I. The Syrian army took Idlib, and America became closer to Russia
Of the recent events on the Syrian front, the following stand out: the release of the Syrian army by Idlib, captured by the militants even in the summer of 2011, and the attack on Deraa; the continuation of the mission of the UN Special Representative and the League of Arab States Kofi Annan in Damascus (the second run with conditionally positive results); Saudi closure of the embassy in Damascus; Damascus recall of its diplomats from the states of the European Union; confirmation by Barack Obama of non-acceptance of intervention in Syria; US Department of State recognition of the convergence of the positions of Russia and America on the Syrian issue, with the exception of "tactical disagreements."
On Tuesday this week, the Syrian army knocked out armed oppositionists from their main stronghold, Idlib, a city close to the border with Turkey. The offensive lasted three days and led to success. As transmits IA "REGNUM"First, government forces tried several times to clear this city, but still Idlib remained in the hands of the rebels.
14 March, the Syrian military began shelling Deraa. Russian service "BBC" according to an eyewitness, he reports that citizens who were unable to leave their homes fear that shelling of their homes could collapse. Oppositionists, according to the BBC, say more than one hundred government officials are on the approaches to Deraa tanks.
Against the background of these events, the second round of talks between UN Special Envoy and LAS Kofi Annan with Syrian President Bashar Asad was held. The first one took place on March 10 - and went to no avail, even though Annan left Damascus, full of optimism. 14 March, the media noted that the Syrian authorities have responded positively to the proposals of the UN special representative. Rosbalt quoting Interfax, quoted Jihad Macdesi, a representative of the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “The tone of our response was positive.”
According to correspondent ITAR-TASS D. Zelenin, “In the Syrian events comes the climax. The launching mission of the UN Special Representative and the League of Arab States (LAS), Kofi Annan, provides the parties affected in the conflict with a unique opportunity to firmly take the road of political settlement. If this chance is missed, then Syria and its people will face a sad fate: civil strife, chaos, schism ”. The article by D. Zelenin cites the statements of Gassan Sharbel, the chief editor of the general Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, and political analyst Charles Shidyak. The first believes that “the ability of the ruling regime to restore stability is increasingly being questioned”, and the second indicates that Bashar Assad should immediately “after the first demonstrations in the southern city of Deraa” go to the “abolition of the Baath party’s monopoly on power and the introduction of a new constitution”, further create a “transitional government of national unity headed by a reputable politician not affiliated with the regime”.
“In Damascus,” Zelenin writes, “seems to be late, but they came to an understanding of the need to support the efforts of Kofi Annan. As Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Macdesi said, Syria "is interested in the success of the mission of the UN envoy and sent a clear positive response to his proposals, commensurate with Syrian specifics." The diplomat called the only way out of the crisis “joining the dialogue under the roof of the motherland, the guarantor of which is Bashar Asad”. According to him, a political settlement implies that "a solution will be found through ballot boxes." McDesty expressed the hope that all other parties would be convinced of this and "agree to sit at the negotiating table and stop destroying the country." (End quote).
Yes, one can only hope that the armed opposition, which gave Annan consent to the cease-fire, will add up weapon and sit down at the negotiating table. Cut the swords into plowshares? Perhaps, the collapse of the Syrian National Council says not only that the time has come to lay down arms, but also that the isolated opposition cannot defeat the Syrian army?
Quote from article on Islam News: “The most influential opposition group in Syria, the Syrian National Council (SNA), is losing its members. The organization expressed a desire to leave its three participants - a lawyer and former judge Heyam al-Maleh, doctor Kamal al-Labwani and human rights activist Catherine at-Talley. ” The article says that they all left the SNA, thereby protesting "against lies and fraud in its ranks." At the end of last month, this trio already initiated the creation of a new “Organization of Patriotic Action”, which stands for “the beginning of active operations against Damascus and the provision of financial and military assistance to the rebels - the so-called Syrian Free Army” Al-Labwani "stressed that the leader of the National Council, the Syrian-French sociologist and public figure Burkhan Galyun," holds on to his place just like (President) Bashar Assad. “The latrine has organized an anti-democratic system without elections or other means of transferring power,” said the opposition member. - He, like Assad, does not tolerate criticism. If someone objects to his opinion, he says that this person works for the regime. ”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s embassy has closed its embassy in Syria. Writes Rosbalt With reference to France Press, the official reason for the closure was “the continuing suppression by the Syrian government of opposition speeches.”
