Posts Tagged ‘Army’

the war crimes of the Free Syrian Army gangs are always mentioned in one sentence–and in passing

July 28th, 2012 Comments off
Mr. Pillay also cited a growing number of reports of atrocities by opposition fighters, including the torture or execution of prisoners.”

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Live from Akram: the many Damscuses

July 27th, 2012 Comments off
Akram, Angry Arab’s correspondent in Syria, wrote me this account:

For the first time ever, Damascus is Damascuses (or at least, this is what turned out to be the case). And this depends on who tells.

First of all, the heart of the city, the area not being touched by the ongoing fighting. People come and go, filling the streets trying to recover their lives. Stores are open and hawkers raise their voices in an attempt to promote their goods. Vegetables are available and their prices fell sharply while, in contradiction to what the government announces, gasoline is still rare, something that you may discover, right away, by just taking a look at the long queues in front of gas stations. But you can, easily, realize how false is this image of a city full of life, by looking in the eyes of people or by hearing their discussions. Then only, you can detect the amount of anxiety and uncertainty that fills their hearts.
The second Damascus can be seen in the accounts of the displaced people or their relatives. A huge amount of angry of what they describe as brutal practices of the army in the regions that witness combats. You can hear sad stories about indiscriminate shelling, homes that have been stormed and their poor contents that have been destructed, and mass arbitrary arrests of young men. A Palestinian taxi driver who looked exhausted told me that, since the early morning (Thursday), he was trying to evacuate his family from Al-Yarmouk, a large Palestinian refugee camp located South Damascus, until he succeeded by the noon. Another one, a friend, managed to evacuate half of his parents from Al-Sbeineh, a poor quarter to the south of Damascus that is waiting his turn in the “cleaning” campaign carried out by the Syrian army, while the other half preferred to stay at home because they didn’t want to be “humiliated”. The two men said the military operation succeed only to hit the civilians while gunmen could easily escape waiting for the army to go away before they came back. Increasing tensions are taking place in the regions that received displaced people. In Jaramana, a Damascene suburb, some dislocated people from the stricken city of Douma and who are sheltered in two public schools wrote anti-regime graffiti, something that raised the ire of the residents who are calling for them to be expelled. The same applies on Sahnayia suburb, where some of the displaced people of Al-Tadamoun and Al-Qadam neighborhoods, tried to organize anti-regime demonstrations.
The third Damascus is only seen on TV, in the Ramadan televised series. Damascus of the 19th and the early period of the 20th century, Damascus of the traditional quarters, the gossips of women and their naïve plots, the mannish acts of men with traditional costumes and big mustaches. Or another “modern” Damascus that few know about, Damascus of the villas and large apartments and luxury cars and international restaurants, Damascus of colorful girls and stylish men. The few series that tries to “deal with the situation” are late for at least one year in a manner that makes you laugh loudly.
The fourth Damascus is located in news broadcasts, news tickers and comments of unknown people described as “analysts” (Nasser Qandeel is the brightest star of the Syrian channels) that fill the screen: our brave military forces are still chasing the remnants of terrorists killing and arresting tenths of them, citizens (in this area or that) are grateful to the army for restoring safety and security after the terrorist gangs wreaked havoc in their neighborhoods, the Syrian army is fighting the final battle in Aleppo (earlier in Damascus), the cosmic conspiracy is living its final moments, the BRICS will retaliate, …
Damascus is no more one Damascus, and it this isn’t only because of the sectarian cracks which began to appear on its old face.”

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Watch live: war crimes of the Free Syrian Army

July 27th, 2012 Comments off

You have to watch this disgusting video.  This man’s only crime is that he appeared on Dunya TV (a regime TV).  He was asked for his sect, and he said Sunni: and then he was tormented for being Sunni and appearing on Dunya TV and for mocking `Ar`ur speeches.  At the end, the “revolutionary” of the Free Syrian Army announces that a punishment will be exacted on this person for his crimes.  I have two points: 1) shame on Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for their cowardice and lack of professionalism.  They more than ever that they are mere tools of US foreign policy and of the agendas of their funders; 2) I miss the Sufis, liberals, and leftists who are running the Syrian revolution as we read only months ago.  

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‘Syriana’: Same funding; Same culprits; Same victims!

