02-07-12

Geneva Meeting Syria: the strategy of the war makers

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20 February, 2012 - 'Senator McCain wants to arm Syrian rebels'
Two congressional conservative warhawks have spoken up about how to handle the uprising in Syria, and their solution would involve arming the rebel forces with American weapons.
To counter the Syrian government, McCain said that that the US needs to lend a helping hand by the way of weaponry, although Senator McCain did not explain how he intended to put American machinery into the hands of rebel forces without going directly through the US government.
Separately, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has also encouraged the US to arm Syrian rebels.
The New York Times reported that Senator Graham said: “If the Syrian regime is replaced with another form of government that doesn’t tie its future to the Iranians, the world is a better place.”
Last year, US President Barack Obama’s bypassing of the House and Senate to send military forces over the skies of Libya came with congressional opposition.

28 February, 2012 - 'Syria storms out of U.N. rights meeting'
Syria's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva stormed out of the U.N. Human Rights Council Tuesday after demanding angrily that countries stop "inciting sectarianism and providing arms" to opposition forces in his country. 
Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui said sanctions were preventing Damascus from buying medicines and fuel and then abruptly left the Geneva forum's emergency debate called at the request of Gulf countries and Turkey, and backed by the West. 
"We reaffirm to all those alleged friends of the Syrian people that the simple step to immediately help the Syrian people is to stop inciting sectarianism, providing arms and weapons and funding and putting the Syrian people one against the other," he said.
"Unjust and unilateral sanctions imposed by some countries on the Syrian people are preventing access to medicines, to fuel in all forms as well as electricity, and are also impeding bank transfers to buy these materials."
Esther Brimmer, U.S. assistant secretary of state, said: 'Bashar al-Assad must go, and there must be a Syrian-led democratic political transition that meets the long-suppressed aspirations of the Syrian people'.
 
11 June, 2012 - 'US accelerates preparations for 'no-fly zone' in Syria'
After over a year of unrest in Syria, Israel’s Debka news agency reports that US President Barack Obama has asked the US Navy and Air Force to accelerate plans that would aid in the ousting of Assad. According to their sources, President Obama hopes that by initiating a temporary air strike in locales instrumental to the Syrian government, the US may be able to decimate Assad’s control by attacking his regime’s military command centers.
The US would call for a no-fly zone over Syria, reports Debka, then send their own personnel to strike Assad-aligned targets.
Murmurings of the latest plans out of Washington come less than two weeks after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) called for the implementation of a no-fly zone. Speaking to reporters last month, Sen. Graham said that ousting Assad from control in Syria is much more crucial for America’s interests than the issue of Libya; last year the US aided in the removal of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi from Libyan rule.
 
21 June, 2012 - 'CIA secretly operates on Syrian border, supplies arms to rebels'
American secret service operatives are distributing illegal assault rifles, anti-tank rocket launchers and other ammunition to Syrian opposition, the New York Times reports.
The paper reports that for weeks now, officers based in southeast Turkey have supervised the flow of illegal arms to numerous opposition factions ready to fight the regime of President Bashar Assad. The only problem is some of the rebel groups have links with terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, so the CIA mission must be careful not to arm proven terrorists by mistake.
The NYT source, an unnamed Arab intelligence official, revealed that American officers are also collecting information on Syrian opposition groups and recruiting informants among their ranks. The source said the Obama administration is considering sharing its intelligence data, such as satellite images and detailed information on the location and maneuvers of Syrian troops.
According to the source, CIA operatives might be helping the rebels with organizing a rudimentary intelligence organization. The CIA agents have reportedly not set foot on Syrian soil, however.

22 June 2012 - 'Erdoğan: Syria apologized for downed Turkish fighter jet'
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reportedly told a group of journalists that Syria has apologized for a downed Turkish warplane in the eastern Mediterranean.
Journalist Fatih Altaylı, who was traveling with Erdoğan from Brazil to İstanbul, said on Habertürk TV that journalists had asked Erdoğan if he was aware of a Turkish fighter jet that had gone missing near Syrian territorial waters. Erdoğan replied that he was aware of the fact but that he was informed that the pilots are safe.
According to Altaylı, Erdoğan said Syria had immediately offered a “serious apology” over the incident and expressed its sorrow. He said Syria told the Turkish side that “it was a mistake,” without elaborating on if the Syrian side was responsible for the incident.
When asked by the journalists if this incident would spark a “big crisis,” Erdoğan said, “We shall wait and see.”
 