In the meantime, Europe thinks how to lower the level of diplomatic relations with Syria, official Damascus ... lowered the level of diplomatic relations with Europe: it recalled its ambassadors from all EU countries. Syrian ambassadors have already received instructions from Damascus, and will soon leave for their homeland.
As for America, March 14 Barack Obama reaffirmed his relatively peaceful intentions. As transmits "Sight", "At a press conference after the two-hour talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Obama said that military intervention could lead to even more deaths in Syria." American president, according to RBCconsiders the intervention in Syria premature. Thus, the Americans once again confirmed their waiting strategy.
They also expect changes in Russia's political behavior regarding Syria, considering that Moscow’s position is getting closer to Washington DC, and only “tactical differences” remain. He writes about it RIA Novosti correspondent D. Voroshilov:
“The United States and Russia still have“ tactical differences ”regarding the situation in Syria, but Washington positively perceived the latest statements by the Russian Foreign Minister on the actions of Bashar Assad, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Lavrov, answering questions in the State Duma, stated that the Syrian leader Bashar Assad ... adopted useful laws that update the system, make it more pluralistic, "but this is done very late." The minister noted that the proposals on the beginning of a dialogue are being made late, in the meantime an armed confrontation acquires its own dynamics, and "this inertia can seize and absorb everyone."
Victoria Nuland, watching this rapprochement, concluded that the pressure of the international community on Bashar al-Assad is increasing. RBC cites her words, published on the website of the US Foreign Ministry: “The five-point plan developed by Russia together with the League of Arab States (LAS) to resolve the situation in Syria demonstrates positive changes in the position of the Russian Federation. The gap between our points of view is narrowing. Now you can hear the statements of both Russia and China that these countries are not interested in the defense of B. Assad, that they are not interested in anything other than the cessation of violence. This goal has not yet been achieved, but we are working on it, and there is more and more unanimity in our actions. ” Nuland says that S. Lavrov, in consultations with the Foreign Ministers of the Arab League countries, “made it clear that Russia does not want to try on the role of an accomplice to violence” (RBC).
The media cites data on casualties in Syria: the number of those killed ranges from 7,5 to 8,5 thousands. In addition, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, in Syria, 1,4 million people "suffer from food shortages and are at risk of starvation" (RBC). Hence in the country - the jump in food prices.
How do all the American reporters see this?
Ii. Harsh reality versus romantic idealism
Los Angeles Times, 14 March 2012, the article "Syrian troops reinforce the offensive in Idlib after the withdrawal of the rebels." Author - Patrick J. McDonnell.
The author of a report from Beirut notes that storming Idlib after Homs "suggests that the Syrian government is making progress against poorly armed rebels." Judging by the article, the opposition complain to journalists that they do not have enough firepower to "resist heavy weapons." Mazen Arya, an opposition activist, said via Skype: "Even one bullet from a Kalashnikov assault rifle should be answered by the tank corps." Arya regrets that the rebels didn’t have grenade launchers - then “we would finish off the tanks ... This is an orphaned revolution”.
McDonnell further notes that “... dissidents complained bitterly about what they called the lack of outside help to equip them as a belligerent rebel side. In the meantime, the government describes the rebels as being backed by “terrorists” from abroad.
