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Published on February 2nd, 2013 | by Emily Schneider

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Syria Revolution Digest: 31 January 2013

Random In Tandem!

Syrian Revolution Digest – January 31, 2013 

Some claim that dialogue will kill the revolution. Others assert that the armed struggle has already killed the revolution, but what’s really killing the revolution is failure to coordinate and to realize that a revolution, by its very nature, is a multi-track venture, involving politics and culture, as well as bullets.

 

Thursday January 31, 2013

 

Today’s Death Toll: 105 martyrs, including 4 children, 3 women and 3 deaths under torture: 58 in Damascus and Suburbs; 13 in Idlib; 12 in Aleppo; 12 in Homs; 4 in Daraa; 3 in Deir Ezzor; 1 in Quneitra; 1 in Hama; 1 Hasakeh (LCCs).

 

Points of Random Shelling: 337 points, including 15 points that were shelled by warplanes and helicopter gunships, 2 points using cluster bombs, 8 points with barrel bombs, 145 points using heavy caliber artillery where the most intensified were documented in Damascus Suburbs, 116 points were targeted with mortar and 57 points with rockets (LCCs).

 

Clashes: FSA rebels clashed with the regime forces in 145 locations. Sucessful operations included shooting down two warplanes in Damascus, in Harran Al-Awameed and the Dumair Airport. In Damascus Suburbs rebels also attacked regime checkpoints in Ain Tarma, shelled the military barrack located at the entrance of Yarmouk Camp, and targeted the Fakhoukh checkpoint located between the villages of Halboun and Wafra in the Qalamoun Region to the north (LCCs).

 

News

Syria warns of “surprise” response to Israel attack Damascus could take “a surprise decision to respond to the aggression of the Israeli warplanes”, Syrian ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali said a day after Israel struck against Syria.

Syria’s Confirmation of Strike May Add to Tension With Israel Most experts agree that Syria, Hezbollah and Israel each have strong reasons to avoid a new active conflict right now… But it is equally clear that Hezbollah — backed by Syria and Iran — wants desperately to upgrade its arsenal in hopes of changing the parameters for any future engagement with the powerful Israeli military, and that Israel is determined to stop it. And Hezbollah is perhaps even more anxious to gird itself for future challenges to its primacy in Lebanon, especially if a Sunni-led revolution triumphs next door in Syria.

Jordan Islamist sees clash with secular Syrian rebels Mohammed Shalabi, better known as Abu Sayyaf, said Islamist fighters with groups such as the Nusra Front, which the United States lists as a terrorist organization, had refused offers to join the rebel Free Syrian Army in return for pay and weapons. If Assad is overthrown, he told Reuters, the Free Syrian Army, or elements within it ideologically hostile to the Nusra Front, would immediately order Islamist groups to disarm. “Then there will be a confrontation between us and losses will rise, but I don’t want to pre-empt events,” he said.

Syrian opposition chief sets conditions for talks Khatib said via his Facebook page he was ready for dialogue with officials from Assad’s regime subject to conditions, including that “160,000 detainees” are released and that passports for exiled citizens be renewed in embassies abroad… Khatib said on his Facebook page that he rejected being subject to “intellectual terrorism” in putting forward the controversial proposal. “If anyone thinks that no Syrian wants to hear such ideas, he is deluded,” he added.

Syria mediator will not return to Damascus, guarded on talks “It is worthy of note,” Brahimi said of a statement by Syrian National Council leader Moaz al-Khatib that he was “ready for direct discussions” outside of Syria. But the UN-Arab League envoy said the reaction of the government and other opposition figures would be crucial.

 

Raw: Dutch student’s relief effort in Syria (Video)

Photos: An up-close account of death in Damascus

 

Special Reports

Kamal Allabwani: Can the Syrian Opposition Coalition be fixed?

Currently, members of the Coalition are unqualified for even the simplest political tasks; their experience and political culture are superficial. We must move toward a new government that will overcome the incompetency of this Coalition, and advance the revolution. We went to the previous Friends of Syria meeting in Marrakesh without a government and we will go to Paris without a government as well, despite the fact that we know that the international support is conditional upon building a political and civil administration. The compromises inherent in the Coalition have crippled it, and we have inflicted further losses on the revolution because of the process of formation and defects in its basic structure. Because we transferred the internal structure, or every mechanism of disruption, that the Syrian National Council suffered from to the Syrian Opposition Coalition, we have lowered the bar of achievement.

Syrian Spillover: Perspectives from Neighboring States

As the Assad regime continues its bloody campaign to remain in power, Washington Institute scholars assess the impact of current and potential spillover on Syria’s neighbors, Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon.

INSIGHT: Russia’s Many Interests in Syria

…the hopes that President Vladimir Putin will finally budge on his support for the Syrian regime are unwarranted. Russia is unlikely to change its position given that its interests in Syria are not only military and strategic, but also commercial and cultural.

Aid Groups in Syria Use Diverging Methods to Deliver Supplies

The United Nations says an international donor conference has raised about $500 million for humanitarian relief efforts inside war-ravaged Syria. Most of those funds are likely to go to aid agencies operating out of Damascus under official Syrian government supervision. But some relief workers say unofficial methods are better for reaching many Syrians in need of help.

Jennifer Rubin: Syrian slaughter: Numbers too large to conceive

A coincidence becomes a cruel joke in this case as “President Obama pledged an additional $155 million in humanitarian aid for Syria on Tuesday.” Really, the problem isn’t enough humanitarian aid? Don’t get me wrong — that is needed but what would be better, of course, would be some definitive U.S. action to stem the mass murder. Aid is for victims; U.S. action would be to prevent more victims.

