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REAL WORLD EVENT DISCUSSIONS
Syria: Prime Minister, 3 Cabinet Ministers Defect
Monday, August 06, 2012 10:29 AM
Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...
Quote:Syria’s prime minister defected and fled to neighboring Jordan, a Jordanian official and a rebel spokesman said Monday, evidence that the cracks in President Bashar’s Assad’s regime have reached the highest echelons of government.
Ahmad Kassim, a senior official with the Free Syrian Army, said Prime Minister Riad Hijab defected to Jordan along with three other ministers. A Jordanian government official confirmed Hijab defected with his family but did not comment on the three other ministers. The Jordanian government official spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he was not allowed to make any public statements on the defection.
Hijab is the highest-level government official to defect since the uprising against Assad’s authoritarian rule began 17 months ago. The other ministers’ identities were not immediately known.
“Don’t be scared. Defect from this criminal regime,” said Mohammad Otari, who identified himself as a spokesman for Hijab. He spoke on Al-Jazeera TV, urging other Syrians to join the defecting ministers.
Otari said Hijab is now a “soldier” of the revolution and added that his defection was planned for more than two months. He said the minister was now in a safe place, adding that Hijab took the job two months ago because the regime gave him a choice: Be killed or accept the post.
Earlier Monday, Syrian state-run TV reported Hijab was fired from his post. A former agriculture minister, Hijab took office less than two months ago and was considered a loyalist in Assad’s ruling Baath party.
Otari said Hijab is from eastern province of Deir el-Zour from the Sikhni tribe. He said Hijab defected along with 10 families who are his relatives, adding that some of them held government posts including in various ministries.
Monday, August 06, 2012 3:12 PM
"Love is natural and real. But not for you my love. Not tonight my love..."
Monday, August 06, 2012 3:52 PM
"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." -- William Casey, Reagan's presidential campaign manager & CIA Director (from first staff meeting in 1981)
Monday, August 06, 2012 5:56 PM
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 3:58 AM
Quote:Originally posted by 1kiki:
Where IS he getting his support from?
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 6:09 AM
Quote:The latest United Nations resolution sponsored by Western powers that was designed to increase the pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad and force him to step down was once again rejected by Russia and China, making it abundantly clear that all diplomatic efforts have come to a dead end. If Russia, the main supporter of the Assad regime, still believes that Assad can survive and will support him to the bitter end, Moscow is making a colossal mistake.
President Vladimir Putin is not so naive to think that the Syrian upheaval is an aberration. He understands that it is a continuation of the Arab Spring uprisings. Like Libyans, Egyptians, Yemenis and Tunisians, Syrians are no longer willing to live in subjugation, humiliation and hopelessness.
Concerned over his deteriorating domestic position, Putin, who is now seen as being complicit in Syria's humanitarian tragedy, will seek to contain the damage sooner rather than later, as the Kremlin is certainly guided by its broader interests in the region.
Quote:Western commentators typically attribute such behavior to Putin's personal paranoia or to attempts to rekindle the nation's wounded pride and assert Russia's superpower status. Look a little closer, however, and Russia's actions seem motivated more by calculated — albeit sometimes miscalculated — realpolitik than by psychological impulses.
First, strategic interests are at stake. In Tartus, Syria hosts the sole remaining Russian naval base on the Mediterranean, currently being refurbished by 600 Russian technicians after long disuse. To have to give up this Middle Eastern beachhead would be a shame, as far as the Russians are concerned.
Second, although limited, Russia has real commercial interests in Syria. Contracts to sell arms to Damascus — both those signed and under negotiation — total $5 billion. Having lost $13 billion due to international sanctions on Iran and $4.5 billion in canceled contracts to Libya, Russia's defense industry is already reeling. Besides arms exports, Russian companies have major investments in Syria's infrastructure, energy and tourism sectors, worth $19.4 billion in 2009.
Counting pennies while protesters are gunned down may seem cynical. "How many people need to die before the consciences of world capitals are stirred?" Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague demanded on Jan. 31, clearly thinking of Moscow.
But Russian policymakers have developed an allergy to Western leaders' moralizing. Just as it was pressing al-Assad to resign, the U.S. State Department quietly lifted a ban on military aid to the Karimov dictatorship in Uzbekistan, which had butchered its own protesters a few years earlier. (Uzbekistan is important for supply lines to NATO troops in Afghanistan.) Neither did Washington press the king of Bahrain — where the U.S. Navy has a port — to step down after he crushed popular demonstrations in his capital.
From Washington, the West's recent interventions in the Middle East seem unplanned and responsive, with modest goals. From Moscow, it is easy to see a pattern in the repeated use of force to overthrow leaders — from Afghanistan and Iraq to Libya — and diplomatic pressure to dislodge others — in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen.
Beyond commercial and strategic interests, the Kremlin's greatest fear is of instability in the Middle East and Central Asia. Russian policymakers already worry about the northward spread of Islamic militancy and opium if the departure of NATO from Afghanistan leads to Taliban resurgence and state collapse.
Rather than a fairytale struggle between the people and a dictator, they see a potentially explosive religious conflict between Syria's ruling Alawis (close to Shi'a Islam) and majority Sunnis. The zeal with which rulers of the Gulf states and some in Washington call for al-Assad's ouster seems part of a broader project to isolate Iran, Syria's ally.
Still, unless al-Assad manages to decisively defeat his opposition in short order, the Russians are likely to soften their position — not because of moral arguments, but simply because they do not want to end up on the losing side. If they alienate al-Assad's successors, the very interests they seek to protect could be in jeopardy. Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov hinted at a shift on Jan. 31, saying, "We are not friends or allies of President Assad."
Picking the perfect moment to dump a congenial dictator is never easy. Consider Washington's contortions over Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and the French embarrassment over their late coddling of Gadhafi. Walking out too soon risks alarming other allies. Waiting too long creates the image that one is both reactionary and out of touch.
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 6:20 AM
America loves a winner!
Quote:Originally posted by Geezer:
Quote:Originally posted by 1kiki:
Where IS he getting his support from?
Well, Russia, for one. Several articles out there (like this one http://www.iol.co.za/dailynews/opinion/why-russia-really-supports-syria-1.1320809 ) suggesting that Russia is concerned that the removal of Assad will result in another Islamist-governed country on their doorstep.
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