Damascus Bombs and Mysteries

We still don’t know what really happened in Damascus the other day. No one would argue that Daoud Rajiha or Hassan Turkmani (who was more of a diplomat than an actual military leader) were key players in Syria.

Ever since Hafez al-Assad took power in 1970, Syrian ministers of defense have been figureheads. Hafez was minister of defense in the Salah Jadid government and knows full well how much powers a real minister of defense can possess.

Mustafa Tlass (a farce should be staged on Broadway about this man who published letters to pretty women around the world) was perfect for Hafiz — he had no power base, he was mediocre, and he had no political skills, and his loyalty to his boss was complete. The key man in the group was Asef Shawkat.

There are many questions about the meeting in question. At a time when the rebels were fighting the regime around Damascus, who in his right security mind would assemble the key elements of the security services in one room?

And the president of Syria usually presides over such meetings, and yet he was not harmed, nor were key elements of the military-intelligence apparatus, like the powerful Hafez Makhlouf.

What we know about the “bombing” is only based on the statements of the regime and on the braggart announcements by two rival opposition armed groups (and the announcements of the Free Syrian Army should be taken with a truck of salt especially that it never ever admits retreats — it merely speaks of “tactical withdrawals”). Many people in Damascus are questioning the account of the regime.

Asef Shawkat has not enjoyed good relations with the centers of power in Syria. The multiplicity of intelligence and security services is part of the legacy of Hafez al-Assad. But Hafez is no Bashar — he was in control of all the services and his presence was intimidating to all ambitious subordinates.

That is not the case with Bashar. Rivalries between the various security chiefs have not been kept in secrecy and Asef reportedly clashed with Maher al-Assad on more than one occasion.

There were even suspicions about the role of Asef Shawkat in the scandalous assassination of Imad Mughniyeh (the security apparatus of Asef was in charge of security in that quarter).

There were even stories about Asef being questioned in Tehran about this role and his influence has waned over the years, although he may have been resurrected in recent months.

Hassan Nasrallah and supporters of the Syrian regime are paying tributes to Shawkat. The Syrian people, and the rest of the world, did not know the man. He was a mysterious figure who shunned publicity (that is common in the security-obsessed Assad regime).

But American officials knew Shawkat and wrote about him in WikiLeaks — he was the key figure that coordinated the murderous intelligence cooperation between the two countries, where prisoners were dispatched to Syria (and other countries) to be tortured at the behest of a grateful US. That is an aspect of Shawkat that supporters of the regime don’t want to acknowledge.

Shawkat was also at the top of the intelligence hierarchy under which Rustum Ghazaleh, the notorious Syrian intelligence chief in Lebanon until 2005, worked. (Ghazaleh, bizarrely, is chief of intelligence for Damascus and its environs).

Shawkat also had a long history in the repressive apparatus of the regime — he was in the special forces that perpetrated the Hama massacres in 1982. The tributes to Shawkat in the pro-Syrian regime ignored those aspects.

Let us be clear on what is happening in Syria:

1) We really don’t know what is happening in Syria.

2) There is an unprecedented disinformation campaign going on, and from all sides.

3) When the US refrains from resorting to a military option, it spends millions on psychological warfare. We see evidence of that in Syria.

4) Every week for a year, we are told that the regime is about to fall, and that the US is preparing for the post-Bashar era.

5) The Syrian National Council and Free Syrian Army have lost any little say over their own actions and rhetoric. They are now mere tools for regional and international intelligence services.

6) The secrecy of the Syrian regime will only increase over time.

7) We don’t really know who calls the shots in Syria. The attempt to extrapolate from Hafez’s era to Bashar’s is fallacious.

8) The regime won’t collapse overnight and won’t collapse in one strike.

9) If the regime — as the New York Times and other Western papers maintain daily — has lost all domestic support and that it now relies exclusively on Alawi support, then it won’t be standing.

10) Western media are now mere vehicles of propaganda of Western governments, just as the Syrian regime media are propaganda outlets for the regime.

11) Even if the armed revolt expands and intensifies, and even if Western public and covert support increases, the fight for Syria will drag on and will inevitably spill over to Lebanon.

