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Syria
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 4:31 am    Post subject: Syria Reply with quote

This is probably futile, but I want to start a thread about Syria because I think what is going on there is extremely important.

So far, no outside force is overtly involved, but the Arab League has passed sanctions, the US has withdrawn its ambassador (and Syria has withdrawn its ambassador), Turkey is openly talking about intervening militarily to establish a 'safe zone' for refugees (I guess so they don't flood over the border into Turkey and cause a problem there) and for the Free Syrian Army (mainly Syrian Army guys who have defected).

I'm impressed that the Arab League has taken a pro-democracy stand. I am impressed that both the French and US governments have called for a change in the present situation.

I like that the US has not come riding over the hill like the 7th Cavalry, but that various Western and regional governments are ratcheting up the pressure on the Assad government to either reform or get out. While it's a tragedy every day that individual people die, it is also important that the Syrians themselves find ways to resist their own government and seek ways to bring about changes that are satisfactory to them. It's important that the international community bring pressure to bear on abhorrent repression and violence against a country's own citizens. (It would be fascinating to see what would happen should the international community bring pressure to bear on the US for imprisoning so much of its own population...but that is another thread.)

From what I gather, Turkey is on a course to confront Iran over influence over Syria and that the US is so far backing Turkey as the local power with the interest and wherewithal to do something about it. This seems to be the best course for now.
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duke of new york



Joined: 23 Jan 2011

PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm kind of sad to see this thread on the second page with no replies. The Syrian government is massacring its citizens, but no one cares very much.

Right now, the Arab League is sending "monitors" to Homs to force Assad to withdraw from the city. It's kind of an interesting situation, as I don't think anything quite like this has ever happened before.
http://tinyurl.com/7jzebjk

I spent some time in Syria last year. I lived in and visited the cities where the violence is focused. I met extraordinarily kind and gracious people. Some of them were military police. Whenever I hear of more dying in the streets of Homs or Jisr al-Shughour, I wonder if it was someone worked with or had a cup of coffee with. They're real, decent people, and they need the world's support.


Last edited by duke of new york on Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:55 am; edited 1 time in total
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Butterfly



Joined: 02 Mar 2003
Location: Kuwait

PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 2:28 am    Post subject: Re: Syria Reply with quote

Yes Syrians are charming people and I would suggest that they are the most worldly, educated, successfully secular and tolerant of the Arabs. And they have been the source of much admiration for their sheer courage in coming out week after week. Of course, like all the dictatorships in the region, theirs have long used Israel as a scapegoat and indeed an excuse for all their shortcomings but this is not necessarily a reflection of the people. Sadly though, as long as this conflict goes on, the more secular harmony is diminished there. I saw an awful youtube clip the other day demonizing the Alawis and likening them to devil worshippers and such. It was so depressing and indicative of how now, where Al Assad might have initially been using what he thought was a ‘firm hand’, he is in fact fighting for the survival of his own family and the Alawis because certain forces are demonizing them as well as the rest of the Shi’a minority. Christians obviously very nervous also of a secular bloodbath. I don’t know how things are going to pan out but it is pretty hard to picture anything good in the short term.
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To highjack my own thread for a minute, I want to recommend "In the Country of Men" by Libyan writer Hisham Matar (2006). Set in 1979, it's a first person novel about a 9-year-old boy's experience when his dad gets involved in political reform. It was up for the Man Booker award.

I read it hoping for some insight into Libyan culture. It delivers on that. There are quite a few examples of 'local color' of a conservative religious culture.

Here are a couple of paragraphs:

On the way home I was more silent than before, and this time there was no effort in it. As soon as we left Martyrs' Square Mama began craning her neck toward the rearview mirror. Stopping at the next traffic light, she whispered a prayer to herself. A car stopped so close beside us I could have touched the driver's cheek. Four men dressed in dark safari suits sat looking at us. At first I didn't recognize them, then I remembered. I remembered so suddenly I felt my heart jump. They were the same Revolutionary Committee men who had come a week before and taken Ustath Rashid.

Mama looked ahead, her back a few centimeters away from the backrest, her fists tight around the steering wheel. She released one hand, brought it to my knee and sternly whispered, "Face forward."

When the traffic light turned green, the car beside us didn't move. Everyone knows you mustn't overtake a Revolutionary Committee car, and if you have to, then you must do it discreetly, without showing any pleasure in it. A few cars, unaware of who was parked beside us, began to sound their horns. Mama drove off slowly, looking more at the rearview mirror than the road ahead. Then she said, "They are following us; don't look back." I stared at my bare knees and said the same prayer over and over. I felt the sweat gather between my palms and the wax-paper wrapping of the sesame sticks.

It wasn't until we were almost home that Mama said, " OK, they are gone," then mumbled to herself, "Nothing better to do than give us an escort, the rotten rats."

My heart eased and my back grew taller. The prayer left my lips.