July 27th, 2012 Comments off

“… Unidentified fighters have shot down an Iraqi army helicopter in clashes that have killed at least 19 people including 12 policemen, a regional official has said.The fighting around the town of Hadid on Thursday follows a warning last weekend from al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq to push back into areas the group was driven out of by the US military after sectarian fighting peaked in 2007.
Diyala provincial spokesman Salih Ebressim Khalil said fighters opened fire on the helicopter, killing one soldier, wounding another and forcing the aircraft to make an emergency landing. The rest of the crew was unharmed….
In a statement posted online last Saturday, local al-Qaeda leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced a new campaign dubbed “Breaking the Walls”.
He said it sought to undermine the nation’s weakened Shia-led government by realigning with Sunni tribes, and returning to areas it was driven from before the American military withdrew from Iraq last December.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is regarded by Iraqi officials as significantly weaker than at the peak of its strength in 2006 and 2007, but it is still capable of spectacular mass-casualty attacks across the country.…”

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It was 60 Years Ago Today … What is the Legacy of July 23, 1952?

July 23rd, 2012 Comments off
Nasser, Naguib and Salah Salem

Anwar Sadat went to the movies, not knowing that his co-conspirators had moved up the schedule, and almost missed the revolution. But once he caught up, as the senior Signals Corps officer among the plotters, he read communique number one:

To the People of Egypt:

Egypt has passed through a critical period in her recent history characterized by bribery, mischief, and the absence of governmental stability. All of these were factors that had a large influence on the army. Those who accepted bribes and were thus influenced caused our defeat in the Palestine War. As for the period following the war, the mischief-making elements have been assisting one another, and traitors have been commanding the army. They appointed a commander who is either ignorant or corrupt. Egypt has reached the point, therefore, of having no army to defend it. Accordingly, we have undertaken to clean ourselves up and have appointed to command us men from within the army whom we trust in their ability, their character, and their patriotism. It is certain that all Egypt will meet this news with enthusiasm and will welcome it.

For 59 years, anyone speaking of “the Egyptian Revolution” meant the coup of July 23, 1952. It was the thawra, though there were always a few who said that it was merely a coup (inqilab). If the events of January 25-February 11, 2011 had not occurred, today’s 60th anniversary of 1952 would no doubt be a huge celebration. But another, more popular revolution has occurred. (Whether it has been reversed or cancelled out by SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood is, of course, a subject for debate.)

This is the fourth July 23 since I started this blog and the second since the fall of Husni Mubarak, but because it is the 60th anniversary it has itself become something of a political football.

This year, the Ahmad Maher Faction of the 6 April Youth Movement (whatever you think of the current bunch of revolutionaries, though know how to name their factions like real revolutionaries) has called on Egyptians to boycott celebrating July 23.  This has already provoked counterstrikes from supporters of the 1952 revolution: SCAF on its Facebook page called such comments “delusional,” defended the military’s role in 1952 and today, and and “asserted the 1952 revolution wasn’t only for Egypt but for the whole African, Arab and Asian world.”  Meanwhile, a group of “Nasserists” in Qena governorate also defended 1952 and “asserted that military rule didn’t begin with Gamal Abdel Nasser but had always been a feature of Egyptian political life since the time of Ramses II.”

Ramses II? But then, remember: the two pillars of Pharaoh’s power were his Army and the high priesthood. Is that so different from SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood? Well, yes, probably.

But no one can argue that the 1952 revolution has had a major impact across the Arab world, though that was not evident immediately. When the Free Officers first took over they forced the King to abdicate but didn’t even proclaim a republic until the following year, so that infant King Ahmad Fuad II, though in exile with his father, was nominally reigning through a regency council. The coup was not the first military coup in the modern Arab world (Bakr Sidqi in Iraq and Husni Zaim in Syria had gotten there previously), and at first it named a civilian Prime Minister. It as later, after Nasser supplanted Naguib and began social and economic reforms and nationalizations, that it began to look a bit more like a revolution. Nasser had enormous flaws, but no other Arab leader has enjoyed the prestige he did across the rest of the Arab world. We’ve talked a lot about Nasser and Naguib in this blog, and I refer you to the archives rather than repeat myself.

For two generations July 23 has been Egypt’s national day.Already January 25 is a contender for the title. Like so much else in this turbulent era, it will take some time for this generation of revolutionaries (Islamist as well as secular) to come to terms with that earlier “revolution” six decades ago today.

