalışıyor. Rusya, bu kapsamda başlattığı diplomasi trafiğini, birçok ayaktan devam ettiriyor. Suriye muhalefetiyle, rejim arasında mekik dokuyan Rusya, görüşmelere İran'ı da dahil etmek için gayret sarf ediyor. Diğer taraftan, muhaliflerle Türkiye ve Lübnan'da görüşmeler gerçekleştiren Rusya, sürecin Türkiye ve Lübnan'ın da bir şekilde dahil olmasını sağlamaya çalışıyor.
Rusya Dışişleri Bakanlığı, Dışişleri Bakanı Yardımcısı ve Putin'in Özel Temsilcisi Mihail Bogdanov ve Suriye'nin Moskova Büyükelçisi Riyad Haddad'ın başkent Moskova'da bir araya geldiğini ve ülkedeki krizle ilgili süreci görüştüklerini duyurdu. Açıklamada ayrıca, Rusya'nın Suriye'de tarafları bir araya getirme önerisiyle ilgili görüş alışverişinde bulunduğu kaydedildi.
Rusya'nın Interfax haber ajansında yer alan habere göre ise Haddad müzakerelerin devam ettiğini ve muhaliflerle bir araya gelmek henüz bir tarih belirlenmediğini söyledi. Rusya son dönemde Suriye krizinde ağırlığını koymaya ve 'merkez ülke' haline gelmeye çalışıyor.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
The Syrian Arab Army’s 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard (Harss Al-Jamhouri) conducted a series of raids on Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) strongholds in the Jubeileh, Al-Haweeqa, Al-‘Arfa, Al-Sina’a, and Al-Rasaafa Quarters of Deir Ezzor City, killing a number of militants and destroying multiple vehicles in the process.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam expressed hope on Wednesday that the dialogue between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal movement would contribute to the election of a new head of state.
Following talks with Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi in Bkirki, Salam said he had high hopes that talks between the rivals would create some kind of “reassurance” for the Lebanese people.
The dialogue could reflect positively on all crises, he said, adding: “I look forward that it expands” to include all other parties.
The first round of talks between Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal representatives was hosted on Tuesday by Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain el-Tineh.
BM’nin Suriye Özel Temsilcisi Stefan De Mistura’nın Halep eksenli çatışmasızlık planı neyi öngörüyor? De Mistura’nın planını, öncekilerden ayrı kılan ne? Gazeteci Hediye Levent, Halep eksenli gelişmeleri, bölgedeki yetkililerin de görüşüne başvurarak analiz etti.
The Islamic State group captured a Jordanian pilot on Wednesday after his warplane from the U.S.-led coalition was reportedly shot down while on a mission against the jihadists over northern Syria.
A senior Jordanian military official confirmed the pilot was seized, saying his plane went down in Syria's Raqa region, a militant stronghold, early on Wednesday.
"The pilot was taken hostage by the IS terrorist organization," official news agency Petra quoted the official as saying.
Jordan did not say why the plane went down, but both the jihadists and a monitoring group said it was shot with an anti-aircraft missile.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Three months of US-led air strikes have killed at least 1,171 people, mostly Islamic State (IS) militants, in Syria, a UK-based monitoring group has said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said most of the dead were foreign fighters who had joined the IS cause.
The group also said that 52 civilians - including women and children - had been killed in the strikes.
Large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq fell to IS earlier this year.
A German author given rare access to territory run by Islamic State has told the BBC that the group is stronger, more brutal and harder to confront than he had expected.
Juergen Todenhoefer spent six days in the IS city of Mosul in Iraq, travelling there via Raqqa, in Syria.
Mr Todenhoefer said he found IS followers highly motivated and supportive of the group's brutality.
He said the spread of fighters meant they were hard targets for air strikes.
Monday, December 22, 2014
Saturday, December 20, 2014
The Islamic State group has publicly executed a Syrian it accused of planting tracking devices for deadly regime air strikes, SITE Intelligence reported on Saturday.
The jihadist group posted footage of the accused being paraded before a crowd but the video deliberately freezes at the point an IS fighter pulls his head back and holds a knife to his neck, the U.S.-based monitoring group said.
After the execution in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, the jihadists paraded the body of the accused on a cross.
IS charged that more than 190 people had been killed in the air strikes that the man had abetted.
Israel was asked by the UN General Assembly on Friday to compensate Lebanon for $856.4 million in oil spill damages it caused during the July 2006 war.
The non-binding vote, which passed 170-6 with three abstentions, asks Israel to offer "prompt and adequate compensation" to Lebanon and other countries affected by the oil spill's pollution.
While General Assembly votes are non-binding, they reflect broader international opinion without the possibility of veto by world powers like in the Security Council.
The resolution indicated that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon "expressed grave concern at the lack of any acknowledgment on the part of the government of Israel of its responsibilities vis-a-vis reparations and compensation" for the oil spill.
Lebanon’s permanent representative to the UN Nawaf Salam hailed the resolution, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.
Friday, December 19, 2014
The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) has had a rough 48 hours in the Deir Ezzor Governorate after their subsequent withdrawal from the Al-Dagheem Farms on the outskirts of the Al-Mari’iyyah Quarter near the Military Airport. Further adding to their plight, an ISIS contingent attempted to attack the Military Airport from the eastern perimeter; however, the convoy was ambushed approximately 500 meters away from their destination.
Lebanon's drug kingpin watched his workers sink their spades deep into the piles of marijuana that banked the walls of the factory, throwing the chopped plants onto clunking machines that sifted out the top quality hash that would soon be sold on London streets.
The secret processing plant - an unremarkable cow barn in its exterior - stands on a hillside overlooking the remote fertile plains of the Bekaa valley whose produce, cannabis, is now at the heart of a multi-million dollar drug trade.
For years Ali Nasri Shamas and other Lebanese farmers saw their illegal crops burned by the government. But in the past two summers, as the army focused on the violent fallout of the war in neighbouring Syria, their plants have flourished unmolested.
Security forces have refrained from destroying the industry of the hash growers who, already armed to the teeth, could be useful partners in keeping control of this tribal part of the country should the its instability become full-blown conflict.
The farmers too have grown in confidence: they have stockpiled AK47s, ammunition, machine guns and rocket propelled grenades and rallied around Mr Shamas, who has become the unofficial representative defending their trade.