The innocent, Sheikh Mustafa, the imam of our local mosque, had told me, have no cause to fear; only the guilty live in fear.


For the kind of reader who looks for the kind of truth you can find in literature, this book is a good one and worth your time.
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Josh Rogin is one of the better bloggers following foreign affairs. According to him...

Obama administration is preparing options for aiding the Syrian opposition

Critics on Capitol Hill accuse the Obama administration of being slow to react to the quickening deterioration of the security situation in Syria, where over 5,000 have died, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. Many lawmakers say the White House is once again "leading from behind," while the Turks, the French, and the Arab League -- which sent an observer mission to Syria this week - take the initiative to pursue more aggressive strategies for pressuring the Assad regime. But U.S. officials said that they are moving cautiously in order to avoid destabilizing Syria further, and to make sure they know as much as possible about the country's complex dynamics before getting more involved...

The options that are under consideration include establishing a humanitarian corridor or safe zone for civilians in Syria along the Turkish border, extending humanitarian aid to the Syrian rebels, providing medical aid to Syrian clinics, engaging more with the external and internal opposition, forming an international contact group, or appointing a special coordinator for working with the Syrian opposition (as was done in Libya), according to the two officials, both of whom are familiar with the discussions but not in attendance at the meetings.


http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/blog/11505

This strikes me as exactly the right approach. Consider all the possibilities, find out as much as possible about the local situation, and game out options so as to be prepared. Unlike the isolationists in our midst, I do want us involved in constructive ways in the world. That does not mean I want us sending in the 7th Cavalry every time some tin pot dictator annoys us. I think I, along with the majority of Americans, rather like having a big say in what happens in the world because, when done right, we can be a significant force for progressive movement.

PS: Crap! I forgot to include this quote that I think is absolutely the correct position to take:

"This isn't Libya. What happens in Libya stays in Libya, but that is not going to happen in Syria. The stakes are higher," the official said. "Right now, we see the risks of moving too fast as higher than the risks of moving too slow."
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goniff



Joined: 31 Dec 2007

PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Syria, Lebanon, Jordan...
the west is prepared to let these two-bit mid-east countries languish
they're just not that important...
it's that simple
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Butterfly



Joined: 02 Mar 2003
Location: Kuwait

PostPosted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ya-ta Boy wrote:

"This isn't Libya. What happens in Libya stays in Libya, but that is not going to happen in Syria. The stakes are higher," the official said. "Right now, we see the risks of moving too fast as higher than the risks of moving too slow."


They got that right, it's hard to even imagine the right thing to do in Syria. I was talking to a Syrian today who told me that people she always saw as reasonable and balanced, are posting all kinds of stuff bordering on hate speech on facebook and twitter.

The Arab League inspectors seem to be making a mess of things as well. Not really surprising.
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Julius



Joined: 27 Jul 2006

PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

11 months into the uprising and still the international community has done absolutely nothing!

Shocking.

Could they not at least send the free syria army some arms??
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bucheon bum



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: DC area

PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Julius wrote:
11 months into the uprising and still the international community has done absolutely nothing!

Shocking.

Could they not at least send the free syria army some arms??


1. The international community has increased sanctions against Syria and the Arab Leauge has brought the Syrian issue to the UN Security Council. The reason the latter hasn't done anything is Russia's veto threat.

2. Arms are currently making their way into Syria via Lebanon. Wouldn't be suprrised if they're also crossing the Turkish and/or Iraqi border too.
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comm



Joined: 22 Jun 2010

PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ya-ta Boy wrote:
Unlike the isolationists in our midst, I do want us involved in constructive ways in the world. That does not mean I want us sending in the 7th Cavalry every time some tin pot dictator annoys us. I think I, along with the majority of Americans, rather like having a big say in what happens in the world because, when done right, we can be a significant force for progressive movement.

Providing tools to people we like is very different than flying bombing missions or putting boots on the ground.
I'd love to see an extensive program providing stable and secure communication piped into Syria from outside it's borders and within its airspace, if necessary.
Providing stable internet access for Syrians would be a huge benefit. The system could easily allow the U.S. to issue intelligence-based facts as well (ex. "Be advised, Syrian army units moving in the direction of Hama").
Also, providing weaponry to the progressive opposition is completely acceptable... even training forces OUTSIDE of Syria. But a big line is crossed when foreign military forces are fighting your countrymen in your country.
Personally, I'm all for being involved in "constructive ways", so long as that doesn't involve blowing people up who then go on to resent us.
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Butterfly



Joined: 02 Mar 2003
Location: Kuwait

PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Russia and China showing their true colours then.
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Steelrails



Joined: 12 Mar 2009
Location: Earth, Solar System

PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Julius wrote:
11 months into the uprising and still the international community has done absolutely nothing!

Shocking.

Could they not at least send the free syria army some arms??


This is none of our business. It is an internal affair between the legitimate ruling government and a rebel faction.

Now the legitimate ruling faction may be scumbags, but they were recognized.