12) The season of Arab uprisings have entered a different phase — the US has managed to contain their dangerous impact and to restrict the freedom campaign of the Arab people.

13) The season of Arab uprisings has not ended. It will go through different phases.

14) The outcome of the conflict in Syria will be far from respecting the wishes of the Syrian people, just as the GCC-US management of the Yemen crisis preserved an ugly regime.

15) The US-Israel will do their best to keep the Syrian regime intact after toppling Bashar — if they succeed in toppling him that is.

Comments

"Yahya Badr Ad-Din Al-Huthi comes out in support of Syrian regime repression."

Weren't you claiming several years ago As'ad that the Huthis don't use sectarian discourse(which is of course totally false) and I read the pathetic justifications to defend the Asadi regime from this hypocritical Yemeni shabeeh, who he and his Houthis' takhween were non-existent when Iran and its allies collaborated with the Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Wonder, what would the Professor says on this. Any honest citizen would do this, in face of onslaught of Imperialist/Zionist coalition, regardless of who govern the country.

Damascus, Syria
19/7/2012

My name is Bassam Al-Kadi (48 years old), a Syrian human rights activist, especially the rights of women and children.

I opposed the Syrian regime since 1982 for justice, freedom and democracy, and I was arrested four times (1985 to 2012), including a total of 7 and a half years.

I supported the Syrian civil movement for freedom and democracy until it turned into a battle waged by criminal fundamentalist forces aiming to divide Syria and transfer it into terrorist emirates subjected to Israel and U.S.

I declare the following:
In the light of Foreign Military threats against my country, under the pretext of security situation, I assure that I will immediately become a suicide bomber to kill all those who contributes in any military action against my country, whether by a single country or a group of states, whether by a Security Council decision or the United Nations or NATO or any other party.

I assure that every diplomat and politician in the enemy states that are involved in the attacks on Syria, including of all civilians in those countries who support the attack on my country, and every facility I can access in the countries that participated in the invasion, are legitimate targets for me.

All written laws of earth and heaven have ensured the people's right to defend their country, and I am going to exercise this right against you without hesitation, and with me hundreds of thousands of Syrians who are willing to sacrifice their bodies and their lives in defense of Syria.

My position, if you are interested to know, has nothing to do with neither the Syrian regime nor any of its apparatuses. Whether the regime decided to confront you or not, I will fight you without hesitation or mercy.

Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Libya will be nothing but a simple walk in front of what you will face if you think to take any military action against Syria.

Bassam Al-Kadi
Syrian Citizen

This is a rare case of the Syrian regime jailing people with a blatantly terrorist mindset.

Of course, in USA and other NATO states, not mentioning Israel, "people with a blatantly terrorist mindset" are usually rulers. Of course, they are real terrorists, not just have some "mindset".

The bombing seems real since it just doesn't make any sense otherwise.
For the sake of the argument lets assume that Maher wanted to get rid of Assef ( as you have stated, both Daoud Rajiha and Hassan Turkmani are basically regime small fry, so they don't seem much of a target).
Logically you would expect Maher to get the killing done quietly and cleanly and prevent it getting advertised. If for some reason it did get out you could expect some sort of smear campaign against Assef, maybe using some third party insinuations i.e. some 'intelligence' official remarking that "he was behind Mughniyehs death" or such.
What seems so unlikely is that Maher would kill Assef in such a brutish manner that would take three other well known but otherwise symbolic figureheads, and would do it in a way the would both compromise the regime and shatter it's 'invulnerability' image it has cultivated for so long.

I think that the only reason the regime advertised this bombing in the first place is because they panicked. They thought that it couldn't be hidden and if they tried to, they would be portrayed as both lying and weak, instead of 'just' incompetent. I think they underestimated the blow back and should have tried to smudge the results of the attack, but then again who knows what would have been the result of this tactic.

Word "regime" is mentioned 16 times? Cliché journalism is rather propaganda than information pre se right Professor?

If there is nothing else to offer Professor, except your disdain for MENA regimes and your hidden admiration for liberal capitalism, than your are wasting your time, and somebody else here. I stop reading Professor when the NATO/Colonialists attacked the Libya, I remember his disguising article of Qaddafi, and we all know what's happened to him. And no, I am not fun of Qaddafi, or Assad, but I do think that anything is better than the Western boot.

