Syrian opposition decides to take up arms against Assad regime

Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports:

The leader of the Revolutionary Council of the Syrian Coordination Committees, Mohammad Rahhal, said in remarks published Sunday that the council took the decision to arm the Syrian revolution.

Since mid-March pro-democracy protests have engulfed most of Syria calling for political and economic reforms as well as for the ousting of Syrian president Bashar Assad.

“We made our decision to arm the revolution which will turn violent very soon because what we are being subjected to today is a global conspiracy that can only be faced by an armed uprising,” he told the London-based As-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper. Circumstances no longer allow dealing peacefully with the regime’s “crimes,” he added. “We will use whatever arms and rocks … We will respond to the people’s calls to arm the revolution,” he said.

“Confronting this monster (the Syrian regime) now requires arms, especially after it has become clear to everyone that the world only supports the Syrian uprising through speeches,” he added. Rahal lashed out some Arab regimes and described them as “cowards.”

Haaretz reports:

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said he has lost confidence in Syria, and that the situation has reached a point where changes would be too little too late, Turkish state-run news agency Anatolian reported on Sunday.

Commenting on the situation in Turkey’s neighbor, Gul told Anatolian in an interview: “We are really very sad. Incidents are said to be ‘finished’ and then another 17 people are dead.”

He continued, asking, “how many will it be today? Clearly we have reached a point where anything would be too little too late. We have lost our confidence.”

Earlier this month Gul, who like other Turkish leaders has piled pressure on Syria to end a violent crackdown on protests, appealed to Syrian President Bashar Assad not to leave reforms until it was too late.

Hürriyet Daily News reports:

Turkey would side with the Syrian people if it has to make a choice between the neighboring country’s government and its citizens, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said late Thursday.

“We would choose the people, because what is permanent for us is the brotherhood of the Syrian and Turkish people. Our side is certain. We are with the Syrian people and we will continue to be,” Davutoğlu said in an interview with the private news channel NTV.

Davutoğlu earlier this month traveled to Damascus to convey a “last warning” to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to end the bloodshed. The neglect of this advice by the Syrian regime and its continued military operations against the Syrian people during the holy month of Ramadan have caused deep frustration and anger in Ankara, whose ties with Damascus had flourished in recent years. Turkey has repeatedly called on al-Assad to initiate reforms but has stopped short of calling for his departure.

“There is a vicious cycle, we want Syria to immediately break this cycle,” Davutoğlu told NTV, adding that Turkey was ready for any scenario.

Though he ruled out a foreign military intervention, the minister said Turkey “cannot accept human-rights violations either. Our ‘zero problems with neighbors’ policy does not mean we’ll turn our back to such violations.”

When asked what message he conveyed to al-Assad in Damascus, Davutoğlu said: “[I said] we stood by you against possible interventions by other countries. But now if we have to make a choice between you and [your] people in this current problem of yours, we’ll side with the people. Because what is lasting and what will endure until eternity is the brotherhood of the people of Turkey and Syria.”

Tom Rogan writes:

External pressure is building on President Bashar al-Assad. Along with the EU and US, key regional actors including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have taken steps to distance themselves from the faltering Syrian regime. Further, as Meir Javedanfar argues on this site, the Iranian clerical leadership will only support Assad to the degree that this support serves their on-going Islamic revolution.

These states are calibrating their policies towards Syria with an eye on Assad’s potential fall from power and the consequences likely to follow. Hezbollah’s approach under leader Hassan Nasrallah is no different. As David Hirst notes, Nasrallah has made Hezbollah “the most influential political player in Lebanon and probably the most proficient guerrilla organisation in the world”. Nasrallah does not risk jeopardising these successes lightly.

Clearly, because of the major forms of support that Assad provides, Hezbollah has a vested interest in his political survival. This Syrian support includes the provision of material supplies and a relatively safe haven for Hezbollah leaders. Syria also acts as a reliable ally through which supplies of money and weapons can transit from Iran to Lebanon. And, as Randa Slim explains, Assad’s regime provides a legitimating and supportive Arab state to balance Iran. This complements Hezbollah’s intended appearance as a cross-sectarian liberation force, a force struggling not just for Shia Islam but for the subjugated “oppressed” in general.

However, as important as Assad’s support is to Hezbollah, the survival of his regime does not take precedence over Hezbollah’s objectives: the defeat of Israel, the marginalisation of American influence and the creation of a regional arc of Shia theocracies.

Accordingly, Hezbollah’s support for Assad is predicated on its perception of his political survival as both realistically possible and compatible with Hezbollah’s objectives. Hezbollah thus must consider the impact of its stance regarding Assad in the context of political environments in Syria, Lebanon and beyond.

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Comments

  1. Colm O' Toole says:

    Good piece in New York Times by Vali Nasser on the sectarian side of the Arab Spring. Also its got a good graphic map of the region.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/opinion/sunday/the-dangers-lurking-in-the-arab-spring.html?pagewanted=1

  2. too bad if they take up arms, their chances of success are reduced by 50%…. and many, many, many more people will die.