- At least two Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the author continues, supported the idea of arming the rebels. But rebel commanders in Syria and gun smugglers near the Lebanese border say that there were no signs of cash flow or weapons from the rich monarchies of the Gulf. ”
Then the author reports on the mutual accusations of the two sides - the rebels and the government of Syria - of the killings. The journalist notes that the daily killings reports “cannot be verified due to access restrictions.”
McDonnell comes to the conclusion that the hope that the bloodshed in Syria will be stopped is now given by the mission of Kofi Annan, which has wide international support.
"New York Times", 14 March, article "The Syrian opposition group is divided and divided." The author is Ann Barnard (report from Beirut).
The article says that the capture of the Homs government and Idlib caused disappointment with the Syrian National Council. About this, as Anne Barnard writes, said an activist who left the ranks of the SNA, Kamal al-Labwani, "a respected dissident who was released from a Syrian prison last year in the middle of 12-year imprisonment."
“What happened in Homs is a betrayal,” Mr. Al-Labwani said in an interview. “The Council has shown irresponsibility.”
“The Council,” he added, “risks creating a split in Syrian society, not being able to create a single military command of the rebel forces under its control, and as a result, individual formations are looking for their own sources of assistance.”
According to Kamal al-Labwani, who is led by Ann Barnard, "The council, with its 270 participants, was devoured by internal disagreements."
Further, the journalist writes:
“However, the path for the opposition seems unclear. On Tuesday, the Syrian National Council took measures to attract the Free Syrian Army under its auspices. But Mr. Lubwani, a resigned member of the Council, said that the exiles had little contact with the fighters inside the country. “The free Syrian army is the people who are internal Syria,” he said.
He called the head of the Council, Burkhan Galyun, a dictator who made decisions "under our names, without asking us."
"New York Times", March 14, article "Speaking out, faceless Syrian voices risk their lives." The author is Kristin Maktig (report from Cairo).
The long article begins with a story about 28-year-old Rami Jarre, who hid his name for half a year in order to convey to the world the news of "the violence and bloodshed that he observed in the Syrian regime."
“Mr. Jarra was known to the world as Alexander Paige, a faceless voice, fluent in English, giving detailed reports of brutal government crackdown at a time when almost all foreign media were banned.”
Jarra, says Christine McTig, was born in Cyprus, grew up in London, then came to Syria in 2004 to “visit his family for the first time.” Here he was detained.
“They accused me of fraudulent passports and espionage,” said Mr. Jarrah, the son of Syrian activists who fled the country before his birth. Mr. Jarra received his passport through the Syrian embassy in London, but since his parents were married outside the country and due to the non-transfer of data by the embassy, he was not registered in Syria. What was supposed to be a one-week trip stretched over three years of legal battles. ”
Jarru was released - with the condition that he will draw up his documents, but he was not allowed to leave the country before. Waiting for documents to be ready, Jarra got a job as an export-import consultant at a trading company in Damascus. But then, when his "test" with the documents was over, he, as McTig writes, "decided to stay."
“I only thought that I could work for a few years and then leave,” he said.
He was very upset, the journalist notes that "the Syrians lack the courage to speak openly." But in mid-March last year, everything began to change. With the start of anti-government speeches, “Jarrah joined the local coordinating committees and decided to stay. The committees are a network of local groups monitoring Syrian protests, ”explains the journalist.
Next, Jarrah began to "communicate online, but did everything possible to preserve anonymity, even among activists." And on March 18 he joined this protest.
“Everything changed at that moment,” he said. “We all spoke to each other for the first time, showing that we say that everyone has that feeling, which suddenly gets a little easier, and we can do it again.”
22 March he participated in the protests in Damascus. “This time, government forces responded by force, killing nine people and arresting many. Although Mr. Jarrah remained safe and sound and ran away, his emotional losses were heavy. ”
“As we left, we screamed like little children, feeling useless and helpless.”