Otherwise, if you are not "balanced" and do not have "admiration" (at least hidden one) for the West you wouldn't be on US Gov. payroll.

So do you also oppose Iran's allies in Afghanistan and Iraq when they were on the payroll of the Americans with the deafening silence from Iran and Hezbollah?

We really don’t know what is happening in Syria.

Bashar, syrian bureaucracy, public workers and critical observers should at least know that, as David Ignatius put it, syrian army and security "can not hold what they clean" in countrysides and small cities; and therefor inevitably lost or will lose support in the restive population of those areas, where the people can't afford any longer bearing a corporate force of law and order without enforcing power.

So the "regime" has cracked already some weeks or month ago and the fighting is about how and to which end dismantling it. Thats why I oppose strongly As'ad AbuKhalil saying it would not mean much taking out "figureheads" like Daoud Rajiha or Hassan Turkmani (I don't know, it they are characterized correctly by this), because they would be figureheads of the illusion, a +/- full restauration of the regime (and possible the kind of regime Hafez headed) would be possible. I doubt, Bashar fosters this illusion.
So, why not say, this attack was the best, the foreign instigated and backed insurgence has done so far? Couldn't it be tried - at least - to make it an upbeat of a domestic republican transition? Okay, that would fail to satisfy Usrael, at least the Clinton-Feltman-connection and the MIC behind them, but the price of failing a transition is quite high for the Wall Street fraction.

One thing for sure: Syrian regime and the opposition are some pathetic liars and propagandist. The only people I can support are the true Syrian revolutionaries who opposes both of them.

dear As'ad,
# `12 " the US has managed to ...restrict the freedom campaign of the Arab people"
How can you square your sense of Arab persecution, with the lovely work the Hegemom & His Pals are doing to free Syria's Arabs from the Baath thugs ? And you've never come around to appreciate the Hegemon's heavy lifting in freeing all those nice Arabs from Saddam, and Gaddafi . We just can't seem to stop liberating Arabs, but you should know that the folks we want to liberate next is those poor Persians. Let's Roll !

btl is about as smart as his hero the mass murderer, torturer and robber of Arabs and many others (not that Obama is better). But btl is a Zionist, and when to be a smart was a must for Zionist propagandists?

I am not even bothering to refute what btl says, because if could not see how much really Zionists love Syrians(Iranians) by one's own eyes, any words are useless.

Last time USA was "liberating" Afghans from communists, USA had created Al-Qaida. I suppose btl is eager for much more 9/11? Not mentioning USA being in a state which more and more could not afford even enough police and firefighters. So, why btl is cheering for USA criminals in the ME, btl's own home could be robbed and burned because 'there is no money". Of course, btl could loss his home and money even before it - to criminal banks fully supported by USA prez.

so the author is equaling between the Western mainstream media, and the pathetic Syrian official media ?!
If Syrian national media is weak, why to care of it and consider it in the first place ?
If it's the other way around, why don't you give it the credit that it's facing the mainstream media of the whole world, the Western and GCC ones, and causing them troubles that they either cutting it from air or destroying it totally on ground to mute it for once and all ?
That's mean, it's not "pathetic" anymore ! May be it's saying the naked truth, and gaining the trust of the Syrians and many Arabs, while the petro-dollar media is spending its millions in vain trying to create its wishful thinking and make it comes true by all means.

How about Saddam's media in the leadup to Gulf War I and II? This is the glorious Syrian media:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOLtYLgMG2g

There is something so strange in this bombing. About two months ago the story went on that those people who are killed in this Bombing were killed in then by the method in the same place. How did the Syrian inteligence did not react to prevent it.

bracing commentary -- much appreciated

16. ) This is just the beginning, brace yourselves for all out conflict in the Greater Levant.

"Western media are now mere vehicles of propaganda of Western governments, just as the Syrian regime media are propaganda outlets for the regime."

Western media always have been mere vehicles of propaganda of capitalists who own Western governments lock, stock and barrel.

LOL. Glad you found something you liked in the article.

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