Bashar al-Assad

KIwi al Qaeda sympathisers fighting in Syria

Andrea Vance reports on Kiwi al Qaeda sympathisers fighting in Syria, or attempting to fight in Syria.

New Zealand passport holders have been identified fighting alongside anti-Government forces in Syria, Prime Minister John Key says.

In some instances, the Department of Internal Affairs had cancelled their passports – some were dual nationality, including Australians, he said.

A small number also had their documents confiscated before they were allowed to leave for the civil war-torn Middle Eastern state, the prime minister said.

Rebel factions have been battling to topple President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.

Key refused to say how many Kiwis have been fighting, or give any details.

He knew of no prosecutions, saying “it was handled in a different way”.

The revelation comes after weekend reports that Australians were “flocking” to the front line. Across the Tasman, the government fears the fighters will return as hardline radicalised Islamists, ready to launch domestic terror attacks.

“Yes, there is likely to … have been a small number of New Zealanders who have fought with the rebels in Syria,” Key said today.

“There are a small group of people that have gone to Syria to fight. There’s a small group that were going to Syria that we stopped … we have physically stopped some and we are clearly aware of others who are in Syria.”  Read more »

Some sensible thoughts on Syria

Stephen Franks blogs about a discussion in his office over Syria, especially over the Onion satire piece about Syria.

[The Onion is ] Funny as usual.

However, jokes aside, I think it buys into a misunderstanding about what is going on there.  The pieces just don’t fit the public narrative. Although, I must acknowledge “John’s Law” –  those who think it is a conspiracy don’t understand the power of the plain old  f—   up.

I don’t agree with the portrayal of Assad as in the least insane.  Only a few years ago he was being feted (and, ahem,  wined and dined)  by pretty much everyone as a practical reformer, trying to bring Syria out from under his fathers murderous shadow (remember, his father had a whole town liquidated to quell a rebellion).  Acts of horror abound in the Middle East, where strength and lack of pity are virtues.  Read more »

Damned if they do and damned if they don’t

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I am noting with some irony the left-wing calling for the West (which basically means the US) to “do something” in Syria.

These are the same people who without exception see the US as evil especially over the recent spying furore, and yet they want the US and Obama to “do something” about Bashar al-Assad and the use of chemical weapons.

Last Wednesday, in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence services, The Cable has learned. And that is the major reason why American officials now say they’re certain that the attacks were the work of the Bashar al-Assad regime — and why the U.S. military is likely to attack that regime in a matter of days.

But the intercept raises questions about culpability for the chemical massacre, even as it answers others: Was the attack on Aug. 21 the work of a Syrian officer overstepping his bounds? Or was the strike explicitly directed by senior members of the Assad regime? “It’s unclear where control lies,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Cable. “Is there just some sort of general blessing to use these things? Or are there explicit orders for each attack?”   Read more »

Coming soon to New Zealand?

This is one of the perils of widespread immigration where those coming here bring their old country’s attitudes and prejudices with them.

It was not so much a death threat as a declaration of war.

”You wanna go to war, you f—in’ Shia dogs?” the phone message says. ”We’re taking all of you to war, in Sydney and overseas!”

It was 8pm and Jamal Daoud, an aspiring politician from Auburn was having dinner with his wife and children. An outspoken critic of the Free Syrian Army, Daoud is accustomed to abuse but this call was more frightening than most.

‘You wanna kill our brothers and sisters overseas, we’re gonna kill you motherf—ers here,” the caller says.

23 Targets worth pasting if US gets involved in Syria

Foreign Policy has a map of 23 targets that the US should pound if they get involved and institute a no-fly zone in order to protect the Syrian rebels.


View Syrian air force bases in a larger map

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Israel attacking Syrian government targets?

There are unsubstantiated claims that Israel has attacked Syrian government forces and weapons stockpiles.

Foreign Policy reports on the awkwardness of this news for the opposition and inconvenient for the anti-Israel left who have been calling for intervention on the side of the Syrian opposition:

Syrian Facebook pages are reporting a series of massive explosions in Damascus, as are the Syrian regime’s media outlets. A video claiming to be of these explosions can be seen here:

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Chicken Shit Assad Hides Behind Russia While He Kills His People

Bashar Hafez al-Assad the imaginary leader of Syria is now hiding off shore on a warship with security provided by the Russians. Assad only travels to the mainland by helicopter for important meetings now, because he doubts that his monkeys can keep him safe. This is akin to a lippy little snot in the school yard hiding behind his big mates when he is losing a fight. If/when his regime falls, he is likely to be given asylum by the Russians.  Read more »

Face Of The Day

“They’re going to do what to me?” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has his days numbered.

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rimanews.com

They never have before, why will they start now?

France reckons they will “stand” against instability in Lebanon. This is unlikely and if the Lebanese are smart they won’t rely of the word of the President of the Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys, they tend to go backwards faster than an Argie Army.

France’s president pledged today that his country will stand against instability in Lebanon, two weeks after the assassination of a senior Lebanese intelligence official sparked clashes between pro- and anti-Syrian groups.

Later in Saudi Arabia, Francois Hollande held further talks on Syria with King Abdullah, whose country has been a leading supporter of the forces trying to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

In Beirut, Hollande promised that Paris and the European Union will help Lebanon deal with an influx of more than 100,000 refugees who have fled the civil war in neighboring Syria.

“We are committed to give you guarantees regarding security, stability and unity of Lebanon,” Hollande told reporters after meeting President Michel Suleiman.

Why Basher al-Assad is rooted

C.J. Chivers at The Gun

The end is nigh for Bashar al-Assad. The clock is ticking and it is only a matter of time now before he is either over-run, killed or needs to rely on the Russians to get him out. basically the opposition has learned and adapted and Syria’s armed forces do not have the skills to counter-act developments not the time to develop those skills:

The opposition’s rapid mastery of improvised explosives since the spring changed the character and momentum of this conflict, and put Syria’s army, notwithstanding what seems its enduring material strength, in a highly unenviable position.

All of this will be grounds for much more work, analysis and comment than can be shoe-horned into one news story.  Military historians will spend time on these themes. This is in part because the turnabout here – a government that long exported improvised explosive technology in the region now stands to have its army unraveled by improvised explosives — is compelling. But the commentary will be richer and more subtle than that, ranging from technical analysis to moral querying, and to arguments over how to label and engage the various forces within the anti-Assad opposition, and their war.