23 June, 2012 - 'Fighter jet may have unintentionally violated Syrian airspace
Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul has said the downing of a Turkish fighter jet by Syrian forces is impossible to ignore. However, he also admitted that the jet may have unintentionally violated Syrian airspace.
“It is routine for jet fighters to sometimes fly in and out over (national) borders … when you consider their speed over the sea. These are not ill-intentioned things but happen beyond control due to the jets’ speed,” Gul told the Anatolia state news agency.
"The incident should not be regarded as a hostile action against Turkey in any case," Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi, told Turkey's A-Haber TV. "It was only the protection of our sovereignty. It is an incident, not an attack."
Syrian state television SANA talked of an “unidentified aerial target,” which was detected flying at a low altitude and at a high speed when it entered Syrian airspace.
The Syrian and Turkish navies have initiated a joint search for the missing pilots amid rising tensions between the two countries.

June 26, 2012 - 'NATO Says Fighter Jet Downing 'Unacceptable'
Ankara adopted a harsh tone against the Syrian regime on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Erdogan condemning last week's attack on a Turkish fighter jet and threatening military retaliation for any further aggression. At a meeting in Brussels, fellow NATO members supported Turkey by criticizing Syria's action.
"We will continue to support the struggle of our brothers in Syria at any cost," Erdogan said in a speech before the parliamentary group of his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara.
The head of the NATO military alliance, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, called it a "completely unacceptable act" that the alliance condemned "in the strongest terms" after a meeting with Turkish officials and ambassadors to the 28-nation North Atlantic Treaty Alliance.
Turkey had call for the meeting by invoking Article 4 of the NATO charter, which entitles it to consultations between member states when one feels its territorial integrity, political independence or security is under threat. 
Rasmussen said: "It's my clear expectation that the situation won't continue to escalate."
In his speech given in Ankara, Erdogan emphasized his support for the Syrian opposition, saying that Assad's regime had lost all credibility and was now not only a threat to the Syrian people, but to Turkey as well.
Despite the escalation, NATO has refrained from intervening in the conflict as it did in efforts to topple Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi last year. Compared to forces in Libya, where NATO created a no-fly zone last year that ultimately helped give rebels the upper hand against the deposed Libyan dictator, the Syrian army is relatively strong. The country's powerful air-defense systems have also led Turkey and its NATO partners to shy away from a military intervention. Even if many of its anti-aircraft missiles originate from Soviet times, the country's air space is better protected than that of almost any other Arab nation.
On Monday, the foreign ministers of the European Union's 27 member states also strongly condemned the attack on the Turkish plane, calling it "unacceptable" in a statement.
"Even if there was a temporary violation of Syrian airspace, shooting down a plane is not justified," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the same day. "De-escalation is now what is needed."

29 June 2012 - 'At Syria's border, after months of waiting, the weapons arrive'
A village four kilometres from Turkey has become the key hub of arms shipments and defectors joining the Free Syria Army.  The guerillas of northern Syria are waiting for another special delivery. When it comes, any day now, it will make the same journey as the two previous shipments that have made their way here.  Until last month, scrimping and scrounging weapons from defectors was the only way to resupply a tired and outgunned rebel army. But that changed in May, something the guerilla leadership readily acknowledges.
the four kilometres to Turkey is a haven of olive groves and potato fields – ideal backdrop for smuggling runs. The 16 kilometre stretch is a buffer zone in all but name; the weapons that are now making their way here cannot possibly do so without Turkish consent.
With the Turkish army now deployed near the southern border in force a week after one of its warplanes was downed by Syrian air defences, rebels in the area are feeling safer than they have for many months.
Weapons are not the only new arrivals. The rebels acknowledged that three days ago an American man, believed to be a government employee, passed through.
'We need anti-tank rockets. We need heavier weapons. Hopefully they will be delivered. They will really make a difference."