Posts Tagged ‘Tlass’

‘Send in the Clowns!’

July 28th, 2012 Comments off

“…With the Syrian regime proving resistant to a quick collapse, and anti-Assad sentiment within the regime stifled by fear of victor’s justice, what’s Plan B?
It seems to be Send in the Clowns.
In other words, find an ex-regime figurehead who is at least superficially palatable to the Syrian populace and sufficiently obedient to the foreign coalition, and can also persuade the Assad regime that his first act will be to push a bill through the (presumably unrepresentative, hand-picked, and tractable) transitional legislature granting a graceful exit to Assad and amnesty to his associates (aside from some carefully-chosen scapegoats) from prosecution for their past crimes in the name of reconciliation….
The initial candidate for the exalted role of transition leader is Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, who fled Syria amid widespread huzzahs a few weeks ago.
Tlass has been literally grooming himself for his role as popular leader for months, growing out his military haircut into a heroic Byronic mane prior to his defection.
His photographic prop is a big cigar, presumably to reinforce the image of manly leadership,…He is also, apparently, France’s great hope for clout in Syria, as this priceless excerpt from the Christian Science Monitor reveals:
Now, Mustafa [his father] and Tlass’s sister, Nahed Ojjeh, are living in Paris, where Ms. Ojjeh is a prominent socialite who once dated a former French foreign minister….
However, Qatar appears comfortable with another high-level defector, one who also happens to be Sunni (as is Tlass), but was an important cog in the Assad machine and has hands-on experience with the nitty gritty of restoring order in a violent and dangerous set of circumstances.
The man is Nawaff al-Faris, formerly Syria’s ambassador to Iraq. According to an interlocutor communicating with the As’ad AbuKhalil’s Angry Arab blog, Ambassador Nawaff is quite a piece of work, having earned his bones with the Ba’ath regime as battalion commander during the legendary Hama massacre of 1982,….
The longer regime collapse is delayed, the greater the risk that important elements of the insurrection might slip the leash, start fighting with each other as well as against Assad, and contribute to the creation of a failed state where Syria used to be….
Bashar al-Assad is doing a pretty good job of staying in power and crushing the insurrection. The longer he is able to cling to power, the more shattered and divided Syria becomes – and the less useful it is to the West and the Gulf states as a proxy warrior in the battle with Shi’ite Iraq and Iran.”

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Defections mount as Syrian Regime invests Aleppo

July 27th, 2012 Comments off

The Baath regime of President Bashar al-Assad is preparing for a major military operation to crush the uprising in Aleppo on Friday afternoon, according to rebel and Western sources. Even as the regime continues to pound rebel-held neighborhoods with tank and helicopter gunship fire, it is massing troops and armor to invest the city.

But while tanks, artillery and helicopter gunships can destroy neighborhoods and force irregular fighters to fade away, the price of treating one’s own population as a military enemy is high. The regime may well win the military fight, but lose the political one.

Ikhlas Badawi, a member of the Syrian parliament representing Aleppo, has just crossed over to Turkey and defected. She is the first member of parliament to do so. She said she was leaving “because of the methods of repression and brutal torture that are practiced on the people, who make the slightest demand for their rights.” The Syrian parliament is of course a rubber stamp and its sessions with al-Assad are marked by an embarrassing amount of sucking up. It is significant to have a Baath Party MP defect, because these are the loyalists of the loyalists.

The Syrian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Abdelatif al-Dabbagh, has defected, along with his wife, Lamia al-Hariri, who had been the charge d’affaires in Cyprus. The military attache in the gulf oil nation of Oman has also gone to the other side. The ambassador in the UAE would have been responsible for attempting to convince that government to back off in its support for the revolution, which al-Dabbagh clearly has decided is not a plausible task. The Gulf oil states play an outsize role in the region because of their vast wealth and ability to channel resources and weapons to the opposition (the UAE doesn’t, unlike Qatar and Saudi Arabia, appear to be supplying arms, but its support for one side or another is important).

Earlier in July, Nawaf Fares, the Syrian ambassador to Iraq, defected and alleged that Syria had been playing a sinister role in fomenting bombings in northern Iraq. Likewise, the powerful Tlass family of Sunni notables (prominent in the ministry of defense and in business) has left, and Manaf Tlass is now attempting to play a political role in the opposition. The Tlass’s were pillars of the Baath regime, helping to legitimate it with the Sunnis (who form some 70% of the Syrian population) and their defection is a significant blow to the Baath, dominated increasingly at its upper levels by minority Shiite Alawites.

In addition, dozens of one-star generals have gone to Turkey or joined the rebel forces.

Revolutions always involve dual claims of sovereignty. That is, two political forces have to vie over the loyalty of people and political legitimacy. The significance of this raft of defections is that gradually, the Syrian regime is no longer merely faces claims by a ragtag band of defecting corporals and sergeants, or by crowds gathering to chant and protest in town and city centers (both forms of opposition are still going on daily all around the country). The regime increasingly faces a former part of its own political elite, now increasingly denigrating its legitimacy or making claims of their own. This sign of the growth of dual sovereignty in the political sphere could be more decisive over the medium term than who wins what battle for what neighborhood.

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Defector general Tlass calls for Syrian unity

July 25th, 2012 Comments off

Undated file picture shows top Syrian General Manaf Tlass smoking a cigar in an undisclosed locationSyrian general Manaf Tlass Tuesday called on Syrians to unite and start building a post-President Bashar al-Assad Syria as he made his first public appearance since defecting from the regime.

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