The members of the local coordinating committees learned that he was fluent in English and asked him to tell foreign media about the incident. Calling himself Alexander Page, he began working with CNN. He had to take some shots to prove that he was in Syria. He shot on iPhone. 25 March with this iPhone and got caught. Judging by his story, he was held in a cell for three days, stripped, forced to stand, deprived of food and water, not allowed to sleep and beaten. Before being released, he was forced to admit that he was a terrorist. He believes that now everything is much worse: in Syria, more 10 thousands of people have disappeared, and "we are almost sure that they were tortured to death."
After his release, Jarra was unemployed: after all, his company "was closely connected with the regime." Jarrah did not give up and started on Twitter and Facebook to talk about what he saw - "all under the name of Alexander Page."
Further, at the protests in Damascus in October, Jarra was stopped at a government checkpoint and found that he was carrying a 3G router. A couple of days later, a fight broke out in a booth near his house. The "group of men" told him to "be silent, or he would be killed."
Jarrah, fearing suspicion and thinking that the two incidents were related, reported the fight to the authorities. And then he asked his "contact with Syrian intelligence links to check his pseudonym." And the “contact” called him at four in the morning. Yes, intelligence knew that Rami Jarrah and Alexander Page is one. Jarrah with his wife and daughter fled from Syria: crossed Jordan and arrived in Cairo. There he “continued to give media interviews and used his pseudonym on Twitter and Facebook. But his identity is now known, and the project with Alexander Page has changed. ”
He says that there are "thousands of people in Syria who do the same thing as me." In his small apartment in Cairo, he is doing now news. Activists from the “News Association” created by him “organize videos from Syria, collect information about the victims and spread it all via Twitter and Facebook. In the future, they plan to send everything to the International Criminal Court. ” Their goal is to “document the crimes of Assad.”
The article also tells about other Syrian opposition activists, for whom Jarrah served as an example.
Chicago Tribune, 14 March, article "A trip to a nightmare of Syria." The author is Zora Bensemra, Reuters Agency.
The note is preceded by the information: “Zohra Bensemra is a photo correspondent for Reuters. While in Algeria, she traveled to Syria in February. This is her report on that trip. ”
It is interesting in this article that its author finds significant differences between the situation, which she recently observed in Libya, and the situation in Syria:
“Unlike Libya, where clear front lines separated the rebels from the army of Muammar Gaddafi, in Syria the front lines go through villages and intersect on farmlands, creating a treacherous labyrinth. One village may be betrayed to Assad, the portraits of the president may hang in every window, the next city may consist entirely of insurgents, the other turns out to be a mixture of different communities where you cannot trust your neighbor. ”
Washington PostMarch 14, the article "The anniversary of the uprising, the Syrian protesters say they will not surrender." The author is Liz Sly (report from Beirut).
Liz Sly writes that “more than 8000 people are dead, tens of thousands are detained, innumerable tortured, others missing, and almost a quarter of a million left their homes, according to the United Nations”.
“However,” says the journalist, “there’s no end in sight. President Obama said this month that “the days of Assad are numbered,” but few are willing to bet on that number. ”
Then Liz Sly writes: “The romantic idealism of the first years, when the protesters sang“ peacefully, peacefully ”and walked, putting their chest under the bullets, gave way to harsh reality. Power does not collapse, like governments in Egypt and Tunisia. The Western military invasion, as happened in Libya, remains a distant prospect in strategically sensitive Syria, with its explosive mixture of religions and nationalities, in which a minority of Alawites under the leadership of the government upsets the protest movement with a predominance of the majority of Sunnis. ”
However, the journalist points out, those "who took the first bold steps," say that "surrender is not an option."
“If we knew that it would come to that, we might not have dared,” admitted 30-year-old Bassel Fouad, an activist who escaped from an attack against the opposition in Bab Amr in Homs this month and is now in Lebanon. “But we did it, and now we can’t stop, because if we do that, they will kill us all.”
Observed and translated by Oleg Chuvakin
- especially for topwar.ru
- especially for topwar.ru