Failure to Launch!
Syrian Revolution Digest – December 14, 2012
This Friday’s rallies in Syria were held under the slogan “the only terrorism in Syria is practiced by Assad.” This comes in response to U.S. decision to designate Jabhat Al-Nusra as a terrorist organization. The U.S. ignored the fact that most members fighting under the emblem of al-Nusra care little for its ideology and has little connection to its leadership abroad, but joined because they need its resources, something the U.S. was asked to provide months ago and failed to do. The U.S. is failing to connect with the Syrian people even as it finally seeks to help. Delayed, reluctant and ineffectual support begets disdain and rejection, not appreciation. Yet, contrary to popular sentiments, reason dictates that we still need American support, political and material, and if America is listening to reason, then, she would know she has much to lose than reputation and goodwill if she failed to provide it this time around.
Today’s Death Toll:106 (including 5 women and 8 children)
49 in Damascus and suburbs (including 4 in shelling of Hajar Aswad and 4 were shot in a funeral in Barza in addition to unidentified martyrs in Qaboun), 21 in Idlib, 11 in Aleppo, 8 in Daraa, 5 in Homs, 5 in Deir Ezzor, 4 in Hama, 2 in Qunaitra and 1 in Hassaka.
Points of Random Shelling: 262
Heavy clashes took place in Damascus and suburbs, with rebels downing a MiG near the Damascus International Airport. Rebels also shelled the military airport in Deir Ezzor and downed a MiG there as well. In Aleppo, more than 100 soldiers and officers defected from the Defense factories following a rebel attack (LCC).
Assad’s chemical card
There are plausible scenarios in which Assad would use CW in a tactical manner against his domestic enemies—and it’s not at all clear that he wouldn’t get away with it. Assad will fight tooth and nail to maintain control over Damascus, while also securing the route from Homs to the coast (an area that witnessed regime ethnic cleansing attacks)… Obama has now offered Assad another loophole with the designation of the Jabhat al-Nusra group as a terrorist organization. As soon as news came out that the designation was forthcoming, the regime rushed to claim that rebels had seized control of a toxic chlorine factory in east Aleppo, and may now use these chemicals in an attack. Such bogus stories set the stage for a possible attack in the future and provide Assad, and his backers in Moscow, with enough to muddy the waters.
In Syria, hunger spreads as war intensifies
Conditions are especially dire in the northern city of Aleppo, where civilians enduring incessant clashes and air raids in rebel-held districts say hunger is a new threat to survival in the 20-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
Syria’s Kurds face uncertain future if Assad falls
The regime’s exit from Kurdish areas has sparked mistrust between the rebels and Syria’s third biggest ethnic group
Syria: a scathingly beautiful photograph of the edge of starvation
Artfulness only adds to this picture’s stark reality. Here is a sinister new chapter in the war between Assad and his people
Under Siege, Damascus Gets Desperate for Food and Fuel
As rebel fighters advance on the Syrian capital, those caught in the middle suffer from food, gas, and power shortages. Mikel Ayestaran on how Damascus residents are struggling to ride out the storm.
The Syria-North Korea Scud Missile Link
One day apart, North Korea launched a long-range missile to much fanfare, and the Assad regime fired Scud missiles on the rebels. Eli Lake on how the Hermit Kingdom helped Syria with the technology—and why chemical weapons might be next.
Russia and Its Syrian Debacle: When the Enemy of My Friend Becomes My Friend
For Russia, there are no good options left. The NCC is made up mostly of academics and dissidents with no military wing, and it has little hope of turning the situation in Russia’s favor if Assad is overthrown. “They have zero influence in Syria,” says Hassan Al-Huri, a Syrian businessman in Moscow who owns the Picasso restaurant and hosted his countrymen there. “If anything, the Syrian people now hate them for associating with the Russians,” he told me after the dinner was over. That means Moscow has no choice but to accept the loss of its last real foothold in the Middle East, says Fyodor Lukyanov, the editor of the journal Russia in Global Affairs. Says he: “Maybe they have no more illusions.”
Syrian opposition forces say they are on brink of major victory in Aleppo
If Syrian rebels succeed in breaching an infantry school in Aleppo, they will gain some strategically critical pieces of territory, a windfall of supplies, and possibly a slew of regime defectors.
As Syrian Rebels Close In, Assad Has Cards To Play
He still has thousands of loyal troops and a monopoly on air power. A moribund diplomatic process has given him room to maneuver despite withering international condemnation. And the power of Islamic extremists among the rebels is dashing hopes that the West will help turn the tide of the civil war by sending heavy weapons to the opposition.