Two videos (both in Arabic), one with clips of the first revolutionary era, and the second Muhammad Naguib’s own initial broadcast:

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Syrian Rebellion Enters new Stage with Aleppo, Border operations

July 22nd, 2012 Comments off

On Saturday and Sunday, the Free Syrian Army launched attacks on government facilities and personnel in Aleppo, with fighting raging in several districts of the country’s largest city. Fighting raged near a large government intelligence facility. If the rebels can take Aleppo, they would benefit from Turkish aid and trade, and could hope to build it up into a stronghold. They also have asserted control over two checkpoints on the border with Iraq that could help them supply the north. They have several checkpoints with Turkey, as well.

In Damascus, The Baath government is alleged to have used helicopter gunships in a push to retake districts of the capital from bands of Free Syrian Army irregulars.

In a further sign of military demoralization, Three more brigadier generals (a lower rank of general in Syria) defected to Turkey this weekend, joining two dozen others who had left before.

Agence France Presse reports that the Free Syrian Army has taken the second of three major border crossings from Iraq to Syria, at al-Ya`ribiya/ Qa’im. The Iraqi authorities in Ninevah Province promptly closed the crossing from their side except for Iraqi refugees who want to return home from Syria. (Several hundred thousand Iraqi refugees had been in Syria, fleeing sectarian and political violence at home).

Thousands of Iraqis are now fleeing Syria. I’ve seen it alleged on twitter that Iraqi Shiites in the Sitt Zainab district of Damascus have been threatened by Sunni rebels. Sunni clerics and activists have for some years complained of missionary work by Iraqi Shiite refugees in Syria, aimed at converting local populations to orthodox Twelver Shiism from Sunnism or the Alawite folk religion. I don’t know whether the allegation has any truth to it, but it is widely believed by Sunnis and may be one reason the more hard line Sunni rebels are eager to see the Iraqi Shiites leave. The rebels may also suspect the Iraqi Shiites of favoring the Alawite Shiite elite in the Baath Party, though I think any such fear must be overblown.

If the FSA can take the third crossing from Iraq, at Walid, they can control truck traffic into Syria from Iraq, starving the regime. The border is long and porous, but big trucks need metalled roads, which are few and go through the checkpoints. Some 70% of goods coming into Syria were coming from Iraq, because Europe cut off trade with the Baath regime of Bashar al-Assad. The rebels are increasingly in a position to block that trade or direct it to their strongholds.


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U.S., Saudi Arabia unwilling to challenge Egyptian army

July 22nd, 2012 Comments off

“…In an apparent swipe at the Brotherhood during a visit to Egypt by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Egypt’s top general, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, said the army would not allow a “specific group” to dominate Egypt…..
For now, Mursi may still be too weak, and the Brotherhood too untested, for Washington to bring decisive pressure to bear on the generals on his behalf.
“Mursi is trying to use foreign support, to the extent it is available, for a transition to a more democratic polity to enhance his powers and those of the Brotherhood,” said Kamran Bokhari, vice-president for the Middle East and South Asia at Stratfor.
But he said the military leadership remained a partner of choice for the outside world, “partly because of longstanding relations and partly because of U.S. uncertainty over the Brotherhood coming to power.”
Mursi seemed to be doing his best to have it otherwise on a visit last week to U.S. ally and regional power Saudi Arabia, whose monarchy looked on with unease last year as popular uprisings spread through the region.
While sharing similar ideology to the conservative Saudi monarchy, the Brotherhood has a popular appeal that some perceive as a threat to the authority of the Saudi government.
Mursi, surely anxious to keep vital Saudi financial aid flowing into Egypt’s depleted state coffers after he took office, did his best to mend the Brotherhood’s strained ties with the oil-rich kingdom. …”

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Syria attack: Security chief dies

July 20th, 2012 Comments off

Syria’s security chief dies from injuries he received in Wednesday’s attack, as the army ousts rebels from a Damascus neighbourhood.
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Syria rebels seize border posts

July 20th, 2012 Comments off

Syrian rebels capture a number of positions on the country’s borders with Turkey and Iraq as the army concentrates on the battle for Damascus.
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Syria Update

July 19th, 2012 Comments off, Free Syrian Army claims responsibility for Damascus attack: video

Telegraph, Syria: Bashar al-Assad ‘flees to Latakia’
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