How would we react to a bunch of Middle-Easterners intervening in an American civil war?
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bucheon bum



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: DC area

PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steelrails wrote:
Julius wrote:
11 months into the uprising and still the international community has done absolutely nothing!

Shocking.

Could they not at least send the free syria army some arms??


This is none of our business. It is an internal affair between the legitimate ruling government and a rebel faction.

Now the legitimate ruling faction may be scumbags, but they were recognized.

How would we react to a bunch of Middle-Easterners intervening in an American civil war?


Tell that to the majority of Syrian citizens. And who recognizes the government now? All the gulf states, the USA, France, and Germany have pulled their ambassadors out of the country. The Arab League, the EU, the USA have all implemented sanctions. The majority of Syrians clearly do not support the government, which is only in power because it has the tanks and heavy weaponry.

Russia is being very short sighted here. As soon as Assad is overthrown (which WILL happen in the not-so-distant future), there goes Russia's naval base.
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Steelrails



Joined: 12 Mar 2009
Location: Earth, Solar System

PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bucheon bum wrote:
Steelrails wrote:
Julius wrote:
11 months into the uprising and still the international community has done absolutely nothing!

Shocking.

Could they not at least send the free syria army some arms??


This is none of our business. It is an internal affair between the legitimate ruling government and a rebel faction.

Now the legitimate ruling faction may be scumbags, but they were recognized.

How would we react to a bunch of Middle-Easterners intervening in an American civil war?


Tell that to the majority of Syrian citizens. And who recognizes the government now? All the gulf states, the USA, France, and Germany have pulled their ambassadors out of the country. The Arab League, the EU, the USA have all implemented sanctions. The majority of Syrians clearly do not support the government, which is only in power because it has the tanks and heavy weaponry.

Russia is being very short sighted here. As soon as Assad is overthrown (which WILL happen in the not-so-distant future), there goes Russia's naval base.


Yes, because the recent history of Americans meddling in Middle-Eastern affairs has been an on oh-so-positive one.

Remember the Lebanese Civil War? Iran-Iraq war? Shia and Kurdish Uprisings? Russian invasion of Afghanistan? Gulf War I, Gulf War II, Afghanistan occupation? The warm glow of Libya is rapidly fading away.

And yes, they may want us for a moment, in the sense that you'd gladly take a gun a Nazi offered you if it meant you could shoot the lion that was chasing you.

And no, this is none of our business. What Constitutional mandate does the United States have to meddle in the internal affairs of another sovereign nation?

To paraphrase Jefferson Davis, This war is theirs. They must fight it out themselves.

If the rebellion cannot triumph, then the nation is not ready for rebellion and a new government.

Now we can sell them arms, if they send experts to our nation, we can instruct them, our officers can volunteer to assist them, we can establish embargoes and sanctions, but in the end, it's their war and they must do the fighting.
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bucheon bum



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: DC area

PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steelrails wrote:
bucheon bum wrote:
Steelrails wrote:
Julius wrote:
11 months into the uprising and still the international community has done absolutely nothing!

Shocking.

Could they not at least send the free syria army some arms??


This is none of our business. It is an internal affair between the legitimate ruling government and a rebel faction.

Now the legitimate ruling faction may be scumbags, but they were recognized.

How would we react to a bunch of Middle-Easterners intervening in an American civil war?


Tell that to the majority of Syrian citizens. And who recognizes the government now? All the gulf states, the USA, France, and Germany have pulled their ambassadors out of the country. The Arab League, the EU, the USA have all implemented sanctions. The majority of Syrians clearly do not support the government, which is only in power because it has the tanks and heavy weaponry.

Russia is being very short sighted here. As soon as Assad is overthrown (which WILL happen in the not-so-distant future), there goes Russia's naval base.


Yes, because the recent history of Americans meddling in Middle-Eastern affairs has been an on oh-so-positive one.

Remember the Lebanese Civil War? Iran-Iraq war? Shia and Kurdish Uprisings? Russian invasion of Afghanistan? Gulf War I, Gulf War II, Afghanistan occupation? The warm glow of Libya is rapidly fading away.

And yes, they may want us for a moment, in the sense that you'd gladly take a gun a Nazi offered you if it meant you could shoot the lion that was chasing you.

And no, this is none of our business. What Constitutional mandate does the United States have to meddle in the internal affairs of another sovereign nation?

To paraphrase Jefferson Davis, This war is theirs. They must fight it out themselves.

If the rebellion cannot triumph, then the nation is not ready for rebellion and a new government.

Now we can sell them arms, if they send experts to our nation, we can instruct them, our officers can volunteer to assist them, we can establish embargoes and sanctions, but in the end, it's their war and they must do the fighting.


Neither Julius nor I said anything about just US involvement. Neither of us said the rest of the world should intervene militarily. You are jumping to conclusions. There are other steps that can be taken (as you noted in your last paragraph).
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