Syrian Rebel Seeks Prisoner Exchange to Free Hostages
The commander, Amar al-Dadikhi of the North Storm brigade, which has been holding the prisoners at an undisclosed location in Syria’s northern countryside, said in interviews that he would free the hostages if the Syrian government released two prominent opposition figures and if Lebanon freed all Syrian activists in government custody.
George H. Wittman: Syria Backstory
If Assad is to be replaced, who will replace the Alawites?
Michael Young: For Obama, it’s not too late on Syria
… the U.S. must rebuild its relationship with Syrians. This will be important for many reasons: to isolate the jihadists; to have a say in likely future talks between a post-Assad Syria and Israel over the Golan Heights; and to block Iran out of the country, and in that way contain it regionally. With some attention, this is achievable.
The High Military Command
Over 550 defector and revolutionary gathered recently in Antalya and elected a body made up of 261 representatives, which in turn elected a High Military Command made up of 30 individuals (11 officers and 19 civilians). The country was divided into 5 “fronts,” and each was represented by 6 members in the HMC. The 30 members then elected a joint-chief-of-staff, Brig. Gen. Salim Idriss. Brig. Gen. Idriss will be advised by 5 officers and 5 civilians representing the five fronts.
The HMC will be considered the highest military authority in the land. The head of the HMC will be the future Minister of Defense to be named by the Coalition when the transitional government is announced. The HMC will nominate 5 people, and the Coalition will have to choose one of them for the post. The HMC will do the same for the post of Minster of Interior. The specific linkages between the two ministerial posts have not been specified at this stage. Any rebel suspected of violations will be tried by a Syrian court, not an international one.
|Eastern Front||Northern Front||Homs||Central/Western||Southern|
|1||Col. Ziad hajj Obaied (Pilot)||Ahmad Issa Al-Shaikh||Lt. Col. Qassim Saadeddine (Pilot)||Brig. Gen. Abdulmajeed Dbeis||Zahran Alloush|
|2||Major Adnan Muhammad Al-Kawkab||Mustafa Abdulkareem||Rami Al-Dalati||Lt. Mazen Qneifdi||Khalid Hussein Al-Arnous|
|3||Raghib Basheer Tomeh||Jamal Khalid Maarouf||Lieutenant Abdulhaleem Ghannoum||Kamal Hammami||Col. Khalid Muhannad al-Hourani|
|4||Yelmaz Sa’eed||Col. Abdul-Jabbar Al-Oqaidi||Iyyad Jom’ah||Houthaifah Mustafa Al-Shoughri||Fadi Saad Al-Assimi|
|5||Faraj Hammoud Al-Faraj||Muhanna Jaffaleh||Munthir Ahmad Sarras||Youssef Muhammad Al-Hassan||Lt. Col. Abdallah Al-Rifai|
|6||Dr. Omar Dada||Ahmad Obeid||Col. Abdurrahman Souais||Saddeddine Al-Hashimi||Ibrahim Al-Toushi|
The Advisory Council (working under the chief-of-staff)
1) Col. Fateh Hassoun (Homs Front)
2) Oussama Sayih Al-Juneidi (Homs)
3) Major Muhammad Al-Abboud (Eastern)
4) Saddam Al-Jamal (Eastern)
5) Col. Mustafa Hashim (Central)
6) Abdul-Fattah Aroub (Central)
7) Lt. Col. Abdulbassit Al-Taweel (Northern)
8) Abdul-Qader Al-Saleh (Northern)
9) Brig. Gen. Ziad Fahd (Southern)
10) Bashar Awad Al-Zoubi (Southern)
The HMC also created 5 specialized offices to manage the military operations in each front:
|Eastern Front||Northern Front||Homs||Central/Western||Southern|
|Operations||Col. Raghib Al-Hamad||Gen. Hussain Al-Oqaidi||Lt. Abdllah Bahbouh||Capt. Bassil Sillo||Major Majeed Al-Sayyid Ahmad|
|Intelligence||Lt. Omar Tarrad||Major Ali Zain||Lt. Omar Shamsi + Zakariya Taha||Col. Muhammad Awad||Capt. Jawad Sa’eed|
|Provisions||Lt. Oussama Al-Jassem||Muhammad Mustafa Al-Bakkour||Lt. Ikrimah Bakkour||Manar Al-Shami||Capt. Ahmad Nayif|
|Finance||Major Mustafa Ibrahim||Lt. Col. Fadel Al-Hajji||Ahmad Abdurrahman Al-Hamwi||Col. Maher Al-Nabhan||Capt. Mazid Dahhan|
|Transitional Justice||Lt. Col. Ahmad Ayid Al-Khalaf||Brig. Gen. Abdurrahman Al-Hassan||Khaid Bakkar + Ghanim Saadeddine (Esq.)||Abdurrazzaq Freijeh||Muhammad Al-Wazir|
A number of specialized committees have also been set up.