How Israel’s air strike could help Syria

Though it’s unlikely that this changes anything dramatically, the strike allows Assad and company to, at least for the moment, emphasize a shared mission of “resistance and self-defense” against Israel. For Iran and Hezbollah, that’s likely a much more palatable reason to help Assad than is the true mission of saving his regime from the popular uprising that became a civil war. Any boost this gives to Assad’s alliances will likely be more about appearances than the underlying fundamentals of the conflict. The civil war is still bloody, costly, and overwhelmingly about fighting Syrian rebels, not Israeli air force jets. Still, in the ideologically charges Middle East, these things can matter.

Drowning in the flood: Foreign governments and agencies are failing Syria’s refugees

Agencies and host countries are struggling to cope. Most of the refugees are women and children. In Lebanon there are no official camps, so they lodge with families. Conditions in camps in Jordan and Iraq are grim. Earlier this year rainstorms and even snowy blizzards turned some camps into quagmires. Children died of cold. Some tents went up in flames as refugees stoked fires inside them to be warm. The plight of an estimated 2m Syrians displaced inside the country is even worse.

 

Who’s the Boss?

 

Speculations by some regime insiders, which they expressed on social media over the last 24 hours, assert that the Assad regime’s claim that a research facility was attacked by Israeli jets rather than a military convoy reveals that the regime in fact had no idea that Hezbollah operatives in Syria were arranging for transfer of sophisticated weaponry to their bases in Lebanon. If this is true, then, Syria is truly becoming a theater for operations by external forces of all kinds at this stage, and Assad, as I have argued earlier, is only a necessary but disposable placeholder at this stage. In the background, Iranian advisers must be busy setting up a new system designed to outlive regimefall and keep Iran’s relevant to the unfolding processes through the creation of a loyalist militias made up mostly of Alawite recruits.

 

A Political Solution?

 

I am all for a political solution at this stage, but those who call for such a solution then say that an arms embargo on both sides is necessary to enable it fail to understand the psyche of the combatants, especially those on Assad’s side. The reality is the real obstacle to serious talks in Syria is the regime itself, much more so than rebel intransigence or opposition incompetence. The Assad Camp still believe that events can be rolled back and that the regime under Assad leadership can and should survive. The idea of compromise is not an acceptable outcome for them, because they have long developed a belief that concessions, marginalization and defeat amount to the same thing. This mentality cannot be challenged until military realities on the ground have dramatically changed in favor of the rebels, including finding ways to neutralize Assad’s air superiority. Until this happens, no serious dialogue, hence no political solution, is possible.

 

Increased militarization at a time when opposition leader, Moaz Al-Khatib, has come out in favor of a conditional dialogue, might seem counterintuitive to some, but that’s only because their basic proposition about this conflict tend to be theoretical and fundamentally flawed. In fact, now that the international community has a credible partner in Moaz Al-Khatib, one who is willing to bravely go against the prevailing assumptions in his camp in order to seek resolution to the current crisis, the international community can now begin to seriously hedge its bets on the opposition. Facilitating a flow of weapons into the hands of moderate rebels will only enhance Moaz’s standing among them, allowing him to emerge as a leader with relevance on the ground, capable of delivering on promises when the time comes for transitioning beyond Assad rule.

 

Now more than ever, we have to think outside the usual box. Arab media report that Moaz Al-Khatib will be taking part on Friday in a meeting putting him together with American VP, Jo Biden, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov and UN envoy Al-Akhdar Al-Ibrahimi. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this.

 

 Video Highlights

 

Despite the ongoing shelling of their town, members of the local town council of Daraya, Damascus Suburbs, held their first even press conference, and briefed attending journalists on the conditions in the town and the nature of ongoing clashes with the regimehttp://youtu.be/nz7D2gcLw-g Rebels vow to continue their resistance. Scenes from the ongoing clashes in Daraya: a sniper targets but misses a local photographer http://youtu.be/BZlNO4Uw3II Attacking the regime’s marauding tanks http://youtu.be/ph37HXg6gqw keeping them at the outskirts of the town http://youtu.be/v7z0VsWd8pI But more than 80 days of bombardment have taken their toll http://youtu.be/HDuTbiKKvjE

 

Elsewhere in Damascus City, local activists in Al-Qadam find a number of unidentified bodies belonging to people who seem to have been summarily executed by pro-Assad militias http://youtu.be/VCRL3lT9W7o And the pounding continues http://youtu.be/duimowBab10 ,http://youtu.be/I13fz43fVcg , http://youtu.be/L7cPdTePhHU Homes catch on fire http://youtu.be/S02UmBodu54 The neighborhood of Midan is also targeted http://youtu.be/uvyBRSgCHCI Nearby town of Harasta, Eastern Ghoutah, witnesses intense clashes http://youtu.be/CIG83nJh4Jw ,http://youtu.be/ba1kK4Jbuhg

 

The attack on the town of Karnaz, Hama, continues http://youtu.be/7hv5zbE82D4 , http://youtu.be/fHClovDNtj8 , http://youtu.be/dm4MjvOEHCsRebels try to take down overflying warplanes http://youtu.be/jXuykqdU_-g

 

In Aleppo City, locals hold a mass funeral for the 80 victims of the Boustan Al-Qasr massacre http://youtu.be/fQc5oBZ92EI ,http://youtu.be/jKS2zBzwfH4


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